Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vlad Putin and Language

Alot of truth in words

President Putin of Russia has made headlines recently for countering US Vice President Cheney's critique of Putin's anti-democratic measures in Russia, saying that Russia will not contenance any outside interference in Russia's domestic policies. Putin has said that "democratization" is the new term for western imperialism, like "civilizing" and the "white man's mission" were in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Words matter. When you read criticism of capitalism by social and economic philosophers, you could, in historic and modern context, substitute "state-capitalism" for "capitalism" and the criticisms ring true. Lenin said the highest stage of capitalism is imperialism and Emma Goldman said that it is capitalism and labor unions holding down the common man. Substitute state-capitalism for capitalism in these concepts and you get the idea.

Capitalism may or may not have ever existed. The state has always been in bed with the special interests who use the state for rent-seeking favors (tariffs and other protectionism, restraint of trade through 'anti-trust' suits, targeted tax breaks and subsidies, military contracts, the list goes on). This is what the great thinkers have critiqued, not the free market. The problem is not free market capitalism the problem is the absence of the free market, the absence of people contracting with people freely, voluntarily and then being held to their contract, with wealth going only to those who provide things people want on a level playing-field. Society has been corrupted through the arrogance of government and the buying-in to the corrupt system by leaders of industry who should know better. Not all but most.

And what makes the USA a magnet is our entrepreneurship culture. The fact that you dont have to play the state-capitalist game.

Of course Putin's criticism of western interventionalism would ring a little more true if Russia's 75 year long imperialism (the USSR), especially under Stalin, wasnt one of deadliest reigns of terror in the history of the world.