Is Free Market Capitalism Conservative?

TL;DR: Free market capitalism is not a central tenet of conservatism, and likely a passing fad

Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
JESUS, NOT A FAN

I felt compelled to write this submission following numerous observations of something which is taken as a truism by many here and elsewhere, the idea that any political position which does not support free market capitalism and/or a small state is collectivist and therefore somehow left-wing. I am going to attempt to argue that not only is this a narrow definition of right-wing, but that conservatives should be suspicious of free market capitalism.

Due to time constraints I have had to resort to the crude approach of using Wikipedia as my primary reference, and while I have misgivings about the impartiality of the site I have found the information I have used to be some of their better work.

I realise I am questioning one of the three core pillars of Going Postal political philosophy (the other two being anti-Islamisation and Euroscepticism), hopefully everybody can keep an open mind and make it to the end before furiously taking to the comments to accuse me of being a Marxist. Keep in mind I was once a radical libertarian.

RAMBOZ COMMIE BASTARD!!!

What is right-wing?

According to Wikipedia, “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies”.

I concur, entries for Collins, Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Encyclopedia Britannica and dictionary.com are broadly in agreement.

Note that the central position of the right is that inequality is a moral good, resulting from social differences OR competition in market economies. Put another way, an ideological commitment to free market capitalism is not a prerequisite to be considered on the right of the political spectrum, rather it is because a market economy necessarily results in inequality (of economic outcome) that it is considered right-wing. Any political system producing and/or defending inequality, economic, political or social as virtuous, can therefore be of the right. This makes sense when you consider the origins of the left-right political spectrum, with those loyal to the Ancien Régime sat on the right of the National Assembly.

How has this misconception that the right and free market capitalism are synonymous become so widespread? These are the ideas that currently dominate the right and have done for many decades now. My interpretation is that liberal forebears of the advocates of free market capitalism would have been among the radicals opposing the hierarchy, authority and tradition of the established order, or the “left” before there was a “left”. At some point liberals of the liberte persuasion broke ranks with their counterparts of the egalite persuasion, these two factions then forming alliances with the conservatives and socialists respectively. Right-wing liberals (classical liberals, libertarians, liberal conservatives etc.) and their ideas gradually came to infest monopolise the right, possibly having their big moment arrive following World War II when conservative ideas seem to have gone through their death throes. Perhaps it was the Americanisation of…everything, following the war, the United States having being founded on liberal principals. This is speculation of course and something I would like to look into further, whatever the cause politics has eventually devolved effectively into a civil war of right vs left liberals.

Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
I AGREE HERR VON HAYEK, AND PEOPLE ARE LOOKING RATHER DISILLUSIONED ATM

I believe that following a long period of liberal hegemony a genuine conservative resurgence is inevitable in the face of increasing evidence of the damage the nihilism and hyper-individualism of liberalism have caused. Something primal in Western man will be unleashed, no “sovereignty of the individual” mumbo jumbo. If on reading this you realise you are more a proponent of liberty than inequality, you may want to consider whether you have more in common with many on the left than the conservative right.

What is conservatism

Again Wikipedia comes to the rescue with a great definition of conservatism as “a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy and authority and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as monarchy, religion, parliamentary government and property rights with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity”.

The other sources are not as comprehensive, this is hardly scientific but we get an idea from the below summary table of what the central tenets of conservatism are, tradition and aversion to change are valued above all in the belief they promote stability and continuity. I would have thought human imperfection would feature more prominently.

Slow Change Tradition Property Rights Free Enterprise
Collins X
Merriam Webster X X
Oxford X X X X
Britannica X
Dictionary.com X X

An important note at this juncture is we didn’t conserve roller discos as they were a bad idea, likewise we should not conserve any old thing due to it’s familiarity. A new building which embodies our values is preferable to an ugly old one which does not.

So, is free market capitalism conservative?

Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
LET’S FIND OUT!
  1. Tradition. The market cares nothing for tradition, the market follows the crowd and the money. A nation becomes a mere economic zone, it’s people and customs no more important than the millions of strangers free to come and go as long as they take part in the game of production, exchange and consumption to keep the machine running. The inevitable endgame is that borders and nations become obsolete, they are only an obstacle to free movement of goods, capital and labour. Even more worrying is the market mentality appears to have spread beyond the economy, we now have a free market in culture, yours is one of just many to choose from in a supermarket of traditions and customs. There is no longer any traditional role for men and woman, they are just workers, consumers and are interchangeable.
Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
LONDON; FREE MARKET IN IDEAS
  1. Change. Society’s direction is at the whim of the “wisdom of the crowd” and all it’s constituent selfishness and short-sightedness. There is nobody at the helm who can steer the market, which is change itself, in a productive direction. With the marketisaton of all aspects of life values in the modern world which used to be passed down from parent to child are now passed down from YouTube to child.
  1. Stability. The inevitable extreme wealth disparities created by market competition cause two problems. Firstly, it results in a resentful, propertyless underclass which causes divisions ripe for exploitation. Secondly, particular individuals or groups are able to amass vast sums of wealth, giving them power to influence government policy and challenge the sovereignty of nations. These actors are known to push their own agendas in direct contradiction to the interests of the people, facilitating mass immigration by incompatible intruders, funding movements to undermine social cohesion, and challenging the will of the citizens should they dare to act in their own interests.
  1. Continuity. Who knows what tomorrow holds. Everything is for sale to the highest bidder, your nation, your culture and your history. Big business having imported millions of foreign workers are now obsessed with diversity and are discriminating against the indigenous population of this land in employment as they think this is what consumers want to see. You and your descendants are being dispossessed. They are constantly running adverts reminding us we are yesterday’s people, the people of the future are rootless, malleable citizens of the world, defined by what phone they have or what their go-to ethnic food is. Who needs a culture and a people when you have the latest iPhone in the colour of your choice delivered next day with one click. With the people goes the culture, that is not continuity

Ah…but “crony capitalism”. When has capitalism ever not matured into crony capitalism? Real communism has never been tried either, I hear.

Further thoughts

There is something ignoble about a mindset and lifestyle preoccupied with the exchange of value. This is true of both individuals chasing money, gadgets, holidays, cars or houses and a society geared towards ever increasing GDP. I don’t feel it’s appropriate for conservatives to define their philosophy on what economic system is preferable, an economic system should provide the necessities for life in a stable, non-disruptive manner allowing the citizen to focus on higher ideals. An obsession with economics will result in the nihilism and materialism common to the liberals and socialists, rooted in the belief that freedom comes from the satisfaction of desires (the other horseshoe theory).

Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
TYLER DURDEN, NO SOYBOY

I find this comment by Peter Hitchens in the below video insightful (@12.35). The market has become the natural law that orders all things, why would anybody who believes in the free market need religion? Indeed, I am yet to see a Christian on GP defend his/her religion as ferociously as I have seen the free market defended.

Then there is the Luddite in me (got it in first). Within the industry in which I work, employing over one million well paid workers in the UK it is not weaving machines but a convergence of RPA, AI, ML, Big Data and Blockchain threatening our livelihoods. Yes, yes  the horse drawn carriages etc., the difference is now the vast majority of people in the developed world across all industries are answering phones, emails, entering data into databases and much of the economy is already digitised. A huge proportion of this will be automated within a few decades and with factoring in other technologies such as self driving cars etc., 30 – 40% unemployment could be the norm (I believe will be). Having a huge number of people with no source of income other than selling their labour in an ever decreasing job market is not conducive to order. Please don’t give me“’twas ever thus”.

Something more appropriate

There will be those insisting it is intellectually dishonest to criticise free market capitalism without providing an alternative, I reject this assertion but I shall humor you nonetheless.

A possible alternative is distributism, an idea developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe based on Catholic principles in opposition to  both capitalism and socialism which considered property ownership as a fundamental right. A distributive state would ensure that all citizens of a nation (we can debate how strict or loose criteria for citizenship should be, in Sparta it was those considered worthy of dying in defence of the city) own enough productive capital to earn a living.

Here is an absolutely beautiful excerpt from the distributism Wikipedia page; “both socialism and capitalism are products of the European Enlightenment and are thus modernizing and anti-traditional forces. Further, some distributists argue that socialism is the logical conclusion of capitalism as capitalism’s concentrated powers eventually capture the state, resulting in a form of socialism. In contrast, distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life”.

This model would need updating for the information age being originally intended for an agrarian economy. The state will need a mechanism to ensure every citizen has a share in the productive capacity of the economy. Shares would not necessarily be equal, as a conservative I believe hierarchy and inequality are natural after all, but every citizen would be a property owner and have a stake in the economy.

I am under no illusions this idea will be popular on GP, I won’t be able to reply to all the objections in the comments (if I reply to any, as of course I don’t read the comments) I am satisfied if I have made the case conservatives should be looking for something more, shall we say, perennial.

The s word

How does my idea differ from socialism? I use a very literal definition of the term socialism as “collective ownership of the means of production” which this is clearly not. If I were to accept a more broad definition of increased state involvement in economic planning and distribution, then yes this has much in common with the economics of the mainstream left (as Hayek acknowledged this is a tendency of conservatives). However, it is more the association with egalitarianism (and internationalism) I have an aversion to than the concept of “socialism” itself, and if used to promote the conservative values of stability and continuity then my objection is much reduced.

Another rant on liberalism (you will have to excuse me)

GP readership is majority liberal (based on number of upticks on Sargon and Jordan Peterson videos), with a minority of conservatives and a handful of reactionaries (won’t name any names 😜) hence what I am about to write may be considered divisive, but with free speech being the buzz-principal of the day and offense is not given it is taken etc…this needs to be said.

Now…lads, conservatives have common cause with right-liberals in a concern over Islamisation, however the right-liberal’s concerns (I have been observing them closely) barely extend beyond an anxiety over the threat posed to liberalism itself and their liberty to indulge in degeneracy. You will have noted commonly used variants of the phrase “Islam is the problem”, I believe the rot goes far further. The liberals seem to be oblivious to the fact it is their values which have weakened and left us open for subversion and invasion as I argued in my previous offering (unsuccessfully it would seem). The right needs to know what it is before it can win, certain elements trying to out-virtue signal the left over who is the most tolerant and inclusive and who are the real “fascists” is far from helpful and frankly embarrassing.

Right-liberals detest Islam because of it’s socially conservative and authoritarian values. I too advocate socially conservative and authoritarian values, for how do you conserve anything without authority?

Zombie Ramboz, Going Postal
I KNOW SENECA QUOTES ARE POPULAR ON GP. NOT SURE HOW ACCURATE TRANSLATION IS, WISE WORDS NONETHELESS

Conclusion

Support of free market capitalism is not a prerequisite to be considered on the right of the political spectrum. If you are a conservative I urge you to broaden your horizons regarding economic matters, and if you are liberal, well that’s your problem, bucko.

© Zombie_Ramboz 2018
 
Audio file