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What Would "Freedom of Business" Look Like?

Congress shall make no law...

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Significant restructuring is in place as concerns FreeTheAnimal and The Swagger (newsletter). I'll update with details in a few days time. In the meantime...

In an email piece "The Spear in AI's Back," at The Daily Reckoning by Charles Hugh Smith (not online yet) puts it succinctly:

The spear in AI's back is the American legal system, which has been issuing free passes to tech companies and platforms for decades on the idea that limiting innovation will hurt economic growth, so we'd best let tech companies run with few restrictions.

The issuance of free passes to tech monopolies/cartels and platforms may be ending. Letting Big Tech run with few restrictions has led to the smothering of innovation as tech monopolies do what every monopoly excels at, which is buy up potential competitors, suppress competition, pursue regulatory capture via lobbying and spend freely on deceptive PR.

Emphasis added

I would simply point out that the inevitable trend all the way down the slippery slope is baked right into the cake of corporatism (corporation: a statutory entity created primarily to limit personal liability in business practices). With corporate liability protection, you can amass lots of investment because investors are responsible for exactly fuck all. And often enough, and definitely in civil matters, even the officers, directors, and employees have no liability for much of anything.

Big Publicly Traded Corp kills a billion people willfully, and what happens to you as a stockholder? Your shares go to zero (well, probably...you never know...). Employees of the corporation lose their jobs...maybe benefits that weren't vested, backed, or insured.

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You own a mom & pop convenience store, someone purposely slips, puts on a big act falling, and a bigger act feigning injury...and unless you're incorporated and have good insurance, you risk losing your house and your wife's wedding ring (you never did get that Rolex you dreamed about).

The difference is—human behavior being what it actually is—people are pretty bad at doing the right thing, or even refraining from doing the really evil fucking thing, if there isn't a lot to lose and face it, prison time isn't the biggest disincentive out there. Losing money isn't even the biggest disincentive out there. Losing financial security is the biggest for most folks who've worked hard to secure a good measure of it.

(Prison is actually a tradeoff: freedom for security. Many people aren't too put off by the idea.)

“Fascism is more appropriately called corporatism, for it is the perfect merge of State and corporate power.”

Benito Mussolini

In a timely article at the same place as Smith's but just published, Jeffry Tucker opines on the topic of...you guessed it...corporatism is fascism, and verse visa.

The Machinery of Fascism. In a section concerning the rise in fascism in Germany in the early 1930s, Tucker references a 1939 book, The Vampire Economy, by Gunter Reimann, "a financier in Germany who chronicled the dramatic changes to industrial structures under the Nazis."

In a few short years, from 1933–1939, a nation of enterprise and small shopkeepers was converted to a corporate-dominated machine that gutted the middle class and cartelized industry in preparation for war.

“The corruption in fascist countries arises inevitably from the reversal of the roles of the capitalist and the State as wielders of economic power,” wrote Reimann.

The Nazis weren’t hostile to business as a whole but only opposed traditional, independent, family-owned small businesses that offered nothing for purposes of nation-building and war planning.

The crucial tool to make this happen was establishing the Nazi Party as the central regulator of all enterprises. The large businesses had the resources to comply and the wherewithal to develop good relations with political masters whereas the undercapitalized small businesses were squeezed to the point of extinction.

“Most businessmen in a totalitarian economy feel safer if they have a protector in the State or Party bureaucracy,” Reimann writes. “They pay for their protection as did the helpless peasants of feudal days. It is inherent in the present lineup of forces, however, that the official is often sufficiently independent to take the money but fails to provide the protection.”

He wrote of:

The decline and ruin of the genuinely independent businessman, who was the master of his enterprise, and exercised his property rights. This type of capitalist is disappearing but another type is prospering.

He enriches himself through his Party ties; he himself is a Party member devoted to the Fuehrer, favored by the bureaucracy, entrenched because of family connections and political affiliations. In a number of cases, the wealth of these Party capitalists has been created through the Party’s exercise of naked power.

It is to the advantage of these capitalists to strengthen the Party which has strengthened them. Incidentally, it sometimes happens that they become so strong that they constitute a danger to the system, upon which they are liquidated or “purged.”

This was particularly true for independent publishers and distributors. Their gradual bankruptcy served to effectively nationalize all surviving media outlets who knew it was in their interests to echo Nazi Party priorities.

Reimann wrote: “The logical outcome of a fascist system is that all newspapers, news services, and magazines become more or less direct organs of the fascist party and State. They are governmental institutions over which individual capitalists have no control and very little influence except as they are loyal supporters or members of the all-powerful party.”

Huh? That doesn't sound remotely familiar to anything, does it?

Some idle juxtapositions, courtesy of Midjourney. See if you can tell the organic from the synthetic.

Now, quoting again...

"The Nazis weren’t hostile to business as a whole but only opposed traditional, independent, family-owned small businesses that offered nothing for purposes of nation-building and war planning."

It makes me think of dogs and cats, if you know what I mean.

But which do you prefer? Yea, I know. Walmart via its economic power sure has great prices and all, but if you had to choose? Really choose? And you'd never again get to browse around in a little eclectic, mom & pop country convenience or general store ever again never?

All coffee now and forevermore is Starbucks? No other options, never ever?

I trust that given the foregoing, you have an idea of what happens. It's pretty simple. Corporations amass great investment capital, they put it to work amassing more, and the more they get, the more influence and power they have to go even further. And they can begin courting mutual back-scratching favor with the State and its "regulators"...meaning, keep everything regularly corrupt at the highest levels.

(I get a kick out of the little "corruption" people get all worked up about. It's all limited hangout stuff. Police and local government corruption dealing in penny ante stuff in the pocket-change, to beer money, to thousands of dollars...keeping the scent of attention off where the real corruption lies in the millions and billions. What's Ukraine's corruption tab up to by now?)

And then there's "antitrust." It always strikes me as funny because whenever I look into antitrust actions, I'm always wondering who the victim is.

Let's imagine that Joe and Frank own little general stores on opposite ends of Main Street, Smalltown, Anystate USA. Frank and Joe get together, and they don't see why they ought to be driving each-other's prices down. There's also a limit on what they can do to "gouge" everyone because Bigtown's just 5 miles up the road. That's a trust that needs no busting.

Now you have Big Corp and Slightlyless Corp in the same trinket-making operation, and since Slightlyless is Jackbenimble and pretty quick, it gives Big quite a run. But "regulators" will be all over them if they "collude" in any way, so any sort of understanding as to what one ought to be doing vis-à-vis the health and security of both corporations as a whole is a Bignope.

So what do they do instead? Exactly what the "regulators" want.

Big Corp just outright buys Slightlyless, and then sets whatever agenda it wants, including ensuring the "regulators" and all their appropriate usual friends get usual and regular support and gratitude in all the customary ways and means.

... But there's something else. It's the part where you go say whaaat?

Did you ever stop to think that in the way back and in still some places today, the urge to have an official State religion or church has no more to do with heartfelt belief than does trust busting have anything to do with granny on her fixed social security income getting gouged? It's all about amassing power and influence and how it can be exploited to amass and concentrate even more.

A buncha churches with a buncha silly, wild-ass beliefs are rather like those small little country stores, no two quite alike. Those cats are not like politico's obedient best friends, and they can't be herded.

What we commonly refer to as freedom of religion or separation of chuck and State is actually codified thusly, in the 1st Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

It's cleverly worded because it can be taken to mean that the State can't establish any official religion, respect one religion over another, or interfere with the otherwise lawful conduct of the religion.

Now, given there are so many metaphorical religious references to business with its "almighty dollar"...

  1. "Mammon's Disciples": Referring to those wholly devoted to the pursuit of wealth, drawing from the biblical Mammon, the personification of wealth and greed.

  2. "Temples of Commerce": Used to describe places where significant business or financial transactions occur, such as stock exchanges or banks, likening them to places of worship.

  3. "The Gospel of Prosperity": This phrase critiques the belief system where wealth is seen as a sign of divine favor and poverty a sign of divine disfavor.

  4. "Economic Evangelism": The fervent preaching of free-market capitalism and its benefits, akin to spreading religious doctrine.

  5. "Idolatry of Wealth": Critiques the reverence and obsessive regard for wealth, suggesting it takes the place of traditional religious idols.

  6. "The Golden Calf of Wall Street": Drawing from the biblical story of idol worship, this phrase critiques the idolization of the financial market.

  7. "Sacrificial Offerings at the Altar of Profit": Describes the sacrifices (ethical, personal, or environmental) made in the pursuit of profit.

  8. "Financial Commandments": The fundamental principles or rules of good financial management or business practices, treated with the reverence accorded to sacred laws.

  9. "The Doctrine of Consumption": Refers to the set beliefs encouraging continuous consumption as a pathway to economic growth, paralleling religious doctrines.

  10. "Tithing to the Economy": This refers to the concept of giving a portion of one’s earnings not to a church but back into the business cycle, promoting further economic activity.

How about a legal challenge to fascism on 1st Amendment grounds, given the blurred and increasingly blurry distinction between church and business? Many aspects of Big Corp dealing in society and culture are not only reminiscent of, but exactly like churches and religion?

They operate like churches (and churches have operated like businesses for a long time and are, in fact, incorporated as statutory, tax-exempt business entities themselves), rally the flock like churches, seek loyalty and fealty like churches the list goes on.

... Or...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of business…”

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