The old robber barons were far from being free-enterprise men: J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, like many businessmen of their generation, believed strongly in state-directed collusion among firms (they’d have said “coordination”) to avoid “destructive competition.” You can draw a straight intellectual line from their thinking to Barack Obama’s views about state-directed “investments” in alternative energy or medical research.
…the capitalists are not prepared to offer an intellectual defense of capitalism or of classical liberalism. They believe in something else: the managers’ dream of command and control.
His claim is that many top corporate executives are naturally inclined toward progressivism.
Of course, we have known since Adam Smith that business leaders do not like markets and competition. What they like is protection and cronyism.
Progressives will engage in rhetoric against protected large businesses and cronyism, but that is not because they believe in markets and competition. What they believe in is industries that are organized and directed by government (e.g., Obamacare), which in practice devolves to. . .protected large businesses and cronyism.
I am skeptical of attempts, such as the Niskanen Center or ProMarket.org, to reach out to progressives. I would say to those who are trying this: don’t hold your breath waiting for progressives to reciprocate. They may favor you with a few status points, but their antipathy toward economic liberty will not abate.
I am not suggesting that an alliance with conservatives is the answer. There are many enemies of liberty among them, also. Moreover, reaching out to them will cost you status points with progressives.
Populism? I don’t think that the “keep your hands off of my Medicare” crowd is going to be our salvation.
All I can think of is to keep trying to explain the rationale for economic liberty, and hope that somehow amidst the din of all the outrage politics that the message gets through to some people and that they grasp it.
File this post under “being frustrated with those who disagree.”