The quiz explicitly identifies the economic Right with libertarianism and neoliberalism. The horizontal Left-Right axis, the explanatory page says, is “economic.” “Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.” The fact that the designers of the quiz refer to “Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market,” and that that they equate support for free markets as a right-wing position, says it all.
Remember the old “Pinochet was politically authoritarian but economically libertarian” canard? Right. Pinochet sent soldiers into factories and asked managers to point out union troublemakers for arrest. The clear intent was to prevent the owners of a “factor of production” — labor power — from exercising full bargaining rights on the market. Imagine if he’d carried out a similar program of terror against the owners of capital to force them to offer better terms to labor — do you think the designers of this quiz would call that “economically libertarian”? Pinochet took land from the people cultivating it and restored it to a landed oligarchy based on quasi-feudal titles. He “privatized” taxpayer-funded state property to crony capitalists on sweetheart terms. Somebody obviously never heard of the distinction between “pro-market” and “pro-business.”
Some of the questions have a “have you stopped beating your wife?” quality to them. For example: “Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.” Or “A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.”
I believe the main reason corporations rape and pillage the environment is that the government is actively intervening to protect them from the consequences of pollution — subsidizing waste, preempting tort liability, and the like. The main function of government is to subsidize the operating costs of monopoly and enforce the entry barriers that protect monopolies against competition.
But the implicit framing of the questions suggests the government and big business are naturally enemies, with state intervention as the only way to prevent corporate malfeasance. So how’s a left-wing free marketeer like me, who believes big government props up big business, supposed to answer questions like those? Given the designers’ preconceptions, there’s no way to answer truthfully without giving a false impression.
And how about this little gem: “What’s good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.” Want to guess whether an “Agree” or “Disagree” puts you closer to the “free market” end of the spectrum?
The test placed me squarely in the middle of the Economic Left/Right axis. I suspect my answers cancelled each other out because, while I regard all my positions as perfectly consistent with genuine free market libertarianism (as opposed to being a shill for big business and the plutocracy), the compass works from the unstated assumption that any critique of corporate power is somehow “anti-business” or “anti-market.”
Monday, May 30, 2011
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 08:10