Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Separation of Market and State


In light of the inauguration of Donald J Trump as president and the million people marches out there, I’d like to stay optimistic about developments around the globe, yet I find myself sinking back into a realization that we are not experiencing anything new.  The inauguration of both George W Bush and Barack Obama spawned protests and counter protests, all a bit wishy washy, with no clear goals or agendas, littered with celebrity speakers to make the crowds feel good about themselves.  I fear we have not learned much from the past.  I fear that the protests are a simple reaction, not a means to a sustained political and social change.   

If we look at Trump’s cabinet appointees, we see that he’s filled it with nothing but business types, some with no political experience, much like Trump himself.  But is this a revolutionary move on Trump’s part?  I would argue the opposite.  Trump is just doing what is considered hegemonic in the current globalist business ethos.  He is going to run the government like a corporation with himself the CEO in Chief.  This is not new. If one looks around America, bit by bit the trend emerges, from education to entertainment to government, schools are run by a bloated bureaucracy of middle management administrators, retail shops, call centers, Silicon Valley, all marching in unison to the white collar bureaucrat.  Even art museums found it necessary in the early 21st century to lock step with the top down winner-takes-all business model with a layer of curators and administrators serving as intermediaries between the public and the art(ists).  Trump is merely replacing one form of oppression with another and I fear that the protesters have no alternative answers to our predicament.  Their answer seems to be to funnel more of their own into political positions of power, supplementing rather than replacing the very system that oppresses them. 

What happened to the words of Rudy Dutschke when he implored the radical left to go on a “long march through the institutions?”  I also fear that the long march had turned the former radicals into mushy placeholders who managed to alter their ideology so as to remain gainfully employed in a precarious and volatile market.  The vision of somebody like Dutschke is long term, but also na├»ve in some respect.  How can one predict what will happen to those that enter the governmental business machinery with the intention to disrupt or change it, as the protests suggest? How is one going to prevent the cooptation of their faculties and subjectivity? How will these people remain committed and accountable? 

The world of business is riddled with inequality, vicious backstabbing and corruption precisely because these are entirely inscribed into the idea of business itself.  There must be some sort of proposition made that just as government should be separate from religion (which it is not by any stretch of the imagination) in the classic idea of separation of church and state, so the state must be separate from the market for it to function even on the most fundamental level.  What do we gain by a marriage between the state and the market besides the obvious, the relinquishing of power to the most powerful and the acquiescence by the public to political, cultural and social hegemony and finally become beholden to the fluctuations of the market itself?   

Especially fearsome is the herd mentality surrounding social media, partly because the internet, via its supposed anonymity and virtuality, impresses upon people the idea that actions have no consequences, the election of Donald Trump is a case in point.  If one wants to experience freedom, one cannot hand over their personal power, even to someone whose intentions are good and whose views on the world we share.  Trump is going to expand the power of government, not shrink it. He is not going to replace, merely supplement what already exists by handing over power to a like-minded elite.  It was no different under Obama or Bush or Clinton.  He will make deals, he will write contracts, he’ll shake his fists at other politicians, all the while firmly rooted in what he knows best, how to best profit himself.