Commentary on Political Economy

Sunday 11 January 2015

Why We Must All Be “Charlie”


The last few entries on this Blog have been dedicated to the role of the State in economic theory. The central plank of liberalism, which is the chief ideology of the capitalist bourgeoisie, is that the State can be a “neutral” and purely “”technical” social mechanism that guarantees the “freedom” of its members by isolating the Political (the complete freedom of expression of its citizens, or public opinion) from the Economic (the bourgeois activity of its members). As Benjamin Constant believed, it is capitalism or “commerce” that has replaced “war” as a means of settling disputes between citizens: in other words, the best of all possible worlds is for all “citizens” in a State to become “bourgeois”.


Yet the events in Paris of the last few days bring to light the ineluctable contradiction in the liberalist doctrine: for if in fact capitalism could bring about the elimination of social conflict through economic science (“commerce”), then we would have to assume that the cause of social conflict (“war”) is exclusively “economic”. Yet the impavid campaign conducted by the editors of Charlie Hebdomadaire that attracted the ire of Islamist beasts was precisely directed at the fact that there is and there can be no separation of the Political from the Economic – because sooner rather than later - religious bigotry will interfere with “commerce”, and indeed “commerce” invariably interferes with “religion”.


It was no coincidence that some French citizens held up placards in Place de la Republique with the motto of the French Republic, “Liberte’, Egalite’, Fraternite’”: - because it is only “fraternity”, and not the vacuous slogan of “equality”, that can ever guarantee “freedom”. The confusion lies in believing that these three concepts are compatible - and this confusion is the most hideous lie propagated by the liberal State. Given that this is the case, Hegel’s condemnation of the liberal State (a State based on contractualism) as a “putrefying carcass” eaten alive by its bourgeois contracting parties (the opposite of “citizens”) rings absolutely founded and true. And this is our subject here: what kind of “fraternity” can be consistent with “freedom”? Cheers.


  1. "for if in fact capitalism could bring about the elimination of social conflict through economic science (“commerce”), then we would have to assume that the cause of social conflict (“war”) is exclusively “economic”."

    There is no conflict. Social conflict will never be eliminated. What really needs to be thrown out is this idea of equality. People are inherently not equal. A class structure is necessary to the functioning of a society. Different people have different skill sets. The best societies are the ones that can take advantage of each person's skill set and capabilities. The society that best allows this is the concept of liberty.

    I just think having a class structure is completely natural. Some people will naturally be better at dealing with money than others (and I really think we shouldn't listen to people like Marx who had ZERO ability to maintain wealth on maintaining wealth). So if you define class by wealth, of course you're gonna have a class structure. If you define class by power, some people are better rulers than the rest of the populace. If different people are good at different things, some people will be better rulers, some will be better with money, some will be better fit to raise families, etc.. A healthy society is one that provides the optionality for each person to do as they see fit.

    I'd like to add that eliminating war is really a pipedream. Wars happen because there's a real conflict of interest over a certain thing. It's like two kids fighting for a toy on the playground; it's the exact same concept. Suppose I import a lot of my food/energy and I'm not sure I can keep the supply lines open, there's some oil reserves near my border that my neighbor has, and I've got superior guns/more money than him. Then I just go in guns blazing, take what he has, and I'm fine. This is how and why war happens. Guns matter; it's a mistake to take guns out of the equation. I'd argue that the economics of empires matters way more than thinking about things from the Marxist perspective.

    I'd also like to say that the idea of looking at everything in the view of a class conflict is, in my opinion, kinda pointless. Why does it matter that someone else has more material things than me or is a "higher class" than me if I have the basics?

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  3. I'd like to add that inequality is a problem because of technical economic issues, but not because it's morally wrong. Inequality is not morally wrong at all. If we really look at the issue of inequality via class conflict, what we're effectively doing is that we're creating a war that just isn't necessary. Instead, we need political institutions that can adapt to differences between different groups rather than frame everything as one group vs another group.

    I'd like to add that even in a fraternity, you don't have equality. Any time you have a large group of people, they're completely useless you have a leader. A body without a head is completely useless. Similarly a multitude without a leader is useless.