Monday, 16 July 2018

Bourgeois Schizophrenia: the Liberal and the Authoritarian State

The dis-location of the nation-state by the global bourgeoisie arises because of two competing and conflicting needs of capitalist industry: the first need is to reduce class antagonism in each specific area of capitalist production (the workplace, different branches of industry, different nation-states) by dis-placing it through technological “innovation” or exporting this antagonism to other geographical areas, including ultimately other nation-states, where the political strength of workers is reduced (for example, totalitarian regimes such as China at present, or former ones like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the recent past). In both cases, this first “need” induces the global bourgeoisie to shift production to ever more authoritarian nation-states. On the other hand, the second “need” of the global bourgeoisie is to place its capital holdings in as “liquid” a form possible (money as currency, gold, jewellery) under the control of nation-states with the governance that allows for impartial arbitration or resolution of inter-capitalist conflict and disputes. As we have seen in our previous entry, this “need” for state justifiability of bourgeois property rights arises because the formal freedom of the labour force requires the existence of many capitals: a capitalist society with only One Capital simply cannot exist - because there would be no “labour market”. (This is yet another reason why the Chinese Dictatorship will never be “capitalist” in China!)

The “free-dom” of capital requires a “liberal” political order - one in which (a) property rights and (b) access to “markets” - above all the “labour market”, that is, access to “formally free labour” - is absolutely sacrosanct and guaranteed constitutionally. Although a “liberal” State is not necessarily a “democratic” one (as imbeciles who insist on the phrase “liberal democracy” imply) - nevertheless, for workers to be “formally free” to sell their labour-power they need a minimal degree of political representation.  Thus, the first “need” induces the global bourgeoisie to support authoritarian regimes, whilst the second “need” makes it lean toward more “democratic” or at least “liberal” ones where at the very least an independent judiciary is present to adjudicate on property rights. The bourgeoisie needs a “rule of law” or even a “State of Right” (Rechtsstaat) for capitalism to exist at all! 

A bourgeois state must therefore be somewhat schizophrenic in character: in foro interno, it must be liberal and to some extent democratic; but in foro externo the bourgeoisie cannot but look with languorous envy at the autocratic states and tyrants that enjoy unbridled dominion over their workers! The liberal social contract celebrated from Hobbes to Locke, from Smith to Hayek, exists only for those States under whose protection the global bourgeoisie places its wealth: everywhere else, the global bourgeoisie seeks only its own brand of tyranny and domination! This abominable reality flies right into the face of those liberal theoreticians (such as Benjamin Constant) who argued that the freedom of capital movement would spread representative government across the planet on the hypothesis that money capital and investments would flow to liberal nation-states. These liberal theoreticians saw only one side of industrial capitalism - the need for “free markets”, above all the “labour market”, that is, the “formal freedom of the labour force”. But they did not see the other “need” of capital: - the need to dominate living labour (workers).


We can see now why and how this “schizophrenia” of the bourgeoisie leads to a dis-location of the bourgeois State from representative government to outright totalitarian dictatorship. Next, we shall see how this intra-cerebral problem is resolved by capital through monetary zones.

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