This article is an analysis of the concept of corporatism contrasted with the very important and keen in sights outlined in Peter Schwartz’s discussion titled Clarity in Conceptualization: The Art of Identifying “Package-Deals”. This lecture is recommended by the author and is found here.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word ‘corporatism’ was in 1890 and defined as, “the organization of a society into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and exercising control over persons and activities within their jurisdiction.” Although this concept is not new, it is ignored by both those who champion government power as well as those who despise it.
It is imperative this concept be re-injected into modern society for no other reason than to accurately describe how and why the United States’ future is nothing unless citizens stand up and fight this real and hidden evil.
This battle must begin with those who hold reason and objectivity as their highest value; the Objectivists. If the foundation of such support is not built upon those with the strongest moral ground, no others will follow.
As of today the concept of corporatism is rejected by some in this foundational group and branded as a package deal. This is not only incorrect, but a validation of the subjectivists’ claim that those who place reason as their highest value also hold businesses, regardless of their ethics, to an equal value.
Is it simply by virtue of production that producers are moral, or is the means in which such production accomplished the core to such morality?
To place production through coercion as equal morally as to produce through the fruits of one’s mind, talents, and effort is a huge error.
Corporatism is not a package deal; or a distortion of reality by replacing a legitimate concept with a false one to the point where it distorts society’s perception of reality. To understand why this is the case, the best illustration is to take each of the concepts communicated in Peter Schwartz’s lecture on identifying package deals and show why this is not the case.
First, and most important, is the key distinction between package deals and cognitive errors. Schwartz exhibits this difference by describing the evolution of the word “selfishness” into a package deal and pinpoints very keen distinctions between the destructive force of a true package deal and simple ignorance of those who know no better:
When someone first forms the concept ‘selfish’ it is to distinguish people who act for their own benefit as against those who act altruistically; for the benefit of others. The concept ‘selfish’ will include, at least initially, it will include those who act rationally independently, such as Howard Roark, and those who acting irrationally and dependently, like a bank robber.
You don’t at this point have the more advanced philosophic knowledge that at root the criminal is not acting to achieve his self interests; that to act irrationally is to achieve self destruction. That knowledge will come later, one hopes.
But now on a simply common sense level you will classify both Roark and the crook as people concerned in their own interest. As against what? As against the Mother Teresa types who are not concerned with their own interests.
Now so far this is not a package deal. You are using the concept ‘selfishness’ appropriately to refer to a concern with one’s own interests. It’s just that you have an error in fully understanding what constitutes self interests. That is a philosophic issue. But the meaning of the concept selfishness remains clear.
Consequently, there is nothing preventing you from making the necessary moral distinctions between a Howard Roark and a bank robber. That is, you have both Roark and the thief as units of the concept. Okay, that’s fine. But you also know that with respect to a moral evaluation there is a fundamental difference between the actions of Roark and the actions of the thief.
The same holds true for corporatism. People may make the error of ascribing corporatism to all corporations, but that is an error, not a package deal or more specifically an anti-concept. There are in fact immoral corporations whose profit models rely upon the coercive power of government in order to force people to buy their products and services. This is both reality and the very essence of corporatism.
It is a fact that many powerful corporations rely upon the government to impose their products and services upon citizens. This is not a distortion of reality; another characteristic of package deals that does not apply. Consequently, there is nothing preventing people from making the necessary moral distinctions between a corporation and corporatism, both are units of the concept and the definitions of both are clear.
Second, corporatism is not a ‘rule-ignorer’ that eliminates the concept of the word corporation, which Schwartz points out is another facet of a package deal. A corporation is defined as an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting states on its website that it is a “Private Corporation Funded by the American People.” Should Objectivist defend this propaganda outlet simply because it is in fact a corporation, despite the fact it uses the coercive power of government to force people to fund its efforts? This juxtaposition, coupled with the fact that many corporations’ profit models are predicated upon the government forcing people to buy their products and services, illustrates the rule that constitutes the concept of corporation is anything but ignored in the concept of corporatism.
One could say that the concept of corporatism implies all businesses are immoral regardless of their operational ethics, therefore the concept of corporatism is an attempt to ignore the rule that underlies the concept of corporations or business in general. Yet this is not true. One could become confused by conflating the concept of corporatism with the legal entity of a corporation, but this is an error not a package deal. Religion is a business. General Electric is a business. Public Broadcasting is a business. Simply by virtue of an entity operating as such does not make their actions moral or ethical any more than it makes them capitalist.
Third, there is no attempt to replace a valid concept with an invalid one, another facet of a package deal. The aforementioned examples are all corporations and/or businesses that welcome serving as organs of political entities, and illustrate equally the concept of corporation or business as those that conduct themselves in a true capitalist environment either by choice or by consequence.
Fourth, Schwartz states that package deals are pseudo-concepts that deny the real concepts on which their existence depends. Package deals are stolen concepts. Yet is the concept of corporatism leeching off the concept of corporations or business? Of course not. Unless one was to claim that all businesses, and in particular the legal entity of a corporation, necessarily and essentially possess the morality of capitalism, this cannot be the case.
It is evident today, and is evident all throughout history, this is not the case. How is it even possible that such a negative connotation to what is, and always was reality, be stolen or denied?
People’s negative response to the term is an emotional response, not a logical one. Objectivist should know better. The messages being formed today do not work because they do not describe the real problem.
What are Objectivists doing by denying this concept?
The underlying issue that must be stated is that some Objectivist have in fact created their own anti-concept, that of the corporation. By subjugating the concept of capitalism to all concepts of corporation and business, they are denying the reality of the concepts of ‘corporation’ and ‘business’ that is wholly immoral and negative. This is a distortion of reality that serves the statist, a package deal of the most destructive degree.
The concept of the legal entity corporation is not essential in any way to the concept of capitalism. In fact, many true free market advocates would say that the separation of a business entity from its human leadership is truly anti-capitalist. By insisting the two concepts are equivalent to the extent that the word is not just avoided but demeaned, is to demand the existence of an anti-concept.
Why must people use the concept of corporatism?
The concept of corporatism is fundamental to our success because nothing is more accurate. This is what is destroying our country, those who hold their country and logic in the highest esteem should not be afraid to say it.
Furthermore, the concept of corporatism uses our opponents’ strengths against them. Our opponents believe capitalists will champion the corporate culture no matter what it does, even if it works in alliance with those who want to destroy a society that holds the individual as its highest value.
This is the trap set by the statist and it is working.
Think about this carefully. If collectivists work in concert with their opponent’s biggest, richest, and most powerful of allies–a chosen group of the largest businesses–while at the same time the capitalist opponent demands no one say anything bad about that ally, what are the odds they (the collectivists) win? Quite good, and for what reason? Opposition which at its core is based essentially on how a word sounds, not based upon its accuracy in describing reality.
Equally important, the concept of corporatism disarms the opponents of freedom completely because there is no response that even gives the appearance of being logical. The accusation of either being a corporatist or that what is happening today is corporatism is factual and accurate, therefore impossible to dismiss.
No package deal exists, and by the time the opponents of freedom create one, the capitalists will have won. It destroys their ready-made package deals and cookie cutter arguments that have worked for decades; collectivists are completely unprepared to do anything different. It is necessary to recognize that the messaging of the past does not work and start thinking out of the box.
The concept of corporatism does exactly this.
In much of America today, “big government” and “high taxes” are perceived as a good thing to many voters. Pointing a finger at a politician and making these accusations does no real harm as we’ve seen over the last few decades. In the minds of many people a favorable decision is already made in their mind regarding these concepts and nothing can be said that will change it.
This cannot be done with the concept of corporatism. Its connotation is that of a concept a statist would in fact use, and herein lies its power. The very concern people have with using the word is exactly why it should be used.
With our opponent’s defenses destroyed, the arguments they’ve used for years rendered useless, their package deals in this regard destroyed, and their offense denied because their stereotypes are not applicable, we move in with the truth. This is the only thing that will turn this massive tide towards collectivism and we must do it now.