Yesterday, on Twitter, I was accused of being opposed to “Free Market”.
It led me to think seriously about humanity’s march from the Hunter Gatherer society to the modern Nation State. How has society changed and are there any lessons hidden in history?
In the dim distant past, our ancestors cooperated with each other. Had they not, then sabre toothed tigers would have sent us extinct before our ladies had a chance to learn about agriculture.
Then, without a need to hunt for food, we blokes muscled in on the agricultural scene and found a way to regulate it, to help it grow and to control it. Women could now be locked up inside the cave, for their own safety of course. This great new way of life also led to other human tribes invading and killing us which wasn’t the best thing for the cropping cycle.
Kings and Emperors and petty Princelings began to rule over us. Gods were invented and had to be fed, just as the other Rulers were. Of course there was a warrior caste whose job was not to farm but to protect the farms. They had to be fed as well. “Tax” was invented so the leaders, the soldiers and those who talked to God were able to do their thing without having to actually produce anything. The farmers were a bit of a problem but they bred freely so were always replaceable.
There was a lot of confusion about just how society should be ordered so a very wise King named Hammurabi wrote everything down in the world’s first set of Laws. Now everyone was happy so the status quo lasted for thousands of years.
OK. We are up to the Middle Ages
Still no sign of a “Free Market”
Then the peasants in France got upset and cut off the heads of everyone who had bullied them in the past. Suddenly there was the French Revolution and the American War of Independence. In an orgy of Democracy, and in a two hundred year blink of humanity’s eyelid, Rulers and their class lost their heads and were swept away.
In that tidal wave of Democracy, everyone was free. Well, almost everyone. Slaves were not really human so they could not be free and women were definitely inferior to humans so they didn’t get a say in anything. But everyone else was free!
Democracy is in a museum.
Is it extinct?
No! Of course the Orientals couldn’t be free. They weren’t proper humans either. If they were they would have invented Democracy.
So everything became free. And everyone had a vote. And of course the Market had to be free as well. Please don’t ask me why, it just had to be. Everyone still had to pay taxes. To themselves, of course since it was all democratic. Even your business had to pay taxes. That was something sacrosanct. It had been so since time immemorial when Pharaohs had to finance wars against Hittites.
Just as it had become a human tradition to attempt to reduce the amount of tax they owed to God, the King or to themselves. Even at the risk of losing their head or their liberty.
One problem with all this Democracy and Free Thinking was that the rate of invention went up and there were suddenly lots of new stuff around. Some of it was quite big new stuff and needed lots of cooperation to create. Sort of a throwback to the cooperation of the distant past when it was needed to create a dead mammoth. Lots of bloodthirsty savages temporarily working together.
So big ships, big telephone systems, big railways all got built by these cooperating savages. And everything got faster. And spread further. So the biggest of the bloodthirsty savages from all over the world finally got to cooperate with each other. But that is only a difference in scale. Not something new.
Perhaps there was something I missed. Something very early on I hadn’t seen.
I just spotted an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Hammurabi’s Laws needed someone to explain them. Throughout this Body of Law, some maggots began spreading. And they became known as “Lawyers”!
Through ages of interpreting, re-interpreting and, when all else failed, by rewriting the Law, Lawyers became the only ones who could understand it.
For much of civilised time, we ordinary mortals just shook our heads and got on with life. Male mortals, of course because women, slaves and Orientals could not hope to understand important stuff like that.
Lawyers noticed that Democracy had made everyone “free” and so some of them set their mind to determine the ramifications. If people were free, and we have a free market, then obviously the inhabitants of “The Market” had to be free as well. And so Lawyers determined that the Companies within the Free Market were as free as people. In fact that determination led to the conclusion that Companies are People as well.
Now, finally, we have found something new.
The Gods had been sort of people, incorporeal but existent, for millennia, yet they only lasted for a while before being replaced. Now we have Companies which are an incorporeal construct yet being treated as though they have a mind and a soul of their own. They must be people for they grow and grow and now cover the world.
Now is not the time to go into the 127 real born of woman, human people who control those Companies.
Instead we should look at the consequences of these Companies being People. These Companies are the Free Market. The Free Market, according to King Billy, I should be supporting. Supporting totally because I am free as well.
- Just as people in a Democracy have a vote, the Free Market Members have a vo -
NO THEY DON’T! But they can lobby and bribe and corrupt.
- Just as people in any Governmental system pay taxes, the Free Market Members pay taxe
NO THEY DON’T! Well, yes they do, within the limits that they allow the Government to tax them.
- Just as people in in any jusrisdiction who break the law go to jail, the Free Market Members go to ja
NO THEY DON’T! They do not go to Jail, except for an occasional “human person” scapegoat. They become too big to fail. They are certainly never executed for all the deaths they cause.
If Lawyers are the maggots in our body politic, then these Free Market Members have become the parasitic tapeworms within that body!
And so, King Billy, my response to you is, “No! I do not support the Free Market.”
My question to you is, “Do you support the right of tapeworms to suck the life out of you?”
Filed under: Australia, History, politics, reflective writings | 4 Comments »