Category Archives: Staying in power – Struggle for control

This section considers the second of two fundamental ways in which a social system where harm is important differs from a productive one: maintaining control. It is a much more substantial problem for such societies. Threats come from two sources, those who would replace them, while maintaining harm, and those who would reduce harm.  This control takes place in the political, economic and social spheres; in the consideration here, the emphasis is on the political.

Two groups of economic historians writing from an orthodox economic perspective have discussed such societies, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (2012), and Douglass North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast (2009).

North, Wallace and Weingast use limited access order or natural state.
A natural state… form[s] a dominant coalition that limits access to valuable resources—land, labor, capital—or access to and control of valuable activities—such as trade, worship, and education—to elite groups. The creation of rents through limiting access provides the glue that holds the coalition together, enabling elite groups to make credible commitments to one another to support the regime, perform their functions, and refrain from violence (2009, 30).

They estimate that limited access orders have about 85 percent of the world’s population.  Freedom in the World (2020), Freedom House’s annual global report on political rights and civil liberties covering 195 countries, addresses the same topic. Separate scores are awarded for political rights and for civil rights which, weighted equally, are used to determine the status of Free, Partly Free, and Not Free. Forty-three percent of the countries of the world are evaluated as free, while 57 percent are classified as either Not Free (25 percent) or Partly Free (32 percent).

Three subcategories bring out important aspects of maintaining control. Conflict is an important part of harm which, as harm, has not received the attention that it deserves.  It is thought of as “national defense” in the pursuit of “strategic self-interest” with some “collateral damage” which minimizes its role as harm. Harming people – Keeping people oppressed  brings out the often brutal oppression of people by those who control productive + harmful economic systems. Opposing oppression and injustice illustrates how people have fought against oppression and injustice.  (This section is perhaps an inadequate appreciation for the struggle that people have waged, but it is something. ) This section also includes some mention of the struggle between democratic and oligarchic elements in a given nation which result in victories won by democratic forces.  Governments and other parts of society can act to reduce harm.  As  an assumption of orthodox economics is that governments almost always do act in this way, we have tried to bring out the evidence for an opposing view in this website.

Opposing oppression and injustice 2022

University of California strike begins second week: “We need a society that works for everyone, not just the capitalists at the November 22, 2022

Staughton Lynd, historian and activist turned labor lawyer, dies at 92 Clay Risen New York Times November 18, 2022
After being blacklisted from academia for his antiwar activity, he became an organizer among steel workers in the industrial Midwest.

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Conflict 2022

More than 100 million now forcibly displaced UNHCR June 16, 2022 Access full report.
At the end of June 2022, an estimated 103 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order. This is an increase of 13.6 million (+15 per cent) compared to the end of 2021, more than the entire populations of Belgium, Burundi or Cuba. Today, one in every 78 people on earth is displaced.

How the West betrayed Mikhail Gorbachev and seeded the Ukraine conflict Thomas Palley September 1, 2022

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Review of Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties by David de Jong

Nazi Billionaires by David de Jong: How Hitler’s financiers are still in business Ela Maartens and Verena Nees November 2, 2022
…first, it was the ruling capitalist class, not the people, that wanted the rise of Hitler’s dictatorship. It massively financed the Nazi party in order to prevent a revolutionary uprising of workers in Germany.

Struggle for control – staying in power 2022

Suspending donations to election deniers: What Fortune 500 companies said after Jan. 6 vs. what they did Alec MacGillis and Sergio Hernandez ProPublica November 1, 2020
All told, at least 228 of the Fortune 500 — representing more than two-thirds of the 300-odd companies that have political action committees — have given to the 147, for a total of more than $13 million. (This does not include millions in contributions made to Republican campaign committees for the House and Senate, much of which is making its way to those who voted against certifying the election results.)

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Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2021

Russian court orders prominent human rights group to shut  Ivan Nechepurenko and Andrew E. Kramer New York Times December 28, 2021
The Supreme Court ruled that Memorial International, which chronicled political repression in Russia, must be liquidated.

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