Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Class and the state

FW de Klerk, Financial Times:

The concept of nation states, bringing full political rights to everybody through the nation state concept, is morally defensible.

Unfortunately, having "full political rights" does not mean much without an economic corollary. Old man de Klerk understood this when his National Party negotiated control of the South African central bank right out of the hands of Mandela's African National Congress. This was done under the banner of "central bank independence," which just means independence from the political process citizens have a "full right" to.

The United States, for example, prides itself on "political freedom" -- which is the freedom for rich people to disagree with each other, and the freedom for everyone else to watch it on CNN; to "take part" in the manner of sporting events. In short, it is the freedom not to "waste your vote." However, "political freedom" does not include the freedom for poor people to disagree with rich people, at least in cases where they try to express it politically, as this invites the Martin Luther King, Jr./Malcom X/Fred Hampton-style "solution," to say nothing of the many forms of creative disruption a government will employ up to that point.

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