The State-Corporate Convergence in Our State of Emergency
by Michael Rectenwald
Perhaps the most pressing matter today for advocates of freedom is the prospect of the Left completing the institution of a totalitarian state. There is no other way to read the multiprong approach and the political maneuverings that political operatives are taking to rule under “Biden.” I put “Biden” in quotation marks here because the current president of the United States is not a singular person named Joe Biden. It is a central executive committee consisting of party rulers and advisers, plus corporate-state apparatuses. Make no mistake, the power grab that the Left is undertaking poses the most grievous threat to liberty in recent history, regardless of its effects on the Republican Party.
The signals could not be any clearer. In addition to the swath of executive orders, clearly composed by executive committee members and aimed at either ingratiating and expanding the Democratic Party’s base or extending federal power, the Democrats have initiated a growing body of laws which would, if passed, ensure uniparty rule for the foreseeable future.
These include especially H.R. 1, or the For the People’s Act, passed by the House. Should it pass the Senate (with the eradication of the filibuster), H.R.-1 would grossly favor Democratic candidates in federal elections. Notwithstanding the expansion of the Democratic base through various means, including overriding existing voter ID laws in many states and mandating that all states allow mail-in ballots without IDs, it would further centralize federal election oversight and, according to the Institute for Free Speech, “[e]xpand the universe of regulated online political speech (by Americans) beyond paid advertising to include, apparently, communications on groups’ or individuals’ own websites and e-mail messages.”
The legislative maneuverings include the ‘‘Judiciary Act of 2021,’’ which would simply expand the Supreme Court to twelve members plus the chief justice. This move, which would amount to adding four Democrat-approved justices, would essentially effect a legislative takeover of the Supreme Court, as the Democratic-controlled Supreme Court would increasingly “legislate from the bench” and likewise expand the power of the Democratic-controlled legislative and executive branches beyond official perimeters. The odds of its passage, as is, are slim, but the overture is indicative of an attempted power grab not seen since FDR.
But the most conspicuous sign of the nearing consolidation of totalitarian government is the effective merger of corporate and state functionaries, with corporations and other organizations acting as appendages of the government and enforcing corporate-state desiderata. The indications of this merger are so many and sundry that any exhaustive recounting of them would entail a book-length treatment.
But take, for example, the calls by Congressperson Maxine Watters (D-CA) that “protestors” “get more confrontational” if the Derrick Chauvin verdict is unacceptable. Given the widespread rioting since George Floyd’s death, Watters’s language is a call to nationwide insurrection. Yet this language meets the approval of the corporate-government-media complex, despite the Left’s insistence that Trump had done just that before the Capitol breach. Libertarians should take note of the double standard not as a sign of the continued diminishment of the Republican Party but of a doublespeak characteristic of totalitarian regimes.
The most conspicuous example of a corporate-state merger is the extension of governmental power to corporations and other organizations with the covid crisis response measures, which have now exceeded lockdowns and masking to include the issuance of vaccine passports that corporations and other organizations may enforce or are already enforcing. The best hope for resisting these totalitarian measures is a refusal on the part of state and local governments to allow such corporate implementations of governmental dicta.
The old saw that “these are private companies” does not hold water, because clearly these corporate bodies have been enrolled as state apparatuses. Operation Warp Speed was rolled out by the federal government and has enlisted private organizations—first and foremost Big Pharma—to execute it. The state has enabled Big Pharma to profit enormously by instituting a state-of-emergency regime which in the US makes non-FDA-approved vaccines legal. On the other hand, Big Pharma—along with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—legitimizes the state-of-emergency regime, which in turn augments state power.
The enrollment of corporations in the scheme to vaccinate the population and to require such vaccinations for social participation should not be considered in terms of the prerogatives of private organizations but as part of the incursions of the state into private industry. What we are witnessing, and should be resisting, is a merger into a corporate-government complex, wherein government can bypass the legislative branch and enforce unpopular mandates by colluding with corporations and other organizations to make “policy.”
Perhaps the most egregious element of this corporate-state stranglehold on the population is the participation of Big Digital and the mainstream media. Big Digital conglomerates eliminate media outlets and voices that challenge the official covid narrative, including information about lockdowns, masking, and vaccinations, although the official narrative has not only changed willy-nilly but also has been proven factually wrong, as well as socially devastating. Big Digital and the media serve both the state and Big Pharma by eliminating oppositional views regarding the lockdowns, masks, and vaccines, and by pushing fear-inducing propaganda about the virus and its ever-proliferating variants.
As I have written in Google Archipelago, Big Digital must be considered an agent of a leftist authoritarian state—as a “governmentality” or state apparatus functioning on behalf and as part of the state itself. “Governmentality” is a term that should become well known in the coming days and weeks. I adopted the term from Michel Foucault and have emended it to refer to corporations and other nonstate actors who actively undertake state functions. These actors will be doing this in droves with vaccine passports, which will vastly augment state power under a state-corporate alliance.
Similarly, other major corporations perform state-sanctioned roles by echoing and enforcing state-approved ideologies, policies, and politics: indoctrinating employees, issuing woke advertisements, policing the opinions of workers, firing dissidents, and soon demanding vaccine passports from employees and customers.
The overall tendency, then, is toward corporate-state monopolization over all aspects of life, with increasing control by approved principals over information and opinion, economic production, and the political sphere. As the consolidation accelerates, the broad global state will require the elimination of noncompliant, disaffected, and “untrustworthy” economic and political actors. In the United States, with the elimination of political opposition, the tendency is toward uniparty rule, and with it, the merging of the party and state into a singular organ.
First published in the Mises Institute.