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Capitalists beware: post-democracy America may not be a shining example of Hayekian liberalism

Summary:
Dan Little has a post up at Understanding Society on what authoritarianism might look like in the United States.  The whole thing is well worth reading, but here is one part: This seems about right, though of course speculative, but I have doubts about the big business piece.  Yes, some business interests will be close to the ruling party or strongman, and they may gain some degree of regulatory relief, but it would be a mistake for capitalists to think that they would thrive in an authoritarian system.  Even authoritarian regimes worry about popular support, and capitalism is not deeply beloved by the masses.  Just as the plutocratic wing of the Republican coalition has ceded power to socially conservative voters, business leaders in an

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Dan Little has a post up at Understanding Society on what authoritarianism might look like in the United States.  The whole thing is well worth reading, but here is one part:

Capitalists beware:  post-democracy America may not be a shining example of Hayekian liberalism

This seems about right, though of course speculative, but I have doubts about the big business piece.  Yes, some business interests will be close to the ruling party or strongman, and they may gain some degree of regulatory relief, but it would be a mistake for capitalists to think that they would thrive in an authoritarian system.  Even authoritarian regimes worry about popular support, and capitalism is not deeply beloved by the masses.  Just as the plutocratic wing of the Republican coalition has ceded power to socially conservative voters, business leaders in an authoritarian state would be vulnerable to the needs of the political elite.  Capitalists and their businesses would be a source of revenue and jobs to buy public support, convenient scapegoats when things go sour, and a potential threat to the ruling oligarchs.  Think about the uneasy position of capitalists in Russia and China. 

Little’s post suggests that capitalists and perhaps indirectly capitalism will be strengthened in post-democracy America by regulatory retrenchment.  The truth is that capitalists have it pretty good in America right now.  I hope they don’t engage in Hayekian wishful thinking about the economic benefits of totalitarianism.  The odds are that a nationalist authoritarian government would destroy our economic prospects as well as our democracy.  It would be a huge mistake for business leaders to think that authoritarians would rescue them from Allende-type socialism and faithfully serve their interests ever after. 

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