Economics/Class Relations

No, Small Isn’t Beautiful

The commies at Jacobin mag share Big Capital’s disdain for small business. Incidentally, I’ve seen this article criticized by “small is beautiful” leftists who were also zealous proponents of the covid shutdowns.

By Matt Bruenig, Jacobin

The power of big business needs to be confronted. But the solution to big business isn’t small business — it’s democratic socialism.

Over at Slow Boring, Matt Yglesias has a piece arguing that Amazon is not a monopoly and that a lot of what passes for anti-monopoly discourse is actually anti-bigness discourse. I agree with Yglesias on this point. Not all anti-monopoly advocates are motivated by anti-bigness per se, but many of them are, and this can create some confusion when it comes to understanding what they are trying to achieve.

I’ve been following the intellectual edge of anti-bigness types for many years now — especially Matt Stoller and Barry Lynn, whose books I’ve both read and who I’ve interacted with in other ways over the years — and so I thought it might be useful to explain what their philosophical motivations seem to be.

Anti-bigness types are not anti-capitalists, but their diagnosis of the problem with the current mode of production is quite similar to anti-capitalist diagnoses. Under a conventional capitalist system, a relatively small group of affluent people (the capitalist class) owns and controls the productive apparatus of society, and a much larger group of non-affluent people (the working class) must submit themselves to work for the former group, with the penalty for non-submission being death via starvation. This is an unequal and unfree way to organize a society, full of coercion and ripe with potential and actual abuse.

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