Someone told me that free-market supports have a great deal of disdain for history. Historically, said this friend of mine, labour has always been exploited. Now I am not denying history, nor am I suggesting that labour was never exploited or that it should continue to be exploited. To the contrary, I believe that the reason labour was exploited is because they weren’t owners!
A free-market situation is where everyone is the owner of something and the buyer of something else. As a matter of historical fact, labour unions too came up during times of capitalism. Capitalism provides the entrepreneur with a way up the economic ladder- wage labour does not have to remain wage labour in a system designed to respond to positive incentives and given to increasing the size of the economic pie. Fine so that has to do with economics, what about social issues?
Let’s examine the South African experience. The history of apartheid has been a struggle of the individual as opposed to centralized government power. Sure with capitalism’s characteristic of the dispersion of wealth- a race counts for little. But what when, the race finally gets some social acceptance, what pushes further? Economic prosperity. So now South-Africa has set-forth to harness the forces of the market. So as R.J. Rushdooney put it “One of the central myths of the modern age is the belief that politics is the arena for effective social action, and for the advancement of causes. To the contrary, however, politics only adopts causes which have already gained popularity or success, and then often does harm to them . . . . ”
Ofcourse the government has a role to play- to put eloquently as Ludwig Von Mises did: ” The main problem of the market, the main problem of human cooperation, is the fact that there are people who resort to violent action, who do not comply with the rules that are necessary for the preservation and operation of the market. In Order to prevent this violent action, in order to make possible the workings of the market, of human cooperation, of human society, it is necessary to have an institution that protects the market against violence, against people who lack the knowledge or the will to comply with the rules of peaceful exchange of commodities and services. This is the function of government.”
That is the lesson India has to learn. That blind economic nationalism does nothing for India or Indians. Do Indian’s not have fewer jobs with fewer MNC’s? But forget jobs. Competition is about efficiency, technological innovation, and effective use of limited resources. Far more importantly it gives real power of choice to workers and consumers alike!