The Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne Jr., predicts that the reemergence of the Democratic left will be a major political story in 2014 (“The Resurgent Progressives,” January 1). He argues that the American right has been unwilling to compromise on policy matters with moderate Democrats. As a result the populace has been dragged ever farther to the right — even with Democrat Barack Obama in the White House. This rightward shift of the nation, Dionne writes, is responsible for a rising “militancy” on the Democratic left. The left Democrats and the right Republicans are really going to have an ideological showdown this year. This is good for American citizens — it will foster better policy from Washington. In his final analysis he notes:
When politicians can ignore the questions posed by the left and are pushed to focus almost exclusively on the right’s concerns about ‘big government’ and its unquestioning faith in deregulated markets, the result is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real center, you need a real left.
Leaving the mis-characterization of left and right aside, the biggest flaw in his thinking is assuming that government institutions can foster good policy for the populace. The resurgent left, the resurgent right, the resurgent center — none of these will actually help people. Sure, some policy decisions may be a wee bit better than others, but long-term viability will not come from the halls of power. That experiment has failed for thousands of years.
True change will have to come from the populace. Change in the United States will function the way it does everywhere else — by sit-ins and creative labor, not by legislative decree. Government institutions are often hurdles to democracy, progress and policy that represents the will of individuals. The power structure, contrary to what individual Americans may believe, will continue to govern with force. A centralized bureaucracy will not represent the wishes of free people. Liberty and the state will be ever at odds.
The answer lies in the free(d) market.
Markets, as they currently exist, are not free. Today state-sanctioned economic privilege exists. The market anarchist realizes this and works toward the realization of the true beauty of the market. The free market, by its very definition, must resist domination, violence and privilege because these societal attributes are violations of liberty and human dignity. Free markets, then, based on the spontaneous order of human ingenuity, are a fundamental aspect of a free, liberated society.
In 2013 we witnessed the rise of dissent. Whistleblowers became heroes, a war-weary public halted a new military conflict in the Middle East, civic sector institutions and social movements demanded protection for the environment, alternative currencies developed, new technology started to change the way we think about education, we protested police brutality, we fought for the commons and so much more. Even more, we witnessed this collective action across the globe. The market is back!
Rights do not come from governments. Throughout our collective history, liberation has been achieved by people either working around power structures or directly engaging them, forcing change. Liberation is not the product of legislation, but the sum of human action. When we turn our backs on the political and economic elite we empower free human beings to craft a liberated market. When realized, our federations, institutions and places of exchange will be the story of generations.
The real story of 2014 will be the resurgent market.