Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Does Hating Corporations and Loving Governments Make Sense?

By Robert Higgs

Many Americans (and others) obviously fear corporations more than they fear governments. Indeed, they look to governments to “save” them from grave harm at the hands of vicious corporations and to punish corporations for their evil, destructive actions. On such a mindset a large part of modern Progressivism and other leftist ideologies rests.

R. J. Rummel’s compilations show that approximately 262 million persons were deliberately killed by “their own” governments during the twentieth century alone—many times the number of death’s in that century’s international wars. Rummel calls this death toll “democide.”

It would be an interesting exercise for someone to compile the data for “corporacide,” the number of people deliberately killed by corporations in the same period, the time during which such business organizations were, so to speak, riding highest.

Aside from the fact that corporacide would be found, I am confident, to be close to zero—after all, as a rule, killing people is bad for business—one might call attention to the fact that corporations and other, similar business firms have been responsible for generating the bulk of the wealth that has lifted most of the world’s people out of poverty during the past century or so and for making a substantial portion of the world’s population affluent.

The combination “hate corporations/love governments” has to be one of the most bizarre ideological monstrosities of the past 150 years. It seems that people in general are utterly incapable of recognizing real threats and distinguishing them from threats that are inconsequential by comparison or actually not threats at all. Ideology’s power to blind people and twist their understanding is truly astonishing.

The above originally appeared at the Independent Institute.


  1. Some corporations are good, others are bad - just like people. Some clearly do kill (directly and indirectly) and many others do harm. However, if government has a monopoly on violence, we would completely expect death by government to substantially outpace death by corporation so I'm not sure I see Mr. Higgs' point.

    Has Mr. Higgs ever heard of Big Tobacco? Tobacco companies clearly misled and continue to mislead their customers about health risks of smoking. Or De Beers blood diamonds? Or the Corrections Corporation of America?

    How about Nestle convincing African mothers to quit breastfeeding to substitute for shitty Nestle baby formula? Or Chiquita banana slave-like labor conditions? Or Monsanto poisoning the air that farmers breath? Or the weapons manufacturers that work for the government war machine?

    The list goes on. Corporations don't kill at the pace of government, but they aren't all good actors either.

    The ideological test is: Does X actor violate NAP? How so?

    1. A life that offers you choices offers you the opportunity to make bad choices. What kind of life would you consider preferable?

      Unlike governments, corporations never force anyone to pay them money or consume their products. Advertising is misleading? Anyone who swallows an advertising line without question probably improves the gene pool with his death.

  2. Reading Higgs is good but not nearly as hearing the words from his mouth.