Corporate Capitalism?

I read with interest ex-neoconservative Paul Weaver's account ("Mugged by Reality," March) of his gradual disenchantment with corporate capitalism and his conversion to libertarianism. (I am reminded of Karl Hess's Dear America). Weaver's article, however, raises some unresolved questions.

Doesn't the system of market capitalism and pluralist politics supported by libertarians tend to degenerate into the very system of corporate capitalism they criticize? If selfishness is a virtue, and if there is no general interest beyond that which results from individuals freely pursuing their self-interests, is it not in the interest of corporations such as those described by Weaver, once they have won market dominance, to use their political liberties to seek regulatory and other action from the government to restrict competition or in other ways protect their own position?

If not—if, in the long run, all corporations are better off maintaining free markets and competition—doesn't that mean there is a general interest in free markets that requires the sacrifice or subordination of the self-interests of those who gain dominance? Isn't that the same argument as the neoconservatives' and liberal social engineers'—that individuals should forgo immediate interests in the name of a public interest? And doesn't that contradict some of the premises of libertarian theory?

Raymond B. Wrabley
Johnstown, PA

I was intrigued by Paul Weaver's article as he painfully learned basic facts of corporate life. I was disappointed, however, that he failed to learn the basic fact about the relationship of corporations and capitalism: corporations by their nature are incapable of advancing the cause of the economic system under which they have been most successful, and their existence is neither necessary to capitalism nor particularly desirable under any circumstances.

If Mr. Weaver had looked deeper into the history of corporations he would have realized that they have always been a unique creature of—the state! They were created by the state (king) to serve the state (king). Remember the Hudson Bay Company, the Massachusetts Bay Company, and their historical relatives? No free-market freaks here. Just old-time protectionism. Has 300 years changed the nature of corporations?

Let us hope that our legislators will have the wisdom to repeal the laws creating corporations. People may then freely choose to conduct their business affairs in a corporate form, but I expect creative minds in that era to do better than establish a libertarian corporate state.

I would like to suggest to Mr. Weaver that corporations and capitalism may even be antithetical. This would much better explain their failure to support and defend capitalism.

David M. Grappo
Oakland, CA

Ditch the Drug Laws

As Mark Buechler says ("Why Not Ban Falling in Love?" March), lives are being ruined by drug laws, not drugs. Beyond REASON's enlightened readership, unfortunately, the general public is too much in the grip of hysteria to grasp most of the arguments that can be raised against that hysteria. The world, or a large segment of it, is deaf to reason.

My favorite argument is that antidrug laws are an economic incentive to drug trafficking. Once that is asserted, it attracts attention. Once demonstrated, it cannot be refuted. But even this is not certain to stop the hysteria, because people have made up their minds and do not want to be confused by the facts.

I am haunted by the observation of H.R. Trevor-Roper that for several hundred years, critics of witchhunting never denied the existence of witches. It is like asserting the right of people to take drugs. Hardly anyone can "hear" the argument. Critics point out that drug testing violates the civil rights of those who are not using drugs, but they do not deny that people caught buying or selling illicit drugs should be punished.

There are at least three arguments against drugs: They are medically harmful, cause moral (psychological) indolence, and are bound up with criminals. The hysterics weave these arguments together without awareness that each argument does not prove the others. They cannot see that their data are biased and their criminalization of drugs attracts criminals. At base, of course, they believe it their moral duty to make others moral and well against their wills.

Miles Fowler
El Cerrito, CA

Mark Buechler fails to note that the main reason for the War on Drugs is its usefulness in distracting Americans' attention from the criminality of their own government's employees. Karl Marx said, "The best way for government to control the people is to remain in a constant threat of war." Our government has only pluralized war.

Bill Fargo
Denver, CO

Chemical Coercion

In our modern therapeutic state there exist, with a few exceptions, two kinds of drugs: prohibited and compulsory. Roy Childs ("Battling the Drug War," March) is right on target in demolishing the justifications for drug prohibition. At least he is not likely to be sued for speaking the truth.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Dr. Peter R. Breggin, who has courageously exposed the flip side of the drug issue—specifically, the coerced use of brain-damaging drugs to control psychiatric inmates. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) attempted to get Dr. Breggin's medical license revoked after he advised prospective psychiatric patients on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last year to avoid therapists who prescribe the major psychiatric drugs and to seek out loving and caring people instead. Fortunately, the Maryland Commission on Medical Discipline threw out NAMI's complaint, ruling the entire matter a First Amendment issue. But this incident reveals how far those who lie about drugs are willing to go in silencing their critics.

On odd-numbered days, we are bombarded with lies about prohibited drugs; this is called the War Against Drugs. On even-numbered days, we are bombarded with similar lies about far more dangerous drugs forced on unwilling or misinformed people; this is called biological psychiatry. The only remedy to this mendacity about drugs is to speak the truth and assert the principle that given free, fully informed, and uncoerced choice, individuals have the absolute right to use or refuse any drug, regardless of alleged harm or benefit, and should be responsible for their choices.

Stephen Mendelsohn
New Britain, CT

Hope for China: A First-Person Story

I read with great glee "Dissident China," by Susan Ruel (Feb.). I've had a strong faith recently in the possibility of China becoming the first great socialist/communist country to change its stripes and convert to democracy. Ruel's account of Dr. Wang Bingzhang is eye-opening. But listen to my tale!

I am a retired real estate broker in Philadelphia with a too-big house; my four kids have flown the coop. So I am renting out rooms to students at nearby Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. This year I have a Chinese student.

He comes from Chunming in southern China, an agricultural region 6,000 feet above sea level and only about 100 miles north of Burma. He is 49 years of age, left his wife at home to study engineering here, and eventually plans to return.

He speaks very good English and is extremely well-mannered, cultivated, and considerate. He is curious about our democracy; he wanted to see all the original colonial buildings, the treasured halls where our liberty was put together, and especially the Liberty Bell. Asking him why he found all this so intriguing, I got an astonishing reply.

His father was raised in the old China and did not forget how things used to be. He laid low during Mao's revolution. But as his son was about to embark on a trip to the United States, he took him aside and said, in effect, "The place where you are going, the United States, has the three most important written documents of history. Remember them! They are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation."

I was entranced! How could this be? From communist China? And recalled now, from before the days of Mao? What was Mao's real influence, anyhow, if these thoughts slipped through 30 years of his terror? This, I said, tells me there is good news from China tonight. The country has a future measuring up to ours. Five thousand years of Chinese culture cannot be overthrown. China will recover.

Gerard H. Bye
Philadelphia, PA

Another Party Heard From

For some time I have enjoyed reading REASON and have found it extremely informative. But something is disturbing me. Your slogan is "free minds and free markets." Yet, with a presidential election coming up, the party and the candidate who most nearly represent your views have not been mentioned in recent issues, as nearly as I can tell—and I've read them "from kiver to kiver." I feel that Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party deserve a better shake.

Bill Williford
Houston, TX

Sweet Surrender

I surrender. Enclosed is a subscription fee for REASON. I am not a libertarian and do not intend to become one but cannot resist reading the magazine, including the pieces on, of all occult matters, economics!

Arnold S. Trebach
The Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, DC