Corporatism is a disease that infects the body politic. Its fascistic characteristics are inimical to human liberty, for it allows those who would otherwise compete in the economy to short circuit the free market by cheating through legislative graft and government favors. This extends to nearly all industries, but none are more virulent, or more deadly, than the military-industrial complex.
Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler explains the corruption he witnessed during World War I by the war profiteers. With so much product to be bought by the government, why shouldn’t private enterprise abandon the principles of the free market by selling a whole lot more materiel to the government than will actually be needed? Some might argue that they would do so to rip off the federal government, but the only people really getting financially screwed are the taxpayers.
The obscene percentages gained by the war profiteers are a deviation away from the mechanics of capitalism. Such a perversion in market incentives (that is, the normally harmonious relationship between supply and demand relative to each other) serves to reward destruction and waste above that of production and resourcefulness. This is only possible if the various political ideologies of the corporatist war profiteers are fundamentally rooted in statism.
If anyone got harmed more so than the average hapless taxpayer, it would be the soldiers (ironically enough). Not only do they have to risk life and limb upon the battlefield, but they also have to simultaneously deal with the value of their Liberty Bonds being artificially depreciated by the banksters as well as the fact that their already meager wages are further reduced by having to pay for their own supplies that they need to survive on. How come those who chant “Support the Troops” tend to be either clueless neophytes or the corporatists themselves who have something to gain from the ensuing chaos than an imperialistic war of aggression necessarily brings?
So, what does General Butler propose be done to finally stop this racket in its tracks? Fortunately, he suggests that the army be limited to the shoreline and the navy no farther out than 200 miles of that coastline, thereby hopefully ensuring a truly defensive military stance. Unfortunately, he also recommends that a non-popular referendum be taken whereby only the potential soldiers would vote on whether the country goes to war or not (wouldn’t this circumvent one of Congress’ few enumerated powers under Article 1, Section 8 of the federal Constitution to “declare War?”); additionally, Butler also wants “to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted” (apparently, this would seem to suggest that Butler wants the free market socialized before a war so as to hopefully prevent corporatist behavior, which is of course a fallacy since both are just about as equally bad).
Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket is a intriguing look into the rampant graft and corruption that takes place every time an industrialized nation is taken into war. Maybe if Butler was more interested in limiting the powers of the State than in trying to take down those corporatist enclaves directly he would be more successful in halting the military-industrial complex. The only reason corporatism flourishes as it does, even today, is because statism inherently empowers it to exist in the first place. I honestly think that Butler was confused about the chain of causation, as most political dissidents do today when they confuse corporatism with capitalism.