Friday, October 30, 2015

The crony capitalist will sell another country to rope to hang him by

"The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." - V. I. Lenin.

The front page of this morning's Wall Street Journal brings us this precious bit of news:

Iranian security forces have arrested an Iranian-American businessman who had promoted improved ties between the two countries, adding to signs that hard-liners in Tehran are trying to block foreign investors from entering the Islamic Republic in the wake of the historic nuclear deal.

In the past few weeks, Iranian businessmen with links to foreign companies have been detained, interrogated and warned against wading into economic monopolies controlled by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to several businessmen interviewed inside and outside of Iran.

Today's news reminds us of this story from a couple of months ago ("While Congress argues over Iran, Europe rushes to do business there") in which the WaPo seems to argue that European businesses are leaving Americans eating their dust in the new Iranian gold rush. Pressure from Europeans to lift sanctions played some role, perhaps an important one, in the Obama administration's deal with the mullahs. Read the linked story to get a sense of that pressure.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guard jealously guards its loot, to the point of tossing foreign business people in the clink. Who could have seen that coming? Well, not the American guy, who should have realized he was the rube and that Iran had no reason to make an example of Europeans, because there is no need for leverage over Europeans. Their own mercantilism is leverage enough.

Lenin's prediction was wrong, of course, as a matter of historical dialectic. It is easy to see his error, though, because the sort of capitalists he imagined as the norm -- more Orren Boyle than Hank Rearden -- subvert government to their purpose every day.


"The Hammer" said...

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your assessment of Lenin, he was absolutely right. I give you modern day China as evidence, and given enough time (and a stipend), I'll give you a three volume set on the subject.
One thing I always admired about the communists, they were lousy prognosticators and they had a blind spot for their own system as big as the great outdoors, but what they did have was a deep understanding of capitalism and it's many potential pitfalls (socialism is one BIG pitfall by the way).
My theory of capitalism is much the same as Winston Churchill's (I paraphrase) "Capitalism sucks, but it's ten times better than anything else". The "capitalism" we practice today bears as much resemblance to true capitalism as a Shelby Cobra does to a Prius.

TigerHawk said...

Well, capitalism as a historical matter certainly "won" over Communism, so no actual hanging occurred as between competing philosophies, even if capitalism corrupted itself along the way. But as a matter of daily operation, I totally agree.

"The Hammer" said...

The jury is still out Tiger. Remember the exchange between Nixon and Zhou back in 71? Nixon asked what did the Premier think were the effects on history of the French Revolution. Zhou replied it was too soon to tell.

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