07 April 2011

The colonial "tea party" was anti-corporation, not anti-government

Excerpts from an article at PoliticusUSA:
Progressive political commentator Thom Hartmann has something to say about the real history of the Boston Tea Party. Using a first-hand account written by one of the participants, he shows that it was not against government regulation; it was not against the size of government. It was not even really at its core about government at all, except to the extent that a government supported a huge mega-corporation that had a stranglehold on America’s economy. As Thom Hartmann says, the Boston Tea Party was “A revolt against corporate power and corporate tax cuts.”..

The heavy of the piece was not specifically the British government but the East India Company, which had a monopoly and was exploiting it. The East India Company was almost a nation unto itself, with tremendous influence over the British government and guilty of tremendous corruption and violence. The original Tea Party patriots were having none of this. They were not going to be ruined by corporate greed...
A fairly long discussion thread at the link, and another one at Reddit, where I found this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws our country."
~ Thomas Jefferson Nov. 12th, 1816


  1. I'm sorry, Mr. Jefferson. Not only did we fail spectacularly, but we have even produced a significant percentage of poorer Americans who loudly and ferociously defend, vote for, enable and enrich that aristocracy. Your democracy is now an oligarchy.

  2. Oh my, Jefferson was a damn socialist!

    ...and I completely agree with him.

  3. Your attitude is naive.

    "except to the extent that a government supported a huge mega-corporation that had a stranglehold on America’s economy"

    If this was true then, it is even more true now. When you are being strangled by a oppressive bureaucratic organization, does it really matter whether it's the part that calls itself "the government of the united states" or the part that calls itself a "huge mega-corporation?" The name doesn't matter.

    I am no fan of the tea party idiots, but you're twisting history here.

  4. Time for a Boston Debt Party I think.

  5. Perhaps you'd be interested to know that Adam Smith - great philosopher of capitalism - had no love at all for the mega-corporation. His book, The Wealth of Nations, was very critical of the East India Company and its monopolistic nature.

    Now, what Adam Smith did analyze was the development of the free market, and how it can actually discipline the corporation for social good. He used this as the antithesis of the East India Company. I guess this is one reason why it was quite earth-shattering at the time.

    Considering what Adam Smith said, its a bit disheartening to see this post basically equate the 'market' with the 'corporation'. They are entirely opposite entities, and you can promote the idea of a market and still be entirely neutral on the corporation.

  6. Hell - maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Tea Party movement is pro-corporation rather than pro-market. They may be just as completely oblivious to the difference.

  7. FYI: the Second Bank of the United States was re-chartered in 1816 (by Jefferson's party), so that would be my guess as to what Jefferson was speaking.

  8. This is SUCH a progressive spin attempt.

    To disaggregate corporate behavior and the state's merchantilist policies is a willful distortion.

    Then (as now) corporations and governments engaged in Merchanilism; precisely because governments held so much power, that anyone who could sway the crown in their favor would be crazy no pass up the chance. This went for individuals, families, and yes, corporations.

    True classical liberals such as T.J. understood that any government that had the power to regulate behavior and trade would impel everyone under its sway to lobby for special favors. That was the case then; it is far worse today.

    Progressives seem to subscribe to this mad fantasy wherein the state will control every economic activity, yet no one will seek to pull regulation in their favor. That is insane.

    Conservatives are no better; they would regulate every private behavior, but are shocked to see special interest groups spring up to pull state policy in their favor.

    Only Free-Market Anarchists recognize that all state action induces corruption, lobbying, and political favoritism. When the state acts as the arbiter of last resort, with its monopoly on coercion, all rational entities will seek to gain special favors.

    Take 45 minutes and listen to Hans Hoppe's lecture "The Impossibility of Limited Government" on youtube,


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