I've read the first half of this (it's long). For those so inclined to political economic theorizing, a few excerpts:

(on the role of regulations)

Any action by the state to impose a uniform standard of quality (e.g. safety), across the board, necessarily eliminates safety as a competitive issue between firms. Thus, the industry is partially cartelized, to the very same extent that would have happened had all the firms in it adopted a uniform level of quality standards, and agreed to stop competing in that area. A regulation, in essence, is a state-enforced cartel in which the members agree to cease competing in a particular area of quality or safety, and instead agree on a uniform standard. And unlike non-state-enforced cartels, no member can seek an advantage by defecting. Similarly, the provision of services by the state (R&D funding, for example) removes them as components of price in cost competition between firms, and places them in the realm of guaranteed income to all firms in a market alike. Whether through regulations or direct state subsidies to various forms of accumulation, the corporations act through the state to carry out some activities jointly, and to restrict competition to selected areas.

Kolko provided abundant evidence that the main force behind this entire legislative agenda was big business. The Meat Inspection Act, for instance, was passed primarily at the behest of the big meat packers. In the 1880s, repeated scandals involving tainted meat resulted in U.S. firms being shut out of several European markets. The big packers turned to the U.S. government to conduct inspections on exported meat. By carrying out this function jointly, through the state, they removed quality inspection as a competitive issue between them, and the U.S. government provided a seal of approval in much the same way a trade association would--but at public expense. The problem with this early inspection regime was that only the largest packers were involved in the export trade; mandatory inspections therefore gave a competitive advantage to the small firms that supplied only the domestic market. The main motive behind Roosevelt's Meat Inspection Act was to bring the small packers into the inspection regime, and thereby end the competitive disability it imposed on large firms. Upton Sinclair simply served as an unwitting shill for the meat-packing industry. (20) This pattern was repeated, in its essential form, in virtually every component of the "Progressive" agenda.

(public opinion)
The public's control over the system's overall structure, besides, is severely constrained by the fact that people who work inside the corporate and state apparatus inevitably have an advantage in time, information, attention span, and agenda control over the theoretically "sovereign" outsiders in whose name they act. The very organs of cultural reproduction--the statist school system, the corporate press, etc.--shape the public's "common sense" understanding of what is possible, and what is to be relegated to the outer darkness of "extremism." So long as wire service and network news foreign correspondents write their copy in hotel rooms from government handouts, and half the column inches in newspapers are generated by government and corporate public relations departments, the "moderate" understanding will always be conditioned by institutional culture.

(the ever-larger state)
Although microeconomics texts generally describe the functioning of supply and demand curves as though the nature of the market actors were unchanged since Adam Smith's day, in fact the rise of the large corporation as the dominant type of economic actor has been a revolution as profound as any in history. It occurred parallel to the rise of the "positive" state (i.e., the omni-competent, centralized regulatory state) in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. And, vitally important to remember, the two phenomena were mutually reinforcing. The state's subsidies, privileges and other interventions in the market were the major force behind the centralization of the economy and the concentration of productive power. And in turn, the corporate economy's need for stability and rationality, and for state-guaranteed profits, has been the central force behind the continuing growth of the leviathan state.


A Mutualist Synthesis
Kevin A. Carson


My starting point for this article is a ground-breaking study by Joseph Stromberg. In "The Role of State Monopoly Capitalism in the American Empire," (1) Stromberg provides an insightful Austrian analysis of state capitalist cartelization as the cause of crises of overproduction and surplus capital. In the course of his argument, he makes reference to Progressive/Revisionist and (to a lesser extent) Marxist theories of imperialism, and analyzes their parallels with the Austrian view.

Although the state capitalism of the twentieth century (as opposed to the earlier misnamed "laissez faire" variant, in which the statist character of the system was largely disguised as a "neutral" legal framework) had its roots in the mid-nineteenth century, it received great impetus as an elite ideology during the depression of the 1890s. From that time on, the problems of overproduction and surplus capital, the danger of domestic class warfare, and the need for the state to solve them, figured large in the perception of the corporate elite. The shift in elite consensus in the 1890s (toward corporate liberalism and foreign expansion) was as profound as that of the 1970s, when reaction to wildcat strikes, the "crisis of governability," and the looming "capital shortage" led the power elite to abandon corporate liberalism in favor of neo-liberalism.

But as Stromberg argues, the American ruling class was wrong in seeing the crises of overproduction and surplus capital as "natural or inevitable outgrowths of a market society." (2) They were, rather, the effects of regulatory cartelization of the economy by state capitalist policies.

The effects of the state's subsidies and regulations are 1) to encourage creation of production facilities on such a large scale that they are not viable in a free market, and cannot dispose of their full product domestically; 2) to promote monopoly prices above market clearing levels; and 3) to set up market entry barriers and put new or smaller firms at a competitive disadvantage, so as to deny adequate domestic outlets for investment capital. The result is a crisis of overproduction and surplus capital, and a spiraling process of increasing statism as politically connected corporate interests act through the state to resolve the crisis.

Although I cannot praise Stomberg enough for this contribution, which I use as a starting-point, I diverge from his analysis in several ways. Stromberg, himself a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist affiliated with the Mises Institute, relies mainly on Schumpeter's analysis of "export-dependent monopoly capitalism," as read through a Misean/Rothbardian lens. Secondarily, he relies on "corporate liberal" historians like Williams, Kolko and Weinstein. To the extent that he refers to Marxist analyses of monopoly capital, it is mainly in passing, if not utterly dismissive. But such theorists (especially Baran and Sweezy of the Monthly Review group, James O'Connor, and Paul Mattick) have parallelled his own Austrian analysis in interesting ways, and have provided unique insights that are complementary to the Austrian position.

Starting with Stromberg's article as my point of departure, I will integrate both his and these other analyses into my own mutualist framework. More importantly, as a mutualist, I go much further than Stromberg and the Austrians in dissociating the present corporate system from a genuine free market. Following the economic arguments of Benjamin Tucker and other mutualists, I distinguish capitalism from a genuine free market, and treat the state capitalism of the twentieth century as the natural outgrowth of a system which was statist from its very beginning.