class warfare: aggravated class conflict. Roundly condemned by many a politician who actually supports it, as long as it's being waged from the top down. --Norman Solomon, The Politician's Dictionary of Buzzwords,
There's a new book out on the violence of 1877, which unfortunately I do not have, so instead I'll tell you about Robert V. Bruce's magnificently comprehensive but little known gem entitled: 1877: Year of Violence.
Self-interested competition in the free market is a good thing as a whole, keeping prices low while at a level to still encourage their manufacture. As in the game of Monopoly, however, when big businesses are allowed to squeeze out the smaller businesses through monopolies and cabels, the game continues until only one is left, thus collapsing the game for everyone, as monopoly money converts once again to the paper that it is and loses all value.
The government's role should be to keep the game going by keeping the playing field level. Power corrupts and the powers of the economy need to stay separate lest they become corrupted. Just as the federal separation of government power is necessary, the separation of economic power is essential. Unfortunately government now allows the de-facto collusion of price fixing and monopolies and other manipulations while increasingly preventing the collective bargaining of labor and consumers.
Adam Smith warned of the tendency of big business to conspire to manipulate the market and artificially raise prices while squeezing out the small businessman and the people who work for them, that a true lassez-faire economy "would quickly become a conspiracy of businesses and industry against consumers, with the former scheming to influence politics and legislation."
This is happening again. The corrupt are too powerful to stop. They have again made lassez-faire principles into a cause, a false immortality project. The violence, when it arrives, will again come from above rather than below, from the strike breakers rather than the strikers. Because the true believers, in the Eric Hoffer sense, are on their side. We learn from history that people seldom learn from history.