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labor There’s a Reason Trump Has Friends in High Places

Some business leaders see “the threat to capitalism from the Democrats is more concerning than the threat to democracy from Trump.” Biden’s efforts to regulate markets have led them to look past their misgivings about the Jan. 6th insurrection.

Private Business Leaders’ Dinner hosted by President Trump.,Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Among the features that distinguish capitalist society from its predecessors, the political theorist Ellen Meiksins Wood once observed, is “the differentiation of the economic and the political.”

The state, Wood pointed out, “stands apart from the economy even though it intervenes in it,” so that everyone — owner and worker, boss and bossed — can claim ownership in it “without usurping the exploitative power of the appropriator.”

Or as the philosopher Nancy Fraser put it, “the power to organize production is privatized and devolved to capital” while the “task of governing ‘noneconomic’ orders, including those that supply the external conditions for accumulation, falls to public power, which alone may utilize the ‘political’ media of law and ‘legitimate’ state violence.”

The upshot of this dynamic is that democracy under capitalism is necessarily of limited scope. We have the power and capacity to regulate and structure the market, but the fundamental questions — of production and surplus, of ownership and social reproduction — are beyond the reach of democratic decision-making as presently constituted.