Hmm... Coupla things stick out here.
First, "one dollar, one vote", is as Frank notes the very definition of plutocracy, not democracy.
I happen to like democracy a great deal, even though (or perhaps because) it is so inherently messy (hence, interesting!). While it is important to boycott the most flagrant corporate abuse, consumer-side 'voting' is not a terribly effective way of influencing corporate behavior. Nor is shareholding, unless you're a fund manager or extremely wealthy.
As far as the relationship between violence and capitalism, I think it's important to distinguish between markets per se (which are really quite amorphous, ephemeral things) and the capitalist "Free Market", which is just one kind of market that, by pure chance of course, views capital as the sole legitimate source of value-creation.
Of course, where there are markets, there is property of one sort or another. And I think it could easily be argued that the number one primary ultimate purpose of the nation-state (and almost all other forms of government) is the defense of a particular regime of property--capitalism (incidentally, I view the Soviet abomination as an exercise in state capitalism--eek!). This covers both internal theft and external aggression.
A telling example of this sort of relationship is the way the music and movie industries have been crying so loudly for the 'legal' persecution of the dotcommunist Napsterites. The fact is that a very significant portion of the capitalist regime of property (intellectual property) has been thrown into deep flux by the technologies of digital reproduction. When property is threatened on any kind of basic, extra-market force like technology (or unions, or riots for that matter) it's remarkable how quickly the Liberation Management gurus advocate turning to the state (and the National Guard).
Frankly, its an illusion that the advocates of Market Populism have promulgated for over a decade, that there is some inherent difference or antagonism between the state and the capitalist free market. They are just two sides of the same coin. The state sets certain rules, and the marketplace victors dictate certain concessions.
Capitalism is a game by which the otherwise socially contentious elites work out their differences, or rather simply vie for the mantles of power. The genius of capitalist organization is its fusion of both bread and circuses. It does permit a lot of social mobility, but it is quite remarkable at keeping the basic ratios of haves and have-nots the same. It doesn't matter who has or hasn't, what matters is that they are all more or less playing the right role.
You can see that I think you're right that capitalism is a pluralistic battleground, but I don't think that prevents it from being a coherent system, too. The monolithic corporations of today *were* the upstart "corporate rebels" of yesterday. Thomas Frank's books illustrate this pattern very well. And none of it has anything to do with real politics, real democracy, other than to squeeze these things out of most people's experience. IMHO :)
It's very true that, although Frank is a very astute observer, he offers no solutions. Well, there are no solutions. I think the current system is a solid three hundred years old at this point, with roots that extend even further. That's the minimum timeframe I'm willing to think about or discuss future politics.
The incredible myopiea of present-day 'politics' will be a real proving ground for whether humans are even capable of truly taking responsibility for their place in society by being able to endure countless failures in exchange for real change.
I'm willing to bet that the next turn of the screw will revolve around the politicization of the corporation. The democratic process will/must infiltrate the corporate form, break it apart slowly, and re-network its social relations. The antibodies of the nation-state are very clever; only a form of organization that mimics corporations at first will survive long enough to be viable.
Anyway, that's the starting point of my own politics. I'm in the middle of starting a worker-owned technology cooperative to experiment with a few of these ideas. Perhaps two hundred years from now something will come of it...<g>
That having been said, I need to sleep now. Can't solve the world's problems tonight. ;)
"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
[ Parent ]