What so many of capitalism’s defenders seem to miss is that just because a large company is doing something legally, that does not mean it is ‘kosher’ capitalism. In Germany in the 1930′s and 1940′s, companies like Krupp and Seimens remained under entrenched private management in spite of the National Socialist German Workers Party coming to power, or more accurately, because of the new overtly anti-capitalist government.
They did this by running their companies in such a manner as to support the objectives of the National Socialists. In return, the state ensured they maintained a privileged position, insulated from upstart new market entrants in their respective fields. These companies, working hand in glove with the state, could ensure that national laws would be adjusted as needed to support whatever business models the entrenched companies liked, and the state could be sure that company strategies would be based servicing the needs and objectives of the Nazi Party, not to mention paying backhanders to leading Party members.
Of course, one does not have to look as far back as National Socialist Germany of the 1940′s to see examples of companies trying to manipulate the state to prop up an entrenched way of doing things: for the last few years the music industry in the United States has been trying to use the law of the land to crush challenges to its old physical media based business models. Rather than running their business in the interests of the state, nowadays in modern democratic statist political systems, large companies spend vast sums on lobbyists and on funding the election campaigns of politicians who might as well have an hourly rate for their services stamped on their foreheads.
Now in Australia, Microsoft looks ready to try and buy themselves some legislation for much the same reasons after an Australian court declined to stop people modifying XBox hardware:
Microsoft would be forced to reconsider selling the Xbox video game system in Australia, or seek changes to the law, following the acquittal in July of a Sydney man alleged to have sold chips that modify a Sony PlayStation 2 to play imported games, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said yesterday.
“Given the way the economic model works, and that is a subsidy followed, essentially, by fees for every piece of software sold, our licence framework has to do that,” Mr Ballmer said. “If there are aspects that are not allowed, it would encourage us to require a change in the legal framework. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make economic sense.”
As usual a pure laissez-faire solution beckons: if Australia refuses to criminalize innovation and therefore Microsoft declines to sell its XBox Games Consols down under, then simply abolish all the idiotic import restrictions and tariffs currently clogging up Australia’s economy and then… who gives a damn where Microsoft chooses to sell their products: if there is a demand for XBox in Oz, a ‘grey market’ will rapidly appear as capitalist importers across the world buy up XBoxs by the container load elsewhere (such as Taiwan, USA, India) and ship them in themselves.
If that busts MS’s business model, so what? Let them find another one that actually works without the involvement of police around the world to make it succeed.
End of problem.