An Objectivist acquaintance of mine posted yesterday about how people in our society don’t trust markets, and I replied that “There’s a lot of crony capitalism out there, and most people lack an imagination about how else things might work.”
A different Objectivist chimed in that “there’s no such thing as crony capitalism…” I thought that surely this fellow had not come up with this obtuse reply all on his own, and lo and behold, a quick internet search yielded none other than Ayn Rand Institute Chairman Yaron Brook saying precisely the same thing.
Yaron, you don’t get to dictate what others mean by the phrase “crony capitalism”. What a person means is what he means, and that’s that (I presume you believe in liberty of thought). Reflect on that before claiming “there is no such thing as crony capitalism”, because what your answer does is equivocate. It trades out the questioner’s actual meaning for your own. It’s presumptuous. So you’re being very illogical from the start. Study what people actually mean by the phrase – and the best people not the worst – then answer.
What the most intelligent people mean by “crony capitalism” is, I think, something along these lines: An economic system where there is the superficial appearance of a free market economy, but that is really governed by illegitimate privileges dispensed by the political class to the elite members of the business class (usually the business class will reciprocate the favors somehow, whether now or later, or whether publicly or in secret). And of course, such a thing can exist in degrees – you could have a free market with a little bit of cronyism, or a lot.