The Distaste for the Petty Bourgeoisie

The distaste for the petty bourgeoisie also has, I believe, a structural source: one that is shared by the erstwhile socialist bloc and large capitalist democracies. The fact is, almost all forms of small property have the means to elude the state's control: small property is hard to monitor, tax, or police; it resists regulation and enforcement by the very complexity, variety, and mobility of its activities. The crisis of 1929 that led to Stalin's headlong campaign to collectivize was precisely the failure to appropriate sufficient grain from the smallholding peasantry. As a general rule, states of virtually all descriptions have always favored units of production from which it is easier to appropriate grain and taxes. For this reason, the state has nearly always been the implacable enemy of mobile peoples - Gypsies, pastoralists, itinerant traders, shifting cultivators, migrating laborers - as their activities are opaque and mobile, flying below the state's radar. For much the same reason states have preferred agribusiness, collective farms, plantations, and state marketing boards over smallholder agriculture and petty trade. They have preferred large corporations, banks, and business conglomerates to smaller-scale trade and industry. The former are often less efficient than the latter, but the fiscal authorities can more easily monitor, regulate, and tax them. The more pervasive the state's fiscal grasp, the more likely that a "gray" or "black" informal and unreported economy will arise to evade it. And it goes without saying that the sheer size and deep pockets of the largest institutions guarantee them a privileged seat in the councils of power.