Originally Posted by Cylon Baby
Geoff thanks for the thoughtful reply.
I think fundamentally we disagree on how powerful Corporate interests really are. You seem to feel they are unstoppable and always get their way.
I've worked in Corporate America enough to be highly suspicious of such a belief.
And I believe that Politics, Ideology and Religion are all much more powerful influences in geopolitics.
I didn't say that corporations have all their way all of the time. But they are, by a considerable margin, the driving force in American politics (and increasingly so in others). I don't expect you to take my word for it - not least because there is an overwhelming amount of research compiled on the influence of corporations over American politics (by renowned experts such as Thomas Ferguson of the University of Massachusetts) which does away with the last vestiges of doubt.
Global corporations subvert state democracy on a daily basis. The Federal government is a bigger challenge. It does have - limited - facilities to curtail the power of corporations. Which is why they spend nearly a third of all income on propaganda - some of which is carefully designed to instil dissatisfaction within the electorate. Republican or Democrat - it matters little. The aim is to weaken government, thus making it an easier target for corporations to undermine.
They call this the "mood of anti-politics"
and there are innumerable ways of achieving such. So, not too long ago, Newt Gingrich was pushing to maintain
the national deficit providing (of course) that government subsidies were pouring into his interests (big defence contractors). The same Gingrich who is "a steadfast supporter of free market principles".
Elections have become little more than moments in time when groups of investors (traditional, hi-tech, banking, legal, defence etc.) coalesce to exercise control over the state. Which is why 90% of presidential victors outspent their rival.
Obama is the perfect example. Prior to 2006 he was operating pretty much in the periphery of politics. Not unknown, but certainly not high-profile. Then, in 2007, his campaign finances experience an enormous spike. Suddenly he's running just about dead level with Hilary Clinton. This is astonishing given that Clinton had moved in high political circles for the best part of a decade. Even more interesting were Obama's benefactors - the big financial institutions. The very same financial institutions that were bailed out in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, whose executives all received record bonus payments in 2009 (despite the fact that they were responsible for the mess!). And the huge movement of corporate capital to Obama's campaign fund a fortnight before the election? You don't need a dose of cynicism to realise that it was linked to Obama's gutting of the derivatives bill. And you'd be a fool and/or a Communist to argue that Obama's near total unwillingness to enforce any semblance of banking regulation following sub-prime is a direct result of his close ties to the banking sector.
And it's not just Obama. Consider some of the people around him like Ron Emmanuel (Chief of Staff) - strong supporter of de-regulated hedge funds. Former investment banker. Robert Rubin & Larry Summers - Clinton's treasury secretaries who initially laid down the legislation that sub-prime took advantage of. Dean Baker (one of the very few economists who saw sub-prime coming) said that "selecting them was like selecting Osama Bin Laden to lead the War on Terror"
The bailout itself was a total subversion of democracy. There were no alternative approaches thought of or discussed in Congress - apart from the one proposed by Goldman Sachs - who a) caused the crisis and b) spent part of the remedy on record bonuses for staff!
Ideology - that word has lost much of its meaning and weight today. We are all meant to pursue the Capitalist-Free Market dream. But don't expect trans-nationals to follow suit because they are only interested in Corporate Socialism through price-fixing, state-subsidies, public bailouts and various other protectionist measures. It's the same story with the notion that the Capitalist ideology creates an "every man for himself" society. But this is only the case for you and me. Corporations are forever affirming Adam Smith's theory that when two businesses are seen together the customer can expect to be swindled.
Communism is almost dead. Billions of dollars of propaganda have rendered "Socialism" (along with "Union") a dirty word. It used to be that a Republican advocated small government, but GWB presided over a Leviathan state. The meaning of "Liberal" changes daily. When I say to friends that Nixon was the last Liberal president they look at me like I'm crazy. In Britain - under Blair - the traditionally socialist Labour party became "New Labour" a.k.a. Conservative. Perhaps we should pin the blame on post-modernism, or straight out Machiavellianism - whatever the case - the lines of Ideology have become hopelessly blurred.
Religion is certainly a powerful influence (especially in the East), but the power of the Christian lobby is dwarfed by that of business. Although it is interesting to note that recently in the US we have witnessed a kind of unholy union of the worst aspects of business (corruption, anti-competitive practices etc.) with the worst attributes of the church (Pat Robertson, Falwell etc.)
Just a quick (but important) point. When I talk of malign corporate power and influence I don't mean the kind of conspiracy theorist, Illuminatiesque stuff - with secret societies, cat-stroking villains, hotlines to the White House etc. that some people portray. Corporations do occasionally behave in abominable ways that wouldn't seem out of place in an Alien movie, X-Files episode or Bond flick.
No, the threat posed by corporations isn't primarily in the misdeeds of its employees, executives etc. The threat is an emergent function of the corporate ideology
. The legal framework of a corporation compels executives to think only of profit. The chairman who chooses to forgo profit for reasons that don't amount to similar or greater profit can be ousted and/or arrested. Couple this with the outrageous decision by US lawmakers to grant corporations the same rights as human beings (based on the dubious philosophies of Kant and Hegel) and you have devised a psychopathic machine with an insatiable appetite for money that views human beings only as a resource to be exploited - regardless of the consequences.
And given the psychopathic nature of this machine it should could as no surprise that it begets psychopathic people and methods.
|Sure the Neo-Cons were dependent on the President. But George W listened to them, brought them into his Administration, gave them power (which was withdrawn in term 2 as you point out). But they provided an important rationale for the war. And on the very very slim probability that we'd actually pulled out of Iraq quickly, leaving a puppet government in place, don't you think they'd have more credibility, and the US would be in some other country (most likely Iran)? That is an example of a specifically Ideological, and political form of power, vs. raw self interest by a Corporation.
I agree that there were powerful ideological forces at work. But I see them as a means rather than an end. Take oil out of the equation and Iraq would find itself off the foreign policy agenda. Yes, Wolfowitz and company wielded tremendous power, but that power was always subordinate to corporate interests.
|And the Big Oil Corporations don't have every thing their own way. The Iraqi government is proving to be pretty shrewd in their dealings with the oil companies: Please see these two BusinessWeek articles: ONE and TWO
The first link is busted. As for the Iraqi government - the US penned legislature soon after the invasion which gave it the facility to exert control over oil exports. No point spending billions of dollars on invading a country (not to mention the deaths of many American soldiers) if you can't have what you came for I suppose.