Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy - 5

The 1% Plutocracy
In this series we have been comparing the reality of what the United States now is, in terms of formal economic structure, with what people in the United States still think it is.

We have also gone beyond that, to also explain why the difference in reality, compared to perception, is so night vs. day, yes, why the reality is now opposed to The American Dream (see The Graphs of Wrath).

One of our so called enemies was a German philosopher named Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883), who strangely enough had more of an appreciation and a better expectation of Americans, in terms of The American Dream, than many of us have had of ourselves:
Marx argued that at capitalism would succeed in its initial stages quite well in promoting growth by means of capital investment in new technology and improved means of production. Everyone would prosper. As capitalism developed, however, he argued that capitalists would appropriate to themselves more and more of the profits or income from the economy and that laborers would come to have increasingly less.

Over time, in time and such circumstances, Marx claimed that, first, capitalistic economies would undergo ever more vicious cyclical swings from boom to bust. These cycles and the on-going process of capitalism would, second, result in ever richer capitalists and ever poorer working classes, until, finally, at some point, laborers would revolt and take over the means of production, causing Socialism to ensue as a result. Socialism, in turn, was merely a transitional step to Communism.
(The Impact of Toxins of Power On Evolution, bold in original). Marx expected and predicted what has actually now happened, both in terms of American success at the onset, as well as the rich getting richer with the rest getting poorer during the decline into a plutonomy.

But what of the quality part Marx saw in Americans, a quality that would allow us to discern and figure out what was being done to us, to see our ongoing impoverishment, and our reaction to that ongoing demise?

Marx predicted that Americans would react in a way that would cause us to take control to improve our lot in this American Dream business, say for example by:
The NCEO will unveil its 2012 list of the 100 largest majority employee-owned companies in the United States in its upcoming July-August newsletter. Should your company be on that list? Your company qualifies if a majority of your company's stock is held by an ESOP, stock bonus, profit sharing, or similar plan, or if you have a stock purchase plan in which at least 50% of full-time employees participate and if you have enough employees. In the 2011 list, companies needed to have at least 1,200 employees (where the term "employee" counts all full- and part-time employees in the U.S. and overseas).
(NCEO Bulletin). In short, Marx thought we would fix the inequities as soon as we saw what was happening, a fix which he called "socialism", however, employees owning a corporation is not socialism.

Employees owning a corporation they work for is employee oriented capitalism, and it is sorely needed.

That part of Marx's prescience about American economic evolution ("Americans will fix it by taking control of the means of production") has not happened, in a revolutionary way yet.

Some observers say that there are detectable reasons for that revolution not having happened yet:
In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense.
(Chris Hedges). Noam Chomsky has watched the transition to an American plutonomy take place too, and has put it in similar words that match Gamer's terms:
Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.
The Individual Twin-Political Parties

The parties dissolved in many ways. It used to be that if a person in Congress hoped for a position such as a committee chair, he or she got it mainly through seniority and service. Within a couple of years, they started having to put money into the party coffers in order to get ahead, a topic studied mainly by Tom Ferguson. That just drove the whole system even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector (increasingly the financial sector).

This cycle resulted in a tremendous concentration of wealth, mainly in the top tenth of one percent of the population. Meanwhile, it opened a period of stagnation or even decline for the majority of the population. People got by, but by artificial means such as longer working hours, high rates of borrowing and debt, and reliance on asset inflation like the recent housing bubble. Pretty soon those working hours were much higher in the United States than in other industrial countries like Japan and various places in Europe. So there was a period of stagnation and decline for the majority alongside a period of sharp concentration of wealth. The political system began to dissolve.
(Tom Dispatch). The American political system dissolved from the system of The American Dream, into a system that serves the Plutocracy in the fashion and manner of Ayn Rand.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

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