Recent Items

George Washington: Our Country Is Being Fracked by the Merger of Government and Big Business

Posted on by

The Government Is Using Its Police Powers to Protect Fracking

Fracking is polluting water all over the country. A new study published in the journal Ground Water predicts that the highly-toxic fluids used in fracking can migrate to aquifers within a few short years.

The government has officially stated that fracking can cause earthquakes. And see this. Some fracking companies now admit this fact.

And yet a new law passed in Pennsylvania will allow doctors to access information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, but will restrict them from sharing that information with their patients. See the writeups by Mother Jones and Truthout.

The director of the Emmy-award winning documentary on fracking – Gasland – was arrested for attempting to film a Congressional hearing on fracking.

Actor Mark Ruffalo was put on terror watch list after he organized showings of Gasland.

The Washington Post reported in March that the FBI is investigating anti-fracking activists as potential terrorists.

The state of Pennsylvania hired an Israeli-American company with extensive military and intelligence ties to put out “terror” alerts. The company – ITRR – describes itself as:

The preeminent Israeli/American security firm providing training, intelligence and education to clients across the globe.

ITRR explains:

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response’s research and analysis center, known as the Targeted Actionable Monitoring Center (TAM-C), is located in Israel. The Targeted Actionable Monitoring Center is staffed with former law enforcement, military, and intelligence professionals experienced in the production and utilization of intelligence products.

ITRR considered opponents of fracking to be potential terrorists.

Fracking companies are also using military psychological operations techniques to discredit opponents (and see this).

Not Just Fracking … Government Using “National Security” Powers to Protect All Big Business

The above is not unique, but part of a trend of using national security laws to protect big companies (more).  As just a few of many examples:

  • As the ACLU notes, Fusion Centers – a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security – allow big businesses like Boeing to get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors

One of the best definitions of fascism – the one used by Mussolini himself – is the “merger of state and corporate power“.

We’re pretty much there …

Print Friendly
Twitter32DiggReddit4StumbleUpon0Facebook40LinkedIn5Google+3bufferEmail

38 comments

  1. Systemic Disorder

    Mussolini would know, wouldn’t he? Capitalism in its democratic (or should that be “democratic”?) form is already a state run on behalf of its most successful accumulators of capital. Fascism simply removes the democratic veneer: It is the direct rule of Big Business through the use of terror, conducted through and by the state.

    Take a look at not only what happened to working people under Mussolini, but under Franco and Hitler.

    The only thing that ever seperates us from a fascist dictatorship is the organized resistance of working people. As bad as conditions are here, the U.S. is not yet anywhere near fascism — we’d be having this conversation in prison or in exile if it were (or we’d already been executed) — but that does not mean that capitalists don’t sometimes get ideas in their heads.

    Several years ago, the Yes Men went to a World Econonic Forum in the guise of two business consultants and promoted Hitler’s economic policies without that identification, thinking they’d be thrown out for extremism. Instead, the assembled plutocrats nodded and said they though such a program would be a good idea.

    We have all the evidence we could want that some of them still think it’d be a good idea.

    1. George Washington Post author

      I’d be grateful for a link to this:

      “Several years ago, the Yes Men went to a World Econonic Forum in the guise of two business consultants and promoted Hitler’s economic policies without that identification, thinking they’d be thrown out for extremism. Instead, the assembled plutocrats nodded and said they though such a program would be a good idea.”

      1. chitown2020

        Could this be what systemic dysorder is referring to?…The Rio Earth Summit in June 1992 provided an opportunity for nations of the world to conform on much more than an environmental level; its connections to the New Age Movement and Masonry are well established. Rio was not solely about clean air, clean water, and containment of acid rain. It was about the massive redistribution of wealth from the industrial countries to the poor countries, global socialism, people control and world government. Now referred to as GLOBALIZATION…George H.W. Bush referred to it in a speech as A BIG IDEA…

    2. von Hoppentoss

      I would demur that fascism “is the direct rule of Big Business through the use of terror”. In a fascist state, the Charismatic Leader sets the agenda, and merely forges an alliance with big business.

      Labeling the modern corporate state as prototypically fascist distorts the meaning of “fascism” in ways that should be avoided, in my opinion.

    1. bluntobj

      As long as government remains the best source of competitive advantage through regulation, favors, and contract largesse, you will have oligarcy and corporatism.

      Note that competitive advantage here is often conferred by writing regulatory rules that only a multinational can comply with or operate advantageously under. See large agribusiness, GE’s tax returns, coal electrical generation, SEC / CFTC oversight, etc.

  2. sd

    Is it possible that the brain damage found in sociopaths is now a genetically inherited trait? Why else would anyone possibly think it was ok to sh*t where they eat? Fresh drinking water doesn’t just magically appear out of the end of a kitchen faucet.

  3. ex-PFC Chuck

    I’m just about finished reading Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (http://amzn.to/Iq1dXt) and the authors make a compelling case that the overall prosperity of a nation depend on the inclusiveness of the its political and economic institutions. What we’re seeing in America today, and are only now coming to realize that it’s been going on for at least the last thirty, is a deliberate multi-pronged campaign to reverse of hundreds of years of progress in building such institutions. They haven’t, at least through the second last chapter, made a point of this directly but it’s impossible for anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention not to make the inference.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Oh, for an edit function when posting on NC: Should be “depends” in the forth line, and “thirty years” in the sixth.

    2. nonclassical

      ..sir,

      Also peruse Naomi Klein’s, “The Shock Doctrine”, Perkins’, “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man”, and William Blum’s, “Killing Hope” (CIA expose’ extraordinaire)

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        True enough. Haven’t read Killing Hope yet, however. Thanks for the reference.

  4. BAukerman

    I adamantly recommend Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy Inc. It traces our descent into fascism with a human face from Roosevelt, who was compelled to merge state and economic power in order to defeat the Nazi war machine, to Bush II, who well…you know.

    I’m all for reforming capitalism as long as those reforms are “non -reformist”, i.e. reforms that, overtime, create space for a new economic system; or we could let our grandchildren fight these same battles again, 50 years from now.

  5. Kevin de Bruxelles

    To call America fascist is not only a complete misunderstanding of what fascism was, worse it only serves the insidious purpose of potentially blocking any positive change by choosing this analytical framework. That is because, on almost all criteria that can be plotted on a Anti-fascist / Fascist scale, the current US system is clustered at the Anti-Fascist end. Given the current economic and societal problems, quite often the best policies for alleviating these problems would be to slide more towards the Fascist end of the scale (while obviously avoiding sliding so far towards such policies as genocide towards out-groups). But by setting up a false dichotomy of Anti-fascist = good, and Fascist = bad, one is basically supporting the current system and blocking any change that could improve the system.

    One of the most basic elements of Fascism is a sacred nationalist ideology in which a particularist, “us” vs. “them” struggle is takes place on a global level. Corporations are expected to serve the common good and if they don’t they are quickly nationalized. Currently US elites preach in contrast a universalist globalization creed where we all live in perfect harmony and where the wealthy and corporations are emancipated from the binds of a nation state and are free to roam the globe looking for rent seeking opportunities. To help solve some of the current US problems, a move back towards the notion of national sovereignty and self interest is called for. But in terms of an Anti-fascist / Fascist scale, this would indeed be a move in the Fascist direction.

    One of the most confusing elements between the US and Fascism is the notion of “corporatism”. People see the obvious power of corporations and quickly give it the corporatist and therefore Fascist label. In fact this is a total misunderstanding of the power relations within Fascism. In classic political theory, there three categories for describing government types and those who wield power: the One, the Few, and the Many. The power of the One typically refers to autocratic rulers such as Kings or Czar, in fact Julius Cesar and eventually the Roman Empire was a classic case on the power of the One. The Few refers to the power of aristocrats or powerful elites and the Roman Republic, ruled by its Senate is a classic example. The Many is the power of the people and is best illustrated by Athenian Democracy.

    The term Corporatism comes from the Latin corpus and refers to a metaphor of national society as a human body. Oswald Mosley described fascist corporatism as meaning, “a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole” Although Fascist totalitarianism is a special case within the One/Few/Many framework, (there is an attempt to consolidate the three elements), there is no doubt that it is the One, personified by the Leader who holds ultimate power over both the Few and the Many and therefore plays the role of the head in the body metaphor. It is through the State that his power is expressed. One perfect example of this power relationship between the One and the Few was just after gaining power Adolph Hitler summoning 25 corporate leaders to explain his policies. As Adam Tooze describes it in The Wages of Destruction “Hitler did not take questions from his audience, nor did he spell out exactly what he expected of the business leaders. Hitler had not come to negotiate. He had come to inform them of his intentions. And his audience can be left in no doubt. Germany’s new Chancellor planned to put an end to parliamentary democracy”.

    Contrast this power relationship to the US today. Can you more easily imagine Obama calling the heads of business for a dressing down or vice versa? What US elites fear most would be a powerful One that could impose his will on them through the state. They fear to no end a powerful executive who could issue them dictates, or confiscate their wealth, or nationalize their corporations. The last thing US elites want is a state powerful enough to threaten them. What they want – and have – is the power of the Few and a state powerful enough to assist them.

    The best analogy to describe the US is that of a family household where the Few are the Parents with close to absolute power, the Many are the Children and the One (state) is the Nanny whose purpose is to assist the Few by looking after the Children, (feed them when needed with entitlement programs, distract them politically with “strange beauty shows and a parade of gray-suited grafters”). So in terms of power, the State needs enough power to execute its Nanny role and manage the Children while not enough power to turn it on the Parents.

    In fact the US is the opposite of a Corporatist society, it is instead a Corporatocracy, where small corporate elites (the Few) rule. To make a contrast to the corporatist human body metaphor, in a Corporatocrcy, the Few act as parasites, with the vital assistance of the One who immobilize the body of the Many so the Few can feast on it.

    One good example of the difference between these two systems is found in Mussolini’s critique of “supercapitalism”. He stated, “a capitalist enterprise, when difficulties arise, throws itself like a dead weight into the state’s arms. It is then that state intervention begins and becomes more necessary.” In a Corporatist system, these failed companies would be nationalized and attempts would be made, for better or worse, to force them to serve the interests of the state. This is actually similar to the notion of treating Big Finance as a public utility and you can be sure that Wall Street would point out the similarities to Fascism if it ever became a possibility.

    In direct contrast, in a Corporatocracy, failing corporations are allowed to loot tax payers with the assistance of government. No attempt is ever made to look out for the interests of the whole society which puts this characteristic very far towards the Anti-Fascist end of the scale.

    Another big difference is in Fascism, party political bickering is outlawed by the One; in the US this bickering is a form of Kabuki theatre performed by the One to distract and create apathy in the Many to the benefit of the parasitical Few.

    There are plenty of more differences as well but I’ve gone on here long enough. In reality a truly critical look at the current US political situation can only lead to the conclusion that the US, far from becoming Fascist, is morphing into an Anti-fascist nation. It is important to correctly diagnose the problem if one wants to have any chance of proposing the correct solutions.

    1. ambrit

      Sir;
      Thanks for that reminder. It makes me want to rewatch the Bill Moyers program comparing FDRs’ policies with Hitlers’ early policies. Tis a very fine line indeed.

    2. Susan the other

      Thank you Kevin dB. It is almost impossible to tease out the tangles of our cliche vocabulary; our reactionist vocabulary. But you have done a good job here. I agree that what we have is an economic system which has become a religion as opposed to a government – and is best described as an anti-fascist looting machine.

      1. F. Beard

        Disagree. A short definition of fascism is government for the rich. That’s what we have.

        All the racial and nationalistic trappings are just that – trappings.

    3. JTFaraday

      I have to go with the marxist analysis of “fascism,” because it seems illuminating for our current historical moment.

      If I understand it correctly, it can be simplified thusly:

      Disintegrating capitalist corporations find themselves in crisis and throw themselves into the arms of “the state.” At this point, the state can go in one of two directions.

      1). The state can turn capitalist enterprises into national concerns, and direct them to the good of the national collectivity, or “the many” in your terms. It can nationalize the banks and install (or reduce the capitalist demigods to) mere state bureaucrats. Marxists would not call this nationalization “fascist,” they would call it “socialist” or “communist”–just as American right wingers would do.**

      2). The state can align closely with the capitalist demigods and turn the corporate alliance with the state into one in which “the few” are allowed to turn parasitic on the many. They may do this through the nationalization–not of capitalist wealth/economic interests– but the nationalization of *trade unions* in which corporate interests dictates new labor terms to “the one” or the executive strongman of the state, who(which) imposes them on the nationalized unions. The state thereby preserves the profits of the few at the expense of the many.

      This, marxists say, is what happened in Europe. Independent and broadly socialist trade unions were effectively nationalized and the socialists put on the (s)hit list. Needless to say, in today’s terms this would not really be a “nationalism” that American victims of the globalist leaking sieve are looking for. Today’s cognate is a “nationalism” that dictates *national* trade policy to a federal government that enters *national* trade agreements that create the *national* leaking sieve and then nominally independent US trade unions are told “you can’t fight city hall.”

      The fascist state preservation of capitalist enterprise at all costs can further includes the deployment of internal police state violence, especially against political dissidents or scapegoat(s), AND/OR the external violence of war, along with the imposition of a top down totalitarianism on behalf of the corporations in all political and cultural institutions. ie., the indirect ideological and direct violent policing of protest and dissent

      This does not preclude populist or nationalist demagoguery, nor the enlistment of factions/classes within the population against other factions/classes of the population all to that same end– the preservation of the privileges of the few and the *appearance* of the preservation of capitalist institutions and the national democratic interest. This can make fascism look like a popular or populist movement, (but it isn’t). Because they are undermining the trade unions, and putting the socialists on the s(hit) list, the ideal popular element to deploy is the “petit bourgeois” shopkeeper.

      So, the difference between the New Deal and “fascism,” then, and what makes fascism fascist is not the cooperation between the state and the corporations so much as the parasitism and violence the state deploys against “the many” (or chosen scapegoat(s)) on behalf of the few while in that alliance.

      I think in the marxist analysis, that the globalist “leaking sieve” is one of the key tools deployed by corporations against the American working classes today wouldn’t make its alliance with the State against the American public somehow not-fascist. In the marxist view, the essence of fascism is not nationalism or just any alliance between the state and corporations, but the extension, through state coercion and violence, of failing capitalist institutions that have (in one way or another) reached their “sell by” date.

      According to this marxist analysis of fascism, it’s possible that the US has been trending in a “fascist” direction for some time now, and has in the past 10 years entered the cycle of increasing violence.

      **That American right wingers constantly call Obama’s plutocratic policies “communism,” which at least in textbook terms they’re certainly not, just means that they are even more confused than liberals/ progressives/ the rest of us.

  6. Random Lurker

    I think that this historical background on the term “Corporatism” as used by Mussolini is important:

    When fascism came to power, there was a strong social unrest of the socialist/anarchist brand in Italy, mainly channelled through workers union. Mussolini was quite helped in his golpe from the Italian elites of the times (fascists went to the “march on Rome” by train and nobody tried to stop them) because he was supposed to counter the “red peril”.
    Mussolini then outlawed unions and replaced them with “corporazioni”, that would be translated in english as “guilds” in the middle ages sense but often is uncorrectly translated as “corporations”. The difference between “guilds” and “unions” was that while unions were worker’s union (against the owners), guilds were strictly trade-based, so that workers of FIAT were in in the same guild as the owners of FIAT. Since the owners had much more power than workers, those guilds were in pratice owner controlled unions.

    So the quote “Fascism should be called Corporatism” is misleading, since in fact a better translation would be “Fascism would be better called Guildism”, but in the end the result was the same.

  7. Aquifer

    Hmmm, somehow in all this discussion about precisely what term fits the situation described in the post, the situation described in the post seems to have been a bit sidelined …

    The issue is – the gov’t using its power to protect business even when business is doing evil … THAT seema to me to be the problem, what ever you want to call it, call it “Fred” for all i care ….

    So the issue is, how do we fix this little “problem”? If the folks who run the gov’t are doing this because they have been bought, or even if it’s because they are “true believers” in the primacy of private sector control uber alles and will do what they “must” to establish that control, then it seems to me we need to focus on replacing them with folks who are not bought and “believe” in a model that puts “we the people” back in charge ….

    I realize that i am a “one note pony” (personal joke) on this issue, it just comes from years of dealing with medical issues in which it is not so important what you call the disease as it is what you do about it ….

    1. Aquifer

      PS – Plus, as an aquifer, i have no desire to be messed up by “frackers”. You do realize that we are all aquifers …

      1. F. Beard

        Speaking of “one note ponies”, our water is probably being polluted with our own stolen purchasing power via loans from the counterfeiting cartel, the banking system.

        1. proximity1

          So, to continue examining your hypothesis,

          WRT:

          ” Contrast this power relationship to the US today. Can you more easily imagine Obama calling the heads of business for a dressing down or vice versa? What US elites fear most would be a powerful One that could impose his will on them through the state. They fear to no end a powerful executive who could issue them dictates, or confiscate their wealth, or nationalize their corporations. The last thing US elites want is a state powerful enough to threaten them. What they want – and have – is the power of the Few and a state powerful enough to assist them. ”

          You refer at one moment to the “executive” and, in another, to “the state” as powers which U.S. heads of businesses (i.e. the largest industrialists) are supposed to be in fear of. But these aren’t at all the same things either in theory or practice. Though we can understand you to intend that you mean executive branch power of the government as opposed to legislative or other powers, official or unofficial.

          The simple fact is that, from the perspective of executive powers, per se, these powers (regardless of “party”–because in fact there is only one party with “two” presumptive faces ) have expanded immensely over the past fifty years vis-àvis those held and used by Congress–and, at each step of the way, that has been to the detriment of and at the expense of the actual de facto powers of the legislative, despite what the Constitution says. Thus, this powerful executive, if he (or she) could really help business interests, (as he can, of course), can also at least in theory, deny that help, and in doing so, at least by refusing to lend important help, hurt those interests.

          But as we know or should know, there is not the slightest reason why the major U.S. business leaders should have to doubt–let alone fear–the lack of government–in all its branches–doing very much what they would most often most like to see done.

          So Obama is no more likely to be inclinded to “dress down” (even privately) these business leaders. They very much see things eye to eye—in the same way that Hitler and Germany’s leading industrialists saw things eye to eye.

          U.S. elites need not fear the government “imposing its will on them” because, as they know only too well,there’s little if any difference between the government’s “will” and generally speaking, their own. Only on the margins and in the details are there routine battles and contests between and among power-holders inside and outside of government.

          As dismantling for parliamentary democracy in the U.S., this is already very largely an accomplished fact.

          So, at least on the very large, broad questions of “who rules, and whose interests?”, few if any meetings are needed, and few if any questions either.

          1. Aquifer

            “But as we know or should know, there is not the slightest reason why the major U.S. business leaders should have to doubt–let alone fear–the lack of government–in all its branches–doing very much what they would most often most like to see done.”

            Sure, as long as that “one party with 2 presumptive faces” is in power, which of course explains why TPTB do all in their power to ensure that remains the case – explaining why they do whatever they can to delegitimate any party that challenges the duopoly. So every time anyone denigrates a 3rd party on the basis of “can’t win” or “spoiler” (s)he is carrying water for TPTB ..

            We decide who sits in those seats – if the “one party with 2 faces” is in charge – it is because we limited our choices to them at the polls, or opted out altogether ..

    2. proximity1

      About:

      “So the issue is, how do we fix this little “problem”? If the folks who run the gov’t are doing this because they have been bought, or even if it’s because they are “true believers” in the primacy of private sector control uber alles and will do what they “must” to establish that control, then it seems to me we need to focus on replacing them with folks who are not bought and “believe” in a model that puts “we the people” back in charge …”

      And how to implement this 18th century concept in our 21st century circumstances then becomes very much central to the matter.

      To “answer” the question how do we fix this little “problem”? and address the objective of “a model that puts “we the people” back in charge” we are obliged to do things which run terribly counter to contemporary habits. In short, we’re obliged to look very coldly and squarely at some of the things about our society and ourselves that we least want to look at or think about.

      Do “we the people” really want to assume the onerous tasks of taking and keeping responsible care for and oversight of the people now in power?

      What skills, what knowledge, and what understandings would doing that–or even talking about doing that–require of us? And, then, assuming we could agree on these, do we possess them?

      I think current power relations have the public fairly well exactly where the general cohort of power-weilders like it:

      rather distracted,

      rather confused,

      rather ignorant and indifferent to much about the world locally and in the nation and in the world at large.

      rather too harried and overburdened to even think of what’s going on, let alone what might in theory be done about it. That latter is a luxury in both time, money and organizational resources which those in power (are careful to) reserve to themselves.

      Is that an accident?

      1. Aquifer

        Of course it’s not an “accident” – but the alternative to our current dilemma is not all devoting ourselves 24/7 to watching the government, but in at least doing the due diligence required to pick representatives who are not bought by TPTB. They do exist, they are out there, they are available, some are even running for office …

        Is it “simpler” to pick a junk diet than decent food? Yeah, but decent food is out there (except in some places, like poor neighborhoods, gotta work on that ..), all we have to do is walk down a different aisle in our political supermarket ..

        You cannot achieve what you cannot conceive, and our imaginations are woefully stunted ….

        1. Aquifer

          Addenda – of course that is not ALL that is required, but it is, at least IMO, a minimal requirement for participation in society. Does the word “citizen” have no meaning anymore?

          1. proximity1

            “Does the word “citizen” have no meaning anymore?”

            I hate the fact as much as you do but the ugly truth is that no, it does not and has not for some time meant anything.

            We might try and determine the rough time-lines for our having come to this pass. But do you want to do that?

            One of the cardinal features of our times–and a leading factor in everything about the issues involved here–is very simple: people manifestly do not want to do “that”, to take that time. Instead, whaat they, what we, seem to want above all is for “things to get better now§, right now!. They don’t want to think about them, they don’t want to discuss them–because that would point up two very tough realities: 1) people are incredibly ill- or un-informed about so much, and 2) partly due to that, they don’t agree on much of anything—apart from “there are some things going really, really wrong”. But a segment of the public would even dispute that, too, for, for them, things aren’t materially so bad after all. They’re wealthy and they have important influences on the mass communications media.

            Citizen has been replaced by a personal and private pleasure-seeking consumer.

            Now, that doesn’t necessarily describe you. But it does describe millions upon millions of our fellows of all ages and walks of life.

            Consider the primacy of, say, sports, shopping, music, films, television and internet—that is, everything (including advertising) which has so prominent a part in the sea of distraction which surrounds us.

            How does anyone attack this?

            And, as Neil Postman put it in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, how do we counter an opponent whose most formidable arm is a laugh, a smirk, a preference to take no one and nothing, not even himself, seriously?

            The weapons so useful to the ENlightenment’s philosophes are useless against a mass public which is permanently plugged in and just wants to play, forget and do whatever comes with the least of effort.

            There are (some of) our (main) obstacles and as far as I’m aware, no one as yet has a very good, clear idea of how to combat this situation. Discussing it would require effort and we don’t want effort–ever.

            Killed your television set yet?

    3. Susan the other

      For most of the above problems, we could stop the looters cold if we demanded fast track on clean energy production. Carbon-based energy is fighting for its life right now and it is harming all of us. We don’t want to use it anymore. We are faced with a transition period which should be closely monitored as we move into clean energy. We do not need, nor can we afford, all these setbacks. We need to switch our economy from a petro-dollar economy to a clean-dollar economy. The big fake out about Keystone is that it will create jobs. The real reason all this expensive infrastructure is being devoted to carbon is because we are a carbon based economy and we need to keep the price of gasoline as high as possible. So we need to come up with a solution to get off carbon without crashing the economy.

      Is it me, or is there an intentional avoidance of reporting on the science we need, like cold fusion, synthetic photosynthesis; even the engineering of things like wind power. It’s like this stuff is an unmentionable, like the words
      “securitization fraud.” Who is putting the brakes on?

  8. proximity1

    ” One perfect example of this power relationship between the One and the Few was just after gaining power Adolph Hitler summoning 25 corporate leaders to explain his policies. As Adam Tooze describes it in The Wages of Destruction “Hitler did not take questions from his audience, nor did he spell out exactly what he expected of the business leaders. Hitler had not come to negotiate. He had come to inform them of his intentions. And his audience can be left in no doubt. Germany’s new Chancellor planned to put an end to parliamentary democracy”.

    ” Contrast this power relationship to the US today. Can you more easily imagine Obama calling the heads of business for a dressing down or vice versa? What US elites fear most would be a powerful One that could impose his will on them through the state. They fear to no end a powerful executive who could issue them dictates, or confiscate their wealth, or nationalize their corporations. The last thing US elites want is a state powerful enough to threaten them. What they want – and have – is the power of the Few and a state powerful enough to assist them. ”

    It seems to be implied in your example and comparison that these german industrialists, being “summoned” by Hitler, were being instructed on a number of policy initiatives which they, for some reasons we’re not told, would have found objectionable. I find that assumption isn’t necessary. Perhaps no questions were taken and none were needed. Why, I’d like to know, are we to suppose that the industrialists should find much if anything to object to in the plan “to put an end to parliamentary democracy”?

    Germans, at this time, would have automatically associated “parliamentary democracy” with their recent and disastrous experiences of the (series of) Weimar governments. So, not just industrialists, but many average people–the not very enlightened nor far-sighted–would have viewed the plan to eliminate parliamentary democracy as “just what the doctor (should have) ordered.”

    I’ve been dipping into William Shirer’s “Berlin Diary” lately. He recounts events on the date (in March 1935?) when Goebels called the international press corps to assemble for the publication of an important announcement at which he informed the press corps of the plan to reconstitute Germany’s army–35 divisions of troops–which was in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Later, large crowds gathered beneath the windows of Hitler’s offices and cheered him until he appeared.

    For their parts, the governments of Britain and France, faced with the flagrant defiance of the treaty terms did precisely nothing–offering staggering evidence to Hitler that he could behave scandalously and nothing would be done about it.

    The twenty-five industrialists, after all, would be the very people with the most to gain financially from a definitive annulation of democratic forms and functions in favor of a business-friendly dictatorial state which was bent on the development of heavy industry of all sorts and, in particular, armaments and steel and chemicals.

    Why would they have posed questions–other than, “What took you so long?” Who, in the tableau presented, is really giving orders and who taking them? This case is too mutually agreeable to find a clear line between the two.

    Hearing that Hitler would do away with parliamentary democracy could, I believe, have been taken by the 25 industrialists as just as welcome news as it was later, when Hitler announced his plans to re-arm, and rebuild the armed forces—until proofs to the contrary.are offered.

    1. Susan the other

      We need our industrialists to turn in the right direction. Clean energy; clean environment. Why aren’t they addressing the issue of our time?

  9. proximity1

    Op-Ed Columnist

    Plutocracy, Paralysis, Perplexity

    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    Published: May 3, 2012

    Before the Great Recession, I would sometimes give public lectures in which I would talk about rising inequality, making the point that the concentration of income at the top had reached levels not seen since 1929. Often, someone in the audience would ask whether this meant that another depression was imminent.

    Well, whaddya know?

    Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we’re now living through? It probably contributed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/krugman-plutocracy-paralysis-perplexity.html?_r=1&hp

  10. pelham

    I think we are there, by the corporate/government-merger definition of fascism. It’s just that the goals and methods of fascist rule now are somewhat different from the goals and methods of the 1930s, with wide-scale human subjugation being one thing they have still in common.

    But here’s the odd thing:

    The far-right politics used by the corporation in the 1930s have been displaced by the mainstream politics of the present. Corporations this time around have fully seized the so-called political center.

    AND the far-right parties of the present in Europe (though not the U.S.) now represent one of the few ways out from under corporate/fascist control. Maybe not a good, virtuous and pretty way, but a way.

    The question that remains is, where is the left? I’m not sure that OWS counts as, to the extent that an agenda is discernible, they seem to be calling for reform rather than wholesale overhaul or revolution — and they’re not getting much traction (though we’ll get a better idea come the NATO summit in Chicago later this month).

    1. proximity1

      further reading, (emphasis is my own addition, unless otherwise noted.)

      ( from Guy Debord’s text, “Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle” (see at link for the text on-line: http://www.notbored.org/commentaires.html )

      V.

      The society modernized to the stage of the integrated spectacular is characterized by the combined effect of five principal features: incessant technological renewal; fusion of State and economy; generalized secrecy, forgeries without reply; a perpetual present.

      The movement of technological innovation has a long history, and is a constituent of capitalist society, sometimes described as industrial or post-industrial. But since its most recent acceleration (in the aftermath of the Second World War) it has greatly reinforced spectacular authority, by completely surrendering everybody to the ensemble of specialists, to their calculations and their judgments, which always depend on their calculations. The fusion of State and economy is the most evident trend of the century; it has at the very least become the motor of the most recent economic development. The defensive and offensive pact concluded between these two powers, the economy and the State, has assured them of the greatest common advantages in every field: each may be said to own the other; it is absurd to oppose them, or to distinguish between their rationalities and irrationalities. This union has also proved to be extremely favorable to the development of spectacular domination, which, precisely, from its formation, hasn’t been anything else. The other three features are direct effects of this domination, in its integrated stage.

      Generalised secrecy stands behind the spectacle, as the decisive complement of all it displays and, in the last analysis, as its most important operation.

      The simple fact of being without reply has given to the false an entirely new quality. At a stroke it is truth which has almost everywhere ceased to exist or, at best, has been reduced to the status of pure hypothesis that can never be demonstrated. The false without reply has succeeded in making public opinion disappear: first it found itself incapable of making itself heard and then very quickly dissolved altogether. This evidently has significant consequences for politics, the applied sciences, the justice system and artistic knowledge.

      The construction of a present where fashion itself, from clothes to music, has come to a halt, which wants to forget the past and no longer seems to believe in a future, is achieved by the ceaseless circular passage of information, always returning to the same short list of trivialities, passionately proclaimed as major discoveries. Meanwhile news of what is genuinely important, of what is actually changing, comes rarely, and then in fits and starts. It always concerns this world’s apparent condemnation of its own existence, the stages in its programmed self-destruction.

Comments are closed.