It’s widely believed that we have democracies in the West. We’d like that to be the case, but it’s not – because ultimate power is corporate, not political. By ultimate power, we mean the ability to control the direction in which humanity moves. No matter who wins political power in your country – ultimate power remains corporate. National and local governments can do some things, but they can’t control the direction that humanity moves in – that’s the preserve of banks and corporations.
This is not a left-wing or a right-wing position. Those labels are irrelevant to this issue. It suits banks & corporations for the population to be split into left and right, battling each other rather than challenging them. It’s not anti-American either – corporate power denies democracy to Americans just as it does everyone else; and it’s not against the free market – in fact corporate power makes the free market impossible.
These are the main points. It’s very easy to follow:
Ultimate power always lies with the greatest capacity to inflict violence
This has always been the case – first within tribes, then clans, then nations, then empires – and now it’s global.
The US military has the greatest capacity to inflict violence
See the graph at the top of the blog.
Whoever controls the US military controls the world
Control of the US military is embodied in the US President, Commander-in-Chief of US Forces. It’s impossible to become President without the backing of banks and corporations. He/she needs billions of dollars for him/herself and his/her party, plus the support of the corporate media. Nobody can outbid banks and corporations for control of the presidency because banks and corporations have the most money.
Corporate tentacles reach your High Street (local branches), your homes (TV and internet advertising), your finances (mortgage and credit card debt) and your minds (branding). They suck money out of individuals and communities to ensure that they continue to have the most money (and therefore power). And they make you feel grateful for it, because ‘they bring jobs and choice’ (although small businesses provide more jobs, and the ‘choice’ they provide doesn’t include real democracy).
Governments are national / corporations are multinational
It’s self-evident that national institutions can’t control global institutions; and there are no global institutions to regulate the corporate system. Those with teeth (for example the World Bank, World Trade Organisation and International Monetary Fund) are corporate-initiated and controlled.
It’s the system, not bad individuals or companies
Companies and individuals are not evil; and they’re expendable – think Lehman Brothers or Enron. There’s no conspiracy – corporations are just legally obliged to maximise returns for their shareholders, and in their efforts to do so, they easily out-compete small companies and strengthen the corporate system, without the need to conspire.
As Slavoj Žižek put it: “Do not blame people and their attitudes: the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is not, “Main Street, not Wall Street,” but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.”
33 ways that corporate power trumps political power
We’ll expand on these points in further blogs.
- Corporate political donations – over 4 billion dollars per US presidential election alone.
- The corporate lobby industry – there are many times more political lobbyists than there are politicians.
- Multinational corporations can easily sidestep national legislation. South Korea restricts the import of Toyota cars from Japan? So they export cars to South Korea from their plant in the US or Europe.
- Did you vote for a party that promised higher wages, health & safety and environmental legislation? Corporations threatening to move factories and jobs elsewhere will stop them.
- in the US, super-PACs (political action committees) allow corporate billionaires to make secret donations to political parties and candidates.
- Ministers leave government and go straight onto the boards of mega-corporations and financial institutions; this is called the ‘revolving door’.
- Corporate representatives are more and more invited into government – unelected ministers or members of government committees are regularly drawn from corporations.
- Politicians have personal financial interests in the banks and corporations they are supposed to regulate.
- The corporate-controlled World Bank and IMF force poor countries to open their economies to Western corporations.
- Western media are owned by billionaires, who support the current economic and political system that made them billionaires, not surprisingly; they are able to shape public opinion and ridicule or ignore anti-corporate opinions.
- Newspapers and TV stations depend on corporate advertising, and will pull stories with a negative slant on those corporations, because their livelihood depends on it.
- Global institutions are run by and for corporations, (their internal operations are secret) to formulate global policies that national governments slavishly adhere to; a prime example is the World Bank;
- … and the World Trade Organisation;
- … and the International Monetary Fund;
- … and the Trilateral Commission;
- … and the Bildeberg Group;
- … and the Council on Foreign Relations;
- … and soon, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, which will allow corporations to sue elected governments if they introduce legislation (like the banning of pesticides) that reduces corporate profits.
- … and the Trans-Pacific Partnership will do the same in Pacific rim nations.
- Corporate-sponsored domestic institutions exist too, like the Pacific Legal Foundation in the US, which exists to defend corporations against environmental, workers’ rights and tax avoidance legislation.
- Corporate-funded ‘citizens’ groups’ (that are anything but), set up to campaign in the corporate interest.
- Public relations firms are paid by corporations to write pro-corporate articles for and letters to newspapers, and plant corporate stooges in public meetings, posing as ‘concerned citizens’. There are now more public relations employees engaged in these kinds of activities than actual newspaper reporters in the US.
- Embassies have secondees from corporations, who pay their wages, and diplomats are now expected to open doors for corporations abroad.
- Credit ratings agencies rate countries based on IMF / World Bank data; if they don’t adhere to corporate policies, they are downgraded and capital flows out of their country.
- The fractional reserve banking system means that unelected banks, and not elected governments, control the money supply.
- Corporations can provide products and services for free in locations where there is small-scale competition, until the small companies are forced to close, after which they can charge more than the small companies did.
- Government subsidies (and bail-outs) for banks and corporations.
- Corporate tax avoidance.
- Corporate-funded ‘think-tanks’ producing pro-corporate reports.
- Corporate-funded university departments doing ‘independent’ research.
- Co-operation amongst giant corporations has created a de facto planned economy.
- The corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) designs legislation for US states.
- Corporate-sponsored school equipment and teaching materials and corporate fizzy-drink machines in schools, to get ’em young; in the US, corporate advertising is shown to children during lessons.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's