Obama struts about the world like a colossus, making speeches that ooze the sickly falsehood of moral America that belongs to Hollywood and the handshake that passed the Kennedy baton to Clinton. The left and right of politics are arguably defined in terms of adoring or detesting the relentless US obsession with capitalism and American interests. In this analysis the knee-bending to Zionism is explained on the thin pretext of Israel being a US base in the heart (or some other organ) of the Middle East. On the surface, if one understands the world in terms of nations and empires, it would appear that the Israeli tail is wagging the American superpower dog. But this construction ceased to exist in reality somewhere in the middle of the second half of the 20th Century and it’s persistence as an illusion is one of the most dangerous false premises of our time. There is another analysis.
During and after WW2, and perhaps even before, the people who owned Britain migrated the bulk of their capital, their mental orientation and in many cases also their families to the US. It was the beginning of the disconnection of Wealth and Nations. While the hoi polloi of Great Britain are ardently encouraged in flag-waving, identifying themselves foremost as “Brits” and constantly worrying about the erosion of British values and way of life, the people who own the country have no such sentiment. The same is true of the US and Australia.
When I first heard the expression that “the only real power is economic power” it was ascribed to Mussolini, though it seemed incongruous with my impression that he was not particularly clever. That aside, today, in an era when many corporations are wealthier than several countries and having come to understand that corporations have globalised while governments remain largely constrained within national boundaries, this seems to me more of a material and self-evident fact than merely a supportable assertion. The day has long ago arrived when corporations could get their way with governments by using the threat of withdrawing their investment (Ford and General Motors contributed substantially to the demise of the Whitlam government of Australia in 1975 by their each having repatriated half a billion dollars in profit, effectively blood-letting the economy). Moreover, while it is one thing to legislate and implement or enforce laws, it’s something quite else again to buy and direct the people who can do the thing you want done – be it legal, moral, difficult or otherwise.
In essence, political power is now subservient to economic power and this is the essential reality that gives the lie to any notion of “democracy” anywhere. More importantly, it has a perilous implication, one that we are seeing rapidly materialise without so much as a drawing of breath by the intellectual elites, to say nothing of the blind indifference of the herd of their lesser mortals, namely, that any notion of legal or human rights is null and void. This will only be felt when the illusion of “freedom” evaporates and only the residual reality is left behind.
Some 20 years ago a process of privatisation took hold in earnest on a global scale. A compliant corporate-owned mainstream media manufactured both the widespread view that governments were not competent to manage enterprises (such as public utilities, energy and water supplies or telecommunications) and the impression that this was the accepted wisdom. With the corruption of politicians and political parties in the pay of capital and governments subordinated to the power of international corporations, governments simply undertook the task of implementing the public asset fire-sale against the will of a public that remained nevertheless, resistant because they felt uneasy about being at the mercy of private corporations for essential resources (they were right).
The manner and haste of the public asset sales created a buyer’s market and dramatically undervalued these assets while the only substantial buyers of shares were the global corporations, which had long enjoyed the luxury of contributing little to the cost of national infrastructure on which they depend in the multiple countries in which they operate, not to mention the many contrivances for transforming public funds into private revenues – everything from defence expenditure to foreign aid, direct subsidies and tourism promotion – and privileged access to borrowing cheap petro-dollars available from the cash-rich Middle-East.
The outrageous practice of taxing the income of people who contribute their labour to the wealth generation process in order to pay the cost of economic infrastructure development and maintenance while exempting corporations that depend entirely on the labour force and infrastructure for the generation of turnover and profit has been supplemented by an array of regressive taxes such as Goods and Services or Value Added Tax in promoting a dynamic concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands. In parallel with all this, revenue-starved governments have depleted services to the public such as health care, education, environment and recreational facilities, shifting their focus to the needs of business, commerce, industry and war. The windfall derived from the fire-sale of assets that were accumulated over several generations of public contribution has evaporated in the space of less than a generation. This has deluge of wealth from the public to private in a dynamic that favours the privileged and powerful few has gone on to the point that it is probable that a few thousand people own, and an even fewer number control, the vast majority of the world’s economic capital.
Deprived of assets and of revenue sources rooted in the core of the wealth generation process, while at the same time subject to the whims of an electorate that is become a misguided and malleable rabble in the palm of a deceitful and manipulative media, governments and the nations they represent are little more than a tool in the hands of global corporate power – economic power.
Patriotic Fervour for the Empire
Americans have long been indifferent to the foreign policies of their successive governments as they have coerced other countries into crippling, unrepayable debt in order to develop infrastructure and promote conditions that serve principally to facilitate the theft of their resources by private foreign companies – often aided by the CIA or US military. In some cases countries have been simply destroyed, creating the unrepayable debt simply in the re-building process. Yet today, most Americans are so blinded by their irrational, patriotic fervour that even now, as they face a swelling $14 trillion national debt, they fail to realise they have fallen victim to the same process. Their military has become the instrument for the theft of other nations’ resources by private companies, which also benefit from the government “defence” expenditure.
No different to the puppet governments that have been installed in client countries all over the world from Australia to Africa and South America their US government, whichever of the two parties is “democratically” elected is entirely in the palm of capital and economic power, a power that is systematically harvesting an increasing proportion of their wealth and wealth generation to funnel into their off-shore adventures in pursuit of greater economic power on the global stage.
As they wave their flags and bask their egos in the idea that their nation is Number One, Americans remain ever-willing to send their sons off to wage violence against civilians in far-off places, ultimately corrupting their minds and spirits in the name of capitalism and empire. Yet the perilous state of the global economy (not to mention the biosphere that it depends on) with the US being the chief source of instability shows clearly they live on borrowed money and borrowed time. But this is not a matter of nations having the governments they deserve or any sort of poetic justice, it’s about the economic, environmental, social and intellectual peril of humanity.
The People Who Own Western Capitalism
The advantage of wealth in the process of accumulating wealth has been so long evident that it has long been seen as a responsibility of government to regulate and restrain capitalism, even to the point of applying direct mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth. The subjugation of governments to globalised capital has swept all of this aside and with it a positive feedback mechanism has been enabled that is dramatically concentrating wealth and power. A new world order is clearly emerging and it will roll back the freedoms that the broad mass of humanity has had to fight and make huge sacrifices for since the days of feudal societies and possibly long before. It’s not hard to imagine how all of humanity could succumb to a modern, technologically controlled and imposed feudal society once again. Yet we seem to be collectively sleep-walking as if believing that all is comfortable and secure.
If Netanyahu can insult the emperor and bite the hand that feeds Israel it’s probably not because Israel is too important to US strategic advantage in the Middle East or because there is any special relationship between the US and Israel, or because AIPAC has too much influence, it’s because Netanyahu carries as much weight, if not more than Obama with The People Who Own Western Capitalism and he knows so.
Psychotic Disorder in the New World
Much of the world is ignorant of or indifferent to the behaviour of the state of Israel towards the people of Palestine, whom they have displaced from their homeland by terror and violence like a marauding tribe of barbaric savages. The merciless attack on defenceless civilians in Gaza seems to have been almost forgotten. The “international community” also seems untroubled by the destruction of Iraq and the shocking violence that was involved, or even the now obvious lies that were the basis for an attack on a nation that had been commanded from the moral high ground to disarm in advance of the attack. Not even the deceptions of a compliant corporate media can be blamed for this level of infantile evasion of moral responsibility or conscience.
The scourge of war that we have enthusiastically ushered into the new century, as if oblivious to the lessons of the century before, is reminiscent of the Vietnam War in its ruthless slaughter of civilians and the reckless destruction of their homes and their livelihoods. The impetus to all this reckless violence and destruction doesn’t come from the powerless masses; it comes from power, be it economic or political. In parallel with the transition we have witnessed in the past 60 years from ascendancy of political power of nations to the economic power of corporations there has been an amplification of the violence and destruction along with increasing civilian death and it has become more systematic and institutionalised, almost as if we anticipate a century of ongoing war.
With this in mind it is worth considering that a psychopath is someone who can inflict pain, suffering, injury, even death without empathy, compassion or remorse. It would be reasonable to draw the conclusion, given in particular that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were unjustified and unnecessary, that the people responsible (i.e. The People Who Own Western Capitalism) have a psychotic disorder. The relentless repetition of deceitfully contrived war from Vietnam to Iraq with plans for Iran and Pakistan reflects a clear absence of remorse and the “price is worth it” comment of Madeline Albright epitomises the absence of empathy or compassion of the people who invent terms such as “collateral damage” or weapons such as the callously-named “daisy cutter” and don’t waste time on “body counts”.
Humanity should have considered long ago that an economic system that knows only one ethic – “If we don’t do it our competitors will” – would bring to the fore people of a kind whose minds are unfettered by such distractions as moral responsibility, empathy and compassion. With people of this moral, philosophical and intellectual calibre owning and ruling our world it seems obvious that the expectation of sharing in a grand and noble human destiny or even the prospect of living a comfortable, peaceful individual life is remote.
All of the above-mentioned violence, while not driven by the will of the general masses and vigorously resisted in the days of the Vietnam War has been passively accepted in recent times. While there are many who would rise from their seats in vigorous rejection of this assertion they would be hard pressed to deny the absurdity of a “movement” that still calls itself “Stop the War”. So while it may be an illusion that Israel is wagging the US dog, there certainly is a dog being wagged by its tail and all of the wagging is being done by a psychopathic cabal of People Who Own Western Capitalism and a time is soon to arrive when the dog being wagged will rue the day.
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|Syed Kamal Hussain Shah|