I’ve spent the last 10 years doing almost nothing but studying politics and the super-rich. I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have to work. I make my money as a writer and am able to devote my time to whatever I want. What I wanted, and had wanted for years, was to figure out who pulls the fucking strings around here.
I wish I had remained ignorant. I began to use the mafia model to understand American and, indeed, global politics about 4 years ago. It best describes the situation in a way average people can relate to. Turns out, there’s a reason for this. Humans just like to organize into clans. It’s a sociological phenomenon. You can even see it in play in the leftosphere with little crowds and their various email lists.
This phenomenon goes all the way to the top. Globally you have hundreds of “crowds”, some of which intersect, acting like so many crime families. These “interests” assert power in various ways, sometime legally (it’s easy to remain legal when you write the laws – ask Bernie Madoff), and sometimes as illegally as any mobster operation.
It’s hard to visualize the organizational structure of such an array of interests. In many ways, it’s not very organized at all. This is what I always try to convey to people who want to see everything in a conspiratorial framework – it is far more complex, dynamic, and evolving.
Maybe there is some superpowerful Illuminatti out there. But I haven’t seen it. But there are big fish. And that crowd is the most dangerous. They are the bankers, arms manufacturers, oil barons. These are the untouchables. They control (not as one) corporations, private armies and intelligence agencies. They form the revolving door community of the big think tanks, government positions in Treasury, State, and the Senate, and they rarely ever get taken down.
The story of geopolitics is really the story of these big fish, working together on occasion, at war with each other on other occasions. It’s all very nasty business, but that’s the game if you want to be a billionaire.
These different interests rarely ever completely align but for a couple of exceptions: they almost all want to globalize the planet so they can conduct inter.., no, transnational commerce unimpeded, and they don’t give a shit about democracy or any other people empowerment ideas that can ruin their good thing.
Some really do want to form a world government of sorts, but it’s not the one the conspiracy theorists are always babbling about. Others prefer a wild west type of world and they try to sow instability so they can exploit it. These two groups, loosely defined, have been battling it out for decades. Guess who’s winning?
The stable world crowd once dominated and saw themselves as stewards of the meek. They didn’t mind socialism much and saw keeping the masses happy and complacent as the way to secure their dominance – soft power. Then in the 60s, the wild westers started to make a stand. Armed with shitloads of Texas oil money, they went after the Eastern establishment and helped shape the latter half of the 20th Century into something far more monstrous than the Rockefeller brother even conceived. And that’s saying something.
Then there was also just an element of unpredictability. Poachers and financial wizards moved on Wall Street and helped wild westify it without any ideological motive. They just seized the opportunity. And by the 80s it was pretty much anything goes.
As for how all this speaks for our democracy, people power, and the prospects of a young, wet behind the ears president, I don’t have a lot of hope. Just google “business roundtable”. Scroll down the list of thousands of hits, scanning quickly all the different chapters, front organizations, groups and subgroups in different states, cities and countries. This is just a fraction of the “Interests” network. Then think of ours.
The Business Roundtable is a lobby set up in the late 60s to take on the so-called liberal agenda. It’s main organization comprises the CEOs of the biggest corporations in the world. It’s sub-chapters, for lack of a better word, are in the thousands. They coordinate with the Chamber of Commerce and all their thousands of organization, the National Association of Manufacturers, and countless other business lobbies and thinktanks. It is a multi-billion dollar army with and army of PR firms to manipulate public perceptions.
Of course, they need to spend all that money because their agenda is wholly unpopular with the public.
There is really only one organization on the planet that can even remotely take on such an omnipresent organization as the corporate lobby – the US federal government with the support of the American people.
And that will inevitably fail too unless a critical mass obtains and we remove the central instrument of control these interests have over our government – money.
We can try all we want to “elect better Dems” or any otgher strategy we can think of, but none will work until we remove completely the influence of money over our political system. It’s that simple.
All this bullshit about netroots donors and small contributions are that – bullshit.
We can’t afford our government and we don’t have the organizational structure to do it even if we could. It’s a pipe dream. A constitutional amendment banning ever giving a politician or a candidate a single penny is the only way – followed by the construction of a public financing regime and serious media reform that forces media corporations to allow us to conduct our democracy for free on OUR airwaves.
And as long as those media corporations are the primary source of information among the American people, there will never be a critical mass. If religion is the opiate of the masses, television is a coma.
This is it. Our only chance. I give us about 3 in 100 odds of success.