By Steven Miller on January 1, 2014 3:47 pm /
“Capitalism in the 21st Century is no longer based largely on profits resulting from a real economy productive process, windfall financial gains are acquired through large scale speculative operations, without the occurrence of real economy activity, at the touch of a mouse button.” Michel Chussodovsky
Summary: It is a statement of fact, not ideology, that a class of billionaires, principally based in finance and speculation, control the levers of society. Since the Crash of 2008, the 1% has been waging a war against society that drives the 99% further towards disaster and ruin. Their End Game is the complete privatization of everything that is today owned by the public. This process is inevitable as long as political power remains in their hands. The question is: can this system be reformed? Another is: If not, can we fight and win? If so, how? These are strategic questions.
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There are decisive moments in the history of capitalism when one form of wealth, one kind of property, becomes the most lucrative. The capitalists that control this property often become the dominant sector of the capitalist class and take control of the state, dictating policy to society. Marx writes, “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” (1)
The ruling class – call them the 1%, call them capitalists – commonly wages war against itself to seize markets and articulate the strategic view that makes the most profit, especially for them. They call this “the free market”. It is rigged and completely stacked in favor of the billionaires.
When the most profit-making form of labor was slavery, the slave owners ran the government and the state. They were succeeded, after the Civil War, by the railroad barons, industrialists, who owned property in factories, coal, and iron. Slave production was replaced by industrial production; Human slavery was replaced by the far more productive wage-slavery. Early bankers played an enormous role in this transition. Industrial production predominated into the 1950s. It didn’t disappear, but the control of capital passed to banks, investors and finance.
Now it’s all changing again. The tools themselves, the technology, determine which sector of capitalists comes out on top. Today the most revolutionary tools are the vast array of digital, electronic and communication technologies. This revolution is transforming society in ways unforeseen just a decade ago. When Obama was elected in 2008 – the same year as the great economic Meltdown – there was no such thing as social media, no apps, no data in the cloud, no viral videos. The IPhone was only a few months old. The tools are changing fast, driven by constantly evolving hardware and software.
As you read through this essay and examine the evidence, please keep the bigger question in mind. Can this system actually be changed in some sort of meaningful way? What would it take? How do we fight and win?
The growing electronic production of almost everything demonstrates what Karl Marx was referring to when he said, “capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction.” But it was Adam Smith, not Marx, who first proved that the real source of profit is human labor.
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Thus the rules of capitalism encourage the exploitation of labor power. “Exploitation” means that workers are forced to work for a much longer period of time than it takes to produce enough to cover their wages. The capitalist appropriates all the products produced in the surplus labor time. This is true whether you are a tomato picker or a video game creator. Human labor inherently creates more than is used up in the production process.
But what happens when production is all electronic? What happens when robots make cars, and robots make the robots that make the cars? Can machines produce value? In this case, there is no surplus labor time to exploit and hence no private profit. When a machine produces a product, a car for example, part of the value of the machine is transferred into the product, based on the wear and tear, what is consumed in production. If the robot makes 1000 cars, then each car is 1/1000 of its value spread across the whole collection of cars it produces.
This means the machine simply uses up its value in production. Nothing more is created. Machines help capitalists make a profit because they produce a large number of commodities, which can then be sold at a lower price.
If it were otherwise, and machines added value, then the price of machine-produced commodities would increase, rather than decrease. But instead we see the long-term fall in the prices of electronics, just to name one case. Moore’s Law illustrates this process: the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip doubles every couple of years. And the cost decreases in proportion.
Laborless production, however, is necessary for capitalists because it produces more commodities, even though more cheaply, with less labor, and thus less value, in each commodity. If you produce more things, more cheaply, you can seize the market. Capitalists must therefore employ digital electronic technology, even though it cuts into their profits. This step begins to undermine capitalist economy, based on the exploitation of labor as a source of profit. It looses its moorings and goes adrift. It begins to lurch towards ever-greater instability.
Today the financial industry makes far more profit than any other sector of capitalist production. In 1973, they made 16% of total US profits; by 2007, financial profits reached 41% of all profits. (2) Since credit and debt control the levers of the economy, the financial industry has become politically dominant. The planning function of government increasingly devolves to their control. Finance – producing money from money – produces no value; it simply moves money around, but it does centralize even more wealth in the hands of speculators.
Once Wall Street speculators realized, after the 2008 Crash, that their new “financial instruments” were actually weapons of economic mass destruction, they understood that these tools could be employed to attack national and public wealth. Speculators get richer by seizing your wealth.
They do this today with hedge funds, among other things, which are completely private, completely unregulated and completely hidden from the public. But you can make wild speculative bets with their expert staff. Because they are “private”, we are supposed to accept whatever negative effects they have on society. Though the results are highly destructive to society, this is not up for debate.
Today the financial industry in the US is sitting on the largest mountain of cash in human history, over $2 trillion. Why? This is perceived as strange behavior, since they received over $16 trillion in the 2008/9 Bailout. In addition, the US government for at least two years has been dutifully sending them $85 billion a month, over a trillion dollars a year, in free money. (3)
So why don’t they spend it?
Every modern industry, especially finance, is based on extending credit; the debt is then “leveraged” to takeover companies and engage in various forms of speculation. As financial companies began to collapse in 2008, every one that was “solvent” lied and minimized how much of their holdings were based on toxic assets. Since each one knew that the others were also lying, they began to curtail how much credit they would extend. Without credit, modern capitalist commerce was on the verge of collapse. This is why the form of the Bailout was for the government to buy up toxic assets. This situation still prevails today.
Michel Chussodovsky, professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, and organizer of the Center for Global Research (www.globalresearch.ca/globalresearch.org) describes how this was rigged:
“In a bitter irony, while the Wall Street institutions were the recipients of the bailouts, they are also the creditors of the federal government, which has been precipitated into a structure of debt financing controlled by Wall Street. This deficit financing… is controlled by the creditors. It does not create employment. It is not expansionary.” (4)
This reality illuminates the dangerous instability of the times. In essence, the public is financing its own indebtedness and funding its own privatization. The banks collapsed the economy in 2008 because they had been counting their various toxic assets as part of their wealth. Money is now generated, loaned and invested by clicking a computer keyboard. The monthly $85 billion gift, of course, is not put into gold bars and moved into the bank vaults by elves. The financial industry uses public money to offer increasingly shady loans, essentially organized criminal activity against the public.
Every day the value of one-year’s GDP in the US – about $14 trillion – passes through Wall Street and other financial institutions! This is the Casino Economy. Most of this vast wealth is put into play as speculative bets, driven by computer-driven programs, on anything from water to debt to fracking. Just like mortgages, anything that can be financialized – entire electrical grids, school districts, pensions, and medical credit – almost anything at all – can also be securitized and bundled as fodder for speculation.
It is important to recognize that none of these vast transactions are taxed at all. Real people pay a large sales tax on almost everything in the US; corporate people pay ZERO on their schemes to increase their great wealth. A simple tax of 2 cents on the dollar would generate $28 billion a day, enough revenue to solve every financial issue that America faces.
Numerous people have proposed this idea, since it would end Austerity and usher in an era where governments could provide incredible resources to real people for free. The fact that this “reform” will never be permitted is a telling sign of a system that is approaching its demise.
The immediate result of the Crash was that the banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, private equity firms, real estate interests, etc. simply reprogrammed their computers to speculate on food and petroleum. Hence the mega-jump in food prices in the Fall of 2008. But money that doesn’t circulate produces no profit, so the financial industry has begun to invest in solid, material assets, tangible properties that cannot be wiped out with a click of a keyboard. Meta-money is the cousin of the NSA’s meta-data. Its use by corporations is equally malign.
Thus today we are in the midst of a tsunami of privatization, as the banksters are seizing and privatizing everything they can get their hands on. They are seizing public assets and a rate never before seen. Everything is financialized – given a monetary rating; then it is securitized – turned into speculative assets, which are quickly privatized; then your access to it without money is eliminated and thus criminalized. (5)
This trend has been noted by a number of observers:
Michael Hudson, professor of economics, University of Missouri Kansas City, michael-hudson.com:
“This financial engineering is not your typical bubble. The key to the post-2000 bubble was real estate. It is true that the past year and a half has seen some recovery in property prices for residential and commercial property. But something remarkable has occurred. This new debt-strapped low-interest environment has seen Hedge funds and buyout funds doing something that has not been seen in nearly a century: They are buying up property with cash, starting with the inventory of foreclosed properties that banks are selling off at distress prices.” (6)
Ellen Brown, Web of Debt blog, ellenbrown.com:
“Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts. They are systematically buying up or gaining control of the essential lifelines of the economy.” (7)
Michel Chussodovsky again:
“The privatization of public monuments, museums, national parks, the post office, etc., has been raised in recent media reports as a possible ‘solution’ to the debt crisis. But let us not be misled: the process of acquisition of federal public property including the infrastructure and State institutions is likely to go much further. The public sector is up for grabs. Wall Street will eventually go on a buying spree picking up State owned assets at rock bottom prices.” (8)
Apologies, of course, for the length of the citations. If we are going to home in on whether it is possible to reform the system or not, it is necessary to develop the evidence. The speculators are moving forward:
1) Enter Barack Obama. From his 2013 State of the Union Address:
“So, tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children.” (9)
This statement is a call for privatization that follows the speculative agenda described above. Supposedly “to save taxpayer’s money”, the President offers corporations ownership of the public infrastructure that was formerly built by and for the public. Infrastructure includes roads and bridges, also schools and universities, the electrical grid, water and sewers, parks and ports, airports and dams. Obama even proposes to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Roosevelt’s signature project that electrified the South. His plans open the door to the full seizure and privatization of public resources as corporate private property. What was originally built for free public access will increasingly be available only to those who can afford the fees.
2) Since the financial Meltdown of 2008, the federal government has been “nationalizing” the levers of control of society in the interests of the capitalist class. The Bailout began with the proclamation that “banks are now agents of the government”. It is moot to discuss whether the banks took over the government or the government took over the banks. They are merging together. Mussolini, the theoretician of fascism, held that fascism was the merger of the corporations and the state.
Obama quickly intervened in Detroit to reorganize the auto industry, though he refuses to intervene today to protect the city government or pensions. The federal government is reorganizing both public education and health care. The NSA revelations show that the federal government has also nationalized everyone’s information.
Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security, financed at an average of some $30 billion a year, has privatized many government functions and outsourced a huge number of police activities to corporations. As Occupy demonstrated to all, DHS has virtually federalized the police.
It is important to understand the state and its powers. The state – including the army, the courts and the police – is distinct from the government. The government collects taxes and decides how to spend public money. This is essentially the administration of things. The state’s role is guaranteed by the rule of law to use coercion and force to protect the property of the ruling class and to guarantee its rule. Hence the state is principally about the control of people. This distinction is fundamental to understanding the maneuvers and powers of capitalism today.
No longer under public accountability or control, the state apparatus today plays a major role in engineering how society will be transformed for the ruling class. Just as in other periods of US history, the state operates to implement the policies of the dominant block of capitalists. Currently this means the state will use its powers of force to facilitate the privatization of everything tangible.
With Detroit’s financial difficulties, the banksters recognized the opportunity to take the next step forward. At its peak in the Industrial Era, the city’s auto plants produced half of the world’s cars with 350,000 workers. Today the few factories that remain produce even more cars with a workforce of only 20,000. Their job is to mind the robots that actually do the manufacturing.
Wall Street and the state apparatus combined to push the city into bankruptcy so they could go after public worker pensions nationally. Across the US there are more than 22 million public workers, about half of them teachers. (10) The financial industry quickly ensnared public worker pensions in predatory debt. Then their political agents loudly proclaimed that local government could no longer function due to these debts. Detroit, like all city governments also owes huge amounts to the banks, the result of various predatory loans. However, there is never a discussion about not paying these contractual obligations, even though there is abundant evidence that they are grounded in criminality. (11)
From 2004 to 2006, 75 percent of mortgages issued in Detroit were subprime. By 2012, banks had foreclosed on 100,000 homes. This trashed the city’s real estate by 30 percent and caused the flight of almost a quarter million people. These two factors drove the tax base severely downward.
Under both Republican and Democratic governors, the Michigan state government cut $700 million in state revenue sharing. Michigan, however, boasts the largest corporate subsidies per capita in the country – a total of $6.2 billion. (12) Detroit also gives more than $20 million a year in subsidies to local corporations for elite downtown projects.
Then the state jumped in to employ coercion against the people. This took the form of an Emergency Manager, imposed by the Michigan governor, with complete powers over the city’s government, including breaking contracts at will and selling off public property. In 2013, the EM closed over 30 schools as “too expensive”, and then he used the money to build a new ice rink for the Detroit Redwings hockey team. The EM is a modern form of fascism; his dictatorial policies are backed up by the police. Detroit residents lost the civil right to vote.
While city operating expenses fell, the financial costs of debt servicing shot up. The public policy organization, Demos, wrote in 2013, “Detroit’s financial expenses have increased significantly, and that is a direct result of the complex financial deals Wall Street banks urged on the city over the last several years, even though its precarious cash flow position meant these deals posed a great threat to the city.” (13)
The Financial Times reports that Detroit will eventually pay nearly double the principal — in other words, Detroit is effectively paying 100 percent interest. (14) So w see that predatory lending against homeowners begets predatory lending against cities. The city’s, debt servicing could rise from 28% to 65% of the city’s annual budget, effectively making it an ATM for the financial industry.
In December, a federal judge ruled the pension rights, guaranteed by Michigan’s state constitution, were simply a “contractual relation”, rather than a right, and held that federal bankruptcy law, as applied to corporations, determines city bankruptcies, even though few US cities have ever gone bankrupt. This means that the interests of hedge funds and banks have priority over the interests of retired city workers, who must already make due with pensions that average only $19,000.
The betting is that city workers’ pensions will be cut by 84%. At the height of the economic Meltdown, alpha financier and speculator, Lawrence Summers, was asked why the banks used public money to pay exorbitant executive salaries. “A contract is a contract”, he bellowed. Obviously this rule of law no longer applies to public worker contracts.
Just as international banks are demanding that Greece sells off its ports, transport systems, tourist attractions, beaches and other assets in the public domain, so Detroit is now planning to sell the bridge and tunnels to Canada, the Joe Louis Boxing Arena, and the tremendous collection of art in the Detroit Institute of Art. This crime is not too different from the Nazi rape of art from across Europe, nor the US organized destruction of the Iraq Museum after they took Baghdad in 2003.
But it’s all so legit! These items will be bought by billionaires and banks with credit, which the city will then send to the banks to pay off the debt. Detroit becomes a simple pass-through account. This is naked expropriation of the wealth of the public. These are the worst of times.
4) San Francisco
These are the best of times…. or so it appears. San Francisco is succeeding Detroit as the pre-imminent manufacturing city in America… except it does not manufacture tangible products. This development is amazing, since the city is isolated on a peninsula and never developed a large manufacturing base in the Industrial Era. For decades a Western center of finance, San Francisco is becoming the center of the high-tech industry, which produces intangible digital products, an extension of Silicon Valley 50 miles south.
The city’s population is over 800,000, the highest in history, as tech workers flood the city. Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group notes that well over 100 of his 391 member companies “either have headquarters or a strong physical presence in San Francisco”. (15)
The economy of the Bay Area has reached pre-2008 levels, but with 200,000 fewer jobs. The difference is in the greater use of electronic technology, which inevitably means laborless production. (16)
In this respect, the economies of San Francisco and Detroit are moving in the same direction. This trend, reflected throughout the US and the world in general, gives the lie to glib pronouncements by politicians that they will create more jobs. The hard reality is that there will be fewer and fewer jobs because technology needs ever fewer production workers.
Electronic technology is now so productive that it no longer requires people work 40 hours a week. Thus corporations are engineering Temp World right before our eyes. Part-time workers, permatemps, precariats, contingent workforce, outside contractors, flexible contract workers, personal entrepreneurs – the names change, but a new model of work is being imposed. (17)
One of the city’s vaunted hi-tech start-ups is Task Rabbit, where someone posts a job on line – anything from moving a couch to creating a website – and a mob of desperate workers, many with advanced degrees, compete to place the lowest bid. This is the hi-tech version of the day laborer shape-up that happens every morning as construction workers, mostly without papers, battle each other to work for contractors. This trend reflects capitalism’s latest production model of outsourcing production through chains of sub-contractors.
At the other end of the pole, well-off techies have suddenly discovered the wonders of capitalism and wax profound about the libertarian virtues of a society where everyone free-lances. Though they believe they are creating the new glamorous world of work, they are simply establishing the visionary model of capitalist work in the electronic era, articulated in the 1994 Fortune Magazine article “The End of the Job”:
“As a way of organizing work, the traditional job is becoming a social artifact, created in the 19th century and well suited to the demands of a newly industrial world, but poorly adapted to a fast-moving, information-based economy. Its demise confronts everyone with unfamiliar risks — as well as rich opportunities.” (18)
Laborless production generates the polarization of wealth, the polarization of the job market and the polarization of society. Techies can afford to pay super-high rents. Immediately after the Melt Down, a massive wave of evictions swept the country. Many of these have been shown to be completely illegal. Now a new wave of evictions is being implemented across the city, leading to the eviction of working class families across the city. Evictions of entire buildings for purposes of sale are up 170% since 2010. (19)
Rebecca Solnit describes the Google buses that roam the San Francisco, picking up tech workers to carry them to Silicon Valley, “Most of them are gleaming white, with dark-tinted windows, and some days I think of them as the spaceships on which our alien overlords have landed to rule over us. (20)
The new evictions really reflect the penetration of speculation through the economy. Wall Street’s new campaign is to turn rental homes into cash cows! The banksters caused the 2008 Meltdown by bundling predatory mortgages together as “a security” that could be bet on, either for or against. Now they are securitizing rents themselves to serve as fodder for the new amped up Casino Economy. When the next crash hits, will Americans again be so gullible to accept the “too big to fail” line once again?
Dave Ransom reports on how this is going down in the San Francisco Bay Area:
“Oakland-based Waypoint Homes, for instance, calls itself “a next generation real-estate company.” It holds title to more than a thousand homes. And it is attracting serious capital to buy several thousand more—$2 billion from Silicon Valley venture capitalists and real-estate investors.
“Waypoint buys foreclosed homes from banks or in auctions on the courthouse steps, generally at a steep discount. After fixing them up, it rents them out for a good deal less than the original mortgage payment.
“That sounds good until you realize that, if the banks had offered the families living in the homes the same deal they offered Waypoint, those families could probably have avoided foreclosure entirely.
“This spring, the Obama administration announced a plan to sell foreclosed homes owned by the government’s housing agencies—Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA.
“But the hedge funds and private-equity firms are pressuring the administration to offer them cheap financing and guarantee they will be bidding on lots of as many as a thousand homes at a time.
“Who currently holds the mortgages to these homes? We the People do—the 99%. Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, and the FHA—all government backed and bailed out by the taxpayers—hold half the country’s mortgages, dumped there by the banks when the housing bubble burst. (21)
Thom Hartman describes the same phenomenon nationally in his book The Crash of 2016:
“Among the firms and big banks buying up America’s real estate is the Blackstone Group, the largest private equity firm in the world. The Blackstone Group alone has bought nearly 40,000 houses across America, spending $7.5 billion in the process.
“Blackstone, for example, bought 1,400 homes in Atlanta in one day, and owns nearly 2,000 houses in the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area.
“So why are Blackstone and other Wall Street firms buying up foreclosed homes all across the country? It’s simple. By renting these homes back to Americans, and securitizing America’s home-rental market, they can bundle up rental payments the same way they used to bundle mortgage payments, and sell them to investors.”
“The predators are again up to their old tricks. Nothing has changed.” (22)
This is madness! The speculative section of capitalism is in the driver’s seat, but the only solution they can offer to any problem is… more speculation. They use carbon futures to speculate on the very atmosphere, and intend to make a profit all the way through Global Warming and the end of human society, as we know it.
Conclusions and Implications
We can summarize the salient features of the situation. Speculators wield massive political power in the US and the world. This is rooted in their absolute control of all forms of technology as private corporate property. At the same time, corporations are merging with the state. Speculators direct the capitalist class to use state political power against the people. They are engineering an escalating class war from the top against the rest of society. The capitalist class is compelled to implement electronic laborless production only in the narrow and limited ways that guarantee corporate profits.
Speculators crashed the economy in 2008 by bundling toxic mortgages into “investment tools”. Now they are doing the same with rents. Meanwhile, the situation has metastasized. There is no longer just one economic bubble. The Masters of the World are addicted to financial warfare based in bubble wars. In essence, these are just sophisticated video games that are played 24 hours a day using the assets of the public. Like days of yore, armies of mercenaries rampage across the land, despoiling the public. Like video games, they produce thrilling speculative battles with individual winners and losers. Unlike video games, they do this with the necessities of life.
So… can this situation be reformed? In other words, can the power of capital be limited or significantly altered so that the current crisis of destruction can be reversed, so that humanity can develop a sustainable economy that benefits people, rather than debasing them?
The answer is pretty clear: there can be no significant reforms. Capitalism’s feeble efforts to address Global Warming indicate this. As with the economy itself, capitalism is driving things inexorably towards greater instability and crisis. Reforming even one aspect of the situation – simply halting evictions, for example – would take a social movement on a scale never before seen. Even the uprisings of the Arab Spring have not fundamentally altered the situation. Everything today is influenced by the subjective understanding of the enormous class of people who can only survive by working.
The paradox is that nothing can be won by fighting for reforms and nothing can be won without fighting for them. There are no revolutionary reforms by definition. Reforms do not alter political power, yet reform is what draws people into action against the state. People must engage in the revolutionary struggle for reforms by doing the teaching, by elevating the discussion of where these political struggles are headed. This includes presenting a revolutionary vision of what society could be if technology were used to create real economic democracy, with democratic popular control of technology guaranteed at every level.
Capitalism intends to control and sanitize this debate:
“Capitalism is a sorry excuse for an economic system. With no present viable alternative, contemporary capitalism continues to produce cruel economic results and a twisted morality. But a debate is underway. Even the Harvard Business School, the birthplace of many of capitalism’s excesses has a large project in ‘Rethinking Capitalism.” (23)
So re-think this. Everyone sees that the private corporate control of technology is not sustainable. It inevitably leads to short-term thinking, based only on the interests of private profit. This produces nightmares in every direction from climate change to corporate agriculture, new diseases, Big Pharma and the despoliation of the environment from the insane overuse of petroleum in all forms. Corporations are behind it all.
But the corporate control of technology is not an Act of God. In fact, in the ‘90s, the US Post Office proposed developing an open and democratic Internet for everyone. Bill Clinton immediately squashed that one, intoning that corporations are the best way to develop this amazing tool. Since corporations inevitably deform the potential uses of technology in order to make a profit, they are not fit to control it. Period.
Youngdahl can see “no present viable alternative” because he cannot imagine the public seizure of private corporate property. Capitalism uses its Media-Industrial State to confuse the issues. We are supposed to believe that democracy is an economic system, which it is not. Then they confuse the concepts of the government and the state. We are supposed to rail against “big Government” when government is a fundamental necessity to guarantee people the things they cannot provide for themselves. Like sewers, for example. What people really don’t like – as we see with the NSA scandal – is the capitalist state, not the government.
Some people believe that we can succeed in replacing the rule of the 1% by ignoring it and building local cooperative efforts. This view is what Chris Hedges argues in “Overthrow the Speculators!”:
“We can wrest back control of our economy, and finally our political system, from corporate speculators only by building local movements that decentralize economic power through the creation of hundreds of publicly owned state, county and city banks… Public banks also protect us from the worst forms of predatory capitalism.” (24)
Interesting question. Why bother to get rid of simply the worst forms of predatory capitalism? It’s still predatory; it’s still capitalism.
Today Americans are under an onslaught from ALEC, the corporate lobbyists who write the corporate laws, the NSA and public surveillance in many forms, a governmental refusal to regulate capitalism in any form, plus the legalizing of extraordinary rendition and drones. The state is not going to permit any weeds to grow in the garden of speculation. This strategic question is not something to ignore.
Takeovers can work both ways. America has reached the point twice before where forms of private property were strangling the very life out of society. In the 1770s, when the 13 Colonies were the private property of the King, the American people rose up and abolished this private property. This power was exercised through private corporations, such as the Virginia Corporation, which raised private armies of mercenaries. Corporations today have reclaimed this power, aided and abetted by the Department of Homeland Security. In the 21st Century, there are more private police than public police in America.
In the 1850s, private property in slavery controlled all three branches of government – the Presidency (which includes the army), the Supreme Court, and the Congress. Slave property worked day and night to extend its rights over the rights of regular people, through the Dred Scott decision, the Fugitive Slave Act and a host of other actions. Recognizing that they could no longer continue to live free, the North waged the Civil War to expropriate private property in slaves and break their political power.
Move To Amend – an organization developed to abolish corporate rights as people and money as speech – is one group that addresses the issue of expropriation: “Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.” (25) After all, if corporations can expropriate the public – as they are actively doing today – the public can expropriate the corporations.
The third time is the charm.
Steven Miller, Oakland, California, December 2013 - [email protected]
….And a big Shout-Out to the Zapatistas – 20 years ago today!
References and Resources
Lead quote – Michel Chussodovsky. “The Speculative Endgame: The ‘Government Shutdown’ and ‘Debt Default’, a multibillion Bonanza for Wall Street”. globalresearch.org
1) Communist Manifesto. Chapter 1
2) Dave McNally, Global Slump, 2011. P 86
3) Harding. “Bernanke takes plunge with QE3.” www.ft.com
4) Chussodovsky. “The Shutdown of the US Government and ‘Debt Default’. A dress Rehearsal for the Federal State System?”. Globalresearch.ca)
5) “Debt As a Class Weapon”. Rally Comrades, October 2011
6) Michael Hudson. “The Bubble Economy as a 2 Part Play for Privatisation”. July 4, 2013
7) Ellen Brown. “The Leveraged Buy-out of America.” Globalresearch.ca, August 26, 2011
8) Chussodovsky. Op sit
11) Matt Taibbi. “The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia”. 6-21-12
13) Wallace Turbeville. “The Detroit Bankruptcy. 11-20-2013
14) Sender and Foley. “Details of Detroit’s Troubles Come to Light”, Financial Times, 7-25-2013
15) Patrick May, “Is it now the ‘Silicon Bay Area”? Oakland Tribune. 11-13-2013
16) Caroline Said. “S.F. Bay Area economy thriving despite challenges”. 3-17-2012
17) NPR Staff. “A ‘Permatemp’ Economy: The Idea Of The Expendable Employee”. January 28, 2013
18) William Bridges. “The End of the Job”. Fortune. September 19, 1994
19) SF Chronicle. City Insider. 12-29-13
20) Heather Knight. City Insider, SF Chronicle, 12-15-2013
21) Peoples’ Tribune, October, 2013
22) Thom Hartman. “Are the Bankers Now Setting Up the Crash of 2016?” 12-3-2013
23) Jay Youngdahl. “2013 was a year of Heroes and Hope”. East Bay Express. 12-25, 2013
24) Chris Hedges. “Overthrow the Speculators!”. 12-29-2013
25) The Myth of Corporate Personhood. Turning the Tide. riversong.wordpress.com/myth-of-corporate-personhood