The Silent Takeover : Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy by Noreena Hertz
From Publishers Weekly:
Cambridge University economist Hertz asserts that Reagan's and Thatcher's brand of free market capitalism has had dire social and political repercussions, although it has triumphed as the dominant world ideology and brought prosperity to many. She sensibly argues that with government in retreat from its traditional rule-setter role, multinational corporations have grown so powerful 51 of the hundred biggest economies in the world are corporations that they determine political policies rather than operate subject to them. Market success may rule, but Hertz laments that the state, in appearing to serve business, may be nullifying democracy's social contract to represent and protect the rights of all citizens equally.
 The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth About Corporate Cons, Globalization and High-Finance Fraudsters by Greg Palast
In this polemical indictment of globalization and political corruption, Palast (a reporter with the BBC and London's Observer) updates the muckraking tradition with some 21st-century targets: the IMF, World Bank and WTO, plus oil treaties, energy concerns and corporate evildoers of all creeds. Greg Palast, the last journalist.
Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz had a brilliant career in academia before serving for four years on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and then three years as chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank. His book clearly explains the functions and powers of the main institutions that govern globalization--the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization--along with the ramifications, both good and bad, of their policies. He strongly believes that globalization can be a positive force around the world, particularly for the poor, but only if the IMF, World Bank, and WTO dramatically alter the way they operate, beginning with increased transparency and a greater willingness to examine their own actions closely. Of his time at the World Bank, he writes, "Decisions were made on the basis of what seemed a curious blend of ideology and bad economics, dogma that sometimes seemed to be thinly veiling special interests.... Open, frank discussion was discouraged--there was no room for it."
 Idea Brokers : Think Tanks And The Rise Of The New Policy Elite by James A. Smith
From Book News, Inc.:
Tracing the rise of the think tank from the turn of the century to the present, historian Smith provides a portrait of this policy elite and concludes that "experts" have preempted the public debate by helping to remove complex issues from the ken of ordinary citizens.

 Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism by Fredric Jameson
Frederic Jameson, an American Marxist social theorist, draws the attentions to the differences in culture between the modern and postmodern periods.

I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby: A Colorful History of Tabloids and Their Cultural Impact by Bill Sloan
From Publishers Weekly
This overview comes from a tabloid insider: Sloan has been an editor for the National Enquirer and for the tabloid publisher Globe Communications. Sloan recalls the business genius of former boss Generoso Paul Pope Jr.; with the financial backing of major crime boss Frank Costello, Pope took the struggling National Enquirer in the early 1960s from a mainstream publication to one that celebrated graphic sex and violence. Then, recognizing the potential of marketing to housewives standing in supermarket lines, Pope refashioned his paper again in the late 1960s to one that often highlighted miracle cures and terminally ill children. Later, Pope again saw tremendous new opportunity in exploiting the lives of celebrities, and tabloids flourished at their peak in the 1970s and '80s with a circulation of 12 million. Since the 1990s, Sloan argues, the emergence of sensationalism in mainstream print and nonprint media has caused tabloid circulation to drop off.

Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel by George Orwell
Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory, 1984 is a prophetic, haunting tale.




Note: Anyone who wishes to become a columnist
or submit a column or a response to a column
please contact Alllie.

Black and White

By Martyn Jones

You are the CEO of a modest little oil company, you've just been told of a new oilfield discovery in a little country over in the middle-east, only your scientists know about it. What do you do? Call the Emir, the ecology nut with very conservative opinions on modernisation, a person you don't really know? Or, do you call … The President?

Congratulations! You are the reason the US Grand Strategy exists. What's good for corporate business is good for the US admin. and it's leaders. You now have at your disposal, the good offices of the President, built on a foundation of neo-liberal economics; world-class neo-conservative protection, pre-emption and hegemony; the willing support of the religious fundamentalists; the amoral freedom of postmodernism; and all the other right-wing skulduggery that money can buy.

Picture the 'US Grand Strategy' as a giant whale, a leviathan, only ever seen in pieces and parts, and very rarely seen as a whole. We do not see the whole, and might be forgiven for believing that we are seeing, in fact, parts of quite different animals, with no bodily connection between one manifestation or another. This is the strategy of the new post-modern right-wing movement that sees it's highest level of expression in the USA, a movement that is also never seen as a whole, just in pieces and parts, all seemingly unconnected and discrete, the pieces and parts that the benefactors and beneficiaries of the movement hope will allay fears amongst the populace, that we will be convinced that the leviathan does not exist and that it is harmless and frequently beneficial.

Capital has a project, to survive and thrive. The visible face of major capital is connected with the largest capitalist enterprises, the global corporate monopolists. What you will read is that everything starts and ends here - with the capital.

In order for global capitalism to survive it needs to grow, and growth in existing markets is no longer sufficient, it requires the development and exploitation new markets, and in order to be able to sell into new markets they first need to be created. This is globalization, which is a way to encourage countries to open up to global corporations in return for certain reciprocal arrangements. We sell them the crap we no longer want, they get to sell us the best they can produce. Of course, once a market has been created it must be secured and nurtured.

So, if you are the CEO of a big corporation with revenues to match a small country, just how do you encourage 3rd world countries to open up to your business? Well there are many ways: sponsoring thought, debate and publications that deal with the positive effects of globalisation; personal contacts between senior corporate executives and 3rd world leaders; propaganda actions such as the creation of model factories in 3rd world countries; and, getting your own government to persuade other leaders to formally open up their markets.

Of course, a leader of a wealthy country can easily twist the arm of anyone looking to improve the lot of their fellow citizens, or indeed, of just their own businesses. Just imagine the arm-twisting potential of the biggest single economic and military power. Why bother to go cap in hand to the President of a far away country, when you can get your President to give them their orders.

The 2000 US Presidential election results must have been a power capitalist dream. A republican President availed of a plan that would potentially allow US corporations to capitalize on the full range of power of the the United States Government, with its military and economic superiority which is then leveraged to gain unchallengeable superiority, in all markets possible, through all means necessary, including militarily. As President Bush might have said himself: if it's good for corporate America, it's good for America and for me. This is the main link, between Corporate Capital and the US Government. Bush was installed with a plan, and it only needed a series of events to trigger it.

So, who made the plan that Bush has? In simplistic terms the plan comes from two main branches: neo-liberalism which promotes a brand of imperialist globalisation, and the neo-conservatism which focuses on working on the technology, logistics and strategies of globalisation and US miliary hegemony.

The four main tenets of neo-liberalism are: i. Deregulation as a way to increase profitability and reduce competition whilst at the same time pretending that deregulation boosts economic growth; ii. Greater choice means that people are taxed less in the short term and that people are provided with less in the mid-term; iii. Privatization which is in essence the selling off state owned concerns (i.e. enterprises owned by all of the people) by government (representatives of the people) to private interests (capitalists) - at sale prices; iv. Individuality, the only community worth having is a corporation and that outside of the corporation there should only be rugged individuality. In order to fully exploit the dynamics of a globalized economy and in order to maximize profits, the industrial core must be prepared to shift centers of production and services rapidly and effectively, from one part of the world to another part of the world, and, this requires that the industrial core must give the developing periphery rapid access to sufficient technology and know-how (through the controlled transfer of technology) in order for them to fulfill what is required of them, this also means that the developing periphery must adopt educational practices that produce educated people who can effectively serve the requirements of the industrial core - nothing more or less. In order to fully exploit the dynamics of a truly globalized economy it is important that full and easy access to all required resources is given, and, in return for this participation governments and regimes will be allowed to survive and thrive - making poor countries rich, relatively speaking, since the idea is that the poor countries will become rich enough to buy the crap we no longer need. In this way, some countries will become richer for periods of time, at least up until their economic development and government expenditure forces up prices which may lead to corporations moving their production and services centers to more profitable countries or regions. To ensure that the developing periphery fully understands the nature of the deal they must remove all their barriers to international trade. It is irrelevant that Governments can or cannot run state owned business effectively, as part of the deal of participation in the globalised economy governments should hand over their largest state owned corporations to private investors, which in effect is the selling of public property, means of production and services at knock-down prices. In fact, the governments of the developing periphery and even of some of the industrial core nations, should become solely administrators of essential services and some infrastructure responsibilities no one else wants, in essence removing the need for governments to be overly involved in politics or even economics.

On the other hand, the old fashioned neo-conservatism could be seen as marked by five major traits: i. Anticommunism, neo-conservatives share common values with regards to communism; ii. Social revolutions, firmly believing that social revolutions as a result of social injustice and alienation were illegitimate; iii. Regime change, arguing that it is valid for the USA to sponsor regime change; iv. Dictatorships, the maintenance of dictatorships that are installed optionally by the US and remain friendly to US interest; v. Unilateralist, The USA has the right to carry out military action alone

So, who needs the religious fundamentalists? Well, the President does, they are useful. First of all the religious right provide a lot of electoral fodder for a Republican Presidential hopeful., secondly their endorsement also finds resonance with many undiscerning voters. The religious fundamentalist connection buys a lot of votes for the GOP. The neo-conservatives also share a lot of the values that are usually associated with religious fundamentalism, even neo-liberalism has points of convergence with religious fundamentalism - usually their convergence is associated with sex, drugs, scandal, Israel, Islam or Democrats. There is an interdependence of beliefs even in politics, like most neoconservatives and neo-liberals alike, many of the most fervent right-wing pro-war supporters are to be found amongst the religious fundamentalists of the USA.

So who provide the philosophical foundation for this new vision of the future? Well, the last twenty years has witnessed the rolling back of the advance of social democracy in the USA and it's disposition by a form of right-wing system called liberal democracy. The ideologies that lie behind liberal democracy and globalized capital have come out of essentially right-wing neo-conservative or neo-liberal think tanks, such as The Heritage Foundation; the American Enterprise Institute; the Hudson Institute; the Hoover Institute; the Cato Institute; the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs ; The Claremount Institute etc. In terms of the number of foundations that the parties have the liberals got a jump on the right in the early 1960's and then the ex-secretary of treasury figured it out there were no right-wing tax-free foundations (think tanks). Thanks to Bill Simon the right now has as many "think tanks" as the liberals - if not more.

So who pays for all of this thinking? Grand projects do no materialize out of thin air, there is no fairy godmother when it comes to funding costly politically oriented activity, and only capital makes the wheels and cogs go round in the west. I mean, serious money must have been spent over an extended period of time to keep the neo-liberal flame alive and to sponsor work into grand strategic plans and boundless initiatives.

Funding of the many think-tanks comes from a lot of sources, amongst them: The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; The Sarah Scaife Foundation; The Carthage Foundation; The Allegheny Foundation; The Castle Rock Foundation; The John M. Olin Foundation. Indeed, a large number of organizations and institutions owe their existence to the liberal generosity of Richard Mellon Scaife one of the richest men in the USA, and allegedly the money behind the vast conspiracy that hounded Clinton at every step. Another outstanding philanthropist and civic activist is Holland Coors who is the founder/president of Women of Our Hemisphere Achieving Together and has served on the Board of Trustees of the Adolph Coors Foundation, a private family foundation.

So what's left? Oh yes, postmodernism. So why the attraction of postmodernism in political capital and profit rate politics? I can tell you, that the neo-conservatives really adore post-modern philosophy, even if they do not really understand it. The neo-conservatives and neo-liberals embrace postmodernism not because it is novel, or that it is coherent or meaningful, it's just because it provides them with a replacement for ethics and, more importantly, it challenges Marxism - the relationship between postmodernism and Marxism is clearly hostile.

Postmodernism is all about working on the marginal, it homes in on highly selective details of popular concern and expands them from side-issues into key issues that take on a life and meaning of their own in their own self-contained worlds, the side issues then become the only issues and the core issues get lost in the confusion. To this extent, a whole generation of scientists was lost to history and consigned to oblivion simply through following and developing the vague promises of postmodernism, and as I have been told more than once by critical philosophers such as Ursula Reitemeyer, that we lost a whole generation of scientists who got mislaid in the marginal issues - the peripheral stuff, such as women's liberation, and animal rights etc. - of course, the postmodernists call this pluralism, but it it's a pluralism that means losing sight of principles, losing vision of the central issues, losing sight of general ethics, everywhere in the world - be it Indonesia or America, Afghanistan or France etc. It ignores, obliterates or debases human nature in favour of animal nature, it favours the jungle society over civil society, instinct over reason, Nietzsche over Marx, Bush over Kennedy. This was why they killed Kennedy, but not the idealism and reason of the Kennedy era, indeed, if Kennedy had survived, America would be different now. John F. Kennedy wrote in his manuscript for his famous speech in Berlin: "Ish bean ine bear-leener" his phonetic interpretation of the words he wished to say in German, "Ich bin ein Berliner" - at one time even a US President tried harder to make people feel less alienated.

How does post-modernism help the US Administration? Is it because it makes it acceptable to define everything and anything as anything or everything? Where war is peace; invasion is liberation; a lie the truth; a conspiracy a fact; terrorism is the fight against terrorism; hate is love and reactionary bloodlust is compassion … and on and on?

So, a brief recap. Corporate capital needs markets, needs a friendly President and Administration to open up markets and protect their presence in those markets, a president needs a suitable plan that aids the political and diplomatic work to achieve what the corporations want, plans elaborated by neo-liberals and neoconservatives in their think tanks, blessed by the religious fundamentalists and paid for by the friends of big business and enemies of anything that smacks of democratic liberalism, or god forbid, socialism - and legitimated by a post-modern philosophy that legitimates anything you need legitimated, as long as you carry the biggest stick.

So, what's all this nonsense about the Patriot Act and Fatherland Security? Oh you didn't know? Well, here it is. Can your job be exported? How about your skills, can they be found elsewhere? Did you know that Globalisation is about free movement of capital, resources and goods and not really about free movement of workers?

What if you lose your job and you become the victim of market forces? What if everyone loses their job, will there be social unrest? What if everyone has a job, but they are all in China, will anyone smash a window, steal a car, try and burn down city hall, run naked in the street? Chances are some people will get really angry, and want to do something about their situation. How do you control such insurgency? Just ask John Ashcroft, apparently he has some tools that could also be applied in the unlikely event of internal disruption due to the effects of long-term high-unemployment and lousy wages and conditions. Don't forget, it's the property that counts not the individuals rights, welfare, happiness or whatever.

But don't worry, help is at hand there too. Just tune into the National Enquirer, Fox, CNN or whatever helps you to tune out whilst pretending you are getting informed. You should know by know that "the economy can be fixed whilst you dream"; that the war on terrorism is being won; that Iraq was invaded to save humanity; that global warming is a scam; that real allies do what they are told; and that conservatism is compassionate.

US Grand Strategy passes for an innocent and coincidental concurrence of ideas, that appear to be modest and fragmented. Don't be fooled, it is not a coincidence, it is reality. However, what the new right do not grasp is that, as in Moby Dick, they might just get what they wish for. In this respect, the US Grand Strategy is the giant leviathan - the leviathan of capital, only seen in pieces and parts, the uncontrollable leviathan that will eat neo-conservatism alive when it needs to.

This is the real world, the here and now, wake up already!

© 2003 Martyn Richard Jones
All Rights Reserved

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Virtue is not chosen, the chosen becomes virtuous (October 14, 2003) Conspiracy Theory This!(November 18, 2003)
Black & White (November 21, 2003)
From Cordoba to Jerusalem (November 25, 2003)
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Lester Michaels

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Part 2
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Part 3 (June 12, 2003)
Part 4 (July 8, 2003)


Bush Is Packing The Federal Courts: What Can I Do? (June 28, 2003)


The Rantings of an Angry, Fed Up Conservative


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The Myth of Free Trade (Febuary 3, 2004)

More Columns

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