STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Obama's Failing Corporatist Presidency
By Staff News & Analysis - January 25, 2010

Obama, more than Al Gore, George W. Bush, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton, has been the most fully realized CONSENSUS CORPORATIST CANDIDATE of the last decade. His policies reflect a revival of the overt corporatist model prevalent in Bill Clinton's first two years, with a vengeance. Obama's economic rescue package was written by Wall Street, through Timothy Geithner and company; the same will be true of any "financial regulation reform" that ensues from Washington. Big business, with some input from big labor, has already written the immigration bill, quietly resting with Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, ready to be sprung when the time is ready; it will narrow citizenship rights and redefine immigration from a strictly economic point of view. Energy companies are fully incorporated into the writing of the climate and energy bills. The military writes war policy (General Stanley McChrystal's little "rebellion," as Obama was supposedly "thinking out" Afghanistan war policy, was all the more ironic for its pure redundancy). Any legislation that comes out of Washington can only be corporatist in tendency (this will be further enhanced by the Supreme Court striking down campaign finance restrictions), and will only make things in each of the realms — energy, finance, immigration, health care — worse, by definition, since genuine redistributive/egalitarian thinking is completely off the table. – Huffington Post

Dominant Social Theme: Corporatism must yield to egalitarianism.

Free-Market Analysis: This article, written by a young author with the Huffington Post, really got us thinking about political labeling. The article is certainly, in our opinion, written from a leveling perspective, as Samuel Johnson would say, and seems to bemoan the lack of sincere, activist government. Nonetheless, the analysis of the PROBLEM is quite cogent and timely.

The author makes the point that prevailing political operational philosophy is corporatism. We, in fact, have been taking a page from Mises in labeling the American system increasingly socialist – and it is. But in a sense, to call the actual leadership environment "corporatist" allows one the freedom to make some associations that might not otherwise be readily available, if one is used to free-market thinking.

We read recently somewhere that despite the evident obvious problems with the current government theories involving 9/11 – and the equally mendacious reasons given for starting the ever-shifting, crazy quilt of Middle Eastern wars – the American "corporate" consensus simply wouldn't allow a thorough re-examination of these issues that might lead to significant alternative truths. We thought at the time this was an interesting point. But juxtapose this corporate consensus to the larger concept of a corporatist state, and it makes even more sense. The front-facing power structure (which the power elite stands behind) is neither right nor left from this point of view but an amalgamation of power players. Here's some more from the article:

The corporatist state generally refers to a tripartite political arrangement where government, business, and labor collaborate in policymaking, to avoid the overt impression of conflict and disorder. Labor is the weakest part of this equation in America today, but to the extent that it does have political power it is fully incorporated in the conceptualization and inception of policymaking. Corporatism perverts party structure, so that the parties become only vehicles for corporatist groups (known in American political vocabulary as Big Government, or Special Interests). Secret deals are pervasive in this environment (true of both Bush and Obama), and legislation is sought to be comprehensive (the opaqueness allows for a lot of unpalatable corporate privileges to be written in) instead of piecemeal and incremental, which would permit more transparency.

Corporatism is a dirty word in the American lexicon because of its close historical association with fascism, but we can recognize marked neofascist or authoritarian or extreme right-wing tendencies, of which someone like Sarah Palin is the leading edge. The new corporatist state as it has arisen under Bush and Obama thrives on reserve constitutional powers (unlimited executive authority) allied with a permanent state of emergency (the war on terror), both indispensable starting principles of authoritarian regimes. On the whole, the judiciary, with respect to the protection of civil liberties, came off reasonably well in the last decade; but this may have been the aftereffect of the more libertarian eighties and nineties, and the courts may begin to reflect the strong public preference for indefinite detention and torture (viz. the hue and cry over the planned Khalid Sheikh Muhammad trial in New York, and majority support for torture following the failed underwear bombing). The Department of Homeland Security can be viewed as the crystallization of all the police services under effective national command. Almost a decade after the annihilation of the Bill of Rights after 9/11, it is clear that the Bill of Rights is not going to be revived in anything resembling its previous state; this does not portend well for the future.

So what is the Democratic party really, and what is the Republican party? Electing Obama was an experiment in molding the nontraditional (each of his names, Barack Hussein Obama, explicitly signalling the "departure") meritocratic elite to complete conformity with the traditional elite — to bring it in line, in other words. Democratic liberalism collapsed in the last twenty years, between 1989-2009, because after the end of the communist pole, liberalism (whatever remained of it) no longer served the useful function of balancing in the middle. Its raison d'etre was extinguished, and the effects are now clearly felt. Liberalism works best when it mediates between the right and the left, but what if there is no left to mediate against?

Again, the trouble with the article in our opinion is that its bias would seem to be leveling. It concludes with the following: "Meanwhile, the resentful Tea Partiers (small business, lower white-collar) represent a classic case of mobilization toward hard totalitarianism." We don't think the good people of the Tea Party movement intend to mobilize toward "hard totalitarianism" – and so we will discount this conclusion and certain other parts of the analysis while returning to corporatism.

The Bell seeks for the most part to analyze day-to-day socio-political events within the context of power-elite promotions. These fear-based dominant social themes are then launched through an elaborate network of think tanks and agencies, magnified by the echo chamber of the controlled Western press and then "coincidentally" brought to the attention of government, which provides authoritarian solutions that further deprive the citizens of wealth and freedom. What the Bell does not do, necessarily, within the context of this analysis is examine with particular precision the actual alignment of government forces.

We haven't, in part, because to a large degree we think it's a charade. A cursory reading of some alternative information on the Internet will prove with a degree of certainty that Western politicians – certainly those of the Anglo-American variety – tend to surround themselves with the same technocratic types over and over again. These technocrats are the true deciders, in our estimation, yet they, too, are also fairly insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Yes, the technocratic brain-trust merely ensures that the promotions of the power-elite are carried out, and that the policies of Western governance reflect the necessary authoritarian solutions. You may read, for instance, about the "historical" nature of this health-care legislation, or that military-surge decision – but they are not so much historical in our opinion as small steps up (or down) the ladder toward a modest version of totalitarianism.

The elite, which often plucks its technocratic priesthood out of the sinks of public education in both Britain and American – and then marinates them in Rhodes scholarships and the like – has a specific goal in mind. But it is not, as some would have it, a modern version of feudal society in which the powerful ones occupy the Keep and everyone else squats outside. We think, in fact, that the "corporatist" configuration serves us much better as a paradigm for what is yet to come.

We have pointed out in the past the move especially in the third world to gated, single-industry cities, massively secured and equipped with every modern convenience. Such cities are going up around the world, especially in countries like India where there is a growing professional class amidst a sea of indigent. This is to our mind more likely where the world is headed, were the power-elite to have its way. It makes sense that the world of the future is seen to be belonging to those most facile with integers or mathematical concepts within the ambit of what is corporately allowable.

The corporatist model explains the modern Democratic paradigm very well – with its overtly legalistic mindset, its reliance on intricate yet brutal legislation and ongoing, massively calibrated military campaigns. The corporatist signature is one that marries the fraud of modern money with pious protestations of legal rectitude. It mixes together the meretricious nature of fiat paper bills with the endless complexity of modern legislation which will not be satisfied until every aspect of human existence and behavior is fully moderated.

While we have tried to point out in this analysis that the nomenclature of "corporatism" provides us with a fresh point of view from which to assess the current Western sociopolitical model, we are by no means predicting its inevitable triumph. The reason we do not predict its full success has largely to do with one group that this article leaves out for obvious reasons – the larger population of concerned Western citizens. This group has come into its own in the West over the past 200 years and is now increasingly engaged in a struggle with the power elite – whether or not they realize it. Its armory, in fact, is the Internet and its fundamental weapon is an ever-increasing understanding of the promotional manipulations of the power elite and the determination to stop them.

We're not big fans of corporations here at the Bell, by the way. We think the idea of the corporation as elaborated in the West's increasingly socialist jurisprudence is perhaps something of a flawed legal doctrine, and would not survive long without the backing of the state. In fact, without a socialist state justice system to insist on a corporate paradigm – and to constantly elaborate on it – business would likely revert to more standard profiles. People would build or invest in companies and property and would be appropriately responsible. Meanwhile, those who were aggrieved would confront either employees or owners, or perhaps both. Common law, in other words, would drive local culpability.

Without the shield of corporate law, we wonder if business might not assume a more normal size – and the technocratic drift of Western governments might therefore be allayed as well. Businesses would tend to compete more and lobby less. We would tend to believe that what is driving ever-enlarging corporations has a lot to do with patents (state managed) and of course central banking and fiat money that makes enormous public offerings through the fiat-driven capital market.

The corporatist state seems bloodless and all-enveloping, but there is a savage determination to rule behind its bland exterior. (Another term for it would be mercantilist – but in a sense corporatism would be mercantilism’s public face.) Also we would note that those at the Federal Reserve have reportedly begun to threaten higher interest rates if the movement to audit the Fed goes ahead. These kinds of threats, prevalent also in Andrew Jackson’s day, show that the underlying manipulations of the power elite really haven’t changed much. Yet change is coming, we believe, real change, and the power elite may be helpless to stop it. It could affect all the ‘isms” the power elite has launched.

American Soldier in AfghanistanNOTED: U.S. Envisions a Continuing Civilian Presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan … The Obama administration's ambitious civilian push in Pakistan and Afghanistan will keep thousands of Americans in those countries for years – rebuilding Afghan agriculture, rooting out corruption and using the local media to counter anti-American sentiment. The steps, laid out in a 30-page policy paper to be released Thursday by the State Department, are the most detailed blueprint yet for the civilian part of the administration's strategy in the region. But the report – much like President Obama's initial proposal for increased numbers of troops in Afghanistan – leaves important questions unanswered, including whether Congress will approve the financing to support such a high level of engagement over the long term, and what role the United States will play in Afghan efforts to draw people away from the Taliban. – NY Times

After Thoughts

As regards corporatism, allow the market itself to really discipline the corporatist state and you might end up with regionally oriented solutions, more modest and focused enterprises and funding derived from a variety of local sources rather than one enormous public funding source. A private gold and silver market standard would also have an impact on these otherwise enormous and unwieldy corporate entities, as equity markets themselves would likely not be able to inflate valuations to outsized, phony proportions.

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