Written by Derryl Hermanutz
This is the second article with the same question in the title. The first is Is Resistance Futile? The Corporate-Government Complex
A specific area not discussed in the previous article involves control of public thinking. The most powerful insulation against change that corporations possess is not their wealth or economic dominance but their ownership and control of the mass media of propaganda dissemination. Americans are not alone in having been brainwashed into believing in the consumerist paradise and political theater that TV advertising and ‘news’ preaches non-stop 24/7/365.
Blubbering Consumers of Advertised Claptrap
These pervasive influences are spinning a “worldview” into the minds of the people who are subjected to them. Schumacher writes in the aforementioned (previous article) “Small is Beautiful”,
“…no system or machinery or economic doctrine or theory stands on its own feet: it is invariably built on a metaphysical foundation, that is to say, upon man’s basic outlook on life, its meaning and its purpose.”
In the 20th century corporatist propaganda has transformed the people of Western civilization from morally guided citizens of Christian nations into blubbering consumers of advertised claptrap.
In an 11 October 2012 weblog titled, “The Pursuit of Happiness and the Sociopathology of Prosperity”, Charles Hugh Smith argues he would suggest that:
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been distilled into a sociopathology of consumption and unrealistic expectations of ‘prosperity’ that do not lead to happiness or well-being.”
Like all such “memes”, Smith’s observations only become “self-evidently obvious” to the rest of us AFTER somebody like Smith first sees them clearly and carefully defines and describes them and makes conscious and explicit what had been unconscious and implicit.
Profit Seeking Devolves into Kleptocray
Corporatism is driven by profit-seeking, which has now devolved to kleptocracy in the “advanced” nations. It used to be that “the company” earned profits and avoided taxation by reinvesting the profits in the home market, which investment provided work and became the “incomes” for millions of employees and suppliers. Now it is “the management” that takes the profits, as plutocrat income has been de-taxed and investment has become taxed, as James K. Galbraith explains in his 2008 book, “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberal Should Too”. Galbraith continues,
“As my father, John Kenneth Galbraith, argued throughout his long career, an economics of the real world requires an altogether different point of departure (*than the orthodoxies of neoclassical economic dogma). In the real world, the autonomous individual is not the active agent who matters most. The business enterprise, the company, the corporation is. And companies do everything they can to take advantage of human changeability. They seek to control markets, even to replace them altogether. And often they succeed. …The actual world therefore cannot be what a conservative means by a ‘free-market system’. …(The actual system) merely reproduces, in conditions of comparative but far from complete disorder, the phenomena of planning, rationing, queuing, indoctrination, and control that characterize unfree systems. …So who is ‘market freedom’ for? It is the freedom of what my father called ‘The Planning System’. It is a real, practical, secure, and highly valued form of freedom. But it is a freedom for business alone, and even less than that: it is a freedom for stable large corporations with substantial political power, for only such businesses can muster the power to exercise that freedom in the fullest…”
The God of Consumerism
The formerly “Christian” values system of the West preached by the “Bible thumping” Church has been replaced with a “consumerist” values system broadcast by a propaganda pumping mass media. All that counts now is “having stuff”. It doesn’t matter how much impossible debt you incur to ‘get’ that stuff. Your social status and ‘moral value’ depends on your appearing to be favored by the God of consumerism who bestows SUVs and McMansions upon the blessed. It doesn’t matter that you “stole” your billions. Simply “being” rich is more than sufficient ‘evidence’ that you are a worthy and well-rewarded servant of the god. Martin Luther sought “signs of election” that God would supposedly show to those who number among the righteous. Today the only sign of election that is recognized is the possession of obscene wealth.
Manufacturing Public Opinion
The corporate mass media tell the people how to feel and what to think. Do you get your financial, economic and international “news” from television or mass circulation newspapers? If so you are almost certainly receiving pure spin with little if any relationship to the underlying truth about the issues that are being ‘reported’. During the 20th century Edward Bernays and, after WWII, the spin makers of Madison Avenue, perfected their psychologically subtle skill of “manufacturing public opinion”. Virtually everything you see or read in mass media has been expertly constructed to blind you to reality and induce you to feel and believe what the corporatists hired the spin masters to make you feel and believe.
If you credulously believe what you see, hear and read on mass media then the contents of your mind are not “facts of reality”. They are manufactured propaganda professionally installed in your brain to manipulate you. Bernays’ radical innovation was to propagandize the media, not the public, because then the media would BELIEVE in the illusions they were peddling to the public and the media would devote their considerable persuasive skills to convincing us of the same manufactured ‘news events’ that had already convinced themselves.
The Facts of an Issue
And their success is magnificently complete. Or else try to have a “rational” debate with somebody whose “information” on the topic comes from mass media (or who believes the neoclassical pablum they were fed in university economics courses). It will be impossible to get a rational debate even started because you will never be able to agree on the basic facts of the issue.
One will say the economy is getting better. The other will say it is getting worse. One will say corporations are a root cause of the problem and government regulation is the solution. The other will say government is the problem and “free markets” are the solution. One argues that corporations are oligopoly controllers of industry and politics and their socioeconomically defective governing of the economy is the problem, not the solution. The other maintains that just because they are private for profit businesses rather than elected governments, corporations are free market participants suffering brutal competition and oppressive government regulation and are not centrally planned “governments'” in their own right. One accuses corporations of usurping government functions and violating human socioeconomic and public property rights. The other accuses government of usurping private functions and violating private property rights.
One says money creation and allocation by private finance is the real power in the world that needs to be transparent and constrained. The other says pork-allocating government is the real power in the world that needs to be transparent and constrained and private finance is already ‘governed’ by market forces.
One asks why corporate managers, especially bank CEOs, pay themselves $10s and $100s of millions of personal income even as the company they are managing is being ground into insolvent bankruptcy. Doesn’t “market discipline” reward profitable behavior and punish losers? Walking away from the smoldering ruin of a failed bank with a personal $100 million fortune is hardly ‘punishment’. The other argues you have to pay to attract ‘talent’. Talent at robbing their employer and defrauding shareholders and bankrupting their company and corrupting governments so that failed corporations are bailed out by taxpayers, I suppose is the kind of corporate management ‘talent’ they refer to in our current era of rampant kleptocracy.