Wednesday, October 2, 2013

They Have Us Right Where They Want Us - Part I

‘[The Southern Agrarians] saw, earlier than most, that industrialism and applied science were not simply benign ways of improving our material standard of living. Rather, they were ways of organizing society’ (Busick and Cheek, Jr., ‘Not in Memoriam, But in Affirmation: Mel Bradford’s Scholarly Legacy at 20’, Part I, The Imaginative Conservative, July 2013,

The transformation being wrought by industrialism continues unabated for now in the Western world and most other places, as a weak Christianity is relentlessly assaulted by the modern gods of the new order: money, material goods, entertainment, comfort, and such like. 

All too many have become like domesticated animals thanks to the lifestyle forced on us by industrialism:  We depend on industrial farms to grow our food, and on national and international chain stores to cook and package it for us.  We depend on corporations to make our clothing, our means of traveling, our culture in many cases, our medicine, etc.

By and large, we have become as helpless as housebound dogs, canaries, or gerbils when it comes to providing the basic necessities of life for ourselves and for our families:  If no one accepts our labor, we are either abandoned to destitution or become wards of the government.

Meanwhile, the owners of the large corporations who are enriched by this scheme grow ever more powerful, economically and politically.  Andrew Gavin Marshall writes,

In the year 2000, of the world’s 100 largest economies, 51 were corporations, while only 49 were countries, based upon national GDP (gross domestic product) and corporate sales. Of the top 200 corporations in 2000, the United States had the largest share with 82, followed by Japan at 41, Germany at 20, and France at 17.

Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities in 2010, 42% were corporations; when looking at the top 150 economic entities, 58% were corporations. The largest corporation in 2010 was Wal-Mart, the 25th largest economic entity on earth, surpassed only by the 24 largest countries in the world, but with greater revenues than the GDP of 171 countries, placing it higher on the list than Norway and Iran.

Following Wal-Mart, the largest corporations in the world were: Royal Dutch Shell (larger than Austria, Argentina and South Africa), Exxon Mobil (larger than Thailand and Denmark), BP (larger than Greece, UAE, Venezuela and Colombia), followed by several other energy and automotive conglomerates.

. . .

In October of 2011, a scientific study about the global financial system was released, the first of its kind, undertaken by three complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. The conclusion of the study revealed what many theorists and observers have noted for years:

“An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.” As one of the researchers stated, “Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market... Our analysis is reality-based.” Using a database which listed 37 million companies and investors worldwide, the researchers studied all 43,060 trans-national corporations (TNCs), including the share ownerships linking them.

The mapping of "power" was done through the construction of a model showing which companies controlled other companies through shareholdings. The web of ownership revealed a core of 1,318 companies with ties to two or more other companies. This "core" was found to own roughly 80% of global revenues for the entire set of 43,000 TNCs.

And then came what the researchers referred to as the “super-entity” of 147 tightly-knit companies, which all own each other, and collectively own 40% of the total wealth in the entire network. One of the researchers noted, “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network.”

. . .

In December of 2011, Roger Altman, the former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under the Clinton administration, wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he explained that financial markets were “acting like a global supra-government,” noting:

"They oust entrenched regimes where normal political processes could not do so. They force austerity, banking bail-outs and other major policy changes. Their influence dwarfs multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. Indeed, leaving aside unusable nuclear weapons, they have become the most powerful force on earth."

About the fate of the average person/worker in the industrial pattern of living, we shall have more to say in Part II.

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