Sunday, April 13, 2008

One Big Plutocracy by Anthony McCarthy

Part Three of Three

Finally, there are the concerns about foreign economic influence. The 2006 brouhaha over a Dubai company attempting to buy a group of American ports focused the public’s attention on the larger issue of state-owned companies and investment funds buying up large segments of the American economy. Today, these sovereign wealth funds hold $2.5 trillion in assets, and Morgan Stanley estimates they could hold $17 trillion within a decade. Many fear that these state-controlled entities, which often operate in secret, could use such assets as a political weapon.

Unlike the typical investor concerned only with the bottom line, foreign governments have agendas beyond making a buck. They could easily push companies to behave in ways that are politically advantageous to the owner country. That nationalist concern has led to congressional hearings, and according to Financial Week, some Democratic legislators appear poised to introduce a bill to strengthen the weak regulatory regime that currently oversees these international economic transactions. Redefining “tax and spend”

ational corporations actually owned and operated by the official rulers or the government of a country are a reality. Contrary to the Chicago School’s doctrinal fantasies, the religion exclusively presented by American media, they can be wildly successful at making money and concentrating power. That’s no surprise, considering the success with which the corporate state here has hijacked the government from The People. Where The People aren’t said to own the government to start with the distinction between public and private doesn’t exist.

The internationalists, representing the interests of the American corporate state in the world, don’t have much of a problem dealing with these state-corporate entities, they’ll do business with anyone if it means they can profit from it. It might even be refreshing for them to stop having to pretend that there is any democratic context in which they do business.

While there will be frictions between the American-corporate elite and these state-corporate entities, those will almost never involve the welfare of The People or the environment. Other than as consumers and lowest possible cost workers, we don’t matter in these things unless we have the power to make them matter.

That the issue mentioned here also tapped into the anti-Arab bigotry common in the United States is unfortunate but not surprising. It could be any of a host of ‘others’. In order to shield themselves from notice, elites are always presenting other, sometimes entirely imaginary enemies.“Easterners”, “New Englanders” and a host of other internal ‘others’ serve the same purpose in ‘other’ regions of the United States. Imagine if The People understood how they are really shafted in these deals between foreign despots and those who have stolen our government imagine how upset they would be about that.

Foot Note: Despite third party and independent pipe-dreams, our only real tool to fight against this are the Democrats. If there are not more Democrats in the House, the Senate and in the White House next year the prospects of fighting these issues are gone for the foreseeable future. Republicans will continue the rubber stamp approach with the help of conservative Democrats. But even conservative Democrats are susceptible to our pressure on this issue. The xenophobic Lou Dobbs aside, Republicans are not going to even listen to us about anything. They’ll just steal more of our money by building another Bushlin Wall.

Threatening to withhold our support has a track record of just about complete failure. As said here last week, we don’t have the power to make those threats. It’s our support that will get us anything, though not everything, not holding our breaths until things turn blue.

The forces we are fighting in these issues have unbelievable power to get what they want. We don’t have time waiting for the millennium that has been on hold for longer than any of us has been alive. The man on a horse isn’t coming to our rescue. Not even the horse is on its way. The choice is between standing there whining and waiting for what’s never going to come, or to use the donkey that’s right in front of us to move ahead as history certainly will.

For an idea of where multi-party systems can lead, read the depressing news from Italy where the fractured, multi-party left finds having a plutocratic criminal, along with actual, unreconstructed fascists, regain power is more desirable than uniting to keep them from power.

The issue of third parties takes up an extraordinary amount of the left’s limited time and other resources, considering that there has been exactly one successful third party in our 230-year history, the Republicans of the 1850s. It is an irrational obsession. With the examples from Europe and elsewhere with multi-party systems it looks like not much more of a guarantee of progress than what we’ve got here. Maybe if more of us on the left would give up these futile ideas and concentrated on strengthening and pressuring the Democratic Party we’d get somewhere.