Sunday, November 27, 2011

Capitalism has Replaced Democracy

I had started to write a post last week on the tenshion between Capitalism and Democracy.  Since then I have run in to the articles below...


Harold Meyerson of Washington Post: The Growing Tension between Capitalism and Democracy



What Stubb is proposing, and what the markets are doing, is, in essence, extending to the realm of once-equally-sovereign nations the one-dollar-one-vote principle that our Supreme Court enshrined in itsCitizens United decision last year. The requirement that one must own property to vote — abolished in this nation in the early 1800s by the Jacksonian Democrats — has been resurrected by powerful financial institutions and their political allies. To the nations of the European currency union, the “property” they need to secure their right to vote is a proper credit rating.



And by Stephen Fowley from The Independent in the UK: What Price the New Democracy



The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.


This is the most remarkable thing of all: a giant leap forward for, or perhaps even the successful culmination of, the Goldman Sachs Project.


It is not just Mr Monti. The European Central Bank, another crucial player in the sovereign debt drama, is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Until Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund's European division was also run by a Goldman man, Antonio Borges, who just resigned for personal reasons.



And finally, this excellent article by Naomi Wolf in The Gaurdian: The  Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy



But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that "New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers" covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, andpenned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that "It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk."


...


 noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.


...


For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women's wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).


In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.



Barrowing from Naomi Wolf, I now have 4 very clear demands:



  1. Explicitly, through legislation, end corporate personhood.

  2. Explicitly, through legislation, end the idea that spending money is equivalent to free speech protected by the 1st Ammendment

  3. The letter and the intent of all insider trading laws and any others laws limiting access or influence to investments apply fully to all elected officials.

  4. 100% transparency for ALL political spending by the governement or by any other group (PACs, individuals, corps).