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April 26, 2014

Oligarchs, Billionaires, Uber Wealthy are Killing Capitalism-- They Are Dangerous

By Rob Kall

The detour capitalism has take that has led to the development of ultra-wealthy individuals could be a dead end-- a dangerous detour that could disrupt capitalism as the world has known it. This may be a message we, the ninety-nine percent can use against the billionaires, ultra-wealthy and the transnational corporations mutating capitalism to something that threatens the planet.

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/32586799@N00/13946037361/: capitalism

Capitalism has many faces. That's the message of Thomas Piketty, whose book, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, is making right wingers crazy, and clearing the inventory shelves of Amazon. The big message people are taking from his book is that capitalism as it now exists will produce income inequality. 

Piketty has put a scientific face on what we've pretty much known already. 

The detour capitalism has take that has led to the development of ultra-wealthy individuals could be a dead end-- a dangerous detour that could disrupt capitalism as the world has known it. 

This may be a message we, the ninety-nine percent can use against the billionaires, ultra-wealthy and the transnational corporations mutating capitalism to something that threatens the planet. 

Reading Naomi Klein's book Disaster Capitalism opened my eyes to the idea that there are different kinds of capitalism, and that some of them can be malignantly evil and toxic. I asked Naomi to describe the basic concept of Disaster Capitalism. She replied, in an interview on my radio show,

"the thesis of the book is that if we want to understand how this radical "market fundamentalism" has swept the globe, the system that has imploded before our eyes, the de-regulated system that has been so profitable for the people at the top but something of a disaster for everyone else. 

If we want to understand how this system has swept the globe from Latin America to Russia to this country, we need to understand the incredible "utility of crisis" to this project, because the great leaps forward for this project have taken place in the midst, during the immediate aftermath of some kind of a shock.  

The extreme cases that I discuss in the book are wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, but overwhelmingly, the most common shocks that have created the context for pushing through these very unpopular policies in a way that economists often call "economic shock therapy," the first shock is the economic crisis, the second shock is the economic shock therapy; overwhelmingly the shocks have been economic crises, whether it's the Asian financial crisis in 1987 or the economic crisis in the former Soviet Union that created this sort of panic atmosphere where they could impose economic shock therapy, so we are in one of those moments of shock.  

In the book, I quote a Polish human rights activist in 1989 describing what it was like in that country when they were living through a very profound economic crisis. They became the first Eastern Bloc country to be prescribed shock therapy, and as she said, "We're living in 'dog years' (laughs) not human years, which is to say it's this fast forward intense period where you can barely keep up and I think we are living in dog years at the moment."

A conversation I had with Thomas Frank a few years after Klein's Disaster Capitalism came out got me thinking further about how there are different kinds of capitalism-- some that really helped the middle class. Frank had just written a book, Pity the Billionaire, and he described how, after the crash of the 1930's people got together and demanded economic cleanups. Capitalism, for the next forty years started to serve the middle class. 

Yes capitalism is not some sacrosanct, one version, monolithic economic model. 

The question is, who steers the ship of capitalism? Who decides what model of capitalism dominates? 

What we know today is that capitalism is not working for more than 99% of the people on this planet. When capitalism is not working it increases the problems that make a more dangerous, less stable world-- hunger, poverty, inequality, police states, corrupt judicial systems with different laws for elites. 

When capitalism is warped and abused by a small group, it ruins capitalism for the rest of us. 

It's not just about the oligarchs and billionaires and the politicians they buy being greedy. These people are endangering the planet and ruining capitalism. Ruin of capitalism will also mean ruination for big corporations too. 

Ruining capitalism? Yes, Capitalism the way Roosevelt sculpted it, capitalism with 92% top earner tax rates under Dwight Eisenhower-- those were capitalist models that worked to raise the middle class and strengthen industry. Capitalism in the 1960s included publicly owned utilities, water companies, public transportation-- it was a hybrid of capitalism with socialism-- as we now have with medicare and road construction and public schools. 

And let's be clear some of the most dangerous billionaires  are investing a fortune in eroding public education (Koch brothers,) in fighting efforts to deal with global warming (Koch brothers, Mellon Scaife,) are fighting to end regulation of corporations. These billionaires are allying with the biggest corporations to eliminate essential industry regulations-- regulations that keep capitalism on a healthy path. 

Is it possible to reframe and channel the explosion of interest in Piketty's take on capitalism so the billionaires and oligarchs are identified as the bad guys, the ones literally creating a threat to the future of capitalism-- that they are, because of their mutations and disruptions of capitalism, literally putting the viability of capitalism at risk

Naomi Klein spelled out the answer in our 2008 interview, saying, " it's not about who you vote for  or who you trust.  It's about being a political adult and realizing that political change isn't handed down from above; it's demanded from below."

And Thomas Frank observed, "Ultimately the lesson from the 30s is that you have to organize outside of political parties-- that takes a lot of movement building." Frank, two years ago, in February 2012,  focused on the need for strong unions, just as Adolph Reed has emphasized this year. 

The top has declared all out war on the bottom ninety-nine percent. The politicians in congress are bought and paid for, except for a small handful. The enemies of democracy, of the middle class are also the enemies of capitalism. That's the message we need to get out there. Getting too big, too rich is bad for the economic system. It's bad for national security. It's bad for the future. 

The ultra-wealthy try to put out a message that we, the 99% are jealous of their wealth. They turn true American values upside-down. Thomas Frank pointed out how conservatives were reframing the idea of work:

"workers are parasites.  Guys like Mitt Romney are the real job creators. 

Workers should count themselves lucky to get a job from someone like Mitt Romney."

We need to put out the meme-- the wealth inequality situation is endangering capitalism, has created a dangerous form of capitalism that is un-natural, unprecedented and that will destroy the world economy as we've known it, replacing it with an experiment that is so disruptive that even if it succeeds, it will create chaos and violence that the world can't afford. 

I've been talking about how the world is going through a bottom-up connection revolution. Well, if there's a revolution, it usually happens within the context of an existing power-order. The good news is there IS a bottom-up revolution going on. There are a lot of positive forces, positive trends under way .The bad news is the old, top-down order is at its pinnacle-- incredibly powerful and using all its powerful resources to fight to hold on to what it has grabbed. The billionaires are funding this resistance to the bottom-up revolution, this attempt to consolidate their power. 

We can beat them. We can help the waves of bottom-up connection energy that are swirling throughout the world, to gradually erode the top-down powers. When the erosion and the direct assaults on the top-down powers are further along, there will be no billionaires. The world will repudiate them as flickering momentary freakish abominations that existed in a handful of cultures for a few thousand years. We will live in a future not that far away, where a hybrid socialist capitalist culture shares justice for all, including the environment, where the most successful people are noted for doing the most good, not grabbing the most. This can happen, but only if we talk about it, only if we envision it and decide we want to make it happen. We must move towards positive world visions while at the same time villifying those who work to create and maintain toxic worlds.



Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 


To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.


Follow Rob on Twitter & Facebook. His quotes are here

Rob's articles express his personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.


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