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The Slow Coup De Gras

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Message Tom Aiken

In their new book "13 Bankers" authors James Kwak and Simon Johnson assert that the genesis of today's corporate domination of public life lies buried in the 1970s:


"... business interests in all sectors organized a takeover of political power that pushed organized labor and other groups protecting middle-class interests to the sidelines and made possible decades of policies that enriched the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, including the merely affluent. Finance was simply the biggest and most profitable of these sectors... the one best able to hold the government hostage in a financial and economic crisis."


In a 9/13 column in Truthout entitled "Do Not Pity The Democrats" author Chris Hedges cites a conversation with Ralph Nader as to the actual corporate agenda:


"The corporate state is the ultimate maturation of American-type fascism. They leave wide areas of personal freedom so that people will confuse personal freedom with civic freedom -- the freedom to go where you want, eat where you want, associate with who you want, buy what you want where you want... If people have given up on any civic or political role for themselves there is a sufficient amount of elbow room to get through the day. They do not have the freedom to participate in the decisions about war, foreign policy, domestic health and safety issues, taxes or transportation. That is its genius."


Something is wrong here. And if you're willing to dig, the answers are just beneath the surface. And they're initially discouraging ones.


While I agree with both Kwak and Johnson's assertions in "13 Bankers" I would also argue the process extends back to the progressivism of the early 20th Century, the Gilded Age and, perhaps, even as far removed as Alexander Hamilton and the aristocratic pretensions of his clique. Since the beginning of this government's history business and the well-off have fought tooth and nail with the rest of the country -- the so-called "proletariat" -- over what might be termed "their fair share."


The current corporate configuration owes its existence to Theodore Roosevelt's battle with the trusts in the eary 20th century. Disgusted with a situation mirroring our own, Roosevelt set out to destroy the pre-corporate power structures then crippling the country. And while, to some degree, successful, the campaign inaugurated what might be called a "rebellion of the rich," the ignition of a sociopathology born of greed and the thirst for power so endemic to the over-privileged. Temporarily repulsed, the burgeoning oligarchy retrenched after WWI and slowly but surely maneuvered the country into the 1929 stock market crash, the idea being to consolidate capital into the hands of the few at the expense of the many -- "The Gilded Age" all over again.


Herbert Hoover, the Republican tasked with somehow softening the blows, foundered in persuading the American public the aristocrat's "let them eat cake" stance was somehow a genuine American virtue. After four years of misery, indecision and contempt Hoover was cast from office in favor of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fifth cousin of the venerable Theodore. His counter-attack on corporate interests only strengthened the upper crust's resolve and a series of epic battles were fought in determining who, indeed, was actually in power.

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Tom Aiken is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He has written for numerous publications including The Village Voice, Heavy Metal amd M'Zine (RIP). Mr. Aiken also has a spanking new blog -- AikenLand -- for publication of his more unpublishable work. (more...)
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