The Real Villains

Bernie Sanders knew who the real enemy is — and it isn’t the Republican Party or our clown President. They are a mere diversion. The real villains in the political drama that is playing out before our eyes are the corporations. And because Sanders was becoming too loud he had to be silenced. The Democratic Party, which is funded by the corporations in large measure (as, of course, is the Republican Party) saw to it that his candidacy came to an end. He has been set aside and is now no more than a whimper, something the corporations can ignore because the rest of us can’t hear him, or refuse to listen.

The corporations are the modern face of capitalism and many of the criticisms by people like Mark Fisher (author of Capitalist Realism) are more properly directed at the corporations than they are at capitalism, per se. The corporations were recently allowed to come from behind the political curtain and declare themselves openly when, in “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court determined that corporations are persons and entitled to make huge donations to the political parties without having to do so under the table. As a result their cover is blown, but they are now beyond our reach because we do not know who the hell they are! That’s the problem, and that’s precisely why they are NOT persons: they are insubstantial and they cannot be found responsible for their misdeeds because they are like a shadow that suddenly is no longer there. Assigning responsibility to the corporations is like nailing Jello to the wall:  it cannot be done. They will be bailed out when in financial difficulty by the government, which they own, and if they should be discovered doing the dirty they will throw one of their own under the bus — or cover over the mess like the Valdez oil spill, with clever P.R. They are insidious because they are essentially vaporous and operate in secret.

Mark Fisher paints a vivid picture the Kafkaesque world of the corporations which is now our world. And toward the end of his book he outlines for us the effects of capitalism on the family and education — two of the pillars of our civilization — and the sorry state to which each has been brought mainly because of corporate influence. I quote him at some length because his message is worth pondering:

“It is the parents’ following of the trajectory of the pleasure principle, the path of least resistance, that causes most of the miseries in the families. In a pattern that quickly becomes familiar, the parents’ pursuit of the easy life leads them to accede to their children’s every demand, which becomes increasingly tyrannical.. . .

“The problem is that late capitalism insists and relies upon the very equation of desire with interests that parenting used to be based on rejecting. In a culture in which the ‘paternal’ concept of duty has been replaced by the ‘maternal’ imperative to enjoy, it can seem that the parent is failing in their duty if they in any way impede their children’s absolute right to enjoyment. Partly this is an effect of the increasing requirement that both parents work; in these conditions, when the parent sees the child very little, the tendency will often be to refuse to occupy the ‘oppressive’ function of telling the child what to do. The parental disavowal of this role is doubled at the level of cultural production by the refusal of the [corporations] to do anything but give audiences what they already (appear) to want. The concrete question is: if a return to the paternal superego — the stern father in the home — is neither possible nor desirable, then how are we to move beyond the culture of monotonous moribund conformity that results in a refusal to challenge or educate?”

Corporations remain out of focus in our world of constant entertainment and diversion — provided, of course, by the corporations (who also see to it that both parents must work in order to “provide for their families”). Thus the corporations are able to determine not only political but cultural outcomes while remaining  anonymous. And those outcomes are always about the same thing: profits for their shareholders and C.E.O.s. The shareholders themselves feel they are benefitting because they enjoy a higher standard of living and are able to take advantage of the diversions provided for them by  — wait for it — the corporations! It is a circle, and it is a vicious circle. Bernie Sanders saw this clearly. But his voice has been silenced. Will anyone have the courage to speak up — say, Elizabeth Warren? Or will her voice also be silenced as well before she can shout “wolf” loud enough to be heard by those who really don’t want to listen.

In any event, the notion that we live in a “democracy” is no longer tenable. In fact, we live in a tyrannical bureaucracy run by numerous powerful corporations that are above the law because they determine what the laws will allow or disallow. The founders worried about the influence of money on the tenuous threads that hold a Republic together, but they never, in their worse nightmares, imagined the power that could be wielded by giant multinational corporations. The Republic they envisioned, resting as it  precariously did on the balance of powers, has been replaced by the all-powerful corporations and the unimaginably wealthy few who run the show.





15 thoughts on “The Real Villains

  1. Hugh, you have painted a picture where we are closer to the Robber Baron oligarchy era with the PACs and dark money exacerbated by Citizens-United as well as the McCutcheon decision to allow the funding of elections across the country.

    One saving grace is more benevolent leaders who see a greater good and help to push those issues. Yet, even those efforts are not altruistic as it is a means to attract and keep employees and customers.

    We must follow through with voting. If we do not follow up the protests and marches with voting, then the people will cede their voice.

    As for Bernie, he is a breath of fresh air. While I do not agree with every solution he poses, Bernie speaks the truth about problems and their causes. He was the only Presidential candidate who told coal miners the truth – your jobs are not coming back. But, here is what I have proposed to do about it.

    The man who won, offered simplistic bumper sticker solutions that won’t solve the problems or address the wrong problem. Trump sold off fear. While Hillary won all three debates, I would have loved to see Bernie debate the Donald. Keith

    • There are a few good people out there running for office. The mid-term elections will tell us if the Republic is still breathing or whether it has expired!

      • Hugh, I am impressed with the number and quality of people running for office. Many more women are running in both parties, which is good. More veterans and former intelligence officials are running. We need better representation and less zero-sum game BS. Keith

  2. I fully agree with your words here Hugh.

    We are all caught up in the corporate web, working furiously to keep the spider fed.
    Mr Sanders was her lunch.
    Mr Trump courts the spider with deft strumming. The sad thing is… nobody sees that, they are too busy trying to keep out of the spider’s jaws!

  3. Well said. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is the best defense – right now – against future “Citizens United” decisions (and Donald Trumps) that exponentially increase corporations’ power and influence. The five Supreme Court justices, who determined that corporations are persons with 1st Amendment rights, are conservatives who were all nominated by Republican presidents. America has only two significant political parties. There’s a reason why Sanders campaigned with a ‘D’ after his name.

    • I suspect Sanders ran as a Democrat in order to get the funding to make it possible to even make a ripple. But the Party knew he was anti-corporation and saw to it that his attempt fell short. Hillary was their first choice all along. She is not, after all, averse to supping with the corporate giants — the lesser of evils from the corporate point of view, I dare say.

      • I agree with your first and last sentences, but not the rest. I think you’re over-generalizing, and your words have a whiff of conspiracy that I don’t believe exists. Yes, there were higher-ups in the party that wanted Hillary nominated over Sanders (e.g. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz), and their idiocies ended up helping to elect Trump. But I disagree there was a party conspiracy against Sanders because he hates corporations. You say Sanders wanted to “get the funding.” Where does most of this funding originate? Corporations. Obviously, Sanders doesn’t hate corporation money that much, because he didn’t run as Independent (or Reform, or Green). His attempt ran short because he couldn’t garner enough Dem delegates in the primary. The Democratic Party consists of more than just the leaders, it’s also the delegates and voters. The fact that Sanders came miraculously close to winning shows how much support he had amongst Democrats. It’s a shame that so many of his supporters didn’t vote for his Democratic rival – whom he ultimately endorsed – because all they did was help get Trump elected.

      • You may be right. I tend toward conspiracy theories more and more! But I do think the corporations did NOT want Sanders to be elected and they did want Hillary — as the lesser of two evils from their point of view. Hillary ran a poor campaign and even though she won 3 million more votes than her opponent, she failed to campaign energetically in key regions and that cost her the electoral votes she needed. I supported her from the start, by the way. I thought her by far the best qualified candidate. In any event, we can agree that the results of that election have been disastrous, as we all thought they would be.

  4. I selected ‘like’ but any news these days from usa politics is distressing. The curator of the upcoming exposition was talking today about how bad politics has turned here in Ecuador, and that she hates to even see the news… I had to chuckle and remind her that I have that same dilemma when I peek at what’s happening in my country!

    We wondered which countries have good report cards…. hmmm, for now, there’s no time for searching, but perhaps in the future someone will save me that ‘search’ time by posting about countries doing good things!

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