The Coastal Post - October, 1996

Global Pillage

BY FRANK SCOTT

This system is inherently unstable and spiraling out of control —spreading economic, social and environmental devastation and endangering the well being of every person on the planet. David Korten: When Corporations Rule

A recent United Nations report indicates that in the past 15 years the world has become more economically polarized, both within and between nations. There are 358 billionaires whose wealth is greater than the combined income of 45% of the global population . In the USA, the gap between rich and poor is wider than it has ever been, with the middle steadily shrinking. Were told that there is something new at work, a global

economy, which demands shrinking government service and more reliance on a deity called the free market. The system behind all this is viewed as triumphant and all pervasive, with humans compelled to adjust to its

demands, no matter what the cost. This is the system referred to in the quote above, though it was thoroughly analyzed more than a hundred years ago by Karl Marx.

The current form of corporate domination is really nothing new, since capital has been acting in a worldly way from the time that international banking originated in Venice centuries ago. Corporate capital has refined its global domination to the point that local governments carry out its profit-making purpose without thought, even going along with the destruction of their own national powers, as in NAFTA and GATT. They have turned the adage think global, act local on its head, by working to make private capital stronger at the expense of public democracy. This is the system Marx identified in the 19th century, and it has more recently come to the attention of people like Korten and Ralph Nader.

As the nearly irrelevant race between President Lesser Evil and Senator Greater Evil moves to its foregone conclusion, only minor party candidate Nader even hints at the depth of the problem confronting the nation and the world. Many voices have been calling attention to the plunder and waste going on , and the threat to the future of humanity, but they rarely find a political outlet. And the idea of corporate responsibility sounds

pleasant, but it is an oxymoron, since the process of corporate capital is void of social responsibility.

The contradictions of the late 20th century are staggering, and they not only affect growing numbers of poor people, but the minority whose material affluence brings with it spiritual and psychological poverty. These contradictions are wrecking the planet and its people, even as capitals mind managers tell us that everything is cybernetic and life is getting better every day. Nor is it necessary to visit the third world to see the worst situations, since they exist right here in our midst.

Though it is a fading economic power, the U.S. is alone at the top of the military heap and can act with reckless abandon in punishing helpless adversaries like Iraq. But it is without an answer to the problem of

protecting its own citizens from violence and poverty. We still spend billions of taxpayer dollars on the military, in order to protect foreigners and dominate the middle east so that gasoline stays cheaper than milk. We spend more billions in a stupid war on drugs, while our own CIA has some responsibility for bringing the stuff into the country and foisting it on people in places like south central Los Angeles.

The drug war is a particularly vicious assault on young black men, who are its main victims and who fill the only affordable housing created in the last few years—jails. The denial of education and jobs to inner city blacks leads many into the only profit making possibility—drug sales. The illegal nature of drugs makes them vastly more expensive than they would be if society treated them as what they are; a natural expression of human need and desire.

The mind boggles at the insanity of so much policy that works to benefit the system of inefficiency and waste. We should not be surprised that many are sickened by the political hypocrisy they are asked to accept as democracy. They cannot be blamed for staying away from the voting booth, since all it assures them is maintenance of a failing status quo, and at their expense.

Consumer debt is well beyond a trillion dollars and rising, and it must go still higher. Credit buying is the only thing keeping some people at the middle class level they have become accustomed to, but there are limits to how much the debt bubble can expand without bursting. Already, credit card defaults are at an historic level. As people learn more about what they are financing with their labor and their plastic, cynicism and despair may grow. But ultimately, new political and economic proposals will have to be created, with organized citizens pushing them forward.

This should be the last national election devoted to keeping the corporate party in control, simply because there is no other real choice. By the next national election, in the year 2000, we'd better have something really new to offer voters. The conflict between capital and labor—now called the conflict between corporations and humanity—must be resolved, or the race will not survive. The problems of capitalism, global destruction, income inequality and racial division are not being confronted now, but they must be the primary issues in the next election.