FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Double Bed of Business and Government

by NORMAN POLLACK

Oh Mary Jo, we eagerly awaited your cleaning up of the stench, crud, dreck of SEC—all, and obviously, in vain, as your appointment to head the Commission once more reveals the Obama Administration’s mighty efforts on behalf of the American Business System, especially its most problematic, exploitative, illegal features, i.e., those which create the greatest unearned profits for the perpetrators of economic skullduggery and sleight-of-hand, now, as the latest attraction, derivatives trading.  Obama has found his soul mate in regulation in Mary Jo White, just as in paramilitary operations in John O. Brennan.  Government, at its finest hour of political treachery in serving the American people.

Let’s get serious.  The United States throughout its historical development has interiorized the structure and values of capitalism, a puristic capitalist-institutional formation, still more greatly accelerated since the aftermath of World War II, to a far more intensified expression than any advanced industrial nation, thereby making America and capitalism itself synonomous, identical, indistinguishable one from the other—a synchronism of the two transcending party, and with thorough bipartisan support, creating clear boundaries to social change and political protest.  Obama is merely the latest spear carrier in a continuous line—with few notable exceptions in the nation’s past—of presidents ministering to the needs of dominant groups and attempting, sometimes unsuccessfully (witness the latest financial crisis and its still unfolding consequences), to satisfy the imperative needs of the economic system.  Rather than seek, even within capitalism, the moderation of its war-prone, imperialist, underconsumptionist tendencies and societal class differentials, thereby adding some degree of justice and melioration to its execution and operations, America, now particularly under Obama, is going for broke to liberate its oppressive, even nightmarish, inner reason and potential, in which militarism, deregulation, and an economic freefall for working people become increasingly evident.

In this light, Mary Jo White at SEC, rather than a disappointment (for those who still hold out hope of Obama’s essential honesty as dedicated to social welfare and structural democracy), is par for the course, one that started off with the appointments of Geithner, Summers, and Robert Rubin’s policies, ideas, and confederates under Clinton, the placation of and support for Big Pharma and health insurers under Obamacare, the more  pointed assistance to the defense, nuclear, and oil industries, and the heartfelt embrace of Wall Street, and continues in a sophisticated corporatism—the real definition of liberalism—far more dangerous for its realization of a social order founded on monopolism and wealth concentration than is the unsystematic business favoritism and chisling mindset, the penny ante mode of capitalist development, which fails to marshall the full resources of the State, of the Republicans.

Obama has a step up on his predecessors—for reasons still difficult to determine, given that his personal acumen and brightness have been grossly exaggerated.  Perhaps he simply has allowed the gathering historical forces inhering in the US’s global posture, in which America can no longer dictate the course of world events, to coalesce in his administration: an aggressive defensiveness against the very democratization his candidacy supposedly represented.  Capitalism serves as the battering ram for the restoration of American world power.  Its helpmate, more than previously, is naked force displayed as the doctrine of permanent war, the military juggernaut adjusted to the specific theaters of concern from naval power in the Pacific to drones for targeted killing, intervention, CIA activities of regime change, the JSOC paramilitary operations, springing up throughout the globe.

Interpenetration, the integrative, instead of merely parallel, structures, values, relations of mutual dependence and inspiration, of business and government, has in America since the time of Theodore Roosevelt (Gabriel Kolko’s Triumph of Conservatism, after more than a half-century, still has not been assimilated into the collective realization that REFORM is largely big-business inspired, to achieve the consolidation of wealth and, relatedly, the security of capitalism at home and in the world, free from radical challenges, and even that of lesser-capitalist competitors), provided the foundations designed to ensure that capitalism in America, because inseparable from the State, could rely on government for its stabilization and global expansion.  Now, under Obama, there is no longer any question (one muted or nonapplicable for long stretches of the past, frequently embodied in the strategy of the Open Door) that a mainspring of capitalism is the reliance on the military, for purposes of counterrevolution abroad, economic stimulation at home, and in both arenas, a system of power fusing national and international purpose to create Fortress Capitalism as an eternal source of wealth and leadership.

Welcome Mary Jo; do your mischief with respect to derivatives, themselves already mischievous enough, knowing that you will sleep soundly in the knowledge that, if your Boss can sleep soundly after personally selecting targets for assassination, you too deserve restful slumber for participating in the wreckage of an economy whose victims are all but assassinated in their despair, loss of employment, and for some, foraging in the ash cans as in days of yore—under your counterpart servants of wealth.

Here follows my New York Times Comment (May 6) on its editorial disappointment on Ms. White’s record as the newly-installed head of the SEC.  My fond wish is that Times disappointment will turn into forthright and fundamental criticism of the whole shebang (but I’m not holding my breath):

The Times’ analysis of SEC partiality to banks and their role in the dervatives trade is wise, sound, and timely, but lacking fuller context: Obama’s wider posture of deregulation, exemplified by the appointment of White but actually running through the regulatory apparatus. SEC, FDA, EPA, in areas crucial to the welfare of the American public, we are being left to hang out to dry. The issue of derivatives cannot be treated in isolation: In all respects, internal corporate-banking hegemony defines the American scene, suitably disguised in liberal rhetoric.

When will the con game stop? Probably not for a long time, as both major parties contribute to the widening of economic and class differentials, accompanied by the weakening of the social safety net. Symbolically, derivatives signify the splitting apart of America–not the 1% vs. the 99%, too simplistic by far, but a structural cleavage sufficiently acute to result in underconsumption, unemployment, and the need to rectify domestic hardship through greater militarism, both as distraction and as the source of further enrichment for America’s wealthy.

Yes, we are witnessing the financialization of the US economy, introducing basic distortions across the board, from loss of manufactures to further financial crises. As a nation, we seem not to learn, possibly even incapable of learning. But I’m glad The Times in this editorial helps to open the can of worms.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail