FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How "Your" Government Works

The Obama administration has announced the formation of a panel of “outside experts” to review the NSA’s surveillance practices. And a wide-ranging, diverse collection of experts they are; when it comes to institutional backgrounds and viewpoints, they span the entire spectrum from A to B. They remind me a bit of the space shuttle crew in an episode of The Simpsons: “They’re a colorful bunch …  There’s a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician.”

Richard Clarke, who served on the National Security Council under two Bushes and a Clinton, was the counter-terrorism tsar for three administrations. Michael Morell is a former CIA director who was at Obama’s side during the kill of bin Laden and probably heavily involved in the whole “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” operation of “unofficial” leaks to the Zero Dark Thirty propaganda operation. Cass Sunstein, former White House information tsar under Obama, in 2010 authored a paper explicitly endorsing “cognitive infiltration” by the government — i.e., government secretly enlisting the help of “respected outside experts” posing as independent commenters to debunk “conspiracy theories” critical of government policy on social media. You know, like those boiler rooms the Mossad runs full of people pretending to be independent college students defending the Israeli apartheid state against social media critics.

This bunch of clowns bears an amazing resemblance to the “outside experts” running other aspects of government policy. You know how the U.S. government brags about all the “stakeholders seated around the table” when it drafts new laws or treaties on “intellectual property?” Oddly enough, there aren’t many from the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Creative Commons. But you bet your booty the RIAA, MPAA and Microsoft will be represented extremely well.

Pretty much every pick for U.S. Treasurer is a former CEO of Goldman-Sachs or Citigroup. Obama’s favorite for Federal Reserve chairman is Larry Summers, the ultimate insider’s insider from America’s quasi-public, quasi-private network of finance capitalist institutions.

Likewise, if you look through the assorted Assistant and Deputy and Assistant Deputy Secretaries at the USDA, you’ll find a gaggle of former Vice Presidents and Directors from Monsanto, Cargill and ADM. The second-tier political appointees at the FDA will generally be there as a change of pace between stints in the C-Suites of Merck and Pfizer. Basically the entire military procurement policy apparatus is an alliance of military (ahem, “Defense”) contractors and Pentagon procurement officers, rigging tests and getting their lies straight so Congress will rubber-stamp their new weapons systems.

If you think all this insider involvement in policy represents “regulatory capture,” or the corruption of an originally pristine system by campaign money and lobbyists, you’re missing the point. It’s their ability to use the state as a tool for extracting rents from society that makes these people insiders in the first place. Most of the profits they get in the “marketplace” [sic, sic, SICK] result either from rents on artificial scarcity enforced by the state, or from direct government subsidies to their operating costs. Protecting the profits of “insiders” is what governments do. If it weren’t for state subsidies and state-enforced entry barriers, artificial property rights, artificial scarcities and regulatory cartels, there wouldn’t be a Goldman Sachs or a Citigroup. There wouldn’t be an ADM, Cargill or Monsanto. There wouldn’t be a Merck or Pfizer, a Disney or Microsoft.

The government exists, since the beginning of the first states, to serve landlords, capitalists, usurers, bureaucrats and assorted other rentiers — not to serve us. The state, by its very nature, is executive committee of an economic ruling class. Trying to “reform” government through outsider review is like trying to reform the Mafia.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

More articles by:

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

August 04, 2020
John Pilger
Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now
Dave Lindorff
Unsung Heroes of Los Alamos: Rethinking Manhattan Project Spies and the Cold War
Kenneth Good
Escalating State Repression and Covid-19: Their Impact on the Poor in Kenya
Dean Baker
We Need an Economic Survival Package Not Another Stimulus
David Rosen
Globalization and the End of the American Dream
John Feffer
The Pandemic Reveals a Europe More United Than the United States
Patrick Cockburn
The Government’s Failed Track-and-Trace System is a Disaster for England
Ramzy Baroud
‘Optimism of the Will’: Palestinian Freedom is Possible Now
Manuel García, Jr.
Ocean Heat: From the Tropics to the Poles
Sonali Kolhatkar
Why the Idea of Jobless Benefits Scares the Conservative Mind
Greta Anderson
Framing Wolves in New Mexico?
Binoy Kampmark
Pulling Out of Germany: Trump Adjusts the Military Furniture
Shawn Fremstad – Nicole Rodgers
COVID Stimulus Checks Shouldn’t Penalize One-Parent Households
Adam Shah
The 1 Percent’s Attack on Unemployment Benefits is a Sign of Our Broken Democracy
Evaggelos Vallianatos
On the Beauty of Life
B. R. Gowani
Mohammed Rafi: Singer and Human Par Excellence
David Krieger
Eight A-Bomb Haiku
August 03, 2020
Linda Pentz Gunter
The Resistible Rise of Nuclear Gangsters…and Their Downfall
John G. Russell
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Cal Winslow
Their Heroes and Ours: California’s Health Care Crisis
David Barber
Renouncing White Privilege: A Left Critique of Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility”
Linda G. Ford
Free Joy Powell! America’s Political Prisoner for Fighting Police Brutality
Prabir Purkayastha
Trump’s Withdrawal From WHO: a Cover-Up for His Abject Failure on COVID-19
Dean Baker
The Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to a Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP
Ramzy Baroud
Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria
Karen J. Greenberg
Accountability is Gone in America
Cesar Chelala
A Wrong Message for the Pandemic
Jonah Raskin
Chesa Boudin: Reformer in the San Francisco DA’s Office
George Wuerthner
Forest Plan Failure in the Montana Rockies
Ralph Nader
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Writes to Me!
Laura Flanders
Take on the Tech Mob Now or Perish
CounterPunch News Service
Conservationists Intervene to Oppose New Dam Project Near the Grand Canyon
Weekend Edition
July 31, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Bette Lee
Tear Gas and Thugs at the BLM Protests in Portland
Rob Urie
Russiagate, Nazis, and the CIA
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Demon Seed
T.J. Coles
The Space Wars Have Begun
Andrew Levine
Insurgents and Iconoclasts Needed (But for Now Lay Low)
Paul Street
“Time to Say the F-Word”: Why Now?
Matthew Scully
The Triple Antagonist of the Police, Policing, and Policy
Richard D. Wolff
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal
Richard C. Gross
Feds Give In, Maybe
Erik Molvar
Inside Trump’s Attack on America’s Environmental Charter
W. T. Whitney
“We Charge Genocide:” Forerunner at UN of Black Lives Matter
Brett Wilkins
The Bologna Massacre, the ‘Strategy of Tension’ and Operation Gladio
Nick Pemberton
Does The Left Stand With Uighurs?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail