Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Corporate Shell Game: The Future Before Us

There's no question I'm an individualist. I fully support the "rights" of the individual over the corporate, but the modern corporation in our post-nation world doesn't see it that way. Nope. Not at all. In today's world where corporations have replaced national governments, the concept of individuality, like privacy, has become, shall we say "passé".

In the pursuit of maximizing profit and increasing shareholder return, corporations view the world in terms of marketplace. In their world, there is no Germany, India, Mexico, or United States. Designs are created through multinational teams electronically linked through satellite or Ethernet. Products are then modeled and finally produced in a host of regions in varying degrees; material gleaned from one country, sorted and roughed out in another using labor from yet another country, and then shipped using a ship or plane or truck registered to still another, to an assembly point in yet another location, and again, in all likelihood using workers who are perhaps from somewhere other than the host company. The concept of an a "American" car or Japanese electronics are the thing of pure advertising gimmicks or quaint nationalistic myth. Don't believe me? Look up the parts on your car. Look at the tags on your wardrobe. Check out where the parts of your washer and dryer are made. Go ahead. I'll wait. The rest of this article will be here when you get back.

You see, what matters here is the unfettered access to and use of resources, be those resources natural, manufactured, or human. Yes, I said human. In this evolving era of the neo-feudalist State, employees--folks like you and I---are merely resources; something to be used to accomplish a specific goal and then discarded, either because the costs of retaining us exceeds the benefit of retaining us or our function has become obsolete like an eight track player (if you don't know what that is, ask your parents). Wars aren't fought for national pride or even "freedom"--ours or anyone else's. They're fought to secure economic resources and markets by governments on behalf of corporate interests.

In order to pursue this Post-State open market strategy, it's necessary that the governments maintain to a stable economic platform. Simply put, keep the masses in line. In order to generate profits, companies must be able to plan and that means they must be able to anticipate, predict, and manipulate trends. You can't do that when the herds of humanity aren't manageable. Therefore, governments must ensure there is a measure of functional stability through rule of law. So, how do you do that? Actually, it's relatively simple.
Remember, no matter how complex the marketplace is, it all can be reduced to its most common denominator: supply and demand. In this case, we're not talking about widgets. We're talking about jobs. By restricting the number of jobs available, the demand increases. The fewer the jobs available, the more applicants there will be to work at a lesser rate (which includes things like pensions, work hours, vacation time, and healthcare benefits, and so forth). At the same time, these transnational corporations encourage governments to pursue non or low growth policies and use diversionary policies such as blaming one group or political party or the other for the nation's woes. It keeps the focus off of the real reasons.

Secondly, governments have to have funds to function. With a decrease in the availability of jobs, there is a corresponding decrease on available taxes. Therefore, taxes increased in the name of "progress" or some humanitarian sounding program. Governments also control the availability of money through interest rates and amount of currency in the economy. Companies, to be sure, pay taxes too, but only insomuch as it benefits them. You can best bet they get their money's worth, but back to the point. Our taxes pay for services to ensure the smooth function of commerce; that is maintaining a level of security, education, adequate housing, education, clean water and air, etc. In other countries, priorities may differ. Again, it depends the number of " two legged resources" and the availability of jobs. That's why poorer countries may not focus so much on, let's say clean water, job safety, or housing. Of course, culture plays a part in this too. These same locales may not have the benefit of a historically benevolent social-political structure (case in point are many Latin American and East Asian countries).

Another way to maintain control is through electronic surveillance. By actively monitoring the populace, governments can keep check on the mood of the masses and anticipate possible disturbances that could affect commerce. They also can watch for and keep tabs on potential "troublemakers" so in the event something happens, they know just where to look and who to watch out for. Companies already do this internally by being on the lookout for so-called troublemakers or those individuals willing to speak up and speak out (often those individuals are harassed into quitting or "downsized"). Companies with unions often use unions to keep the rank and file in check (ie: defuse worker discontent, discourage walkouts and/or strikes or strong arm members into approving less than acceptable contracts). At the same time, the current mobility of companies also eliminates the impact of the union by being able to close the business and relocate elsewhere.

This too encourages a individualistic go-it-alone mentality born out of frustration. With many of the blatant abuses of employees having been eliminated over five decades ago, this has all contributed to the decline of organized labor (not to mention Labor's history of corruption and being in the hip pocket of the Democrats). Meanwhile, economic policy is set at WTO, G8 and other conferences with instructions or "advisory consultations" from these same transnational corporations, while we're keep preoccupied with the latest fashion trends, games, car models, latest manufactured crisis, and easy-on-the-spot credit. Bread and circuses the Roman's called it. It meant keeping the masses just contented enough not to notice what was happening. So, is possible to fight back?
The answer is yes, but a qualified yes. First, one has to think in this same terms as the corporations and their governmental hirelings. The idea of borders is obsolete. Governments simply manage a given area. That's why corporate associations support amnesty---more workers = lower wages. Political ideology is just as obsolete since corporations can operate with the same degree of freedom in China as in Canada or France. How a particular government manages its populace is of no concern.

However, democracy is considered an impediment since in a actual democracy, there is an accountability factor between the people and government, and by implication, corporations and their "social and economic responsibility". People have to think, act, and cooperate globally. There has to be a unison of action. A particular action in, say, Portugal, has to draw a similar response elsewhere. This requires a level of communication which doesn't quite exist yet, but the tools are there (which may be one reason governments are eavesdropping more and trying to regulate and tax the internet). As an aside, and perhaps most importantly, one has to accept that political parties are virtually irreverent. Odds are they are owned. Part of the pacification of the workers is to keep them confused and divided. This can be through the shell game of blaming the nation's ills on the opposing party, or pitting one economic class, race, or religion, against the other as well. You'll hear various politicians come out with promises or claims to be "with the people". Right. Check out who gives them money; what committees they're on, and how long they've been in office (the longer the more likely they've been bought and paid for).

Elections, especially at the state/provincials or national levels, are more about the illusion of choice than they are about real change. Few issues involving big money or contracts haven't already been settled behind closed doors long before the public or media ever hears about it. Demand specific actions from them. Demand "sunshine laws" to eliminate closed door hearings from the general public and not just certain members of the media. Remember, as long as the working class (and that includes especially the middle class), are fighting amongst themselves, they're not focused on the real problems or the culprits.

Secondly, there needs to be global worker cooperatives or clearing houses for the exchange of information about corporate abuses of employees as a whole, the environment, or corruption of government officials. This requires monitoring of the government and corporations by whatever means possible and the deliberate and immediate publication of this information. It means the sharing of organizing techniques, be it by Skype--either teleconferencing or individually, emails, blogs, YouTube, or snail mail. But remember again, if it's electronic or telephonic, it can be easily monitored.

Third, as Malcolm X once said, "by any means possible". That has to be your tactics, but avoid violence. Why? Violence begets violence and governments, in the interests of their corporate paymasters, will be itching for an excuse to impose martial law. Look for examples in Iceland, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania. Note too where the "Arab Spring" failed with their democratic movements (a bad example is often more useful than a good one). What the workers should be looking for is exposure and global condemnation. Think in terms like Berlin and Spokane aren't different cities in different countries. In this new world, they're two cities in the same global market. The workers there are just the same as workers in a neighboring town.

Lastly, the one thing that is feared more than the public spotlight is the environment that deters this, and that's democracy. However---and this is key---never assume that democracy is the same for everyone. What Americans had was based on a specific series of cultural and economic events. Every people is unique and must develop their own style of democracy. For some, it may be socialistic while for others it could be more theocratic or even anarchic. Whatever works best for them is what's acceptable.

While many, if not most of us, still cling to the notion of "my country right or wrong", countries themselves exist only as reference points and fond memories. This is the New World Order. We need to accept that the rules have changed and learn to play them lest we travel even further down the path of debt slavery and indentured serfdom.

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