Saturday, March 19, 2011

Capitalism, Market Fundamentalism, and the Duplicitous Meanings of Democracy


by Charles Sullivan / January 17th, 2011
The U.S. political system is controlled by capital. Elections preserve the status quo rather than permit reform or complete political and social reorganization. It is corporate money, not people, that chooses who can compete for office and who will ultimately win. Americans are literally voting in the absence of choice. Most legislators sell themselves to the highest bidder. The electoral system perpetuates the illusion of democracy while actually promoting its opposite: plutocracy.

When the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and that money is free speech, multinational corporations began outright purchasing legislators who would construct the legal framework for dismantling the social infrastructure in favor of an authoritarian corporate state. Capital replaced people in the political equation. This sleight of hand facilitated stocking the judiciary with corporate sycophants rather than justice-dispensing public servants.

By reifying corporations as omnipotent persons and by equating capital with free speech, the Supreme Court gave corporations and their CEOs enormous power. Since corporations do not have a pulse or a conscience, the courts essentially created sociopathic institutions that are driven by an insatiable lust for profit. Originally, corporations were moderately controlled by government through regulation. But as corporate influence in government waxed, corporations began to lobby for, and to win, greater deregulation. The revolving door between big business and government gave rise to the corporate state and to unfettered capitalism.

Corporate power expanded. Driven by the religion of market fundamentalism, capitalists championed the deregulation of industry and markets. Money triumphed over people. With deregulation the disparity between rich and poor reached historic proportions. Corporations that were ostensibly created to serve the public interest mutated into a malignancy that is eroding civil liberties and killing the planet.

The duplicitous meanings of democracy are used interchangeably by the plutocracy, leaving the American people ambivalent and confused. This was an engineered bait and switch that went virtually unnoticed by a naïve and somnolent public. And thus capitalism, the very antithesis of democracy, became synonymous with representative government in the public mind. Few people have bothered to question, much less challenge, the secular matrimony of capitalism with democracy.

The perversion of democracy permitted non-persons — corporations — to have representation in government by shutting out actual persons. Prostituted by corporate money, politicians put profits above the needs of the people. Capital gained primacy over human beings, and the market was deified as an omniscient, divine oracle. Now it is regarded as a primal force of nature too powerful to be controlled by mortal men and wome