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Mon Feb 20, 2012, 05:08 PM

One-world plutocracy and privatization

I had a discussion with someone on DU the other day about world trade and in particular the roles of the international courts in replacing and superseding local laws and national laws.

Now, this first part sounds like some crazy, right-wing theory that we progressives and liberals like to laugh at. And I must admit that I have laughed about some of the theories associated with these ideas from time to time. But, bear with me, please.

Obviously, in "democracies" like our own, local and national laws are decided by locally and nationally elected representatives through some sort of democratic process, however flawed.

Not so the judges sitting on international courts like the NAFTA court. They are appointed, yes, hopefully by individuals elected by representatives or members of national governments. But can you personally name one judge sitting on an international court? Thought not. Neither can I. Nor do I know how much money passed hands, how many lobbyists weighed in, how much influence was used when these judges and others who run international organizations were selected. We have to ask who does know how that these people were chosen?

Yet, those judges can require your government to set aside a regulation or law that your democratically elected representatives passed at some level if it is deemed to result in some unfair trade practice such as dumping or protectionism. They have supra-national powers not derived from the people.

These courts combined with free trade agreements that weaken labor and environmental movements push us further and further toward international government that is selected and controlled by the major international corporations and the plutocracy that controls and profits from them. (That's the part the right-wing has been obsessing over for years in kind of nonsensical terms.)

But what about our national governments. Aren't they brakes on the process of global government by the plutocracy?

Here is where PRIVATIZATION fits into the picture (and where we liberals and progressives begin to object instinctively to what is happening).

Increasingly, our government (at all levels) is selling its functions to private corporations. We have private arbitration courts -- much cheaper and more efficient, we are assured, than courts of law with public trials. Courts in which procedures and rules of evidence that are established in laws passed by democratically elected bodies are followed with opportunities for appeals take too long.

In some states, even the highways and parking meters are being sold to public-private cooperative entities. Privatization among other things, permits foreign shareholders to own strategically vital parts of our American infrastructure.

Many community hospitals were privatized during the 1990s. Now we are seeing the privatization of schools.

Water is now in the purview of wealthy corporations. Imagine having to pay private companies just to get water to drink.

Privatization weakens and in some cases deprives we the people of the right to oversee these heretofore public functions.

Paying taxes to maintain traditionally public functions is increasingly viewed as an unbearable burden even when paying private companies to perform the same function -- say delivering packages of mail -- may cost three times as much as the government charges. So privatization is viewed as a way to replace having to pay taxes even though we would often be better off as individuals paying taxes than paying corporate profits.

Once the privatization occurs, it is hard for the government and local control to take back the privatized function.

And each time that another government function is privatized, our government, our democratically elected government and the democratic processes that support it, are weakened. As a result, we, the people have less and less say over how we live our lives and the price we have to pay to stay alive.

And all we hear from the private sector is how much they resent the regulations. No wonder they hate regulation. The regulations are imposed by democratically elected officials and the regulatory agencies that the democratically elected officials appoint. And, horrors, the regulatory agencies make the regulations through procedures that are transparent to the public.

I invite critical remarks (although I will answer them), but I think I have come across the kernel of something very important.

International corporations have grown to be more powerful than many governments.
Trade agreements deprive us of the ability to control democratically our own environment and economy.
Privatization threatens to deprive local and national governments of their authority and the financial capacity to govern or provide for the defense of the people living in the nation.

What is happening I am beginning to think is the destruction of the concept of the nation-state.

This might be acceptable except that the institutions that are replacing the nation-state are imposed on us by some sort of anonymous apparatus with only a slight relationship to democratic processes. Yet these international organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the NAFTA Court, and similar entities have the capacity to impose upon nations of people including potentially ourselves, dictatorships and laws we do not want. These institutions have the capacity to completely destroy even the semblance of democracy. We are seeing how the European economic union has displaced the democratically elected government of Greece.

What do you think?

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Response to JDPriestly (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 08:02 AM

1. I agree

that's exactly what's happening and it's by design.

That's why Occupy and similar mass movements are so important.

(This should be an OP in General Discussion, it's too cogent an analysis to be considered a conspiracy theory).

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Response to CJCRANE (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 02:24 PM

2. Thanks for your comment. I think it is a controversial idea and appreciate input.

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Response to JDPriestly (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 08:54 PM

3. Corporations uber alles

Science fiction writers have been predicting this for years. I think they are right.

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Response to JDPriestly (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:46 AM

4. I think it is inevitable, may be a repeat of a world social grouping or lack of one from centuries..

Past or perhaps what we call shadow governments. There are official groups termed thus, but that's not what I mean. Plutocrats have been with us all along. We didn't acknowledge them, so we thought they'd been defeated.

There are institutions, churches and private groups that exist all around us that we think nothing about and have been with long before the governments we now focus so much energy upon. They may not follow our ideas of laws and morality and really don't care about the things we are taught are important.

I've read things, not conspiracy writings, that go into how things were before the nations. For example, I can trace my direct lineage, man to man, for over 500 years in the official records and have the rougher version that was passed down for over a thousand. People that were dispossessed or sold into the slave trade, have shorter family trees and lack the accompanying advantages.

We see aristocratic lineages who kept intact; their power and wealth exceed that of constantly moving peoples. Americans are said in some ways to be dispossessed. Not just the natives, but the European emigrants. We are cut off from what our ancestors had and those associations for the most part, so we have developed ideas of an equal playing field to get ahead.

In some nations, people are not removed from their land for taxes, but they are however in relationships with their ruling families and don't worry so long as they keep up their duty, that they will have a home to go back to when all is done.

I know a couple in Russia whose family has owned the same land for a thousand years. We discussed the kind of lives our ancestors had as they were similar. But they are living closer to what my family had before they came here. So the world is full of associations and relationships and some people in our eyes, are very wealthy in ways most of us will never be.

When people discuss TPTB, they seem unknown and untouchable. Often we complain of corruption or nepotism, and I wonder, if we were in these families, would we call it a bad thing?

No, it is our position versus theirs that has us calling them oppressive. They don't see it that way, they are related by blood and would do what we would for our own, but Americans don't have centuries of lineage and accumulated assets like these people.

So it's likely, these people may be driving us toward a plutocracy, aristocracy and we are horrified as we see that our place in the hierarchy sucks. Because it was what was going on before; and they have not really given it up. This is a minority I know, for many landed people have lost their ancestral lands; but some haven't.

I see America as aging not just in terms of demographics, but the society itself. Wealth tends to flow to the more clever or more connected and after a while it's apparent who's going to rule. This is not a new thing. Even religion has come to address some of these issues at times such as the Year of Jubilee in the Bible. At times Revolutions correct the life of those for whom this imbalance makes their life unbearable. But something is always held in reserve to start again.

At this time we are possibly facing a crisis of global environmental changes that exacerbate this further. I think the people we most fear at times are simply drawing on history to stay in a position to survive times of scarcity which may or may not happen in an equal manner. There is forming in our world a closely woven technocracy that like in many other stages of history, determine how millions or billions of us will live or die and be out of this game.

Michio Kaku has spoken on this and his words were both inspiring and chilling. If mankind goes to the singularity that he predicts, the social orders we now have may not exist in any form that we know how to survive in. He said those resisting planetary government were terrorists. Because what is coming is better and the future of mankind, or we will perish as a species. He predicted the end of such things as the Constitution and national sovereignty, along with religions of all kinds, because they are holding the human race back.

This is exactly what the Prison Planet and patriot movement are resisting. They are also fighting same sex relationships and women's rights, and secularism, because they see it as leading to something like Huxley's soulless Brave New World. It is a cruel way of guaranteeing that nature in what they believe in its current form will survive as God's Creation, etc. It is not the same things as the rights of man or the age of reason, as spoken of by the Founders as it disrespects individuals. I don't think they understand that what those men were seeking was not a finished work that was never meant to evolve.

It could be that Kaku is right and that all that we currently base our ideas of good government and society will have to go. Then the planetary government, which may not take into account our beliefs, will put a hierarchical or caste system of existence in place, determined much as now, by social place, earned or maybe inherited by certain new physical means, and set mankind working toward some goals we cannot attain in our current rather chaotic state.

JMHO on the ideas of the conspiracy theory of internationalism, globalism and the effects on our rights. We know that there will be a top and bottom. We would like to have a chance to live with decency and respect. I have no idea how we can make this work for a planet.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #4)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 12:31 PM

5. A society in which the plutocracy dominates the institutions is what we call a "Dark Age."

The problem is that inherited wealth usually does not flow to the most innovative, most intelligent, most resourceful, most curious, most talented, most qualified to lead and certainly not to the most caring or kind.
Plutocrats overall tend to be cruel. In fact people who believe that they deserve something for nothing, that they are born into privilege are probably not the best qualified to make and enforce rules in a time of social turmoil and difficulty.

So, I strongly disagree with some of your assumptions.

The decrease in social mobility in our society correlates to an increase in untalented but overly confident fools in high places.

Where is the Lincoln of today? The Jefferson (he was comparatively well off financially but not blue-blood; he prided himself on his scientific knowledge and on his technical and professional skills, not on his noble birth)?

The international trade agreement will further concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few. It's a terrible idea.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:20 PM

6. I didn't say I agreed with it, I said it may be inevitable. The cruelty and stupidity of the rulers

Is not in doubt. Cleverness is not the same as wisdom, but it is the ability to obtain wealth through cunning, like the connected and like Wall Street has. We have groups in our nation who hope to gain through it, even if they are not now.

These same groups don't care about social mobility as they see the world as being about birthright, meaning race or sex or family. We see this in all they do financially and socially. If they think they will do well, they act as psychopathic as the rulers, they are their hands and feet among the rest of us.

The human race is working hard to build a technocracy which will not be any more enlightened than the dark ages rulers were with their brutal policies. I don't see a difference in Abu Graib and the Inquisition as far the insult to human dignity. Both were for the elevation of one group over another. Just farther removed. While the church held its power and wealth in oppression, the corporate overlords here reveled in the billions of dollars and built their future off the horror show that was Iraq. In many ways, the human race has not changed, so at times I doubt we'll evolve. It takes faith to believe in that.

Although I've talked with people who were much more liberal than Americans, who said that in the period we call the dark ages, the peasants had more rights than the working classes ever has, even that seemed hard to believe considering the things feudalism is known for, but at this time we still see taking place in the world in so called enlightened countries. Those rights ended with the onset of the enlightenment which quickly became the industrial age.

The peasant had holidays, knew where they were going to live from one generation to another. When their rulers changed the system from barter and fealty to mass production and the banking system, it made a new form of slavery that was mitigated with worker rights, but not land rights.

I don't think we have a difference of opinion on what is wrong or right. I love the ideas that we have developed here to give social mobility, and the world has loved these ideas too. They came from deep in the human spirit to allow us to be more who we are creatively. I hate regimentation and working towards a cause that is not even clearly spoken, just seeing us work on it day after day, mindlessly increasing the power of a few who don't deserve our labor.

I think the old ways are either going to have their way again, or are screaming in their death throes. There have been enlightened and more gentle rulers but they still were rulers. Maybe we will always have rulers, certainly we will until we learn to take responsibility for everything and stop blaming them for what we put up with/do to our fellows.

I'm not worried, really about the ruling class, because it's the ones closer to home who do their bidding to maintain their power, because they see no other way to live, that are going to hurt us. If we can convince them, we'll make it.

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Response to JDPriestly (Original post)

Mon Aug 13, 2012, 12:09 AM

7. I find this plausible, especially when one adds to it the power, size and wealth of

many corporations and financial institutions. All combined are exceeding the size of many countries and government control IMO.

And, your point of global government by the plutocracy is very plausible. For example, look at the wealth of the Walton family, that will only grow. Many are left out of the equation of wealth and the power that connotes.

An evolution is occurring, a completely new age IMO ... whether this will be for the better or worse I'm not sure, but I think individual autonomy is fading, and that is sad to me.

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