The War on Government is euphemistically dubbed "resistance to Big Government" or even "animosity towards bureaucracy". What ultra-libertarian attitudes cover for is a combination of cow-towing to the largest financial interests in the world, the MNC (Multi-National Corporations), in the hope of being rewarded with opportunity and fortune by the corporate managers, and a general preference for anarchy.
During the Financial Crisis we witnessed how companies and banks took welfare money from the very governments they embezzle and try to keep in check - try to keep from overseeing their management, from interfering with their schemes and from conducting policies that cross, curb or hinder their financial interests, at home and abroad.
Embezzle? Is that not a strong word?
The Global Tax Evasion Scheme
A recent report on Democracy Now titled Offshore Banking and Tax Havens Have Become Heart of Global Economy, based on British journalist Nicholas Shaxson's new book, Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens, states that "Half of world trade is processed in one way or another through tax havens."
It has become common knowledge to citizens all over the world that the multinationals act with impunity, when they evade taxes and transfer money out of their host countries to tax heavens.
This is another damaging effect of two aspects of globalization I mentioned in an earlier post, the lack of transparency and the enormous distance-to-power in a globalized structure. It is also marginally related to the problem of viral crisis understood in the broadest sense of the term, as more than just simply a PR crisis - rather, it is a tendency for errors, in this case corporate anarchy, to spread like wildfire through an under-regulated system.
Some of the most shameless defenders of this scheme, in line with the philosophy of Ayn Rand and the economic paradigm of Milton Friedman, that they create productivity for the countries in question in the form of employment, so they should be excempt.
"The MNC are gaming the parliamentary system and knowingly exploiting weaknesses in the primary system to secure some level of centralized administration, the system of taxation, to a point where government and democratic institutions are threatened from within."The privelege of tax excemption, however, is usually not an option for merely national companies, and far from viable for small business owners or, say, private households, which in the economic perspective can be viewed as small independently operating economic entities.
The Reality of Atlas Shrugging
The rule is the same for everybody, except for those who are so powerful they can threaten the governments to remove their investments from the country that pursues full tax accountability - which the company spokesmen actually do.
The governments turning tail in the face of such overwhelming economic extortion is a clear signifier of a 21st century battle that far outweighs the importance of, for instance, the General War on Terror.
From the perspective of the corporate owners and business managers governments must be hindered by all means, including those only marginally related to a conflict between MNC and National Government.
"This is the reality of Atlas shrugging - the willingness and ability, like ancient deities, to impose absolute sanctions not only on their staff, but on society as a whole"This will to apply any means necessary to secure financial interests are well known from conflicts between corporate entities. It is a part of the innate culture of competition, and if it sometimes spill over into illegal conduct - like the industrial espionage in the infamous Pepsi and Coke case - the fundamental principle of competition is still beyond question a healthy aspect of the capitalist production system.
That allowance, however, stops being sensible or even remotely sane, when corporations begin to tamper with governments, treating them like hostile corporate entities that must be brought to their knees or sent out of business.
This is the reality of Atlas shrugging - the willingness and ability, like ancient deities, to impose absolute sanctions not only on their staff, but on society as a whole, which will suffer in either case, whether from the absence of tax money to the fiscal budgets, already strained in almost every Western country, or from the hostile indifference of companies whose only sense of loyalty is to their shareholders.
Avoiding risk and accountability is not capitalism
The War on Government takes place on many fronts, from the courteous lobbyism in the hallways of power over more nefarious public diplomacy conducted through think tanks and media pundits, trying to convince citizens and consumers they are ultimately better off without the welfare benefits that are cut to balance the budgets.
It is done through a general and incremental weakening of governments. In 2000 more than half of the world's largest economies were companies, not nations. The number has changed since then, but still - the power of government to organize society and regulate affairs, including the affairs of businesses and business interests vital to the survival of government and, subsequently, the thrift of nations, is waning.
"In this system the business owners and mangers cannot suffer and cannot be allowed to suffer, even if that risk is the clause they sign their name on when they venture into banking or industry."This is the reason we see weakened governments passing resolution after resolution to curtail the effects of a global financial crisis that essentially came into place, because the US government - somewhat desperately - carried out its responsibility as government to try to secure that the most citizens possible could achieve and manage a reasonable lifestyle: The Sub-prime Mortgage Crisis.
Once again the shifting of blame took place, cleverly, predictably and with the systematic calculations that characterizes the corporate spin machines: The financial crisis was, it was said, a product of the government interfering.
Mismanagement of funds, corruption, ponzy schemes, bail-out money absorbed into the purses of greedy managers, all washed away by the narrative that for the economy to stay afloat the people must suffer. In this system the business owners and mangers cannot suffer and cannot be allowed to suffer, even if that risk is the clause they sign their name on when they venture into banking or industry.
It is capitalism. Avoiding risk and accountability is not.
The Perversion of Natural Human Instincts
It is not even compatible with classical conservative virtues. First of all, even the hard-working laborers of the lower middle-class must reasonably be expected to have some sort of ability to raise a family in their own home.
You can make it an academic question, but most people instinctively and intuitively perceive that it is in the social contract that their life in submission to the state should offer improvements when compared to life in an autonomous state.
Most people automatically and without reflection assume that their purpose in life is to reproduce and, within realistic boundaries, secure the successful succession of their off-spring. That is human nature, and human nature revolts against measures - however legal or legitimized - that curtail their ability to do just that.
"The War Against Government is also a war against its citizens"These are classical conservative premises, archetypical views or paleo-conservative standards consensually passed on through generations in any culture on Earth. The War Against Government is also a war against its citizens, an attempt to pervert the natural order in which humans strive to exist, and to convince people they must suffer and endure oppression created merely for the affluence and extreme privileges of an elite.
The corporate philosophers attempt to submit all human drive to the requirements of their bottom lines, and to change the order of things so that humans exists for the sake of the corporations, rather than the other way around.
That is not conservatism. It does not preserve decency or moral values upon which cultures are built. That is incitement to anarchy, sedition, and for less than good reasons. The revolt against government and the stablishment of corporate anarchy is not in the interest of the people - the common salary workers who are convinced to participate in this frontal assault against good governance have been manipulated to saw off the very branch they are sitting on.
This is not conservatism. This is mafia tactics, where the only thing you can ask is what you know you can otherwise take at the end of a gun.
Without strong governments there can be no good governance. Bad governance is, most often, the product of weakened governments, and cruelty towards its citizens as it is known in many regimes are the symptoms of a latent instability, an overwhelming number of fracture lines in the systems and institutions that eventually brings about the downfall of a governmental structure.
We cannot assume good governance, even in the case of well functioning democratic institutions and reasonably accountable elected politicians, but without these we are certain to suffer. The MNC are gaming the parliamentary system and knowingly exploiting weaknesses in the primary system to secure some level of centralized administration, the system of taxation, to a point where government and democratic institutions are threatened from within.
"...almost everywhere in the West people expect that their public retirement savings will be cut, not least because the economic experts and think tanks groom the populations for it."The latest announcement from the World Bank and IMF predict a dire fate for the world economy as a consequence of the US budget deficit, a deficit claimed to have come into place due to unsound financial decisions by various political administrations.
Similar conditions rule in Europe, and almost everywhere in the West people expect that their public retirement savings will be cut, not least because the economic experts and think tanks groom the populations for it.
Well, all right, but what if the billions or trillions of dollars the companies have over time embezzled from the governments around the world had flowed into the national treasury. The lost amounts would easily account for huge chunks of deficits and allow for significant expansions of the welfare system that, after all, keep people functioning and productive and consuming, all requirements for the corporate machine to run well oiled.
In the end the unchecked greed of MNC, evading the traditional national accountability, may either run out of places to move their operations to, as enough states and leaders of states grow wary of their lack of restraint. Or, they will drive us all down to Hell with them in the style of Richard III - either because they collectively shrug at attempts to reign them in and bring them to good democratic order like any other person or organization or institution in a well regulated society, or because they get away with it, and the economy tumbles.