The Corporate State

I have been fond, in an involuntary, Tourretic kind of way, of stating that the Nazis won World War Two.    There is a convincing argument to be made, the Nazis were, after all, on the forefront of many of the innovations now routinely used by those who rule the world today.   I would back this up in a scholarly paper, if there was time, if there wasn’t so much else to do.   (Similarly, there’s a scholarly paper on the shameful history of not only American slavery, and genocide, but the more than century long continuation of these things, under different names, during a reign of violence and mayhem slyly winked at by the Supreme Court.)

Please stop me if I told you this already.    Adolf Hitler, one of the most famous mad men in history, wrote a seldom read (but often purchased) manifesto called My Seven Year Struggle Against the Lying Race Poisoning Traitor Jews and Acchhhh! the Burning Slaver on my Rabid Dog Tongue! Fuck You, I’ll Kill you all, You Fucking Niggers… shortened, by a savvy editor, to “My Struggle” or Mein Kampf.

I tried to read it once.  Each sentence is a page long, with the verb at the very end.  Some sentences are longer and more convoluted.  If a dog with rabies could dictate its thoughts to an idiot with pen in hand (a loyal believer named Rudolf Hess, imprisoned with the future Fuhrer in Landsberg Prison after an unsuccessful putsch in 1923), the book that it produced might be Mein Kampf.  Hitler is reputed to have written a short crystal clear primer on propaganda, included in Mein Kampf, and I began combing through the lice and maggot infested prose to find it.

Et, voila.  The Fuhrer wipes the foam off his lips, takes a breath, and proceeds, in ten or fifteen cogent pages, to tell exactly how it should be done.   Frighten people, appeal to their desire to be protected, tell whatever lies are needed to make them hate, enrage them, focus their rage on enemies they can then be sent to destroy.   His right hand in propaganda, Josef Goebbels, Reich Minister of  Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, was very much down with the program, and an innovator in his own right.

First thing: control every organ of mass media.  Newspapers, radio, film, literature, theatre, put a Nazi sympathizer in  control every where, to root out all non-Nazis.

Second thing:  repeat the bullshit over and over and over.  Where there is no other voice, your explanations, no matter how lame or demonstrably false, will generally carry the day.

Third thing:  find and root out anyone who does not buy the stinking tissue of lies you are selling.  Take these people and make grotesque examples of them.  Nothing like a little dramatic public violence against them to get the attention of other would-be heroes.

I know, you are thinking it is a big, simplistic leap from a group of madmen with a murderous agenda to the super-wealthy leaders of our modern global corporate world.  Certainly the leaders of the oil industry, the financial sector, the global corporations that drive the world economy are not comparable to Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Goring.  Certainly.  Only a hyperperbolist would compare Dick Cheney, let’s say, to Hermann Goring.  If thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, are killed and millions displaced violently advancing the goals of corporations, it’s not as if they PLANNED to murder all these people or did it deliberately.  Big difference, no?

But here’s the thing:  you have a society that values only one thing, they call it “free enterprise” or the “free market”.  The only thing free about it is the freedom of those on top to keep most of the profit it produces.  So instead of a vision of a pure world polluted by those who must be destroyed– Jews, Communists, Freemasons, Homosexuals, Gypsies, People named Dave, you have a vision of a world of abundant but limited resources where the few are entitled to own everything they can acquire, and it is nobody’s problem if most of the world is dispossessed, if children die of hunger, if preventable disease kills millions, if the world itself is destroyed by pollution.

What does the mass media show?  When it presents the issue at all — freedom vs. tyranny and our American Exceptionalism.    Our mass media features distraction, stylized zero-sum competition and advertisements.  The news features stories that excite passion and resist reasonable discussion.    Every view, no matter how idiotic, is presented as being of equal value, thus real debate is stymied in the name of an absurd version of “fairness.”  And then, in case you are actually thinking about any of this,  a loud, attention grabbing word from our sponsor.  While you are watching one show there is an animated crawl on the bottom of the screen, an ad for another show you should watch, but there is no time to squeeze it in with paid advertising, so you cram it into the bottom of the show other sponsors are already paying for.  Lack of campaign finance laws?  No problem, political ads are a boon to television stations that are supposed to serve a public interest function for the privilege of having a broadcast license.  A quaint notion nobody gets excited about any more.  There’s too much money to be made!!!

What happens to those insiders who, at great personal risk, expose the details of and decry the unjust, illegal state of things?  These are no longer considered whistle blowers performing a valuable service to democracy.   We try them as traitors under a 1917 statute created to smash dissent as Woodrow Wilson was gearing up for America’s entry into World War One.  A statute that carries the death penalty.   Nothing gets the attention, or chills the blood, like the possibility that if you lose in court, you will be killed by the state.

I believe it was Dr. Goebbels who stated that the man of the future would be the ‘corporate man.’   A kid in the animation workshop, seeing a picture of Woody Guthrie playing a guitar with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists” painted across it, asked me what a fascist was.   “A facist is someone who wants to control everything that you do,” I told him.  I think that’s right.  Fascists know Best, as the sitcom of the fifties made clear.

I am clearly in a foul mood, otherwise why would I be sputtering this way?   Still, there is something to ponder in this:  we are living in a corporate state with all that entails.   President Obama has said from the beginning that it will require millions pushing him to enact any kind of progressive agenda.  What he didn’t say, because he is a smart man and a skilled politician, is that it will require many, many millions to push back against the prerogatives and privileges of those very wealthy persons and entities who funded his insanely expensive election campaigns.  How much say does your $20 contribution buy, compared to a plate that cost someone $5,000?

As every citizen of a corporate state knows: you get what you pay for.  Sometimes.


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