Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Corporate Defenders: Are They Necessary? And What -- Ultimately -- Do They Want Anyway?

In the recently released second segment of Glenn Greenwald's interview with Edward Snowden, recorded in Hong Kong in June, Snowden used a couple of locutions that I found instructive as to his motivations.

Quoting from the interview, Snowden says:

(3:03)…they [the government] are applying it [surveillance authority] to the whole society by basically subverting the corporate partnership…

(3:57) …US Government co-opts corporate power to its own ends…
[My emphasis]

I alerted on this kind of talk immediately because it's the kind of thing you hear from Libertarians and their fellow travelers all the time, and this particular way of speaking about the relationship between corporations and government -- that is, "subverted" and "co-opted corporate power" -- may as well be from the Koch Cookbook for Corporate Liberation. 

When I posted about this here and elsewhere, I made the point that he's got it completely backward, essentially inverting reality. The government -- Our So-Called Government -- serves corporate interests and is the creature of its corporate partners, not the other way around. The Government of the United States has long been effectively a wholly owned subsidiary of extremely powerful transnational corporations, and none of us are ever allowed to forget it.

"Step out of line, the man come and take you away..."

Make no mistake, Our Government was serving corporate interests then (in 1968), nearly as much as it is now, as anyone who was aware of the profits being made on the meatgrinder of the Vietnam War knew.

And yet here we see that in SnowdenWorld, it's just the opposite, The All-Powerful Government makes the corporations its bitches and slaves by "subverting" them and "co-opting" their power. That view, in my view, is seriously warped, but it gives us an insight into what's motivating Snowden and what his objectives may be. Snowden's views are aligned with those of Greenwald, who showed himself to be a Corporate Libertarian quite some time ago with his awkward and ham-handed defense of Citizens United and corporate personhood, and -- I would come to learn -- Snowden is aligned with quite a few other Corporate Defenders on the internet and in the digital data industry who apparently really do see themselves and their companies as "subverted" and "co-opted" by government, rather like kidnap or rape victims forced to engage in icky behaviors they otherwise wouldn't do if not for the coercion and imposition of authority upon them by nasty, evil government.

I see.

No. Wait.

This notion of government-evil/corporation-good is bullshit. Complete, utter bullshit. Corporate interests run governments at every level, top to bottom, practically everywhere around the world. There hasn't been an era of greater consolidated corporate control of government in history. Nothing even close to it has been encountered in this country since the Gilded Age, yet here's Snowden and other Corporate Defenders claiming against plain evidence to the contrary that corporate partners don't have enough independence and power, and that they are forced, somehow, to abide by icky government command and control, indeed that they are subverted and co-opted to the will of this Alien Government Thing, and here's proof!

Dude needs to get a grip.

He appears to be caught up in a Corporate Libertarian mindset -- and fantasy -- that I'm surprised to find is shared by so many otherwise rational and even progressive individuals who apparently see government as a kind of Ultimate Evil and corporations -- to the extent they "exist" at all -- as Benign Entities who would Rule Over Us with Loving Grace -- if only they were allowed to do so without the interference of ... (ewww!) government. [And that's only a little bit of hyperbole.]

In arguing these points at FDL yesterday, the Corporate Libertarian separation from reality became quite clear to me, as did the underlying authoritarianism of those who hold this viewpoint.

As I frequently ask of Libertarians: "Liberty for whom? To do what?" They never have an answer, because if they start answering it, the real repugnance and ugliness of their ideals would be revealed. Based on my own experience with Libertarians and their fellow travelers over many years, it has always been part of the Libertarian program to obfuscate and deny their real intentions and to propagandize the ignorant masses into believing in and acting on ideals of "liberty" and policies contrary to their own best interests.

My version of the Libertarian Motto: "I demand the liberty to impose my authority on you."

But this post is not about that. I have written many others that are. This post is about what I see as the end game of Corporate Libertarians, and what is driving Snowden in particular. This post is about the objectives of Corporate Defenders and whether their ideal world is really the world we want to live in now or in  the future.

Greenwald and Snowden said all they wanted was a debate about the kind of world we want to live in; their partisans have ordered the rest of us to confine that debate to the issue of the NSA's surveillance, which has -- not surprisingly -- almost nothing to do with the real debate we need to have.  Which is not to defend NSA's domestic surveillance activities in any way. It is merely to point out that NSA's surveillance activities are hardly the most important matter in the debate over the kind of world we want to live in.

I would say unfettered corporate control of that world is a far more important matter in the debate we should be having, and that is the debate that Corporate Defenders and Corporate Libertarians are anxious to avoid or prevent.

Instead, they aver that there is too much government control of corporations, and that NSA's domestic surveillance activity is the case in point.

In fact, for all intents and purposes, the US Government particularly, and governments throughout the world generally, are the creatures and the servants of corporate interests -- to the exclusion of the public interest at almost all times, almost everywhere.  This is a main reason why so many people are so enraged and rebellious in so many places so much of the time. Hello?

There is not too much government control of corporations, if anything there is far too little. Corporate interest runs roughshod over the public. Corporate interest is the principal business of most governments most of the time. Corporate interest comes first and foremost, and we are near the point where corporate interest is the only interest of government.

But, but, but, but Secret FISA COURT ORDERS!!!! Ayiee! Snowden proved it, did he not?

As I and others have pointed out, FISA court orders to companies providing data to the Surveillance System are functionally eyewash and ass covers for those companies to immunize them from lawsuits by the public for ongoing privacy violations and violations of terms of service.

And here it's important to realize that the Surveillance System is a joint partnership operation by an essentially fused corporate-government. It is not something that has been imposed on an innocent corporate sector by an evil government despite the arguments of Corporate Defenders to the contrary.

So with the Corporate Defenders' premise (of too much government control of corporations) undermined, what is the point of all this hoohah, anyway?

It is, in my view, to so diminish the power and authority of "government" that it literally ceases to exist as an independent entity and becomes entirely -- not substantially, but entirely -- the creature of a global, implacable, and unassailable Corporate-State.

In other words, the end-game, as I see it, is the full privatization of government everywhere around the world, in perpetuity, without let or hindrance, forever and ever, world without end, amen.

And the contest, such as it is, is over which corporate interests will have control of this ideal privatized government, and to some extent how soon it can and will be implemented, with the digital companies demanding primacy and the liberty to extend their reach and power immediately and indefinitely.

That's what this is all about. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Is the coming Corporate World, masterminded and controlled by a handful of digital Super-Corps the kind of world we want to live in?

Let's have that debate.

"All watched over by machines of loving grace."


  1. "I would say unfettered corporate control of that world is a far more important matter in the debate we should be having..."

    Yes, Che.

    Thank you for writing this post. Very clear and succinct. And right on.


  2. Yes, let's have that debate.

    Trouble is, that debate is only allowed to happen on the margins and fringes and in the few academic arenas that haven't been already "synchronized."

    The public debate hardly touches on it...

    Seems we've been here before, eh?

    (But me, succinct? Aiyeee! Thanks Teri!)