Jake Gittes: How much are you worth?
Noah Cross: I have no idea. How much do you want?
Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million?
Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!
Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?
Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future. Now, where's the girl? I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Jake Gittes: Who do you blame for that? Her?
Noah Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of ANYTHING.
Scene from "Chinatown", 1974What would the dystopian Kochevik Future look like?
We might be able to suss out some of the outlines of it from their own works, the works and politicians and policies they've supported, and from the dynamics of their Koch's own business empire, but the fact is that their Future Vision -- whatever it is -- is kept carefully veiled from view by the masses.
One can be sure that is deliberate.
And let's make no bones about it. There is every sign that the Kochs and their many field workers fully intend to seize the government, if they can't seize it, then buy it, and if that doesn't work, they'll simply absorb it. All in due time. When the opportunity arises. And that may be much sooner than we think.
Communism and Stalinism had much more of an influence on Kochevism than they or their followers are willing to admit.
The concept of Creative Destruction is a key to understanding how the Kockeviks see their role in the future. Creative Destruction is a Marxist concept of the nature of capitalist crises. Just like today, capitalist economics was driven forth by the cycles of boom and bust in which wealth was "created" in the boom times and then "destroyed" during the busts and panics. The same sequence would happen over and over again. Always, the costs of both booms and busts were primarily borne by the working classes, and when their situation deteriorated -- as it always did during down times -- the workers were blamed for their sorry fate.
Capitalists themselves were widely admired and they were largely immunized from blame or responsibility for what happened. While the workers suffered under debt peonage, for example, and were blamed for their lot, if there was any acknowledgment at all among the capitalist class that capitalism had anything to do with it, it was an acknowledgment of th Fickle Hand of Fate. Natural law, you see. It's the Business Cycle, and we ought not to interfere with it. "Them that has, gets; them that don't, won't."
Marx observed -- and suffered -- this pattern in England during the mid-19th Century and reported on it with justifiable outrage and contempt.
In the Communist Manifesto, we read:
It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the whole of bourgeois society on trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of existing production, but also of previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions. […] And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.Truer words, and all that. The point being that in order for capitalism to work, it must "create" and "destroy" wealth on a regular and continuing basis. If the working class is ground up in the process, so what? It's how the system works.
Marx, of course, was outraged at the complacency of the bourgeois society of his time that simply thought that this cycle and its devastating effect on the working class, the masses in general, was "natural." Pity, of course, what happened to the many, but... nothing could be done about it.
The Irish Famine comes to mind and what that was all about. But we could recount many famines in Europe and throughout the European colonial empires that all had the same formulation during the 19th Century and beyond -- actually until Empires came to an end. These many famines were asserted to be "natural' but they were almost all the product of deliberate policy decisions in face of temporary disaster to "let Nature take its course." In other words, in almost every case of famine during the heyday of the capitalist era, there was plenty of food available to feed the masses; it was withheld as a matter of policy. Famines were engineered -- and they largely worked -- as a means and method of population control.
[Modest Digression: When Communists gained power in parts of the world, they initially used famines as a weapon of population control as well; they did so for the same reasons capitalists did: it works both to keep people subservient and to reduce the need to feed excess mouths. Win-win, you see. We may observe what's been going on in Haiti since the Earthquake as a modern day experimental laboratory in how to manipulate and maintain control of a deeply vulnerable and grossly suffering population while offering the pretense of "aid." It is a monumental outrage on human dignity and human rights, taking place in real time, right in front of our eyes. And it is a test case for the Future Dystopia, as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been in the United States.]
It's said that the Kochs and their followers have a somewhat different understanding of "creative destruction," one that's derived from the theories of Joseph Schumpeter. As is the case with all the inversions and arbitrary redefinition of terms we've been witness to over the past many years, Schumpeter reverses the polarity and sees "creative destruction" (a term I believe he coined as such) as a Good Thing rather than a Marxist Bad Thing, because in his view the process of creation and destruction that is fundamental to capitalism is the source of the innovation that is so highly characteristic of flourishing capitalist societies -- and more than a few decadent ones.
This inverted version of Marxist "creative destruction" is widely celebrated today, particularly in Libertarian circles, and most visible on the Internet where (for example) Blogger Triumphalism in the face of declining or disappearing newspapers and other mass media and constant criticism of that media is de rigueur. Every "loss" in the Traditional Mass Media is counted as a "win" in the Internet Alternative Media. As the Traditional Mass Media declines, the Internet Alternative ascends.
But there are other examples, one of them being the constant assaults from the right and from so-called "progressives" on the personalities and in many cases on the institutions of Government itself. It's all part of the "creative destruction" of which Marx, Schumpeter, and the Kochs speak (with the harmonizing choruses of the Libertarian Amen Choir filling in the background), and for the Kochs, especially, the "creative destruction" of Government is the most rewarding in the end.
As Noah Cross says: he does what he does -- Evul though it may be -- for control of "The Future." So it was then, so it is now.
Yet what is his Future Dystopia? What is it he really wants? And is it all bad? If you're familiar with Los Angeles, then you see it live and in action. The city and its suburbs as they are today are the physical, social and in many ways political direct descendants of what the Noah Crosses of the region wanted when time was. It isn't all bad, and it isn't all good. Many people are still dazzled by the glamour of it all. But scratch just a little beneath the surface, and it gets very ugly, very fast. And for more and more Angelenos, as the economy continues its tailspin for the masses, the ugliness is right on the surface, no gloss of Glamour at all.
In Part 2, I'll try to get into more detail regarding what the Kochevik Dystopia is all about.
Prelude: Think 1984 (Inverted)