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Posts Tagged ‘Political Restructuring’

IN Part 8 PRIOR POSTING of ‘AMERICA’S TEN CRISES’ (The Further Corporatization of American Democracy) IT WAS ARGUED THAT THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS WILL LEAD TO AN ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING OF THE US AND GLOBAL ECONOMY, ALREADY UNDERWAY, AND THAT A RESTRUCTURING OF POLITICAL SYSTEMS WILL NECESSARY FOLLOW IN ITS WAKE; FURTHERMORE, THAT POLITICAL CHANGE WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY INCREASING CORPORATE INFLUENCE AND INTERFERENCE IN POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS AND POLITICAL PROCESSES TO ENSURE THE ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING IS IMPLEMENTED IN FAVOR OF CORPORATE INTERESTS. THE NET RESULT WILL BE A FURTHER RESTRICTION OF THE EVEN LIMITED FORMS OF DEMOCRACY IN THE U.S. THE FOLLOWING Part 9 IN THE SERIES THAT FOLLOWS HERE ARGUES BRIEFLY THAT CIVIL LIBERTIES AND RIGHTS WILL ALSO PROVE A VICTIM OF THE SAME ECONOMIC-POLITICAL RESTRUCTURING.

Part 9: AMERICA’s TEN CRISES: (The Further Restriction of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights)

Occurring in parallel with the developments of deeper corporate control over political institutions and processes will be the further restriction of general civil liberties and rights. Forms of Democracy in America cannot be successfully narrowed by corporate interests without the accompanying further restriction of civil liberties and rights. The restriction process accelerated with the imposition of the PATRIOT Act in 2001. That Act was publicized at the time as temporary, but has been continued for more than a decade and, in some cases, even expanded.

Further measures that limit citizen rights of privacy have also expanded over the past decade. It is a quite widespread and common occurrence for the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. military intelligence units (Army, Navy, etc.), and other government agencies to regularly access millions of Americans’ webpages and emails. Government spying on its citizens has been broadened and deepened steadily over the decade.

Wiretaps and cellphone interceptions no longer require normal court orders. Plans for intercepting new forms of social media access periodically arise, reported in the public press. The initially derided Total Information Awareness (TIA) program of Admiral Poindexter that was authorized by the original Patriot Act in 2001-02, has now become an institutionalized fact. Federal budgets for Homeland Security, averaging $40 billion a year over the last decade, have recently been proposed to grow to an average of $80 billion a year for 2012-17, despite the official ending of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the assassinations of virtually all the top Al-Qaeda leadership globally. Much of that $40 billion increase is earmarked for internal U.S. domestic surveillance. Overall defense spending is thus not planned for reduction in 2013; it is just being redeployed to fund other electronic surveillance and cyber warfare measures (now the fifth military command officially, in addition to space, land, sea and air) and redistributed among different departments and parts of the U.S. budget.

The rights of U.S. citizens to assemble and to free speech are also being further restricted, as events involving protests this past spring in Chicago demonstrated. And in what is perhaps the most ominous recent sign of forthcoming plans to further restrict civil liberties, the Defense Authorization Act passed December 2011, signed by President Obama, authorizes the government “to order the military to pick up and imprison people, including U.S. citizens, without charging them or putting them on trial,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In signing the bill, Obama said he did so with serious reservations and pledged not to use it on U.S. citizens without trial. Just as he pledged not to break up immigrant families by deportations, and put bankers who helped cause the economic crisis by fraudulent means on trial, and stop price gouging health insurance companies, and all the rest of the list of broken and shelved campaign promises.

The limitation of rights and liberties is not an isolated development. It is the other side of the coin of limiting democratic activity and expression. And that limitation of Democracy is a reflection of the growing new forms of corporatization of American government and society now being forged to ensure that, whatever new economic restructuring comes out of the current economic crises, measures can be successfully implemented that secure and protect the accumulated wealth of the 1 percent, their corporations, and their institutions in the decade ahead.

Z
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Jack Rasmus is author of Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few, April 2012, published by Pluto Books and distributed by Palgrave-Macmillan in the U.S. His blog is jackrasmus.com and his website is: http://www.kyklosproductions.com. Listen to Jack’s new radio show, ‘ALTERNATIVE VISIONS’, on the progressive radio network, every Wednesday, 2pm, in New York.

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THE FOLLOWING PART 8 OF THE SERIES, ‘AMERICA’S TEN CRISES’, DEPARTS FROM ECONOMICS TO POLITICS. IT ARGUES THE US AND GLOBAL ECONOMIES ARE CURRENTLY IN THE VERY EARLY STAGE OF A MAJOR ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING. THE PRIOR MAJOR ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING WHICH OCCURRED IN THE LATE 1970S-EARLY 1980S, IN RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS OF THE 1970S, SERVED CORPORATE INTERESTS WELL FOR A QUARTER CENTURY. IT IMPLODED, HOWEVER, WITH THE ERUPTION OF THE BANKING AND ECONOMIC CRISES IN 2007-09. TODAY CORPORATE INTERESTS ARE ATTEMPTING TO RESTRUCTURE YET AGAIN. THAT RESTRUCTURING WILL PRODUCE A CORRESPONDING POLITICAL RESTRUCTURING IN THE U.S. AS WELL, IN ORDER TO IMPOSE ‘ORDER’ ON A POPULACE THAT WILL HAVE TO ACCEPT ‘AUSTERITY’ AS PART OF A NEW ECONOMIC ARRANGEMENT. ELEMENTS OF THE NEW POLITICAL RESTRUCTURING ARE ALREADY BECOMING EVIDENT. IT WILL MEAN A FURTHER RESTRICTION OF AMERICA’S ALREADY TRUNCATED FORM OF DEMOCRACY.

Part 8: America’s Ten Crises (The Further Corporatization of American Politics)
As the U.S. economy has continued to falter since 2000, both domestically and globally, the response of corporate America and their political elites has been to prepare to impose more draconian economic measures on the rest of American society to protect their incomes and economic interests.

To successfully implement these more draconian measures, corporations, wealthy investors, and politicians must first deepen their control of the key levers of the political system and its governments. This means the policy-making apparatus of legislatures and bureaucracies, the executive apparatus of presidents and governors, the electoral process, and the opinion-making structures like the broadcast media, Internet, and social media.

Corporate interests in American politics and government has always been significant. However, direct corporate influence was deepened qualitatively and significantly after the 1970s economic crisis as a prelude to the restructuring of the US economy that was introduced in the 1980s (sometimes referred to as ‘Neoliberalism’ or the ‘Washington Consensus’). The economic restructuring of the 1980s served corporate interests well for the next quarter century.

By 2007, however, the 1980s restructuring had run its course and imploded with the global banking crisis of 2008-09, the global recession that followed, and the stop-go faltering recovery that has characterized the US and global economies since 2009 to date.

In the wake of the new global economic crisis, a new attempt by corporate interests to once again restructure the U.S. and global economy has emerged and continues to evolve today, albeit in its early stages. In turn, the new economic restructuring requires a corresponding new political restructuring—one with less democracy—to accommodate the new economy in the making and the new draconian measures for the general public that economic restructuring will require.

The new political restructuring, also in its early stages today, will be built upon drawing the state and government in America closer into the corporate world as part of the new economic and political institutions and arrangements that will be developed over the coming decade.

The recent ‘Citizens United’ US supreme court decision of 2010 is a key element of the political restructuring, unleashing corporate money power to reframe American government, political institutions, and political processes even further in its interests. Longer term, other indicators of immanent political restructuring are also becoming increasingly evident. A short list include:

• more corporate direct funding aimed at takeovers of state governorships

• the further destruction of public employee unions, targeting first and foremost their influence over state and local governments

• widespread attempts to restrict voter registration, introducing new forms of poll taxes, and limitations on voter eligibility

• the ALEC phenomenon of billionaire-financed deeper influence of states and local government legislative agendas and legislative proposals on a national, corporate coordinated basis

• the buying of Congress and state legislatures more directly, by offering them privileged access to corporate investments and securities

• additional measures at state and local levels to further isolate third party challenges, despite a non-parliamentary system of U.S. government that already is strongly biased in favor of a two-wing single party system

• a further tightening of political control over internet and new media forms of communications

• more sophisticated coordination of police actions on a national scale against Occupy movements and other protest movements across the country

• increasing restrictions on public assembly and public speech at all levels

• the widespread introduction of drones in U.S. cities and even on U.S. college campuses, both already occurring in early stages, as means of more effective control over public protests and assemblies

With just two months to go until the November 2012 elections, two elements in particular indicating a growing corporatization of politics and government in America have become increasingly evident.

The first is the unleashing of billionaires and their bottomless pockets to buy and influence voters to support the candidates in the coming November 2012 election they have put forward and de facto financially. The flood of money involved will never be known exactly but it will amount to billions of dollars. The full impact of this is indeterminable, but will become somewhat more evident following the November elections. But it will change American politics and America’s already muted form of democracy significantly.

A second element is being quietly implemented behind the scenes and its impact also will not be fully known, even after the November elections. That is the flow of massive amounts of cash to prevent those who might vote against corporate preferred candidates from casting their votes.

The dual ‘epicenters’ of this money-funded effort to prevent popular votes will be the states of Ohio and Florida—two states already with a history of voter prevention in the last three national elections. The apparatus for vote suppression is already there; the massive money flows will now expand and fund the task as never before.

Whoever wins both Florida and Ohio in the coming November elections wins the election, given the archaic and undemocratic system of electoral college voting in the U.S. that ignores the popular vote. The popular vote in America is irrelevant in even remotely close elections. What matters is the electoral college votes in just 8 ‘swing states’, of which Florida and Ohio are the largest and together the key to the election outcome.

Corporate money is therefore now flowing into these states in massive amounts, both to convince those who might vote for corporate candidates to do so, and to prevent from voting those voters who most likely will not vote for corporate America’s interests and agendas.

America has entered a new political space in national politics, but yet does not know it.

These multiple developments—reflections and harbingers of a growing corporate domination of American politics and democracy—represent something more than just the normal development and evolution of political institutions and practices. They represent a pro-active, planned, broad attempt by corporate interests in America to further restrict even the remaining muted forms of democracy and democratic participation that exist in the U.S. today. They represent a new and aggressive corporate attempt to dominate political institutions and processes unlike ever before, that is in large part a direct consequence of the economic crisis that erupted this past decade and continues.

The new economic restructuring underway will bring forth an inevitable new political restructuring—and most of average Americans may not understand their full significance, or like what either has to offer.

Jack Rasmus, copyright September 2012

Jack is the author of the 2012 book, “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few”, available at discount on this blog and online and in bookstores. He is he host of he new forthcoming radio show, TURNING POINTS, on the progressive radio network starting 2pm (New York time) wednesday, September 19, and every wednesday thereafter. His website where his other articles and TV-radio interviews may be heard is http://www.kyklosproductions.com.

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