"Plutocracy and democracy don't mix. Plutocracy too long tolerated leaves democracy on the auction block, subject to the highest bidder. Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. The name for what's happening to our political system is corruption - a deep, systemic corruption."
- Bill Moyers, "Shades of Howard Zinn: It's Okay If It's Impossible".This lecture, delivered late last year at Boston University by journalist Bill Moyers, is worth reading in full if you are interested in how hypercapitalism is corrupting democracy. If you haven't watched the video I posted a few days ago, go and do that first, then read the lecture. Here's another taste:
"I must invoke some statistics here, knowing that statistics can glaze the eyes; but if indeed it's the mark of a truly educated person to be deeply moved by statistics, as I once read, surely this truly educated audience will be moved by the recent analysis of tax data by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. They found that from 1950 through 1980, the share of all income in America going to everyone but the rich increased from 64 percent to 65 percent. Because the nation's economy was growing handsomely, the average income for 9 out of 10 Americans was growing, too - from $17,719 to $30,941. That's a 75 percent increase in income in constant 2008 dollars.I am increasingly convinced that ecological problems cannot be separated from economic, political and spiritual ones. Unless we face the reality of the hyper-rich largely running a political system that oversees an economic model designed to extract maximum profits at whatever price in which the majority willingly participate through hope of sharing in a life of more stuff, then no amount of technological fixes will paper over the cracks we are causing in creation.
"But then it stopped. Since 1980 the economy has also continued to grow handsomely, but only a fraction at the top have benefited. The line flattens for the bottom 90% of Americans. Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years. That's wage repression."
And so the corrupting influence of corporate money (both directly through campaign contributions and indirectly through the perceived necessity of bowing down to "the economy") on mainstream western media and (generally) both sides of politics in various countries means that our ecological woes are largely suppressed (unless they can be quantified in reduced profits).
I do apologise for posting repeatedly on the USA. It is not that there are no local expressions of the same phenomena in nations where I live or hold citizenship (nor significant differences), simply that the USA is a picture of the global predicament.
Image by CAC.