Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Cyberpunk World: Financial Theocracy and the Coming Fall of the Corporate Empire

The article: "Is There a Global War Between Financial Theocracy and Democracy?" by Les Leopold, Alternet

Read this entry's linked article, and then you'll better understand my answer to Leopold's question: as a matter of fact, the financial industry is waging a never-ending war against government as such and the people in general. He calls it "financial theocracy"; I call it Corporatism and define it in blunt terms as the synarchy of the banksters. By nuking all the national currencies they can, they're not just trying to bend governments to their will, they're trying to destroy government altogether. It's like in the cyberpunk science fiction canon of 1980-92, in which predatory corporations have entirely replaced government. But the first-generation cyberpunk writers were being either pessimistic or cynical. I consider this hoary cyberpunk convention to be a mistake, and in Spanner I intend to correct it.

That's right. The global financial oligarchy intends to abolish traditional government altogether and replace it with...a cartel of megabanks. People would not be "governed" by states but "managed" — or, in a return of bad old slavery, owned outright — by corporations. In fact, the definition of "government" is about to be changed: it will soon designate a corporation whose purpose is controlling people. Law applies only to the peons; the "superior" people whose money is their essence, of course, are above law altogether. And even then, governments may end up being rendered obsolete by "personnel management corporations": your official identity will not be your "nationality" (i.e. your ownership by a nation-state) but the corporation you either work for or are "managed" by. You know "personnel management corporations" as temp agencies: they rent laborers to other corporations.

Let's spend a paragraph on the personnel management issues raised by by temp agencies. Permanent employment is now comparable to tenure for a university professor. That is, it's a privilege being increasingly restricted to a privileged few. To swipe an organizational concept from George Orwell (who in turn borrowed it from the totalitarian political parties of the 20th century), if corporate executives are the "inner party" of Corporatism, permanent employees are the "outer party". Permanent employees, including executives and researchers, are considered valuable enough to be subject to "headhunting" by recruiters, as if they were star athletes. The plot of William Gibson's cyberpunk classic, Count Zero, revolves around such a "headhunt". The implication is that in the near future people will be bought and sold exactly like trading cards, with their near-worthless "commons" and coveted "valuables". In fact, professional athletes are treated in exactly such fashion by their teams. Soon, everybody will be treated like that, once the banksters get all those pesky governments out of the way. Personnel will not even be "employed" — that term implies that they are independent rational actors who rent their labor to employers in return for payment in wages. Unions, which will soon be forbidden, force corporations to think like that. Soon workers will be bought, sold, and traded; if they are or become "defective" for any reason however arbitrary, they then become easily discarded. "Retirement" and "termination" will become synonymous with assassination, as in Blade Runner.

This is what the socialists mean by "neofeudalism". It is central to the social organization of Corporatism and a hallmark of the cyberpunk universe.

The nation-state system is being dismantled, and what is replacing it? Corporate socialism, which Ralph Nader defines as "the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct". Like any other state socialism, it depends on central planning to prevent the "chaos" of the free market. The global central planning agencies of corporate socialism are the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. In fact, any government central bank and trade ministry are the same kind of thing. Furthermore, corporatist enterprises have hijacked every government regulatory agency in the world and are using them as protectionist barriers against competition. The result is not a free market and resembles actual capitalism only in the buzzwords. Rather, the result is — surprise! — a planned economy. When an economy is centrally planned, it becomes a closed system governed by the Law of Entropy and inevitably stagnates and collapses. The canonical example is the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The collapse of Corporatism has already begun.

Now I can reveal the big secret of Spanner, which I've left hidden (even from myself) until now. The plot is not "apocalyptic", though it resembles an extended disaster movie. The basis for my plot is the collapse of Soviet Communism. That's because I'm convinced that Euro-American Corporatism is about to suffer the same fate. Except it's worse (and here's where "financial theocracy" comes in: there will be no Euro-American counterpart to Soviet glasnost. There will be no idealistic reformer trying to save the system like Mikhail Gorbachev tried to do. Instead, the hardline conservative coup plotters, like those who overthrew Gorbachev, will succeed in taking over everything. They will even go so far as to set up a religious cult as a means of "divine right" justification and social control. Remember, however, that the Soviet coup plotters succeeded in destroying the Soviet Union altogether. But the banksters already know this, which is why they intend to consolidate their power using the brute force of mercenary corporations.

Murray Rothbard, the Austrian-school economist who founded anarcho-capitalism, thought that a free-market anarchist society would support all sorts of private protection agencies. The mercenary corporations now running amok worldwide, and which will be the enforcement agencies of the Corporatist "new world order", are the grotesque corporate-socialist parody of this notion. No doubt the financial oligarchs will use them to assassinate not just dissidents but those "deluded" economists and entrepreneurs "foolish" enough to put their "faith" in the "heresy" of the free market.

Capitalism and corporatism, as I've pointed out repeatedly, are two completely different things, inherently opposed to each other. Global civilization right now has fallen under the tyranny of corporatism. Even more than ever, Ayn Rand is right when she says that capitalism is an unknown ideal. But the triumph of corporatism raises the question: is capitalism even possible anymore? The banksters are, well, banking that it isn't. They're also assuming that Corporatism is the only system that is possible anymore. Which is the same error the Soviet Communist Party made about their own system. And you know what happened to that.

The fall of Corporatism is bound to be far more violent than the fall of the Soviet Union. The Corporatist oligarchs are already using government military and police forces as mercenary corporations for the purpose of enslaving the workers and crushing all dissent. Once the oligarchs put all the governments out of their (the banksters') misery, they'll use actual mercenary corporations like the infamous Blackwater-Xe and Spanner's own Dictel Corporation for that purpose. Of course, there's a limit to the amount of oppression the people can handle. Sooner or later, the class war between the banksters and the workers will break out in open warfare. Each side will find that their survival requires the total annihilation of the other. In Spanner, this means the Corporate side tries to carry out the "Moravec Plan" and replace humanity with robots, while the populist revolutionaries start assassinating corporations.

You think all this is bizarre? Of course it is. But remember that we're living in the cyberpunk universe that the punk science fiction authors of the 1980s could only dream about on paper...

Back to Spanner’s World...

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