A New Kind of Power

There is a comfort in capitalism and knowing the motives of its participants. Adam Smith is famous for his metaphor of the invisible hand. He argued that if we all acted in our own best interests, then society's greater interests would be served as well. In capitalism, self-interests are described by the profit motive as each of us seeks to achieve the greatest profit. We have learned since the days of Adam Smith that although the economy works this way, in real life humans are motivated by a wide variety of factors of which self-interests and the profit motive play a small part.

In politics we can see the economic incentives playing out as corporate interests hedge their bets between parties and candidates, so they can receive the greatest benefit. Even if they know a candidate does not fully support the issues that benefit the donor's interests the most, they may still contribute to the candidates campaign so they may benefit from the candidates success in an election. In a strange way, this incentive gives us comfort knowing that corporations can still support candidates with interests that favor the majority and not the market, because they realize the people who vote are not in full support of their profit-driven agenda. Thus, we see the corporations and large donors filling the campaign vaults of the democratic candidates for the 2008 election in full knowledge that after eight years of the Bush administration, there is little chance the American people will choose another term for a Republican administration.

Although far from perfect, in some ways it is better than the alternative. Many people like to point out that economics and capitalism fail to portray the more beneficial aspects of human behavior. Any human that was only motivated by their own self-interest and strictly made decisions based on the profit motive would be institutionalized as a sociopath. Corporations, which legally are treated as individuals, are described as psychologically unstable and a danger to society because of its single-minded devotion to profits over all other motivations. However, human nature also has even a darker side than the profit seeking individual oblivious to the greater interests of humanity.  The profit seeking corporation can be seen as standing in the way of power to these darker forces.

During Eric Prince's testimony to Congress he described himself as not interested in finances and anyone who knew him well could testify to this. Aside from the fact that as a man who comes from big money he never had to worry about finances, we can see that this also reveals a man who represents the darker forces of humanity. Eric Prince has never hedged his bets. He is from a wealthy family tied to other families of wealth who only support radical right wing neoconservative and radical Christian objectives. As an observer of American politics, Prince is not satisfied with the slow shift to the right resulting from corporations hedging their bets while prefering candidates that will put money in their pockets at the expense of the peoples. Prince sees a danger of a populace that will feel disenfranchised and will never be fully immersed in the Radical Christian ideology that sees the world in terms of good and evil.

Under Princes views there can be no hedging. We are in a war with the dark forces of the world represented primarily by the Muslim ideology. Previously, it was a war with the communist forces of Satan, but no matter, Satan frequently shapeshifts and can reveal himself under new guises depending on the times. There is no time to hedge your bets under Princes ideology and we must be prepared to meet the darker forces and battle these forces in the name of Good and fundamentalist Christianity. A military that is at the mercy of congress is a military that will never be fully prepared for this battle. I joked about this being the plot of a great science fiction novel, previously. I am not one to make predictions and I am humble enough to know that random events are much more influential to the forces of history than any other conditions. However, this trend towards the privatization of the military that has created a private military capable of overflowing the majority of governments in the world and that continues to grow, has the necessary ingredients for disastrous results.

There is a realization that we cannot keep funding the Iraqi war or even our bloated military forever. There are rivalries between the branches of the military over the funding of new weapons systems as well as the role each branch will play in the future battlefields across the board. We have heard concerns over the growing influence of radical Christians at focal positions in the Air Force and the Army. As these rivalries grew, it became obvious to some that the military needed restructuring. This restructuring has be done by neocons over the past eight years and has left the military power in new private hands with an ideology that is not represented by the majority of Americans.

Some may want to point out the forces on the left that have contributed strictly to liberal and democratic candidates such as Unions or Moveon.org. I concede that these forces used to be a counter force to the forces on the right devoting their financial contributions strictly to right-wing and republican candidates. But, these powers on the right now have there own military that should bring cause for concern to all. Can you imagine if a similar force was funded and led by the left.  What ff George Soros started his own security firm and began to get contracts under the next Clinton Administration? What would the right wing be saying and how long would it be before he was tied to terrorism and the war broke out between Blackwater and Soros firm [See, it is a great plot]? A more likely scenario will be a General on the battle field voicing the concern that Blackwater has made American soldiers larger targets for insurgents. This General might also feel slighted by his diminsished pay compared to Blackwater employees. A back alley war between Blackwater and American forces might result through the withholding of intelligence, funding of insurgents, negligence of duty, etc. Then it is only a matter of time before this war spreads home.

Obviously, my imagination is too active and this is likely to play out over a longer period of time for us to notice this drift toward Tyranny in America we are presently in. But, as unsettling as many of the impacts of the Bush administration has been on Democracy in the US, the privatization of military services is the most concerning and should be the red flag to us all that the empire will soon turn its violent hand against the citizens on the mainland as these armies increasingly come rushing to aide in disaster relief and urban unrest that is likely to increase over the coming years. I think I might prefer the profit-motive to these darker forces on the horizon.

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    Two great successive diaries! (none / 0) (#1)
    by tnthorpe on Sun Oct 07, 2007 at 10:05:38 PM EST
    In line with the reflections in the post, I recommend Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. She makes the argument with a  wealth of detail that capitalism thrives on crisis, that it manufactures crises-from Chile to the neglect of New Orleans-where, as we all know, Blackwater was in its element.
    Along more general lines, Robert Brenner's The Economics of Global Turbulence documents how capitalism is susceptible to cycles of boom and bust in the context of an overall decline in profitability since the 1960s. Capitalism constantly creates social dislocation--downsizing, offshoring, giant wage and wealth disparities between workers and ceos. Who is going to benefit from that ongoing economic process?
    What I really like about this post is that you clearly show what a threat these private armies are to our form of government, especially when linked to the reactionary Christian worldview of folk like Prince. Jefferson distrusted standing armies as an instrument of tyranny, what would he say about an army that hires domestic mercenaries, much less the maintenance of a private army unaccountable to elected officials?

    TNT, (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peaches on Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 04:38:06 PM EST
    Thanks for the complements. I share your concerns and I Shock Doctrine is on order. I will look at Brenner. He sounds interesting.

    I think the problem with criticizing capitalism is that most people believe you must be advocating a Soviet style socialism as if there are only two choices for economic systems instead of an infinite number of human adaptations to changing conditions. The problem is that the global market place has destroyed imagination and given us less choice.

    The irony.


    The right (none / 0) (#3)
    by tnthorpe on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:48:48 PM EST
    to imagination is really the right to imagine something different, beginning in the here and now and working toward the then and there. It is ironic that so much about globalization can suppress the imagination.
    On the other hand...
    Re-imagining Democracy Through Art
    Art and Political Memory
    A global art space, Island6, that displays art about the politics of globalization

    Off topic a bit, but creativity is resistance. Like the students of May '68 said, boredom is counter-revolutionary.