Bain & Gain
“We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod of earth unless he surrendered to his lord a fourth of his crop. We call those the barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.” –Peter Kropotkin
“Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” After all, the “free market” isn’t completely rigged, now is it? Trillion-dollar companies paying zero taxes and having their employees receive so little pay they must turn to public services and welfare to make up for it is just the market at work! It’s a moral failing more than anything else that explains why wages have stagnated and even declined coinciding exactly with mass low-skill Third World immigration. It’s the buck-toothed hillbillies failing to embrace cosmopolitanism and not learning to code that from Maine to Minnesota hollowed-out former mill towns and industrial centers grapple with opioid addiction, depression, suicide, and, oh yeah, Somalis throwing their children off balconies at the mall or stabbing them to death while they go for a leisurely walk through the park. That’s their fault. It’s not that capital gains are taxed at half the rate of labor. It’s not that in addition to the torrent of aliens suppressing wages domestically, scores of American jobs have been shipped overseas. It’s not the gas taxes that hit the middle- and working-classes the hardest. It’s not the corporations bringing in H-1B visa holders and making you train your cheaper replacements before firing you. It’s not federally-underwritten student loan debt or compound interest, it’s you. As George Monbiot writes:
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power. Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit… Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident.
This “country” is in effect nothing more than an asset in the portfolios of the major global financial institutions and multi-national corporations. Citizenship is a quaint anachronism at best, an obstacle at worst, to the shareholders. Distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” immigration, both for their purposes and ours, is irrelevant. By accepting the premises of Cultural Marxism, many conservatives have unconsciously imbibed this contrived paradigm, with its emphasis on power dynamics and, therefore, “competition,” which has served to legitimize neo-liberal economics to the point of religious belief. For liberals, their overt acceptance of Cult-Marx doctrine allows for social agitation that merely greases the wheels of neo-liberalism. Millions of contrived “refugees,” who are actually economic migrants and welfare leeches? We owe them a moral debt! Their presence in no way benefits Big Business, it’s all about morality, you see. Liberalism, as it were, is easily corrupted by neo-liberalism, the economic system wearing the mask of liberalism while being anything but liberal. The weaknesses inherent in liberalism are obvious in much the same way as conservatism; both deal primarily with social norms and culture, and have no real ideological immunity to economic cooption, which is then able to twist the extant ideological framework in the service of not just the protection but the expansion of the economic system. Quoting Michael J. Thompson:
Neoliberalism is the intensification of the influence and dominance of capital; it is the elevation of capitalism, as a mode of production, into an ethic, a set of political imperatives, and a cultural logic. It is also a project: a project to strengthen, restore, or, in some cases, constitute anew the power of economic elites. Capital is not simply money, property, or one economic variable among others. Rather, capital is the organising principle of modern society. It should be recalled that, in his Grundrisse, Marx explicitly argued that capital is a process that puts into motion all of the other dimensions of modern economic, political, social, and cultural life. It creates the wage system, influences values, goals, and the ethics of individuals, transforms our relation to nature, to ourselves, and to our community, and constantly seeks to mold state imperatives until they are in harmony with its own. Neoliberalism is therefore not a new turn in the history of capitalism. It is more simply, and more perniciously, its intensification.
Confiscatory taxation of the middle class transfers wealth predominantly to the non-white poor, who are generally low agency, high-time preference, and impulsive, which makes them great consumers. Then, returning to Monbiot, “Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich.” Everything funnels upward to the 1% who then get their nice, tidy tax breaks courtesy of the neo-conservatives. The state is more intermediary, a guarantor of continuous funding and enforcer of compliance than anything else; nations are reduced to subsidiaries—HR departments with an extensive network of intelligence agencies and a lethal and global security force. Not interested in playing the game? Sorry, but that’s not an option. As Charles Eisenstein writes in Sacred Economics:
Debt repudiation is not much of an option for private citizens. For sovereign nations it would seem to be a different matter entirely. In theory, countries with a resilient domestic economy and resources to barter with neighbors can simply default on their sovereign debts. In practice, they rarely do. Rulers, democratic or otherwise, usually ally themselves with the global financial establishment and receive rich rewards for doing so. If they defy it, they face all kinds of hostility. The press turns against them; the bond markets turn against them; they get labeled as “irresponsible,” “leftist,” or “undemocratic”; their political opposition receives support from the global powers that be; they might even find themselves the target of a coup or invasion. Any government that resists the conversion of its social and natural capital into money is pressured and punished. That is what happened in Haiti when Aristide resisted neoliberal policies and was overthrown in a coup in 1991 and again in 2004; it happened in Honduras in 2009; it has happened all over the world, hundreds and hundreds of times. (It failed in Cuba and more recently in Venezuela, which has so far escaped the invasion stage.) Most recently, in October 2010 a coup barely failed in Ecuador as well-Ecuador, the country that repudiated $3.9 billion in 2008 and subsequently restructured it at 35 cents on the dollar. Such is the fate of any nation that resists the debt regime.
Ex-economist John Perkins describes the basic strategy in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: first bribes to rulers, then threats, then a coup, then, if all else fails, an invasion. The goal is to get the country to accept and make payments on loans-to go into debt and stay there. Whether for individuals or nations, the debt often starts out with a megaproject-an airport or road system or skyscraper, a home renovation or college education-that promises great future rewards but actually enriches outside powers and springs the debt trap. In the old days, military power and forced tribute were the instruments of empire; today it is debt. Debt forces nations and individuals to devote their productivity toward money. Individuals compromise their dreams and work at jobs to keep up with their debts. Nations convert subsistence agriculture and local self-sufficiency, which do not generate foreign exchange, into export commodity crops and sweatshop production, which do.
It is telling that one of the seminal figures of Austrian Economics, F.A. Hayek, is on record stating, “My personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.” Curious, isn’t it, that the free market and individualism are always conflated with democracy and liberty, whereas certain controls are always conflated with tyranny and totalitarianism. As Viktor Orban commented on the current state of the European Union:
The argument we can provide to support our assertion that there is an absence of democracy is that in Western Europe censorship and restrictions on freedom of speech have become general phenomena. Working together, political leaders and technology giants filter news items that are uncomfortable for the liberal elite. If you don’t believe this, just visit these websites, visit social media sites, and you’ll see the ingenious and cunning means by which they restrict access to negative news reports on migrants, immigrants and related topics, and how they prevent European citizens from facing reality. The liberal concept of freedom of opinion has gone so far that liberals see diversity of opinion as important up until the point that they realize, to their shock, that there are opinions which are different from theirs. Liberals’ vision of press freedom reminds us of the old Soviet joke: “However I try to assemble parts from the bicycle factory, I end up with a machine gun.” However I try to assemble the parts of this liberal press freedom, the result is censorship and political correctness.
To be fair, this is not an argument in favor of democracy, but rather to illustrate the basic contradictions of neo-liberalism. These contradictions, far from undermining or negating neo-liberalism’s pretensions as a moral ideology rather than simply an economic system, paradoxically reinforce the efficacy of the neo-liberal claims to virtue. This masquerade is of vital importance to the present system, for it cloaks what is at best amoral greed, but which is more often than not tinged with malice, in a shroud of virtue: the mass importation of wage slaves isn’t done to benefit Big Business and the Chamber of Commerce, it is done out of basic human compassion. The deadly and destructive “wars for democracy” serve the same basic interests. This Orwellian phrase is merely pretext for using the state apparatus to knock down any barriers to the free movement of goods and people, for ultimately “liberalization” doesn’t mean more rights—it just means the loosening of mores to buy stuff and go into debt.
What the ruling class really means when they say they are working to “spread democracy” to some foreign land is that their regional particularities and self-determination must be sacrificed in favor of amyl nitrate and sodomy, student loan debt, abortions, sex changes, compound interest, and all the rest of it. This is what constitutes “freedom” in neo-liberalism, so in this sense neo-con warhawks are correct when they say that countries like Iran “hate us for our freedoms.” For George Monbiot:
The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows. Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments.
American foreign policy in large part has less to do with anything pertaining to national security, but rather the advancement of business and financial interests. It is vital to understand this. The state itself is subservient to un-accountable figures who have used the state to further their own aims, and who will discard the state when it is no longer of use. In the interim, the state will be run like a corporation until the entire world is just a handful of multi-nationals and banks, everywhere rendered exactly the same. One favored method as practiced by international conglomerates is the Bain Capital model. Quoting Tucker Carlson:
Bain Capital all but invented what is now a familiar business strategy: Take over an existing company for a short period of time, cut costs by firing employees, run up the debt, extract the wealth, and move on, sometimes leaving retirees without their earned pensions… Meanwhile, a remarkable number of the companies are now bankrupt or extinct. This is the private equity model. Our ruling class sees nothing wrong with it. It’s how they run the country.
Kerry Bolton talks about this—the dismantling of the colonial empires had nothing at all to do with “self-determination,” but rather the old empires of Europe had become a barrier to free trade and the opening up of new markets. When the colonies were granted independence, the white settlers were left exposed and unprotected. While many of these newly-established countries dabbled heavily in Left-wing policy, their decisions were largely based on tribal nepotism and the financing of their internecine wars and other various projects came from Western capitalists. In fact, it did not matter if the new governments nationalized key industries, so long as they belonged to figures outside the globalist establishment; if they did happen to belong to members of the globalist cabal, then intervention was of course necessitated. As Bolton writes in his excellent Babel, Inc.:
In 1974 what [was then] called Zaire served notice on 50,000 non-Blacks that their properties and businesses had been nationalized. Conversely, American Big Business was described as ‘a financial power in the country.’
It is in the name of “liberal democracy” that a country which once had nuclear and space programs has disintegrated into hellish conditions in just a few short decades. Coming on the heels of “majority rule,” Kerry Bolton writes:
Why does a country that had hitherto been so prosperous need to raise capital by selling off its assets? The answer lies in South Africa having been quickly reduced to a basket case, a bottomless economic sinkhole, like every other “decolonized” state on the Dark Continent. The plutocrats who pushed for the destruction of so prosperous a nation apparently had a long-term dialectical plan that seemed, in the short-term, to undermine their profitability. In the long term, however, the impoverishment of South Africa by the incompetence that invariably results from “majority rule” has obliged South Africa to become an open economy operating an ongoing garage sale (my note: read The State of Africa by Martin Meredith for the details of how such a practice of strip-mining assets occurred in basically every “post-colonial” sub-Saharan African nation, often enabled by its own so-called “socialist” governments). But so long as South Africa now has universal franchise and has put the redundant Boer in his place, it matters not to most of the useful idiots of the Left who were merely performing their historic role as lickspittles of Money.
It is in the name of neo-liberalism, not preposterous notions of “democracy” that the United States ferries its military about the globe toppling “totalitarian” regimes. If you look at the US role in Yugoslavia, Syria, and a slew of other conflicts you will see the notion that we fight these wars for freedom for what it is: a cruel joke. At the same time, the Americans never sent troops to aid the forces of anti-Bolshevism—they enabled the Bolsheviks to seize power and turned a blind eye to the flow of capital from Jewish financiers, many of whom were on Wall Street, to Jewish Bolsheviks with the understanding that, in spite of the “communist” nature of the regime, they would have exclusive access to the substantial market of what would become the USSR. Other financiers such as Olaf Aschberg received similar guarantees.
Just as the media uncritically reprints press releases from the ADL and SPLC as “news,” so, too, do lawmakers: in a report published by USA Today, over the past eight years, over 10,000 bills introduced before Congress have been almost word-for-word copies of “model legislation” drafted by various corporations and lobbyists. This doesn’t sound like a government by the people for the people, but rather a government by the plutocrats for the plutocrats. For the corporatocracy, the state has become an anachronism, a barrier to maximal profits. Until it can ultimately be dispensed with, the “private companies” and banks will strip-mine everything we have in the exact vein of Bain Capital and leave us with nothing of any true worth.