February 24, 2014

Corporatism and Globalization: The Context of the TTIP and TPP


Perhaps the best way to prove the tyrannical intentions of the globalizers is to start with their own words. If we look at the manifestoes and comments issued by the various business consortiums, industry groups, and individual corporations, we find the unvarying demand that all government action be subordinated to the corporate profit prerogative, and that no other value be allowed to interfere with this.
This is why I call corporations and their intent totalitarian. My definition of this term: A powerful person or entity is relentless in pursuit of an imperative, at every moment wants to enforce the domination of that imperative to the fullest extent possible, and refuses to recognize the right of any other value to exist at all. A totalitarian may or may not be willing to “tolerate” the existence of something purely extraneous. But where there’s any conflict between the corporate domination imperative and any other value, it’s taken for granted there can be no compromise. The non-corporate value must submit, if necessary to the point of its own extinction. As the historical record makes clear, this is true of all human values – health, happiness, prosperity, culture, tradition, religion, morality, simple human decency and fairness. None of these can coexist with corporations. In the long run these must all go extinct, if corporatism continues to exist.
One of the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist is that this fact of the impossibility of coexistence is most clearly demonstrated in the case of agricultural poisons, where the unrelenting, uncompromising assault contaminates not just every economic and political aspect it touches, but goes the farthest in extending its indelible physical corruption to every physical medium – the soil, the water, the air, the wild plants and animals, the cultivated crops and livestock, our own bodies.
But the same phenomenon is general across all corporate sectors, which is why every kind of thinker, writer, and activist, however much one may want to resist this choice, will in the end have to choose between humanity, and therefore corporate abolition, or a total corporate domination which will destroy whatever it is one values. Many, certainly most established NGO types, seem already to be making their choices, though in a sense it’s an early day as yet. We must not succumb to one of the standard pathologies of progressives, that of demanding instant gratification.
In particular, there’s the pathology that any idea which can’t be boiled down to running candidates in the next election (and not just monkey-wrenching, gridlocking anti-corporate candidates, but affirmatively “good”, policy-intending ones, no less) is bad, “impractical”, objectionable, offensive, certainly to be rejected. We need to be aware that we’re in this for what from the point of view of a human life is the long haul. We’re not likely to see the abolition of corporations, perhaps not even of GMOs, in our lifetimes. (Well, at over 40 I’m not likely. Perhaps someone half my age may live to see it.) I’m clear that I was put here to be a writer, to express these ideas as well as I can, to broadcast them as far as I can, and leave it to people to use these expressions (not the ideas themselves, which can only coincide or not with the drive of the people; no one can ever convince anyone of anything they don’t already feel) in whatever way people find good.
And so back to the analysis of globalization as an economic and anti-political offensive being carried out by corporatism toward the goal of total domination. By economic and anti-political I mean that the goal is total domination through total economic domination, while all real manifestations of politics are to be suppressed completely. (The neoliberal phony semblance of “politics” – sham elections, nominal constitutional rights and so on – may continue for some time.) Power will be exercised at the command of corporate oligopoly sectors, by executive government bureaucracies and extranational globalization tribunals, and increasingly, directly by the corporations themselves.
The policies business wants encoded in the TTIP and TPP and enforced by governments and World Bank tribunals provide a clear picture of what these persons are. They’re nominally “businessmen” seeking “profit”. They’re really political and economic totalitarians seeking total power and control. They seek this under the rubric of business ideology, and using the corporation as their basic mode of organization. But any large corporation is not really trying  to provide a good/service and make a profit, but is rather a power-seeking organization using its particular economic sector as its base of operations. It seeks to attain total power within that sector and use that economic base to assert political domination as extensively as possible.
I was about to say, “just because it’s not overtly political, the way a de jure political party or political pressure group is, doesn’t make it any less the same kind of organization.” But in fact anyone who pays attention to corporate actions knows they’re every bit as openly political as any non-profit, de jure political group. Corporations and their trade groups describe and disseminate political principles, devise political strategies and carry them out, lobby nominal politicians and regulators. There’s really no such thing as a lobbyist-politician dichotomy, but only two political activists talking to one another. In every way corporations are organizations which seek political power. The only difference is that under representative democracy a de jure “party” is the kind of organization which runs someone called a “candidate” for a particular type of political office, while corporations are bureaucracies, identical in a de facto way to nominal government bureaucracies like the USDA or FDA.
Under the conditions of complex globalized economies real power naturally tends to accumulate with the bureaucracies, and whether these are nominally “public”, like the USDA, or nominally “private”, like Monsanto, makes no difference. Even an executive office-holder like a US president, let alone a legislator, would need to powerfully exert himself to alter this bureaucracy’s inertia in any significant way. Indeed, only revolutionary regimes have been able to do so. But then that could be a definition of a revolutionary government under modern conditions: A government whose leaders want to alter significantly the inertial trajectory of the bureaucracy. This is hard to do for a nominal government bureaucracy. For a private one like a corporation, it may be impossible unless the corporation wants to alter itself. Since under no circumstances would a corporation want to do this at the behest of a bottom-up people’s movement, it follows that while a people’s movement in theory may think of seizing the reins of government and altering the trajectory of government bureaucracy, such a movement can logically think only of abolishing corporations.
Still, if one wants to continue with complex commodification and globalization, one must accept the domination of bureaucracy in one form or another. The whole question becomes simpler if we understand that commodification and globalization as such are unnecessary for prosperity and undesirable from any human point of view. If we then seek not just to abolish corporations but to abolish all supply-based planned economy and restore purely demand-based economies, we can think of dispensing completely with bureaucratic rule. We can even think of having a choice among various forms of direct or assembly-based democracy.
Those are questions for another time. Under today’s conditions centralized representative government is not and cannot be anything but a sham. Neoliberalism has been, among other things, the art of perfecting the aesthetics, emotional manipulation, and intellectual astroturfing potential of this sham. It hasn’t just enlisted the mass media, the entertainment industry, the arts, the law, academia, the scientism ideology and scientific establishment, and the twin bourgeois ideologies of conservatism and liberalism, all of which would have happened anyway. It has convinced these adherents and practitioners to accept corporate rule as veritably a law of nature, something never to be questioned or even noticed, even in thought, and brought all these realms to the most potent level of marketing appeal to the atomized mass. All this is just the facade of power and culture.
Real power is inertially in the hands of the bureaucracies, “public” and “private”. But of course bureaucracies don’t just passively receive and use the power which economic structures deliver to them. On the contrary, globalization is a planned economy. It’s been planned by those same bureaucrats toward the goal of permanently increasing and expanding their power. Going back to the rise of imperialist ideology and corporate lobbying in the 19th century, corporatism has relentlessly and with ever greater self-consciousness and intentional focus sought to build this command economy. (I won’t here get into the history of where corporatism came from in the first place, but I wrote extensively about it here and here.)
This reached a new level of aggressiveness in the post-war time, and especially since the end of the Cold War. NAFTA and the “trade” pacts based upon it have comprised the state of the art in post-Cold War globalization offensives. Today the TTIP and the TPP propose to expand the NAFTA model from North America across both oceans to encompass Europe and the Pacific Rim under a single corporate umbrella, turn the Atlantic and Pacific into ponds upon one big corporate park, use this power position to overawe Latin America and ruthlessly subjugate Africa, and to crush what’s left of the substance of democracy and economic self-determination in every country encompassed, including America and the EU.
The twin bureaucratic structures, corporate and regulatory, understand this mission well. They see total power within their grasp. Today they’re gearing up to reach for it. The coupled mechanisms of the globalization compacts through which they intend to attain the totalitarian goal are “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) and “regulatory coherence”. The former is a direct assault on democracy, civil society, and politics as such, as well as being a massive corporate welfare conveyor. The latter is a formula for total bureaucratic Gleichschaltung (coordination). More specifically, it’s a plan to fully and formally institutionalize the subservience of government bureaucracy to corporate bureaucracy, and to fully rationalize the processes of this subservience.
In subsequent posts on this I’ll relate the corporate plan for regulatory coherence in the corporations’ own words, relate the echo as it has come back from the governments and regulators, and do the same for ISDS. That’ll bring us to the EC’s upcoming, much-hyped “consultation” on ISDS with the people of Europe. Throughout, my examples will focus on GMOs and the GMO cartel. But this sector is not only extremely aggressive, but in principle is typical of them all. So the same description and the same kind of examples will apply in all other powerful sectors. Because the GMO cartel’s obsession with kicking down Europe’s door is at the core of the US government’s goals for the TTIP/TAFTA, I’ll naturally be focusing on the Atlantic side. But the TPP has the same provisions and the same goals.
Next up – the “regulatory coherence” wish lists and strategic plans of the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, and the GMO cartel.



  1. Russ you’re scaring me. Intelligent, thought provoking and scary. Scary only because what you are suggesting is actually happening. On the path to Equilibrium…a totalitarian society unless the public wakes up.

    Comment by TotalHealth (@TotalHealthMag) — February 24, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    • They’re sure going to try to get there, and have a good chance of succeeding if the people don’t stop them.

      Comment by Russ — February 24, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

  2. Excellent post Russ. I’ve had some success explaining to people how corporations are artificial extensions of the central state, but when the idea of totally abolishing corporations is brought up, the eyes begin to glaze over . We were all born into the corporate dominated world like crack addicts who have been told that crack is healthy, so for many people, imagining anything outside of it is cognitively challenging. They assume the computers we type on and (all) modern technologies disappear (some of them need to go anyway, right?)…. and if you look around the average ‘middle-class’ person’s home, it is entirely made up of, and filled with corporate produced materials, appliances and goods.

    Most of these folk have not gone deep enough down the rabbit hole to understand all the things going on under the establishment surface because they’re busy running around earning establishment tickets (money) in order to stay alive…but I’m finding more and more of them are starting to lean over and take a peak. I guess I’m looking for a gentle and simple way to educate that ‘no corporations’ does not mean you have to have the particular skill set to live like Robinson Crusoe or that there is no commerce and we all will have to regress to caveman living. How do you paint this picture for them to deconstruct the typical either/or bifurcation reflex? Do you refer to relocalized/resource-based economies as possible alternative visions? I would appreciate any suggestions.

    Comment by Pete — February 24, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

    • Yeah, because I dont wanna give up my Amazon Prime account. I’m not a barbarian.

      Comment by Crowbird — February 24, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

    • Ultimately people will need to relocalize our economies since the decline of cheap fossil fuels will make it necessary. This, aside from any changed political choice, will enforce a pendulum swing away from this extreme of a supply-based command economy and back toward an economy based to a much larger extent on regional demand. So to the extent people do prefer and choose this movement, they’ll have an advantage, and in that sense alone we can argue that the de-corporatizing and decentralization of economic power will lead to greater prosperity.

      But even in the shorter run it’s clear that corporate power is economically degrading us, stealing from us the abundant wealth our work and nature produce, putting us in a state of economic and psychological siege. That’s increasingly the position of the Western middle class, including its workers.

      Even given the capitalist framework, abolishing the corporate form would render the entire economy far more rational and efficient. Since it would remove the government-created barrier between business profits and business risk, it would force business to undertake only the more reality-based, truly productive projects, and render anything like corporate welfare more difficult to distribute, since politicians would then have to hand the money overtly to individual businessmen. Without corporate bureaucracies extracting so much wealth for their own maintenance and to be looted for personal use (“looting” in the Akerloff sense), a monumental parasite will be lifted from the economy. Abolition would also reduce the level of business-based crime, since it would remove the government-created legal barrier between managers and their crimes. Of course there’s always been a difference between law for the powerful and law for the people, but there’s seldom been such de jure segregation as we have today, where corporate cadres are granted immunity for most crimes in the most formalized legal sense.

      So we can make that argument in the “reform” context. As always, I say that abolitionism isn’t intrinsically a radical prescription, but a reform one. It’s only the extreme radicalism of today’s corporatism which renders abolition relatively radical.

      Like I said in the post, I don’t think any of this will “persuade” people who don’t want to be persuaded yet. My own goal in saying these things is to broadcast the ideas, toward the goal of the ideas being widely known already, even if hitherto rejected, when the time comes where people are ready to stop rejecting them.

      Comment by Russ — February 25, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

  3. Speaking of corporations being undeniably political, its not even a “secret” anymore. My jaw dropped on this one; “Many large corporations with a strong incentive to influence public policy award bonuses and other incentive pay to executives if they take jobs within the government. CitiGroup, for instance, provides an executive contract that awards additional retirement pay upon leaving to take a “full time high level position with the US government or regulatory body.” Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, the Blackstone Group, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust and Northrop Grumman are among the other firms that offer financial rewards upon retirement for government service.” http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/20/obama-admin%E2%80%99s-tpp-trade-officials-received-hefty-bonuses-from-big-banks/

    Comment by Crowbird — February 24, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

    • That’s a great example of how the corporations see the revolving door as going in both directions, and how many of them see taking a government bureaucratic position as an extension of one’s same corporate career.

      Comment by Russ — February 25, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

  4. […] of the world’s economies and governments. As discussed before, the TTIP and TPP are the latest maneuvers in this corporate grab for power, wealth, and resources. Any last vestiges of environmental […]

    Pingback by Dying Under the Spell of the American Dream | Collapse of Industrial Civilization — February 25, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  5. I copied this directly from Elizabeth because she said it so well. : ” I’ve become aware that the economy is basically a form of control. Keep everyone slaving away so they don’t have the time or energy to take control of their lives, provide for themselves, just keep them in fear of losing the tiny little piece of pie that they have. As for the poor, they can just die. ” How do we get the masses to unplug , to stop participating in the rat race. We’re all trapped in the illusion of going somewhere until we realize we’re not really going anywhere and unplug and go back to smaller groups of people cooperating for the betterment of the group. My own situation, we think we need a job, so we need a car , new & reliable enough to get us to the job, most of what we make goes to pay for the car ( that is worn out by the time it’s paid for ), fuel maintenance and insurance for said car. What dribble of dollars that’s left goes to buy food, over processed , questionable origins,safety & nutritional value. If we got rid of the car and put the same effort into growing our own food, we’d have less stress, better food , more peace of mind and be free from the enslavement of the corporate domination we ever increasingly coming under. Can we do this before it’s illegal to have a personal opinion or save a few heritage seeds.. I’m becoming more afraid the older I get & I’ve got 10 or so years on you Russ.

    Comment by Kurt Sherman — February 26, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

    • I agree Kurt that it’s frightening. It’s easy for many to lose heart. I stay upbeat (most of the time) myself with the knowledge that in the long run these evils cannot triumph. All the real forces of the earth and humanity are against them, while all they have is an ephemeral power concentration which in the big scheme of history is far more fleeting even than the fossil fuels they used to build it.

      When one learns about GMOs one gets a great education in how shoddy corporatism’s products are, how the whole system is based on power and lies rather than on any real economic and cultural foundation, and how myopic, hubristic, unadaptable, and incredibly stupid the corporatist/technocrat ideology and mindset are.

      As we see with the attempt at these globalization compacts, they’re highly clever at the strategy and tactics of increasing corporate power as long as they’re able to operate within the narrow groove of their own system. But once they’re forced out of this groove, and there’s any number of political, economic, and natural forces which may be the proximate cause of this, they’ll be helpless. The only question is how much of the rest of humanity they’ll be able to bring down with them. It’s to defend and conserve as much as possible that I aspire to help build a movement to abolish corporatism and build true freedom.

      In the long run, the earth itself will overcome any of humanity’s defacements, so I’m not worried about that, however bad they look in the short run. I focus on the endurance and triumph of humanity itself over the cancer within it. In this struggle the earth is on our side.

      So it’s the work toward that goal, and the knowledge that it can and will be done, if only enough people (and it won’t require all that many) commit to it, which keeps me focused. I regard the real task as to figure out the tactical answers to questions like the ones you asked – how to get the people to reject the rat race sums it all up pretty well. I don’t have “the” answer yet, but intend to try all kinds of approaches, look at the approaches others are taking, and see what works.

      At the moment the most pressing task is to prevent the TTIP and TPP from going into force. Anything which slows this, and anything which can help ultimately stop it, is good. Anything which would ultimately accept it is bad.

      Comment by Russ — February 27, 2014 @ 1:26 am

  6. […] the legislators to come home and introduce. I also learned ALEC has model legislation in support of TTIP & TTP. Included in these treaties is the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ITSDS). This is where […]

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  7. […] and maximize its power. As I said earlier, corporations are not such good/service providers, but power-seeking organizations who hijack and use an economic sector as their base of operations for economic and political […]

    Pingback by The TTIP and the “Right to Profit” (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement) | Volatility — March 12, 2014 @ 1:55 am

  8. […] our self-loathing worship that we want effectively to abolish all the first abstractions as being still too close to human reality. To whatever extent we still maintain them it’s only as hollow shells to be filled out by the […]

    Pingback by Religion is All Good and Well…. | Volatility — January 17, 2016 @ 5:45 am

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