Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The ugly side of power in the capitalistic world

I can’t remember a time when the ways capital exerts its influence on social affairs has been so evident in the news.

We are in fact seeing the ugly side of power being displayed in lots of places these days. Usually power masks its ugly side. Syria, for example. Syria has been a stable country for many years, so that a careless observer traveling through would easily suppose that the people are content and all is well. What one only occasionally could see was how the regime in power – composed of a relatively small cadre of relatives and co-sectarians – could remain in control. We are seeing that mechanism of control now: their army has been shooting unarmed demonstrators on the streets. The number of dead is now more than 1400 (not 14,000 as NYTimes says in 7/20/11 issue). All of them were peaceful demonstrators, as far as we know – Of course what we know is limited to what the regime wants us to know. They are trying to control all the news coming out of the country -- fortunately unsuccessfully.

But in the capitalistic world power works differently. The mechanisms of influence exerted by large capitalistic interests are more subtle, usually. But they seem blatant these days, and evident in so many contexts, and many of them seem to be in the foreground of the news lately. Here are some articles that provide examples.

> ProPublica reports on how the donors to the campaign of Louisiana’s President of St Bernard Parish benefitted from the BP oil spill cleanup. “Spillionaires Revisited: Gov’t Official’s Associates Got Big Contracts After the BP Oil Spill.”

> The no-holds-barred way Rupert Murdock’s newspaper did its business is now coming out in the open. There are many good articles but one that summarizes all that is known can be found at the Telegraph web site:
Phone hacking: timeline of the scandal
It’s worth noting that Fox news and the Wall Street Journal, both owned by Murdock have made very little of it. The difference between what his papers have to say about it and what other papers have to say illustrates how much it matters that news ownership be as dispersed as possible.

> Paul Krugman and Robin Wells describe how the same sets of investment/ banking companies keep on bilking the system by over-reaching and then demanding bailouts: “The Busts Keep Getting Bigger: Why?” It's about economic downturns.

> Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) is now for incandescent light bulbs whereas he used to be against them. Try to guess why. Have a look at what drives this bizarre political boondoggle.

> Capital works on the side of contraband behavior also, of course, manifest in the brutality of the Mexican drug war: Here is the Los Angeles Times’ summary of what has been going on.

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