by Philip Greenspan
The Real Rulers
(Swans - July 18, 2005) There is no disagreement that the U.S. is the only superpower in the world. But who is the real ruler? Is it the US government? Is it the US military? Neither, a powerful, influential and wealthy group calls the shots! The top corporate entities, including banks, the military-industrial complex, multi-national conglomerates, etc., and the super rich -- the upper crust who reside on the Forbes annual wealth hit parade. Also included are the executives and directors of those corporations, partners in prestigious law, accounting, advertising, public relations firms, and major political figures. That cast of characters comprises the elite establishment -- the real rulers not only of the US of A but of most of the world's land mass, the oceans, and outer space besides!
While their varied interests at times are at odds with others in the group, their common interests override all else. Irrespective of how or where they derived it, they emphatically insist on maintaining and increasing their wealth, power, and influence. To accomplish that objective they enlist all necessary facilitators, primarily the government and the media.
Governments possess power and influence over their countries that are unrestrained and outrageous. Life, death, imprisonment, wealth, poverty, torture -- can all be meted out to any and all within their jurisdictions -- no matter how unjust, immoral or irrational. They make the laws and they enforce the laws. They create and they issue their own currency, which becomes the legal tender of the land. They can confiscate property. Their police forces maintain control over their own people and through their judiciary they can imprison for any or no reason whatsoever. If their officers or agents violate their very own laws they may and frequently do ignore the violations. They possess armaments that cause extensive and heinous deaths, injuries, and damage.
Democracies have the ability to change administrations, and dictatorships through deaths or coups d'état can remove their leaders. Such changes do not usually alter the basic underlying framework of the government. If one political party defeats the incumbent administration, the constitution -- the basic law of the land -- remains intact. Capitalist systems remain capitalist; socialist systems remain socialist.
What is necessary to change the system? 1) Defeat in war or 2) a successful uprising by its subjects. Wars have enabled the US and other colonial powers to dominate other countries and completely modify their laws. This is what Iraq is all about, what Vietnam was intended to be, and what has occurred over and over throughout history. Uprisings can occur whether or not the prevailing system is a democracy or a dictatorship. As Thomas Jefferson so accurately stated in the Declaration of Independence "... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ..." -- in today's vernacular -- when the masses can no longer endure their tyrannical ruler, it's bye-bye government. The American and the French Revolutions are perfect examples. Both ousted a royal power -- the first from his colonies in America; the other from his own home country. Since WWII colonial and neo-colonial regimes have been kicked out with regularity in defiance of the immense support the imposed repressive regimes received from their powerful masters.
The US Government
Although the U.S. claims to be a democracy it neither represents nor advances the interests of its people, but represents and advances the interests of the real rulers, the elite establishment. Both political parties, whose chosen members fill the offices of government, have been bought, paid for, and are ever ready to promote the interests of that elite group, the puppet masters of the political establishment.
For a politician to ascend to prominence on the national scene he must have proven his loyalty to the party. In an earlier essay, "Legislative Process In The US Two-Party System," I provided several examples of how congressmen were kept in line by their party irrespective of how they personally felt on various issues; and how the two parties compromised to give each other a political victory to appease their constituents whose loyalty to the overall system must be preserved.
When big bucks are at stake for an elite constituency both political parties promptly fall in line. A battle royal may occur on the floors of the House and Senate and final vote counts may not be known but the fix is in and the champ will chalk up another win. Liberals and conservatives can each vote their consciences as long as it does not alter the agreed upon result. If a legislator refuses to vote as directed, when his vote on an important issue is crucial, his political career may be over. Occasionally to add more drama and raise hopes legislators will pass a bill the underdogs favor with an unexpected large majority. But a presidential veto that is not overridden will finalize this political charade.
An issue not affecting the real rulers' bottom line will be contested legitimately with congressmen voting their consciences or to satisfy their constituencies. Issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and desecration of the flag excite the public and distract them while the real rulers are simply picking up meaningful wins.
The rhetoric and tactics suggesting that a real struggle is taking place are worthy of Academy Awards. Issues overwhelmingly favored by the electorate are consistently sabotaged. Two examples:
Health Care. For years polling has disclosed that the public ardently supports socialized medicine. Aren't the legislators well aware of all those polls and aren't they inundated with constituents' demands for a change in the health system? But whoa, the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, have too much at stake. Some tinkering with the existing system will elicit statements from legislators and the media extolling the latest changes. But it's essentially the same old patient rip-off.
Electoral Reform. The public is appalled that elections are won by candidates who more convincingly mortgage themselves to the money interests. The periodic charade of electoral reform like the health care scenario brings forth more bullshit but no meaningful changes.
An aroused public can occasionally make a difference if favorable factors prevail. From the day Social Security was enacted the Republicans dreamt of destroying it. Bush and his allies had gotten away with so much that the dream at last seemed doable. The elite banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies were licking their chops, anticipating a windfall. But millions of recipients and expectant recipients had a vested interest in the existing system and were not bamboozled. Politicians unwilling to commit hara-kiri could disappoint their masters this time knowing that no profits would be lost. But a golden dream will be shattered.
Over the years the advertising and public relations industries have honed their persuasive skills to where they are able to mold public opinion. Both the elite and the government rely on those skills to sell their products to the public.
The media is the vehicle to relay the propaganda crafted by those "persuasion specialists." It has accepted pseudo news items produced by corporations and the government and without attribution inserts them to run with regular news stories.
The media's bottom line depends upon the number and quality of the readers, listeners, and viewers it delivers to its advertisers, their major source of income. To build up and maintain sizeable numbers of recipients, credibility in the bearer of the news becomes imperative. Since paid advertising copy is expected to be self serving, exaggerated or false statements will probably not harm the media. However when an advertiser's propaganda is merged into the news, upon discovery, confidence in that news source is destroyed. The media must walk a fine line to satisfy the big payers and yet maintain the confidence of their news recipients.
The media has often been referred to as the fourth branch of government. It should be a watchdog safeguarding the public by reporting on both the good and bad activities of the three branches of government. It should also report significant news events from around the world.
Because major news stories emanate from both the government and the elite, journalists establish amicable relationships with those sources. A conscientious reporter may lose access to an important source by writing a truthful article or by probing too deeply for information. Informants employ any effective tactic to get favorable and thwart unfavorable coverage. Helen Thomas, the most senior White House correspondent with over 57 years of service, asked a question, like the ones she threw at previous presidents, that was not the typical softball lob that Bush was accustomed to. Result: she has been pushed into the background at press conferences and is no longer recognized for a question. Producers of an exposé of bovine growth hormone (BGH) were fired after they refused to alter their report to satisfy the Monsanto Corporation which threatened a Fox television station that intended to air the program. Not only did Fox bow to the elite corporation that wanted to distort a truthful story but on an appeal of a lawsuit that the producers brought, six major media companies supported the station. The appeals court ruled that lying by the media was not an actionable offense. This outrageous story was not given space or time by the mainstream.
A politician anxious to impress his constituent will play a similar game. By doing the bidding of the media he will be rewarded with plaudits while a conscientious bird who does not sell out to the media might expect an ad hominem attack if it finds nothing derogatory in his public record.
What occurs today is not what it was years ago. There were many more voices in the mainstream media, and entry into it even by a Johnny-come-lately was attainable. In the late 1960s, Ted Turner, starting with a billboard and radio station business, moved into television by purchasing a couple of small money-losing UHF stations. From that small start he was able to break into the big time. Ownership of media outlets was limited by anti-trust laws and FCC regulations but over the years those laws and regulations have been relaxed. Over 25,000 US media outlets through many mergers and consolidations have concentrated control of the mainstream media into a handful of monopolistic corporations.
Back then competition existed and fostered aggressive news reporting. Investigative journalism could augment readership and audiences. Many independent owners were more engrossed with journalism than with profits. A competent and honorable reporter was a major asset. Today the controlling mega-corporations have little regard for anything but the bottom line. Reporters must compromise their ethics to keep bread on the table.
In the cold war days the evil empire disseminated their version of the news through two major newspapers, Pravda and Izvestia. Pravda means truth and Izvestia means news. There was a joke back then that there was no truth in "Pravda" and there was no news in "Izvestia." Today our media is emulating the Soviets, heading for the day when there will be neither truth nor news in the mainstream media.