By TLB Contributor: Steve Cook
A few days ago I came upon an interesting meme that someone posted on Facebook. I can’t locate it now but its message went something like this:
“Government should protect the citizen from big corporations” has become “government should protect big corporations from the citizen.”
I thought this was fascinating in that it hones in on something quite important: the basic concept or idea that people hold as to what government is supposed to do.
At the root of any trouble we are having with government lies a fundamental idea, or rather a conflict of ideas, as to what government is for. What do you or I want it to do, what do we consider it should do and what does the other fellow conceive the purpose, ethic and modus operandi of government should be? And who agrees with which idea?
Right here we see that there are two fundamentally opposed ideas about government.
On the one hand we have the concept that “government should protect the citizen from big corporations”. If this idea is agreed upon or accepted by enough people, we could build a system of government upon it. I suspect that if you surveyed people you would find at grass roots level a broad agreement with it. People generally would think that this would be a good thing for government to do. You would probably also find that a great many people assume that this is what motivates their government.
Unfortunately, at this time that idea does not appear to be what motivates government. Another concept has secured agreement among those who man the helm of government or who influence the people who man the helm of government: “government should protect big corporations from the citizen.”
In other words, the people and their government are not singing from the same song sheet.
The two concepts are opposed to one another and to the degree that the first idea is held by the people whilst the second idea is held by those who man their government, we have then a disagreement between the people and the government and a potential for conflict between the people and their government.
To the degree that the people hold the first idea and are unaware that the government is operating on the second idea we get (a) people confused about the behavior of their government, the policies and enactments of which appear increasingly nonsensical and (b) those who hold the second idea are able to take advantage of the unawareness and confusion to secure their own advantage.
Those who very firmly and dedicatedly hold the second idea – whom we can call the corporate/banking elite – have achieved a position of influence from which they can gradually change the machinery of government so that it works increasingly in the service of what they consider it should do.
The people, having discovered that their government has drifted away from their concept of what it should do and into service of an opposed idea, seek to correct it, to bring government back into service of their concept of its purpose.
But they discover that the corporate/banking elite have been hard at work tinkering with the machinery of government, changing it and gradually inhibiting or impeding its ability to be so corrected. Sometimes they move quickly or recklessly to bolt shut or barricade the avenues by which the people might still be able to influence government and affect change. And they have been quietly manning many of its offices and stations with their own proxies, people who are in agreement with the idea that government should protect big corporations from the people.
Now, an idea is very powerful and almost impossible to kill. For example, Plato long ago introduced the idea that people should have a say in their own governance. A lot of people over the centuries have considered this a very fine idea – in other words there has been a great deal of agreement with it. It runs directly contrary to the concept that “people should NOT have a say in their own governance,” a concept favored by various elites down through the centuries. Plato’s idea has been a fly in the ointment for every elitist or would-be elitist ever since. Every popular revolt – and there have been many of them – was probably fueled by that idea.
The idea that government should act in the interests of the people and protect the people from big corporations is a close cousin to Plato’s concept. And it also is hard to kill.
Indeed, the elite do not really try to change people’s minds about it. They recognize that an effort to get people to drop the idea would be futile. What we see instead are dives into subterfuge, efforts to erect a smoke screen of complexity that hides what they are really doing, to disempower the people so that they cannot clearly see or change what government is doing.
We see efforts to enforce compliance to a basic idea with which the elite have secured little agreement outside their own circles: to hoodwink the people; to spy on them; to lie to them on a grandiose scale, to dumb them down, disunite them, distract them, confuse them, drug them, cow them, intimidate them or send in the armed goons. For the elite, these efforts HAVE TO work. If they don’t work, they are finished because they are few and the people overwhelmingly outnumber them.
But you can’t kill an idea. Or rather, the only way you can kill an idea is to kill the beings whose minds hold the idea. Unfortunately, that means killing ninety percent of the human race. And lo and behold we see the likes of Bill Gates touting that very notion and trying to sell mass murder as a “good idea.” None but the terminally stupid buy that idea of course, because people soon cotton on to the fact that when it comes to a mass cull of the human race it is THEY and their children, families, neighbors and descendants who are going to be culled.
It is not then so much a matter of whether the efforts of the elite to enforce on everybody else an idea they don’t agree with will fail. It is a matter of when it will fail and how long its death throes will take. And how much misery and suffering we must endure before it does.
Let us look though at the basic idea that “government should protect the people from big corporations” and see if we can refine it a bit so as to make it a bit more workable for us.
The idea implies that the people and big corporations are innately opposed entities, natural enemies. It depends of course on what you mean by a “big corporation.”
Why should the people need protection from big corporations? Indeed, why should they need protection from anything?
I submit that the people need government to act on their behalf to protect them from some entity or group when the actions of that entity or group inhibit or thwart their efforts to survive. If someone or something is not doing anything to thwart our efforts to survive we do not need protection from it. If someone or something is assisting our efforts to survive, then that someone or something should itself be protected and helped. The actions of governments and the laws it upholds should supply that help.
In other words, government should assist the efforts of ALL honest men, groups, entities, corporations and so forth who contribute to our overall survival efforts.
It should ONLY act to impede or stop the efforts of persons or groups where such efforts counter our efforts to survive. In other words, government should protect the people from criminal acts and ONLY criminal acts.
On the subject of big corporations then, government should protect the people from the criminal, harmful acts of big corporations or indeed any person or group.
It is conceivable that some enterprising person could build up a big business producing a good product that is beneficial to people. That business could promote and sell its product honestly. It could take full responsibility for its impact on the environment and human health, treat its employees justly, conduct itself according to principles of fair exchange and so forth. And if that business grew and became what we call a “big corporation” we would not need protection from it unless and until it engaged in harmful acts in order to prosper. It could happen.
It might be hard to imagine a culture in which so much of “big business” engages in criminal acts: doctoring scientific research, lying in promotional material, marketing products that are downright harmful, using tricks and deceit and even outright murder to protect market share and nullify competition, taking no responsibility for the environment, reducing the workforce if it can to the status of peonage or slavery and so on. Such dishonest big businesses tend to give all entrepreneurial efforts a bad name.
We wind up with an ascendancy of criminal big business to the degree that government has neglected over a long period of time to protect the people from the specific criminal acts of this group or that and its failure to remove the perpetrators of criminal acts from the environment. Included in that is a neglect of protecting honest businesses from criminal competitors. Over time then the environment becomes more favorable to the criminal and hostile to the honest man.
And so here we are, economic life dominated by criminals, a climate in which rapacious, murderous corporations achieve supremacy and even dictate the further policies of governments, corporations quite capable of destroying the food chain or drugging every human being into a stupor in their quest for profit.
Like the mighty predators of the Cretaceous before the comet hit, they have thrived and now lay waste the planet, devouring everything in sight.
But the comet is coming.
And that comet is us.
Steve Cook is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction. Find his books on monetary reform and a blueprint for an ethical government here; http://the-worm-in-the-apple.blogspot.co.uk