Excerpt from the new book by Robert Bridge, “Midnight in the American Empire”
The financial crisis that washed across the globe in 2008 is just the latest economic disaster to hit the American people. The fall of too-big-to-fail banks and companies marked the latest chapter of a tragedy that has been unfolding for years.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once warned that democracy will never be safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. If such a scenario arose, Roosevelt said, that would be the very definition of fascism.
Has America, the self-proclaimed land of the free, reached such a point?
With the rise of the lawless transnational corporations, an increasing number of Americans are becoming mere spectators to this winner-take-all economy. At the same time, workers are simply too afraid of risking their positions by demanding democratic representation in their myriad workplaces. Corporations play on the fear factor while enforcing the most egregious labor practices.
Combine this with the vast political powers that corporations have acquired and you have a recipe for a national disaster.
As Francis Fukuyama pointed out,
For the American people, out-of-control corporate power – corporate fascism, if you will - has eroded their standard of living, to say nothing about the standard of democracy.
No matter how the spin doctors twist US labor data over the past forty years, it is nearly impossible to find a silver lining. As the Financial Times summed up the grim reality:
Consider the fantastic growth of billionaires in the United States over a very short time. When Forbes magazine launched its ranking of the nation’s ultra wealthy in 1982, the “price of admission” into this prestigious club was just $75 million of net worth. Today, as Forbes reported, even after adjusting for inflation, “this year’s entry fee ($1.1 billion) is roughly six times what it was 30 years ago.
Here is a look at the residents of the Forbes 400 penthouse, otherwise known as the 1 percent:
Now compare those figures to 1982, when there were just 13 billionaires while the total worth of the 400 club was just $93 billion. Despite what the super rich wish to believe, this massive hoarding of wealth is working against the American people.
For those who have forgotten what the economic climate inside of the United States was like before the 2008 economic tsunami made landfall, consider the following. The Economist, quoting Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institute, reported that
The Wall Street Journal, calling this middle-class bloodletting “the lost decade,” reported: “The inflation-adjusted income of the median household—smack in the middle of the populace—fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009, even worse than the 1970s, when median income rose 1.9% despite high unemployment and inflation. Between 2007 and 2009, incomes fell 4.2%.”
The article provided a candid comment by Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the right leaning American Enterprise Institute:
The hardest thing to accept about this fantastic reversal of fortune for so many American people is that much of the present pain and suffering was largely avoidable. It would have required self-restraint, political will, and very little sacrifice, but the bleeding of the American middle class was nothing less than a deliberate, premeditated crime.
As the Financial Times revealed,
Strange, indeed. According to the abovementioned report, the present economic crisis is a wildly different animal from past recessions and depressions. In past crises,
Here comes the bloody kicker:
Meanwhile, labor is always one precarious step away from becoming road kill.
Clearly, the American corporate elite – now fully blessed with the political representation originally designed for We the People - is indulging itself to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord at the salary trough, and with a void of democratic procedure inside the workplace, nobody is forcing them away from the table.
What the American worker desperately needs today is a separation of business from politics, similar to the way the world of politics was separated from the world of religion. He also needs democratic representation inside of the workplace.
“The mission of democratic statecraft…,” wrote Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. “is to give society a chance of controlling the energies let loose by science and technology. Democratic leadership is the art of fostering and managing innovation in the service of a free community.”
A person need not be a Marxist to understand a very simple universal truth: Without vibrant representation both in the workplace and at home, the individuals at the top of the corporate pyramid will exploit the people in the eternal quest for greater profit. At that point, with the corporate overlords in bed with our political representatives, and democratic procedure totally absent inside of the corporate fortress, fascist is the only way to define such a brutal system.