12 June 2012

Charles Ferguson: Predator Nation, Global Predator Class

"Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism.

Thus far, both political parties have been remarkably clever and effective in concealing this new reality. In fact, the two parties have formed an innovative kind of cartel—an arrangement I have termed America’s political duopoly, which I analyze in detail below. Both parties lie about the fact that they have each sold out to the financial sector and the wealthy. So far both have largely gotten away with the lie, helped in part by the enormous amount of money now spent on deceptive, manipulative political advertising. But that can’t last indefinitely; Americans are getting angry, and even when they’re misguided or poorly informed, people have a deep, visceral sense that they’re being screwed...

So I’m not going to spend much time describing ways to regulate naked credit default swaps, improve accounting standards for off- balance-sheet entities, implement the Volcker rule, increase core capital, or measure bank leverage. Those are important things to do, but they are tactical questions, and relatively easy to manage if you have a healthy political system, economy, academic environment, and regulatory structure.

The real challenge is figuring out how the United States can regain control of its future from its new oligarchy and restore its position as a prosperous, fair, well-educated nation. For if we don’t, the current pattern of great concentration of wealth and power will worsen, and we may face the steady immiseration of most of the American population...

Before getting into the substance of these issues, I should perhaps make one comment about where I’m coming from. I’m not against business, or profits, or becoming wealthy. I have no problem with people becoming billionaires—if they got there by winning a fair race, if their accomplishments merit it, if they pay their fair share of taxes, and if they don’t corrupt their society...

But that’s not how most of the people mentioned in this book became wealthy. Most of them became wealthy by being well connected and crooked. And they are creating a society in which they can commit hugely damaging economic crimes with impunity, and in which only children of the wealthy have the opportunity to become successful.

That’s what I have a problem with. And I think most people agree with me."

Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation

This is not only an American phenomenon, but one deeply rooted in the Anglo-American banking cartel, and in the money centers and hidden wealth of Europe. Ferguson talks primarily of how the solution may come from the people of the US, but the true impulse for change may come from without, from the countries who have already been brutalized by the rise of the predator class.

See also this 2008 post from Le Café Américain , Predator Class and from 2010 Class Warfare and the Decline of the West.

Popular resistance against the decline of freedom and opportunity is often thwarted by the foolish self-interest of many who believe that they themselves have the ability to benefit from and become a part of the predator class, although they would never call it by that name. After all, they are successful, they have money and wealth, and they think they have the power to stand alone, but want more.

Weak and amoral people rationalize their service to what they come to realize, over time is objectively evil in a thousand different ways.  The most common is the expediency of a career, going along to get along.
"His success alone proved that I should subordinate myself to this man."
And frequently, if only in the back of their minds, is the thought that they too could be as gods. What they do not yet realize is that to the ubermensch they and their children are no different from the illegal immigrants and the poor, fit only for exploitation, who will do as they are told, until their time comes.  

This is the shock that was felt by the customers of MF Global when their money was brazenly and openly stolen. They were a part of the game, they were believers in the system, well educated, hard-working. But to the powerful insiders they were really just cockroaches, and another form of prey.

And not every psychopath chooses to use a knife.

"Psychopaths have a grandiose self-structure which demands a scornful and detached devaluation of others, in order to ward off their envy toward the good perceived in other people."

“He will choose you, disarm you with his words, and control you with his presence. He will delight you with his wit and his plans. He will show you a good time but you will always get the bill. He will smile and deceive you, and he will scare you with his eyes.

And when he is through with you, and he will be through with you, he will desert you and take with him your innocence and your pride."

Robert D. Hare, Without Conscience

"Do you think he is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform...

He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

J.H.Newman, The Antichrist