Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Corporate Age

“Destruction and distortion dominates the town, cause money makes the world go round…”

These were the words sung by my good friend and role model Dee Dee Davis on Topnovil’s 2010 album Same Old Story, and they’re words that are especially relevant to what we call the “culture” of today. I refer to culture in inverted commas because I refuse to sully the term by using it to describe sub-simian species like Kim Kardashian and the walking haircuts of One Direction as most commentators would. I’m not a cultural commentator by any means. I’m a guy with a blog on the internet, an overinflated sense of importance, an opinion and a very large penis. The fact that a schmuck like me can see what’s wrong with the world shows just how fucked it is.

It’s pretty simplistic to put things down to one word solutions, but sometimes that old prick Occam was right. It’s all about money. Simple as that.

Now maybe I shouldn’t be talking about money being evil when I’ve freely admitted I would go back to sucking dick on Darlinghurst street corners for $50 to make enough money to get Weezer tickets. I’m not saying money itself is evil, I’m saying the way we fetishise it to the point where it and its acquisition (And the shit that comes with having money) is all that matters.

The reasons for this are pretty simple. Western society (and most of capitalist Asia) are held by the balls by multinational corporate powers. These exist for one reason and one alone – to make as much money as possible. The only rational reason for the existence of mankind to a corporation is to make them money. Corporations are whores in the purest sense of the term. They are big, impersonal (fuck what Mitt Romney says) and could give two fucks about you other than what you can do for them.

Therefore, from cradle to grave, we’re fed this idea that to make money is a good thing, because it’s ours! We get to buy all this cool shit! The cool shit that we buy from our corporate overlords, of course. Corporations push for individual tax breaks and government payments to the voting idiots of society at the expense of social programs that were once considered vital for a functional society because they’ve trained us well and know we’ll lap it up like dogs. We get money, we spend it on their stuff. We spend it on their stuff because that’s what we’ve been trained to do through their media. If Kanye sings that a Lamborghini Mercy will make your chick thirsty, well, maybe I can’t afford a Lamborghini Murcielago (a work of true automotive beauty, by the way, and totally not worthy of a denigrating shortening by the biggest dickhead in the pop music scene of today) but I sure can afford to spend money on wanking up my car to get it a bit closer to that and maybe make some bitches thirsty. 

The first response will probably be something like “oh, you’re a fucking hypocrite, you’re typing this on a computer and you talked about wanting Weezer tickets.” Of course I’m a hypocrite for saying this in the truest sense of the word. (I’m not just typing this shit on any computer – it’s a MacBook Air Pro). It’s not possible to live without being a corporate consumer today unless you go live in a cave and I don’t really want to do that. I’m a hypocrite, I admit it. The only difference between me and the rest of the world is that I know what I’m doing is fucked up. I can see the forest from the trees.

So what can you or anyone else do to stop it? Absolutely nothing. This is the world we live in right now and it’s too late to change it. Just like we had the Stone Age, the Middle Ages and the Industrial Age, future historians will look at this period forward as the Corporate Age.

The Corporate Age itself is the result of more than 30 years of unfettered neo-liberal economic policy by the USA and Britain which eventually trickled down to the rest of the world. (One wonders if this was what the Chicago economists who first proposed neoliberalism actually had in mind when they termed “trickle-down economics.”) When Adam Smith first proposed unfettered free markets and the “invisible hand”, he foresaw markets of essentially infinite competition. In Smith’s mind, free markets were meant to eliminate monopoly/oligopoly power, not multiply them and drive smaller firms out/into them as it has done. Clearly he didn’t come up with the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Theoretically, I can see a way Smith’s conception of free markets could have occurred – in an infant market with start up firms. Indeed, one of the few examples of such – the technology industry, which was nascent around the period when neo-liberalism became a dominant ideology, has managed to remain mostly free and open. Whether that was because of government regulations or the nature of the platforms upon which modern technological advances are built is debatable, but that’s how it’s turned out.

In industries such as oil and financial services (to name but two obvious examples, but this was how most sectors of the economy were at the time), however, deregulation occurred when the market was established with a few major firms at the top and some smaller ones snapping behind. All liberalism did there was allow the major powers to enhance their grip on their sector of the market by crushing the little guys and getting to a point where they became, to use a common quote heard around the Great Financial Crisis, “too big to fail.” Therefore, their governing arms (as any government in a capitalist society is, whatever term they may use to call themselves) use the money they had given them (originally to continue to enact favourable laws) to bail them out of their screwup and let them keep running.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. No amount of Occupy Wall Street protests and handwringing will change a thing because this is the world we live in, that we and our parents created through constant support for neo-liberal policies that were supposed to make us rich. It may sound that I’m flagellating corporations here – honestly, I’m not, because they exist for this sole reason. It’s like letting a mob of fat kids waddle wild in a cake shop and then wondering why they’re fat and you’re out of cake after they’re done. We were the ones who fucked up and we did so too badly to fix it now. Eventually something will bring the corporate age to an end, but it won’t happen in our lifetimes.

Me? I just wish I couldn’t see the forest from the trees. It would make life so much easier.

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