It’s a timeless question about overlords both ancient and new. Are they lying or do they actually believe their own ideology?
The issue popped up this past week in this howler enunciated by Mark Zuckerberg:
“We don’t build services in order to make money,” he wrote in a personal letter to shareholders included in [Facebook’s IPO-related SEC] filing. “We make money in order to build better services.”
One might ask if Facebook would be willing to appoint a majority of ordinary Facebook users to its corporate board, so as to assure itself of the authenticity of its supposed efforts at “better” services. Should there be ads on Facebook? Should Facebook accumulate the world’s biggest marketing database and make money for Mark Zuckerberg and other rich people by selling the scraped, uncompensated information to other corporate capitalists? Who votes “No”?
“Politics,” John Dewey once observed of the normal state of corporate capitalism, “is the shadow cast on society by big business.” As this normalcy has grown and the methods of big business marketing have been increasingly applied to selecting and selling candidates, Dewey’s shadow metaphor has seemed less and less adequate. Politics is now the scientific management of society’s macro-choices by big business.
For those interested in this topic, check out this new report from the Sunlight Foundation. Its main finding:
If you think wealth is concentrated in the United States, just wait till you look at the data on campaign spending. In the 2010 election cycle, 26,783 individuals (or slightly less than one in ten thousand Americans) each contributed more than $10,000 to federal political campaigns. Combined, these donors spent $774 million. That’s 24.3% of the total from individuals to politicians, parties, PACs, and independent expenditure groups.
For those still laboring under the illusion that the Democratic Party is somehow an exception to the rule of capital, the report shows that:
Over time, the share of all individual campaign contributions coming from The One Percent of the One Percent has increased for both parties, increasing from 17.8% in 1990 to 32.1% in the 2010 election cycle. Consistently, Democrats have been slightly more reliant on The One Percent of the One Percent than Republicans – relying on The One Percent of the One Percent for, on average, about three percentage points more of their itemized campaign receipts.
TCT would suggest that aspiring progressives and radicals can save themselves a great deal of precious energy by keeping this fundamental reality in mind.