What do BP and the Banks Have In Common? The Era of Corporate Anarchy

Published on Gonzalo Lira’s Blog, by Gonzalo Lira, June 16, 2010.

President Obama missed what the BP oil spill disaster is really about. Though unquestionably an environmental disaster, the BP oil spill is much much more.

The BP oil spill is part of the same problem as the financial crisis: They are two examples of the era we are living in, the era of corporate anarchy.

In a nutshell, in this era of corporate anarchy, corporations do not have to abide by any rules—none at all. Legal, moral, ethical, even financial rules are irrelevant. They have all been rescinded in the pursuit of profit—literally nothing else matters. 

As a result, corporations currently exist in a state of almost pure anarchy—but an anarchy directly related to their size: The larger the corporation, the greater its absolute freedom to do and act as it pleases. That’s why so many medium-sized corporations are hell-bent on growth over profits: The biggest of them all, like BP and Goldman Sachs, live in a positively Hobbesian State of Nature, free to do as they please, with nary a consequence.

The added bonus to this, though, is that the largest corporations have convinced the governments and the people of the “Too Big To Fail” fallacy—they have convinced the world that if they cease to exist, the sky will fall atop our collective heads. So if they fail, they must be saved—without argument, without penalty, and without reform … //

… Curiously, individuals—ordinary people—are being supervised and regulated more and more stringently. Yet at the same time, corporations are becoming more and more free to do as they please. No one notices how strange this is—we have even lost the social framework to even talkabout regulating and supervising corporations, because too many foolish pundits equate supervision and regulation with Socialism. Yet curiously, personal freedom is being chipped away, day by day, without a peep from these self-same “freedom-loving” pundits.

Meanwhile, the banks run amok.

Meanwhile, BP runs amok.

We can look at other industries—Big Pharma, for one—but there’s no real need: Big Pharma will fit the same pattern as BP and the banks. Get so big that you can do whatever you want, and no one will challenge you, not even the government. Carry out practices that will inevitably create a crisis—like unsafe drilling, like toxic bonds—and be confident that you will be bailed out.

Bailed out, and allowed to continue, unfettered. “Allowed” to continue, unfettered? I’m sorry, I mis-spoke: Encouraged to continue, unfettered. After all, the banks continued with their practices, and added some predatory new ones for good measure. And though there was talk of a moratorium on deep-water off-shore drilling, more drilling seems to be apace (”Drill, baby! Drill!!”).

This era of corporate anarchy is reaching a crisis point—we can all sense it. Yet the leadership in the United States and Europe is making no effort to solve the root problem. Perhaps they don’t see the problem. Perhaps they are beholden to corporate masters. Whatever the case, in his speech, President Obama made ridiculous references to “clean energy” while ignoring the cause of the BP oil spill disaster, the cause of the financial crisis, the cause of the spiralling health-care costs—the corporate anarchy that underlines them all.

This era of corporate anarchy is wrecking the world—literally, if you’ve been tuning in to images of the oil billowing out a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico.

I think we are at the fork in the road: One path leads to revolutionary change, if not outright revolution. The other, appeasement and stasis, as the corporations grind the country down.

My own sense is, there will be no revolutionary change. The corporations won. They won when they convinced the best and brightest—of which I used to be—that the only path to success was through a corporate career. No necessarily through for-profit corporations—Lefties never seem to quite get how pernicious and corporatist the non-profits really are; or perhaps they do know, but are clever enough not to criticize them, since those non-profits and NGO’s pay for their meals.

Obama is a corporatist — he’s one of Them. So there’ll be more bullshit talk about “clean energy” and “energy independence”, while the root cause—corporate anarchy — is left undisturbed.

Once again: Thank God I no longer live in America. It’s too sad a thing, to watch while a great nation slowly goes down the tubes.

Note added:

Parenthetically, regarding BP’s share price:

Between April 20, the date of the disaster, and May 12, the release of the video feed of the broken pipe which we all know so well, the price of BP shares (NYSE) slid in a very slow, very controlled manner, from 60 to 48.5—that is, just shy of 20% in three weeks … (full long text).

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