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The WMail Newsletter Essays
Volume V - Issue #42: April 2004

"The Oligarchy"

        New readers of WMail and visitors to the Working Minds website have asked now and then what the term 'oligarchy' means. The dictionary definition is 'rule by the few'; Webster's second definition is 'a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes'; but common usage carries the meaning 'rule by the owners'.
        The United States has not been a democracy – 'a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections' – for a long time, nor is it a republic – 'a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law' – as some insist it must be.
        The United States of America is today an Oligarchy.
        The U.S. Constitution is in shreds these days, because the Oligarchy does indeed rule all aspects of American life, and the same is true in most other 'free' countries. (China is under the fear-mongering Communists, various Muslim countries are despotic theocracies – 'government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided' – and many African and South American nations are military tyrannies – 'a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler'.)
        The operational arm of the Oligarchy is the Culture-Structure, which is defined inside the Working Minds philosophy as 'all that machinery out there the design of which is so that Things Do Not Work'. (Things do indeed not work, thus it must be a function of the design.)

        The WM philosophy rejects conspiracy theories. There are no meetings held by the Oligarchy to decide to revoke another Constitutional Right. The United Nations and the I.M.F. and the World Bank and the Trilateral Commission exist, and each has its purpose; the New World Order is a phantom.
        The WM philosophy holds that what appears to be the results of conspiratorial illusions is merely the steady work of a lot of individuals in every level of society whose False Minds together produce actions that act in concert to do damage to other humans and to the planet. It looks like a conspiracy only because there are so many sheep (or lemmings) moving blindly in the same direction.
        Even the occasional exclusive executive retreat, such as the annual Sun Valley Summit meetings hosted by Herbert Allen or annual river-rafting trips, are basically for the purpose of making entertainment business deals, not for plotting Evil Deeds. The attendees do not conspire to eliminate freedoms and erode basic human rights, it is just that the longterm effects of Profit At All Costs requires removal of anything that is in their way, such as the Bill of Rights, labor law, and human decency.

        The Oligarchy is here defined as the top 1% by wealth. In the U.S.A., that top 1% owns 55% to 60% of everything (with similar figures in all countries). Economist Dr. Ravi Batra wrote a book in 1987 noting that the top 1% then owned 35% of everything; the increase to today's roughly 55% is the cause of most of the ills in American society.
        The top 20% in America – the Upper Class, the Ruling Class – now own 83% of everything; the lower 40% own a mere 1%, leaving the Middle Class (40% of the population) with a shrinking 16% in equity.
        This shift also means that the middle class has lost a full one-third of their equity, even while the real estate bubble has expanded. The lower classes had nothing, and still have nothing.

        Many of the persons who comprise the Oligarchy are quite conspicuous. The Forbes Magazine 400, listed each October, name the major contenders. But 400 men and women are hardly the full list. (One percent of the 250 million U.S. population comes out to 2.5 million in the Oligarchy.)
        One of the key attributes of membership in the Oligarchy is having a piece of the U.S. National Debt. This week's calculation of the National Debt shows 7.2 TRILLION DOLLARS, which provides the Oligarchy with around 700 BILLION dollars of extortion payments this year – partly in direct interest and partly in the special tax breaks, designed by the Oligarchy and for the Oligarchy, thru legislation by Congress, which the Oligarchy effectively owns – AND they expect the same extortion every year until the debt is paid off.
        There is another 500 BILLION dollars paid to the Oligarchy on consumer debt, which is also extortion: You are an indentured servant, you must spend on credit in order to keep the economy from collapsing (or lose your job). Your obedience accrues you no equity and the Oligarchy adds to its already unconscionable hoardings. (Because they can and you cannot stop them.)

        You may think that such interest payments are paid to banks and corporations. But here is where the Oligarchy is revealed: All stock and all property is owned by somebody. When a bank is owned by a holding company, which is in turn owned by a pension fund or a foundation or trust, it remains true that somebody (or a group of somebodies) must hold title or control. Corporations and foundations and trusts exist only on paper, and only persons can hold title. (Ownership requires an owner, no matter how convoluted the paperwork and the off-shore tax dodges.)
        [This just in: "Capital doesn't pay any taxes, only people pay taxes. What happens is, you impose taxes on organizations which then deflect them elsewhere. But at the end of the day, all taxes are paid by people." — Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress 21 May 2003]

* *          * *          * *          * *

        Who then, beyond the Fortune 400 celebrities, are these individual persons of the Oligarchy?
        Some student of economics or other acedemic area who needs a topic for his/her doctoral thesis might want to grab this one: Start someplace (anyplace) among the corporate world and track all the interlocking members of the boards of directors. Full analysis will require a relational database, the chart will otherwise be incomprehensible: two-dimensional paper displays will not communicate the complexity.
        Our student researcher might start anywhere on the Fortune 400 or the Dow-Jones Industrials, or with any major modern conglomerate: Disney, Microsoft, Time-Warner, Texaco-Shell, CitiBank, Boeing, Kraft Foods – any one major company will lead to pretty much the same 'usual suspects'.
        List the officers – board of directors, president, C.E.O., etc – of Corporation A, then find all the other boards & offices that each belongs to. List the members of all the boards at Level B, and then find all the offices & boards that they belong to. Then list at Level C and Level D, and already the board memberships will be seen to be overlapping.
        Student #1 begins with an oil company in Texas, perhaps; it will not be long before he/she is researching banks in New York. If student #2 begins with a Hollywood entertainment giant, it will not be long before he/she is researching ConAgra. If student #3 begins with a newspaper chain, ere long he/she will be listing the same people as students #1 and #2.

        Thus, the WM philosophy rejection of conspiracy theories. The Oligarchy never actually meets, no such event as the Mafia's conference in Appalachia in 1957. The individual boards of directors just make independent decisions based on their never-ending greed, decisions whose accumulation subverts the natural rights of the citizens, pulling wealth out of the economy in order to keep the peasants from rising above their station or having any time to plot revolution.

        Part of the nastiness of the design of the Culture-Structure is the culture-wide pressure to JOIN – to join everything, become a member of this or that mob: consumers, sportsfans, gamers, garage band musicians, etc. This impetus to join requires giving up your Self-hood – every time – and in fact, giving up Self-hood is the inducement. So skinheads join up with the Aryan Bigots, and religionists join up with the other frightened sheep (Ayn Rand had a lot to say about this, as have I: see WMail issues
#16 and #26), and kids join fan clubs for 'The Matrix' and folks watch every episode of 'Sex In The City' and define themselves as cool because they wear the latest fashion.
        All you have to do to join up, to become a 'fellow traveler' of the Oligarchy is to follow the Party Line – absolve yourself and all others of the mob of any responsibility. Voting Republican is a simple means, but mindless voting any other party ticket is hardly a radical act. Not voting at all is even worse: that is simply abject surrender to the Oligarchy.
        Join up by helping the executives at your employer by signing away overtime pay and working 60-hour weeks. Join up by helping the leaders of your academic institution by challenging none of their dis-empowering bilge. Join the merchants in your town by buying goods manufactured by slave labor in Asia; or even better, shop at Wal-Mart so that the merchants in your town go out of business. Join in the corruption, say that the corruption is okay, then the looters will say that you are okay – cuz you Belong!
        The real members of the Oligarchy are IN the group because they take on the mindset that they deserve the fruit of your labors and that you do not. The Oligarchy will close a factory on Friday and go to church on the weekend, inside the agreement that their sins against their fellow man and the planet are forgiven, and besides, they deserve more and the workers deserve less. And then they return to the office on Monday and do more of the same.

        It is easy to 'join' the Oligarchy. Simply sell out and you will 'prosper'.
        I received a remarkable phone call awhile back that was blatantly corrupt: There were four lies in the first two sentences. "This is not a sales call", the person said [HAH!]. Then "I'm calling from Bank X." [Not true: it was an underpaid telemarketer in North Dakota.] Then "We want to send you this free service..." [Except it costs money after the 30-day trial period.] And "it is not insurance." [It was the 'pay a percentage of your unpaid credit card balance and they promise to be real nice if you lose your livelihood' insurance scam.]
        The caller knew exactly how bogus the deal was, yet the whole town in North Dakota sold their integrity for minimum wage. But what is really disgusting, from the Working Mind standpoint, is that the marketing department at the bank was certain that the lies would work exceptionally well: Why else would they be risking their own careers by spending for the setup in North Dakota and paying hard cash wages to the telemarketers to call people?

        The sovereign Individual is anyone who rebels against the Culture-Structure and the Oligarchy by rejecting such crap, in all its forms. The supermarket strike in Southern California got a lot of support from the shoppers because the U.C.F.W. union stood up to the Oligarchy, for substantive issues and not merely about money. Unfortunately, the ending was lousy: the union buckled and the supermarkets got most of their original contract proposal. The Oligarchy wins again.

        There is no Party Line to follow where Reason will provide you an easy, pre-mapped path to follow. You are trained to want that at all times, but Reason does not provide it. (Even if I manage to establish a Working Minds Institute, the intent will not be to have meetings or gatherings or give detailed guidance but to educate sheep to become Individuals, working toward critical mass in the practice of Reason in America.)
        Reason must be invoked on a minute-by-minute basis, and no one is going to follow you around – no Jiminy Cricket cartoon conscience – to remind you that the instructions by and for the Oligarchy will cost you dearly.
        The ultimate cost is that The World Does Not Work. More people live in poverty, the planet is dying an ugly death, your children leap into life until they learn to shut down and to be sheep like everyone else, and your children and their children continue your legacy of cynicism and despair and a hollow life.
        Look at the total of your consumer debt (mortgage excepted). Look at your share of the National Debt – $54,000 per taxpayer or $23,000 for each and every man, woman & child in America. And listen from there as George Dubya blows his faith-based smoke in your ears about increasing debt having improved the economy.
        You have got to get that YOU owe that portion of the National Debt, and that YOU will likely hand over that obligation to your grandchildren. And we have to reach a lot more other people so that they also get the reality of the Oligarchy's rule. Until you do something radically different – stand as an Individual, use Reason as a practice, enroll others into participation – then you are an economic slave, an indentured Servant, a serf to the Oligarchy.

        If you do not stand and say "I am Free! I am not a slave to the Oligarchy!" then you still are one.
        For that is really and truly who the Oligarchy is: The wealthy elite who own your body and your soul, because you agreed to it.
        Unless and until you take back your Natural Sovereignty, your Self-hood, as a Free Individual, then you remain a sheep destined for slaughter.
        You are either a slave to the Oligarchy, or you are in rebellion.

[copyright 2004 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

        See alsoWMail Issue #16 "The Priests of Commerce"
        and WMail Issue #26 "The No-God Universe"

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