The ideological principles of democracy and capitalism are incredibly compatible: together, these two notions have been responsible for the ascent of numerous wealthy empires; in exchange, the empires founded on principles of socialism and communism have withered away and either collapsed into ruin (Russia) or assimilated the dominant ideologies in order to bolster their own strength (China).
Democracy emerges from a decadent concept of the role of the individual as a member of the state; capitalism, from the decadent interpretation of the universe in terms of empirical philosophies like utilitarianism. When the two intertwine, a state can become assailed by a dangerous social philosophy that diseases its foundations.
One of the principles of democracy that apparently makes it far superior is that the mob has decision making power. Capitalism easily undercuts this; the invention of the corporation was the first step toward the utter control of public opinion, fickle as such a thing is to begin with.
Corporations are odd entities; a corporation with a brand has immense psychological power. While there are many reports that suggest that individuals seem to be moving more toward purchasing reliable products, rather than sticking to a known brand, looking onto a Wal-Mart parking lot on any given day makes such reports seem unreliable.
Especially if a certain product has a cultural association. Anything from a soft drink (this name has to be ironic, most colas are incredibly abrasive!) to fast food to clothing. Music, too, as controlled by corporations, is nothing more than a product in the eyes of accountants and corporate boards.
Corporations are also able to act in the shadows, owning innumerable umbrella corporations while having almost no public face (excepting, perhaps, traders and shareholders). A chain of power emerges: corporations must answer to corporations. And how else but with capital?
Let's not forget that while a corporation is--in some countries--entitled to the same legal rights as a human being, the corporation is, itself, composed of human beings. Not only do these individuals have the power of shaping the cultures entire generations, but they themselves are entwined in their own culture. This is an important point we'll come back to later on.
On a smaller scale, the modern business owner, with a public face, can have a great deal of power in an individual community (a city, which is also usually incorporated) as well; being capable of shifting the flow of power and finance, decisions made by business owners can be as political as they are economical.
Generally, big box corporations have shifted the power away from the local business owner in termsupersedes of service industries, so individuals managing specific branches end up serving two interests: that of themselves (of course) and of the corporation they represent; this isolates an individual from the community in an interesting fashion. Regardless whether they were born and raised in a particular city, once they adopt the rules and regulations of a franchise, the alien influence of the corporate body can influence the individual to make decisions that may not benefit their community in the slightest--though, to begin with, starting an enfranchised business always seems to harm smaller cities in terms of finance and culture.
Traditionally, aristocracies functioned primarily in accord to heredity as opposed to capital; if a heredity line was strong enough, it had enough swaying power in lieu of wealth (though, of course, this model changed). Aristocrats had their own culture--they did not mingle with the peasantries of their times and often had very sophisticated (or corrupt, as even an aristocracy will go through stages of strength in values) ideas and tastes.
The few genuine aristocracies of the world certainly have corporate interests and power, but it would seem that a new aristocracy has emerged: one that functions in accord with capital with limited regard to heredity. These business aristocrats also have their own cultures and isolate themselves from the public sphere. Even the small business owner can generate enough wealth and control enough public opinion to shelter themselves from the plebian swarm. And much like the aristocracies of times long gone: the new business aristocrat can have very sophisticated or corrupt tastes.
We must remember that the inception of the corporate allowed the average man--provided he had enough cunning--to potentially become his own lord and master. The point is that corporate rule is not determined by virtue of a strong character, only craftiness and avarice. This, too, is how a lot of heredity wealth sustained power. Systems that function along these lines only tend to tear themselves apart: when individual interests supercede greater interests--say, of a functional state or planet--then internal strife will rend everything to cobblestone in the same way that the Greek city states, in the early centuries of Rome's birth, fell apart due to infighting and an inability to cooperate with other poleis.
It is, of course, possible that this chaos is advantageous: while some corporate powers unite amiably, there is always conflict and competition. The nihilist, in building a new civilization, can exploit cracks in government, culture, and finance, to build newer and saner communities and cultures in the wake of the filth it destroys.
August 16, 2007
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