In the most recent posting of her newsletter, Letters from an American, yesterday, Heather Cox Richardson gave some highly illuminating material about the relationship between authoritarian leaders and big businesses:
Dr Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarianism, explains that when the rule of law, which treats every business equally, has been replaced by the whims of a dictator, success depends on closeness to the leader rather than on quality. “One of the biggest myths of authoritarianism is that it is ‘good for business,’” she said. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has jailed over 100,000 business people on trumped-up charges of tax evasion, financial irregularities, etc. Anyone with a profitable enterprise becomes a target, regardless of their political sentiments. This practice goes on in Hungary and Turkey too. Business people should know that this can happen anywhere, to anyone, if autocrats take power.”
With this information in mind, the Republican Party’s persona as the “party of business” begins to look more and more like a facade. This is especially true with a visible majority of the party backing fully authoritarian, and frankly Fascist, positions.
The past 40 plus years of Republican thought are hell-bent on the “reduction of the influence of government on business.” But that is the vocal reasoning behind their policies. The actual activity amounts to gutting the middle class and its influence in the favor of Republican-friendly business sectors like oil, pharma, military, etc., all of whom are mono-focused on pulling as much money out of society as possible and at all cost.
The economic imbalance this is causing is preparing the middle class to fight back at the ballot box. And thus the “party of business” is working overtime to shut out as many middle class voters as possible with voter suppression laws and extreme gerrymandering so that it can fully “return to power.”
And power is what it is really all about. When you get down to brass tacks, the Trump Republicans could care less about the prosperity of Americans. The real mission of the current crop of Republican leaders is to stack the deck in their favor so much that they can effectively control the Legislative and Judicial Branches of the US government and then install one of their own in control of the Executive. At that point, the American experiment will be over. We will have been effectively overthrown as a democracy.
What is that going to do to the business environment and the economics of the world? It won’t be pretty. Take a look at both the economic history of Fascism and Nazism and you will find horrors visited on society. The businesses that did well had to toe the party line or be wiped out. But as Heather Cox-Richardson’s latest piece points out, that is not just history, that is present day reality in Russia, Hungary and Turkey.
Some companies are waking up to the fact that their prosperity depends entirely on the prosperity of their customers in the middle class. And this is a big danger sign to Trump Republicans. Also in Cox Richardson’s latest piece is this passage:
…in The American Conservative, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called “corporate America… the instrument of anti-American ideologies.” He accused Wall Street of “devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to advance corporate propaganda” that promotes Marxist tactics. Rubio wants to “require that the leadership of large companies be subject to strict scrutiny and legal liability when they abuse their corporate privilege by pushing wasteful, anti-American nonsense.”
In a passage that sounds much like that of a political purge, he warned readers of “the current Marxist cultural revolution among our corporate elite,” and said that “the ultimate way” to stop them “is to replace them with a new generation of business leaders who consider themselves Americans, not citizens of the world…. That is how we defeat this toxic cultural Marxism and rebuild an economy where America’s largest companies were accountable for what matters to America: new factories built in America, good jobs for American families, and investments in American neighborhoods and communities.”
In the voice of the old John Birch Society, Rubio and others are trying to rebrand any effort to shore up the middle class as Marxist and Communist.
In the final analysis, the economic health of the world depends on the political stability of the United States. Yet the “party of business” is actively trying to destroy this stability. This begs the question, “Who are these people really working for?” It certainly isn’t the people who elected them.