Barry C. Lynn’s Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction

Lynn is director of the Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Initiative, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of Too Big to Fail about the dangers of monopoly capitalism.

He expands on the threat in his newest book titled, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, explaining today’s peril given the power of predatory giants.

They control governments, the courts, war and peace, dominant information sources, and essential services, including health care, air and water, what we eat and drink, where we live, what we wear, and school curricula  to the highest levels. They own genetic code patents, basic human life elements to be commodified the same as toothpaste, tomatoes or toilet paper.

Omnipotent, they plunder recklessly, ruthlessly at our expense. They’re private tyrannies, endangering humanity, basic freedoms, environmental sustainability, and planetary survival. Without exaggeration, they’re unaccountable, unchecked “weapons of mass destruction.”

In Cornered” Lynn explains the danger and urgency to address it. Our lives and futures depend on it. 

It might have been different had Thomas Jefferson and James Madison prevailed over John Adams and Alexander Hamilton in crafting America’s Bill of Rights. They wanted 12, not 10, including “freedom from a permanent military (and) monopolies in commerce.” 

Imagine the possibilities had they prevailed, or if early leaders agreed with Jefferson in 1816, seven years after his presidency, saying in a letter to a friend:

“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Earlier, he opposed chartering the first Bank of the United States, a 19th century version of today’s central bank, what Andrew Jackson called a “hydra-headed monster,” and Lincoln described as predatory money powers “more despotic than a monarch, more insolent than autocracy and more selfish than a bureaucracy.” He feared they’d accumulate enough wealth and power to destroy the Republic, similar to former Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ view saying, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.”

Others call it fascism or a reasonable facsimile with elements including:

  • the despotic union of corporate and state power — aka corporatism;
  • rampant corruption; 
  • the disdain for human rights, civil liberties, and ordinary workers; 
  • the dominance of militarism, belligerency, and permanent wars; 
  • fraudulent elections;
  • an obsession with national security; 
  • the control of public information; and
  • the omnipotence of corporate giants, taking full advantage to pillage and profiteer.

Lynn’s book tells why, beginning in his preface titled, “Of Rule and Ruin,” saying he warned about  monopolization dangers because: 

“our political economy is run by a compact elite that is able to fuse the power of our public government with the power of private corporate governments in ways that enable members of the elite (to freely decide) who wins, who loses, and who pays.”

His book is “a chronicle of a death foretold, and the corpse on the street (is) the American Republic.” Consolidated corporate power and the political complicity behind it means monopolists run the country and the world, justifying it as free-market fundamentalism — a corrupted deception masking predatory dominance that destroys democratic freedoms.

Ronald Reagan accelerated it when government stopped enforcing anti-trust laws, and encouraged consolidation, production outsourcing, destruction of America’s manufacturing base, the offshoring of high-paying jobs, financialization’s ascendency and power of Wall Street, and the ability of corporate predators to break the law and get away with it, today more than ever under Obama.

Lynn calls his book “a sort of tour of monopoly in all its many guises, in the United States today….how monopolists rip us off as consumers, raising the prices we must pay” for everything including essentials becoming more unaffordable. He covers new monopoly forms and others thought long ago vanished. Understanding them is key to knowing the dangers, from phenomena including:

– problems launching and successfully running a small business;

  • good jobs disappearing, replaced by low-paying service ones with few benefits;
  • the destruction of organized labor, aided by corrupted union bosses;
  • skyrocketing medical costs;
  • blocking efficient, low cost technologies that hurt profits;
  • low quality food, drugs and other products;
  • the burgeoning national debt and current account deficit; and
  • corporatization’s corrupting dominance heading America toward despotism with governments as willing partners.

The auto industry is instructive, Lynn saying it “resembles the Hydra, the many-headed monster from Greek mythology.” Like their heads relying on one body, the automakers “increasingly rely on a single common body of companies that supply the same components to all of them.” 

In today’s hard times, they stand or fall together, governments facilitating consolidation and bailing out the majors, or, in other words, socializing risks, privatizing profits, and doing it for other endangered sectors, Wall Street getting the most by far from a privatized central bank they own and US Treasury they control.

Lynn structures his book in three parts:

– examples of monopolies and the fallout from unrestrained corporate dominance;

– the effects on ordinary people; and

– how it affects other systems – ones in place “to protect peaceful international relations, our knowledge of how to make the products and grow the foods we need, and our political institutions.”

Combined, he reveals a neofeudalist system of vast size and power, dominating all major American and global industries, consolidating for greater strength, partnered with governments, operating ruthlessly, crushing competition, exploiting workers, and colluding for greater control, the public welfare be damned.

Without antitrust enforcement, monopoly options include:

  • home-based ones to build a power base to capture global markets;
  • pincer ones — “One of the oldest techniques for capturing and protecting monopoly positions” by controlling related activities, then using them to consolidate and crush competition;
  • trading ones that rely on offshore suppliers, investing instead in marketing and strategic alliances for greater market share;
  • middleman ones to build power positions between producers and end users;
  • privatized public monopolies — the simplest, fastest way to create private ones;
  • leapfrog ones by repackaging old businesses in new technologies to escape government oversight;
  • future ones so financiers can dominate trading markets for commodities, financial instruments and currencies, etc.;
  • respecting other monopolies so they’ll respect yours; and
  • perfecting your monopoly with new positions, raising prices to exploit them.

These practices made the land of “free-market capitalism” the land of monopoly, Lynn calling it nothing mysterious, saying:

Monopoly is just “a form of government that one group of human beings imposes on another group, (its purpose being to let) the first group… transfer wealth and power to (itself. They) organize and disorganize, to grab and smash, to rule and ruin, in ways that serve their interests only. At bottom, monopoly is merely a political tool,” not because of a better product or service, but through better capitalization and political connections.

The rich “reappropriated the institution of the corporation after (early 20th century antitrust laws restrained them), regarding (them) as the ‘owners’ of these institutions lies at the heart of our present crisis.”

Our system’s single biggest problem is having ceded “almost complete power over these institutions (to) a class of people whose interests (aren’t) served… by building things but by breaking” them. Capitalism lets some people “use the power in concentrated capital to harness free citizens” and crush democratic freedoms.

As a result, monopolies run America. Antitrust enforcement is null and void, and according to Lynn: “It will take more than a lawsuit or two to overthrow America’s corporatist oligarchy and restore a model of capitalism that protects our rights as property holders and citizens.”

Getting money out of politics is key — the reality that big money dictates policy, pre-selects candidates, pre-determines outcomes, gets the best democracy it can buy, assures a de facto one-party state, and a dominant media trumpeting the best of all possible worlds that’s, in fact, corrupted, broken, despotic, and ruinous by benefiting the rich against the rest. 

Short of sweeping fundamental change, nothing will deter corporate giants from securing total global control in a world intolerable for most, the direction we’re now heading unless mass people power stops them. There’s no other way! So what are we waiting for?

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on March 5th, 2010 at 9:34am #

       How much weight is the ice still on Earth? In the trillions of tons. As the ice melts as it will the crust of the Earth does what? Then in the inter core it does what? Now the hardest thing for many people to do is see the big picture some that can are Hansen, Hawking, Lovelock, Buffett. Where Buffett is concerned goes with the flow sort of human nature and of course wants certain things to happen to make more money. The money he give to Gates for Africa will be a waste much bigger forces at work. Why did he not know that?  The big picture. For some reason the last 5 k years and longer we human’s think the Earth is here for us and in the last 125 years we put that thinking into high gear. So who is in charge that see’s the big picture? Wait don’t tell me Oprah, Gates, Mitch, Inhofe, CNBC, Fox New’s but more importantly if any of those people do see the big picture what do they do to solve problems. Change the system take a pay cut think anew tell the truth the real thing, no. How about Hawking or Hansen Lovelock yes and who is it that goes after them of course we need a few more names here. Yes the money is only in a few hands and does it seem important to not let certain truths out?  It has alway’s worked oh really. This time we face a few minor things that human’s in the past didn’t. We are still using the same old thinking and this time what will it mean? To watch so called leaders try and hold on to this old way of thinking and not see the big picture how will it play out? Who’s in charge well little God’s a few more than in the past but think in almost the same way. Two Worlds and maybe three and how do they handle this thinking some better than others and still an old way of thinking. It got us this far yes we know. You have to admit being stupid or ignorence is strenth or easy the fastest the biggest the most and here we are. A new way of thinking if we wish to survive it’s a tuff one. Did I misspell a few words well did that change the big picture is being right all the time important to the point of not seeing the forest for the trees seems so.

  2. Don Hawkins said on March 5th, 2010 at 9:56am #

    Could I be wrong about the ice melting of course but the data I read and what I see with my own eye’s and not on Fox New’s that seems to be total nonsense bad data good data left right seems to point to appearing real very real. Good data bad data go to your left your right your left and please buy my new book. Want more money do you in with the in croud are you. A new way of thinking if we wish to survive.

  3. Don Hawkins said on March 5th, 2010 at 1:35pm #

      Right now this day how does the big picture look. Last night on Beck he was crying again and what he does is what we see many do. Many words some illusion some truth. It alway’s seems to be centered on just a few ideas. Climate change is not real health care is bad for human’s the status quo is the way forward with a few minor changes of course. Beck does say a few words about corporations sort of then alway’s comes back to his main points on what’s good for the World. Now just on the off chance corporations control the goverment that Beck and many more never bring up what type of system is that? If that is the case how might that make our policy makers think about themselves maybe two or three World’s that must be confusing to say the least. Let’s see how the thinking if you can call it that goes after this health care nonsense as I think we know there is not enough oil for China and the USA on this present path. Let’s see 6.8 billion and then 8 billion and as we look at the big picture what is the big plan? Go shopping, ok. It appears a few have the money and power and want to keep it at all costs. The cost this time just on the off chance is rather high for life on Earth but it’s bad data and I will watch Beck today as he said it’s a big show on what our kid’s are learning and I’ll bet bad data yes that darn bad data will come up. From the looks of those demonstrations yesterday nationwide they will not be learning much they will not even be in school where’s the money for schools where did it go does anybody have any money where could it be. What is the name of the present system we might have to make a new name up.

  4. Don Hawkins said on March 5th, 2010 at 2:49pm #

    “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

    Maybe we can see that on Beck his blackboard or CNN and maybe they could add that the laws of our country have been changed just a tad. Oh Glenn who’s a member of the business round table and help with those law’s can you think of anyone a clue first name begins with R last name begins with M. Come on Glenn go for it put that on the blackboard. Say it Glenn “The aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength”. Maybe Bill Oreilly will do it you will become famous I tell you famous and the ratings through the roof. You could be fired but never mind about that there’s alway’s NPR.

  5. Deadbeat said on March 5th, 2010 at 3:00pm #

    There nothing new here about Monopoly Capitalism. The Marxist economist Paul Sweezy published his book on this topic in 1966. It is good that the discussion moving in the direction however let not confuse “free-market capitalism” with “monopoly capitalism” as if the two are distinct. It’s all Capitalism. The demand for profits and capital accumulation is what morphs into monopolies and concentrated wealth and power. In other words this tendency is INHERENT to the capitalist system and why there need to be other NON-MARKET, NON-COMMODITY arrangements. Unfortunately however this kind of discussion is LACKING on the LEFT.

  6. Don Hawkins said on March 5th, 2010 at 4:31pm #

    I just watched Glenn Beck and I will say with 100% confidence it was the stupidest show I have seen in twenty ten. He did bring up climate change for most of the show and what we are teaching our kid’s. When he showed this poster that had a picture of the Earth and it said I pledge to the Earth then he said you see what they are teaching your kid’s one World goverment and he should have stopped there but then said do you see what they are teaching your kid’s that the Earth is over human’s. Here is where I lost my breath for a few seconds and then began to laugh out loud. Sorry Glenn forget NPR stay at Fox where ignorence is strength, there teaching your kid’s that the Earth is over human’s that’s right Glenn we all know we human’s control the Earth granted it’s a bit out of our control now but we are still in control absolutuly amazing.

  7. Don Hawkins said on March 6th, 2010 at 4:52am #

    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1726292_1556601,00.html

    A photo for this morning and you see like Beck said human’s are in control of the Earth and it’s climate now. Wait he didn’t say that he said we are teaching our kid’s the Earth is over humans what a silly idea. I guess we teach them human’s are over the Earth and buy Glenn’s new book and sign up for his new’s letter go to his web site and watch Fox New’s the fair and balanced channel in the arms of the angles.