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Professor Luis Suarez-Villa (Social Ecology and of Planning, Policy and Design at the University of California, Irvine) wrote in the FT recently:
American democracy was hijacked long ago by money and powerful interests, turning it into what amounts to a system of legalised corruption.
Lobbying, political action committees (super-pacs), myriad forms of campaign contributions and patronage are at the core of this phenomenon.
By comparison, the so-called Russian meddling in the 2016 election seems amateurish at best, and perhaps (more seriously) a way for the political establishment to divert the attention of the American people from the real problems of a corrupt system of public governance, whose patrons and beneficiaries want the rest of the world to think it is democratic.
A review of his book Corporate Power, Oligopolies, and the Crisis of the State (2015) expands his argument:
“From cradle to grave the decisions made by these entities have an enormous impact on how we live and work, what we eat, our physical and psychological health, what we know or believe, whom we elect, and how we deal with one another and with the natural world around us.
“At the same time, government seems ever more subservient to the power of these oligopolies, providing numerous forms of corporate welfare—tax breaks, subsidies, guarantees, and bailouts—while neglecting the most basic needs of the population.
“In Corporate Power, Oligopolies, and the Crisis of the State, Luis Suarez-Villa employs a multidisciplinary perspective to provide unprecedented documentation of a growing crisis of governance, marked by a massive transfer of risk from the private sector to the state, skyrocketing debt, great inequality and economic insecurity, along with an alignment of the interests of politicians and a new, minuscule but immensely wealthy and influential corporate elite.
“Thanks to this dysfunctional environment, Suarez-Villa argues, stagnation and a vanishing public trust have become the hallmarks of our time”.
His charges apply just as accurately to the British scene: British democracy has also been hijacked by money and powerful interests, turning it into what amounts to a system of legalised corruption.
Emeritus Professor Luis Suarez-Villa is the author of several other books, including Globalization and Technocapitalism: The Political Economy of Corporate Power and Technological Domination and Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism.