How the United States Devolved into this Current Crisis
Bill Moyers has an excellent article explaining when the United States began its downward spiral into a corporatocracy. He even pinpoints the exact date. By the time Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, our oligarchy — or corporate dystopia, whatever you want to call it — was already ten years in the making.
On August 23rd, 1971, Lewis Powell — corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court justice — sent a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Bill Moyers says:
“We look back on it now as a call to arms for class war waged from the top down.”
Lewis Powell’s memo ranted about “an attack on the American free enterprise system.” Powell said the attack was coming not just from “a few extremists of the Left,” but also from “perfectly respectable elements of society,” including politicians, well respected intellectuals and the media. Powell urged his fellow VIPs to “fight back and fight back hard” and to build a movement; take on the universities, the media and the courts. Powell wrote that TV programs should be “monitored the same way textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance.”
He also wrote that political power must be “assiduously [sic] cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination and without embarrassment.”
Lewis Powell visualized the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a council of war. He sure got that wish. No doubt he’s been having multiple orgasms from his grave.
Powell’s infamous memo said that business executives have “little stomach for hard-nosed contest with their critics” and “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate.” Therefore, Big Business should form think tanks, legal foundations and front groups. These groups could all be aligned into a united front through “careful long-range planning and implementation…consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and united organizations.”
And so it came to pass. (See above-mentioned in-grave orgasms.)
And in the late 1970s, William Simon — Nixon’s former secretary of the treasury — expanded on Lewis Powell’s rhetoric. He urged “men of action in the capitalist world” to mount “a veritable crusade” against all of the progress of the previous forty-five years.
Bill Moyers says:
“Those ‘men of action in the capitalist world’ were not content with their wealth just to buy more homes, more cars, more planes, more vacations and more gizmos than anyone else. They were determined to buy more democracy than anyone else. And they succeeded beyond their expectations. After their forty-year ‘veritable crusade’ against our institutions, laws and regulations—against the ideas, norms and beliefs that helped to create America’s iconic middle class—the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance.”
And here we are.