In a capitalist society, money is inextricably linked with power. The greater the amount of money you possess the more influence you can exert.
Particularly, buying power may become an influence in the political arena when wealthy individuals utilize their money to secure positions in the corridors of influence by attending elite private school or exclusive social clubs or events at which they have the opportunity to make relationships with other interests that are monetarily related.
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The wealthy also have the ability to gain control over the political system by either financing the people who are already in power and hold opinions favourable to them, by using expensive PR and marketing campaigns to change public opinion in ways which suit their interests or through the formation of pressure groups that influence politicians directly, besides any number of other methods.
This phenomenon is often called corporate lobbying, nepotism and corruption, cronyism, or the old boys club’. However, all these phrases refer to the same behaviour.
Namely, those with substantial amounts of money are able to leverage the resources they have to shape society according to their needs.
One of the best examples comes in the examples of the Koch brothers and the Mercer family.
Charles and David Koch are American billionaires and the owners in chief of the second-largest privately-owned firm in the United States.
Since 1953, they, their relatives, as well as other extraordinarily wealthy donors have spent many hundreds of millions of dollars (probably even billions) on setting up think tanks and political committees to advance the Koch brothers’ agenda of deregulation, low taxes, less protection of the environment, and much more.
Meanwhile, the Mercer family has also been major funders of right-wing magazines and think tanks in the USA including Breitbart News, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute – among scores of other think tanks.
The Open Societies Foundation was founded by George Soros, a Hungarian billionaire. It is believed that he have donated more than $32 billion to the foundation from its beginning. Thanks to the Open Societies Foundation’s aid and support for refugees who seek asylum in Western countries, as well as its lobbying for pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants from the USA and other nations, George Soros has become a villainous figure for much of the European and American right-wing.
“The The Strong Will Do Whatever They Can Do, and the Weak Will Accept Anything They Must Accept” – Thucydides. The Melian Dialogue
Sometimes, the military’s power is combined with the theme of financial power being utilized to promote their own interests.
Consider the United Fruit Company as an example. The dictators of Latin America ensured that the United Fruit Company had a favorable business environment. This allowed the company to set up profitable operations throughout Latin America before World War II.
In 1944, United Fruit began experiencing difficulties in Guatemala – one of their largest bases. A popular uprising ensued, Jorge Ubico (the Guatemalan President), a dictator aligned closely with US interests and was a staunch advocate of the United Fruit Company was deposed.
In the ten years following Many of the presidents who were a follower of Ubico took land reform measures that returned large swathes owned by United Fruit to the Guatemalan people.
The United Fruit Company was fed up by 1954 and began lobbying the American government for actions. Because many of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s employees had connections to United Fruit, they were eager to assist.
In the end, the CIA successfully orchestrated a coup in Guatemala which overthrew the President who was elected and replaced with an additional dictator who was more open to American interests. The result was four years of civil war between Guatemala’s most disadvantaged and a succession of US-backed dictators that left more than 200,000 dead.
In the month of March, 1999, US President Bill Clinton finally apologized to the Guatemalan government over the crimes committed by the dictatorships backed by America, saying that ‘for the United States it is important to be clear that the support for troops and intelligence units who engaged in violence as well as mass repression was unjust.’
But, Guatemala was by no means an isolated case. It is hard to believe the extent of the destruction and bloodshed the United Fruit Company, along with its powerful allies in the military and the government caused in a variety of Latin American countries.
Not so long ago, and not too far away from home
Corporate interests that have turned into military and political interests aren’t limited to a few Latin American states in long-gone decades.
For instance, over several years from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, individuals from the British security forces, the upper ranks of the military, and political circles with a strong connection, secretly plotted to topple Harold Wilson, the elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and install the place of Wilson in the coalition government of their choosing.
For many, the idea of a conspiracy is awe-inspiring however, confirmation was provided by MI5 whistleblower Peter Wright, who outlined the scheme in his book Spycatcher which, on its publication in 1987 was barred from publication in England.
Hugh Cudlipp (ex-editor of the Daily Mirror) and Brian Crozier (ex-intelligence officer) are two more individuals who have confirmed the plot of Wilson.
The conspiracy theory is that they planned to choose one particular person who would lead the non-elected government. It was Lord Mountbatten, a relative both of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
As Patrick Sawer, a Senior News Reporter at the Daily Telegraph has written:
Lord Mountbatten was dangerously close to being the leader of an industrialist cabal generals and tycoons plotting a coup against the Labour government. The 1968 plot was designed to replace Prime Minister Harold Wilson with a coalition government to bring the country closer, in what Mountbatten and his conspirators regarded as a time of national crisis.
These events were portrayed in Season 3 Episode 5 of The Crown, the TV show The Crown, which was appropriately entitled “Coup”.
In the USA, a similar plot was created in 1933.
Following the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had pledged to end the gold standard, and to implement various left-wing economic policies which became known as the ‘New Deal’, magnates behind huge corporations like Chase Bank, Standard Oil, General Motors, Goodyear, Dupont, Heinz, and many others, conspired to create an elite army of up to half a million veterans from the military to overthrow the Roosevelt government and establish a fascist-led government to replace him.
This was known as the “Business Plot” and the conspirators approached Major Gen. Smedley Butler, a 34-year veteran of the US Marine Corps who was at the time the most decorated Marine in US history for his private army.
Butler was unhappy with his experience in the US military and was unable to participate in the plot. Butler also testified on the incident before the United States House of Representatives in 1934.
Even though Congress concluding that they could confirm all of the relevant assertions made by General Butler However, no one was ever prosecuted. Nor was any of the principal people accused of being involved in the plot called to testify in front of Congress.
Smedley Butler published a book titled War Is A Racket shortly after. The synopsis is:
War is a racket. It has always been. It is the longest-running, most profitable, and definitely the most brutal. It is the only one that is international in its scope. It’s the only one where the profit is expressed in dollars and lives lost in life. Rackets are best described, I believe as something that does not appear to be to the majority of the people. There is a tiny number of “insiders” who understand what it is. The operation is for the benefit of a very few, to the detriment of many. Certain individuals make huge fortunes through the war.