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Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to civic assemblies that represent economic, industrial, agrarian, and professional groups. Unlike pluralism, in which many groups must compete for control of the state, in corporatism, certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process. These corporatist assemblies are not the same as contemporary business corporations or incorporated groups.
The word "corporatism" is derived from the Latin word for body, corpus. This original meaning was not connected with the specific notion of a business corporation, but rather a general reference to anything collected as a body. Its usage reflects medieval European concepts of a whole society in which the various components each play a part in the life of the society, just as the various parts of the body serve specific roles in the life of a body. According to various theorists, corporatism was an attempt to create a "modern" version of feudalism by merging the "corporate" interests with those of the state. (Also see neofeudalism.)
In the early 1930s, some of America's wealthiest industrialists and bankers plotted to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and replace it with a fascist dictatorship. Thanks to one of the greatest whistleblowers of all time, we know the names of the prominent Wall Street financiers and politicians (both Democrat and Republican) who organized and backed this plot. The whistleblower who exposed the fascist plot was a U.S. military hero named Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler.
For 33 years, Butler -- a two-time recipient of the prestigious U.S. Medal of Honor -- had fought with the Marines. He helped invade numerous countries, subdued native revolts, oversaw fraudulant elections and forced regime changes on nations to bring them in line with U.S. economic interests. (Sound familiar?) All this, Butler later said, was done in order to protect America's foreign investments. In 1935, describing himself as a "racketeer for capitalism," Butler said, "I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents" (Common Sense magazine, Nov. 1935).
In 1933, the year Hitler took control of Germany, some of Wall Street's top financiers sent representatives to recruit the recently-retired General Butler into a fascist coup d'etat to overthrow FDR. Butler played along in order to find out who was behind the scheme and then, in 1934, he testified under oath before the MacCormack-Dickstein House Committee that was examining Nazi propaganda in the United States. Butler named names and exposed the key fascist plotters. He also identified a high-powered, business organization, the American Liberty League, as the "super-organization" behind the plan for an American coup.
Thanks to General Butler, this Wall Street plan to subvert U.S. democracy was thwarted. However, none of the multi-millionaire behind the plot were ever questioned by legal authorities, let alone charged or put on trial for treason. In fact, they continued to work behind the scenes, through the American Liberty League, to sabotage FDR's "New Deal" administration.
Other corporate fascists, like President George Walker Bush's grandfather (Prescott Bush) and his great-grandfather (George Herbert Walker -- after whom George W. Bush and his father G.H.W. Bush are both named), not only financed Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s, they also made a great fortune from the slave labour that was used in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz during the war. The proceeds of the Walker-Bush family's complicity in the Holocaust were confiscated by the U.S. government in 1942 -- under the Trading with the Enemy Act. However, when it was later returned to them, they used to it to launch the Bush family into political fame and the oil business. After WWII, Walker and Bush were instrumental in laundering the Nazi loot of Fritz Thyssen, Hitler's wealthiest industrialist backer. (Subscribe now: A future issue of Press for Conversion! will focus entirely on this history of the Bush family's legacy of support for fascism from the rise of German fascism in the 1920s to the present.)
Jerry MacGuire, who was a bond salesman for Grayson M.-P. Murphy’s top Wall Street brokerage company, was a WWI veteran, and the former commander of the American Legion’s Connecticut branch. He was also on the staff of Louis Johnson, the Legion’s National Commander and a former Secretary of Defense.
Robert S. Clark was a major financier of the American Liberty League, the Committee for a Sound Dollar and Sound Currency and Jerry MacGuire, was one of wealthiest and most eccentric of Wall Street’s bankers and stockbrokers. After graduating in engineering from Yale (1899), he fought in the Spanish-American War, in particular the campaign that captured the Philippines for the American empire. Clark served under General Smedley Butler when the Marines’ invaded China to crush the Boxer Rebellion, lay siege to Peking (Beijing) and capture Tientsin (1900-1901). (The U.S. Marines invaded China to put down the Boxer's populist rebellion against the foreign control of China.)
The American Liberty League-a pro-business think-tank and ultra-right wing lobby group. Its treasurer was Jerry MacGuire’s boss, Grayson Murphy, a leading J.P. Morgan broker. One of its top donors was Robert Clark,
Created in August 1934, this association of wealthiest corporate leaders said its goals were “to combat radicalism, to teach...respect for the rights of persons and property, and generally to foster free private enterprise.” It attacked government funding for poverty relief and social services and opposed all “burdensome taxes imposed upon industry for unemployment insurance and old age pension.”
League news releases were often used verbatim by corporate media that shared the League’s anti-democratic values. Between Aug. 1934 and Nov. 1936, the League got 35 favourable, front-page stories in the New York Times. An exception to the anti-FDR media were the Scripps-Howard papers. In Jan. 1936, they ran a story headlined “Liberty League Controlled by Owners of $37,000,000,000.” It exposed that League backers directed U.S. Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank, Goodyear Tire and the Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Taking care of businessSam Adcock, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. A former aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Adcock has contacts in Washington who are key to Paris-based EADS's ability to make a play for the U.S. commercial and defense aerospace market.
Thomas Beddow, 3M Co. Heads up 3M's Washington office and looks out for the company's manufacturing interests across a diverse range of products.
Nick Calio, Citigroup Calio is a lobbyist's lobbyist, known for thoughtful and at times humorous gestures. The former head of President Bush's lobbying team once gave a staunchly Democratic lobbyist a plaque signed by the president commemorating the birth of the lobbyist's daughter.
Kenneth Cole, General Motors Cole has lobbied for one of the country's most iconic companies for over two decades, acquiring in the process an unsurpassed expertise on the issues facing the domestic car industry.
Brian Dailey, Lockheed Martin With experience on both the White House's National Space Council and the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dailey has a broad understanding of how Washington works and is plugged in at both the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. He works with a former aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Bill Inglee.
Rudy DeLeon, Boeing Boeing has had its shares of trials in the last several years, but DeLeon has persevered and is considered a strong but discreet force in Washington. A former Hill staffer, DeLeon is particularly strong in the Pentagon, where he served as deputy defense secretary.
Nancy Dorn, General Electric A former deputy White House budget director and aide to Hastert, Dorn is a recent addition to GE, which spent over $16 million on lobbying last year.
Marcel DuBois, UPS DuBois has helped make UPS one of the most powerful lobbying forces on the Hill.
Don Duncan, ConocoPhillips Played a major role in securing federal help for a proposed natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to markets in the United States.
Wayne Gable, Koch Industries Koch is among the top givers to Republican candidates who embrace its anti-regulation, free-market philosophy, which the company also pushes through think tanks it supports. Gable has led the company's government affairs shop, which spent more than $800,000 on lobbying in 2004.
Bob Helm, Northrop Grumman Helm, a former Senate Budget Committee staffer and Pentagon appointee, leads a lobbying shop that has a reputation for strength on Capitol Hill. He understands congressional politics at the retail level, one source said.
Jack Krumholtz, Microsoft Although Krumholtz is rarely on the Hill himself lobbying these days, he oversees one of the strongest corporate lobby shops in the high-tech industry and is active in political circles.
Bill Lane, Caterpillar A 20-year veteran of Capitol Hill trade battles, Lane most recently led efforts to push through free-trade pacts with Chile and Australia. You can always find Bill in the mix on a trade issue, said one colleague.
Tim McBride, Freddie Mac The longtime DaimlerChrysler lobbyist was named to the top lobbying spot at the mortgage giant earlier this year.
Hank McKinnell, Pfizer The chairman and CEO of the pharmaceutical giant is also chairman of the Business Roundtable, where he works in partnership with the group's president, John Castellani, one of Washington's most successful and influential lobbyists .
Timothy McKone, SBC Has been at the company amid tumultuous times in the telecom industry, including the recently announced merger with AT&T.
Buzz Miller, Southern Co. A self-described 800-pound gorilla in the energy industry, Southern is always listened to and has political clout far beyond their region, and it's Miller who often makes his company's case.
Betsy Moler, Exelon Moler has worked on Capitol Hill, served as chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and was a deputy secretary at the Energy Department. Now she is the reigning monarch of electricity lobbyists, said one source.
Ziad Ojakli. Ford Motor Co. A former White House lobbyist to the Senate, Ojakli has retooled Ford's lobbying shop with the help of ex-House Energy and Commerce Chief of Staff Dan Brouillette.
John Scruggs, Altria Scruggs leads the lobbying efforts for tobacco giant Philip Morris, a company with close ties to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
Matt Stanton and Chris Swonger, Allied Domecq PLC Stanton, the former Democratic liaison to Congress for the Distilled Spirits Council, now heads up Allied Domecq's government affairs shop with Swonger. Lobbying is in Stanton's blood: His father is Michael Stanton of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Bill Sweeney, Electronic Data Systems Unlike most other companies on this list, Electronic Data Systems is not a household name, but its name is well-known in Washington's power corridors.
Thomas Tauke, Verizon Communications A former Republican congressman from Iowa who served for 12 years.
Our Bill of Rights was the result of tremendous efforts to institutionalize and protect the rights of human beings. It strengthened the premise of our Constitution: that the people are the root of all power and authority for government. This vision has made our Constitution and government a model emulated in many nations.
But corporate lawyers (acting as both attorneys and judges) subverted our Bill of Rights in the late 1800's by establishing the doctrine of "corporate personhood" -- the claim that corporations were intended to fully enjoy the legal status and protections created for human beings.
We believe that corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges we willfully grant them. Granting corporations the status of legal "persons" effectively rewrites the Constitution to serve corporate interests as though they were human interests. Ultimately, the doctrine of granting constitutional rights to corporations gives a thing illegitimate privilege and power that undermines our freedom and authority as citizens. While corporations are setting the agenda on issues in our Congress and courts, We the People are not; for we can never speak as loudly with our own voices as corporations can with the unlimited amplification of money.
There is no America; there is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.