Journalists, Professors, Legislators are Victims of the Corporate State

By Alex Vavoulis 

Journalists, professors and legislators all have become victims of the Corporate State; they are all victims of the capitalist class because the three provide fertile ground for the capitalists to improve their income. It is their primary motivation. Each of these victims has a different character, but for the capitalist this is of no consequence; the bottom line is the ultimate prize.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of people to peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances.”

Paul Craig Roberts, a U.S. newspaper critic, a former assistant secretary of Treasury for economic policy and assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal, has given speeches on how the press falls short of the First Amendment. He blames the failure of the U.S. media to serve the public interest “on the vast consolidation of the media in the hands of only six companies.”

In a speech in Mexico recently, Roberts said that “the U.S. Press is no longer run by journalists; it’s run by former government officials and corporate advertising executives.” Roberts believes that the loyalty of real journalists is to the truth, not a government; if major newspapers allow corporations to influence their fear of losing advertising revenues, democracy is in peril.

Several months ago, Jacobin, an internet Web site, published a speech by Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus in linguistics at MIT, titled “The Death of American Universities.” It was reminiscent of a book published in 1979 by Kenneth A. Seib, at that time a professor of English at Fresno State. The title of his book is The Slow Death of Fresno State. The name of the institution at the time of the events he writes about was Fresno State College.

When the Seib book was recently published as an e-book, the author wrote a foreword for the new publication in which he spoke of the professors and administrators who were responsible for the slow death of a college. He writes that “their model for the institution is the corporation, its president a CEO hired often at a six-figure salary—to oversee its workers (faculty and staff) for a Board of Directors who have little contact with the daily activities of the institution itself.”

In 2015, Chomsky said in his speech that “when universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the general population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line…the effective owners are the trustees (or the legislators, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure the labor is docile and obedient.”

The legislators and the entire governing apparatus in the United States are victims of the Corporate State. This is important because it is pernicious and affects the body politic and democratic process. In the 1950s, a book by Professor Helen Sullivan was published in Greece. She was educated at Cornell University and did her thesis under the renowned European historian Carl L. Becker. In 1935, on a Guggenheim Fellowship, she went to Spain to begin her research that would eventually lead to the publication of a 728-page book titled The Communal Mind and the Master Artifice. 

Sullivan writes a fascinating account of the community wars; these were communities fighting against unjust centralized power, which developed in Spain. Her research took her to England, and she writes about how the British monarchy deliberately transformed the local traditions in order to construct the Anglo-Saxon system of parliamentary representative government and capitalism. This form of government exists today in the United States and Europe and in many other parts of the world. Although the Sullivan book was written more than 50 years ago, its basic themes are still relevant today.

The present-day globalization, that is, centralized power on a large scale, and the ever-growing threat to the world economy, makes the historical conclusions of Sullivan vital, not only for scholars but also for everyone concerned with the future of humanity. In the United States, there is an obvious threat to the democratic process as corporate people such as the Koch brothers plan to inject almost a billion dollars into the presidential campaign in 2016.

It is not surprising that Evangelos Venizelos, a constitutional professor and a Greek statesman, wrote the foreword to the Sullivan book. In part, he wrote that “with remarkable skill, Helen Sullivan handles the vast richness of her sources…I am convinced that in the very near future this book will have become a point of reference in scholarly discussions throughout the world.”

It follows from the above that the professionals in the three categories cannot be allowed to perform in the manner in which they were educated and trained. Forces in society are constantly preventing individuals from adhering to the ideals and ethics of their chosen profession. In each case, it is due to outside forces with different motivations and goals. Journalists cannot report news from the point of view of the public interest, professors cannot always speak truth to power and the legislators cannot escape the temptation of business lobbyists. In all cases, it is the Corporate State that is the toxic influence that prevents individuals from living according to the ideals of a democracy and, in general, transforming material into spirit.

*****

Alex Vavoulis, Ph.D., is professor emeritus at Fresno State. He is an honorary board member of the Sword of Zeus project, was president of the Fresno Free College Foundation for 20 years and founded KFCF Radio. 

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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