Why the U.S. Is on Its Way to a State of Corporate Monarchy… and Fascism
tl;dr Brands are like monarchies, and if we don’t take proactive control of who we’re giving our money to, we’ll be living in an illusion of choice, under an oppressive government that’s more focused on economic incentives than the wellbeing of its people.
I have this theory that the United States is ironically moving its way back into a monarchal system — rooted of course, in the corporate consolidation that we’re seeing today. When you look at everything thats happening in our country on a macro-scale, it becomes increasingly clear that we’re building some huge hypothetical walls around us. Walls where we will inevitably destroy room for free enterprise, where the government will continue to fund the blunders of the rich, the profit will continue to be enjoyed privately, and the losses will continue to be felt publicly.
Hysterically, it’s almost as if we’ve replaced god in our society with commercialism. For hundreds and hundreds of years, the church and state in conjunction were able to manipulate public attitudes on a massive level — especially looking at you Catholicism. I absolutely believe that for the most part, everyone back then believed in their respective gods, or at least believed that they believed in them, but I’m certain that anyone involved with the church and state who was also reaping the economic benefits of that involvement knew that the real power wasn’t god, it was money.
And that’s still the case. In religion absolutely, but also in the commercial values we’ve established in tandem with our culturally materialistic attitude. Where old monarchies rooted their ethics and practices in religion, our new monarchies root their beliefs in capitalism and materialism. We’ve replaced western religion with western commercialism. We’re creating gods out of logos, and honestly that’s fine with me. As someone passionate about the ad industry I believe in the positive (and hugely important) influence of progressive, forward-thinking brands. However there’s one ginormous overarching issue here.
Already huge brands are becoming huger. In every industry, companies that already represent a large amount of market share are merging. Which might just seem like “business,” but it’s scary when you think about how much of our culture is influenced by these companies. They literally control what we are able to consume and they shape what we want to consume. They are already (and have been) as influential as monarchs were over their claims of land, but our landscape has changed quite a bit since then.
Now the land these monarchs are fighting over is industry ownership. Each acquisition is a battle won or a battle lost, and that’s more relevant than ever. In pretty much every industry, there are two to four major players (think airlines, telecom, social media, beverages, etc.), and while that sounds like nothing, consider thinking about it this way. If companies are too big to fail, which they are becoming, then the inevitable carelessness of their services or products will matter less and less, but…
Quality is super important. A great example to exemplify why, is the huge mess that we’re in with Facebook and the Russia “hacks.” When malicious third parties have the intelligence and means to interrupt and influence a federal election, the integrity of our democracy is at stake. Period. And this wasn’t controlled by super intelligent, data hackers, this is an issue associated with Facebook’s (and frankly the government’s too) naivety toward internet security. Terror groups and online aggravators have been using social media to intimidate, influence, and misinform populations all over the world for years. Many countries, like England for example, literally have anti-terrorist sects of their military specifically dedicated to combating the impacts of paid, malicious social-media in their countries. Zuckerberg was just too arrogant to assume that the possibility of that happening here was a real threat (something he’s since apologized for), and that’s the point.
These huge groups that are in charge of our culture and information barely have any regulatory groups watching over them. Facebook allowed for the incubation of false extremist and ultra-conservative propaganda to riddle the election and heighten social tensions. Last month Equifax, under virtually no internal consequence, leaked the most sensitive information of half the countries occupants. The list goes on… The point is that our national security is at risk and this is way more serious than simply an inconvenience of big industry.
When we think about companies as monarchs, we see them in a different light because our perception of their governance changes. These companies and brands live within castle walls where they’re safe from the outside world, where we live. They are able to operate on their perception of what is right, regardless of what that means for us. Their bottom line changes from a representation of the people, to the shareholders. Thus they become a charade, acting as peacekeeping overlords, but really living remissibly on a cash throne made out of the revenue channels they established to get them there.
Now, lets take a look at society. A small percentage of ignorant nationalists can make a huge amount of noise around outdated platforms. They are fueling the extremely conservative polarization that we’re seeing in today’s politics, and that polarization will forever damper our ability to progress societally at the level we should be. That being said, I totally understand the basis of the nationalist agenda, especially considering the vulnerability of blue collar work that is being trivialized by modern technology… but thats a whole other issue.
Regardless of the validity of some perspectives of the nationalistic agenda, it’s super dangerous that we as a nation do not work across the aisle. The labor concern is a huge one, but so is the lack of bi-partisanship in this country. These strong attitudes are the root of a new era of American fascism, especially considering their expression through hugely mobilized forces of people. These scenarios have been the same ones to cultivate fascism in the past, especially in Germany. High levels of capitalism, and a high-tension relationship between nationalism and socialism.
It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. becomes a full-force fascist regime. A lot of people would argue that we’re already there with Trump, and I’d probably agree with them if I didn’t think things could be so much worse.
I think that the reason why things aren’t worse than they are now, is because we as a national people still have a significant amount of power over those darn 1%rs we know so well from the Occupy movement. The American dream was founded on the principles of free enterprise and the idea that we can be the masters of our own destinies, but if we allow for one or two huge corporations to be our sole option in consuming goods and services in every industry, we will have entirely lost that control. Free enterprise and the value of small businesses will disappear. There will be no more avenues to achieve the ambitious goals we are promised in this country, there will only be corporate ladders to climb. It would inevitably become the societal structure from 1984, except in real life, and that’s way scarier.
However, to end on a positive note, I think that we have an obligation to celebrate the right brands, and hold the wrong ones accountable for their actions. We live in a world now, where we establish our voices in the way we consume the world around us. Especially in a world where our brands are more influential than our politics, it’s time we open our eyes as to where we’re throwing our money. We must recognize our societal vulnerability, and instigate a renaissance around proactive consumerism. That is how we’ll reclaim our voice and our values.
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