In a capitalist system, money is intrinsically linked to power. The more money you own, the greater influence you can exert.
Particularly, purchasing power can be transformed into political power when the wealthy use their resources to assume positions in the corridors of influence by attending elite private schools, exclusive social clubs, or events at which they are able to establish relationships with other interests that are monetarily related.
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Control of the political system can also be obtained by wealthy individuals who fund people in positions of power who have favorable opinions, using marketing and PR strategies to influence public opinion in their favour or by forming pressure groups to influence politicians directly.
There are many names given to this kind of thing including corporate lobbying, nepotism, corporate lobbying corruption, cronyism “the old boys club” and sleaze, bribery and many more, however all of these terms refer to the same behavior.
This is because those who are wealthy can use these resources to build societies that are in line with their needs.
An excellent example comes in the examples of the Koch brothers as well as the Mercer family.
Charles and David Koch, American billionaires are the principal owners of America’s second-largest privately owned firm.
They, their families as well as a variety of wealthy donors have invested hundreds of millions (probably hundreds of billions) to establish committees and think tanks that support the policies of the Koch brothers, which includes low taxes, deregulation, and less environmental protections.
In addition the Mercer family have also been major contributors to right-wing magazines and think tanks in the USA including Breitbart News as well as the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute – among scores of others.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Hungarian billionaire George Soros founded the Open Societies Foundation and is believed to have donated over $32 billion to the organization since its founding. Due to the Open Societies Foundation’s assistance and support to refugees seeking asylum in Western nations, along with its lobbying for pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants from the USA and other countries, George Soros has become a figure of resentment for a large portion of the European and American right-wing.
“The Strong Will Do Whatever They Can Do, while the weak Will Accept Anything They Must Accept” — Thucydides. The Melian Dialogue
The concept of those who have financial power using it to promote their own interests is often paired with military power.
Take the United Fruit Company as an illustration. The dictators of Latin America ensured that the United Fruit Company had a favorable business environment. This enabled them to establish lucrative business operations in Latin America before World War II.
Then, in 1944 United Fruit began experiencing difficulties in Guatemala – one of their biggest bases. In a popular uprising, Jorge Ubico (the Guatemalan President) is a dictator who was aligned closely with US interests and a strong supporter of United Fruit Company was deposed.
Over the next ten years Many of the presidents who were following Ubico adopted land reform policies which returned vast swathes of land belonging to United Fruit to the Guatemalan people.
In 1954 in the year 1954, the United Fruit Company had seen enough, and heavily lobbied the American government to do something. In part, because several of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s employees had connections with United Fruit, they were just too eager to help.
The CIA orchestrated an attempted coup in Guatemala which overthrew Guatemala’s elected president and installed an unfriendly dictator. The result was four decades of civil war between Guatemala’s poorest and a succession US-backed dictators that left more than 200,000 dead.
In March 1999, US President Bill Clinton finally apologized to the Guatemalan government over the atrocities perpetrated by the American-backed dictatorships and said that ‘for the United States it is important to make clear that support for military forces and intelligence units that engaged in violence and massive repression was not right.’
Guatemala was not the only instance. It’s difficult to comprehend how much destruction and bloodshed the United Fruit Company, along with its powerful allies in the government and military, left in a number of Latin American countries.
Not That Long Ago, Not So Far Away From Home
Examples of corporate interests becoming political and military interests too are not limited to a few Latin American states in long-gone years.
In the example of Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, several high-ranking British military officers and political people plotted for a long time to establish the coalition government of their own.
The majority of people think that this is a strange conspiracy. However, Peter Wright, a whistleblower with MI5 has confirmed the conspiracy in Spycatcher. The book was banned in England following its publication in 1987.
Other people who have confirmed accounts of the plot to kill Wilson include Hugh Cudlipp, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, and the former intelligence officer Brian Crozier.
It is thought that the conspirators had a particular individual in mind to lead the unelected government. It was none less than Lord Mountbatten, a relative to both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Patrick Sawer is a Senior News Reporter at The Daily Telegraph. He wrote:
Lord Mountbatten was a dangerously close candidate for leading an industrialist cabal, generals, and tycoons in plotting a coup against a Labour government. Mountbatten and the conspirators believed 1968 was a time of national crisis. The plot was to remove Harold Wilson as Prime Minister with a coalition government.
These events were included in Season 3 Episode 5 on the TV series The Crown. The episode was appropriately called “Coup”.
In the USA, a similar plot was created in 1933.
After the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had pledged to end the gold standard and enact a raft of left-wing economic policies that became known as the “New Deal.” and the magnates who controlled huge corporations like Chase Bank, Standard Oil, General Motors, Goodyear, Dupont, Heinz, and many others, conspired to form an elite army of as much as half a million veterans of the military to take over the government of Roosevelt and install a fascist leadership to replace him.
This was later known as the Business Plot and the conspirators approached Major General Smedley Butler – a 34 year veteran of the US Marine Corps, who at the time was the most decorated marine in US history – to lead their private army.
But Butler was disillusioned with his experiences in the US military, and not just did he decide not to participate in the plot, he testified about it before the United States House of Representatives in 1934.
Even though Congress concluding that they could verify all the pertinent assertions given by General Butler However, no one was ever prosecuted. Nor did any of the key individuals accused of having been involved in the plot summoned to testify in front of Congress.
Shortly after, in 1935, Smedley Butler released a book called War Is A Racket – the summary of which reads:
War is an art of racket. It always has been. It’s the most enduring, easily the most profitable and certainly the most vile. It is the sole worldwide one. It’s the only one that the profits are reckoned in dollars and the loss of lives. A racket is best described, I believe it is not what it seems to the majority of people. There is a tiny number of “insiders” that know what it is. This is done to the benefit and expense to the very few. Out of war a few people earn huge sums of money.