Saturday 20 January 2018

The almighty CEO

The anointed elite somehow retained their power, says Declan Lynch, even though the great crash of 2008 revealed it all to be a fraud

The anointed elite. Photo posed
The anointed elite. Photo posed

There's an old line attributed to Margaret Thatcher - that "the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money".

It's a good line; I wish I'd thought of it myself at some point during the last 20 years or so, when it became the perfect critique not of socialism, but of the economic belief-system which had the same Margaret Thatcher as its godhead.

"Free market" economics they called it, or perhaps "neo-liberalism", this revival of 19th-Century ideas which we recall from our history books as "laissez faire" economics. And sure enough, they have had the effect of giving many people in the 21st Century an insight into what life was like during the 19th Century, before such ideas were utterly discredited for the primitive balderdash that they surely are.

Ah, but they came back during the 1980s, when the leading minds of modern economics realised that in Thatcher and Ronald Reagan they had found true believers in this philosophy - nay, this religion - which has at its core a simple belief: you just get rid of as many rules and regulations as you possibly can, you let "the market" run everything, and life will be beautiful.

And life indeed was beautiful, if you were fortunate enough to find yourself on the inside of the epic swindles which ensued, if you were in on the privatisation and subsequent ruination of public services, or if you were running a bank, or generally operating in the area of high finance, and, indeed, low finance.

It was particularly beautiful if you were a member of the executive class, the stormtroopers of this crusade, the enforcers of the plunder. Being essentially a religion, rather than a system of intelligent analysis, "market forces" needed to create this quasi-mystical elite who were gifted with powers so mysterious, nobody could figure out what they did at all, except that whatever it was, it apparently entitled them to be paid a few million quid a year.

And above all this they created a super-elite, a breed of men who were reputed to possess such astonishing powers, such extravagant talents, there was virtually no way of measuring their worth in money alone, but they would try anyway, starting at about 20 million a year, and ending up somewhere on the shores of infinity.

Chief Executive Officers, they were called, these god-like figures. The Almighty CEO.

To heighten this concept of an anointed elite, they even invented their own language to use in their arcane ceremonies in which they awarded themselves all sorts of monstrous "remuneration" and "compensation", a language which was their equivalent of the Church's use of the Latin Mass, but a garbled tongue of supreme ugliness - it became known as Corporate Bullshit.

Even the very words - remuneration, compensation - which they made up to describe the resources that they were seizing, were corporate bullshit, designed to do what corporate bullshit always does: distracting the people who are doing the actual work from the true nature of their dispossession.

And yet so omnipotent has this culture become, so sacred are these cows, even after the Great Crash of 2008 revealed beyond all doubt the essential fraudulence of it all, still it remains the dominant belief-system of the age.

Long after it was proven to be the religion of quacks and crooks and three-card trick merchants who eventually ran out of other people's money, it somehow retained its power, mutating into "austerity", which was essentially a way of ensuring that those who had destroyed the world would also be the ones to grab the benefits of its reconstruction.

In Ireland, where we have seen the Catholic Church still being allowed to oversee the workings of health-care and educational establishments decades after it was known to be harbouring notorious paedophiles, we have some understanding of how resilient a State religion can be - which didn't stop us either being royally rogered by the money men when the time came - rogered more royally, indeed, than perhaps any other country in Europe was rogered during that tumultuous time.

And not only have the executive classes stayed in the saddle, as it were, with the elevation of Trump, we have seen them gaining even more control of what remains of our civilisation. For what is Trump but the most almighty of the Almighty CEOs?

We have been told incessantly by the zealots of "market forces" that a country should be run like a business, that the wrong sort of people have been in charge, that the solution to everything is to bring in the Almighty CEO, and let him kick some ass.

In Ireland it has become a kind of an official badge of the Eejit to call for Michael O'Leary to be made Taoiseach, but to be fair, he doesn't really want it, perhaps suspecting that it might not be the unqualified success that its advocates would expect.

Trump wanted it, and there he is now, daily displaying all that genius for which business leaders are revered, showing us why these guys are making the big bucks. Showing us perhaps a little too clearly at times, how the sausage is made.

And this may be causing a little unease among like-minded individuals, who have prospered as international men of mystery, their works unseen by the multitudes, of mystical dimensions.

Up there under the lights all the time, the Trumper is giving the game away somewhat, perhaps even planting the thought in the minds of the people, that in order to become an almighty CEO, the one trait above all else that you need, is a massive personality disorder.

But the fact that he got there anyway, is enough to tell us how deep this thing goes. Already he is getting rid of the few meagre regulations they brought in after 2008, when the "free market" ran a little too free.

They ran out of other people's money back then, almost without trying.

This time they're really going for it.

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