I meant to highlight this earlier this week, but just got caught up in all manner of other things. Still, this week’s must read is Barry Ritholtz’s post at The Big Picture, “The Left-Right Paradigm is Over: It’s You Vs. Corporations.” Ritholyz says the old left-right split, a clear fault line since the heyday of Abbie Hoffman, has been replaced by a new fault line. If you’re a CEO, you may want to avert your eyes:
We now live in an era defined by increasing corporate influence and authority over the individual. These two “interest groups” – I can barely suppress snorting derisively over that phrase – have been on a headlong collision course for decades, which came to a head with the financial collapse and bailouts. Where there is massive concentrations of wealth and influence, there will be abuse of power. The individual has been supplanted in the political process nearly entirely by corporate money, legislative influence, campaign contributions, even free speech rights.
This may not be a brilliant insight, but it is surely an overlooked one. It is now an individual vs. corporate debate – and the humans are losing.
Everybody plays this left-right split like it’s Monday Night Football. We cheer and root for “our team” to win, win elections, win debates, just win. The right has a rally in Washington. The left has a rally in Washington. All the problems in the world are seen through this prism and the other side is always at fault. It’s an easy, familiar split, something even media pundits can grasp.
But that left-right split is just not the important one anymore. It’s not the fault line that matters.
It’s interesting that he doesn’t once use the word “kleptocracy,” but that’s essentially what he’s talking about. The moneyed interests have taken over the political process. The political parties have monopolized power. If this was coming from some far-left observer, you might dismiss it (regardless of merits,) but Ritholtz is not some Marxist.
Every election cycle, it seems, we hear that such and such an election is the “most important” in our lifetimes. The right is chanting it this time around. The Dems were chanting it in 2004, and 2008. Sometimes the balance of power changes hands. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it doesn’t seem like much changes. I don’t know about you, but me personally, I don’t feel like either of these parties represents me at all, which I guess is why Barry’s post struck such a nerve with me. A pox on both their houses, indeed.
The single most important political development that I’d like to see is a loosening of the political process, to the extent that other parties and other voices have a legitimate chance to be involved (which no doubt will have to come only with the GOP and Dems kicking and screaming.) Because these two parties are just playing games with us.