An interview with sociologist hans jurgen krysmanski on global and national power and functional elites. Part 2
Part 1: who pulls the strings
how do you assess the power of the military in influencing elites?? Do secret organizations like gladio play a role here? What is the role of seemingly so widely separated institutions such as intelligence agencies and culture?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: in all countries of europe, the horrors of world war ii were still in the bones of the military for a long time. The unconvincing warrior caste had to be relegated to nooks and crannies and secret organizations like gladio "better" times wait. Only now, and the kunduz affair is an example of this, are the inhibitions of the military apparatuses (including the arms economy) falling and they are demanding more participation in political power. In the usa it was different. The concept of a pax americana also includes the military apparatus and the war economy. There the military, strengthened by the world war victory and accelerated by the korean war, had become an almost self-evident part of the power elite after 1945. The american sociologist c. Wright mills already pointed this out in 1956 in his book, still worth reading today "the power elite" described in detail. Even the warning of dwight d. Eisenhower’s end of his presidency before a military-industrial complex and the protest movements against a "pentagon capitalism" in the sixties and seventies did not take place in a vacuum. Generals and the arms industry continue to represent a center of power that american politics cannot escape, even to an increasing extent. One only has to think of the absolutely insane military budget. In it, for example, the so-called "nuclear bomb", which dates back to the days of the manhattan project for the construction of the atomic bomb, was also "black budget" dragged along: a secret share of the pentagon budget of 25 percent, from which a quasi-military parallel government can be financed. This is what obama is confronted with. This military apparatus is currently being transformed into a global, high-tech fighting machine that will be able to attack the central power structures of state and non-state adversaries at any time and in any place "surgeon" to switch off. Seymour hersh, the u.A. The report, which uncovered the torture at abu ghraib, says of such forms of ownership "elite assassination"-programs: "these people came to certain countries, did not contact the u.S. Ambassador or the local cia chief, tracked down certain people on their list, executed them, and disappeared again."On the question of conspiratorial cultural politics: much can be said about the role of the secret services (and also of the military) in the cultural hegemony politics of the west. It is obvious that the u.S. Was and is a pioneer in this area as well. This ranges from the congress of cultural freedom, which once operated under covert orders from the cia (and which in the postwar period in europe made cultural and artistic demands and pragmatized the entire intellectual scene), to the growing involvement of the pentagon in the production of hollywood blockbusters, to the increasingly targeted influence on the development of computer games. But this is really a wide field. In your book, you describe a conflict in the usa between the old elite, whose power is based on the ownership of oil, and a new elite, whose wealth and influence is based on the generation of new technologies such as the pc or the internet. Does this conflict exist at the moment and how is it evolving?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: it is not that simple in the book. There are many conflicting interests within the capitalist class (this is still a useful term). There have always been conflicts between financial and industrial capital, between heavy and light industry, between rustic and peacetime economy. The conflict between "ol"- and "internet"-elites runs through the last twenty years. There was just recently a bush junior, who hardly played the keyboard, and electronic freaks like al gore standing opposite each other. All this has a real background, for which these two figures also represent. On the one hand, it is about our real world, our planet with its resources, its ocosphere, so to speak about the tangible, material side of the reproduction of society. On the other hand, our planet is also a sphere of general communication, not least of global financial transactions, and – what i like much more – a space of incalculably diverse cultural and mass cultural changes. On this communicative level of power and hegemony it is no longer only about the process of metabolism between society and nature (i.E. Crassly: about the struggle for oil, or progressively: about saving the ocosphere), but about cultural developments and prospects. The question then is, for example, does the obama administration really stand for this second level on which it has introduced and perhaps even ingratiated itself? And that’s where we get to the more interesting strategic questions of a class struggle that is not within the elites, but actually between "above" and "below" . That is why i would like to take this opportunity to post here g. To quote william domhoff, author of the best-selling book that has been reprinted again and again for decades "who rules america?": "will the failures in warfare (i.E., a failure to reach an agreement with iran and continued bellicose policies in iraq, afghanistan, and pakistan) further destabilize the u.S. Domestically? Will the current great recession get worse?? Will this develop a culture of resistance to the left of obama? Will they fall for the brutal social darwinism of the political cowboys or find the right mix of strategy and tactics and formulate an economic vision attractive to a significant minority of workers and liberals??"
System of unearned money accumulation must be preserved
likewise, they have explored antagonisms between the american and arab factions of capital, which at the same time stand side by side in corporate consortia like the carlyle group. How does it work together? Hans jurgen krysmanski: pack fights, pack makes up. This is true for all classes and especially where it is about the capitalist competition for exploitation, about the satisfaction of the greed for profit. The system of unearned money accumulation must be preserved, this is only possible through alliances between the actors. But then the bashing starts, not only between american, european, arabic, asian, etc. The book is not only about the relations between the various factions of capital, but also within the corporate world itself: between banks and industry, between managers and shareholders. Joussef m. Ibrahim, a spokesman for wealthy investors and shareholders from the arab world, took aim as early as 2004 in an article in the international herald tribune at the corporate elites of the western world who pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars while the value of their corporations plummeted through dishonesty and incompetence. He wrote: "these rulers of gigantic corporations are members of a tiny club which starves the usual investors at the outstretched arm. Worse, the big banks and investment firms are helping those bosses cover their tracks. They fly private jets, paid by the shareholders, they allow themselves private boxes at rough sporting events and shows. They are friends who dine together as they move from board meeting to board meeting. A foul stench is spreading in the boardrooms of major corporations. And on the horizon looms a huge shareholder revolt. The practices of corporate elites threaten the global economy. It is time for the rich, who, like the arabs, have invested hundreds of billions of their assets in these crude corporations, to ask their bankers some hard questions: where is my money and what are you doing with it??“ die carlyle-group steckt da mitten drin – aber uber die ist schon viel geschrieben worden. And the bushes and their arab friends are still grinning at each other at the gala dinners of the carlyle group. Bin laden stands for the arab big capital beyond that one can have the well-founded amption that the whole power machinery of the fight against terrorism has been started not least in order to cope with the competing capitals, the money powers of the arab and asian area. Osama bin laden may speak for fundamentalist islamism, but in terms of distribution policy he stands for parts of arab big business. Loretta napoleoni, for example, points to these connections with her book "modern jihad. Tracing the dollars behind the terror networks". Swift or think of the eu’s new "legalized" spying on the "society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunication" (swift.). This belgian-based cooperative of international finance capital moves 6 trillion dollars a day in 11 million transactions between 7800 banks, brokers, investment firms and other financial institutions worldwide. Swift is thus the service center of the global financial market. And now, with the americans’ right to spy now guaranteed, it is demonstrated that europe’s wealth does not belong to europe’s rich alone – which, in turn, europe’s super-rich, who act globally anyway, could not care less about.
Opportunity for systemic change
can you identify similar tensions in the upper echelons of the eu and the federal republic of germany?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: as a matter of course. Where power is concentrated, there are also power struggles. Think of the feuds of feudalism. If you want to change something, you have to deal with these conflict structures and tensions. And it is very important to distinguish between the moneyed aristocracy, the super-rich, on the one hand, and their functional elites – the corporate, financial and military elites, the political elite, the knowledge, administrative and welfare elites – on the other. Let the moneyed aristocracy settle their partly completely irrational conflicts and vanities among themselves. A change of the system is not to be expected from them anyway. This, of course, does not exclude the fact that there are interesting and responsible people and groups among the european super-rich. But in my opinion, the chance for a change of the system is rather to make the functional elites, who are confused in the current crisis and who see through the ruling complex quite well in quiet hours (and are also in constant danger of being demoted), to think about their own role in this system. You know your way around the milieu. They know how to use the existing knowledge machinery. They could actually find themselves in the rough tradition of the enlightenment, which laid feudalism to rest. Somehow, for a democratic, scientific, planned overcoming of class rule, we also need the expertise of these functional elites. And it is precisely by means of the new information and communication technologies that they have been able to contribute to the creation of a global network of peaceful associations, projects, organizations etc. The communist manifesto states that the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
The variety of possible forms of ownership
in your book, you write that the elites are both creating new ownership structures (patents) and destroying old ones (privatization). Can you tell us more about it? What role does cyberspace play in this? Hans jurgen krysmanski: yes, that is the dialectic of history. Without dialectical thinking (which has a rough future precisely because of cyberspace and its both virtual and real dimensions) we will not understand the development of our history. Clear, legally secured property relations are a cultural achievement. At the same time, capitalist property, although this very property could only come into being on the basis of legal relations, destroys this very right by its randomness (gunnar heinsohn/otto steiger). Privacy, individualization are historical achievements, at the same time we are all systematically expropriated by the insistence on the privatization of all good things. What remains is a handful of super-rich private individuals, who alone still have control over themselves and in this sense are the remaining sovereign. Against this background, it is ultimately a matter of rediscovering the diversity of possible forms of ownership. Property is not just about expropriation and appropriation, but also about sharing, gifting, etc. The main ie is new forms of cooperative ownership. Here, too, the internet plays a decisive role. Because by means of cyberspace we have begun to reappropriate this world in a new way. The business magazine brandeins headlines: "knowledge is the first raw material that multiplies with use". That’s why i think – if you don’t forget the dialectical view – google or wikipedia, for example, are so important. These are the first steps in a historically new and promising direction of the social use of intellectual property and thus of property in general (jeremy rifkin). Michael hardt and antonio negri write in their book "empire": "the right to reappropriation which they demand programmatically means first and foremost the right to reappropriate the means of production. The crowd not only uses machines for production, but also increasingly becomes a kind of machine itself, as the means of production are more and more integrated into the heads and bodies of the crowd. In this context, reappropriation means having free access to and control over knowledge, information, communication, and affect."
in their book, they compare the politically instituted mechanism of sovereign debt with the "original accumulation" with karl marx. Can you explain for our readers what is meant by this?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: i have to answer with a marx quote: "public debt becomes one of the most energetic levers of original accumulation. As if with the stroke of the wishing rod, it endows the unproductive money with procreative power and thus transforms it into capital, without its needing to expose itself to the strain and danger inseparable from industrial and even usurious investment."(marx, mew 23, 787) original accumulation means to get money not through labor, but through robbery, violence, crime and corruption, but also through subtle means of persuasion, confusion and all kinds of indirect frauds – for example through financial magic tricks, etc. And isn’t that a great twist: to make the state, and thus the taxpayers, incur debt upon debt, and thus all of us debtors – without the creditors becoming visible?? The identity of the debtor’s creditors is practically never discussed. The federal government has a trillion euro debt. In the coming year, 40.4 billion euros will have to be budgeted for interest alone. After the social budget (147 billion euros), this is the second largest expenditure item in the federal government’s budget. So who are the creditors who collect a safe 40 billion in interest from the state, the safest of all debtors, year after year?? The banks themselves are only involved to a small extent, as they act primarily as intermediaries. In fact, most of the interest ends up in the pockets of the wealthy, the rich. Das ist eine der sichersten formen der umverteilung von reichtum und der akkumulation von superreichtum. It stands – with the fuggers, the welsers etc. – at the beginning of capitalism, it has crept through its history, and it is possibly at the end of capitalism in its present form.
Networks of corruption
can you explain to us what you mean by the "refeudalization of the present" understand? Hans jurgen krysmanski: the moment wealth is no longer generated by labor, by production, by the real economy, dependency relationships return to society, which are not based on the opposition between capital and labor, but on violence, subjugation, and the use of force, "god’s grace" etc. I am not talking about simple refeudalization. We cannot get back into the same historical river, the spiral continues to turn. Nevertheless, jean ziegler is right when he speaks of a brutal, massive refeudalization in which the new colonial masters, the multinational corporations, appropriate the wealth of the world. He writes: "this new feudal rule is 1000 times more brutal than the aristocratic one at the time of the french revolution" …" i myself speak of a "capitalism-based high-tech refeudalization". By this i mean that most of the wealth created is no longer distributed and redistributed through free markets, but through huge, finely woven and, above all, highly technically underfed networks of corruption, in which robber barons, vassals, kings and serfs of the electronic age appropriate the values in a completely unoconomic way, i.E. In a way that contradicts any real economy. Financial transactions disconnected from real economy are anything but "oconomy". And this happens at the same time – also therefore refeudalization – at least europe in the costumes and on the palaces of the old aristocracy, in the courtly glamor of bambi galas, etc. Sie unterstellen in ihrem buch die herrschaft von konkreten personen, einer elite und zwar in gestalt einer entsubjektivierten herrschaft, der wertform wie geht das zusammen? Hans jurgen krysmanski: this is an old contradiction also in the left classical-theoretical discussion. Do we look at the structures of capitalist exploitation or do we also look at the names and faces of the capitalists, the actors?? I think we need both points of view and we need their dialectical combination. Especially the writings of marx are an excellent example. Who only talks about neoliberalism, which has to be fought, steals away from the responsibility of concrete political actions. Those who only talk about the greedy bankers who need a rap on the knuckles make themselves laughable and eventually get lost in actionism. Conflicts of domination – class struggle, if you will – are always both structure and action, objective and subjective. But as i said, the computerized dialectical thinking necessary for this question and also a – why should there not be? – dialectical research still have the future ahead of them. You mention in your book the artist mark lombardi. What does this have to do with their conception of elites?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: elite research, power structure research, is driven not only by professional social scientists, but also by journalists, watchdog groups, political parties, social movement activists, trade unionists, nerds, and even artists. The american painter mark lombardi (1951-2000) used political and financial scandals as an opportunity to make rough diagrams of the people and groups of people involved, who on the one hand made a profit on the art market, but on the other hand recorded dirty deals and criminal activities of the upper ten thousands. Lombardi had created a private database with over 12,000 index cards. His art constantly crossed the line into investigative journalism and conspiracy thinking, so that before his mysterious death – he was found hanged in his studio – even the fbi began to take an interest in his diagrams. For me, lombardi is an impressive example of how power structure research can also be grassroots research. Last but not least: what will happen next? Will the good guys win and the bad guys lose?? Hans jurgen krysmanski: i hope that those who stylize themselves as good guys by means of media power will succumb to those who have finally become bose on this exploitative system. (reinhard jellen)