Fight the disease of globalized corporate capitalism

Fight the Disease, Not the Symptoms

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The disease of globalized corporate capitalism has the same effects across the planet. It weakens or destroys democratic institutions, making them subservient to corporate and oligarchic power. It forces domestic governments to give up control over their economies, which operate under policies dictated by global corporations, banks, the World Trade Organizationand the International Monetary Fund. It casts aside hundreds of millions of workers now classified as “redundant” or “surplus” labor. It disempowers underpaid and unprotected workers, many toiling in global sweatshops, keeping them cowed, anxious and compliant. It financializes the economy, creating predatory global institutions that extract money from individuals, institutions and states through punishing forms of debt peonage. It shuts down genuine debate on corporate-owned media platforms, especially in regard to vast income disparities and social inequality. And the destruction empowers proto-fascist movements and governments.

These proto-fascist forces discredit verifiable fact and history and replace them with myth. They peddle nostalgia for lost glory. They attack the spiritual bankruptcy of the modern, technocratic world. They are xenophobic. They champion the “virtues” of a hyper-masculinity and the warrior cult. They preach regeneration through violence. They rally around demagogues who absolve followers of moral choice and promise strength and protection. They marginalize and destroy all individuals and institutions, including schools, that make possible self-criticism, self-reflection and transcendence and that nurture empathy, especially for the demonized. This is why artists and intellectuals are ridiculed and silenced. This is why dissent is attacked as an act of treason.

These movements are also deeply misogynistic. They disempower girls and women to hand a perverted power to men who feel powerless in the global economy. They blame ethnic and religious minorities for the national decline. They foster bizarre conspiracy theories. And they communicate in the Orwellian newspeak of alternative facts. They claim the sole right to represent and use indigenous patriotic and religious symbols.

India, built on the foundations of caste slavery, has become one of many new neofeudal states, among them Turkey, Poland, Russia and the United States. Its neofeudal structure continues to carry out atrocities against Dalits—the former “untouchables”—and now increasingly against Muslims. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat oversaw a vicious anti-Muslim pogrom, has defended sectarian discrimination and violence even though this year he made a tepid declaration that “[w]e will not tolerate violence in the name of faith” and issued other unconvincing appeals for religious peace. As prime minister he has employed threats, harassment and force to silence those who decry human rights abuses and atrocities carried out in India. He attacks his critics as “anti-national”—the equivalent of “unpatriotic” in the United States.

Modi, like his fellow demagogues in other parts of the world, including Donald Trump, speaks in the language of moral purity and promotes self-serving historical myth. Indians who eat beef—a huge number—are targeted, school history books are being rewritten to conform to right-wing Hindu ideology and its open admiration for fascism, and entertainers considered too political or too salacious are under attack.

There are within America’s corporate power structures individuals, parties and groups that find the hysterical, imbecilic and irrational rants of demagogues such as Trump repugnant. They seek a return to the polished mendacity of politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. They hope to promote the interests of global capitalism by maintaining the fiction of a functioning democracy and an open society. These “moderates” or “liberals,” however, are also the architects of the global corporate pillage. They created the political vacuum that the demagogues and proto-fascist movements have filled. They blind themselves to their own complicity. They embrace their own myths—such as the belief that former FBI Director James Comey and the Russians were responsible for the election of Trump—to avoid examining the social inequality that is behind the global crisis and their defeat.

The 400 richest individuals in the United States have more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population, and the three richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the U.S. population. This social inequality will only get worse as the weak controls that once regulated the economy and the tax code are abolished or rewritten to further increase the concentration of wealth among the ruling oligarchs. Social inequality at this level, history has shown, always results in these types of pathologies and political distortions. It also, potentially, presages revolution.

The short-term political and economic gains made by the Democratic Party and liberal class in the last few decades came at the expense of the working class. The liberal class, because of its complicity in globalization, has destroyed its credibility as well as the credibility of the “liberal” democratic values it claims to represent. Enraged workers, lied to for decades by “liberal” politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Obama, delight in Trump’s crude taunts and insults directed at the power structure and elites they loath. Many Americans are perhaps aware that Trump is a con artist, but he at least appears to share their disdain for the “liberal” elites who abandoned them.

It will eventually become apparent to some, perhaps many, of Trump’s supporters that he is cravenly in the service of the 1 percent and has turbocharged the corporate kleptocracy. The Democratic Party, busy purging Bernie Sanders supporters from its ranks, is banking on this epiphany to revive its political fortunes. The Democratic leadership has no real political strategy, other than to hope that Trump implodes. They are backing and funding opposition movements such as Indivisible and the women’s marches, as well as the witch hunt about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, all of which have as their sole focus removing Trump and restoring the Democratic Party to power. This form of resistance is sterile and useless.

But there are other resistance movements—the most prominent being the battle by the water protectors at Standing Rock to block the Dakota Access pipeline—that attack the disease. It is easy to tell the resistance from the faux resistance by the response of the state. During the women’s marches, Democrats, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were honored participants. The police were usually courteous and helped facilitate the marches; arrests were few and coverage by the corporate press was sympathetic. In contrast, during the long encampment at Standing Rock, which took place under the Obama administration, the nonviolent resisters were physically attacked by police, the National Guard and private security contractors. These forces used dogs, pepper spray, water cannons in subzero temperatures, sound machines, drones, armored vehicles and hundreds of arrests in their efforts to destroy the resistance.

Attack the symptoms and the state will be passive. Attack the disease and the state will be ruthless.

Once Trump’s base begins to abandon him—the repression in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a good example of what will happen—the political landscape will turn very ugly. Trump and his allies, in a desperate bid to cling to power, will openly stoke hate crimes and violence against Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, progressives, intellectuals, feminists and dissidents. He and his allies on the “alt-right” and the Christian right will move to silence all organs of dissent, including corporate media outlets fighting to restore the patina of civility that is the window dressing to corporate pillage. They will harness the power of the nation’s substantial internal security apparatus to crush public protests and to jail opponents, even those who are part of the faux resistance.

Time is not on our side. If we can build counter-capitalist movements that include the working class we have a chance. If we can, like the water protectors at Standing Rock, mount sustained acts of defiance in the face of severe state repression, we have a chance. If we can organize nationwide campaigns of noncooperation we have a chance. We cannot be distracted by the symptoms. We must cure the disease.

Chris Hedges
Columnist
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 11 books,…
Mr. Fish
Cartoonist
Mr. Fish, also known as Dwayne Booth, is a cartoonist who primarily creates for Truthdig.com and Harpers.com. Mr. Fish’s work has also appeared nationally in The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Vanity…
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Chris Hedges: America’s Mania for Positive Thinking and Denial of Reality Will Be Our Downfall

The ridiculous positivism, the belief that we are headed toward some glorious future, defies reality.
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The naive belief that history is linear, that moral progress accompanies technical progress, is a form of collective self-delusion. It cripples our capacity for radical action and lulls us into a false sense of security. Those who cling to the myth of human progress, who believe that the world inevitably moves toward a higher material and moral state, are held captive by power. Only those who accept the very real possibility of dystopia, of the rise of a ruthless corporate totalitarianism, buttressed by the most terrifying security and surveillance apparatus in human history, are likely to carry out the self-sacrifice necessary for revolt.

The yearning for positivism that pervades our corporate culture ignores human nature and human history. But to challenge it, to state the obvious fact that things are getting worse, and may soon get much worse, is to be tossed out of the circle of magical thinking that defines American and much of Western culture. The left is as infected with this mania for hope as the right. It is a mania that obscures reality even as global capitalism disintegrates and the ecosystem unravels, potentially dooming us all.

The 19th century theorist Louis-Auguste Blanqui, unlike nearly all of his contemporaries, dismissed the belief, central to Karl Marx, that human history is a linear progression toward equality and greater morality. He warned that this absurd positivism is the lie perpetrated by oppressors: “All atrocities of the victor, the long series of his attacks are coldly transformed into constant, inevitable evolution, like that of nature. … But the sequence of human things is not inevitable like that of the universe. It can be changed at any moment.” He foresaw that scientific and technological advancement, rather than being a harbinger of progress, could be “a terrible weapon in the hands of Capital against Work and Thought.” And in a day when few others did so, he decried the despoiling of the natural world. “The axe fells, nobody replants. There is no concern for the future’s ill health.”

“Humanity,” Blanqui wrote, “is never stationary. It advances or goes backwards. Its progressive march leads it to equality. Its regressive march goes back through every stage of privilege to human slavery, the final word of the right to property.” Further, he wrote, “I am not amongst those who claim that progress can be taken for granted, that humanity cannot go backwards.”Blanqui understood that history has long periods of cultural barrenness and brutal repression. The fall of the Roman Empire, for example, led to misery throughout Europe during the Dark Ages, roughly from the sixth through the 13th centuries. There was a loss of technical knowledge (one prominent example being how to build and maintain aqueducts), and a cultural and intellectual impoverishment led to a vast historical amnesia that blotted out the greatest thinkers and artists of the classical world. None of this loss was regained until the 14th century when Europe saw the beginning of the Renaissance, a development made possible largely by the cultural flourishing of Islam, which through translating Aristotle into Arabic and other intellectual accomplishments kept alive the knowledge and wisdom of the past. The Dark Ages were marked by arbitrary rule, incessant wars, insecurity, anarchy and terror. And I see nothing to prevent the rise of a new Dark Age if we do not abolish the corporate state. Indeed, the longer the corporate state holds power the more likely a new Dark Age becomes. To trust in some mythical force called progress to save us is to become passive before corporate power. The people alone can defy these forces. And fate and history do not ensure our victory.

Blanqui tasted history’s tragic reverses. He took part in a series of French revolts, including an attempted armed insurrection in May 1839, the 1848 uprising and the Paris Commune—a socialist uprising that controlled France’s capital from March 18 until May 28 in 1871. Workers in cities such as Marseilles and Lyon attempted but failed to organize similar communes before the Paris Commune was militarily crushed.

The blundering history of the human race is always given coherence by power elites and their courtiers in the press and academia who endow it with a meaning and coherence it lacks. They need to manufacture national myths to hide the greed, violence and stupidity that characterize the march of most human societies. For the United States, refusal to confront the crisis of climate change and our endless and costly wars in the Middle East are but two examples of the follies that propel us toward catastrophe.

Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge deals with the particular and the actual. Knowledge is the domain of science and technology. Wisdom is about transcendence. Wisdom allows us to see and accept reality, no matter how bleak that reality may be. It is only through wisdom that we are able to cope with the messiness and absurdity of life. Wisdom is about detachment. Once wisdom is achieved, the idea of moral progress is obliterated. Wisdom throughout the ages is a constant. Did Shakespeare supersede Sophocles? Is Homer inferior to Dante? Does the Book of Ecclesiastes not have the same deep powers of observation about life that Samuel Beckett offers? Systems of power fear and seek to silence those who achieve wisdom, which is what the war by corporate forces against the humanities and art is about. Wisdom, because it sees through the facade, is a threat to power. It exposes the lies and ideologies that power uses to maintain its privilege and its warped ideology of progress.

Knowledge does not lead to wisdom. Knowledge is more often a tool for repression. Knowledge, through the careful selection and manipulation of facts, gives a false unity to reality. It creates a fictitious collective memory and narrative. It manufactures abstract concepts of honor, glory, heroism, duty and destiny that buttress the power of the state, feed the disease of nationalism and call for blind obedience in the name of patriotism. It allows human beings to explain the advances and reverses in human achievement and morality, as well as the process of birth and decay in the natural world, as parts of a vast movement forward in time. The collective enthusiasm for manufactured national and personal narratives, which is a form of self-exaltation, blots out reality. The myths we create that foster a fictitious hope and false sense of superiority are celebrations of ourselves. They mock wisdom. And they keep us passive.

Wisdom connects us with forces that cannot be measured empirically and that are outside the confines of the rational world. To be wise is to pay homage to beauty, truth, grief, the brevity of life, our own mortality, love and the absurdity and mystery of existence. It is, in short, to honor the sacred. Those who remain trapped in the dogmas perpetuated by technology and knowledge, who believe in the inevitability of human progress, are idiot savants.

“Self-awareness is as much a disability as a power,” the philosopher John Gray writes. “The most accomplished pianist is not the one who is most aware of her movements when she plays. The best craftsman may not know how he works. Very often we are at our most skillful when we are least self-aware. That may be why many cultures have sought to disrupt or diminish self-conscious awareness. In Japan, archers are taught that they will hit the target only when they no longer think of it—or themselves.”

Artists and philosophers, who expose the mercurial undercurrents of the subconscious, allow us to face an unvarnished truth. Works of art and philosophy informed by the intuitive, unarticulated meanderings of the human psyche transcend those constructed by the plodding conscious mind. The freeing potency of visceral memories does not arrive through the intellect. These memories are impervious to rational control. And they alone lead to wisdom.

Those with power have always manipulated reality and created ideologies defined as progress to justify systems of exploitation. Monarchs and religious authorities did this in the Middle Ages. Today this is done by the high priests of modernity—the technocrats, scholars, scientists, politicians, journalists and economists. They deform reality. They foster the myth of preordained inevitability and pure rationality. But such knowledge—which dominates our universities—is anti-thought. It precludes all alternatives. It is used to end discussion. It is designed to give to the forces of science or the free market or globalization a veneer of rational discourse, to persuade us to place our faith in these forces and trust our fate to them. These forces, the experts assure us, are as unalterable as nature. They will lead us forward. To question them is heresy.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, in his 1942 novella “Chess Story,” chronicles the arcane specializations that have created technocrats unable to question the systems they serve, as well as a society that foolishly reveres them. Mirko Czentovic, the world chess champion, represents the technocrat. His mental energy is invested solely in the 64 squares of the chessboard. Apart from the game, he is a dolt, a monomaniac like all monomaniacs, who “burrow like termites into their own particular material to construct, in miniature, a strange and utterly individual image of the world.” When Czentovic “senses an educated person he crawls into his shell. That way no one will ever be able to boast of having heard him say something stupid or of having plumbed the depths of his seemingly boundless ignorance.”

An Austrian lawyer known as Dr. B, whom the Gestapo had held for many months in solitary confinement, challenges Czentovic to a game of chess. During his confinement, the lawyer’s only reading material was a chess manual, which he memorized. He reconstructed games in his head. Forced by his captivity to replicate the single-minded obsession of the technocrat Czentovic, Dr. B too became trapped inside a specialized world, and, unlike Czentovic, he became insane temporarily as he focused on a tiny, specialized piece of human activity. When he challenges the chess champion, his insanity returns.

Zweig, who mourned for the broad liberal culture of educated Europe swallowed up by fascism and modern bureaucracy, warns of the absurdity and danger of a planet run by technocrats. For him, the rise of the Industrial Age and the industrial man and woman is a terrifying metamorphosis in the relationship of human beings to the world. As specialists and bureaucrats, human beings become tools, able to make systems of exploitation and even terror function efficiently without the slightest sense of personal responsibility or understanding. They retreat into the arcane language of all specialists, to mask what they are doing and give to their work a sanitized, clinical veneer.

This is Hannah Arendt’s central point in “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” Technocratic human beings are spiritually dead. They are capable of anything, no matter how heinous, because they do not reflect upon or question the ultimate goal. “The longer one listened to him,” Arendt writes of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann on trial, “the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and presence of others, and hence against reality as such.”

Zweig, horrified by a world run by technocrats, committed suicide with his wife in 1942. He knew that from then on, the Czentovics would be exalted in the service of state and corporate monstrosities.

Resistance, as Alexander Berkman points out, is first about learning to speak differently and abandoning the vocabulary of the “rational” technocrats who rule. Once we discover new words and ideas through which to perceive and explain reality, we free ourselves from neoliberal capitalism, which functions, as Walter Benjamin knew, like a state religion. Resistance will take place outside the boundaries of popular culture and academia, where the deadening weight of the dominant ideology curtails creativity and independent thought.

As global capitalism disintegrates, the heresy our corporate masters fear is gaining currency. But that heresy will not be effective until it is divorced from the mania for hope that is an essential part of corporate indoctrination. The ridiculous positivism, the belief that we are headed toward some glorious future, defies reality. Hope, in this sense, is a form of disempowerment.

There is nothing inevitable about human existence except birth and death. There are no forces, whether divine or technical, that will guarantee us a better future. When we give up false hopes, when we see human nature and history for what they are, when we accept that progress is not preordained, then we can act with an urgency and passion that comprehends the grim possibilities ahead.

Empty commitment by G20 to boost global growth

By Nick Beams
17 November 2014

The communiqué issued at the end of the G20 summit held in Brisbane, Australia, over the weekend stated that agreement had been reached among the participants, whose countries comprise 85 percent of the world economy, to boost global growth by an additional 2.1 percent over the next five years, or more than $2 trillion.

However, any serious examination of the state of global capitalism or even the communiqué itself and its associated documents makes clear the commitments will be honoured only in the breach.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development poured cold water on the goal, pointing to “the high degree of uncertainty in quantifying the impact of members’ policies.”

The G20 leaders met after a year in which an array of economic data pointed to the growing stagnation and outright recession in the world economy and the increasing risks of another financial crisis, the consequences of which would be even more devastating than those of 2008.

Moreover, the summit was held amid growing geo-political tensions, arising from the renewed US military actions in the Middle East and the sanctions imposed on Russia which are further worsening the global economic outlook.

The communiqué pledged G20 members to work in “partnership” to lift growth and boost economic resilience. But major participants, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Obama, lined up to denounce Russia and threaten further sanctions aimed at crippling its economy, the ninth largest in the world.

The contradiction between economic reality and the commitments to boost growth jump out from the very text of the communiqué.

It begins by stating that raising global growth to deliver better living standards and quality jobs for people across the world is “our highest priority.” However in same paragraph, after noting that global growth is not delivering the jobs needed and the economy is being held back by a shortfall in demand, it points to the persistence of risks, “including in financial markets and from geopolitical tensions.”

Not a small component in the shortfall in demand results from the program of austerity being implemented by all major governments as they claw back the debts incurred as a result of bailing out the financial system and banks following the global meltdown of 2008.

The risks to which it points arise from the actions of the major powers themselves. Dangers to financial markets arise from the collapse of the asset bubbles, reflected in the rise of US stock markets to a record high, which have been created by the actions of the world key central banks in placing trillions of dollars at virtually zero interest rates in the hands of banks and financial speculators.

The geo-political risks, in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, are rooted, above all, in the drive by the United States to use military and economic power in its drive to maintain its global hegemony.

The measures set out in the communiqué are themselves internally contradictory. On the one hand, it states that G20 members will “ensure our macroeconomic policies are appropriate to support growth, strengthen demand and promote global rebalancing.” However the next sentence states that they will strive to put “debt as a share of GDP on a sustainable path”—the code phrase for continuing spending cuts that drive down demand and lead to deflation and stagnation.

The summit adopted a Global Infrastructure Initiative, declaring that it “recognises that we are facing investment and infrastructure shortfalls in the global economy which will grow further if we do not act.” But there is no prospect of co-operation and collaboration in the development of such projects.

On the eve of the summit, the Obama administration heavily intervened to ensure the Australian government reversed its in-principle decision to become a founding member of the Chinese-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on the grounds that roads, ports and other facilities financed by the bank would enhance Chinese military capacities in the region.

The focus of the G20 measures is not the boosting of economic growth but so-called structural reforms. These have two related aims: to reduce government regulations on the operations of businesses and to worsen conditions for workers, through so called “labour market flexibility.”

In his preview of the “growth plan,” Australian treasurer Joe Hockey said that as monetary policy and fiscal policy had reached their limits, the focus had to be on “structural reform.”

An article published in the Australian Financial Review on the eve of the summit, by Richard Goyder, the chief executive of the Australian corporation Westfarmers and head of the B20 group of business leaders, made clear what that would entail. He said there was “work to be done to encourage labour market flexibility” and “workforce adaptability.”

The type of measures to be adopted was indicated in the Australian commitment to the G20 plan. It included government proposals to charge higher fees for university education and to force young unemployed people to wait for up to six months before receiving any government benefits.

The complete absence of any sense of broad-based collaboration to lift the world economy was exemplified in the extremely crass remarks by Abbott to the leaders’ retreat held shortly before official proceedings began.

As the leader of the host nation, he said the task of the summit was to “instil more confidence in the people of the world.”

Abbott then began his own five-minute contribution to the discussion by declaring that his government has carried out its election commitment to stop refugee boats arriving in Australia and had repealed the tax imposed on carbon by the previous Labor government.

He went on to bewail the fact that as part of its so-called reform agenda the government had so far been unable to introduce a $7 co-payment for visits to a doctor or deregulate university fees.

While they were a particularly graphic display of narrow nationalism, if not parochialism, Abbott’s remarks were at the same time an expression of the agenda of all the summit participants. Their actions are not determined by the need for global co-operation but by the needs of their own national-state.

National interests were to the fore in the discussions on climate change. There was a redrafting of the final communiqué to include a recommendation for countries to commit funds to the United Nations Green Climate Fund after what were described as “difficult discussions” and even “trench warfare.”

The Abbott government has specifically opposed the fund, describing it as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism,” and the prime minister was reported to have made a passionate defence of the fossil fuel industry.

However, the United States is in a different position as result of the development of the shale gas industry. Consequently Obama was reported to have forcefully opposed Abbott on the question of coal and coal-fired power stations.

The dispute was an example of the conflicting national interests which render all the wordy commitments to co-operation and collaboration to lift the world economy a dead letter.

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/17/g20s-n17.html

Do You Really Want to Save the Earth? Flood Wall Street!

  Occupy Wall Street  

Monday’s rally in NY’s financial district will target the role of global capitalism, the root cause of our environmental crisis.

Photo Credit: Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

This is a critical week for the planet. On Sunday, the People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest environmental march in history. But it would be a grave mistake, for the planet and for ourselves, to overlook another event that is to take place on Monday. That’s when the Flood Wall Street rally will target the role of global capitalism in our environmental crisis.

The profit economy is a root cause — make that the root cause — of climate change.

Wall Street is, in a very real sense, the epicenter of our environmental crisis. To ignore that fact is to risk dooming our other climate efforts to failure, or to use them merely as palliatives for troubled consciences. There’s no other way to say this: Capitalism, as practiced on Wall Street today, is an existential threat to humanity.

To make that statement is not necessarily to issue a jeremiad against capitalism in all its forms. The danger comes not from commerce itself, but from the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power that has accrued in recent decades to corporations and their Wall Street investors. This has led in turn to an ideological shift that has entirely captured the GOP and has seized large portions of the Democratic Party as well.

There has been a counter-revolution in the boardrooms of America’s corporations as well. The widespread amorality that characterizes the current generation of corporate executives — and their Boards — would have been unrecognizable to business leaders of the 1950s and 1960s. While those gentlemen weren’t saints, they understood that society would not tolerate corporate behavior that included widespread fraud, open disregard for the lives of a global workforce, or a rapacious indifference to the fate of the planet itself.

Times have changed. The men and women who lead today’s corporations are a new and more calculating breed. The new culture of corporate America makes every executive a Wall Street speculator. Executive pay packages rely heavily on stock options and bonuses that drive CEOs to push quarterly results without any concern for the future of the company, much less the future of the planet.

They’re aided and abetted by the political class. The cult of Ayn Rand-style libertarianism has infused much of the right with a fanatical belief in the infallibility of executive greed. Democrats in the Bill Clinton mold insist on legitimizing errant executives and their ideas, whether by inviting Goldman Sachs leaders to the Clinton Global Initiative or boosting the pro-corporate “centrism” of the Simpson/Bowles crowd.

Mainstream journalists have idealized the behavior of the ruthless men and women who now lead the private sector. They continued to glorify bank executives like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, even as his institution was paying out tens of billions for rampant and ongoing fraud. (It’s worse than Enron.) They uncritically lionized Steve Jobs, despite the fact that Jobs and his subordinates appear to have engaged in control fraud, and knowingly tolerated the conditions that led to the burning deaths of employees in China. (See “Hell is Cheaper.”)

This ideology of profit über alles has created a climate of public tolerance for corporate greed, at least in certain quarters, which has helped a number of major executives escape public censure — even when their behavior threatens the planet itself. A Newsweek list of the worst companies for the planet includes Archer Daniels Midland (Patricia Woertz, CEO), Duke Energy (Lynn J. Good, CEO), ConAgra Foods (Gary Rodkin, CEO), and Peabody Energy (Gregory Boyce, CEO).

And let’s not forget Koch Industries, whose actions pollute the environment as its leaders pollute the political process.

If large corporations were held accountable for the damage they’re causing — $2.2 trillion per year, by one estimate — many of them would become unprofitable. But, in an unprecedented shift of social responsibility, it has been determined that others will bear the cost instead, one way or another.

Although corporate executives have always misbehaved, society eventually found ways to control their behavior: with regulations, with law enforcement, and with that ancient form of social control known as shame. Now, even shame is failing us. Ironically, in a case of greenwashing on an epic scale, JPMorgan Chase even sponsored a massive rock concert for Hurricane Sandy relief, which featured the formerly Ameriquest-sponsored Rolling Stones. (See “Jumpin’ Jamie Flash” for more on Sandy, Jamie, and Mick.)

Regulation, prosecution, shame: Our modern systems of control have broken down, leaving the planet in danger.

Today’s blatantly amoral capitalism is an anomaly in modern history, a throwback to the days of the Industrial Revolution. But it is an anomaly we can no longer afford. The skies of 19th-century Manchester, England, darkened with soot and smoke, but the planet survived. Today’s threat circles the globe and is already darkening our future. There is no escaping it — not in space or time.

We need to draw the world’s attention to the harm that corporations and their investors are inflicting on the planet. We need to redeploy the anti-apartheid sanction strategies of the 20th century against the corporate interests that are causing such devastating harm to current and future generations. That means publicly identifying the malefactors, boycotting their products, and bringing pressure to bear on the investors and institutions that finance their environmental destruction.

It can be done — but only if Saturday’s marchers carry on for one more day and walk a little bit further down the island of Manhattan. Sunday’s demonstrators will gather around the massive statue of a bull that sits outside the New York Stock Exchange. (Apparently the golden calf hasn’t been erected yet.) The rally will feature Naomi Klein, whose new book is on the relationship between capitalism and climate change, as well as speakers like Chris Hedges and Rebecca Solnit.

Marchers will be wearing blue to represent a “flood.” That metaphor will eventually become fact if climate change goes unchecked. Scientists say that rising sea levels will eventually leave most of Manhattan below 34th Street permanently underwater. Of course, the titans of uncontrolled capitalism will be long gone by then. Only the devastation will remain.

Richard Eskow is a writer, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, and the host of a weekly radio show, “The Breakdown.”