I can’t speak for the situation in all European countries, but it’s clear that the UK’s political system (like the US one) is now entirely captured by the corporations. Democratic institutions are the facade behind which true power – that of the corporate elites – lurks. Thinking otherwise is on a par with believing in Father Christmas.
The most recent call to wake up from our illusions comes inthe form of a series of revelations that Lynton Crosby, the man running the ruling Conservative party’s election strategy and a friend of British prime minister David Cameron, is a consultant for all the ugliest parasitic corporations on the planet: he “advises” cigarette manufacturers, fracking firms and, according to a report in today’s Guardian, firms that cannibalise the remnants of the national health service. Next we’ll doubtless learn that he’s a consultant for hedge fund firms too.
One shouldn’t idolise the past. For much of the last century democracy was a competition between, on the one hand, a Conservative party that served the remnants of the landed aristocracy and the emerging global corporations and, on the other, a Labour party that tried to overcome the political inertia to serve the mightiest unions.
The situation was far from ideal but what we have now is unutterably worse. Three parties dominated by slightly different wings of the corporate elite rearranging the chairs in parliament every four or five years. It is this non-stop hyper-“business friendly” environment that has ensured the corporations are so totally entrenched in power.
The revelations about Crosby are embarrassing and it’s not clear how long he can survive in his semi-public role. But two things should be obvious. First, the fact that Crosby wasn’t ousted the moment it became clear he and the cigarette industry had ensured the government folded on a plan to put cigarettes in unmarked packs shows how entitled – to their own unaccountability – the corporations-in-power have become. Second, if Crosby goes, he will still “influence” behind the scenes and someone equally morally repulsive will come along to take his place.