"Inverted totalitarianism marks a political moment when corporate power finally sheds its identification as a purely economic phenomenon, confined primarily to a domestic domain of "private enterprise", and evolves into a globalizing co-partnership with the state..... The former becomes more political, the latter more market oriented"In a recent speech in London the CEO of Rio Tinto made a direct threat to elected governments around the world. His message was clear- challenge the power of the mining and resources multinationals by threatening their interests and the industry will do what was done to Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister.
Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
It is remarkable that with a few exceptions there has been little serious analysis or anger in this country about the stark reality that a powerful industry, a number of multinational corporations and some of the wealthiest Australians could use their money and power to unseat a democratically elected Prime Minister.
One exception is an article in the Age by David McKnight in which he asks- who is actually running this country? His answer is corporate power.
In the article below Gavin Mooney, the co convener of the WA Social Justice Network, writes about the speech by the Rio CEO and the mining industry's use of its corporate power.
A PS to the RSPT
By Gavin Mooney
The ‘debate’ around the super profits tax has been illuminating. For me it has said so much about the mentality of the top executives in the mining sector - and of politicians. Early on there were the suggestions that Kevin Rudd was a communist (Clive Palmer), that it amounted to nationalisation (Andrew Forrest) and the tax was straight from the pages of Das Kapital (Julie Bishop)
In the wake of their success in bringing down both Rudd and the tax, their arrogance and their indifference to democracy is now out there in full flow. According to Forrest it wasn’t the miners who brought down Rudd – Twiggy’s pal – it was Ken Henry. Atlas chief David Flanagan divulges to The Australian that he would talk to his wife each night about the implications of the tax ‘and the legacy it would leave for their two children’. He went on: ‘I actually could see a scenario where the RSPT could destroy the fabric of the Australian economy… I mean, totally f…ing smash it to bits.’
Forrest asked ‘who voted for Ken Henry?’ Thank God for Forrest to alert us to the dangers of an unelected Ken Henry. And thank God for those who brought down the tax and saved us from these commies who were otherwise set to ‘destroy the social fabric’ of Australia.
These mining giants also have global aspirations. They are keen to use their power to save not just Australia. They want to save the world from nasty governments elsewhere as well! In a speech to mining executives in London last week, Tom Albanese, the Rio Tinto CEO, according to Peter Wilson in The Australian, ’issued a none-too-subtle warning about the events in Canberra to other governments attracted to the idea of “resource nationalism” and hiking taxes on mining profits’. Albanese is reported to have stated: ‘Policy makers around the world’ (and presumably that includes democratically elected governments – like ours) ‘can learn a lesson when considering a new tax to plug a revenue gap, or play local politics’. We are fortunate however that as Wilson reported Albanese ‘held back from openly crowing about the fall of Mr Rudd’.
The Fin Review joined in. ‘In a shot across the bows of Brazil, South Africa and Chile’, writes Andrew Cleary, ‘Rio Tinto’s chief executive Tom Albanese, has warned countries considering a super tax on resources to “learn a lesson” from the Australian government’s experience in dealing with the industry’s opposition’.
I would encourage readers to write to The Australian and the Fin Review to express their thanks to the big miners for saving – today - the social fabric of Australia yesterday and – tomorrow - the world. Good chance your letters will be published.
Against this background what chance any reasoned debate about the impact of the mining industry on global warming? Ah, but the Flanagan kids’ future is secure in the knowledge that their dad and the other big miners are there to look after the future of all of us.
And just a final thought: why do we need an election?