An article published in TheTyee.ca has a title which reads: “Unlikely Ally of Occupy Movement: Billionaires” (http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/10/18/Billionaire-Occupy-Wall-Street-Allies/). My initial reaction was surprise at such quick acquiescence to allied status these billionaires got. All they needed to do was to proclaim that a few taxes need to be raised and BAM!, they are allies. Yet I tend to be a bit more critical about such issues and a little less inclined to see this as a sudden altruistic egalitarian enlightenment for these billionaires. My base question is: Why?
Maybe they have become enlightened. Maybe, after decades of funding think-tanks, buying politicians and power, manipulating public opinion through mass media and doing everything in their power to “kill” all other classes, just maybe, they’ve seen the light and error of their ways and will now support us, if not monetarily, at least rhetorically. Maybe this is the case and we now have “billionaire allies”. Or maybe this is just cleaver bullshit perpetuated by calculating and cunning capital predators.
Billionaires within capitalism don’t become billionaires by being nice and egalitarian. Capitalism is primarily based on survival of the fittest through competition. These billionaires have in no way renounced capitalism and its focus on individual greed over collective welfare. Thus I have to ask why? What is it that these capitalist billionaires hope to gain from this? The answer to this is easy: more capital and power. Of course the first objection would be: well if they are seeking more capital and power how could they do this through more taxes? Good question.
Firstly, I believe these billionaires have seen the light to a certain extent. They have seen that the illusion their centralized system created is beginning to crack. Society, en-mass, is beginning to wake up and see through their cleverly constructed bullshit despite their control over the language of popular reality through mass-media ownership. So part of the answer to this question is: these billionaires seek to maintain the hegemonic status of the elites and their control over capital. Yet individually, these billionaires also seek to make friends within a newly forming potential power structure.
Let me expand on these two points. Firstly, these billionaires bring up the minor issue on taxes in an attempt to control the broader dialogue and subvert grassroots efforts to maintain control on this dialogue. When these billionaires speak the mass media, which they own, listen and regurgitate. Thus, they have the ability to control the language (and thus reality) of the mass population because the language from the inner workings of the #OccupyMovement do not get reverberated through the mass media echo chamber. The #OccupyMovement brings forth grievances which apply to the mass population but does so in a non-dictatorial way in order to progress dialogue on the issue. In walks the benevolent billionaires dictating a minor policy of taxation in order to control the dialogue and dilute any arguments which might truly challenge their power and capital. By doing this these capital predators give a minor concession but maintain their status or power. Ultimately taxing these billionaires does nothing more than make capital shift back and forth. Most likely these billionaires will pay an extra $10 million in taxes only to recoup these new taxes through their companies gaining government contracts of the same amount. Which brings us to the core point, control of capital. We need more public/collective ownership over capital. This is what these billionaires seek to subvert through their arguments on taxation: A shift from private capital to public capital.
Finally, on the second point, these billionaires seek to hedge their bets by rhetorically siding with the #OccupyMovement. If power does shift, they want to be at the forefront of this shift thereby increasing their power and capital.
Billionaires are not our friends but enemies who seek to divide and plunder us plebeians like they have done for centuries. They cannot relate to us, they are not the 99%. We must not let them control the dialogue. We must focus on democratizing capital through shifting ownership and control over capital from the individual/private towards the collective/public.