Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Origin of the [crisis in the] European Union – 3: To Serve Europeans or 2 or 3 Things I know About Force

In one of the episodes of the old US TV series, The Twilight Zone, an alien ship lands on earth and a heated discussion ensues among the earthlings as to the aliens’ intentions: are they friends or foes?



Some say the aliens are friendly. Others are skeptical. How is one to judge?



The aliens have a book that they frequently consult. It is agreed that if the book is deciphered, it could provide a clue to their intentions. So cryptographers go to work and finally get the books’ title: To Serve Man.



Everyone is jubilant. The aliens have come to earth to serve the people. Friendly aliens, these.



People drop their guards. They begin mingling with the aliens and even accept their invitation to visit the alien ship and travel with them.



In the final scene, as the ship is taking off with its human cargo, the code breaker who had been working on the translation finishes her job and frantically runs to inform the human passengers. To Serve Man was a cookbook.



***


At that point, if the humans wanted to get off the space ship, they would have been stopped by force.



Force comes in when the “free choice” of the subjects will not do the trick.



Democracies count on that free choice to function.



***


The EU is the spaceship. Its member states are the humans. Finance capital, and its most recent offshoot, speculative capital, are the aliens. I am one of the code breakers. And force is, well, force.



***


To talk about force, you have to know your stuff.



Take Newton’s F = ma.



Now, stay with me.



The equation says that force equals mass times acceleration.



This is the most profound relation in physics; the much touted E=MC2 is derived from it. (And don’t be fooled by its simplicty. It is a vector differential equation, if you know your math and physics).



What is force in this equation, I ask you.

  • Well, Nasser, it is force.
  • But what is force? Acceleration has a precise definition: it is the change in speed per unit of time. If your car’s speed increases from 30 to 40 miles in 4 seconds, its acceleration is 2.5 miles/hr per second. Do we have a definition like that for force?
  • Nasser! Force is force – like gravity. Like the weak and strong nuclear force. Like electromagnetism. Just like pornography, we know force when we see it.
  • Pornography has a precise definition. It is the depiction of sex for the purpose of commerce. It was this commerce angle that the pedestrian intellect of that Supreme Court judge could not see. But, force?
At this point, you might try defining it from the equation: from F=ma, force is that thing which, applied to mass m, gives it a given acceleration.



But, then, what is mass?



Alas, that too is a tricky thing to define. All we can say at this level is that mass is the property of matter.



In twin ambiguities of force and mass lies the profundity of F=ma. The equation defines physics. What is force and what is matter: these are the twin subjects of the discipline.



The four type of forces in the universe I mentioned above must somehow be related. To date, no one knows how. The Grand Unification Theory is the suitably descriptive name for the line of research to answer that question.



***


As in nature, so in social life: there are different types of social forces. But unlike in nature, we know their commonality thanks to Karl Marx. “Force”, he wrote, “is an economic factor”.



The statement lends itself to being read in a way that does not sufficiently highlight the role of force. Any “non-personal” force is an economic factor. The famous line in The Godfather movies – “it is business; it is not personal” – repeated several times throughout, succinctly captured that truth.



Except for acts of passion and mad men, force is always used in furtherance of economic interests. The “business” is always the end. Force – manifested in violence and thuggery – is always the means. It is an aspect of doing business, like meeting and negotiation. That few people got that central theme of The Godfather is a testimony to the visual and aesthetic underdevelopment of the general population; the message was there throughout, loud and clear.



The meeting of the heads of the 5 families in which they agree to get into narcotics is a board meeting – and the most authentic representation of a board meeting in the movies that I know of; it stretches into the night as the members argue over an important strategic move.









Or take the famous scene in the Bronx restaurant where Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, shoots the corrupt cop and a rival gangster, Sollozzo.







It is a business meal that would be tax deductible – had Sollozzo stayed alive to report it as an expense.



Paul Carlucci no doubt did. He is a thug by virtue of being a Murdoch minion and the “publisher” of the New York Post. He is also a consigliere who sets the News Corp's corporate philosophy. From the New York Times:
News America was led by Paul V. Carlucci, who, according to Forbes, used to show the sales staff the scene in “The Untouchables” in which Al Capone beats a man to death with a baseball bat. Mr. Emmel testified that Mr. Carlucci was clear about the guiding corporate philosophy.
Observe this encounter he had with a businessman whom Murdoch wanted to force out of business, as reported in the New York Times:



George Rebh, who founded Floorgraphics along with his brother Richard, met with Paul V. Carlucci, head of News America, in 1999 at a Manhattan restaurant, and the News Corporation executive got right to the point.



“I will destroy you,” Mr. Carlucci said, according to his deposition in the Floorgraphics suit against News America, adding, “I work for a man who wants it all, and doesn’t understand anybody telling him he can’t have it all.” (Mr. Carlucci is now the publisher of the News Corporation-owned New York Post.)



Just in case the Rebh brothers did not get the point, court records indicate that beginning in October 2003, someone working out of the Connecticut headquarters of News America Marketing gained access to the Floorgraphics computer network, which included a collection of advertisements the company had created for its customers.
Don Corleone did not want it all. Rupert Murdoch wants it all, as befitting a man bent on creating a global media empire.



But if you want it all, something has to give: all the people around you have to get to work, including your wife; we all know that wife has to work if the family wants a better car or a bigger house.



If the work involves paying cops, eavesdropping on unsuspecting victims and hacking dead schoolgirls’ cell phones, the working wife must fit in. The disengaged wives of yesteryears who, by their admonishing silence and disapproving looks mitigated the violence in however a small way, are gone.











In their stead, we have Wendi Murdoch.



According to the New York Times, “although she occupies no formal position in Mr. Murdoch’s companies, she acts as counselor to her husband and by all accounts has asserted influence in his global media empire.”



So, she, too, is the consigliere, just like Tom in The Godfather. Only in those bygone days, Tom could stay a consigliere and out of direct thuggery; everyone knew he was not a “soldier”.



That comfortable division of duties is no longer possible. In the modern business word, everyone has to join the battle on all fronts. Consiglieri cannot sit on their asses and intellectualize. Carlucci who sets the corporate policy also quotes Al Capone and threatens people. Consigliere Wendi must likewise multitask.



You no doubt know that during the parliamentary hearing to Murdoch’s criminality, a protester hit him in the face with a plate of foam and Murdoch’s wife rose to her husband’s defense.



Watch these pictures taken from the live recording of the event.





The protester in the checkered shirt is on the left side. Wendi Murdoch stands out in the pink jacket. She is sitting behind her husband, Rupert, the bald man sitting at “7 o’clock”.



There are many things we can learn from these shots. But I don’t want to digress too much. Merely compare the first and the last frame and observe the speed and the angle of the wife’s reaction.



She is surprisingly quick. The woman in the grey suit has reacted first but only because she is closer to the protester and has seen him first.



Then Wendi moves in and immediately overwhelms everyone around her.



The important point is that she completely ignores her husband.



A woman’s first instinct – her maternal instinct – would be to shield her husband from an attack. Or rush to see if he was hurt.Wendi Murdoch displays no such weakness. She jumps straight at the attacker, but even in that move, the point is not to “neutralize the threat”, as a trained bodyguard would do, but to beat the man. The incident is an excuse for unleashing violence. He made her day.



The pictures do not show, but after the man was subdued, Wendi Murdoch kept pummeling away the man in the face and head and then she went further. According to the same article:

Some reports in the British press suggested that after the thwarted attack she even picked up the paper plate from the witness table and shoved it into the protester’s face, screaming as she did so. The protester ... was later led away by the police with his face covered in white cream.
“Mr. Murdoch, your wife has a very good left hook,” said Tom Watson, a Labour member of Parliament.



You have to imagine the mentality and disposition of a woman who lands repeated blows to a subdued man’s face and then takes a plate of foam and shoves it in his face.



And she does that in front of Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom with TV cameras rolling and hundreds of reporters present, in a meeting convened to investigate the criminal conduct of an organization of which she is a consigliere.



Imagine what this woman could do in private with a vulnerable rival or underling. We are dealing with a Sonny Corleone here, however unlikely the physical resemblances might be. But Jean-Luc Besson showed us that slender women in evening dresses are perfectly capable of doing what men do.



That is the stuff a modern-day media empire is made of.



All this was the good news, in the sense that these thugs are small time players. Their use of force is limited in scope – threatening Peter here, whacking Paul there – and plain for everyone to see. They merely aim to “engineer” the individuals, if you will.



Even when thuggery becomes grand scale in the form of war, most people can see it for the racket it is. War is costly and at some point, it has to end.



It is different with finance capital. Like a well-trained boxer who punches not merely with his arm but with the full weight of his body, finance capital hits with the full weight of “the system”. Nay, it hits with the system. So it never has to stop.



What enables it to do so is democracy.