The in­flu­ence of the rich

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - OPINION - Rhoda Kadalie

When the wealthy shower politi­cians with money, we should im­me­di­ately be­come sus­pi­cious. Ped­dling in­flu­ence in pol­i­tics dis­guised as gen­eros­ity is as old as the old­est pro­fes­sion in the world. But the ex­tent of the rich’s cap­ture of pol­i­tics is a 20th cen­tury phe­nom­e­non, play­ing it­self out writ large in the USA.

Wall Street and its multi­bil­lion­aires no longer hide their am­bi­tion to con­trol their gov­ern­ment. A gov­ern­ment that re­fuses to be con­trolled is treated like the en­emy, a pariah, a la Trump, and big money is be­ing thrown at an­tidemo­cratic forces to top­ple a rul­ing party that re­fuses to bow the knee to the wealthy elite.

Anti-Fas­cist Ac­tion move­ments, Black Lives Mat­ter, Me­dia Mat­ters, among other left-wing groups, are sup­ported fi­nan­cially to un­der­mine a po­lit­i­cal regime that re­fuses to be be­holden to Wall Street.

To boot, the mega-wealthy Ge­orge Soros has been ac­cused of fund­ing many of the re­cent an­tidemo­cratic and anti-Trump protests, many of which turned vi­o­lent. As a for­mer re­cip­i­ent of his largesse, I am ap­palled to see what hap­pens un­der the guise of “open so­ci­ety”, of­ten in al­liance with other big donors.

Op­po­si­tion is no longer viewed as an im­por­tant pil­lar of democ­racy to hold those in power ac­count­able; it now be­haves as the en­emy of the rul­ing party and, as such, com­pels the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment to take heavy-handed ac­tion against those who op­pose it, against its will.

Closer to home, SA’s rich, across the racial spec­trum, buy po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, some more than oth­ers. That is why party po­lit­i­cal fund­ing has be­come such a hot potato.

The Gupta broth­ers epit­o­mise the ex­tent to which sleaze can go when checks and bal­ances are over­ruled by politi­cians who want com­plete con­trol of the econ­omy. Their net­works are so deeply em­bed­ded in the fi­nan­cial sys­tems, state-owned en­ter­prises, Trea­sury, rev­enue ser­vice, law en­force­ment agen­cies and min­ing com­modi­ties that un­rav­el­ling them has had a rip­ple ef­fect through­out the SA econ­omy.

This week, the Wall Street Jour­nal pub­lished an ex­co­ri­at­ing ac­count of how the Gupta/Zuma ten­ta­cles have tra­versed trans­glob­ally, im­pli­cat­ing banks and top companies like KPMG, McKin­sey and oth­ers.

So, the scan­dal about Hol­ly­wood mogul and pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein comes as no sur­prise. The cast­ing couch that now sym­bol­ises the place where the ca­reers of young fe­males are de­cided has come to be syn­ony­mous with the name We­in­stein. He is a sleaze­bag deluxe.

As pro­ducer, he makes or breaks the ca­reers of the young. Known to throw mil­lions at left­wing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates with lav­ish fundrais­ers for the Clin­tons and Barack Obama, We­in­stein was buy­ing power to si­lence peo­ple so he could do as he pleased. His do­na­tions to these two were not mea­gre and they were con­tin­u­ous. Hil­lary Clin­ton and Michelle Obama half-choked on their con­dem­na­tion, hav­ing ben­e­fited from his largesse for years. That’s how the dice rolls for the pow­er­ful and the rich.

The New York Times, know­ing that We­in­stein is a spent force, has only now blud­geoned him in re­cent cov­er­age of his sex­ual pre­da­tions. Ben Af­fleck, a rogue in his own right, joins the cho­rus, only to be ex­posed as a se­rial groper him­self.

By now, the world knows that Hol­ly­wood is a deca­dent, self-lov­ing, self-right­eous, nar­cis­sis­tic en­ter­prise but those who in­habit it negate the very val­ues they pre­tend to es­pouse.

Wall Street and its multi­bil­lion­aires no longer hide their am­bi­tion to con­trol their gov­ern­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.