And at some point during the course of the state’s lifetime in any given Western society, the state falls under the control of big financiers, for a few reasons. For one, there is the issue of the novel means of production which emerge from technological discoveries and evolutions, and the novel means of production end up creating and extracting vast amounts of wealth for the few individuals who wield these novel means of production. By virtue of the means of production on one hand and the vast wealth which is created and extracted through the means of production on the other hand, not only do the big financiers take the state away from the aristocratic and feudal class, but the purpose of the state also changes from one that is based on “feudal taxation” to one that is based on “capitalist profit” to borrow from Foucault. The aristocratic and feudal class is then rendered a mere symbol of a state that is controlled by big financiers.
As Noam Chomsky argued, the state seeks to “protect” itself under the pretext of “security” for two reasons. For one, the state sees the general population as a threat, and in turn, the state seeks to protect itself from the general population. And second, the state seeks to protect private wealth and private power. As Chomsky suggested, agreements such as NAFTA are not real trade agreements, but rather, they are “investor-rights agreements” which favor the private wealth which the state seeks to protect. It follows that “securing state power from the domestic population and securing concentrated private power are driving forces in policy formation.”
Chomsky also highlighted that the government debt which has skyrocketed over the years, beginning in large part from the Reagan and Thatcher years, had a specific aim, namely, to subsidize the rich in order for there to be nothing left for the poor in terms of social services and social welfare. And as Chomsky noted, government propaganda aims to deflect from the reality that government has been used for decades to subsidize the rich at the expense of the domestic population with the result of the deliberate and intentional creation and generation of debt, and it was as if the rich needed these subsidies in the first place.
The main characteristic or feature of private wealth “is an unwillingness to submit to constraints imposed by law and government” to borrow from Brooke Harrington. Private wealth and its wealth managers then resort to various tactics and strategies to overcome the constraints of law and government in order to “accumulate wealth unfettered.” This “unfettered” accumulation of wealth is manifested in practice through extracting both the taxes paid by the people to government with interest and through the generation of unlimited credit and “loan sharking” as was done during the global financial crisis of the early 2000’s. When Merrick Garland, for instance, argues that “no one is above the law” and so forth, the reality does not match up to the rhetoric.
The law, as it stands, protects the status quo of coercion for the sake of private profit from incrimination and scrutiny while coercing everyone else to comply with the abuses and exploits of the status quo. And as the Columbia law professor Katharina Pistor argued: “The state’s coercive power that protects rights and law should no longer be used to protect the status quo, but to empower the future.”
In turn, the current economic, political, and social dilemma of our time is one in which everyone is “caught between capital holders that claim the law for themselves and a democratic public that is desperately trying to regain control over its own destiny by electing whoever promises to do so.” The only two alternatives to democratic accountability, as Pistor argued, is either political violence or the further erosion of the law’s legitimacy and thus the erosion of government credibility and legitimacy which enables populist and right-wing domination of society. It is perhaps the erosion of credibility and legitimacy which leads to the political violence in the first place, which is why both the political violence and the capture of both the state and society by certain populist and right-wing elements can be thwarted only if democratic accountability can reverse and then put an end to the ongoing erosion and loss of the government’s credibility and legitimacy due to the status quo.