The Emperor has no clout on
One of the few things warring factions of the American Empire agree on is, Joe Biden is not running the show.
He might be cogent enough to implement a pet project here and there but he is not writing his press releases or tweets, he is not setting the agenda, and he probably knows little of what’s going on in the executive branch.
He has people around him doing these things. Who? Nobody seems to know, and the lack of public curiosity is itself curious. Maybe it’s his long-time staffers. His wife is another possibility. The Obama faction of the Deep State, perhaps.
Nodes of power
The modern oligarchy does not only consist of elected (?) representatives. There are other groups steering the Empire.
First there is the enormous bureaucracy of the managerial state. This consists of top civil servants, health tsars, reserve bank governors, the military-industrial complex, regulators and so on. The three-letter agencies are now powerful enough to be considered independent nodes of power.
Then there are the billionaires, big tech and big business in general.
The legacy media still plays its role, as does academia.
Another node is the myriad of NGOs, from street brawlers through to environmental groups and district attorney election funders.
The judicial system still holds some sway though this may be waning.
Finally the public/mob has a role, as we will see.
Dynamic power relations
A common furphy is to declare that billionaires secretly run everything and that other nodes of power, especially governments, are irrelevant.
This is both an overstatement and a simplification.
Billionaires are certainly powerful. They exert influence over leaders through donations, lobbyists, astroturfed NGOs and so on.
However, influence can flow the other way. Example 1: the government breaking up Microsoft (before Bill started making political donations). Example 2: Facebook being set up by a Deep State plant’s ‘leaks’ to be pilloried in the media.
The legacy media, now starved of the ad revenue ‘rivers of gold’ that came from pre-internet advertising, is probably the least cashed-up corner of the oligarchy – and yet it can still hurt powerful billionaires when it attacks. Bill Gates was subject to smears (if that word works for probably-true insinuations) after his divorce. Bezos’ Amazon only censors books when there’s a media-driven moral outrage over one author or another while much more objectionable material remains available. The NYT continues to act as an ever-evolving bible for the Woke cultural revolution. It is only partly owned by billionaire Carlos Slim. This pattern keeps repeating. Wherever we look, we see influence, not domination.
The three-letter agencies hold some sway over both legacy and social media, sometimes through fake NGOs. These agencies are the most opaque players of the murky oligarchic universe so it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on, especially in terms of the kompromat they may have on other elites.
Big tech now does much of the government’s dirty work for it, especially in censoring political opponents. Google curates search results and Twitter deranks or bans counter-narratives. Big business gets in on the act, with financial institutions now debanking thought criminals like it’s no thing.
[Funny, WP is still putting a red line under ‘derank’ and ‘debank’. A quick test shows that Microsoft Word is also in denial.
Words have power.]
And then there’s the mob, by which I do not mean the electorate. The Woke employee mob uses social media and internal apparatus to intimidate business into bending the knee for each trendy cause. The elite-organised street mob threatens to burn stuff down if they don’t get their way in elections and court outcomes. Internal Woke mobs seem to have great sway over the legacy media outlets they infest.
Activist employees are joined by the audience mob. The NYT has experienced reader backlash after publishing rare articles that challenge the dominant discourse, to use their terminology.
There is an ever-changing flux of influence within the oligarchic structure. Sometimes it flows one way, somethings the reverse, sometimes both ways at once. In other cases there are clear patterns. Here is a good description of how weird ideas from academia become policy.
If you still think one small cabal must be in charge all on its own, we can test that.
Testing the hypothesis
If one node of the oligarchy really is unassailable by the others, it would be able to abruptly change or refute the narrative and get away with it.
Who is that powerful?
Imagine if The Zuck suddenly decided he was sick of BLM/Antifa running amok and condemned them publicly and disallowed their content from his platform.
What would happen?
If you think he’d shrug off any blowback from other oligarchs, remember this:
This is not a man who rules the world. Not alone and untethered, anyway. The state can destroy any billionaire. So can the media, to a lesser degree. Also the three-letter agencies and courts because we all commit as many as six illegal acts before breakfast. How often have you seen some political enemy get put away and not really understood the crime for which he was prosecuted? I still don’t understand what that Flynn guy was supposed to have done. Australians will also remember the example of Pauline Hanson.
We have already mentioned what happens when the legacy media strays even slightly from its mob’s preferred narrative. It is simply impossible for CNN to report tonight that the unvaccinated are not responsible for the continuing pandemic. They would lose the last few viewers that they have and would endanger their treasured press pass access to bigwigs.
In the same vein, a recent article in Melbourne’s Age featured various experts suggesting that present tough restrictions on unvaccinated teenagers are a bad idea. You can see the comments for yourself. No doubt the struggling old newspaper lost yet more subscribers for that.
This is a case of over-scaring the sheep. It’s hard for elites to change direction; the mob is both manipulated and a manipulator.
What if a major academic or leader in the FDA, CDC, WHO etc. came out strongly against Covid overreactions?
In this case we don’t have to imagine because it’s happened. There are open dissidents in high places. I’ve linked to plenty on the Dark Side.
These recalcitrants are not taken out the back and shot. The rest of the oligarchy, like a communally-directed slime mold, isolates them and heals the gap. The dissidents find it hard to publish their research. Their views are not reported in the legacy media. They are censored on social media. In some cases their careers are endangered but often this is unnecessary. There’s no need to sack an invisible man.
At this point my reader can fill in the details for himself with other examples. What would happen if the Bank of America suddenly declared a ‘banking for everyone’ policy and that it would only cancel accounts associated with criminal activity? What if Reddit allowed that banned Red Pill thread to return? What if the FBI suddenly exposed serious wrongdoing in the Biden family? What if Biden announced he was going to disband the CIA?
To see what happens to a powerful person or organisation that runs counter to elite interests, see WikiLeaks.
Who’s in charge? Many people, and no one. Each branch of the oligarchy is kept in line by the others in an obscene parody of the Constitutional balance of powers.
I’ve talked mostly about the United States but subjects of outlying provinces of the Empire can see for themselves how much of this is applicable to their own country.
If this is power, it’s a bleak and unsatisfying power. There is no glorious end-goal envisioned by our rulers aside from preserving their own, cushy positions. Sure they get to crush enemies, but only collective enemies. They don’t get to choose them.
Imagine being Jack Dorsey. What do you have the power to do, aside from date women far hotter than those normally attracted to a garden gnome? You can help rig an election, but only in one direction. In fact, you are probably obliged to play your part in the scheme. You can ban accounts, but only the accounts that the oligarchy wants banned.
At best, elites can get away with flouting their own rules about social distancing, insider trading, collusion, drug use, age of consent and that sort of thing. In most respects, the social atmosphere is pretty rigid up there in the clouds. Perhaps more rigid than for us ordinary bogans. They are prisoners of their own privilege.
Just like in 1984.
Related and previously linked on the Dark Side: There isn’t one plan, there are fifty thousand, and nobody is in charge.