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The hidden powers that are killing democracy

Source: Wikimedia Commons

To the global super-rich, the rest of us are little more than just another natural resource to be exploited, no different in any meaningful way from industrial chickens or pigs. To a significant degree, though, the super-rich are afraid of the masses. The masses can be a bit more threatening than chickens and pigs. That’s because, if the masses are poorly controlled and insufficiently deceived and distracted, the masses can be very dangerous to oligarchic power. Taking to the streets is the last resort of the masses. But the power of the masses is most threatening to the global oligarchy when the power of the masses is coldly and quietly organized around a few formidable institutions that are the enemies of oligarchy: the law, democracy, and deep and truthful sources of information.

As long as some fear of the law remains, criminality and corruption must remain disguised and secret. And yet, given that the No. 1 project of the global criminal oligarchy at present is to corrupt the United States, to disable the American democracy, and to bring down the American rule of law, that project cannot be accomplished entirely in secret. All of us can see the tip of the iceberg in the daily headlines, as Trump and his criminal syndicate do everything they can to corrupt the rule of law and cripple American democracy. It is terrifying that the global criminal oligarchy even got — and seized — an opportunity to take down the United States. How that happened is a question for another day. But that such an opportunity even exists can only mean that democracy and the rule of law have become weak, and that the global criminal oligarchy have become strong.

The global oligarchy surveil the masses very carefully. But normally the masses have very little ability to surveil the global oligarchy. But, two days ago, we the masses got a rare leak of information on the vast amount of money (and therefore the vast amount of power) that oligarchs depend on. That leak provided some hints on where the money comes from and where it goes. Clearly a corrupted U.S. Treasury Department is part of a coverup, while doing little or nothing to enforce the law. But no reasonable person can doubt that a great deal of money — mostly Russian money — has been directed to Trump, to members of Trump’s criminal syndidate, and to the Republican Party. They are actively working to corrupt the rule of law and to neutralize the institutions of democracy — in short, to turn us into Russia. The law, actually — and Trump’s attorney general has made terrifying progress with that part of the project — is to be used against the enemies of the regime and to cover up the crimes of oligarchs. There is nothing new in this project or in its tactics, except that now they’ve come for the United States. Money gained from looting Russia is now being invested in making it possible to loot the United States.

Even many who carefully follow the news from day to day remain mostly unaware of the titantic struggle beneath the surface. It takes a historian’s perspective and depth of sources to penetrate the murk. I have previously mentioned Heather Cox Richardson as an essential daily source of information. She is a Harvard historian who posts daily on Facebook. (To find her on Facebook, search for her name.) In today’s post, she brings this leak to our attention:

“For all that these stories are important, my favorite candidate for the story we’re not supposed to notice is last night’s leak of suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks with the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN. This agency combats money laundering. The documents, leaked to BuzzFeed, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, found that banks flagged more than $2 trillion in potentially laundered money between 1999 and 2017. The leaked documents, which make up less than 0.02% of the more than 12 million SARs filed with FinCEN between 2011 and 2017, show a world awash in money from criminal activity. They paint a picture of a world of fabulously wealthy oligarchs and criminals, operating out of our sight.

“There is nothing specifically about Trump or his company in the leaked documents, and being flagged in a SARs does not necessarily mean wrongdoing. But transactions involving $1.3 trillion at Deutsche Bank, Trump’s bankers, made other bankers nervous enough to flag them. In one of the documents, Bank of America raises concerns about the amount of Russian money flowing into the U.S. in 2016 through Deutsche Bank.”

Richardson understands how important this is. And yet the media have mostly ignored it. That the leak went to a tawdry little site such as BuzzFeed, as opposed to, say, the New York Times, is very revealing about how easily the media can be manipulated to distract rather than inform. The New York Times, though, did write a brief story about the BuzzFeed leak. As for who leaked this information and why, it would be safe to assume that the leak came from a principled insider who was exasperated by FinCEN’s and the U.S. Treasury’s failure to enforce the law. The leaker knows, of course, that when corruption has blocked enforcement of the law, then the only hope is that the masses will act — assuming that the masses have the information to act on, and assuming that democracy and law are sufficiently intact to empower the masses to act effectively.

This vast flow of international criminal money is something we must keep on our radar screens. Most of Trump’s hundreds of crimes and coverups are sideshows compared with this. His scam university, his bankrupt businesses, the pilfering of his foundation and campaign funds are nothing compared with this — working with the international criminal oligarchy to destroy the American democracy, to loot its resources, to exploit the population like pigs and chickens while providing social services at the same level as Mongolia, and to create a corrupt economy in which criminal syndicates can suck up 25 percent of GDP, while getting away with it all, as they do in Russia.

One Comment

  1. Dan wrote:

    Part of my job when I was a securities examiner was to review SARs from banks if securities were sold prior to moving to that bank. From what little I saw, the problems are usually connected to a politician and real estate developers and their large sums of cash hidden in shell corporations.

    Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

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