Quantum of Solace – 007’s Alchemy

Animus and anima in "harmony"

Animus and anima in "harmony"

"Everything I write has precedent in truth." -Ian Flemming By: Jay Upon first viewing, I was not initially impressed with Quantum of Solace.  I took it as a mediocre Bond film with scant hints of deeper meanings and clues.  Recently, I watched it again and it changed my mind.  Not only is it chock full of subtle hints and clues, it actually appears to display a kind of alchemical process.  While that might sound far-fetched, allow me to prove my thesis. First, take into account the fact that Ian Flemming would very much have been enamored with just such an idea, given the occultic-secret milieu he inhabited.  In fact, Flemming had direct associations with Aleister Crowley, and based some of his characters such as LeChiffre on him.  Times Online writer Ben Macintyre explains in his review of a Flemming biography: "Fleming’s villains, like his heroes, are patchworks of different people, names  and traits. Le Chiffre, the Benzedrine-sniffing villain of Casino Royale,  is believed to be based on Aleister Crowley, who gained notoriety in  inter-war Britain as “the Wickedest Man in the World”. Crowley was a  bisexual, sado-masochistic drug addict. A master of Thelemic mysticism (“Do  what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”), he specialised in  mountaineering, interpreting the Ouija board, orgies and thrashing his  lovers. The press simultaneously adored and hated him. Crowley made Le  Chiffre seem positively sane." Crowley also was an asset for a time for British intelligence.  Thus we see that alchemy coming into play shouldn't seem strange.  In fact, the original 007, Dr. John Dee, was Queen Elizabth's "seer" and was himself an alchemist.  As Flemming is known to have said: "Everything I write has precedent in truth."  As with all Bond films, there is the famous artsy intro, and often they too are a clue to the kind of esoterism we can expect to see in the film.  This one begins with sand and silhouettes, ending with an eye and a "swastika" formation.  While you might be incredulous at first, hang with me, as swastikas pop up several times in this film, and for a reason.  Towards the end we see the leggy swastika morph into an eye (which will be relevant later on).

Leggy swastikas!

Both eyes and swastikas are prevalent in this film, as well as alchemy, so let's analyze.   As with most modern films, Carl Jung's archetypes and gnostic proclivities come to the fore.  Originally, the swastika symbol dates back to the most ancient cultures such as India and Mesopotamia as a "sun wheel," of the so-called Bronze Age, with possibly some relevance to solstices and equinoxes.  Carl Jung had a lifelong fascination with the symbol, and gave it some possible association as an archetypal symbol in the collective unconscious.  So we begin with four women at the four cardinal points, which bring to mind the four elements, as well as images of sand or earth:  all of which pertain to alchemy.  Alchemy is the classical and medieval "art" of transformation, and the end goal of the alchemists was the "Great Work," whereby all things are brought to perfection and harmony (or solace), under the provident gaze of the "all seeing eye."  The "eye," brings to mind the perennial symbology of secret societies as well as intelligence agencies and groups, such as MI5/6 and DARPA, who sit atop our panopticon surveillance society.

In its material sense, alchemy is supposed to be the transformation of base metals into gold, and in its philosophic sense, the transformation of the human world and consciousness into something divine.  Whether this means actual transformation of man into some kind of godlike being through transhumanism or a initiatic ritual transformation of one’s perception is up for debate amongst alchemists, and possibly some clever person would combine them both in modernity.  In the Jungian sense, the process involves the archetypes of the subconscious being explored to achieve a purported integration and harmony in the subject’s psyche.  Cosmically, it’s the transformation of prima materia into “divine” material. So for Jung, alchemy is really only concerned with psychological process and interpretive structures the individual constructs around his world.  In the Bond film, however, there will be a correspondence between the inner struggle Bond experiences, as well as the exterior struggle against the secretive, world domination bent “Quantum” terrorist group, projected in several layers of symbolic meanings.

Swastikas in the floor plan of the PM’s office.

To the story: after a wild car chase, Bond nabs Mr. White, the go-between for Quantum and its associates.  In alchemy, the first of the four stages is the nigredo stage, which is the Dark night of the soul.  In this stage, the soul is cut off and corresponds to putrefaction and decomposition.  The soul must confront the “shadow within,” to move to the next stage, which is calcination, or “whiteness.”  This film picks up where the last film left off, where Bond had lost his love who betrayed him, Vesper. Vesper means evening or night. Bond must now face his own worst nightmare in Quantum – himself.  It should also be noted that each of these so-called stages can be repeated, and that is what we will see.  Now, following the chaotic nigredo stage, Bond confronts Mr. White and in Jungian lingo it’s the calcination stage (whiteness): this is the stage where shadows are realized, confronted and inflated egos are purified.  Bond loses Mr. White and is bent on revenge for those connected to Vesper.  Whiteness is also the stage, according to Jung, where animus and anima are working towards harmony.

We find out that Quantum is “everywhere,” including inside British Intelligence.  Quantum is a shadowy international group that uses corporate fronts.  In fact, as researcher Phillip Collins has noted, Quantum bears a striking resemblance to the real international intelligence  “get the job done” privatized operation described by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, titled ‘The Secret Team.”  The Secret Team functioned as a kind of corporate intelligence for hire squad that did what needed to be done.  That is precisely what Quantum is, and Quantum is itself both – the team and the corporation. Dominic Greene we learn runs the organization, whose main front is the Green Movement.  In fact, Greene at one point in the film blames government as the problem, and touts privatization, while demonizing “government.”  Greene is an apostle for the Green Movement, and claims to support numerous environmental causes, and brings to mind someone like Al Gore.  Another interesting point of relevance for reality here is that the Green Movement itself arose out of the Nazi and Europhile mind as a needed return to so-called “nature,” which functions under the guise of caring for the planet, but which is actually a corporate front for the strategic controlling of resources.  That is exactly what Dominic Greene does in Quantum of Solace!

In fact, after Bond visits Port au Prince and gets Greene’s identity, he discovers Greene is meeting with a new military dictator of Bolivia named Medrano, who is himself to be installed with the help of Quantum, so long as he plays ball with Quantum’s wishes of being granted large tracks of seemingly worthless desert land.  Medrano thinks Quantum is after oil, but what Greene explains later is that he is interested in controlling the natural resources, particularly water, through his phony “Tierra Project,” and engineering a fake water crisis to be blamed on global warming and environmental degradation.  I can’t think of any other film which has so openly shown the public what is really going on.  This is literally what is happening in the real world.  Global corporate groups are vying for control of resources through phony, engineered crises like “global warming” and “climate change,” and the Green Movement.  Greene also tells Medrano that Quantum has “26 nations ready to recognize the new military junta in Bolivia” as the official government.  This shows that Quantum is itself a corporation larger than most governments, and holds them under its sway, as is also the case in the real world.  We also learn that the CIA and British Intelligence have signed on to support Greene, to the dismay of Bond and M, who are unable to do anything about it.

Note as well that Dominic Greene wears a metallic heart belt buckle. The swastika is, of course, a sun symbol, and is also associated in some alchemical works with the heart, too. Here, Greene is shown as the heart of the conspiracy.

We move to a massive production of the play-turned-opera, La Tosca, in Bregenz.  Here, the eyes are prominent and come to the fore, and what is particularly noteworthy is the fact that the play is likely based on an Italian Freemasonic illuminist revolutionary.  The story chronicles the life of a revolutionary who falls in love and ends up murdered, but who is likely based  (note 16) on an actual member of the Italian illuminist revolutionary sect known as the Carbonari.  This is significant because the symbology of the play, the symbols of the Carbonari (as the last link shows), and the symbols of the intelligence agencies (and the introduction to the film) are all based around the all-seeing eye.

The Church is within the Eye.

It was, of course, the goal of the Alte Vendita Lodge and other Italian Republicans to overthrow the Vatican and all thrones, and establish the Enlightenment’s ideal, the secular republic.  The film is telling us that the same ideals are at work here-the removal of all vestiges of the old order, the Ancien Regime, and the establishment of a world republic.  However, the new world republic has morphed into something new: now, it is an international corporate global “environmentalist” control grid, run by rogue intelligence workers and secret teams that have co-opted the old institutions, such as the Church of Rome and the nation-state, to their ends.  It is the Reich added to the Fabian socialist model, with a new twist of techno-elitism.  In fact, when Bond identifies the members of Quantum at the opera, he is able to send the grainy photos back to MI6 headquarters, and instantly has full files on each person.  Welcome to the panopticon surveillance society – that is the meaning of the eye at its most obvious, exoteric level.  Indeed, Bond had also gone to Hotel Dessalines earlier, which is a Port au Prince hotel named after the black anti-colonialist revolutionary, Jean-Jac Dessalines.  So that’s two references to revolutionaries and several swastikas.  Aren’t swastika types and leftist revolutionaries at opposite ends of the spectrum?  Yep. Two sides of a dialectic, as I’ve been saying.

M takes her suspicions to the office of the PM and discovers that he is very much in bed with Quantum and is not interested in any inquiries into Dominic Greene.  He tells M that the natural resources are “running out” and the dollar is collapsing.  Each of these things are engineered (in the film and in reality), and that is what you areopenly  being told.  In fact, that too is the deeper purpose of the opera taking place within the film.  One one level, Bond and Quantum show up and watch an opera about “Illuminists.”  Bond eyes the members of the modern “Illuminati” and sends home digital eyes to the home office of em eye six.  You are watching all this with your eye, while simultaneously in reality, these very eyes watching and surveilling you, and most of you are completely unaware.  So meta-narrative enters the picture to show you the complexity of the meaning of the film, as it blends with reality.  This was my point in the article on psychological warfare.

Not only is Bond struggling through his own alchemical transformation, the viewer is targeted for this process, as well.  Revealing the entirety of the globalist plans to you in a fictional narrative has the effect of putting a spell on you. You are now mesmerized and cannot believe that such a thing really exists. Yet, every day, in your face, are hundreds of examples of a massive corporate green scam that is ultimately designed to depopulate the earth and bring in a new order of the ages.

Andean Grand Hotel lattice swastika.

Greene discovers Bond is onto him and sends him a message by dipping and drowning Agent “Strawberry Fields” in oil.  This causes M and MI6 think Bond has gone rogue and that Greene is after oil.  Bond realizes he is after the control of resources, but let’s go back to the alchemy – this brings to mind the Bond classic Goldfinger, where one of Bond’s gals was “dipped in gold” as a method of execution.   What is the end result of alchemy? The production of gold from base metals, or the philosopher’s stone.

24 karat chicks!

However, Bond is still in process of transformation, so the nigredo stage has returned for more purification: there has been yet another female sacrifice.

Petrol dipped chicks!

It should also be noted that the entire fake hotel created for the film, titled the Andean Grand, is replete with black and white masonic floor coloring.  The hotel, then, takes on the symbology of the lodge, with large “G”s placed prominently.  A lodge is also a hotel, you see.

Welcome, brother 007. Will you be lodging with us long?

Black and white are symbolic of the duality supposed in Masonry and eastern religions to be a duality of ontological necessity. Evil and good are viewed as flip sides of the same coin, each mutually dependent on the other.  This schema is applied to geo-politics and psychological warfare, as well, as dialectical opposites are actually managed by a higher power that has intimate knowledge of both “sides.”  This is why so many people are under mind control and subject to doublethink – it’s a system designed to control through confusion.   For example, incredulous persons will find all this to be poppycock for the simple reason that those upper echelons wouldn’t purposefully reveal the way the world really works: that is precisely why it’s done.

Greene makes this controlled opposition clear, when he responds to an angry Medrano about signing onto Quantum’s control of resources:

“You should know something about the
people I work with. We deal with the left or the right, with
dictators or liberators.”

And that’s how it’s done.  It’s a Nietzschean approach of being “beyond good and evil,” and working with whatever paradigms and worldviews are necessary to get the job done, and it is this that is beyond the one-dimensional thinking of most people.   Greene then tells Medrano that if he refuses to sign onto Quantum’s control of resources, Quantum will simply topple him and install someone who will. Does this sound familiar?

The purification and transformation.

So Bond has been on the revenge trail, struggling with his own inner demons, worried he will also end up getting his new interest “Camille” killed. Camille, too, is after revenge against Medrano for burning her family to death when she was a child.  Bond tells her how to cope after you kill someone, and after a lengthy battle in an “eco-hotel,” Bond captures Greene and Camille gets revenge.  However, when Camille has killed Medrano, the fire that has ignited in the “eco-hotel” causes her to have a flashback and breakdown, following upon her assassination.  This occurs during the now massive fire.  The name “Camille” means “altar server” or acolyte.  We can surmise from this that Bond is bringing Camille through the same transformational process as his acolyte, as Bond himself undergoes transformation, due to his (justified) issues with the feminine. In Jungian psychoanalysis, it is the final rubedo, red-orange stage of alchemy wherein the subject has achievedinterior  harmony and individuation.  After eliminating Greene, Camille says, “I wish I could set you free, but the prison is in your mind.”  This lets us know the journey has been the process of Bond’s psyche.  We end with Bond tracking down the man responsible for Vesper’s death, noticing that the Canadian intelligence agent with him has the same necklace Vesper had, which is also a swastika.

“Hey sweetcakes, I love you so much, here’s a swastika necklace.” (Nazi pillow talk)

So why all the swastikas?  Because the control of left and right is in the power of the eye, which is found on the dollar.  The eye is found on the dollar because the dollar (and all such fiat currencies) is the source of power of the global elite, which is neither left nor right, but uses both, like a chemist in a lab uses different chemicals to concoct a new synthesis.  As Greene said: “You should know something about the people I work with. We deal with the left or the right, with dictators or liberators.”  As such, alchemically, the union and synthesis of dualities mirrors the process of inner transformation Jung thought he had discovered, which was actually just the acceptance of gnosticism, as Jung himself admitted.  Read in this way, the process involves the overcoming of one’s conscience – overcoming the dialectic of good versus evil, into a supposed higher synthesis of transcending such absolutist categories.  Such is the essence of the gnostic scheme.  In terms of geo-politics, those running the globe have similar proclivities: an esoteric “Great Work” wherein man is brought to perfection through scientific regimentation and world control.  To do this, the world too must be brought through successive alchemical stages and processes into the omega point of techno-transfiguration.  What is “quantum”?  It is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction, and that sounds very similar to chemistry, which arose from alchemy.

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Check out the dualism of another Bond film, Goldeneye.

12 Comments on Quantum of Solace – 007’s Alchemy

  1. Interesting analysis! I remember when this came out. I saw it with a friend who wasn’t a big believer in conspiracies. On the drive back from the theater he started saying how the film was far fetched so I attempted to explain to him its basis in reality (environmentalism as a way of manipulating market prices through resource scarcity, the phony nature of left and right, etc.) It prompted me to write a whole essay length letter to him the next day, attempting to explain the whole nature of global conspiracy as I see it. Don’t think it had much effect on him though. He’s a big believer in medicating kids, electro-shock therapy, all that kind of bullshit, so no surprise there.
    As you rightly observe at the end of your article, the quantum is nothing less than the smallest unit or atom. Newton, whose perennial philosophy combined Neo-Platonic mysticism with atomism, believed that alchemical transformation could be achieved by rearranging atoms. Of course, what he thought to be atoms (that is irreducible units) have since been proven to be anything but, themselves being composed of even smaller particles. It is even possible to change lead to gold in minute quantities, at the expense of a tremendous amount of energy, by removing the smaller protons and neutrons that compose the so-called atoms so the alchemist weren’t far off after all.
    http://chemistry.about.com/cs/generalchemistry/a/aa050601a.htm
    It would be cool to do a whole bunch of reviews on the Bond films. Golden Eye is another one loaded with symbolism. Have you seen it?

    • I did a brief analysis of golden eye early on on this blog. In fact, an analysis of each Bond film was on my mind. Each one is full of relevant material. I understand Bruno held to monadism, which makes me wonder if that’s where Leibniz got it. Also, it turns out atomism goes back to egypt perhaps. Even if there are particles smaller than atoms, it doesn’t mean atomism is “false.” it’s just smaller paticles.

      When is that podcast happnin?

    • Also, I saw an old article that purported to be a German paper claiming nazi scientists had transmuted lead to gold.

    • Just read your great words. I see Skyfall about spiritual rebirth, Its incredibly ‘obvious’ the more you watch it. So, by the the end of film 3 for the new Bond series Bond is ‘sorted’. He’s come out the other end. Skyfall truly is an internal film for the main character and I think has a heck of a lot to tell us. Quite remarkable really.

  2. I knew there were Indian atomists who quite possibly preceded the Greek atomists. Didn’t know about the Egyptians but it wouldn’t surprise me. Its true that particles smaller than “atoms” don’t disprove philosophical atomism per se, however it makes me happy that the enlightenment a-holes, who so smugly thought they’d found a materialistic, epistemic bedrock to reality, were in fact wrong. Materialists, are ever forced to continue their quest for some quantifiable arche, only to find endless layers upon layers. They can’t give up their quest though because to them matter is God, “Quality emerges from quantity” as Stalin once said.

    Speaking of Bruno, have you ever heard of some disciple of his who claimed man evolved from apes? I remember coming across this somewhere but I can’t remember where.

    Regarding the podcast, what’s your schedule like over the next few weeks. Maybe we can work out a time soon. I think I’m one hour ahead of you time zone wise, so we’ll have to keep that in mind.

  3. I’m free any time next week.

  4. Behrooz Arasteh // September 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm // Reply

    i have a scenario : “persian nano nucleur bomb” or “goodby hello” or “farwell well” or “nano” …

  5. Quantum Response // April 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm // Reply

    Jay,
    Thought you might be interested in this piece by Jeff Faux (The Party of Davos) and the response by Justin Fox and Fortune (Defending the Party of Davos) relating to your Quantum of Solace post: The Party of Davos (Switzerland)
    by Jeff Faux
    http://www.thenation.com/, February 13, 2006

    The world’s movers and shakers are convening once again in January at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, the posh ski resort nestled in the Swiss Alps. Attendance is invitation-only, enforced by police barricades, razor wire and the latest high-tech military hardware to guard against terrorists, protesters and curious local citizens.
    Some 2,000 people will show up to discuss the world’s problems as defined by those who own and manage the great global concentrations of wealth (Microsoft, Citigroup, Siemens, Nestlé, Nomura Holdings, Saudi Basic Industries, etc.). Their guests include prominent political leaders, international bureaucrats, academics, consultants and media pundits–with a few NGO and labor union officials sprinkled along the edges to demonstrate diversity.
    Davos is not the place for secret conspiracies. More than 200 hovering journalists will dispatch to the world’s citizens breathless accounts of the chatter and charm of the masters of the economic universe. Davos is rather the most visible symbol of the virtual political network that governs the global market in the absence of a world government. It is more like a political convention, where elites get to sniff one another out, identify which ideas and people are “sound” and come away with increased chances that their phone calls will be returned by those one notch above them in the global pecking order.

    Americans are of course prominent members of this “Party of Davos,” which relies on the financial and military might of the US superpower to support its agenda. In exchange, the American members of the Party of Davos get a privileged place for their projects–and themselves. Whether it’s at Davos, at NATO headquarters or in the boardroom of the International Monetary Fund, heads turn and people listen more carefully when the American speaks.
    “Davos Man,” a term coined by nationalist scholar Samuel Huntington, is bipartisan. To be sure, Democrats tend to be more comfortable with the forum’s informal seminar-style and big-think topics like global poverty, cultural diversity and executive stress. Bill Clinton goes often, and Al Gore, John Kerry, Robert Rubin, Madeleine Albright, Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats are familiar faces. Republicans generally prefer more private venues. George W. Bush, of course, doesn’t do anything unscripted. But people like Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain and Condoleezza Rice have all worked the Davos circuit.
    That the global economy is developing a global ruling class should come as no shock. All markets generate economic class differences. In stable, self-contained national economies, where capital and labor need each other, political bargaining produces a social contract that allows enough wealth to trickle down from the top to keep the majority loyal. “What’s good for General Motors is good for America,” Dwight Eisenhower’s Defense Secretary famously said in the 1950s. The United Auto Workers agreed, which at the time seemed to toss the notion of class warfare into the dustbin of history.
    But as domestic markets become global, investors increasingly find workers, customers and business partners almost anywhere. Not surprisingly, they have come to share more economic interests with their peers in other countries than with people who simply have the same nationality. They also share a common interest in escaping the restrictions of their domestic social contracts.
    The class politics of this new world economic order is obscured by the confused language that filters the globalization debate from talk radio to Congressional hearings to university seminars. On the one hand, we are told that the flow of money and goods across borders is making nation-states obsolete. On the other, global economic competition is almost always defined as conflict among national interests. Thus, for example, the US press warns us of a dire economic threat from China. Yet much of the “Chinese” menace is a business partnership between China’s commissars, who supply the cheap labor, and America’s (and Japan’s and Europe’s) capitalists, who supply the technology and capital. “World poverty” is likewise framed as an issue of the distribution of wealth between rich and poor countries, ignoring the existence of rich people in poor countries and poor people in rich countries.
    The conventional wisdom makes globalization synonymous with “free trade” among autonomous nations. Yet as Renato Ruggiero, the first director-general of the World Trade Organization, noted in a rare moment of candor, “We are no longer writing the rules of interaction among separate national economies. We are writing the constitution of a single global economy.” (Emphasis added.)
    On the board of many transnational companies, Ruggiero has been both trade and foreign minister in the Italian government of right-wing businessman Silvio Berlusconi. He is now the chair of Citigroup’s Swiss subsidiary. His fellow authors of the Davosian constitution have similar résumés, tracking careers that flow easily across borders and between public and private sectors. After just stepping down as German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder has become board chair of a Russian company building a gas pipeline that Schröder himself had negotiated while in office. And so it goes.
    In the absence of global democracy, the forces that act as counterweights to the power of the investor class in national economies–labor, civil society and progressive political parties–are too weak and unorganized to create a global social contract. What might be called the “Party of Porto Alegre”–the NGO activists of the World Social Forum, who also meet annually (usually in Brazil, this year in Venezuela, Mali and Pakistan) in January–is hardly a match for Davos. It is therefore no surprise that the constitution of the world economy protects just one class of global citizen–the corporate investor.
    Given the influence of American elites, the model for this constitution is the North American Free Trade Agreement, conceived under Ronald Reagan, nurtured by George H.W. Bush and delivered by Bill Clinton. Among other things, NAFTA’s 1,000-plus pages give international investors extraordinary rights to override government protections of workers and the environment. It sets up secret panels, rife with conflicts of interest, to judge disputes from which there is no appeal. It makes virtually all nonmilitary government services subject to privatization and systematically undercuts the public sector’s ability to regulate business. Jorge Castañeda, later Mexico’s foreign secretary, observed that NAFTA was “an agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico and Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.”
    In the fall of 1993 a corporate lobbyist, exasperated by my opposition to NAFTA, stopped me in the corridor of the Capitol. “Don’t you understand?” she demanded. “We have to help [then-Mexican President Carlos] Salinas. He’s been to Harvard. He’s one of us.”

    Her reference to “us” seemed odd. Neither she nor I was a Harvard graduate. So it took me a while to get her point: “We” internationally mobile professionals had a shared interest in liberating similarly mobile global investors from regulations imposed by national governments on behalf of people who were, well, not like “us.” Despite the considerable social distance between Salinas and both of us, she was appealing to class solidarity.
    It’s impossible to understand why Democratic Party leaders collaborated with Republicans to establish NAFTA unless reference is made to cross-border class interests. There was no compelling economic or political reason for Bill Clinton to make NAFTA a priority in his first year as President. In economic terms, nothing was broken that needed fixing. Politically, NAFTA and the WTO that followed traded away the interests of the Democratic Party’s blue-collar electoral base while creating a bonanza for Republican constituencies on Wall Street and in red-state agribusiness.
    But Clinton was more Davos than Democrat. Tutored by financier Robert Rubin, a prodigious fundraiser who became his Treasury Secretary, Clinton embraced a reactionary, pre-New Deal vision of a global future in which corporate investors were unregulated and the social contract was history. Indeed, in all three countries it was the leaders of the political parties that had historically claimed to represent ordinary people–the Democrats’ Clinton, the Liberal Party’s Jean Chrétien and the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s Salinas–who delivered NAFTA to their global corporate clients, undercutting their own constituencies. “NAFTA happened,” said the then-chairman of American Express, “because of the drive Bill Clinton gave it. He stood up against his two prime constituents, labor and environment, to drive it home over their dead bodies.”
    A year later, in November 1994, enough angry Democratic voters stayed away from the polls to give the Republicans control of the House. Since then, many working-class Americans, feeling abandoned by the Democrats, have responded to the Republican definition of class struggle as a fight over gun control, school prayer and abortion. The Democrats have still not recovered.
    Consistent with a deal among the rich and powerful, NAFTA made the distribution of income, wealth and political power more unequal throughout the continent. In all three countries, wages in manufacturing fell behind productivity increases, shifting income from labor to capital. Ordinary Mexicans especially went through the economic wringer–to which the willingness of hundreds of thousands of them to risk their lives each year crossing the border continues to be tragic testimony.
    On the other hand, opportunities blossomed for the rich and powerful in all three nations. American and Canadian investors got access to cheaper labor and privatized Mexican companies, while Mexican oligarchs got to broker the deals. One example was the way NAFTA was used to open up Mexico’s banking system to foreign ownership, profiting elites on both sides of the border.
    The governments of Carlos Salinas and his successor, Ernesto Zedillo–hailed in Washington as great free-market reformers–privatized government-owned banks, turning them over to business cronies, and, through NAFTA, revoked the legal ban on foreign ownership. When the banks started to fail, they were given huge government subsidies to make them attractive to transnational buyers. At the same time, the “reform” government was slashing subsidies to the poor for food and medicine.
    Banamex, the country’s second-largest bank, was bought by a Mexican syndicate, owned by Salinas pal Roberto Hernandez Rodriguez, for $3.2 billion and when, thanks to NAFTA, foreigners were allowed to own Mexican banks, it was resold to Citigroup for $12.5 billion. Robert Rubin negotiated the deal for Citigroup, where he had gone after leaving the Treasury Department. The Mexican government’s welfare program for Citigroup and other foreign investors continues: In 2003 government subsidies to private banks (more than 85 percent of them now owned by foreigners) were almost three times those spent on roads, schools and other infrastructure.
    NAFTA was only the beginning. The Clinton/Republican alliance then pushed through the WTO agreement and the subsequent deal with China that traded off more US industrial jobs in exchange for protections for US investors in that huge Asian market. Not only has this produced a massive trade deficit with China and further downward pressure on US wages, it has also sent some 250,000 jobs from Mexico to China. The ubiquitous Citigroup, with banking operations in 100 countries, is now busy building its Chinese banking empire–with Chinese partners.
    That well-connected people who move in and out of government and business act in ways that benefit their class and take advantage of their contacts to further their own interests is neither illegal nor new. That’s the way class privilege works. Thus, it is unlikely that Dick Cheney ever ordered anyone at the Pentagon to give a huge sole-source contract to Halliburton. He did not have to. Procurement officers already knew the relationship between the company and the Vice President. And Cheney’s promotion of more funds for the military and for the war in Iraq in particular was bound to benefit the world to which he belonged–his circle of rich and powerful people who would always be there for him and his projects.
    There are of course important differences between the ways the elites of the different parties promote the Davos agenda. The preferred instruments of Rubin Democrats are the economic levers of the US Treasury, the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions. Rumsfeld/Cheney Republicans prefer the Defense and Energy departments. The Rubin mode is certainly less lethal and probably more effective. Still, Davos relies on the Pentagon to protect its class privileges with a worldwide web of military bases, training schools and the always-present threat to send in the Marines. It’s worth remembering that virtually the only section of Saddam Hussein’s law still untouched by the US occupation is its oppressive labor code.
    But the twin pillars of the US superpower–the Pentagon and Wall Street–are slipping into their own crises and soon may not be able to provide the military and economic muscle for the Davos agenda.
    The crisis on the military side involves blowback from the overreach in Iraq. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld–despite their thick transnational corporate connections–have created a disaster for Davos. The war has unleashed an army of enemies of Western modernization that is making global corporations nervous. Two years ago the wiser heads at Davos were appalled at Cheney’s delusional report on the Bush Administration’s progress in turning the Middle East into a shopping mall–however much they might have sympathized with the objective. Today the mess in Iraq has revealed to Davos both the incompetence of the American governing class and the unwillingness of the American electorate to make the sacrifices necessary to act as security police for the world’s rich and powerful.
    The looming economic crisis comes from the unsustainable US external debt. For more than a quarter-century, we Americans have been buying more from the rest of the world than we have been selling it, and borrowing from abroad to make up the difference. The resulting trade deficit has been a major engine of global growth under Davos’s management. But common sense and simple arithmetic tell us that even the United States cannot go on much longer spending more than it is earning.
    When the day of reckoning comes, high interest rates and a falling dollar will force us Americans to rebalance our trade by cutting the price of what we sell and raising the price of what we buy, lowering real incomes. The crisis in the nation’s trade sector will be transmitted to the rest of the economy, made vulnerable by overindebted consumers, overleveraged pension funds and overpriced houses. Thanks to George W. Bush’s reckless fiscal deficits, the government will have less ability to overcome an economic crisis through borrow-and-spend, as it did in the last economic downturn. With the appetite for America’s IOUs diminishing, US politicians will have their hands full dealing with rising energy costs and the tottering finances of healthcare, education and pensions.
    The basics of a harder-times scenario are not much in dispute. The debate is between those who foresee a hard landing and those who believe that the world’s central bankers will somehow figure out a way to avoid a global financial meltdown. But hard landing or soft, even the staunchest supporters of globalization admit that lower living standards are already in the cards. N. Gregory Mankiw, who as Bush’s chief economist famously praised the offshoring of American jobs, recently acknowledged that US reliance on foreign savings to support its consumption means a “less prosperous future.”
    Financier Warren Buffett reaches the obvious conclusion: We are headed for “significant political unrest.” Democratic Senator Max Baucus, a staunch free-trader, recently told Chinese business executives that unless they cut their country’s trade deficit with America “US politics will become unmanageable.” New York Times columnist and Davos champion Thomas Friedman, who also sees the writing on the wall, suggests dividing political parties by economic class, with Republican Wall Street joining with Democratic Hollywood against disgruntled working-class “populists” in both red and blue states.
    But working-class disgruntlement is likely to go beyond Freidman’s stereotype of uneducated losers. The outsourcing and downsizing of opportunities is already adding to the insecurity of people much further up the skill ladder. There are signs that the anxiety is spreading to the business class as well; within organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the owners of smaller and medium-sized businesses, who still depend on an American workforce, are beginning to dissent from the once united front in favor of globalization.
    Resistance to Davos is also growing in our own hemispheric neighborhood. Latin American oligarchs who prospered by selling their countries’ assets and people to transnational investors have been ousted in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Bolivia. In Mexico, which is having a presidential election this July, a leftist critic of NAFTA leads in the polls. The Party of Davos may not be over, but the rest of the world seems less willing to foot the bill.
    Here in America, the coming unrest could turn right as well as left. The Republican Party is hopelessly tied to the multinational priorities of the US business elite, but its managers are skilled at stoking nationalist resentment among the working-class victims.
    In the two-party system the burden therefore rests on the Democrats’ ability to produce leaders who are not co-opted by the Party of Davos. Given the current crop, our chances may not seem great. But leaders are often produced by the times. As globalization’s squeeze on ordinary Americans continues, the political price will rise for those who continue to give priority to bringing Burger King to Baghdad over healthcare to Baltimore. It’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt, who was as elite and privileged as one could get, responded to the economic crisis of his time by becoming–as they muttered in the best clubs–“a traitor to his class.”
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    Defending the party of Davos
    Isn’t it healthy that there’s a growing class of people worldwide who see their interests as intertwined?
    By Justin Fox, FORTUNE editor-at-large
    March 13, 2006: 11:02 AM EST

    NEW YORK (FORTUNE) – You may know the scene from the bitterly satiric 1976 movie “Network:” The CEO of a big media conglomerate, Arthur Jensen (played by Ned Beatty), calls raving anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) into a darkened boardroom for a tongue-lashing.

    Beale has been regaling TV viewers with outraged tirades against, among other things, Arabs using oil money to buy up America. (Sound familiar?) The ratings have been great, but Jensen announces that it has to stop.

    “There is no America, there is no democracy,” he tells Beale, “there is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon … The world is a college of corporations inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale, it has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve the common good, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.”

    I recount this because I went to hear Jeff Faux talk recently about his new book “The Global Class War,” an account of how the corporate elite has been selling out American workers. I don’t entirely buy his argument, but as I tried to formulate responses in my head, I kept wondering, “Am I going to sound just like Ned Beatty’s Arthur Jensen in ‘Network’?”

    This is at least better than sounding like Ned Beatty in “Deliverance,” but it’s still a big problem for those who would defend globalization and corporate America’s role in it.

    Faux is founder of the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank usually characterized as “liberal” or “progressive” but which I think is best described as “gloomy.”

    There is no economic news that the EPI can’t find a way to spin negatively. (When I last checked, the top headlines on its Web site were: “Living standards not keeping pace with productivity,” “Earnings premium for skilled workers down sharply,” “Bush tax and budget policies fail to promote economic growth.”) That said, the work the group does is always meticulous and usually thought-provoking.

    The same can be said of Faux’s book. His main point is that there now exists a global “party of Davos” (Davos being the Swiss ski resort where politicians, businesspeople, journalists, and scholars gather every January for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum), whose members have more in common with each other than with the peoples of their home countries.

    I can testify that there is truth to this. I am a member of the junior auxiliary of the party of Davos (for more on that, click here or here), and as a result now count among my friends an Indian pharmaceutical executive, a Singaporean law school dean, and the deputy CEO of South Africa’s main stock exchange, among others. Meanwhile, apart from people I’ve interviewed for articles, I don’t know a single American factory worker.

    Faux’s point is not that people like me are sinister and evil — there’s no Trilateral Commission/Council on Foreign Relations/Bilderberg Group conspiracy nonsense in his book — just that the interests of corporate America aren’t necessarily the same as America’s interests.

    When former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs chief and current Citigroup director Robert Rubin makes the case for a strong dollar, Faux said during the Q&A session after his speech last week at the New York think tank Demos, listeners should be aware that he and his Wall Street peers benefit from such a policy. “If you want to buy up banks in China, you want as strong a dollar as possible.”

    So okay, we probably shouldn’t let the nation’s economic policies be determined entirely by the needs of Citigroup (Research). But isn’t it healthy that there’s a growing class of people worldwide who see their interests as intertwined? Isn’t it good that Western businesses are investing in developing countries? Won’t more global economic integration eventually bring more global prosperity? “Isn’t the party of Davos simply steering us toward a perfect world” in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality? Oops, Arthur Jensen alert!

    My chief solace is that Faux doesn’t seem to have an obviously better alternative (“democratizing the North American economy” of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is his big prescription). Or maybe that shouldn’t be a “solace” — because Faux is right that a global economic system designed entirely by corporations, without any democratic input to speak of, isn’t what anybody really wants. Not even Arthur Jensen.

  6. Zack Steiner // May 21, 2015 at 11:03 pm // Reply

    Well-written and insightful review. Just one thing: in the movie, Mr. Greene’s foundation is “Terra Foundation” i.e. ‘earth foundation’ not “Tierra”. As a side note, after 9/11 Bush, Cheney, Guilliani, and Co. went out of their way mockingly and repeatedly hailing “the war on terra” and not “the war on terr-or”. The phonetic “terr-a” is unmistakable when they pronounce the word … “jezee” accent or not.

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