• Croix-Rouge : la petite affaire qui embarrasse Lydia Guirous
    https://www.lepoint.fr/politique/croix-rouge-le-juteux-business-familial-de-lydia-guirous-05-09-2018-2248847_
    Le mari de la porte-parole de LR, Jacques Touzard, a été mis à pied par la Croix-Rouge, soupçonné d’avoir favorisé la société de son épouse.
    La Croix-Rouge ne plaisante pas avec les affaires de favoritisme. L’organisation a fait savoir mercredi qu’elle mettait à pied Jacques Touzard, son délégué national sanitaire. Ce dernier est soupçonné d’avoir en effet favorisé l’entreprise de son épouse Lydia Guirous, porte-parole des Républicains. Selon les informations du Canard enchaîné, Jacques Touzard a fait en sorte que des hôpitaux gérés par la Croix-Rouge signent plusieurs contrats avec la société de recouvrement CTR, qui a la charge de recouvrer les créances auprès des patients. Or, précise l’hebdomadaire, cette entreprise est liée à la société de conseil de Lydia Guirous, à qui elle reverse une commission de 10 % pour les affaires que cette dernière lui a apportées.


    Interrogée par l’Agence France-Presse, Sandrine Witeska, l’une des porte-parole de la Croix-Rouge, confirme que « deux contrats » ont été passés avec la société CTR « sur recommandation » de Jacques Touzard. Si elle admet que l’organisation a l’habitude de travailler avec plusieurs sociétés de recouvrement, elle remarque toutefois que l’organisation n’avait jamais travaillé avec CTR avant l’arrivée de Jacques Touzard. Face à ces éléments, Jacques Touzard « a été convoqué en entretien au cours duquel il a reconnu avoir recommandé cette entreprise à différentes reprises en reconnaissant qu’il y aurait une commission », a déclaré la porte-parole.

    Une réputation à maintenir
    Dans la foulée, l’ONG a décidé de mettre à pied son délégué national sanitaire et de faire examiner son cas par une commission disciplinaire. « Le comportement de M. Touzard ne porte pas de préjudice financier à la Croix-Rouge française, la tarification de cette société étant conforme aux autres sociétés de recouvrement. Pour autant, il y a préjudice d’image qui nuit à la réputation de l’organisation », explique-t-elle, précisant que « cette procédure disciplinaire peut aboutir à un licenciement ». Détaché de la fonction publique auprès de l’ONG depuis plus de deux ans, Jacques Touzard perçoit un salaire versé par la Croix-Rouge, d’où « cette exigence d’honnêteté et de transparence », se justifie l’organisation.

    À ce stade, l’ONG écarte l’hypothèse d’un dépôt de plainte, car « il n’y a pas de préjudice financier ». Contactée par l’Agence France-Presse, Lydia Guirous se dit « meurtrie que [son] mari soit ciblé pour tenter de [la] déstabiliser ». « J’ai plusieurs clients parmi lesquels la CRF [Croix-Rouge française, NDLR] et j’ai différents contacts à la CRF. Mon mari a su après coup que j’avais un contrat d’apporteur d’affaires », explique Lydia Guirous, qui affirme que son époux « n’a jamais perçu de commission ».

    #LR #croix_rouge #affaires #favoritisme #société_de_conseil #recouvrement

  • Meng Wanzhou kehrt nach China zurück
    http://german.news.cn/2021-09/26/c_1310209922.htm


    Voilà un peuple qui adore la patronne. On ne le voit pas sur la photo, mai si Xinhua le dit le peuple chinois doit vraiment l’aimer.

    BEIJING, 25. September 2021 (Xinhua) —
    Meng Wanzhou winkt einer jubelnden Menge zu, als sie am 25. September 2021 am Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in Shenzhen in der südchinesischen Provinz Guangdong aus einem Charterflugzeug aussteigt. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

    #Chine #politique #affaires

    • Les Etats-Unis abandonnent les poursuites contre la fille du fondateur de Huawei, la Chine libère deux Canadiens
      https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/09/25/les-etats-unis-abandonnent-les-poursuites-contre-la-fille-du-fondateur-de-hu


      L’ancienne directrice financière du géant chinois des télécoms Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, à Vancouver (Canada), le 24 septembre 2021.
      DON MACKINNON / AFP

      Les Etats-Unis réclamaient au Canada son extradition depuis son arrestation en décembre 2018, alors qu’elle transitait à l’aéroport de Vancouver pour se rendre au Mexique. Ce vendredi, tout s’est enchaîné assez vite : Meng Wanzhou a renoncé à ce que soit lu son acte d’accusation ; elle a plaidé non coupable des quatre chefs d’inculpations qui lui étaient opposés (fraude bancaire et aux transferts électroniques et complot en vue de réaliser ces crimes). Puis le procureur, traduit par une interprète, a présenté les termes de l’accord scellé avec Meng Wanzhou, qui prévoit de suspendre les poursuites contre elle jusqu’au 1er décembre 2022 et de les abandonner définitivement si Meng Wuanzhou respecte les termes d’un accord de bonne conduite.

      Principale exigence, ne pas contester le récit des faits qui raconte sur quatre pages comment Huawei, dont Meng Wanzhou était directrice financière, contrôlait de fait une filiale télécom en Iran baptisée Skycom et s’est arrangé pour lui faire obtenir du matériel interdit, en dépit des embargos américains. Comme toujours, c’est l’usage du dollar (dans les transactions réalisées par HSBC, maintenu dans l’ignorance des faits), qui permet à la justice américaine d’agir de manière supranationale chez des parties tierces.

      Triomphe du parquet américain
      Dans son communiqué, le parquet américain triomphe en expliquant que Meng Wanzhou a avoué ses torts, reconnaissant notamment avoir sciemment menti à la banque HSBC sur la réalité du contrôle de Skycom par Huawei lors d’une présentation PowerPoint à Hongkong en 2013. « Ses aveux confirment que Meng, en tant que directrice financière de Huawei, a fait de multiples fausses déclarations » pour « préserver la relation bancaire du groupe » avec HSBC, que la banque n’aurait pas maintenue si elle avait connu la réalité des liens avec l’Iran, accuse la vice-procureure fédérale de Brooklyn Nicole Boeckmann.

      Meng Wanzhou n’a toutefois pénalement plaidé coupable de rien et a pu, à l’issue de la levée de demande d’extradition, rejoindre sa famille en Chine après près de trois ans de résidence surveillée. L’accord ne concerne pas Huawei, qui reste poursuivi, et la déposition de Meng Wanzhou, qu’elle ne peut pas contester, servira sans aucun doute dans la procédure américaine contre le géant chinois.

  • Shipwright Studios cuts ties with Tripwire Interactive over president’s anti-abortion views | GamesIndustry.biz
    https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-09-06-shipwright-studios-cuts-ties-with-tripwire-interactive-ove

    US developer Shipwright Studios has begun cancelling all contracts with Maneater creator Tripwire Interactive after the latter’s president sparked controversy over his views on abortion.

    Il n’est pas bon de clamer ses opinions politiques pour faire du business, en particulier quand celles-ci sont réactionnaires et provoquantes.

    Suite au départ des clients du studio après les déclarations de son P-DG, celui-ci laisse sa place à l’un des co-fondateurs, comme l’annonce à l’instant le studio dans un communiqué de presse :

    https://www.tripwireinteractive.com/#/news/tripwire-appoints-new-interim-ceo-alan-wilson

    The comments given by John Gibson are of his own opinion, and do not reflect those of Tripwire Interactive as a company. His comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community. Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment.

    Effective immediately, John Gibson has stepped down as CEO of Tripwire Interactive. Co-founding member and current Vice President, Alan Wilson, will take over as interim CEO. Alan has been with the company since its formation in 2005 and is an active lead in both the studio’s business and developmental affairs. Alan will work with the rest of the Tripwire leadership team to take steps with employees and partners to address their concerns including executing a company-wide town hall meeting and promoting open dialogue with Tripwire leadership and all employees. His understanding of both the company’s culture and the creative vision of our games will carry the team through this transition, with full support from the other Tripwire leaders.

    Ce retour de baton a été rapide et expéditif.

    #jeu_vidéo #jeux_vidéo #politique #avortement #législation #loi #militantisme #shipwrit_studios #jeu_vidéo_maneater #tripwire_interactive #controverse #polémique #avortement #pro-vie #pro-life #john_gibson #échec #business #affaires

  • ELNET France
    @ElnetFr - 5:51 PM · 19 juil. 2021
    https://twitter.com/ElnetFr/status/1417150047540682759

    Une délégation de 40 parlementaires français est en Israël. Pour la 1ère fois depuis 18 mois, ils échangent avec d’éminentes personnalités sur des enjeux clés. Une occasion exceptionnelle de rencontrer des membres du nouveau gouvernement et de renforcer les liens entre nos 2 pays

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    ELNET
    @elnetwork_eu - 7:56 PM · 19 juil. 2021
    https://twitter.com/elnetwork_eu/status/1417181486701170702

    Delegation of French MPs visited Israel’s south, which only 2 months ago suffered from 4,000+ rockets fired by Gaza terror groups. MPs inspected one of @Tsahal_IDF
    Iron Dome batteries protecting southern communities from the rockets, and talked to mayor of Sderot @AlonDavidi

    Tsahal
    @Tsahal_IDF - https://twitter.com/Tsahal_IDF/status/1417182007386427406

    Une trentaine de députés français ont visité le Dôme de Fer dans le sud d’Israël et ont échangé sur les enjeux sécuritaires auxquels font face nos soldats. Merci à eux et @elnetwork_eu pour cette visite fructueuse.

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    Sandra Boëlle
    @SBoelle - 9:13 PM · 19 juil. 2021
    https://twitter.com/SBoelle/status/1417200845842751488

    Mission parlementaire en Israël @AssembleeNat
    @ElnetFr : rencontre avec l’Ambassadeur de France en en Israël @EricDanon
    #situationpolitique #affairesetrangeres [Drapeau de la FranceDrapeau d’Israël–

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    Arié Bensemhoun
    @ariebens - 10:56 AM · 20 juil. 2021
    https://twitter.com/ariebens/status/1417408034540769280

    Énième visite du mémorial de la Shoah, @yadvashem à #Jérusalem, avec la délégation des #ParlementairesFrançaisDrapeau de la France en mission en #IsraëlDrapeau d’Israël. C’est toujours la même émotion et la même révolte. Le combat contre la haine des Juifs et d’Israël est le combat de tous les démocrates.

    #IsraelFrance #Elnet

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    ELNET
    @elnetwork_eu - 1:23 PM · 20 juil. 2021·
    https://twitter.com/elnetwork_eu/status/1417445045196763137

    The ELNET delegation of about 40 French parliament members met with the Prime Minister of Israel @naftalibennett
    to discuss the importance of France-Israel relations, shared values, challenges and opportunties.

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    ELNET
    @elnetwork_eu - 2:36 PM · 20 juil. 2021·
    https://twitter.com/elnetwork_eu/status/1417463306160328709

    President @Isaac_Herzog met today with the @ElnetFr
    delegation of French lawmakers.
    On the shared challenge of antisemitism, the President stressed “#Durban is a conference of hate. I call on #France to join other countries and announce it will boycott the Durban conference.”

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    L’édito hebdomadaire du 19 juillet 2021
    Retour en Israël après un an et demi d’attente
    http://elnetwork.fr/edito-19-juillet-2021

    Comprendre les enjeux de la région tout en renforçant les liens qui unissent nos deux pays, c’est l’objectif de la délégation d’une quarantaine de parlementaires de tous horizons politiques, en déplacement pour trois jours en Israël. Pour la majorité d’entre eux, il s’agit de leur premier déplacement dans le pays.

    Trois jours intenses en rencontres et en discussions sur des sujets variés, quelques semaines seulement après l’entrée en fonction du nouveau gouvernement.

    Dès leur arrivée, les membres de cette « mission d’information et d’amitié » ont pu échanger avec le Dr. Emmanuel Navon, Professeur de Relations internationales à l’Université de Tel Aviv ainsi qu’avec S.E.M. Eric Danon, ambassadeur de France en Israël depuis deux ans. (...)
    (...)
    Enfin pour leur dernier jour sur place, les députés et sénateurs auront l’opportunité de discuter avec un journaliste arabe israélien. (...)

    • Elnet. Découvrez Israël, ses colonies, ses technologies de surveillance...
      Orient XXI > Jean Stern > 26 janvier 2021
      https://orientxxi.info/magazine/elnet-decouvrez-israel-ses-colonies-ses-technologies-de-surveillance,445

      Enquête · Réseau européen installé à Paris, Bruxelles, Londres, Berlin, Madrid et Varsovie, Elnet (European Leadership Network) œuvre à renforcer les liens entre la France et Israël en ciblant les leaders, patrons et élus. Structure discrète et bien dotée, son activité consiste à vendre le produit Israël, ses start-up comme ses colonies, sur la scène française, en créant et en entretenant un maillage de décideurs pro-israéliens. (...)
      (...)

  • Take Me to Your Leader : The Rot of the American Ruling Class
    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/04/take-me-to-your-leader-the-rot-of-the-american-ruling-class

    Voici une analyse des rapports de classe aux États Unis depuis le New Deal jusqu’aujourd’hui. On y apprend les noms ets prises de positions des organismes et personnages qui représentent les groupes de capitalistes les plus importants. On comprend également comment la droite à réussie à placer Donald Trum dans la Maison Blanche.

    27.4.2021 by Doug Henwood - For more than three centuries, something has been going horribly wrong at the top of our society, and we’re all suffering for it.

    Back in the George W. Bush years, I began thinking the US ruling class had entered a serious phase of rot. After a round of tax cuts skewed toward the very rich, Bush and his cronies launched a horribly destructive and expensive war on Iraq that greatly damaged the reputation and finances of the United States on its own imperial terms.

    The president and his cronies seemed reckless, vain, and out of control. Bush adviser Karl Rove dismissed the critiques of “the reality-based community,” with its conclusions drawn from “the judicious study of discernible reality.” Instead, Rove asserted, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” One waited in vain for the grown-ups to appear on the scene and right the imperial ship, but, if they existed at all, they were too busy celebrating their tax cuts and pumping up the housing bubble to bother.

    After that bubble burst, creating the financial crisis and the Great Recession, the smooth and cerebral Barack Obama seemed like a stabilizing force. That’s not what many of his more fervent supporters expected of his presidency; they were hoping for a more peaceful and egalitarian world, but they got neither. Facing the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, one like that depression driven in large part by Wall Street, Obama was not about to do anything on the scale of the New Deal. There was the early and underpowered stimulus package, but beyond that, there would be no major reregulation of finance and no programs of public investment, income security, or redistribution. Unlike the Franklin Roosevelt administration, or even John F. Kennedy’s, for that matter, there was little political ferment around the White House, even though the Democratic policy elites came out of the same Ivy League circles as their ancestors.

    The disappointments of the Obama years prepared the way for Donald Trump. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, many people (including sometimes me) thought the establishment would somehow keep Trump from winning. Hillary Clinton, the product of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, would stop the vulgarian who cheated his way into Wharton from entering the Oval Office. But her brand of status-quo politics failed to inspire.

    Trump was not the bourgeoisie’s favorite candidate. He had support from provincial plutocrats but not from the executive suite at Goldman Sachs. When he took office and immediately began ransacking, one wondered if the deep state would rein him in. Maybe the CIA would even arrange a malfunction in Air Force One’s fuel line. But it was not to be. Tax cuts and deregulation made capital forget all their reservations about Trump, and the stock market made 128 fresh daily highs — on average, one every six days — between inauguration and the onset of the coronavirus crisis. It took his encouragement of an attack on the US Capitol for the big bourgeoisie to complain openly — 99 percent of the way through his time in office.

    Fish rots from the head, they say, and it’s tempting to think the same about US society. We’ve always had a brutal ruling class — more brutal at certain times (the years of slavery and Jim Crow) than others (the New Deal). But despite the brutality, there was usually a great economic and cultural dynamism. That now seems long past, and I’m not just talking about the era of Trump and the coronavirus. Something has gone badly wrong at the top of this society, and all of us are suffering for it.

    One doesn’t want to idealize the ruling classes of the past. For all of history, their wealth and status have depended on exploiting those below them — and they’ve never shied away from extreme measures if they feel that those things are threatened. But the present configuration of the American ruling class is having a hard time performing the tasks it’s supposed to in order to keep the capitalist machine running. It’s not investing, and it’s allowing the basic institutions of society — notably the state but also instruments of cultural reproduction like universities — to decay.

    Capitalists have long been driven by shortsightedness and greed. But it feels like we’ve entered what Christian Parenti calls the necrotic phase of American capitalism.

    Lest anyone misunderstand, this isn’t an argument for a better elite or a “true” meritocracy; it’s ultimately an argument for a different society, one not dependent on the rule of plutocrats and their hired hands.

    A core concept of Marxism is class struggle, but the tradition exhibits a strange dearth of investigation of the ruling class. When I first started getting interested in elite studies, I asked the Marxist political scientist Bertell Ollman whose writing he liked on the issue. He thought a moment and said, “Marxists don’t write about the ruling class.” When I asked why not, he said, “They think it’s obvious.”

    You could say the ruling class is the capitalist class, of course, but what does that mean? CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? Their shareholders, to whom they allegedly answer? What about the owner of a chain of franchised auto parts stores in the Midwest? The owner may be able to get his congressperson on the phone — a senator might be harder — to get a tax break slipped unobtrusively into a larger bill, but what influence does he have over larger state policy? Are car dealers part of the ruling class? If so, what about new versus used? And what about someone like Henry Kissinger, a man who started as a clever functionary and ended up shaping US foreign policy in much of the 1970s, and who still has an influence over how diplomats and politicians think? How about less grand politicians and high government officials? Are they employees of the ruling class or its partners — or shapers, even? It’s not at all obvious.

    Before proceeding, I should say I’m not taking seriously the idea that there is no ruling class — that there are voters in a democracy who may be divided into interest groups but none are dominant. Yes, the constrained democracy we live under is a lot better than a dictatorship would be; elections do act as a limit on elite power. But that’s a long way from the popular self-government socialists dream of. Nor am I taking seriously conceptions of a ruling class that center on PC-obsessed, organic-food-eating urban elites. That set has some influence, especially among the liberal wing of the consciousness industry, but it doesn’t shape the political economy.

    I’d say the ruling class consists of a politically engaged capitalist class, operating through lobbying groups, financial support for politicians, think tanks, and publicity, that meshes with a senior political class that directs the machinery of the state. (You could say something similar about regional, state, and local capitalists and the relevant machinery.) But we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the political branch of the ruling class in shaping the thinking of the capitalists, who are too busy making money to think much on their own or even organize in their collective interest.

    One way to approach the question of a ruling class is through Italian elite theory, namely the work of Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, and Robert Michels. In his four-volume warhorse The Mind and Society, Pareto laid out a clear vision of society:

    Ignoring exceptions, which are few in number and of short duration, one finds everywhere a governing class of relatively few individuals that keeps itself in power partly by force and partly by the consent of the subject class, which is much more populous.

    To preserve its power, that governing class must be “adept in the shrewd use of chicanery, fraud, corruption.”

    Individual governing elites do not last: “History is a graveyard of aristocracies,” Pareto declared. Contributing to their passing is a loss in vigor, an effect of the decadence of the well-established and the failure to invigorate the stock by recruiting from below. For Pareto, a healthy governing class is able to absorb the leaders of the “governed” and thereby neutralize them. “Left without leadership, without talent, disorganized, the subject class is almost always powerless to set up any lasting régime.” (Karl Marx said something similar: “The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the foremost minds of a ruled class, the more stable and dangerous becomes its rule.”) But if the governing class is overcome by “humanitarian sentiments” and is unable to absorb the natural leaders of the oppressed, it could be overthrown, especially if “the subject class contains a number of individuals disposed to use force.”

    Mosca wrote at some length about strata below the ruling elite. The one just below it, which plays the officer corps to the enlisted personnel of the masses, is crucial to the health of the system and functions as the backbone of political stability. Should it erode, morally or intellectually, then society will unravel. It can tolerate foolishness at the top if the stratum just one level below is in good order — one thinks of Trump and the grown-up problem.

    Mosca saw clearly the profound relation of the family to political and economic power, something modern conservatives understand (and people who wonder about the coexistence of “family values” and neoliberal politics don’t). Upper-class parents do their best to prepare their children for rule, and there’s always a heavy dose of inheritance in social power. In an exuberant moment, Mosca wrote:

    In order to abolish privileges of birth entirely, it would be necessary to go one step farther, to abolish the family, recognize a vagrant Venus and drop humanity to the level of the lowest animalism. In the Republic Plato proposed abolishing the family as an almost necessary consequence of the abolition of private property.

    Further down, Mosca lamented the state of the European middle classes in the 1930s. He warned, “If the economic decline of [the middle] class should continue for a whole generation, an intellectual decline in all our countries would inevitably follow.” They are “great repositories of independent opinion and disinterested public spirit,” without which:

    we would have either a plutocratic dictatorship, or else a bureaucratico-
    military dictatorship, or else a demagogic dictatorship by a few experts in mob leadership, who would know the arts of wheedling the masses and of satisfying their envies and their predatory instincts in every possible way, to the certain damage of the general interest.

    He didn’t define the “general interest,” a concept often confused with what’s good for the upper orders, but the erosion of the US middle ranks over the last few decades has had a trajectory not unlike what Mosca worried about.

    Of the Italian trio, Michels is the most interesting, not least because so much of his attention is paid to the Left formations to which he once belonged. His most famous contribution is known as the “iron law of oligarchy,” a belief that organizations will always evolve into hierarchies, even parties ostensibly trying to overthrow the hierarchies of bourgeois society. Marx was right about class struggle as the motor of history, Michels conceded, but every new class coming to power will itself evolve a new hierarchy. Even syndicalists, argued Michels, who criticize the oligarchic tendencies in socialist parties and favor instead direct strike action by organized workers, need leaders. “Syndicalism is even more than socialism a fighting party. It loves the great battlefield. Can we be surprised that the syndicalists need leaders yet more than do the socialists?”

    Within socialist parties and organization, Michels pointed to the prominence of traitors to the bourgeoisie. Most of the prominent nineteenth-century socialist writers, Marx and Engels most famously, were bourgeois intellectuals; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a rare exception. So, too, the revolutionary leaders of the twentieth century: Vladimir Lenin came out of a middle-class family and was educated as a lawyer; Leon Trotsky was born to a rich farming family and educated in cosmopolitan Odessa; Che Guevara was another child of the middle class who was surrounded by books and political conversation as he grew up. No doubt the descendants of the old syndicalists would argue that these relatively elite origins contributed to the ossification of the Russian and Cuban revolutions — but one could cite Michels’s retort about the necessity of leaders to the syndicalists in response to that critique. Growing up bourgeois confers some advantages — time to study, as well as exposure to the nature of power — often denied to people further down the social hierarchy. Instead of lambasting their “privilege,” it might be better to welcome these class traitors.

    This doesn’t mean one should be complacent about them, or about the concept of leadership in general. Many on the Left have resisted applying Michels’s iron law to our parties and occasionally our governments, but it would be better to acknowledge the power of the tendency and figure out the best way to keep those leaders accountable through what Michels called “a serene and frank examination of the oligarchical dangers of democracy.” It’s better to be open about the reality of hierarchies than to pretend they don’t exist; even professedly leaderless organizations are subject to domination by the charismatic.

    The Italians focus primarily on politics and the state as the sites of rule, without much interest in their relations with capitalists. For an American, that seems like a serious deficit. But in some senses, the focus on politics is clarifying. That’s where class conflicts are often crystallized, sharpened to a point — more so than in the workplace, which can appear to be the site of interaction among individuals rather than classes. As the Marxist political theorist Nicos Poulantzas put it, through relations with the state, the complex and diffuse relation between classes “assumes the relatively simple form of relations between the dominant and the dominated, governors and governed.”

    We once had a coherent ruling class, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), who more or less owned and ran the United States from its founding through the 1970s. Based largely in the Northeast, with offshoots in the Upper Midwest, WASPs went to the same elite schools and colleges, belonged to the same clubs, married out of the same pool, and vacationed in the same favorite rural retreats. There were Southern WASPs, descendants of the slave-owning gentry, but they never had the social weight of their northern relatives — though they did rule their region and enjoy an outsize role in Congress for decades.

    At the rank-and-file level, men worked in genteel law firms and brokerages or as executives in old-line manufacturing firms, and women did volunteer work for museums and charities and maintained the social relations that kept the group functioning together as a class. At the high end, WASPs played a role in government far out of proportion to their numbers, most notably in foreign policy. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), target of innumerable conspiracy theories generated from left and right for its prominent role in shaping imperial policy, traces its origins to the end of World War I, when a delegation of British and American diplomats and scholars decided to preserve the transatlantic comity of the war years and form a council whose purpose was, in the words of Peter Gosse’s official history, “to convene dinner meetings, to make contact with distinguished foreign visitors under conditions congenial to future commerce.” The CFR didn’t begin to influence policy until the 1930s, when its fellows and members helped plot the takeover of the British Empire, a concern of the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

    That special identification with England has been foundational to WASP identity from the first. But it took waves of fresh immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, people with strange customs and sometimes dangerous politics, for the formation to come to energized self-consciousness as a class, beginning in the 1880s. That decade brought the obsession with finding one’s old-stock roots, the first country clubs, the founding of the Social Register, and, quite importantly, the opening of the Groton School by Endicott Peabody, which shaped generations of the wellborn as well as the children of arrivistes who wanted to learn the ways of the wellborn. Peabody’s vision was one of “Muscular Christianity,” popular among elites of the time, who were worried about a loss of manliness in an increasingly urban society — austere, disciplined, athletic. FDR said that the influence of Peabody and his wife meant more to him than “any other people next to my father and mother.”

    Coming out of World War II, elite WASPs like Averell Harriman (son of a robber baron) and Dean Acheson (son of the Episcopal bishop of Connecticut, who learned how to row crew from Harriman at Groton), supplemented by recruits like George Kennan (son of a Milwaukee lawyer) and John McCloy (a poor kid from Philly who learned the ways of the elite at an early age and got certified with a Harvard Law degree), shaped what would become the US empire. Their skill can’t be denied; that empire has had a long and successful run, though it now looks to be coming unglued. (The competitive pressures of having the USSR as rival, and having socialism as a plausible alternative to capitalism in the twentieth century, did bring out some of the talent in the upper crust.)

    McCloy, despite being a recruit, earned the title of “chairman of the American establishment” for having run postwar Germany and becoming a name partner of the law firm that represented the Rockefellers, Chase, and Big Oil (from which he took a break to run the young World Bank, which he kept safe for Wall Street). At one point, he was simultaneously chair of Chase, the Ford Foundation, and the Council on Foreign Relations and partner at the elite law firm Milbank, Tweed, where he basically ran US Middle Eastern policy.

    Cast into political exile in the Eisenhower years, the WASPs returned with the status-anxious John F. Kennedy, desperate for the approval of a stratum suspicious of Irish Catholics. Kennedy, who was denounced by WASP columnist Lucius Beebe as “a rich mick from the Boston lace curtain district,” went to Choate and Harvard to learn the manner of the upper orders. As president, he brought back the older patrician crew and added the notorious McGeorge Bundy, another Groton product, who would be one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the Vietnam War, a disaster that pretty much ended that caste’s dominance of foreign policy.

    Fresh from helping wreck Southeast Asia, Bundy went on to run the Ford Foundation, where, among other things, he applied counterinsurgency techniques developed in Vietnam to the urban crisis of the 1970s. Bundy’s strategy, as Karen Ferguson recounts in Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism, was to split off the “natural” leadership of the black community and incorporate it into the ruling class, then encourage the separate development of black schools and cultural institutions on an apartheid model, because the broad population just wasn’t advanced enough to join white society. The Italian elite theorists would have been proud of him.

    As the twentieth century rolled on, WASP predominance eroded in spheres other than foreign policy. The 1970s saw a mini genre of “decline of the WASP” books and articles crop up, as Jews, Eastern and Southern European ethnics, and even blacks and Latinos began to permeate cultural, political, and business elites. At the same time, the old-line manufacturing companies, headquartered not only in New York but also in outposts of the WASP archipelago like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, fell to Japanese competition and squeezed profits. Inflation and multiple generations of inheritance ate away at old WASP fortunes. And the deregulation of Wall Street that began in the mid-1970s turned the genteel world of white-shoe investment banking (and associated law firms) into a ruthlessly competitive one. Gone were the days when a well-bred young man could pop out of Yale and into a quiet job as a bond salesman.

    To use the language of finance theory, the transaction replaced the relationship. All those old WASP ties of blood and club were replaced by principles of pure profit maximization. Firms that had dealt with the same investment bank for decades shopped around to find out who could give them the best deal. The stable world of the immediate postwar decades, in which the same companies dominated the Fortune 500 and trading on the New York Stock Exchange, was transformed by a massive wave of takeovers and business failures.

    This new competitive structure destroyed the WASP dominance at the same time that it created fresh fortunes: oil and natural resources in the South and the West, and takeover artists like Henry Kravis and Carl Icahn. At the center of the turbulence was the investment banking firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert, which, though it bore a pedigreed name — the firm’s founder, Anthony Drexel, was a partner of J. P. Morgan and a member of Philadelphia’s aristocracy — had turned into a machine for borrowing lots of money and powering a fresh generation of arrivistes. But with the aristocracy in decline, the new arrivals had little to be assimilated into, unlike in Peabody’s days. Instead, the 1980s brought us stylized remnants of the old order like The Official Preppy Handbook, a guide to dressing and acting like the aristocracy, and Anglophilic clothing designed by Ralph Lauren (born in the Bronx as Ralph Lifshitz).

    Though always a major part of American life, money was about to take a starring role. It’s hard to believe now, but when Forbes compiled its first list of the 400 richest Americans in 1982, there were just over a dozen billionaires among them, and the minimum price of entry was $100 million, or $270 million in 2020 dollars. Oil and real estate tycoons were prominent among them. Now, tech and finance dominate the list, and the fortunes are far larger — the minimum price of entry in 2020 was $2.1 billion. The five richest 2020 members were worth $520 billion; in 1982, the top five were worth $11 billion, or $26 billion in current dollars. A 2015 study of the Forbes list over the years found a decreasing prominence of inherited wealth and a rise in self-made fortunes — though the new arrivals were more likely to depart the list than the pedigreed.

    The economic and financial forces that helped destroy the WASPs and create a new capitalist class deserve close attention. Much of it revolved around the stock market, as the 1970s became the 1980s. The entire model of how to run large corporations was transformed.

    Stock markets are peculiar institutions. They’re touted in the media as economic thermometers, to a public that has little idea what they do. Few people have deep ownership interest in the markets; only about half of American households have retirement accounts, with an average holding of $65,000. The richest 1 percent own 55 percent of stocks; the next 9 percent own 39 percent, leaving all of 6 percent for the bottom 90 percent. The market’s behavior can seem bizarre to outsiders and connoisseurs alike, swinging from extremes of joy to despair. Its reaction to news can be perplexing, but it’s a realm where people are all trying “to beat the gun,” an American phrase that John Maynard Keynes adopted in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money to describe the logic of speculative markets.

    As frivolous as the market can seem, there’s a serious business going on under all the froth. Much of the productive apparatus of the United States is owned by public corporations — that is, ones whose stock is widely held and traded on exchanges. Those shares represent ownership interests in those corporations. As detached as the stock market may appear from reality, it’s actually an institution central to class formation — the way an owning elite stakes its ownership claims on an economy’s means of production as a whole. That’s in contrast to the nineteenth century, when industrial firms were owned by individual capitalists or small partnerships. As those firms grew, they became too big to be run and funded by a small circle; their organizational form gave way to the professionally managed corporation owned by outside shareholders. That became the dominant form of economic activity in the early twentieth century.

    But the owners — the shareholders — don’t know the first thing about how to run corporations, so they have to hire specialists to do the work for them. This presents what’s known in the trade as an agency problem: the owners are dependent on hired hands to run their companies for them, but how do they know the executives are running the firms in the shareholders’ interests and not their own? Yes, shareholders elect the board of directors, and boards hire and fire top management, but in practice, it’s not easy for disperse shareholders to supervise a board, and crafty CEOs can turn boards into rubber stamps. If the market were working in accordance with official theology, it would be disciplining actors into the proper profit-maximizing behavior, but clearly that’s not enough.

    A classic work on the topic is Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means’s The Modern Corporation and Private Property, published at the depths of the Depression in 1932, when capitalism was in deep disrepute. Berle and Means, both advisers to FDR, saw the large, publicly owned corporation — ever since nicknamed the Berle-Means corporation, marked by what they call the “dissolution of the atom of property” — as a profound innovation. It was about to become, if it wasn’t already, “the dominant institution of the modern world.”

    There were many perils in this new arrangement. As Berle and Means noted, “out of professional pride,” managers could choose to “maintain labor standards above those required by competitive conditions and business foresight or . . . improve quality above the point which, over a period, is likely to yield optimum returns to the stockholders.” This would benefit other stakeholders, as we call them today, namely workers and customers, but it would be in “opposition to the interests of ownership.”

    But that was not without political promise. As good New Dealers, they thought this new capitalism could be managed responsibly after the reckless high jinks of the 1920s. Gone were the rabid profit maximizers of the robber baron era; why push to maximize profits when they’ll only be passed along to shareholders? With the profit maximizing incentive gone, under a regime of proper state regulation and enlightened management, the system was evolving into a “collective capitalism,” as Berle called it in the preface to the revised 1967 edition. Or, as the authors put it in the original text, the modern corporation is “approach[ing] toward communist modalities.” It would be more accurate to say that this view aimed to make socialism obsolete and irrelevant now that the days of Jay Gould and J. P. Morgan had given way to the man in the gray flannel suit.

    As the legal historian Mark Roe argues, the Berle-Means corporation emerged out of a nineteenth-century populist distrust of concentrated financial power. Better dispersed ownership, the thinking went, than bank ownership. These trends were reinforced by the New Deal, which broke up banks, took them largely out of the stock ownership game, and made it harder for financial operators to interfere in corporate management.

    There was a clear political intent here. As Roe notes, the New Deal leashing of finance moved issues of ownership and class division off the political agenda, issues that were hot in the 1930s. FDR was explicit about the need to break up “private socialism” — concentrated corporate and financial power — in order to prevent “government socialism.” For New Dealers — many of them renegade WASPs rebelling against their kind’s Republicanism — the point of regulation wasn’t to stifle capital, it was to legitimate it by making financial power seem transparent and disinterested.

    For the first few postwar decades, the New Deal model was standard liberal doctrine. In The New Industrial State, John Kenneth Galbraith argued that rapacious profit maximization had been replaced by a secure mediocrity, and greedy capitalists by a “technostructure.” Top managers, who were well paid but on nothing like today’s scale, saw little point in risk-taking; they wanted sales growth and prestige, not the paychecks that would later populate the Forbes 400. Today’s paychecks are driven by stock prices; in the 1950s, top executives were paid mostly straight salaries. Shareholders had become vestigial; if they didn’t like the performance of firms they held stock in, they’d just sell the shares. No one ever troubled management.

    That comfortable world began falling apart in the 1970s, as profits stumbled, financial markets performed miserably, and inflation rose inexorably. As we’ll see later, the corporate class organized to address this politically, but there was also a fierce fight within the capitalist class as shareholders began demanding more.

    Enabling that demand for more was the major shift in the ownership of stocks. In the early 1950s, households (mostly rich ones, of course) owned over 90 percent of stock; now it’s under 40 percent. Large institutional holders like pension funds and mutual funds owned about 2 percent of all stock in the 1950s; now it’s around 30 percent. While the household owners of the mid-twentieth century had common interests in rising share prices and stable, generous dividends, they had no means of organizing to influence the corporations they owned. Today’s institutional owners have plenty of means. The diffuse, passive shareholders of the past have given way to the professional money managers of recent decades.

    Deteriorating economic and financial performance, combined with the change in ownership, provided rich material for the shareholder revolution. Beginning in the 1970s, financial theorists, notably Harvard’s Michael Jensen, began to query the Berle-Means corporation. In a 1976 paper, Jensen and coauthor William Meckling noted the oddity of the public corporate form: “How does it happen that millions of individuals are willing to turn over a significant fraction of their wealth to organizations run by managers who have so little interest in their welfare?” Having raised the question, they let the arrangement off the hook, essentially saying that it’s worked well so far. Jensen turned more aggressive in the 1980s, denouncing corporate managers as inefficient wastrels sorely in need of outside discipline. He particularly liked debt as a form of discipline; if a company had big debts to pay, it would concentrate managerial minds on maximizing profitability by cutting costs and closing or selling weaker divisions.

    Theorists revived interest in a 1965 paper by law professor Henry Manne, who argued that efficiency — by which he meant profitability — would best be served by having corporations constantly up for auction to the highest bidder. What came to be known as the “liquid market for corporate control” would discipline managers, forcing them to concentrate on profits and stock prices at the expense of all those old New Deal considerations.

    As theorists like Jensen did their work, financiers developed the practice: a debt-driven restructuring of corporate America. A wave of takeovers undertaken by investment boutiques like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and individual takeover artists like Icahn was launched at “underperforming” firms. While details vary, the model involved borrowing lots of money, taking over target firms against management’s wishes, and forcing a sale to the operator or some third party. Corporate indebtedness rose massively and fed the broad attack on labor that was underway in the 1980s; the quickest way to cut costs and raise your stock price was to do mass layoffs. The larger point of all these exercises was to center the stock price in managerial consciousness. That would solve the agency problem: make managers think like shareholders, relentlessly cutting costs and raising profits.

    The takeover wave of the 1980s completely disrupted the corporate landscape, bringing down a lot of old names and, with them, an old corporate culture. The renegades were initially seen as disreputable and greedy, conducting an assault on old values — the “barbarians at the gate,” as Bryan Burrough and John Helyar called their book on the battle for RJR Nabisco. Texas oilman turned financial operator T. Boone Pickens framed his 1983 takeover attempt on Gulf as an attack on a pampered corporate elite. Pickens never took over Gulf; it ended up being bought by SOCAL (Standard Oil of California), but he made over $700 million by selling the stock he’d accumulated in the attempt. Another casualty of the deal was to diminish the old WASPy Pittsburgh corporate elite, of which Gulf was a pillar. And, as Fortune noted in an admiring 2019 obituary for Pickens, raids like his changed the way managers did business; the constant fear of a hostile takeover was “revolutionary, forever changing the way companies interacted with their shareholders.”

    As often happens, the debt mania came to a bad end when too much money was borrowed to buy bad assets at excessive prices. The model collapsed in a wave of bankruptcies and a long recession in the early 1990s. But later in that decade, shareholders came up with a new ploy to press their interests: pension-fund activism, perversely led by public funds like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). (Curiously, KKR, one of the pioneers of the 1980s takeover movement, which had initially been seen as reckless and maybe scandalous, was legitimated on Wall Street when it won an investment from the Oregon state pension fund; the second K, Henry Kravis, still publicly thanks the fund for helping launch them. Everywhere you look, you can see that states shape markets.) CalPERS would draw up lists of underperforming companies and lobby management to tighten the ship — meaning cut costs and boost the stock price. When I interviewed the chief counsel of CalPERS in the mid-1990s, I asked him about the propriety of using funds held in workers’ names to pursue an anti-worker agenda; he said they just cared about maximizing returns.

    The result of all this was to turn the stock market into an ever-updating grade on corporate performance. To induce managers to think like shareholders, their compensation was increasingly linked to the stock price. The intra-capitalist family fight looked to have been resolved in favor of shareholders. Predictable mediocrity, the lodestar of the 1950s and 1960s, had given way to the cult of the profit-seeking CEO with a 25 percent return on equity.

    The shareholder revolution of the 1980s was supposed to make the passive investor a thing of the past. No longer would management run companies as private fiefdoms with little outside supervision: they’d be disciplined by activist investors and real-time report cards provided by stock prices.

    That was the case for quite a while, but the intraclass peace treaty after the shareholder revolution has brought back several aspects of that old world. Two are especially important: the growth of index funds and the explosion in stock buybacks, through which corporations have shoveled trillions of dollars into their shareholders’ pockets.

    Financial theory from the 1960s onward argued convincingly that it’s nearly impossible to beat the market. Sure, there are star investors like George Soros and Warren Buffett, but most people aren’t them. Instead of trying to beat the market, many investors decided to settle for matching it. Big money managers like Vanguard began offering mutual funds that replicated prominent stock market indexes, notably the S&P 500, by investing in the component stocks in proportion to their weights in the index. Because the management of an index fund is almost automatic, fees are very low compared to actively managed funds, which require the attention of highly paid specialists (who rarely deserve their compensation given how many of them lag the averages they’re supposed to beat).

    Over the last decade, law professors Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst report, 95 percent of all inflows into investment funds have gone to passively managed funds, like mutual funds. The lion’s share has gone into funds managed by the Big Three (BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street), and that proportion has been rising. In 1998, those three firms held about 5 percent of the total capitalization of the S&P 500, an index made up of the stocks of the largest blue chip corporations. That share is now 21 percent, and it’s almost certain to keep growing. Managers of index funds rarely challenge management — and why would CEOs listen to them if they couldn’t, by definition, sell their stock? And while managers of passive funds swear that they care deeply about their corporate governance responsibilities — high-mindedly called “stewardship” in the literature — they have little economic incentive to do much. Any improvement caused by an indexer’s stewardship would accrue to other indexers as well, which would violate all norms of capitalist rationality. And with fees as low as they are, there’s not much money around to pay the stewards. Those entrusted with that task have about half a day for every company they cover. Index fund managers sometimes say they engage in behind-the-scenes lobbying of corporate managers, but the Big Three had no engagement at all with more than 90 percent of the firms in their portfolios.

    Of course, the kinds of supervision that authors like Bebchuk and Hirst long for, like dismantling defenses against hostile takeovers, aren’t good for the working class. But this does represent a significant departure from the early hopes of the shareholder revolutionaries. There are still activist hedge funds that take positions in companies they see as underperforming to provoke management changes or takeovers, but they’ve become a lot rarer than they were in the 1980s, when CEOs routinely felt like they were under siege.

    If you can’t buy and sell stocks based on corporate performance, there’s less discipline coming from the stock price. A financial world in which index funds dominate is one where the stock market plays almost no role in how corporations are run. That prompts the question: Who needs outside stockholders?

    In 2016, Inigo Fraser Jenkins, an analyst with the investment house Bernstein, declared indexing “worse than Marxism.” Central planning is bad enough, he argued, but a system in which capital allocation was purely formulaic looks backward rather than shaping the future, which will damage innovation. Soon after writing that, Fraser Jenkins was diagnosed with lymphoma, and when he returned from his brush with death, he wrote a near-four-thousand-word essay musing on whether what he does for a living is worth it. Both those positions are worth taking seriously. With stockholders tending in the direction of autopilot, are they irrelevant?

    This new unity of purpose between managers and shareholders has produced some perverse results, notably an eagerness to shower the shareholders with corporate cash. In both academic and popular theory, the stock market is supposed to be a way to fund corporate investment; shareholders are providing capital to firms in need of it. In fact, the stock market does very little of that. According to statistics collected by finance professor Jay Ritter, US corporations raised just over $755 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs) — first sales of stock to the public by previously private corporations — between 1998 and 2020. That pales in comparison to the $8.5 trillion firms spent buying back their own stock over the same period, which is still only half their profits. Such stock buybacks — which were mostly illegal before 1982 — are intended to boost prices and make shareholders happy. But since CEOs and other top executives are now paid mainly in stock, buybacks make them happy, too. (Research by the Washington Post and the Securities and Exchange Commission has found that corporate executives often sell into a buyback program, profiting off the lift all the corporate purchases give to prices.) The Berle-Means corporation has been transformed into a machine for stuffing vast sums into the wallets of shareholders and CEOs.

    A study by Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon shows that buybacks have depressed investment, and that firms with high share ownership by index funds and other broad mutual funds that hold stocks rather than trading them aggressively (which, it should be said, makes excellent financial sense) do more buybacks and stint more on investment. Another reason to ask why we need outside shareholders.

    The capitalist class is showing faint signs of rethinking the shareholder-first orthodoxy. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, big capital’s trade association, issued a statement signed by 181 CEOs declaring the business had social goals other than profit-making — responsibilities to “all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.” Commenting on the statement, JPMorgan Chase chair Jamie Dimon vowed “to push for an economy that serves all Americans,” a wish that is hard to square with his role in life. A subset of Wall Street money managers has been pushing for corporations to take environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account when investing. That sounds nice, but a primer on ESG filters published by CNBC reports that such exemplars as Microsoft, Lyft, and Honeywell (which, among other things, makes parts for military aircraft) pass the worthiness test.

    Just after Joe Biden’s inauguration, BlackRock boss Larry Fink announced that because “climate risk is investment risk,” he would be voting shares under that firm’s management against boards and CEOs that failed to show “significant progress on the management and reporting of climate-related risk, including their transition plans to a net zero economy.” In that statement, Fink also expressed concern for those capitalism has forgotten to treat well, though he was sparing in detail on how he’d change things. After that high-minded display, however, Fink is finding some of Biden’s early climate moves a bit extreme. There’s the bottom line to consider.

    While much of this is risible, considering the sources and their material interests, the rhetorical shift is noteworthy. The corporate class is feeling unloved in ways it hasn’t since the 1970s.

    At the same time the stock market was acquiring a larger role in our economic life, so was a countermovement toward privatization. The number of public corporations has fallen dramatically — though their share of the economy has, if anything, grown — through mergers as well as the growth of private equity (PE), a form of business that hearkens back to the nineteenth century, before the emergence of the Berle-Means corporation.

    Curiously, modern PE traces its roots to some of the prime agents of the shareholder revolution, buyout boutiques like KKR. Of course, the 1980s buyout firms weren’t the first to prowl the financial landscape, armed mostly with other people’s money and looking to do deals — you could see J. P. Morgan himself as such an operator — but they were obscure players in the early postwar decades. The 1982 buyout of Gibson Greetings, led by former Treasury secretary (and avid right-wing propagandist) William E. Simon, made him and his partners millions of dollars when the company went public sixteen months later. It’s often credited as the deal that got the 1980s buyout movement going, but it was KKR, founded in 1976 by three alumni of the late investment bank Bear Stearns (which blew up in the 2008 financial crisis), that really made the headlines. Among KKR’s triumphs of the 1980s were the buyouts of Safeway — which led to mass layoffs, union-busting, and worker suicides — and RJR Nabisco, the deal that inspired the 1989 best-seller Barbarians at the Gate.

    With the end of the “roaring ’80s,” the markets and the economy entered a period of doldrums that they didn’t emerge from until the middle of the next decade. Buyout activity slowed markedly, as corporate America tried to digest all the debt contracted during the period of extreme exuberance. There was a surge with the dot-com mania of the late 1990s, a retreat when it collapsed, another surge in the mid-2000s, a bigger retreat when the whole world nearly fell apart in 2008 (a year when a private equity titan, Bain’s Mitt Romney, ran for president), and yet another surge over the last decade.

    The core structure of private equity is fairly simple. A small management team raises a pool of money from rich individuals and institutions, then cruises for deals. The outside investors don’t have much say in how things are run; they have to trust that the management team knows what it’s doing. The typical target is an established firm that has seen better days. The PE shop buys the firm and works it over, cutting costs — most notoriously through layoffs but also by selling or closing the weaker operations. The purchase usually involves a major amount of borrowed money — money contributed by the outside investors is just a foundation, on top of which sits copious amounts of debt — which means a good deal of the target’s cash flow has to be devoted to paying off interest and principal. On top of that, the new PE owners often issue debt in the target’s name and pay themselves rich dividends with the proceeds. Returns for the PE firm’s principals can be very generous; outside investors, however, don’t necessarily do so well after the principals take their cut. The goal is usually to sell the firm to someone else several years down the line, either to another PE firm or to the public with a stock offering.

    Private equity has become a major employer — not directly, since their staffs are relatively small, but through the companies they own. The Carlyle Group, KKR, and Blackstone together employ close to 2 million people. It’s odd to think about PE this way. As Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett put it a few years ago, because of “their ruthless focus on efficiency and profit,” these companies are “better known for cutting jobs” than creating them.

    Private equity’s apologists say the model contributes to growth and employment, but lately, PE has been in the news for carnage in retail — chains like Toys “R” Us were killed in part by the enormous debt imposed by their PE owners — and for jacking up the price of health care, where the buyout artists have recently been working their magic. PE went from being little involved in health care twenty years ago to having a massive presence today. Hospitals, medical and dental practices, and ambulance operators were taken over and often “rolled up,” as they say in the business, into large, heavily indebted regional or national behemoths. With the unexpected costs of the COVID-19 crisis, the PE model “amplified . . . salary cuts, layoffs, and bankruptcies across the health care industry,” in the words of an article in, of all places, the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Faced with unexpected costs and little financial cushion, “the short-term focus of the PE model led to hard cost cutting rather than more in-depth planning for the future.” Salaries and staff were slashed amid a profound health emergency.

    But what’s most striking about PE is how it’s reconfigured the capitalist class — away, to some degree, from the dispersed ownership of the public company and back to a narrower ownership group. Curiously, many of the PE firms have themselves gone public, including KKR and Blackstone. Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 was exquisitely timed, arriving as the first symptoms of the great financial crisis were revealing themselves; you’d suspect that the firm’s two leading figures, Stephen Schwarzman and Hamilton “Tony” James (a member of Henry and William’s family), surmised that things were about to go south and it’d be a good time to cash in on the exuberance of the investing public. Blackstone’s principals kept all the voting shares and the right to set their own pay. Other PE firms have engaged in similar maneuvers to maintain tight management control. Even going public hasn’t changed the industry’s predilection for calling the shots with little external supervision.

    A less malignant subset of PE is venture capital (VC), which provides money to start-ups, many of them in tech. It’s not picking over “incumbent” old companies for unexploited values; it’s trying to create new value, some of it fanciful.

    In a world made flush with free Federal Reserve money — trillions of it after the 2008 financial crisis, and a few more trillions amid the COVID-19 crisis — VCs have had cash to burn. The characteristic creature of the time has been the “unicorn,” if it achieved a billion-dollar valuation, and a “decacorn” if it managed ten times that. The exuberant funding of unprofitable firms was reminiscent of the late-1990s dot-com era, but unlike that time, the public didn’t participate through the stock market — it was funded by VCs using money from institutional investors and billionaires.

    In the historiography of Wall Street, VCs and other “insiders” were the smart money who began selling off their investments to the masses through IPOs when it looked like time to get out. That was the spirit of the late 1990s, captured by star analyst Henry Blodget’s characterization of a now-forgotten stock called 24/7 Media as a “piece of shit” even while his employer, Merrill Lynch, was urging clients to “accumulate.” Blodget, who was fined $4 million and banned for life from the securities business, went on to be a financial journalist.

    This time, though, the VCs held back, waiting years to go public. Word was that they and their beneficiaries didn’t want all the scrutiny that came with an IPO — pesky shareholders wanting their say and their share. And when some of the big names finally made their debut, many initially fell on their faces. That didn’t stop the IPOs, however; from 2018 onward, we’ve seen some of the most vigorous activity in initial offerings, though nothing like the late 1990s. The public company is far from dead, but it’s not as alluring as it once was.

    Recent decades have seen another throwback to nineteenth-century models: an increasing prominence for the owners of very profitable private firms. A study of US tax records, “Capitalists in the Twenty-
    First Century,” by economist Matthew Smith and colleagues, finds that a large portion of the upper ranks — just over half of the proverbial 1 percent — is populated by the owners of closely held firms, rather than the public company CEOs who get so much of the press. Under American tax law, these are structured as pass-through entities, meaning their profits are untaxed at the firm level and distributed directly to their owners, either a single individual or a small partnership.

    The form has grown sharply over the decades. Its share of total business income rose from 10 percent in the mid-1980s to 35 percent in recent years. Contributing to that growth are both a rise in value added per worker and an increasing share of that value taken by the owners.

    Who are these owners? Most of them (85 percent) are “self-made,” at least in the sense that their parents were not in the 1 percent — though the remaining 15 percent whose parents were is fifteen times their share of the population. They’re unlikely to operate in capital-intensive industries, like manufacturing, which are more appropriate to conventional corporate forms. As the authors say:

    Typical firms owned by the top 1–0.1% are single-establishment firms in professional services (e.g., consultants, lawyers, specialty tradespeople) or health services (e.g., physicians, dentists). A typical firm owned by the top 0.1% is a regional business with $20M in sales and 100 employees, such as an auto dealer, beverage distributor, or a large law firm.

    These enterprises yield a nice living for their owners, especially at the highest end. Firms owned by the top 0.1 percent (those with annual incomes of $1.6 million or more) have an average of seventy-four employees who yield a profit of $14,000 each for the boss — more than $10 million in total. Few of these owners have more than one business, which makes for some precarity, and few businesses survive their owners. Even at the high end, this is not “Big Capital,” though it’s fat personal income. But they make up much of the top 0.1 percent — 84 percent of it in all. That’s thirteen times the number who make their big incomes as officers of public corporations; in the aggregate, privateers make eight times as much as their corporate comrades.

    An interesting take on regional elites — those who live outside metropolitan centers and own businesses that might be small by globalists’ standards but are big in local terms — comes from the historian Patrick Wyman. Wyman wrote about what he called the “local gentry” in his hometown of Yakima, a city of 94,000 in Washington’s fruit and wine country, a long 140 miles from cosmopolitan Seattle. They own the region’s orchards and vineyards, and the businesses that serve those industries. Many are quite rich — not private equity rich, but enough to fund, in Wyman’s words, “hilltop mansions, a few high-end restaurants, and a staggering array of expensive vacation homes in Hawaii, Palm Springs, and the San Juan Islands.” You can say the same of hundreds of small cities around the country — Jeep dealers, McDonald’s franchisees, construction companies.

    This formation looks a lot like a major base for the Republican Party: fervent enemies of taxes and regulations who may be too dispersed to cohere independently as a class but who can be nurtured by conservative politicians, donor networks, and think tanks. As of late October 2020, Yakima’s contributions to Donald Trump exceeded those to Biden by two or three times — a sharp contrast with Seattle, where, in some zip codes, Biden was ahead by as much as a 72:1 margin (and with five times as many dollars as Yakima). Upper-class Yakima is part of a formation that has been around for a long time; they were the financial base of right-wing politics back when Richard Hofstadter was writing about the paranoid style, but they’ve gotten a lot richer.

    It’s not just geographical, it’s also a sectoral angle to the class base for right-wing politics. The MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, was the most charmingly visible of Trump’s marginal business supporters, but there are also characters like Marty Davis, whom the Washington Post described as a “quartz-countertop mogul” based in suburban Minneapolis, at whose lakefront house Trump held an indoor fundraiser just before his COVID diagnosis. Minneapolis is far from a backwater, but Davis operates in an industry that would never qualify for inclusion in the commanding heights of capitalism. Still, the Davis family, which diversified into countertops after a successful run in the dairy business, was rich enough to have made a brief appearance on Forbes’s 2015 list of America’s richest families, with $1.7 billion in net worth.

    All these developments do have some things in common: the share-price-motivated and buyback-driven public corporation, the extractive private-equity model, and the more exploitative closely held firm that dies with its founder all aim to take out as much money as possible, without much consideration for the future.

    The two-party system has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past several decades. Once the party of New Dealers and Southern segregationists, the Democrats have evolved into a coalition of the softer side of the metropolitan establishment and a progressive wing the party leadership hates. And the GOP, once the party of the northeastern WASP elite, has evolved into a coalition of plutocrats and an enraged provincial petite bourgeoisie (often mistaken for the “white working class”).

    Both transformations can be read as driven partly by circumstances and partly by conscious effort applied to parties themselves. For example, the decline of manufacturing weakened the Democrats’ labor base as well as the economic base of the old WASPs in the Republican Party. Democrat support for civil rights drove Dixiecrats out, and Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy welcomed them into a Republican Party that had once been fairly progressive on civil rights.

    But there were also vigorous internal restructuring programs that transformed the ideological coloration of the parties. In the 1980s, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), led by the likes of Bill Clinton, aimed to reinvent the Democratic Party for the neoliberal era by purging it of progressive forces left over from the 1960s and 1970s. The goal was to make it friendly to Wall Street and the Pentagon while dropping the civil rights and tree-hugger talk, and it was largely successful, as the party found popular support among professionals in the nicer suburbs.

    Without downplaying the importance of the transformation of the Democrats — always a party of capital that had to pretend not to be one for electoral purposes — it must be said that the change in the GOP and the growth of the Right are a far more interesting story, because that’s where the organized energy among the bourgeoisie has been for decades.

    In The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter quoted a woman who greeted Dwight Eisenhower’s victory over Ohio senator Robert Taft at the 1952 Republican convention by saying, “This means eight more years of socialism.” That seemed daft at the time, but now, many Republicans view Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as communists of some sort.

    Back in the 1950s, the Right was basically a movement of intellectuals funded by provincial petit bourgeois industrialists — the owners of machine tool makers in Milwaukee and the like. They saw Walter Reuther’s United Auto Workers (UAW) as socialism on the march, and Eisenhower as too accommodating of it. (Contempt for Eisenhower drove a lot of right-wing organizing in the 1950s.) The big bourgeoisie had made an unhappy peace with the New Deal. The corporate and Wall Street establishment, based in the Northeast, featuring marquee names like Rockefeller, du Pont, Pew, Mellon, and Whitney, and supplemented by small-town worthies from the Midwest, found political expression in Eisenhower’s party, a formation that survived into the early 1960s. They were temperamentally conservative in the sense of being cautious, but not ideologically driven.

    For most of the twentieth century, there was a great deal of ideological diversity within the two major parties. Though more conservative than the Democrats on economic issues, the Republican Party had a liberal wing, just as the Dems had a conservative one. Though it’s hard to believe today, when the Republican Party routinely race-baits to win the votes of white bigots, the GOP of the 1950s and 1960s often had a stronger civil rights record than the Democrats, because they didn’t have a large Southern component. Into the 1960s, the Republicans were frequently stronger than Democrats on civil liberties, too. There had long been far-right tendencies in the Republican Party — most notoriously Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, who ended up disgraced after a wild run in the 1950s but whose obsessions, like hatred of upper-class Harvard-educated liberals, prefigured his modern descendants. But the party was dominated by northeastern WASPs. As Taft, a leader of the party’s conservative Midwestern wing, put it in 1952 after losing the presidential nomination to Eisenhower, “Every Republican candidate for President since 1936 has been nominated by the Chase National Bank.” Chase was a Rockefeller family enterprise, and it was certainly not socialist. But Eisenhower was not a reactionary. As he wrote to his brother:

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things . . . [but] their number is negligible and they are stupid.

    The business branch of that “splinter group” had a material problem with the Eisenhower-era settlement: General Motors may have preferred life without the UAW, but it could afford to pay union rates, especially in exchange for labor peace. Smaller fries couldn’t. They were caught in the petite bourgeoisie’s classic position, squeezed by big labor and big capital. Their freedom was under siege, and they reacted by funding a right-wing insurgency. The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by the retired CEO of a Massachusetts-based candy company, Robert Welch, who’d made a fortune off lollipops and Junior Mints. Welch was rich, but he was no Rockefeller or Mellon.

    Three years earlier, William F. Buckley, a few years out of Yale, founded National Review, with the mission of “stand[ing] athwart history, yelling Stop,” as he wrote in the magazine’s first issue in November 1955. As incredible as this may sound now, Buckley had trouble raising money for the magazine and needed help from his father, a small-time oil baron. As Buckley later put it, the capitalists didn’t seem all that interested in the project of saving capitalism.

    Eisenhower’s tepidity and compromises energized the Right, whose insurgency was almost Bolshevist in its ideological and organizational discipline. The Bolshevik tendencies were no accident. There were not only intellectuals like James Burnham, a Trotskyist turned cofounder of National Review, but important organizers like Clif White and the ex-Communist Marvin Liebman, who consciously emulated Red tactics in organizing their insurgency, from organizational and ideological discipline to how to dominate a meeting. That rigor and energy dismayed and disoriented the moderates, who preferred politeness and compromise above all things.

    The Birchite and Buckleyite tendencies would eventually split, sort of — but before they did, they united in their affection for Arizona senator Barry Goldwater as their political avatar. Continuing the provincial petit bourgeois theme, Goldwater was the grandson of the founder of a five-outlet department store chain based in Phoenix — a flyspeck next to the likes of Macy’s. Goldwater — or, more accurately, Goldwater’s supporters — launched a bid for the 1960 Republican nomination that failed badly and had victor Richard Nixon betray the Right in several ways, but most visibly with his choice of the Massachusetts aristocrat Henry Cabot Lodge Jr as his vice presidential candidate.

    Goldwater tried again in 1964, and though he would eventually be crushed in the general election by Lyndon Johnson, the convention that nominated the Arizonan was an important rite of passage for the conservatives. As journalist Murray Kempton put it, “This convention is historic because it is the emancipation of the serfs . . . The serfs have seized the estate of their masters.” New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, a leader of the moderate Republican faction whose name embodied the old elite’s domination of the party, was shockingly heckled, a sign of the WASPs’ impending decline. The party’s transition on race was made crudely clear by insults directed against black attendees — one of whom saw his jacket deliberately burned with a cigarette. Jackie Robinson, who was a delegate, said that the performance made him feel like “a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.”

    Movement conservatives were undeterred by Goldwater’s massive loss and continued with their plot to take over the Republican Party. A year later, Buckley ran for mayor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket, with the conscious aim of drawing enough votes away from the liberal Republican John Lindsay to elect the Democratic candidate, Abraham Beame, and thereby weaken the GOP’s left flank. (The contrast with left liberals, who condemn any third-party challenge that might lead their party to a loss, is a vivid symptom of their lack of conviction.) Buckley initially thought he’d harvest votes from the city’s WASP elite, but they were put off by his social conservatism. Instead, he tapped into the growing backlash of white ethnics — the people at the end of the subway lines, as future Nixon adviser Kevin Phillips, lead architect of his anti–civil rights Southern strategy, put it. Buckley ended up with 13 percent of the vote — not huge, but a nontrivial amount for a third-party candidate, and a sign of things to come.

    Though much of that backlash was driven by race, there was also a class angle that most center-left analysts overlook. Lindsay was a social liberal and very attentive to the concerns of black New Yorkers, but on economic policy, he worked largely on behalf of the city’s powerful real estate industry, reflecting his patrician base. At the time, city policy was several years into accelerating the eviction of manufacturing and working-class housing from Manhattan and replacing it with offices and upscale residences. This was good for financiers, developers, and lawyers, but not for working-class whites — who expressed their resentment by lashing out at blacks and liberals rather than the less visible moneybags.

    Nixon, elected in 1968, would work similar resentments on a national scale, developing a mass base for conservative politics. But he mostly governed to the left of his rhetoric. His time in office brought us food stamps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a proposal for a guaranteed annual income. Those compromises with liberalism energized the Right the same way Eisenhower’s had two decades earlier. (In the brief period when I was a young conservative, I cast my first presidential vote against Nixon because he was too liberal.) But Nixon provided longer-term assistance to the cause of the Republican right with his Southern strategy — appealing to the resentments of white Southerners (and their fellow thinkers in the urban North) over the social gains of black Americans.

    During Nixon’s final years as president, the Right began mobilizing in the extraparliamentary realm as well. Sidney Blumenthal’s 1986 book The Rise of the Counter-Establishment traces the ascent of the insurgent right’s policy infrastructure. The book is a reminder that while capitalists have a gut sense of their class interests, they can’t really think in detail about policy. For that, they fund think tanks.

    Blumenthal highlights a shift within the capitalist class that led to a change in the political complexion of its hired intellectuals. For decades, the corporate establishment funded the likes of the Council on Foreign Relations (which has, among others, a David Rockefeller room); the Brookings Institution, a hotbed of Democratic centrism; and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is conservative but, as Rockefeller once said, not “far out.” According to Irving Shapiro, CEO of DuPont in the 1970s and one of the era’s business statesmen, AEI shaped capitalist thought in that decade.

    A new cadre of rising Sun Belt entrepreneurs rejected this establishmentarian order, lusting for something more muscular. As Blumenthal points out, many of the nouveaux riches ran their own firms, unlike the old elite, who were the heads of public corporations. To the new class, that traditional order was stagnant. In 1973, beer mogul Joseph Coors founded the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, which took some time to get going but eventually became a powerhouse as the Reagan revolution set in.

    This new subclass brought a fresh worldview. As Blumenthal puts it, “The Sunbelt entrepreneurs possess neither authority endowed by inheritance nor authority stemming from bureaucratic function. For almost all Sunbelt entrepreneurs, social status is derived entirely from crisp new money.” Heritage, the intellectual avatar of this consciousness, spun forth multiple-volume briefings for the Reagan administration, much of which found its way into policy.

    But the big capitalists weren’t screaming for Ronald Reagan. In Blumenthal’s telling, they had to be pulled in his direction, and the think tanks played an important role in that process. Walter Wriston, the influential chair of Citibank from 1967 to 1984, said that his East Coast business set underestimated Reagan’s skills. His crowd initially preferred a more orthodox candidate, like former Texas governor John Connally or George H. W. Bush, for the presidency in 1980. But they came around. David Rockefeller provided the ultimate blessing: “My enthusiasm has grown. I didn’t adequately recognize the strength of his leadership.” Rockefeller’s conversion came about despite the early conservative movement’s ire toward his family and institutions like the CFR that it endowed.

    Blumenthal’s arrivistes held a mix of envy and contempt for the old establishment, resenting its prestige while lamenting its decadence. It’s curious how that view still pervades the American right, even though that old establishment is considerably reduced. Equally curious is how its institutions, the Ivy League universities, have become the boutique workshops for producing today’s meritocracy. While it’s tempting to point only at the Democratic side of that formation — the Clintons, Barack Obama — some of our leading right-populists have a similar institutional pedigree, a formation distinguished by its denunciation of elites. Josh Hawley went to Stanford and Yale Law; Mike Pompeo, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Ron DeSantis all went to Harvard Law. The former New Right, once the joint project of a rising subclass and movement conservatism, has aged into a game played by cynics.

    Blumenthal’s account centers on movement conservatism, which the corporate establishment didn’t participate in. But it began mobilizing on its own, developing new institutions and reviving older ones to fight the inflation-prone, worker-friendly(ish) Keynesian order and impose what we would later call the neoliberal agenda.

    As Benjamin Waterhouse emphasizes in Lobbying America, many of the businesspeople who pushed that neoliberal agenda in the 1970s were neither movement conservatives nor self-made entrepreneurs but career managers. They were often socially liberal. But they objected to the host of new demands coming from women and racial minorities, as well as to the explosive growth in regulation. This strained the accommodation with the New Deal and the Keynesian state beginning in the late 1960s, a discontent that intensified in the 1970s when inflation and fiscal recklessness seemed not like transient problems but the foundations of a new disorder. Deepening the hurt feelings of capitalists was perceived hostility to business in public opinion, popular culture, and, increasingly, among their employees.

    The major old-line business lobbies, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce, had lost credibility and power in Washington because of their relentless anti-labor and anti–New Deal stances in the postwar decades, ceding ground to more accommodationist organizations.

    It took some time for capital to mount its counterrevolution. Modern business political action committees (PACs) got their start in the early 1960s, but their ranks were thin and their legal status murky until the Federal Election Commission legalized them in 1975. The number of corporate PACs subsequently exploded.

    You can’t tell the story of the new political consciousness of the 1970s business class without mentioning the Powell Memorandum, named after Lewis F. Powell, then a corporate lawyer and later a Supreme Court justice. Writing to the Chamber of Commerce in 1971, Powell worried about “the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system,” but he worried even more about the spread of antibusiness attitudes in previously respectable realms like academia, the media, and churches, and among intellectuals, artists, and even politicians. He lamented the passivity of business in the face of these existential threats and urged a massive ideological mobilization by capital to make a fundamental case for its legitimacy.

    While the influence of the Powell memo is sometimes exaggerated, it did embody the business wisdom of the time and help inspire a quadrupling of the Chamber’s membership during the 1970s. Shedding its musty reputation but not its conservative politics, it reinvented itself as a slick, modern organization — but one railing against occupational safety inspectors and environmental regulations. It argued that business had no social responsibility, a position once associated with marginal figures like Milton Friedman, who was himself on the verge of becoming not at all marginal. The renascent Chamber became an important part of the Right’s institutional structure.

    But capital was organizing on other fronts as well. The Business Roundtable, made up of the CEOs of 150 large corporations, was founded at a private club in Manhattan in 1973 to fight the antibusiness drift of American politics. But the founding wasn’t on the executives’ initiative — they needed political actors to organize them, as they often do. When visiting Washington in 1971, John Harper, CEO of Alcoa, was urged by Treasury secretary John Connally and Federal Reserve chair Arthur Burns to form a “nonpartisan” lobbying group for big business as a whole — something that had never existed before. There were specific trade associations but nothing to represent the whole crew. Harper and several colleagues founded the Roundtable in 1973, an early sign that capital was becoming a class “for itself,” one capable of consciously organizing to pursue its own power and interests. It was, unlike the Heritage Foundation crowd, bipartisan, pragmatic, and (by its own imagining) nonideological.

    The Roundtable came into being just as the Right was founding its flagship think tanks: Heritage was born in the same year, 1973, and the Cato Institute four years later. For that relatively brief moment — the late 1970s into the early 1980s — productive parallel agitation by the mainstream business lobby and the newly mobilized right would result in moments of political triumph like the appointment of Paul Volcker to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve and the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Together, Volcker and Reagan would end the “inflationary spiral” of the 1960s and 1970s and break the economic and political power of organized labor.

    That triumph, however, would lead to a dissolution of capital’s broad political unity. As Lee Drutman shows in The Business of America Is Lobbying, his history of the industry, after creating an infrastructure for politicking, the focus of business narrowed dramatically, to sectoral and even firm-specific issues. Its fragmentation was so complete that it was unable or unwilling to mobilize when a posse of hopped-up reactionary GOP backbenchers shut down the government and threatened default on Treasury bonds. In an interview, Drutman explained this silence as a symptom of capital’s narrowing field of vision:

    It’s a business-wide issue, and they’re all looking out for their own narrow interests . . . Business rarely lobbies as a whole . . .Success has fractured them. When there was a lot at stake, it was easy to unify. They felt like they were up against Big Government and Big Labor. But once you don’t have a common enemy, the efforts become more diffuse . . . There’s not a sense of business organized as a responsible class.

    Most of the organizational energy ever since has been on the Right. The most prominent figure in that agitation for decades has been Charles Koch, a rare case of a serious capitalist organizing independently on his class’s behalf. Along with his late brother David, Charles has led a small but very rich network of plutocrats who have pushed American politics to the right at every level of government over the last few years. The family’s money comes from control of a private company, Koch Enterprises, with $115 billion in annual revenues. Were it a public corporation, it would rank around seventeenth in the Fortune 500.

    The Koch network organizes regular conferences for the like-minded, where they raise money and plot strategy, and their tentacles have spread into every state in the country. The circle — now with hundreds of major donors, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars every year — is thick with hedge fund managers and fossil fuel magnates, supplemented by a rank and file drawn from the pass-throughs in the top 0.1 percent. At the summit, financiers like Steven Cohen, Paul Singer, and Stephen Schwarzman — who mostly run their own investment funds rather than working for established banks — were drawn to the enterprise in the early Obama years, fearing he was a reincarnation of FDR about to crack down on their business models. (As it turned out, he never did much more than call them “fat cats” once, a remark many on Wall Street never forgave him for.) They were joined by carbon moguls who were afraid Obama was serious when he said, upon clinching the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” A big portion of the Koch network consists of financiers who own their own firms and not public corporations. They don’t like anyone telling them what to do — neither government nor outside shareholders.

    Unlike many on the Left, Charles Koch has never seen a contradiction between electoral work and other organizing. His network showers cash on right-wing candidates up and down the ballot, but it also supports professors, think tanks, publications, and advocacy organizations — all as part of a coherent, long-term, and ideologically rigorous strategy. There’s nothing remotely like them in US politics.

    That’s not to say there isn’t some big money on the liberal left — just not as much, and not as ideologically coherent. The closest liberals come is the Democracy Alliance (DA), which was founded in 2005 and gets money from George Soros and other, less famous monied liberals. But it distributed only about $500 million in the first decade of its existence — less than the Koch network spends on one election cycle. And unlike the Koch network, whose spending is tightly controlled by the leadership, DA members decide where to spend their money.

    For Koch, following the model laid down by Friedrich Hayek and his comrades, political ideas have a production chain. The Mont Pelerin Society, the organization of neoliberal economists convened in a village by that name in Switzerland in 1947 on Hayek’s invitation, had a clear conception of how to spread its influence. Peak intellectuals, like Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and other luminaries of the movement, would develop ideas, which would spread down to think tanks, then to politicians and journalists, and finally to the public. (Friedman spanned several levels of the hierarchy at once, writing books and papers that were influential in the economics profession at the same time he lobbied politicians and wrote a column for Newsweek.) As Burton Yale Pines of the Heritage Foundation put it back in the 1980s, “Our targets are the policy-makers and the opinion-making elite. Not the public. The public gets it from them.”

    One of the principal actors in the Koch family’s intellectual production and distribution network has been Richard Fink. Fink, then an NYU grad student in economics, dropped in on Charles one day in the late 1970s and asked for money to found a libertarian institute. Koch wrote him a check, which he used to set up the Center for the Study of Market Processes at Rutgers. He soon relocated it to George Mason University (GMU), where it became the Mercatus Center. In 1985, the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies moved from California to join Mercatus at GMU. This sequence of events transformed a formerly obscure state university in the DC suburbs into the Vatican of libertarian intellectual life. They’ve reproduced the model at universities around the country, financing institutes and endowing chairs with considerable influence over the direction of research. Unlike many leftists, Koch and co. take academia seriously.

    In a 1996 article, Fink outlined his master strategy: an intellectual economy of producer goods and consumer goods, as in the real economy, reminiscent of the Mont Pelerin structure. The intellectuals, often university-based, are the makers of the producer goods (ideas), which are then transformed into intermediate goods by think tanks, and ultimately into products for mass application by activists. Or, as Koch himself put it, “libertarians need an integrated strategy, vertically and horizontally integrated, to bring about social change, from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” He’s done a lot to make it happen.

    Think tanks are the middlemen in the production and dissemination of ideas. One of the most important has been the Cato Institute, founded in 1977 with Koch money. The name came from Murray Rothbard, the libertarian economist, who emphasized there was nothing “conservative” about the institute’s mission: he dismissed conservatism as “a dying remnant of the ancien régime . . . ineluctably moribund, Fundamentalist, rural, small-town, white Anglo-Saxon America.” For Rothbard — like Koch and Cato — libertarianism is a revolutionary doctrine. Koch money also funded the Reason Foundation, best known for its eponymous magazine. Reason was founded by a Boston University student in 1968 and published out of his dorm room in its early days. A decade later, Charles Koch agreed to finance it if it remained “uncompromisingly radical.”

    All these Koch-fueled entities — GMU, Cato, Reason — busily schooled Republican politicians and operatives throughout the 1980s and 1990s on the wisdom of privatization and austerity.

    There are other right-wing mega-donors, though none with the broad scope and vision of Koch. Hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who was originally part of the Koch network and then went off on his own, was a major funder of the Trump campaign and the Breitbart News operation. Another striking pair of characters is Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein. Richard inherited a bunch of Schlitz beer money and then built a second fortune in the Uline packaging business. They support media, like the Federalist, and candidates that some on the Right find a little hot to handle, like Roy Moore, the Alabama judge with a taste for teenage girls. They’re also major supporters of the Club for Growth and Scott Walker, former governor of their home state, Wisconsin.

    Right-wing funders, led by the Koch network, have created scores of policy outlets around the country. The State Policy Network (SPN) has sixty-six affiliates and over eighty associates populating every state but North Dakota. Founded in 1992 by the industrialist Thomas A. Roe, who had set up the first of these think tanks in South Carolina six years earlier on a suggestion from Ronald Reagan (politicians in the lead again!), the SPN flock develops policies, disseminates propaganda, and trains personnel to promote “economic liberty, rule of law, property rights, and limited government,” which, in practice, means gutting regulations, cutting taxes and services, privatizing public schools and pension systems, and destroying unions.

    Closely associated with the SPN is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which shares funders and priorities but operates at the political ground level, writing bills and lobbying legislators. Since state and local governments often function in obscurity, with part-time legislators and thin staffs, having prewritten bills and trained politicians is a vital lubricant for the right-wing agenda. Aside from the usual right-wing funding sources, ALEC also draws from a wide variety of business interests, often by offering their assistance on a specific policy issue and then bringing the firms more permanently into the fold.

    It’s an impressive network, running from the Oval Office all the way down to places like Schoharie County, New York, where a Mercer-funded think tank has been agitating. It’s been crucial to Republican control of statehouses across the country, influencing the shape of Congress because of their jurisdiction over districting and electoral law.

    Despite this power, the Right has never achieved political hegemony, nor have its business patrons achieved economic hegemony. The Koch network is rich, but its wealth pales next to the Fortune 500’s cash flow. One way to make this point is to poke about their think tanks, where money is made into policy. There’s a decided lack of big names.

    The board of the Cato Institute, despite its ties to the Koch world, is heavy with second-tier and third-tier capitalists — the chair of something called TAMKO Building Products, a Missouri-
    based firm; a managing director with Susquehanna International Group, a money management firm based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania; and the former owner of the Tennessee-based Young Radiator Company. Koch aside, it’s light on seriously elite connections.

    As is the Heritage Foundation. Its president, Kay C. James, was previously a dean at Regent University, the school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. Another link to the educational right is board member Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, a deeply conservative institution that takes no federal cash so Washington can’t tell it what to do. Other trustees include a corporate headhunter with two degrees from Baptist colleges; a real estate developer and chair of a food service company, both of which almost no one has heard of; the chair of a small maker of wearable biosensors; the head of a small private equity firm; another PE guy who advertises himself as “a life member of MENSA and the NRA”; and “one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness.” Its major funders contain few recognizable names outside standard right-wing circles (Bradley, Coors, Scaife, Walton). Its lower order of funders includes some big names — ExxonMobil, GE, Google, Visa — but they’re greatly outnumbered by much smaller ones.

    Contrast this with the centrist Brookings Institution, whose board includes ambassadors from Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, TD Bank, Duke Energy, and Young & Rubicam. Its top funders include the Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Comcast, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Time Warner, Toyota, AIG, and the governments of Japan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — and even the libertarian would-be secessionist Peter Thiel, who, like any big investor, knows the importance of diversification. Or take the Clintonite Dems’ favorite think tank, the Center for American Progress, which has a “Business Alliance” — price of admission: $100,000 — that includes Comcast, Walmart, GM, GE, and Boeing.

    But their relatively inferior class status still hasn’t stopped the Right from winning lots of fights. As Blumenthal pointed out, the businessmen around Reagan were not heavyweights; they brought us Duracell batteries, the Diners Club credit card, and Lassie — two second-tier brands and a defunct fictional dog. Despite that light footprint, their intense organization and commitment have allowed the Right to punch way above its weight. These intrepid capitalists served as an avant-garde for their larger, more cautious comrades. It’s a messy business, cutting taxes and regulations.

    Another dimension of the Right’s influence is what it does to the respectable left. As Thatcher adviser Sir Alan Walters told me at a conference twenty years ago, the Iron Lady’s most lasting achievement was her transformation of the Labour Party, which had ceased to stand for much. Something analogous happened with the post-Reagan Democratic Party, which has played an enormous supporting role in the organizational and ideological collapse of New Deal/Great Society liberalism. The party turned its attention away from the urban working class (which was savaged by deindustrialization) and toward professionals in the suburbs. But you would never characterize this formation as brimming over with political or intellectual passion of any sort.

    Trump is thankfully a fading memory, but his relation to the right-wing counter-establishment is worth a closer look. Most weren’t all that interested in him; he certainly served part of their agenda, but the economic nationalism bothered these apostles of the free movement of goods, capital, and labor. An exception was Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire famous for Cambridge Analytica (which turned out not to be some AI Svengali but rather a bit of a fraud), who threw Trump some money and brought Steve Bannon and David Bossie — the head of Citizens United, who mounted the famous legal case that opened politics to vast and secretive funding — into his orbit. Bannon and Bossie gave Trump, never much on political philosophy, some right-wing ideology (notably “America First nationalism”) and connections. The Koch set at first kept their distance from the new administration. But they did have an in through Marc Short, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who headed a Koch front group called Freedom Partners from 2011 to 2015. Trump — or, given his ignorance of policy, more likely Pence — soon turned to the Koch network for advice on staffing his new administration.

    A well-organized force is ideally suited to fill a vacuum. The Koch touch was most visible in energy and environmental policy, but they had personnel placements elsewhere as well. Former CIA director and secretary of state Mike Pompeo was once known as “the congressman from Koch” when he represented the Wichita area in Congress from 2011 to 2016. Earlier, he had a business career in that city that was partly funded by Koch Industries.

    The network’s influence extended to informal advisers as well. Trump took advice on energy from pals like fracking magnate Harold Hamm, whom Jane Mayer described as a “charter member of the Kochs’ donor circle.”

    The Kochs won some victories in the Trump era: a generous loosening of energy and environmental regulation, friendly court appointments, and fat tax cuts. But they never did repeal Obamacare, and the tariffs and immigration restrictions were major losses. Trump’s rhetoric about immigration and Muslims were among the reasons Charles Koch refused to endorse him. Much of corporate America wasn’t happy with that part of Trump’s agenda either, but they were too happy with their tax cuts to do much about it until the Capitol riot.

    But a new class fraction did find expression in, or at least had affinities with, the Trump administration. As I argued above, the business coalition that came together in the 1970s to lobby for deregulation and tax cuts largely dissolved as a united force when it got what it wanted. Rather than a broad agenda, the business lobby narrowed to focus on sectoral and individual corporate interests. The Chamber of Commerce, though purporting to speak for business in general, came to rent itself out to specific clients, often unsavory ones. Big capital is socially liberal — or it pretends to be. It has no interest in the Christian right’s moral agenda, nor is it nativist. Almost every Wall Street and Fortune 500 company has a diversity department, handling everything from anti-racist training sessions to the corporate float for the annual LGBT pride parade. Their worldview is little different from Hillary Clinton’s — but they’re not passionately engaged in politics. They write checks, but profits are high, and the tax rate they paid on those profits over the last few years was the lowest it’s been since the early 1930s.

    They’re layabouts compared to the class fraction I’m describing, a gang made up of the owners of private companies as opposed to public ones, disproportionately in dirty industries. The financier wing comes largely out of “alternative investments,” hedge funds and private equity, not big Wall Street banks or Silicon Valley VC firms. Most alternative investment operations are run as partnerships with a small staff, often under the direction of a single figure. Collectively, they look like freebooters more than corporate personalities, and asset-strippers more than builders, be it natural assets in the case of the carbon moguls or corporate assets in the case of the PE titans. Trump himself ran a real estate firm with a small staff and no outside shareholders. Like a private equity guy, Trump loaded up his casinos with debt and pocketed much of the proceeds.

    The prominence of private ownership is striking, and it’s politically reactionary. Lately, institutional investors have been lobbying for some action on climate — not profit-threatening action, of course, but something. Central bankers are starting to make similar noises; they’re increasingly worried that a financial system reliant on carbon assets (which could easily collapse in value when they’re recognized for the climate-killers they are) might run into serious trouble. Since they have no outside shareholders, the Kochs and Hamms of the world are spared having to listen to this chatter.

    This alliance between the private corporate form and political reaction is a reminder of Marx’s observations on the topic. He described the emergence of the corporation, with its separation of ownership and management, as “the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-abolishing contradiction.” Workers could hire managers as easily as shareholders, or maybe perform the task themselves. The stockholder-owned public corporation was a stepping-stone to a truly public entity. Short of that ambition, public firms are more transparent and subject to outside pressure than those controlled by a small, secretive circle of owners.

    But, as we’ve seen, such owners have proven highly capable of organizing as a political force. Corporate America isn’t averse to working with Koch organizations. Exxon and Microsoft worked with the Koch-heavy Citizens for a Sound Economy to push very specific agendas. But these are usually temporary, targeted crusades; none have the durability and ubiquity that the Koch agenda itself has. And that agenda has a substantial toehold on state power.

    Returning to the theories of Nicos Poulantzas, while there are often divisions within the capitalist class, its predominant bloc organizes a “general interest.” The contradictions remain, but the hegemonic fraction creates sufficient consensus to rule by universalizing its worldview as part of its dominance (or, as Marx put it in a classic formulation, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”). That kind of consensus seems to be missing in US politics in recent decades, a point that became very clear during the Trump era. The corporate and financial establishment, initially suspicious of rule by such a volatile incompetent, never tried to rein him in. He was never interested in a universalizing rhetoric, as Poulantzas’s hegemonic fraction is supposed to be. Instead, he stoked division almost every time he tweeted.

    Within the GOP, the petit bourgeois mass base — the car dealers and accountants — is in conflict with its big business wing, and neither can gain political or ideological hegemony over the whole society. (That intraclass conflict became sharp and visible during Trump’s second impeachment hearing.) The Democrats, for that matter, look divided between the old centrist DLC faction — tied to parts of Wall Street and big capital, represented by Biden — and a younger, more leftish, and more energetic activist wing. It’s much easier to imagine (to take some names from the fuzzy past) Everett Dirksen and Lyndon Johnson coexisting in the same universe than to picture Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ro Khanna as colleagues in governance. Until the 1990s, the federal government never shut down for any length of time because of the inability to pass a proper budget; since 1995, the US government has shut down to a significant degree five times, for a cumulative total of eighty days, and political leaders openly suggested that a default on Treasury securities might be a salutary measure. There’s something fractured in a state that engages in periodic shutdowns.

    Bourgeois pundits often lament “divided government” and the inability to compromise, which they attribute to partisanship or bad temperaments. A more fundamental reason may be that no fraction of capital, neither the older centrist kind nor the upstart right-leaning kind, is able to achieve hegemony. The Right has considerable strength at elite levels, but in the popular realm, it’s only the Electoral College, voter suppression, and aggressive gerrymandering that keeps it electorally competitive. Its position is greatly aided, however, by the deep weakness of more centrist forces, who lack serious intellectual or political energy. As the Right discredits itself with ludicrous attacks on the Capitol and farcical QAnon conspiracies, the center-left is feeble. The geriatric nature of the mainstream Democrat leadership is a sign of exhaustion. We’re a long way from when DLC-style politics, as terrible as they were, had at least the superficial appeal of novelty. Now we’ve got the No Malarkey Express parked in the Oval Office.

    Elite division looks to be in stark contrast with the coherence and breadth of the WASPs, a relatively narrow, homogenous owning class bound by inherited wealth that married out of the same mating pool; went to the same schools; belonged to the same clubs; owned a lot of capital; ran the major industrial companies, law firms, and banks; ran major educational institutions like prep schools and universities; ran major cultural institutions like universities and museums, as well as the philanthropies that shaped social thought and cultural life; and defined the limits of liberal politics. WASPs also populated government, like C. Douglas Dillon in the Treasury or Dean Acheson at the State Department or Nelson Rockefeller as the governor of New York. We shouldn’t be nostalgic for them; they were often deeply racist and driven by notions of the “white man’s burden.” But they had a unity and authority that our current rabble of grifters and parvenus lacks.

    That stratum’s leading analyst, the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (himself a product of Philadelphia’s Main Line) thought a society like ours needed an authoritative elite of the sort his brethren once were. As he put it:

    [U]nfortunately success is not synonymous with leadership, and affluence without authority breeds alienation . . . the inevitable alienation of the elite in a materialistic world where privilege is divorced from duty, authority is destroyed, and comfort becomes the only prize . . .

    The essential problem of social order, in turn, depends not on the elimination but the legitimation of social power. For power which is not legitimized tends to be either coercive or manipulative. Freedom, on the other hand, depends not in doing what one wants but on wanting to do what one ought because of one’s faith in long-established authority.

    For those of us who believe in democracy, this is an unacceptably hierarchical view of society. But in a society like ours, one deliberately structured to magnify elite authority and limit the power of the horde — if you don’t believe me, check out Federalist No. 10, in which James Madison makes it quite explicit his constitution was designed to do just that — the quality of governance depends profoundly on the nature of that elite. Our contemporary pack of plutocrats and scammers looks incapable of legitimation or coherent rule — and it appears to be nowhere near up to the challenge of climate change. Maybe Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, who came to the White House after handling ESG issues for BlackRock, will organize his class buddies into a significant force on addressing climate, but Larry Fink’s objections to Biden’s early executive orders suggest he’ll have quite a task on his hands. And that’s before the Koch network and the Freedom Caucus have gone to work.

    Alas, it must be conceded that, until the bonds of that constitution are broken and something approaching a real democracy is instituted, Baltzell has a point about how the loss of ruling-class authority — a legitimation crisis — might lead to social tensions and disorder. With the center so weak, it does present an opportunity for the organized right to make gains — but it presents an opening for the Left, too.

    Making revolution against the ruling class, however, is a hell of lot harder than making a revolution within it.

    #USA #capitalisme #lutte_des_classes #oligarchie #politique #affaires #commerce #élections #histoire

  • Affaires privées – Blog Politique étrangère
    http://politique-etrangere.com/2021/04/26/affaires-privees

    Christophe Masutti allie le regard de l’historien, l’expérience du praticien et la démarche militante dans cette somme sur la surveillance numérique et la vie privée en ligne : universitaire, hacktiviste et administrateur du réseau Framasoft dédié au logiciel libre, l’auteur s’approprie, autant qu’il déconstruit, le concept de « capitalisme de surveillance ».

    Introduit par la Monthly Review en 2014 pour décrire les stratégies d’hégémonie américaine via le numérique et popularisé par Soshanna Zuboff dans The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019), il désigne à la fois un modèle d’économie numérique, un état de marchandisation invasive de l’espace en ligne, et une source de connaissances, de profit et de pouvoir convoitée. Pour Soshanna Zuboff, si le capitalisme du XXe siècle reposait sur la production de masse et la montée des revenus de la classe moyenne, le capitalisme du XXIe siècle reposerait sur la surveillance : l’extraction de données personnelles à l’insu des usagers.

    Mais là où celle-ci voit un ensemble de pratiques coercitives à l’égard des individus, qui les contraint à vivre dans une économie immorale – avec l’idée toutefois qu’une réforme est possible –, Christophe Masutti envisage un prisme plus global. Ainsi, une « culture de la surveillance » – partagée par tous les acteurs du système international – structurerait nos sociétés et imposerait les technologies numériques comme moyens d’appréhender le monde. En d’autres termes, l’économie numérique s’appuierait essentiellement sur des processus culturels et des choix collectifs qui constituent non des contraintes, mais des propositions de vie. Dans sa dernière partie, l’auteur considère les modèles issus du logiciel libre et des services ouverts comme une résistance à ce capitalisme de surveillance, mais aussi comme une préfiguration de ce que pourrait être une économie de la contribution généralisée.

    Pour Masutti, la surveillance est un enjeu organisationnel : les projets de contrôle à grande échelle des populations, exercés au moyen de traitements massifs et automatisés de l’information furent, à l’origine, conçus plus pour créer des schémas de gouvernance profitables que pour devenir des instruments de pouvoir. Les techniques d’acquisition et de gestion de l’information en masse servent, avant tout, à la rationalisation des procédures, à la gestion des services, et à construire des modèles spécifiques de relations, de travail, etc.

    Mais la rationalisation a ouvert les portes d’une nouvelle forme de pouvoir, à la fois pour les géants du numérique qui savent exploiter les données, et pour les pouvoirs politiques. Il n’est pas anodin qu’un phénomène comme le nudge, à l’origine propre au marketing et destiné à provoquer une décision du consommateur, soit devenu un outil des campagnes électorales : les phénomènes de rationalisation internes aux entreprises se sont étendus aux institutions et aux processus politiques. Les récentes élections américaines en constituent une parfaite illustration.

    Masutti n’élude pas la problématique du « solutionnisme technologique », revenue dans le débat depuis la crise du COVID-19 : le capitalisme de surveillance « transforme la politique lorsque les monopoles technologiques font assimiler aux États une doctrine qui stipule que chaque problème a une solution technique » (qu’ils sont à même de produire). Le succès apparent des « doctrines » montre bien, in fine, la sensibilité des interactions entre États et Big Tech.

    Julien Nocetti

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées #Surveillance #Capitalisme_surveillance

  • Critiques (Cause commune n°21) - Cause commune
    https://www.causecommune-larevue.fr/critiques_cause_commune_n_21

    Affaires privées
    Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance

    de Christophe Masutti

    C&F éditions, 2020
    par Yannis Hausberg

    Historien et philosophe des sciences et des techniques, membre de l’association d’éducation populaire Framasoft, Christophe Masutti signe ici un ouvrage précieux. Le sous-titre résume assez bien l’ambition générale du livre : reconstruire les grandes étapes historiques qui ont présidé à l’avènement d’une nouvelle forme d’économie fondée sur la valorisation des données et l’essor concomitant d’une « société de surveillance » numérique généralisée, dont les effets affectent et transforment à peu près tous les secteurs de la vie individuelle et collective.
    S’inspirant de la méthode archéologique de Michel Foucault, l’auteur prête une attention particulière aux discours émanant de tous les secteurs de la société et mobilise des savoirs en provenance de différents horizons disciplinaires (sociologie, philosophie, histoire économique, institutionnelle, technologique, culturelle, etc.) au service d’une analyse critique, soucieuse d’embrasser au mieux la complexité du développement historique de ce nouveau « style » de capitalisme. Le concept de surveillance, notion relativement classique dans les sciences politiques, se trouve redéfini dans le contexte de la société de l’information, il passe du statut de composante matricielle de l’exercice du pouvoir à celui, plus général, de procédure systématique visant à « extraire, produire et traiter de l’information », dans le but d’influencer directement les décisions et les comportements.
    La structure du livre comprend trois grands moments. Le premier analyse la progressive informatisation de la société : invention des premiers ordinateurs, techniques de rationalisation (automatisation) des procédures de recueil et de gestion de l’information au sein de structures privées (bases de données et méthodes de profilage associées, développement de nouvelles techniques marketing, etc.). Cela devient finalement un véritable instrument de pouvoir pour les puissances politiques et économiques.
    Dans un second temps, Christophe Masutti s’attache à mettre en évidence l’émergence plus ou moins larvée d’une économie de la surveillance qui se présente comme un nouveau modèle économique. L’information, produite par l’utilisation généralisée – tout aussi bien imposée que consentie – d’outils informatiques, y devient une ressource privée et lucrative, un capital en somme, génératrice de juteux profits, notamment pour les grandes multinationales du numérique (GAFAM). En effet, cette information, ou ces « données » selon le terme consacré, est ensuite traitée massivement afin d’en extraire le sel – monnayable : il peut s’agir de prédiction sur les comportements d’achat lorsqu’elle est vendue à des entreprises privées, de support à la décision et de levier d’influence pour les pouvoirs publics, les banques ou les compagnies d’assurances.
    Enfin, la dernière partie analyse les ressorts idéologiques du capitalisme de surveillance proprement dit, « conçu comme une nouvelle forme d’impérialisme ». Cet impérialisme se manifeste aussi bien au sein des structures mêmes du capitalisme mondialisé que dans les dimensions les plus intimes de nos existences individuelles et collectives. La politique, dans sa conception même, se réduirait alors à une gestion et à une action technocratiques, où tous les problèmes auxquels font face les sociétés contemporaines (écologiques, sanitaires, économiques, éthiques, etc.) seraient par principe résolubles techniquement (pensons à l’application « StopCovid »).
    Ainsi, la critique du capitalisme – et les luttes qu’elle induit – ne peut désormais faire l’économie d’une critique des structures technologiques, normatives, institutionnelles, voire culturelles, de la surveillance numérique qui en font un phénomène social total. Le capitalisme a su se doter d’instruments de pouvoir d’une puissance inouïe ; toutefois, il demeure possible d’y résister. Les dernières pages du livre donnent des pistes alternatives, directement inspirées des principes issus des réflexions autour du logiciel libre, afin de nousbataille réapproprier les technologies numériques et ainsi de « transformer la société de la surveillance en une société de la confiance et de l’émancipation technologique ». L’idéal qu’il appelle de ses vœux, se nomme « société de la contribution » et prend pour modèle de nombreuses pratiques sociales « dont l’éthos commun consiste à contribuer en savoirs, en biens, en créations, en expressions, à tous les niveaux et de manière égalitaire ».

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées

  • Jack Ma reportedly spotted golfing after hiding out for weeks
    https://nypost.com/2021/02/10/jack-ma-spotted-golfing-after-hiding-out-for-weeks-report

    10. 2.2021 by Noah Manskar - Jack Ma’s battle with Chinese regulators hasn’t stopped him from hitting the links.

    The Alibaba founder — whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $61.4 billion — was spotted golfing recently after an unusually long absence from the public spotlight, according to Bloomberg News.

    Ma’s course of choice was the Sun Valley Golf Resort, a scenic 27-hole complex on the southern tip of the Chinese island of Hainan, the outlet reported Wednesday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

    The school teacher turned e-commerce tycoon’s reported appearance was another sign that Ma hadn’t been locked up or disappeared since he slammed China’s regulatory system in an October speech that apparently ruffled Beijing’s feathers.

    Ma — whom one observer described as a “golfing novice” — may just be lying low while Alibaba and his digital payments firm, Ant Group, work through their problems with Chinese regulators, according to Bloomberg.

    Officials halted Ant Group’s initial public offering in the wake of Ma’s speech, but the two sides have reached a restructuring deal that could be announced this week, Bloomberg reports.

    Ma is one of China’s best-known business moguls, but he went nearly three months without appearing in public before he resurfaced at a Jan. 20 online ceremony that his charity organized for rural teachers.

    His absence stirred speculation last month that he had gone missing — especially after he reportedly failed to appear on the final episode of an “Apprentice”-style TV show he created.

    But Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son said this week that he had been in touch with Ma, who has been drawing pictures and sending them to the SoftBank CEO.

    Where is Jack Ma? Social media buzz about the famous billionaire puts spotlight on Chinese tech.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/06/where-is-jack-ma

    #Chine #politique #affaires #Alibaba

  • Centre d’Action Laïque - Gouvernance numérique et résistances
    https://www.laicite.be/magazine-article/gouvernance-numerique-resistances

    Dans «  Affaires privées. Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance  »1, le philosophe des sciences et des techniques et «  hacktiviste  » Christophe Masutti retrace l’évolution de la surveillance de masse, du marketing au contrôle social. Tout en défendant des solutions alternatives.

    Du capitalisme de surveillance à des fins publicitaires au contrôle des populations, l’outil numérique ne cesse de transcender les limites éthiques. Comment en est-on arrivé là  ? Et que recouvre le concept de capitalisme de surveillance  ? «  Les moyens pour élaborer la surveillance et le traitement de l’information par l’économie numérique consistent à extraire de la société des informations qui ont une valeur (en matière de connaissance, d’intérêts financiers…), explique Christophe Masutti. «  La surveillance répond alors à une logique capitaliste dans laquelle l’information serait le capital, généré par la production, l’utilisation et la consommation des outils numériques.  »

    #Christophe_Masutti #Capitalisme_surveillance #Affaires_privées

  • The Trading App Robinhood Takes From You and Gives to the Rich
    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/01/trading-app-robinhood-investors-scams-sec

    Allez vous faire plumer en échange du sentiment d’être un vrai capitaliste, mon c...

    As far as the fight against capitalism is concerned, democratizing finance is supplying temporary oxygen to a terminally ill patient. And, ultimately, that has been one of the primary functions of Robinhood, intended or otherwise. It is directly feeding a sputtering, inflated Frankenstein market with a new cast of investors to push it forward just a few more staggering steps. By any measure (price to earnings ratios, price to sales, price to book value, market cap to GDP), the market is inexplicably overpriced and has been so even before the emergence of COVID-19. In a century’s worth of data on the market, one of the few known facts is that it will periodically crash. And it will inevitably be the small-account, novice investors who will be the first and the most violently wiped out.

    But even in our current bull market, stockbrokers are always looking for a loser. Incoming retail traders have historically played that part. In the SEC lawsuit presented against Robinhood, one of the issues at hand is a practice called “payment for order flow.” It means that Robinhood is selling your trade to a third-party company for execution. Those secondary brokers will then, commonly, “take the other side.” They are betting that you are wrong — and make double when you are. But even if you win, the brokerage will have made spread and commission charges from you. It’s a zero-stakes game for them and a rigged one for users. One of the more sinister aspects, here, is that secondary brokers are lining up — specifically — for Robinhood’s trade orders. They are paying a huge premium for the right to exploit the app’s newcomers by taking the other side of their bets.

    C’est un peu comme se porter volontaire quand ton gouvernement déclare la guerre à un pays que tu n’aimes pays de toute manière. T’es déjà mort quand les autres comptent leurs gains.

    #capitalisme #bourse #affaires #commerce #startup #getrichquick

  • Le capitalisme de surveillance [La voix est libre]
    https://radio.picasoft.net/co/2020-04-24.html

    Émission réalisée à l’occasion de la publication du livre Affaires privées - Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance de Christophe Masutti, aux éditions C&F Éditions.

    L’interview

    Christophe Masutti, docteur en histoire et philosophie des sciences et des techniques, chercheur associé à l’université de Strasbourg, chargé des affaires européennes au CHU de Strasbourg et co-administrateur de l’association Framasoft sous le pseudo Framatophe
    Pour quelles raisons as-tu choisi de ne donner ta définition du capitalisme de surveillance qu’à la fin de ton livre ?
    Le travail historique que tu as mené sur le capitalisme de surveillance, des années 60 à nos jours, t’a amené à montrer qu’il était d’ordre systémique. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?
    Tu expliques qu’en France, on s’est beaucoup intéressé à la soumission individuelle à la surveillance, que l’on s’est limité à la surveillance du sujet, sans prêter plus d’attention aux impacts de la surveillance sur les collectifs. Pourquoi cette étude-là est-elle indispensable pour comprendre le fonctionnement du capitalisme de surveillance et défendre nos libertés collectives ?
    Quelles infrastructures techniques et, surtout, quelles organisations pouvons-nous mettre en place pour sortir du capitalisme de surveillance ?
    Pourquoi est-ce bien une société de la contribution que nous visons, et pas seulement une économie de la contribution ?
    Pourquoi lire un livre historique est-il un bon moyen de comprendre ce que nous vivons aujourd’hui ?
    Si dans les années 60 on pouvait craindre que la police installe des micros dans notre appart, aujourd’hui nous les installons nous-mêmes, avec par exemple les assistants personnels intelligents. Comment expliquer un tel changement ?
    Quels sont les différentes sortes de consentement vis-à-vis de la surveillance ?
    L’archipélisation peut-elle être une piste pour penser l’après-capitalisme de surveillance ?

    Enregistrement
    Émission enregistrée le 23 avril 2020 sur Mumble, dans le salon La voix est libre du serveur de Picasoft.

    #Christophe_Masutti #Capitalisme_surveillance #C&F_éditions #Affaires_privées #Radio

  • Vidéo - Replay webinaire « Surveillance et numérique » | Drupal | inno³ | Open Innovation, Open Source et Open Data |
    https://inno3.fr/actualite/replay-webinaire-surveillance-et-numerique

    Replongez dans le webinaire « Surveillance et numérique : quelle implication pour et par la recherche ? » du 26 Mai 2020 avec Christophe Masutti

    Historien des sciences et des techniques, Christophe nous a présenté son dernier ouvrage Affaires privées : aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance et la place prise par l’informatique et les données dans nos sociétés actuelles en tant que leviers d’une surveillance intimement reliée aux mécanismes capitalistiques.

    #Christophe_Masutti #Vidéo #Affaires_privées #Capitalisme_surveillance #C&F_éditions #Conférence

  • Vidéo : Rencontre avec Christophe Masutti, auteur de « Affaires privées : Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance » - Qu’est-ce que Tu GEEKes ?
    https://peertube.qtg.fr/videos/watch/042551bb-8028-433f-9abd-9dea86774775
    /lazy-static/previews/042551bb-8028-433f-9abd-9dea86774775.jpg

    Les vidéos de Framasoft
    Par framasoft@framatube.org

    Librairie Kléber, Strasbourg (Salle blanche 20 mai 2020).

    Rencontre avec Christophe Masutti, auteur de « Affaires privées : Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance » ; Caroline Zorn, avocate au barreau de Strasbourg ; animée par Hélène Michel...

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées #Capitalisme_surveillance #C&F_éditions #Vidéo

  • « La lutte contre la surveillance est un anticapitalisme » par Romain Haillard | Politis
    http://www.politis.fr/articles/2020/04/la-lutte-contre-la-surveillance-est-un-anticapitalisme-41802

    Drôle d’époque. Des drones survolent nos têtes pour nous intimer de rester chez nous ; nos téléphones caftent nos déplacements aux opérateurs télécoms, qui eux-mêmes caftent aux décideurs ; des multitudes d’acteurs économiques trouvent des « solutions » technologiques aux problématiques liées au coronavirus ; les géants du numérique épaulent nos gouvernements pour mieux nous surveiller. À la manière de Michel Foucault, Christophe Masutti réalise une archéologie du capitalisme de surveillance dans Affaires privées, chez C&F Éditions. Selon le membre administrateur du réseau d’éducation populaire Framasoft, formuler une critique de la surveillance aujourd’hui ne peut plus se faire sans l’adosser à un anticapitalisme farouche.

    Est-il toujours pertinent de différencier surveillance d’État et capitalisme de surveillance ?

    Christophe Masutti : Les solutions développées par le capitalisme de surveillance deviennent des instruments de gouvernance. Ces marchands de la surveillance vont faire croire aux technocrates qu’il y aura un moyen d’automatiser des processus coûteux dans un moment où tout doit concourir à la réduction de la dépense, et donc à la réduction de l’État. Mais il y aura toujours besoin de -l’humain. Quand nous voyons l’état de l’hôpital aujourd’hui, l’utilité des machines se voit vite dépassée. Comme l’idée de faire un traçage des individus avec l’application StopCovid.

    C’est l’idée du solutionnisme technologique. Tout problème, économique ou politique, pourrait trouver une réponse technologique. Cette conception domine la Silicon Valley et a fait des émules – nos gouvernants n’y échappent pas. Cette idéologie qui ne se revendique pas comme telle affaiblit le pouvoir politique. Les décisions devraient s’enfermer dans des choix techniques dépolitisés. Macron et la startup nation se marient bien à cette dépolitisation. Mais quand nous dépolitisons, nous n’agissons plus par conviction – de droite comme de gauche. Ne reste plus que l’État seul, hors sol, plus que la technocratie.

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées #Capitalisme_surveillance #C&F_éditions #Interview

  • #Biblium2020.02 : Surveillance, jeux vidéo et Cyberpunk… | by François Houste | Sep, 2020 | Medium
    https://medium.com/@fhouste/biblium2020-02-surveillance-jeux-vid%C3%A9o-et-cyberpunk-8cc1a19f0d74
    https://miro.medium.com/max/925/0*LtPK1ptYsi52itz5

    AFFAIRES PRIVÉES, Christophe Masutti chez C & F Éditions
    AFFAIRES PRIVÉES (2020 chez C & F Editions) de Christophe Masutti, s’il fait référence à Cybersyn, va beaucoup plus loin dans son analyse de la société et du Capitalisme de la Surveillance. On y dresse l’historique du suivi informatisé des populations, portée des années 1950 à 1970 par les banques et les organismes de crédit américains. On y étudie ensuite la façon dont ces méthodes de notation et d’analyse de la population ont dérivé jusqu’à nos jours, portées par l’explosion des données accessibles (Big Data) et par l’invasion de notre quotidien par les outils numérique. Et on y dénonce enfin la façon dont les GAFAM, nourries de données, ont peu à peu supplanté les gouvernements dans leurs rôles régaliens. De passionnant historiquement dans ses premiers chapitre, AFFAIRES PRIVÉES devient rapidement effrayant au fil des pages avant d’ébaucher quelques pistes pour sortir de ce Capitalisme de la surveillance qui nous encercle. Lecture utile.

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées #C&F_éditions

  • « La surveillance est un mode du capitalisme » - Entretien avec Christophe Masutti
    https://lvsl.fr/aux-sources-du-capitalisme-de-surveillance-entretien-avec-christophe-masutti

    Dans le monde informatisé que nous habitons, chacune de nos conversations, de nos recherches et de nos rencontres est enregistrée, analysée et ses données sont exploitées pour prédire et influencer nos choix. Plus encore, c’est l’espace d’interaction lui-même, ce sont nos formes de sociabilité qui sont organisées de sorte à extraire le plus possible de données : la surveillance et le marché ne cessent de s’immiscer dans notre milieu de vie et nos rapports sociaux. L’enjeu, en ce sens, est-il réellement celui de la protection de la vie privée, ou même de la défense de la souveraineté des États ? Ne s’agirait-il pas plutôt d’identifier un système économique et politique qui repose sur l’appropriation et sur l’exploitation par les entreprises du numérique des données personnelles et de comportement de leurs utilisateurs ? Ce système a un nom : le capitalisme de surveillance, auquel le chercheur Christophe Masutti a consacré un ouvrage, Affaires privées, Aux sources du capitalisme de surveillance, paru en mai 2020. Historien et philosophe des sciences et des techniques, administrateur du réseau Framasoft dédié au logiciel libre et hacktiviste, Christophe Masutti entend présenter ses analyses et ses recherches, autant que des pistes d’émancipation collective. Entretien réalisé par Maud Barret Bertelloni.

    #Christophe_Masutti #Affaires_privées #C&F_éditions

  • Malheureux comme Orwell en France (II) Qui veut tuer son maître l’accuse de la rage - Thierry Discepolo, éditions Agone
    https://blog.agone.org/post/2020/09/06/Malheureux-II

    « En 1996 – puis encore une fois en 2002 –, écrivait Simon Leys en 2006, d’indécrottables staliniens lancèrent puis exploitèrent une rumeur selon laquelle Orwell n’aurait été qu’un vil indicateur de police. » Treize ans après, sans qu’aucune nouvelle pièce à charge n’ait été apportée au dossier, la même rumeur est exploitée aux mêmes fins par le même genre d’individu.

    Dans le « Courrier des lecteurs » du Monde diplomatique de septembre 2019, « l’historienne Annie Lacroix-Riz a souhaité réagir à l’article de Thierry Discepolo, “L’art de détourner George Orwell”, paru en juillet ». Autant de malversations, d’insinuations malveillantes et d’erreurs en trois courts paragraphes, cela tient de l’exploit, que seule pouvait accomplir une ancienne élève de l’École normale supérieure, agrégée d’histoire, docteur ès lettres et professeure émérite d’histoire contemporaine à l’université Paris VII-Denis Diderot.

    À quoi notre très distinguée historienne a-t-elle souhaité réagir ? Au fait que j’ai commis un « vibrant plaidoyer pour cet “homme de gauche” ». Ce qu’Orwell ne serait pas. Mais alors, pas du tout. Pourquoi ça ? Parce que, « en 1996, The Guardian révéla qu’il avait livré, en 1949, une longue liste de noms de journalistes et d’intellectuels “cryptocommunistes”, “compagnons de route” ou “sympathisants” de l’URSS à l’Information Research Department » ; et qu’en prime la « “liste d’Orwell” est riche en remarques antisémites, anti-Noirs et antihomosexuels ».

    Autrement dit, Orwell n’est pas seulement un délateur mais également raciste, antisémite et homophobe. Une véritable ordure, quoi ! Il n’y a pas « maldonne », Orwell mérite donc bien d’avoir été « annexé par les néoconservateurs », conclut la procureure.

    Pour appuyer son propos, l’éminente historienne brandit les « révélations [qui] ont afflué depuis le pavé jeté dans la mare par la Britannique Frances Stonor Saunders », premier d’une série d’« ouvrages accablants ». On n’aura rien sur ces « révélations » mais un empilement de références. Quatre ouvrages « nourris d’archives stricto sensu », clame-t-elle. Aucun doute : Orwell est bel et bien de droite !

    Dans leurs livres, les historiens Richard J. Aldrich et d’Andrew Defty ne consacrent, pour le premier, qu’une page à Orwell, et, pour le second, trois courts paragraphes – chacun n’en accordant qu’un seul à sa « liste noire » 1. On ne trouve donc rien là qu’on ne trouve déjà, à ce sujet, chez Stonor Saunders.

    Notre tatillonne historienne inaugure un usage de la bibliographie qui relève plutôt de la chasse au Snark : « Je vous l’ai dit trois fois. Ce que je vous dis trois fois est vrai. »

    #George_Orwell #Annie_Lacroix-Riz #histoire

  • Liberté pour Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinateur de la campagne BDS en Palestine
    Solidaires, le 6 août 2020

    L’État israélien vient d’arrêter en pleine nuit, les yeux bandés, avec des dizaines de militaires et sans aucun motif d’inculpation, le coordinateur actuel de la campagne BDS (boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions) en Palestine, Mahmoud Nawajaa, 34 ans. Loin d’arrêter le boycott, ce type d’action ne fera que le renforcer...

    La campagne BDS exhorte les individus, associations, syndicats, partis etc. à faire pression sur leurs chancelleries pour qu’elles obtiennent la libération de ce militant pacifiste.

    L’Union syndicale Solidaires a envoyé le courrier suivant au Ministre des affaires étrangères :

    #Palestine #BDS #Mahmoud_Nawajaa #prison #injustice #criminalisation_des_militants #Solidaires #syndicat #France #Affaires_étrangères

  • Digitalisierung : So gelingt Europa der digitale Befreiungsschlag - WELT
    https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article206008113/Digitalisierung-So-gelingt-Europa-der-digitale-Befreiungsschlag.html

    Den Teufel mit dem Beelzebub austreiben - appliquer un remède pire que le mal à guérir, c’est ce que propose cet auteur des éditions Springer pour défendre et requonquérir la première place su le marché mondial pour l’économié allemande et européenne.

    Le problème sont les moyens qu’il propose : Abolir la protection de nos données personnelles, subventionner les plateformes capitalistes et surtout livrer aux requins de la finance les épargnes garantissant les retraites européennes.

    Après on se rend compte que cet économistes peu originel fait semblant d’ignorer tous les problèmes auquels doivent faire face la plupar de nos concitiyens : salaires de misère, hausse astronomique des prix du logement, pollution, moyens de transport publics insuffisants et trop chers, prix des carburants réduisant la liberté de déplacement des moins fortunés, écoles et universités en crise et une tonne d’autres problèmes causés par des mesures qui ressemblent trop au solutions pour les problèmes qu’il croit avoir identifié.

    Quel bel exemple pour le discour conservateur libéral.

    Bei der Digitalisierung steht Europa gerade wie ein angeschlagener Boxer da. Unser Gastautor, Experte für neue Geschäftsmodelle im Internet, schreibt: Noch kann es gelingen, global wettbewerbsfähig zu werden. Ein Fünf-Punkte-Notplan.

    In Straßburg will sich die EU bis 2025 mit viel Geld und mehr Regulierung in eine digitale Spitzenstellung vor den USA und China nach oben boxen. Die 27 Mitgliedsstaaten kämpfen auf einem Sondergipfel um den nächsten EU-Haushalt, sie wollen eben diese Mittel umverteilen sowie Gesetze entschärfen: „Business as usual“ also. So bleibt man Leichtgewicht.

    „Wenn Europa in der Datenwirtschaft eine führende Rolle einnehmen will, muss es jetzt handeln“, mahnt die EU-Digitalstrategie. Der Weckruf sollte Europas Politikern wie Konzernlenkern gelten: Wie kann der Sprung ins „digitale Zeitalter“ noch gelingen?

    Erstens : Europa muss wie ein angeschlagener Boxer in einem „Fightback“ konzentriert die Gegenwehr starten und endlich Verantwortung für die Digitalisierung übernehmen. Die größte Disruption des Jahrhunderts erfordert ebenso disruptive Denkmuster! Es reicht nicht aus, bestehende Betriebsprozesse zu digitalisieren, wir müssen ausgediente Handlungsmuster entsorgen.

    Zweitens : Weshalb adaptieren wir nicht das US-Erfolgsmodell? Das Silicon Valley zeigt doch, wie man neue digitale Geschäftsmodelle entwickelt – mit einem Dreiklang aus Plattformökonomie, Ventures von Konzernen und Startups, sowie der Dynamik von Tech-Unternehmen. In Europa sollten wir das Modell verfeinern, denn die Partnerschaft zwischen Konzernen und Gründern funktioniert nur in einem gleichberechtigten „Co-Creation“-Prozess.

    Die zentrale Rolle von Plattformen hat Europa noch immer nicht verstanden, obwohl sieben der zehn wertvollsten Unternehmen der Welt (nach Marktkapitalisierung) plattformbasierte Player aus den USA und China sind. Europa ist der Kontinent der „hidden champions“ und verpassten Chancen: Von den knapp 2800 Weltmarktführern sind fast 70 Prozent europäische Unternehmen. Diese Industrie ist unsere Stärke – wenn wir ihre digitale Transformation jetzt anpacken.

    Drittens : Dafür müssen Konzerne und Gründer hybride Geschäftsmodelle entwickeln, die von der Politik nicht mit Zuschüssen, sondern mit Incentives und einem intelligenten Wettbewerbsrecht gefördert werden sollten. Wir können nicht über die Dominanz ausländischer Investoren klagen, wenn Europa bei Investments ab 50 Millionen Euro die Luft ausgeht , weil Rentenfonds der Einsatz von Wagniskapital so schwer gemacht wird.

    Viertens Viertens : Im globalen „War of Talents“ ist Europa in einer Zeit vor Schengen stehen geblieben. Warum ist es immer noch so kompliziert, einen nicht europäischen IT-Experten überall in Europa arbeiten zu lassen? Ohne kluge junge Köpfe aus aller Welt droht dem alten Kontinent endgültig die Geriatrie. Eine wenig attraktive Aussicht. Daher sollte die EU Mitarbeiterbeteiligungen auch so besteuern, dass Startups die nächsten Gründer hervorbringen :

    Fünftens : Die aktuelle Debatte um „digitale Souveränität“ versperrt den Blick auf eine große Chance. Die EU birgt als größter Binnenmarkt der Welt enorme Datenschätze. Es käme darauf an, diese zu aktivieren – mit einem gesetzlichen Rahmen wie etwa einer modernisierten DSGVO im geplanten EU-Datenraum . Das bringt endlich Rechtssicherheit und EU-weite Kohärenz.

    Statt dessen verunsichert die für Mai geplante EU-Medizinprodukteverordnung Unternehmen und Investoren. Mit schwerwiegenden Folgen für unsere Gesundheit. Plötzlich ist fehlende Digitalisierung für uns alle schmerzhaft erfahrbar. Deshalb sollte Europa in dieser Woche an seine Bürger denken, wenn es um die digitale Zukunft kämpft.

    Felix Staeritz, 36, ist Co-Gründer und CEO von FoundersLane, das digitale Geschäftsmodelle für Mittelständler und Konzerne in Europa entwickelt. Er ist Mitglied im Digital Leaders Board des Weltwirtschaftsforums und Co-Autor des Buches „Fightback: How to Win in the Digital Economy with Platforms, Ventures and Entrepreneurs“.

    #économie #affaires #vie_privée

  • En 10 citations, la destruction néolibérale de l’Université publique

    Si elle est adoptée, la #Loi_de_programmation_pluriannuelle_pour_la_recherche (#LPPR) devrait assurément accélérer la destruction néolibérale de l’Université et de la recherche publiques, en particulier en accroissant une #précarité déjà endémique (en termes de statuts d’emploi), en accentuant les #inégalités entre établissements universitaires et entre laboratoires, et en rognant toujours un peu plus l’#autonomie (relative) des chercheurs·ses et des enseignant·e·s-chercheur·se·s.

    Mais, comme on le verra à travers les dix citations que nous avons sélectionnées, la LPPR (http://www.sauvonsluniversite.fr/spip.php?article8594) vient de loin et constitue une étape dans le projet stratégique des classes dominantes d’une inféodation toujours plus étroite de l’ensemble du système d’enseignement et de la recherche publique aux intérêts du capital (http://www.contretemps.eu/greve-universite-precaires), qu’il s’agisse de soumettre la production de connaissances aux intérêts immédiats des entreprises, de faire de l’Université un nouveau terrain d’accumulation (notamment via l’instauration de frais d’inscription élevés (https://www.contretemps.eu/a-lire-un-extrait-de-arretons-les-frais-pour-un-enseignement-superieur-g), tendant à une privatisation de son financement) ou de marginaliser tout ce qui pouvait limiter la fabrication scolaire ou universitaire du consentement à l’ordre social.

    Sur tout cela et pour aller plus loin, on pourra consulter notre dossier : « L’Université saisie par le néolibéralisme, entre marchandisation et résistances » (http://www.contretemps.eu/universite-capitalisme-marchandisation-resistances).

    *

    « L’#éducation et la #formation sont considérés comme des #investissements_stratégiques vitaux pour la réussite future de l’entreprise […]. L’#industrie n’a qu’une très faible influence sur les programmes enseignés. […] Les enseignants n’ont qu’une compréhension insuffisante de l’environnement économique, des #affaires et de la notion de #profit » (La Table-ronde des industriels européens, réunissant les 50 plus grandes firmes européennes, 1989, rapport « Éducation et compétence en Europe »).

    « La #responsabilité de la formation doit, en définitive, être assumée par l’industrie. […] Le monde de l’éducation semble ne pas bien percevoir le profil des collaborateurs nécessaires à l’industrie. […] L’éducation doit être considérée comme un service rendu au monde économique » (La Table-ronde des industriels européens, 1995).

    « Oubliée l’époque où universités et entreprises se regardaient en chiens de faïence… En quelques années, une nouvelle organisation de la recherche s’est mise en place autour de la figure emblématique du #chercheur-entrepreneur » (tirée de RDTinfo, le « magazine d’information sur la recherche européenne » publié par la Direction générale de la Commission chargée de la recherche, 2002, cité par Isabelle Bruno dans son livre À vos marques®, prêts… cherchez !).

    « Pour éviter de se heurter à un front de #résistance interne et externe qui conduirait à l’échec, la réforme doit être menée pas à pas, sans proclamation tonitruante » (Philippe Aghion et Elie Cohen, économistes auteurs du rapport « Éducation et croissance » dont est tiré cette citation, 2004).

    « À budget comparable, un chercheur français publie de 30 à 50% de moins qu’un chercheur britannique dans certains secteurs. Évidemment, si l’on ne veut pas voir cela – je vous remercie d’être venu, il y a de la lumière, c’est chauffé –, on peut continuer, on peut écrire… » (Nicolas Sarkozy, alors Président de la République, en janvier 2009).

    « Le #CNRS dans son entier doit se placer à l’interface entre la création de valeur par ses scientifiques et le captage de cette valeur par les #entreprises » (Alain Fuchs, alors Président du CNRS, en 2010).

    « La plupart des universités n’ont pas la culture d’un #centre_de_coûts, Or, si on est autonome, si on gère son budget, on est un centre de coûts et un #centre_de_profits. Il faut qu’elles acquièrent cette culture. Il faut savoir formater une offre et faire payer les factures. Et ne pas considérer que, lorsqu’on fait une prestation pour l’#hôpital ou le CNRS, elle doit être gratuite parce qu’on fait partie du #service_public ! » (Geneviève Fioraso, alors ministre de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, en janvier 2014).

    « Il faut bannir du vocabulaire les mots de #concurrence et d’#excellence, détestés par les syndicats d’enseignants et d’étudiants. Remplacer ces #mots systématiquement par #ouverture et #diversité. Dans un système ouvert et divers, on répond aux demandes des jeunes et des familles, on permet à chacun d’aller aussi loin que ses capacités le permettent. La #sélection ne signifie pas #exclusion mais plutôt #orientation. En contrepartie les universités devront ouvrir des formations adaptées aux étudiants mal préparés, issus des séries de bac techno ou pro. Il n’y aura aucun #rationnement, aucune exclusion » (Robert Gary-Bobo, professeur d’économie à l’ENSAE, conseiller de Macron pour l’enseignement supérieur, note à l’adresse du candidat Macron transmise en novembre 2016).

    « On peut imaginer maintenir dans chaque université quelques formations de licence quasi-gratuites dans les grandes disciplines à côté de #formations_payantes. L’ancien système à côté du nouveau. Ces #formations_gratuites seront bientôt désertées, sauf par les militants de l’#UNEF, qui mettent 6 ans à faire une licence » (Robert Gary-Bobo, professeur d’économie à l’ENSAE, conseiller de Macron pour l’enseignement supérieur, note à l’adresse du candidat Macron transmise en novembre 2016).

    *

    « Cette loi [de programmation pluriannuelle de la recherche] doit être à la hauteur des enjeux pour notre pays. Il faut une loi ambitieuse, inégalitaire – oui, inégalitaire, une loi vertueuse et darwinienne, qui encourage les scientifiques, équipes, laboratoires, établissements les plus performants à l’échelle internationale, une loi qui mobilise les énergies » (Antoine Petit, PDG du CNRS, décembre 2019).

    http://www.contretemps.eu/neoliberalisme-universite-dix-citations

    #citations #néolibéralisme #université #France #université_publique #gratuité #darwinisme_social #enseignement #enseignement_supérieur #ESR

    –---

    Concernant la dernière citation et le darwinisme social promu par #Antoine_Petit, voir :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/815560

    Sur la LPPR, voir aussi :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/819491
    –-> et les actions de résistance : https://seenthis.net/messages/820393

    ping @reka @isskein

    • Dossier : l’Université saisie par le néolibéralisme, entre #marchandisation et #résistances

      L’Université est au cœur du processus de #marchandisation_néolibérale, au moins depuis le début des années 2000. Mise en concurrence des équipes de recherche, mise en marché de l’enseignement supérieur, libéralisation ou augmentation des frais d’inscription, développement des établissements privés, introduction de logiques commerciales et d’acteurs capitalistes… la marchandisation prend plusieurs formes et transforme les conditions de travail et d’existence des universitaires, des personnels administratifs et techniques, mais aussi des étudiant·e·s.

      Si les mobilisations ont été nombreuses – en France comme ailleurs (Chili, Québec, etc.) –, avec plus de défaites que de victoires, ces résistances ont contribué à former une jeunesse fortement mobilisée contre le capitalisme néolibéral et ont posé les jalons d’un projet d’Université – libérée des impératifs marchands, gratuite et émancipatrice.

      http://www.contretemps.eu/universite-capitalisme-marchandisation-resistances

  • Das Firmengeflecht der FDP - Liberales Bildungs-Business - Politik - Süddeutsche.de
    https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/das-firmengeflecht-der-fdp-liberales-bildungs-business-1.24461

    Der FDP-nahe Universum-Verlag betreut die Webseiten der Liberalen und druckt Schulbücher. Er hat eine merkwürdige Art entwickelt, sich Aufträge zu beschaffen.

    0. März 2010, von Thorsten Denkler - Es ist ein Heft, dessen Titel sich wunderbar in den liberalen Wertekosmos einfügt: „Traumberuf Chef“. Schließlich sind freies Unternehmertum und Marktwirtschaft Schlüsselbegriffe im Jargon der FDP.

    So wundert es nicht, dass die Liberalen im Thüringer Landtag am 16. März einen Antrag stellen, wie mit Hilfe dieses Heftes künftig Thüringer Schülerinnen und Schüler in die Geheimnisse des Kapitalismus eingeführt werden sollen. Die Landtagsfraktion fordert mit Drucksache 5/620 die schwarz-rote Landesregierung auf, das „Lehrmaterial ’Traumberuf Chef’ in den Lehrplan der Thüringer Schulen zu integrieren“.

    Die Fraktion verweist zudem stolz darauf, dass das Heft vom Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie „initiiert“ worden sei. Dessen Chef ist seit vergangenem Herbst FDP-Mann Rainer Brüderle. Auch den Liberalen in Thüringen dürfte inzwischen aufgefallen sein, dass hinter dem Heft ein FDP-nahes Verlagskonglomerat steht.

    Der ursprünglich in Berlin gegründete Universum-Verlag residiert inzwischen in Wiesbaden, unterhält aber noch eine Berliner Repräsentanz und gehört zu 50 Prozent der FDP.

    Der Verlag hat sechs Tochterunternehmen sowie je eine Dependance in der Schweiz und in Polen. Im Jahr 2008 erwirtschaftete das Unternehmen mit seinen 80 Mitarbeitern knapp 11,5 Millionen Euro Umsatz.

    Viele Aufträge an den Verlag kommen direkt von der FDP. Wenn die Partei ihre Homepage oder das „Portal-Liberal“ erneuert, dann übernimmt das der Universum-Verlag. Wenn die Liberalen neue Broschüren oder Infoblätter benötigen, dann druckt sie der Universum-Verlag. Auch die persönliche Homepage von FDP-Chef und Außenminister Guido Westerwelle wird von einer Tochter des Universum-Verlags betreut.

    Der Verlag druckt nicht nur, er steht auch redaktionell für die liberale Sache ein: So landet eine E-Mail, die sich an die Redaktion des gemeinsamen Internetportals von Bundespartei, FDP-Bundestagsfraktion und FDP-naher Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung wendet, bei der „Universum Kommunikation und Medien AG“, ansässig in der Reinhardtstraße 16 in Berlin-Mitte.

    Unter der Adresse Reinhardtstraße 14 firmiert die FDP-Parteizentrale im Thomas-Dehler-Haus. Die Wege in die Schaltzentrale der Macht sind kurz.

    Der Universum-Verlag und das Land Hessen
    Anfang März geriet die FDP in Hessen in die Kritik, weil der liberale Justizminister und Landesparteichef Jörg-Uwe Hahn ohne jede Ausschreibung die Wiesbadener Agentur Cicero beauftragt hatte, für das Ministerium für ein Honorar in Höhe von 13.000 Euro eine „Integrationskonferenz“ vorzubereiten. Cicero ist eine 95-Prozent-Tochter des Universum-Verlags.

    Für den Landtag erstellte das Druckhaus Schülerbroschüren und Lehrmaterial. Kosten: 120.000 Euro. Auch diese Vergabe wurde ohne Ausschreibung erteilt, der verantwortliche Landtagsdirektor ist ein FDP-Mann. Aus dem Universum-Verlag heißt es, eine Ausschreibung sei deshalb nicht nötig gewesen, weil es sich um einen Folgeauftrag gehandelt habe.

    Die Beispiele zeigen, wie eng der Verlag und die Institutionen im schwarz-gelb geführten Hessen miteinander verflochten sind.

    Auftrag aus dem Wirtschaftsministerium
    Jetzt steht das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium unter Verdacht, dem FDP-Unternehmen öffentliche Aufträge zuzuschanzen. Eine Sprecherin bestreitet jedoch, dass Minister Brüderle etwas damit zu tun haben könnte. Der Auftrag für das Heft „Traumberuf Chef“ sei bereits im Juli 2009 erteilt worden, also noch zu Zeiten, als der Wirtschaftsminister von der CSU gestellt wurde und Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg hieß.

    Für das Projekt hat das Ministerium etwa 50.000 Euro bereitgestellt. Dabei wurde das Ministerium von der Agentur Flaskamp betreut, die den Universum-Verlag in Eigenregie mit der Umsetzung beauftragte. Mit im Boot war damit auch die Universum-Tochter Cicero.

    Offizieller Kooperationspartner des Wirtschaftsministeriums ist aber nach wie vor der Verein „Arbeitsgemeinschaft Jugend und Bildung“. Die Organisation ist anerkannt und gilt als überparteilicher Partner im Bereich der Jugendbildungsarbeit. Die ehrenamtlichen Vorstände des Vereins haben sehr unterschiedliche fachliche Hintergründe, viele sind leitende Beamte aus Schulministerien der Länder.

    „Sein Golfschlag wird gefürchtet“
    Ein wichtiger Mann im angeblich so überparteilichen Verein ist Schatzmeister Siegfried Pabst. Er ist auch ehemaliger Leiter der politischen Abteilung der FDP. Und er kennt sich mit Geld aus: Im Wahlkampf 2005 sammelte Pabst als damaliger Leiter des Bürgerfonds der FDP Spenden für seine Partei.

    Im von der Bundes-FDP herausgegebenen Magazin Elde wird er als zugehörig zum „liberalen Urgestein“ beschrieben, sein Golfschlag werde „gefürchtet“. Er wisse, dass „viele Parteifreunde an einem guten Glas Wein und einer exquisiten Zigarre interessiert sind“. Pabst hat den 1930 gegründeten Universum-Verlag 1997 übernommen.

    Geschäftsführer des Vereins Jugend und Bildung ist Michael Jäger. Er wiederum ist zugleich Leiter des „Geschäftsbereichs Jugend und Bildung“ im Universum-Verlag in Wiesbaden. Der Internetauftritt des Vereins wurde programmiert von der „Universum Online GmbH“.

    Ein Verein als anerkanntes Aushängeschild
    Der FDP-nahe Verlag hat mit dem Verein eine Kooperationsvereinbarung geschlossen, die sich als äußerst lukrativ für den Verlag erwiesen haben dürfte. Denn der Verein fungiert bei der Auftragsbeschaffung des Universum-Verlags als fachlich anerkanntes Aushängeschild.

    So ist etwa auf der Kölner Bildungsmesse Didacta nicht der Universum-Verlag, sondern die „Arbeitsgemeinschaft Jugend und Bildung“ vertreten, um Kooperationspartner für Bildungsprojekte zu gewinnen. Zwar kann der Verein Aufträge, die sich aus solchen Kooperationen ergeben, auch an andere Bildungs-Verlage vergeben. De facto ist das in den vergangenen Jahren allerdings nicht geschehen, bestätigt Michael Jäger auf telefonische Nachfrage.

    Der Verein und der Verlag haben überdies eine gemeinsame „Stiftung Bildung und Jugend“ gegründet: Vizepräsident ist FDP-Mann Siegfried Pabst, Geschäftsführer Michael Jäger.

    Jäger, der nach eigenen Angaben nicht FDP-Mitglied ist, hat dennoch kein Problem damit, für Verein und Verlag gleichzeitig in leitender Position tätig zu sein. Im Gegenteil: Aus Sicht des Vereins-Geschäftsführers würde er ohnehin „dazu raten, mit dem Universum-Verlag zusammenzuarbeiten“.

    Jäger weist auf Nachfrage von sueddeutsche.de auch jeden Vorwurf zurück, der Verlag stehe FDP-geführten Häusern zu nahe. Er könne sich - von der aktuelle Kooperation mit dem Brüderle-Ministerium abgesehen - an kein gemeinsames Projekt mit einem FDP-geführten Ministerium erinnern, sagt er, weder auf Landes-, noch auf Bundesebene. Vielmehr habe der Verlag mit vielen einst SPD-geführten Ministerien zusammengearbeitet wie etwa dem Finanz- oder dem Verteidigungsministerium zur Zeit der großen Koalition.

    Nicht ganz zufrieden mit dem Konstrukt scheint jedoch Eva-Maria Kabisch zu sein, die Vorsitzende der „Arbeitsgemeinschaft Jugend und Bildung“. Kabisch ist parteilos und genießt über alle Parteigrenzen hinweg einen exzellenten Ruf als Bildungsfachfrau. Bis 2004 hat sie als hohe Beamtin beim Berliner Bildungssenator das Land unter anderem in der Kultusministerkonferenz vertreten.

    Kabisch will über den Universum-Verlag kein schlechtes Wort verlieren. Die Zusammenarbeit sei „ordentlich“ und immer „vertrauensvoll“ gewesen. Dennoch hat sie als Vereinsvorsitzende jetzt eine interne Diskussion über die personelle und geschäftliche Verflechtung ihrer Arbeitsgemeinschaft mit der FDP angemahnt.

    Sie habe immer Wert darauf gelegt, unabhängig zu ein, sagt Kabisch zu sueddeutsche.de. Der Universum-Verlag habe immer „gute Arbeit geleistet“. Doch dann schiebt sie einen Satz hinterher, der auch als Drohung an die FDP und ihr kleines Verlagsimperium verstanden werden kann: „Ich will mich nicht instrumentalisieren lassen.“

    #Allemagne #politique #affaires #business #FDP #libéraux

  • What I Learned from Jeff Bezos After Reading Every Amazon Shareholder Letter
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/what-i-learned-from-jeff-bezos-after-reading-every-amazon-shareholder-let

    It was always about the long term.

    In every Amazon annual report, Jeff Bezos publishes a shareholder letter where he provides a broad overview of the company’s operations throughout the year. His letters are incredibly thought-provoking and are a must-read for anyone working in tech or interested in business. Bezos knows how to communicate with Wall Street and is both clear and concise in his writing. Recently, I discovered a link that included the complete set of these letters (from 1997 to 2016) in one handy PDF. Here are a few of my key takeaways from reading through it.
    It’s all about the long-term…

    In his 1997 shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos issued a manifesto “It’s all about the long-term” where he laid out his approach to business and to running Amazon. He pledged that decisions would be made with a long-term lens and with a focus on market leadership. This manifesto has been included in every single shareholder letter for the last 20 years! After reading these letters, it is clear that the fundamentals of how Amazon does business remain the same. Talk about commitment and consistency.

    A focus on the long-term is important for several reasons. First, for a company that drives growth through innovation, a long-term approach allows for experimentation and an acceptance of short-term failures. “Failure comes part and parcel with innovation. It is not an option.” A lot of Amazon’s growth has been driven by AWS, Marketplace, and Prime. Each of these offerings was a bold bet at first, with many skeptics. In Bezos’ 2014 letter, he noted that sensible people “worried (often!)” that these initiatives could not work. Bezos believed in his vision and stayed heads down.

    “If you’re going to invent, it means you’re going to experiment, so you have to think long term”

    Second, having a long-term orientation reduces the impact of stock price fluctuations on decision-making. In 2000, the company’s shares were down 80%. It would be natural to become reactive in this situation. Bezos, however, made decisions to build a “heavier company” against the vision that 15% of commerce eventually would move online (he made this statement in 2000 when e-commerce was less than 1% of total retail sales). Even though the stock had dropped dramatically, Bezos felt Amazon was better positioned than it was the year prior and marched forward with the same strategy.

    “In the short-term, the stock market is a voting machine; in the long-term it’s a weighing machine” — Benjamin Graham

    Third, when you are long-term oriented it aligns customer and shareholder interests. In the short term, this is not always the case. Some skeptics have criticized Amazon for being a “charitable organization being run by the investment community… for the benefit of consumers.” Bezos argues that long-term thinking “squares the circle” and that proactively delighting customers creates trust and more business.

    “Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.”

    Customer centricity as a north star

    There are many different ways to structure a business: competitor-focused, product-focused, technology-focused, business model-focused, or customer-focused. From the outset, Amazon’s goal was to build the world’s most customer-centric company. Bezos would constantly remind employees to wake up every morning terrified… not of the competition, but of Amazon’s own customers. Customers are fickle; they are loyal to a company until a competitor offers a better service. Amazon designed its core value proposition around keeping customers happy by constantly offering more selection, better convenience, and lower prices.

    Jeff Bezos’ napkin sketch outlining Amazon’s strategy

    A low-cost structure leads to lower prices, which combined with a large range of products leads to a better customer experience. These happy customers return to purchase more items on Amazon sites, driving traffic and attracting more third-party sellers. This leads to more selection, which further contributes to a better customer experience.

    Amazon’s energy internally comes from its desire to impress its customers. This means reinventing normal and delivering products before customers even know they want them. Some companies may rely on customer surveys and market research to understand their users. This is especially dangerous when designing and inventing new products. “Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition.”

    “A remarkable customer experience starts with the heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.”

    High-quality, high-velocity decision-making

    While it is important to make high-quality decisions, Bezos stresses the importance of making these decisions at high velocity. Speed matters in business and slow decision making is de-energizing and a competitive disadvantage. Bezos offers a set of guidelines for how to make decisions at high-velocity:

    Understand that decisions can be reversed: These “Type 2 decisions” are two-way doors that can be reversed. If you make a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you can reopen the door, and unwind the consequences. Because of this, these decisions should be made quickly. As organizations grow, there is a tendency to turn all decisions into Type 1 decisions that are made methodically and with great deliberation. The end result is slowness and diminished innovation.
    Bias towards action: Most decisions should be made with close to 70% of the information needed. Waiting for 90%+ information will slow you down.
    “Disagree and commit”: When consensus is not possible but you have conviction in a particular direction, “disagree and commit”. This means that while you disagree with the decision, you remain committed to a successful outcome. Staying focused on trying to change the team’s mind is too slow of an approach.
    Recognize when an agreement isn’t achievable: Sometimes different teams have different objectives and see the world differently. No discussion will change these views. A quick escalation in these scenarios is much better than constant argument, which will lead to exhaustion.

    “If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong is less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure”

    Put effort into inputs, not financial outputs

    While Amazon takes financial outputs seriously, 100% of the company’s time is focused on inputs. This is because these inputs are controllable and are the most effective way to maximize financial outputs. Bezos has instilled a rigorous annual goal-setting process at Amazon which is lengthy, spirited, and detail-oriented. In 2010, the company had 452 detailed goals with individual owners, deliverables, and target completion dates. Interestingly, however, across all these goals, the word ‘revenue’ was only used eight times and ‘free cash flow’ only four times. ‘Net income’, ‘gross profit’, and ‘operating profit’ was never used.

    As an exercise, let’s apply this logic to the goal of increasing the company’s stock price. We must work backward until we find something that is controllable as an input.

    No reasonable person would know how to drive up the stock price, but by working backward we identified a tangible input of improving picking efficiency to manage towards. This will drive down costs, which will increase free-cash-flow, which will drive up the stock price. This is only one of many strategies.

    “Focusing our energy on the controllable inputs to our business is the most effective way to maximize financial outputs over time”

    Build a disciplined, patient, and nurturing culture

    Today, Amazon’s main growth engines are largely AWS, Prime, and Marketplace. Each of these established businesses is a well-rooted tree that enjoys high returns on capital and operates in a large market. Each of these businesses was however once a tiny seed itself. Many large companies fail to launch new businesses from scratch because of the patience and nurturing required. One of Amazon’s competitive advantages is its culture which is supportive of small businesses with large potential.

    While Amazon’s culture demands that these businesses be high potential and differentiated, it does not require them to be large the day they are born. In 1996, Amazon crossed $10 million in book sales, a monumental feat for the company at the time. Today, a new business crosses that threshold would increase the company’s overall sales from $136 billion to $136.01 billion. Executives don’t scoff, but support these milestones. Celebrating wins and progress is important!

    AWS, Prime, and Marketplace are three big ideas which continue to be nurtured internally at Amazon. The company is actively searching for its fourth pillar which some claim could be Alexa. There’s clearly a growing trend toward using voice search and interacting with digital assistants. Some analysts predict Echo and Alexa-family revenue to generate over $11 billion by 2020. Only a couple years ago this category didn’t exist.
    Raise the bar on hiring… again and again

    Setting the bar high on hiring has been the single most important element of Amazon’s success. During the interview process, Amazon asks each interviewer to consider three questions before making a hiring decision:

    Will you admire this person?
    Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
    Along what dimension will this person be a superstar?

    Leaders recognize exceptional talent and take seriously their role in coaching others. Recently, Amazon developed the ‘raising the bar’ method by getting employees more involved in the interview process. The goal is to make sure every new hire is as good as, if not better than the one before.

    “You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three”

    Final Thoughts

    Not only did Jeff Bezos predict the future, he helped shape it. In the 20 years since Amazon’s IPO, the company has grown from $148 million in revenue to over $136 billion. That’s close to 1000x! We are lucky that Jeff Bezos takes the time each year to share his knowledge with the world in these shareholder letters. As an investor (late-stage VC at IVP), in order to improve, I have to read… a lot. Bezos’ shareholder letters are a must-read for anyone interested in business. I have relinked the document here. It’s only 66 pages!

    “Our approach remains the same, and it’s still Day 1” — Jeff Bezos

    #affaires #platformes

  • Microsoft mit Gewinnsprung - Aktie auf Rekordhoch | Berliner Zeitung
    https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/ratgeber/digital/microsoft-mit-gewinnsprung---aktie-auf-rekordhoch-32880710

    On l’avait un peu pedu de vue, mais Microsoft continue à dominer.

    Microsoft baut seine Führung als wertvollstes börsennotiertes US-Unternehmen vor den Erzrivalen Apple und Amazon aus. Der Geschäftsbericht vom Vorabend hievte den Börsenwert zeitweise auf enorme 1,08 Billionen Dollar..de/ratgeber/digital/microsoft-mit-gewinnsprung---aktie-auf-rekordhoch-32880

    Dank boomender Cloud-Dienste läuft es bei Microsoft derzeit prächtig. Im letzten Geschäftsquartal (bis Ende Juni) schoss der Gewinn im Jahresvergleich um 49 Prozent auf 13,2 Milliarden US-Dollar (11,7 Mrd Euro) in die Höhe, wie Microsoft am Donnerstag mitteilte. Das lag zwar auch maßgeblich an einer Steuergutschrift über 2,6 Milliarden Dollar, doch auch das operative Ergebnis legte um starke 20 Prozent zu.

    Microsoft verdient weiter glänzend am lukrativen Cloud-Geschäft mit IT-Diensten im Internet. Beim Flaggschiff - der Azure-Plattform für Unternehmen - kletterte der Umsatz um 64 Prozent. Das ist zwar ein beeindruckender Wert, allerdings lag das Wachstum im Vorjahreszeitraum noch bei 89 Prozent und im Vorquartal bei 73 Prozent. Die Cloud-Dienste sind ein großer Teil des Erfolgsrezepts, mit dem Konzernchef Satya Nadella Microsoft seit seinem Amtsantritt 2014 zu einem kaum für möglich gehaltenen Comeback verholfen hat.

    Doch auch in vielen anderen Sparten brummt das Geschäft. Das 2016 übernommene Online-Karriereportal Linkedin erhöhte den Umsatz um ein Viertel. Microsofts Web-Version des Büroprogramms „Office 365” legte um starke 31 Prozent zu.

    Selbst das angestaubte Windows-Geschäft lief dank überraschend starker PC-Verkäufe gut. Einziger Schwachpunkt war die Gaming-Sparte mit der Spielkonsole Xbox. Insgesamt stiegen die Erlöse um 12 Prozent auf 33,7 Milliarden Dollar. Sowohl Gewinn als auch Umsatz lagen über den Erwartungen der Analysten.

    #affaires #monopoles #logiciels #gafam

  • How owning an Instagram-famous pet changes your politics.
    https://www.salon.com/2019/06/23/how-owning-an-instagram-famous-pet-changes-your-politics

    Ici on apprend que...
    – l’acquisition de followers instagram est big business
    – il faut une équipe composé de la star, du talent pour dessiner, photogrphier, écrire, entretenir des relations, gérer les finances ...
    – une mission et un message clair qui touchent un naximum d’intéressés
    – ne pas souffrir d’une allergie contre toute forme de commercialisation.

    –> les petits enfants et les animaux domestiques ou vivant en groupes familiales constituent le contenu de base idéal.
    #fcknstgrm #seenthis-pour-les-nuls

    Owners of social media–famous animals say the experience has shaped their politics and beliefs

    Matthew Rozsa, June 23, 2019 11:30PM (UTC)

    I must begin this article with a confession: If it weren’t for my fiancee, I never would have gotten so deep into the world of Instagram-famous pets.

    To say that they give her joy is an understatement. Many restful slumbers have been disrupted by her random exclamations of unbridled happiness, followed by her pressing an iPhone against my face while cooing, “Look at the adorable dog!” or “Isn’t this the most beautiful pig in the world?”

    At first I affectionately teased her for her obsession, but then I began to dig a little deeper. What I soon learned — first from a trip to Canada last year to visit the famous Esther the Wonder Pig and then from my own research — is that animal social media stars are more than just cute pets. They are at the vanguard of a new way of viewing humanity’s relationship with other species — one that has left a positive impact on the larger world.

    “We raise awareness for the Toronto Humane Society and the Basset Hound Rescue of Ontario on our social media platforms through posts and live broadcasts,” Nathan Sidon, who along with Carly Bright co-owns Dean the Basset, told Salon by email. Incidentally, Dean the Basset has over 400,000 followers across social media platforms.

    “We also donate a significant portion of the account’s profits to these charities (over $5,000 in the last 12 months),” Sidon adds. “It’s hard to follow Dean’s account and not see how much love, attention and care he’s showered with daily.... It’s my hope that our greatest contribution to this cause is by setting an example to all pet owners and anyone considering getting a pet of how to be the best pet-owner you can be.”

    According to Sidon, he and Bright believe that “pets are a privilege and that animals in your care should be made a top priority.” He added, though, that “in our case we’ve gone so far that whether or not we’ve become Dean’s slaves is a legitimate question. I think this really shines through on Dean’s account. He’s calling the shots!”

    Salon also emailed Gemma Gené, whose social media presence includes not only pictures of her beloved pug Mochi, but also a comic series that colorfully depicts his ebullient personality.

    “I was working as an architect in my first big job in New York,” Gené recalled when asked about how she met Mochi. “It was my dream job at the time but unfortunately the hours were crazy. I used to finish work at night every day and I had to work most weekends. I missed my dog Mochi so much during work. I always liked comics and used comic as a journal. I started drawing little stories about Mochi on my subway commutes. I posted them on Instagram and eventually they become big enough that I was able to focus on my art work.”

    Now she says that she has 250,000 followers on Instagram, over 50,000 on Facebook and over a 100,000 visits every day.

    “We have participated in several campaigns,” Gené told Salon when asked about her animal rights work. “We were part of Susie’s Senior Dogs and Foster dogs NYC #famousfosters campaign where they pair people who have big audiences with a senior dog to foster. This is a great way to show how important fostering is. We fostered a little senior that we renamed Dorito and was adopted after a very few days.”

    Gené says that she donates her artwork to raise money for dog rescues — including pug rescues.

    “A cause that is very dear to our hearts is the ’Animals are not property’ petition the Animal Legal Defense Fund is working on,” Gené explained. “We try to use our influence to share this message to help change the laws on animals so they stop being considered an object and start having rights.”

    “A big part of our work presents Mochi as a little character with a big personality, much closer to a human than what most people think of dogs. We are trying to show the world that animals are much more than objects and that have many more similarities to us than what we think,” she adds.

    Salon also reached out to Steve Jenkins, who, along with Derek Walter, co-owns Esther the Wonder Pig. They told Salon that their various social media pages have roughly 2,000,000 followers and garner around 450,000 interactions every week.

    “Esther was supposed to be a mini-pig, we never had any intention of anything else,” Jenkins wrote to Salon. “By the time we realized Esther wasn’t what we thought she was, and that she would in fact be many hundreds of pounds, we had fallen in love with her and weren’t willing to give up. Technically having a family member like Esther was illegal where we lived, so we kept it quiet and opted to make a ’little Facebook page’ to show our more removed friends and family what was happening. The page went viral somehow, and all of a sudden we had thousands of people checking in every day to see what she was up to.”

    Their ownership of Esther soon caused them to become full-time animal rights activists, eventually purchasing a farm where they keep pigs, dogs, turkeys, horses and at least one (literally) strutting peacock.

    “We have been able to establish the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary, where we rescue abused and abandoned farm animals,” Jenkins explained. “We donated the largest CT scanner in the world to our local veterinary hospital. Until then, the didn’t have equipment large enough to properly get proper diagnostic images for an animal Esther’s size. We also established a fund called ’Esther Shares’ that we use to pay the medical bills for other sanctuaries and rescue organization. Last but not least, we use our pages to help people build a relationship with Esther, something that can have a deep and lasting impact on the person’s life because of their newfound love and respect for pigs.”

    Jenkins, like Gené and Sidon, also told Salon that he began to reevaluate how human beings view their relationship with animals.

    “We think everybody has a connection with animals, but we learn over time to love some animals differently than others,” Jenkins explained. “Esther really leveled that playing field in our mind, and elevated farm animals to the position we previously reserved for companion animals like cats and dogs. She ignited a passion within us that we didn’t know we had. It became a mission of our to help others see Esther the way did, and to bring her larger than life personality across in a way that people could relate to.”

    These arguments are what makes the social media movements so powerful — and why, I suspect, my fiancee is so enamored with them. It is easy to objectify animals, to view them as vessels for whatever immediate function they can provide human beings (food, clothing, recreation). Yet by presenting their animals online as hilarious personalities, with quirks and stories of their own worth following, these sites help us see animals as more than just tools of human beings. They become individuals — and, like all individuals, worthy of not just affection, but respect.

    Gené, Jenkins and Sidon also had heartwarming stories about how their social media work had improved the lives of the two-legged animals who visit them.

    “Through photos and videos requested by fans, Dean has helped a teenager ask a girl to prom, surprised a bride on her wedding day, been the theme of a 90 year old woman’s [birthday] party, and the list goes on,” Sidon told Salon. “We’ve also received hundreds of very personal messages from fans around the world telling us that Dean’s account has provided them with a much needed daily dose of positivity that’s helped them when they’re going through difficult times in their life. Suffice to say that Dean gets a lot of love from around the world and he hopes to give the love back!”

    Jenkins had a similar story about Esther.

    “My favorite message ever came from a young mother in the southern United States,” Jenkins recalled. “She was having a rough time emotionally, and found Esther’s page was becoming a bit of a crutch for her. She would check every day to see what we were up to, and engage with our posts as a way to take her mind off stuff. One day she sent a message to let us know that we had been the source of most of her smiles lately. She wanted to thank us for helping keep a positive attitude, and for helping her show her two small boys that it was ok to have two dads [Jenkins is in a same-sex relationship with Walter] and a turkey for a brother. A family is a family no matter what it looks like, and I still well up when I think about her message.”

    Gené discussed how lucky she is to “have a very loving audience,” telling Salon that “we get hundreds of messages a day telling us the impact our comic has on people and they really fuel us to keep going. Some of them particularly warm my heart like when people say that our comics make them smile when they are going through a difficult time, or when they bring back sweet memories of an animal they loved that passed away.”

    She added, “If one day we don’t post anything, we get messages of people checking up on us. That made us realize we have a community that look forward to our posts daily.”

    I should add, on a final personal note, that I do not write this article from a position of presumed moral superiority. Despite vowing to eliminate my meat consumption since I visited the Esther farm last year, I have only been able to somewhat reduce it, and aside from writing pieces like this I can’t claim to have done very much to advance the cause of animal rights in my own life. Sometimes I suspect the plaque which clogs my arteries is karmic, a punishment for sustaining my own life at the expense of those animals who have given theirs, and one that will likely shorten my own time in this world.

    The goal here is not to shame those who eat meat, or search for a firm distinction between companion animals and farm animals. The point is that social media’s animals stars have made more people think of animals as individuals — to start to see them as living souls. That isn’t enough to solve the problems facing our world today, but it’s the only place where we can start.

    #animaux #business #politique #morale #affaires #instagram #médias