Yes they are. They’re well on their way to global domination. They’re not even aware that it is the endgame of their ideology, but they intend to rule the world.
“Them” is not, however, the two eponyms of the TrumPutin Hack scandal. Those two criminals are merely the complementary figureheads of a single movement.
I’ve heard this movement called the Global Oligarchs; some people call them simply the Super Rich, or even the Parallel Nation of Richistan; I’ve also heard the High Lords of Hypercapitalism; Economic Hit Men of Neolibralism; Free Market Fundamentalists; Nihilists; and of course, International Mobsters. This is the group—less than 1 percent of 1 percent of the human population—whose ascendancy is marked by two clichés of the psychopathic personality: the efficient assassin (like, say, the Terminator) and the flabby tyrant (Jabba the Hutt).
We tend to think of the TrumPutin Hack as Russia vs. America, and this makes traitors of our president and his clan. Trump—and many other Republicans—don’t agree. And maybe they’re right. Our electoral battlefield is merely one part of the global war of the mobsters/oligarchs/free-market-fundamentalists vs. democracy. Putin and Co. invaded our system of government, not our borders. Trump believes that he is on the same side as Putin, and so he is. As is much of the modern Republican Party. Certainly its national leaders crossed over a long time ago.
I don’t believe that the movement consciously planned to merge internationally, to meld into one juggernaut. No one ever drew up plans of global conquest. It’s not a conspiracy so much as the collaboration of like-minded spirits. The only logic of the movement is limitless greed. It knows of no imperatives but to expand and consume. It knows of no ally but a fellow oligarch who has already pissed all over his territory.
Putin’s innovation was to combine KGB methods with hypercapitalist goals. He has refined the arts of torture and propaganda to control his own people. He orchestrated a scandal that brought down Poland’s pro-European government. He has wreaked havoc and untold suffering in Ukraine. He has used terror-bombing and mass murder as a way to create desperate Syrian refugees and then drive them westward, destabilizing Europe’s valiant democracies. He perpetrated unknown mischief in midwifing the Brexit vote, and wrought chaos and disruption throughout the states of the former Soviet Union.
Putin is credited with taming the chaos of early-stage oligarchy and establishing stability. But his centralized kleptocracy has only multiplied the injustices that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union. That was the big bang that created the Russian oligarchs. A superpower imploded and the bits and pieces were suddenly free for the taking. To call it the financial opportunity of the century is an understatement. It was probably the greatest fire sale in human history. And those few men who found themselves in a position to profit from it instantly became among the richest men on the planet. Like most lottery winners, they didn’t handle it well.
Trump’s innovation was to completely unmoor any moral considerations from the use of language. Like Putin, he inherited a body politic weakened by parasites.
I’d like to present one small example of the oligarchic system in America. I’m a high school teacher, so I’ll use my field, public education. It’s under attack around the world, but in the U.S. the charge is being led by billionaires: Bill Gates, the Walton family, a bunch of others, and most lately, Betsy DeVos. ALEC—aka the All-American Anti-Democracy Club—has been at the forefront. As has the multinational corporation Pearson. These laissez-faire zealots are out to capture an institution that has for 150 years been dedicated to the public good, and turn it into a product sold for private profit. They have already done enormous damage to one of America’s most important foundations of democracy, our public schools system.
The central idea was articulated perfectly in my home state, Ohio, by the chairman of the House Education Committee, Andrew Brenner: “Public education in America is socialism…. We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector.” That’s right, his models for capitalism are not hard-working entrepreneurs, or even the brilliant engineer-industrialists of Ayn Rand’s fantasies, but the thugs who stole the entire Russian economy.
Democracy is fighting back in America. Robert Mueller may be our most important general at the moment. Our institutions, norms and traditions, our checks and balances, our free press, and our Constitution all provide stalwart defenses. But we’ve got to keep up the numbers.
Welcome to the TrumPutin Hack. You’re needed at the barricades.