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Daniel Early

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But what if it is a GLOBAL CONSPIRACY?! Could global crime syndicates turn 'white collar', TNC-like, and take control of the world?

Near the end of 'Who Controls the world" James B. Glattfelder concludes: "This means that its structure is probably the result of self-organization. It's an emergent property which depends on the rules of interaction in the system, so it's probably not the result of a top-down approach like a GLOBAL CONSPIRACY" (emphasis added).

Glenny says global criminal organizations are increasingly turning to white-collar crime and Glattfelder says we are only just now capable of noticing the existence of self-organized, top-down global conspiracies. So what do you think are the chances?

And look at how Glattfelder seems to leave the door of possibility a bit wider in his research article, 'The Network of Global Corporate Control':

"Since many TNCs in the core have overlapping domains of activity, the fact that they are connected by ownership relations could facilitate the formation of blocs, which would hamper market competition [14]. Remarkably, the existence of such a core in the global market was never documented before and thus, so far, no scientific study demonstrates or excludes that this international “super-entity” has ever acted as a bloc. However, some examples suggest that this is not an unlikely scenario. For instance, previous studies have shown how even small cross-shareholding structures, at a national level, can affect market competition in sectors such as airline, automobile and steel, as well as the financial one [13], [14]."

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    Jul 18 2013: I choose a different view to the 'global conspiracy'.

    It's indeed true that today, our main societal systems (finance, politics, religion) are steered by a only a handful of people. Power concentration and the negative symptoms thereof are rising. Today, one can look at the bad aspects of these systems, they are abundantly present. One can also choose to focus on the good these systems have brought us already (my personal choice).

    It's up to us to look how to improve these systems to create more wealth and abundance for everybody and involve the people that are steering it today. I believe the discussion of the 99% and the 1% to be a false dualist logic. It's not about the 99 and the 1, it's about the 100.

    One can discuss if this is naive, which bring us into discussions of human nature. From my understanding, all people want the same, being happy, both the 'elite' and the rest.

    Now, if one operationalises happiness in a human needs model (let's take maslow 8 for the sake of this discussion) one sees that the final "level" within the spectrum of human needs is self-transcendence, meaning helping other people to self-actualise (level 5). So the 'elite' will be happiest by helping others to self-transcend. True, maybe they don't know it yet themselves, but then they are also victims of the systems that they are steering and need to be helped as well...
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      Jul 18 2013: Thanks for participating in my conversation. I'm excited to have gotten some good responses.

      True, "power concentration and the negative symptoms thereof are rising. Today, one can look at the bad aspects of these systems, they are abundantly present." While your preference towards optimism that follows is admirable, it is the future risks that were Glattfelder's concern.

      You used the word 'symptom' so let's think of this concept in terms of the disease metaphor that implies. The body (our main societal systems) has acquired a disease (a power concentration) with negative symptoms (abundantly presents) but also positive symptoms (curiously enough). In walks the doctor (Glattfelder) and he says, "Well, there appears to be a malignant tumor (the power concentration again) and we can give you some drugs to alleviate some of the pain, but a course of chemotherapy is necessary (to disperse all the accumulated wealth), but my main concern is that the cancer will metastasize and spread to the lungs or kidneys (politics, religion, etc.). If the cancer doesn't spread there are still life-threatening complications (such as the financial of 2008). Due to the nature of the disease (the complexity of ownership amongst transnational corporations systems) we can't reliably predict when any of these developments will occur, or if you remain untreated- how long you have to live (how long until society collapses) so a major operation is necessary (not merely more wealth and abundance for everyone, but a more sustainable and widespread reallocation of the power and control itself)."
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      Jul 18 2013: And, yes, absolutely, everyone wants to be happy, but what they mean by happiness varies radically, so its essentially not the same thing. There will be individuals that will have no need for the materialistic wealth and abundance, poverty will be their treasure. Or there will be people that live to make money and obtain more power. And there will be all sorts of others and it isn't necessary to judge any of these peoples ideas of happiness as better or worse, right or wrong.

      So I don't feel it is possible to make reliable assumptions about the rich will want (although the maslow 8 was a thought-provoking point, and it brings to mind the opening citation Glattfelder made of the U.K. Financial Services Authority, whose leader said: "We spend billions of dollars trying to understand the origins of the universe while we still don't understand the conditions for a stable society, a functioning economy, or peace."

      In other words, we don't really understand what we would need to do if we did operational-ize happiness.

      "The high degree of interconnectivity of the top players in the core could pose a significant systemic risk to the global economy," Glattfelder said. And yes, the 100 are exposed to that risk and not just the 99 while the 1 are immune. But the damages won't be equally dispersed. Let's prevent them from hurting themselves and others.

      And I think the 1, if you're going to bring human nature into it, is still motivated by self-interest, and that self-interest may or may not include an interest in the other 99. That's where the idea of global conspiracy comes from.

      We don't really appreciate the implications of such consolidated power and to prevent the risks we see emerging in our analysis of such structures of ownership and control, we may need to significantly re-think the "high degree of control you saw is very extreme by any standard." (Glattfelder)
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        Jul 19 2013: I agree with many things you write but seem to come to a different conclusion.

        If you consider self-interest as a key motivator, the ultimate selfishness lies in altruism, which basically means people, both the 1 & 99, are wired to ultimately help others (Maslow 'level' 8). The more people you can help, the better you will feel about yourself, so the 1 has an interest in helping the 99 and oppositely.

        Within our current societal systems, it's indeed true we need to prevent those in control of our systems from hurting themselves and others but I don't believe applying 'chemotherapy' is the cure.

        I believe one should treat the 1% as compassionately as the 99% as they are also victims of the systems they are steering: people that hoard money and control seem to be highly insecure. In my opinion this comes from a scarcity perspective in life, the feeling they will not 'get enough'.

        Thanks to our accelerating technological evolution though, I believe we can leave that scarcity paradigm behind us, IF we choose to do so.

        For example, robotics are used to destroy paid worker jobs in our current capitalist system which leads to poverty. In a different monetary system, those same robotics can assure that people do not have to do jobs they don't like and can truly do what they want (maslow level 5).

        If the 1 and the 99 work together, we can move away from the scarcity paradigm towards a paradigm of abundance. If we work against each other, the negative symptoms will only worsen and our societal systems may indeed collapse.

        That will ultimately be our collective choice I suppose...
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          Jul 19 2013: Thanks for the insights. Your correct about the comprehensive compassion and the need for it is something I lose sight of. I'm human and it's hard to feel sorry for people with yachts, but it's something that I need to work of, because if I lose sight of comprehensive compassion in any context then I'm not seeing or thinking as clearly I can.

          I come from a humanities background, but I marvel at the 'accelerated technological evolution.' I don't have any theories or beliefs about it, however. Not even about what is or isn't possible if we chose or do not chose to do something about it. There is just so much up in the air that it forms this thick cloud layer, present day turns to future night and its too dark to make out the shape of anything.
  • Jul 21 2013: I think the 1 %ers have taken control of our pitiful modern society. In the US, this 1 % is made up of banks, Wall Street, CEO's who control our government and media.
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    Jul 18 2013: There is nothing to be worried about. Global crime syndicates are no match for the deceit, treachery, and parasitism of professional politicians at every level.
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      Jul 18 2013: Ha. Gee, what a relief. At least I can occasionally vote for which deceitful, treacherous, and parasitic professional politicians I want (not that all politicians are deceitful, treacherous, and parasitic, theoretically speaking).
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      Jul 18 2013: Yeah, but politicians don't carry knives & guns. And if they do, they don't use them to get what they want! Politics has always attracted that handful of men willing to lie, cheat, & white-collar/steal what they wanted.

      In ancient times, the appointment of a Governor to a newly conquered province was for the express purpose of "subduing" the population & milking the province & its people for every dime that could be squeezed out of them! That was just how things were done back then.

      Even the crucifixion of Jesus was nothing more than a routine event to rid the province of a troubling situation that King Herod had managed to dump on the Roman Governor: Pontius Pilate. The question wasn't so much the guilt or innocence of Jesus but a high stakes political poker-game between Herod/Pilate. Crucify the problem & get it off the table. All the religious history & theology aside - that was just how politics was done back then.

      No wonder we rank politicians just behind lawyers as two professions which offer society zero redeeming social value. That's a 'Global Conspiracy' that we need to address.
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      Jul 18 2013: I feel foolish in how I posed the question now. It seems obvious that "corporations are just a legalized form of corruption protected by the government and military." I'd still like to see an imaginary Glattfelder/Glenny joint TED Talk after investigating this manner further.

      Is it possible that in this legalized form of white-collar crime the victims are shielded slightly more from their aggressors, or do you think it has no effect, that the millions of people ripped off for billions of dollar are no better off than if there were no laws to protect them at all?

      I guess what I'm wondering is if the system is so corrupt and broken down that those corporations wouldn't want it to change a bit, because they have this carte blanche to commit their transgressions and at the end of the day say 'Hey, it's just business.'

      But all of this misses one of the key points, which is deciding if these transnational corporations aren't merely self-organized, but if they are self-organized in a top-down manner.

      Thanks for your input.
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          Jul 18 2013: Yeah, but like the chicken and the egg, which came first: the CEO or the company? Top-down would imply, I think, that some evil genius with a knack for business would have created the transnational company or companies. Bottom up is less sinister; the shark merely rises to the top of the food chain.
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          Jul 18 2013: Yeah, the mobs sparing citizens makes sense. You don't want to kill the golden goose, you just want to have a monopoly on its eggs.

          My fear in regards to nuclear warheads is still mental health. I know there has got to be safeguards to the nth power, but I think in a disturbed mind it would be possible to relativize this tiny blue and green dot floating in space by a sun that will eventually destroy it anyways and say, '"Let's just get it over with, it doesn't really matter, I want to play God." I imagine it will happen at some point when nuclear technology has gotten smaller, when construction and combustion have gotten easier, and it might not be enough to end all life, but it might trigger a nuclear showdown. Not that it matters, because there is an overdue super volcano under Yellowstone that is going to blow away most of the United States.

          But all this is neither here or there. You think PRISM is monitoring this conversation now if it wasn't already?
  • Jul 21 2013: Agree 100%. I think that voter apathy has resulted from the "people" finally realizing that their elected representatives are no longer responsive to their needs. They are in politics only for themselves and thereby we have societal moral degradation and corruption proliferating throughout and the "people" have given up. Our illustrious politicians are not dealing with any of our real financial, economic and environmental problems. Will read your 2nd site when I return tonight. Thanks.
  • Jul 21 2013: Daniel,thanks so much for that article explaining our current situation, which I feel, unfortunately transmits worldwide. But I seriously feel that it has killed our Democracy and see us as being supplanted by other, wiser nations. We are currently ruled by a small plutocracy- the reverse of the moral foundation of the intended democracy. Many thanks.
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      Jul 21 2013: I'm not sure which article you're referring to, the one from The Economist on the gap or the one from Forbes on the 1%. I really hope you read the later.

      I totally agree that it has 'killed our Democracy', and I'm thinking specifically about the assault it brings on the spirit of Democracy within the people. I'm not saying it's excusable, because it isn't, but it's something understandable THAT their is a correlation between lower incomes and lower voter turn-outs. Some people can't handle the disillusioning reality of, for example, multi-million dollar bonuses for Wall Street CEO's of companies that received multi-billion dollar bail-outs they needed as a result of knowingly selling the public financial products they knew were bad.

      In other words, I think when the lower and middle classes see the upper class do something, they mentally associate them with the government, via the upper class equals ruling class bias in their mind and because in real life that bias is not so much a bias as it is a reality.

      I would expect the poorer people are the more likely that they would be to vote, but the reality is they don't care, they've got other problems, or the system has been broken and finding new ways of breaking down for so long that they're too jaded to vote.

      Jaded. That's the word I'd use. The American public has become totally jaded in regards to Democracy and the rich have been plenty culpable in contributing to that, may Abraham Lincoln rest their souls.
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    Jul 21 2013: These excerpts, the first of three paragraphs and the second of one, come from the Economist in 2006, near the end of the article on the gap between the rich and poor:

    "The one truly continuous trend over the past 25 years has been towards greater concentration of income at the very top. The scale of this shift is not visible from most popular measures of income or wages, as they do not break the distribution down finely enough. But several recent studies have dissected tax records to investigate what goes on at the very top.

    The figures are startling. According to Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Piketty of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, the share of aggregate income going to the highest-earning 1% of Americans has doubled from 8% in 1980 to over 16% in 2004. That going to the top tenth of 1% has tripled from 2% in 1980 to 7% today. And that going to the top one-hundredth of 1%—the 14,000 taxpayers at the very top of the income ladder—has quadrupled from 0.65% in 1980 to 2.87% in 2004.

    Put these pieces together and you do not have a picture of ever-widening inequality but of what Lawrence Katz of Harvard University, David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Melissa Kearney of the Brookings Institution call a polarisation of the labour market. The bottom is no longer falling behind, the top is soaring ahead and the middle is under pressure."

    "But the scale of America's income concentration at the top, and the fact that no other country has seen such extreme shifts, has sent people searching for other causes. The typical American chief executive now earns 300 times the average wage, up tenfold from the 1970s. Continental Europe's bosses have seen nothing similar. This discrepancy has fostered the “fat cat” theory of inequality: greedy businessmen sanction huge salaries for each other at the expense of shareholders."

    http://www.economist.com/node/7055911
  • Jul 19 2013: Let me present a different view on this conspiracy theory. First of all this notion is based on the reasoning that there are always some group of people who want to grab all the money/property or power to themselves and ignore the miseries of the fellow men. It's really true. BUT UNFORTUNATELY THAT"S DUE TO THE HUMAN SELFISHNESS, GREED AND OTHER "UNDESIRABLE NATURE" IN ORDER TO SURVIVE THE NATURAL SELECTION IN THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION.
    Let's look at the human history. When the human population grew, we naturally need a leader to manage the complication by frequent contacts(interactions) between each other. The empire with emperors or kings were established. Within each kingdom. there were earldoms and dukedoms, all of them were likely to be the relatives or favorites of the kings. All the lands belonged to the royalties within the region and no common people held the rights to any land. The kingdoms frequently form alliances with each other by marriage of siblings. So if you look at this structure of the "society", was it more concentration of wealth than the modern "conspiracy" of wealthy corporations-government complex? The contrast there was probably more like 99.99% to .01%.
    Right after the kingdom system changed by the industrial revolution, we had Bolshevism/Communism where private rights to land were still restricted in the government. Everybody was poor, except the "leaders" who was really the dictator who , in reality, controlled all of the wealth. (one of such leaders still exists , i. e. Kim Jun Eun of N. Korea) In such regime, the ratio of poor to rich was more than 1million to 1.
    So, is there any place on earth that's better than ours in the case of inequality or unfairness.? There probably were none, except some aborigines on little islands in the Pacific, but their living standard is probably no better than the poor in our society.
    A single whole-world conspiracy is impossible as long as there are political/religious differences among nations.
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    Jul 19 2013: Yeah. Stability is largely an illusion. If you've read the 'Black Swan' by Nassim Taleb he talks a great deal about extreme events happening more often than we think and destabilizing the entire environment. He has a letter posted on The Long Now Foundation's website that has a lot to do with 'antifragility' and 'the principle of fragility as nonlinear (concave response) which has a solution to white color-crime like Monsanto in the same vein as yours about it being up to us for reclaim our rights:

    "In general, the solution is to move from regulation to penalties, by imposing skin-in-the-game-style methods to penalize those who play with our collective safety.--no different from our treatment of terrorist threats and dangers to our security. But in the presence of systemic —and branching out —consequences the solution may be to rely on the state to ban harm to citizens (via negativa style ), in areas where legal liabilities may not be obvious and easy to track, particularly harm hundreds of years into the future. For the place of the state is not to get distracted in trying to promote things and concentrate errors, but in protecting our safety. It is hard to understand how we can live in a world where minor risks are banned by the states, say marijuana or other drugs, but systemic threats such as those represented by GMOs encouraged by them. What is proposed here is a mechanism of subsidiarity: the only function of the state is to do things that cannot be solved otherwise. But then, it should do them well."

    http://blog.longnow.org/02013/07/08/the-artangel-longplayer-letters-nassim-taleb-writes-to-stewart-brand/
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    Jul 19 2013: In Europe, since the installation of the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism - what a nice framing - democracy here has ended for the sake of white collar crime ... its only on us to reclaim our rights!
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    Jul 18 2013: Here is some organized crime info on the Mexican Zetas w/their leadership change:

    http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/mexico-will-los-zetas-unravel-without-their-leader?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130718&utm_term=FreeReport&utm_content=readmore&elq=5278f3960e4649848d6677e7d165aba0

    That's not stuff that you tend to get in the mainstream media.
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      Jul 18 2013: It was at least far more objective than the frenzied speculation of an imminent bloodbath in mainstream media.

      What I found most interesting in the article was that the Zetas promote from within through merit and not nepotism or social connections AND they have a proven track regard of easily replacing their leaders. I'm going to have to think about those two characteristics in relation to the similarities of global crime syndicates to transnational corporations. it doesn't look like the needed top-down evidence, but more like the self-organizing qualities that suggest there is no conspiracy. The cream simply rises to the top with this cartel.
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        Jul 18 2013: Late reply: Sorry, I have a 24-hour virus & I've been sick in bed all day . . .

        Yeah, I had a family member go to a meeting of some sort where they had a guy from Stratfor came as the featured speaker. Family told me about Stratfor, I visited their web site, & I've never regretted being on the "official" mailing list. I don't have any real need for the six-month membership, but if I could afford that out of "pocket change" I certainly would sign up. Quality content is worth that. That's why the Wall Street Journal is $30/month.

        Again, I don't 'endorse' or gain anything by bringing it up here. But I guess the best comparison I can make is w/what's here at TED. If TED wasn't free, what would you be willing to pay for access to the videos? That's why I feel so privileged to be here . . .
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          Jul 18 2013: I would not use TED if it cost money. WSJ I get from my parents. I like the Review section, Arena, etc. The stuff about books, culture, etc. Although I can use my parents username and password to long into the WSJ anytime anywhere. That's nice, but I rarely do. If I had pocket change for a website membership it would be The Long Now: http://longnow.org/ 8 bucks a month. Hope you feel better.
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    Jul 18 2013: If you doubt the complexity of these criminal organizations, read into the recent capture of the Mexican drug lord Trevino Morales, head of the Zetas cartel. There are plenty of news articles with current information on how they cartels operate on a international level.

    Or take the story today out of Japan, where a unnamed Japanese woman is making a very unusual by suing crime boss Shinoda. Note how similar to corporations the yakuza groups sound in this excerpt from the BBC article: "The lawsuit makes use of an anti-organised crime law revised in 2008, which says heads of organisations can be held liable for damage done by its members and affiliate groups."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23339845

    Side note: I guess 'organization' isn't spelled with a 'z' in the United Kingdom. I learn something every day.
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    Jul 17 2013: I assume that TNC means "Trans-National Corporation?" I've seen both of these videos but it's been a couple of months. I'll have to see them again to develop a perspective I can bring here. Back in a flash.

    My guess is that at a very deep (as is deeply hidden) & high (as in high priority) state-level - all of these tools are used to analyze the world economy. The results are presented to world leaders & kept secret for months in advance of any major movement. Lots of negotiations and agreements to act w/o treaties or anything on paper. Yeah - it looks really optimistic on my part, but we cannot afford Chaos when exactly that will destroy world economies. Maybe that just how things SHOULD be! And that's probably NOT how things really ARE! I mean, what might the stock market do tomorrow?
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      Jul 18 2013: It does, indeed. I wanted to write out 'transnational corporation' but I did have space in the character count. I hope you do go back and view them in tandem, as I inadvertently did, because they mesh really well. I think it would be extremely interesting to apply the methodologies that Glattfelder uses to study the complexity of interconnected system on transnational criminal organizations. I think it would be revealing. No, I think it would incriminating.
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        Jul 18 2013: The Glattfelder video suggests that 40% of the world's economy is controlled by perhaps 147 people; & 50% to 60% of the world's economy is controlled by 737 people. I assume that the group of 737 includes the group of 147 people. That being based upon a combination of stock ownership, other forms of ownership, & power/influence. That means that the whole shebang is controlled by 0.01% of the top 1% of the world's wealthiest people. I guess Warren Gates & Bill Buffet make that list. ('er Bill Gates & Warren Buffett)

        I am reasonably that those 737 'core individuals' who actually control that much of the economy are clearly targeted by Prism & other such programs of monitoring. I am sure the government views that as a 'public service.' That is, offering 737 influential Billionaires surveillance/counter-surveillance for their 'own protection.' After all, aren't they ALSO terrorist targets?

        Of course, the Billionaire can afford State-level security systems to protect their communications. But 1st the British, then the U.S. Americans got really good during & in the years after WW II @breaking coded information. In fact, code breaking saved civilization itself. So that kind of Prism surveillance is just "best practice?"

        Here is one take on that: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/keeping-nsa-perspective?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130716&utm_term=Gweekly&utm_content=title&elq=4efe7868c4c5421b88943af862ae6134

        I get nothing for making the recommendation, but the Stratfor free newsletter always includes information about world-wide organized crime. If you have an interest in "analysis" like a CIA or MI-6 Officer might perform, take a look at what Stratfor offers for free. Their take on the "news" is exceptionally useful, always.
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          Jul 18 2013: Interesting article, but the author, George Friedman, explicitly states: "I do not know enough about PRISM to even try to guess how useful it is." So I'm not so reasonably sure they are a) targeting the 737 and b) getting anything out of it.

          On a side note, I would counter his closing quote by Benjamin Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," with Thomas Jefferson's "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

          Warren Gates & Bill Buffet are from an alternative dimension where Silicon Valley is in Omaha, Nebraska and Warren Gates campaigned against the monopoly of Dell computers on the PC market..