If stories of masterpiece Asterix comics were true; we know that the village druid Getafix had the knowledge of mixing unsuspecting mistletoes to prepare the magic potion that provided the Gauls with that ‘invincible’ strength, which the Gauls  used only to defend themselves against the invading Romans, or against pirates even more occasionally. Good that simple moral sense of the rustic Gauls never permitted them to abuse and misuse the byproduct of their knowledge. 

In the 21st century human civilization, when money-power and state-power seem to be improperly used in an endless pursuit to dominate the world, the need to distort and manipulate the most critical foundation of civilization, call it knowledge built on real time intelligence or otherwise, becomes a necessity.  

One glaring example of such a deadly cocktail of misuse of money and power to manipulate knowledge is present day Iraq.  

It started tumbling one after another. One could have ignored couple of slips, even in the highest levels of the U.S. decision-making had they wrongfully, but more importantly unintentionally concluded that Iraq under Saddam indeed was having Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs), or had been planning to acquire few WMDs that genuinely posed a security threat for parts of the world.  

But a steady flow of direct accounts stating intelligence was deliberately tampered with, which started as a trickle initially as the aggression apparently achieved nothing but huge casualties has lately taken the shape of an unending wave of revelations encompassing the Pentagon,  the CIA and  even the White House involving all possible tentacles of the Bush-Cheney administration. The actors bare their first-hand stories depicting their major, minor or frustrating roles in that distortion of truth exercise as casualties continue to rise; and patience for peace increasingly running thin.  

George Tenet, the discredited-but-awarded CIA-chief, who was at the helm of that tampered intelligence exercise, true mostly covertly, has lately added to that continuing waves of devastating revelations in his book titled “At the Center of the Storm.” published last week.  

Mud-slinging exercises in post-mortem analysis never help in making the dead alive, other than forming knowledge to be used as learning to avoid unnecessary similar bloodshed in the future. And that can only happen when the haunting question, on why Iraq was invaded and how the case was built, that eventually caused and still causes so many unnecessary deaths, gets answered in a convincing and transparent manner.  

It’s already late to ask that all-important question by more than four years and thousands of deaths. How neutral and independent are Money, Power & Knowledge – the three pillars of human civilizations in our present day world? True, one may say that one or two of these three pillars may be unnecessary evils of human civilization; and the unnecessary evil is spreading like a cancer in our societies, and thereby killing the lifeblood called knowledge and wisdom of human civilization.  

How safe is the fate of the masses in the hands of our so-called citizen caring and fearing powerful nation-states? Have the modern nation-states, to a large extent, delivered what they were supposed to deliver; or they have started rotting without much reform under money pressure of the classes that influenced the state-power to be used against the masses?  

True, there are exceptions in the form of bright spots in parts of the world in democratic governance…but increasingly these bright spots have been vanishing like the pristine isolated natural zones from our earth. The world looked at the U.S. as an inspirational model for nearly a century or so; and the way Money, Power and Knowledge is applied in policy-making in the U.S., the only superpower of present world, no longer offers any comfort to neutral global think tanks.  

It has rather become a cause of concern. And to get to the root of this legitimate concern, one needs to understand people who drive present day human civilization, and their apparent motives, if they indeed have one.  

So who all drive the decisions that seal many of our fates today and tomorrow globally, and what accountability do they have to us for having that liberty, more so for their deliberate wrong decisions and actions? Are they the Bush-Blair-Chavez-Merkel-Putin-Hu-Abe-Olmert lot, democratically (barring China) elected by the people of the respective nations rightfully representing the will of their citizens?  

Or are they the apparently faceless business lobbies that increasingly influence the decision makers through their strength of money, which has not only grown stronger than so called bookish namesake democratic forces in many nations over the years when it comes to delivering results that matter to these classes – in the form of more money in the hands of select few? And call it market forces or the strength of money; it has only grown disproportionately in many of these nations irrespective of the country-specific laws or its individual leaders and their unique leadership styles, leading to increasing unprecedented inequalities as never seen before historically.  

There exists a 3rd distinct possibility, probably the best of the alternatives when it does not matter who decides the fate of present and near-term future human civilizations locally and globally; because the decision makers merely work based on the best knowledge-input  they receive for the overall betterment of the society, and our one world. That was a fundamental premise in the formation of most democratic nations; it was obvious that a collective sense of betterment would rule all decisions and actions of the democratic states.  

The inevitable question we ask is how neutral should these three axes of modern civilizations, namely Money, Knowledge and Power should be and whether they indeed are neutral to that extent in present day world, as we see and interpret events around us.  Leaders of democratic states are empowered and entrusted with our collective power, to be used legitimately in order to have a better society for all of us.   

We all have a critical stake here in ensuring a healthy sustainable society – today and for ever. 

The dangerous trend we encounter now-a-days is quite opposite; true the mirror being my subjective senses, and my subjective reading of local and global affairs. The money-power of the business classes that have grown stronger and stronger increasingly influences the policy for the masses through namesake midwife policy-makers, who merely deliver the business interests behind the façade of democracy and thereby misuse our collective entrusted power for the interest of the classes depriving  the masses.  

A series of scandals have hit the Bush-administration, but the net result has been the same big zero till date. Starting with Libby (legally convicted on Plame affair on four felony charges), Rumsfeld, Gonzales (responsible for improperly and perhaps illegally using the PATRIOT Act to uncover personal information about U.S. citizens; and his role on firing eight U.S. attorneys), Rove (investigations started on improper favoritism shown to the Republicans), Brown (famous FEMA director, fired or resigned after Hurricane Katrina) to lately Wolfowitz; people in this endless list have at most resigned or fired or at best hangs on indecisively with the support of money and power; but have not been penalized in proportion to the impact of their wrongful actions that brought sufferings locally and globally.  

Talks of impeachment against Bush or Cheney, reflecting maturity or immaturity of a section of the masses have so far remained as talks only.  

In other words, isn’t it a perfect example of Money-power dictating so-called democratically elected leaders what they want, by distorting information, intelligence or by whatever means? A collusion of  Money with  Power used for vested interests worked together to distort intelligence and truth, not once or twice but again and again at whatever costs showing scanty respect for national and ethical rules till the very objective of that business class is achieved.  

And to do so, which at times may have buyer in corporate world, but ideally not in governance, the people involved manipulate knowledge to achieve better control of the money-making oil-assets of Iraq, and one knows as well as can be reasonably certain of the fact that Iraq isn’t the first or the last of that misuse of Money and Power to distort truth, when this is reviewed historically. More important to note is this system has effectively no accountability – the leaders lose or go back to their other private or public roles after their terms of rule; and the real influencers with even more money power are never traced, and they, in turn continue their influences with the next administration without caring much on who runs government.  

Hasn’t anything happened? We never know. The voices on the streets and the voices online have grown stronger in protests; true they again have remained ineffective protests only. Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus at Boston University and author of ‘Voices of People’s History of the United States’ stated following:

‘One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It’s a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We’ve seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we’re aiming for in this country.

Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that’s how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.’


Probably all indicators don’t point to a worsening hopeless situation. The 1st victory of the masses in this round can be with the ouster of Wolfowitz from the helms of the World Bank, which increasingly looks likely now for the interest of the Bank and even in the interest of the vested bodies. True, most organized media reports voiced their opinion against Wolfowitz from day one that started as a mild rebuke, and the pitch has eventually risen. Unexpectedly, few powerful media houses even tried their influencing power with opinions favoring Wolfowitz, like The Bloomberg (‘Wolfowitz’s One Sin Was Waging War on Corruption was one of the early articles on Wolfowitz issue in the Bloomberg, which has only changed when global opinion was totally against Wolfowitz.Probably all indicators don’t point to a worsening hopeless situation. The 1st victory of the masses in this round can be with the ouster of Wolfowitz from the helms of the World Bank, which increasingly looks likely now for the interest of the Bank and even in the interest of the vested bodies. True, most organized media reports voiced their opinion against Wolfowitz from day one that started as a mild rebuke, and the pitch has eventually risen. Unexpectedly, few powerful media houses even tried their influencing power with opinions favoring Wolfowitz, like The Bloomberg ( was one of the early articles on Wolfowitz issue in the Bloomberg, which has only changed when global opinion was totally against Wolfowitz.

True, all Bloomberg articles have standard disclaimer that in above case stated: ‘Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, is a Bloomberg News columnist. He was chief economic adviser to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona during the 2000 primaries. The opinions expressed are his own.’ However elementary editorial discretion should have been applied before making discredited Republican voice public in the Bloomberg. And that was not the only article that vainly attempted to build a case for Wolfowitz in the Bloomberg or in rare few organized media, many now look this as an ego-clash between the US and the EU. More examples can be given when media selectively quoted cronies (like Former Malaysian Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim or some Nigerian minister) whose credibility has been doubted.

However the other millions of opinions with all types of spoofs and satires online on this Wolfowitz issue, which at times may have even crossed subjectively defined ethics on what should be in public domain and what’s best to be private (for example  Wolfowitz turns on Shaha Riza or Dept. of Paul Wolfowitz What? You Want The Wolfowitz Discourse Elevated? DONE and the comments therein and they are very much in Google news,  few with ridiculing images  or TradeSports.com trading on Wolfowitz’s exit which the respected French daily Le Monde mistook as a report and not as a spoof initially),  forced the significant few mainstream media with other opinion to shut up, or to change their color, or even to adopt a stronger unambiguous opinion against Wolfowitz and the various other policies of the World Bank and its sister organizations that fundamentally was against its core objective of poverty elimination.


Few enjoy Money and Power disproportionately; however with Internet and Web 2.0; one can’t have knowledge at the wrong side all the time. The lesson if any for the people who were getting used to their wrongful unchallenged privileges that money and power bought them by exploiting an archaic and ineffective democratic set-up : ‘When million voices protest in the physical highways or on digital highways, untoward incidents beyond moral or ethical standards are bound to happen. They have state power and business money to control the voices on the street; but no state power has yet found ways and means on how to silence the legitimate online voices.’

 

Ranjit Goswami is a Research Scholar with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India; and is the author of the book “Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d’“.
 

 

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