by Eric Zuesse
When Fareed Zakaria was suspended on Friday from Time and CNN, for plagiarism, this wasn’t merely justice, it was poetic justice: it rhymed.
What it rhymed with was his own lifelong devotion to the global economic star system that he, as a born aristocrat in India, who has always been loyal to the aristocracy, inherited and has always helped to advance, at the expense of the public in every nation.
He was suspended because, as a born aristocrat, who is a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and many other of the global aristocracy’s primary organizations, he is so well-connected that his writing-commissions are more than any one person can possibly handle, and he consequently cannot possibly actually write all that is attributed to him. He certainly cannot research it all.
Like many “writing” stars, he has a staff perform much of the research and maybe even actual writing for him, and many in his situation are actually more editors than they are writers; but, regardless, he cannot let the public know that this is the way things are, because this is simply the way that the star system works in the “writing” fields, and because the public is supposed to think that these stars in the writing fields are writers, more than editors.
And, it’s a very profitable system for such stars. As Paul Starobin said, headlining “Money Talks,” in the March 2012 Columbia Journalism Review, Zakaria’s speaking fee is $75,000, and “he has been retained for speeches by numerous financial firms, including Baker Capital, Catterton Partners, Dreihaus Capital Management, ING, Merrill Lynch, Oak Investment Partners, Charles Schwab, and T. Rowe Price.”
So, he’s clearly a very busy man, with a considerable staff; he can’t possibly do everything himself.
But he needs to appear as if he does. He needs to present everything “he” does, as “his.”
Most of the top-paid people in the media are “writers” whom the public are deceived to believe do all the researching and writing of “their” material. The actual writers (usually called “research assistants,” or sometimes just “interns”), unlike these bosses, lack the connections to be able to succeed “on their own,” and are therefore obscure workers for these aristocrats — the writing-stars who make the big incomes. If one of these workers bows down sufficiently to his boss so as to be plucked by him to become a star “on his own,” then that lucky acolyte will almost certainly share the existing hierarchical values of his boss, and so may become a new aristocrat in the full sense, and go on to produce his own reputation, and perhaps even dynasty. But the others will never win the connections and thus the money.
This is the world Fareed Zakaria has actually lived in all of his adult life, and even before that — it was the world he saw around him when his father was a politician with the Indian National Congress, and his mother was the editor of the Sunday Times of India. He knew how corruption works, because he was surrounded by it, all the time.
Fareed Zakaria knows the way it works. So, he cannot afford to admit when he is being credited with the work of his employees. Far less damaging to him is to admit that he has done plagiarism himself, as he has admitted in this particular case — regardless whether it’s true.
If Zakaria didn’t actually do this plagiarism, could he very well announce to the world “I didn’t do it; I didn’t even research or write the article”? No. Romney and the Republicans say that the “job creators” at the top are the engine of the economy, and the aristocracy need to maintain this myth. It’s very important to them — that they are the stars, and that the people who might be the actual creators who work for them are not.
Zakaria wouldn’t want to burst the bubble atop which he is floating. To people in his situation, it’s a bubble of money, and it’s theirs. They don’t want to share it any more than they absolutely have to. (They despise labor unions for that very reason.) And their employees are very dependent upon them, so no one will talk about it — not the stars, not their workers.
Right now, the world is celebrating the athletic stars, in the Olympics; and athletics is a very different kind of field, where a person’s actual performance can be numerically counted: You either run a 4-minute mile, or you do not. It’s an authentic meritocracy. But in fields outside of athletics, and outside of science — in fields such as the media, and corporate management — connections are far more important determinants of success than is actual performance.
Only a small proportion of our economy functions like athletics or like science. This is a key reason why the top 0.1% are seeing their incomes soaring while the bottom 90% are seeing theirs falling. It has nothing to do with individuals’ actual merit. In the Washington Post, on 24 June 2011, Peter Whoriskey headlined “Business Group: Public Companies Shouldn’t Have to Compare CEO and Worker Pay,” and he reported that an association that “represents the human resources executives at 325 large companies” was lobbying to defeat proposed Democratic legislation that would require reporting the pay-ratio between each corporation’s CEO and everyone else in the given firm.
This information is now secret, and that’s one reason why studies showed that, “In 1970, average executive pay at the nation’s top companies was 28 times the average worker income,” but that this ratio had risen, and so, “By 2005, executive pay had jumped to 158 times that of the average worker.” CEOs controlled these Human Resources committees (the association that was now lobbying here against public disclosure of this information), and wanted them to continue jacking up their own pay, at everyone else’s expense — at the expense of the employees, and even the stockholders, but also the nation-at-large, resulting in this soaring wealth-inequality.
This is how, outside of athletics and the sciences, the people at the top can become ever-richer even while all their employees become ever-poorer. Then, as conservatives, such CEOs blame the government for the resulting increases in the numbers of people on food stamps, etc. — always blame the victims. This viewpoint is also called “libertarianism,” and it’s very popular with aristocrats. It says to them: A person’s worth is measured by his wealth, which means that the aristocrat is superior to people who are not.
On 2 May 2012, the Economic Policy Institute bannered “CEO Pay and the Top 1%: How executive compensation and financial-sector pay have fueled income inequality.” They reported: “Driving this ever-widening gap is the unequal growth in earnings enjoyed by those at the top.” That “unequal growth” was not due to the “invisible hand” of God, such as the faithful Adam Smith was praising; it was due instead to the actual invisible hand of the aristocracy, which has always hired people like Adam Smith, and promoted their writings. Those corporate executives sit on each others’ corporate boards and vote for each others’ exorbitant pay-hikes. At the top, it’s all “Who do you know?” not really “What can you do?” It’s “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s trading of favors amongst the rich. It’s not merit – that’s just the myth of conservatives who wish to conserve the existing corrupt system, and of libertarians who wish to maximize the liberty of aristocrats at everyone else’s expense.
This is also what’s commonly called “crony-capitalism,” and it’s what the Republican Party actually represents. But many of the stars in the “news” media claim to be “nonpartisan,” even though they are trading favors with other rich people (on Wall Street and elsewhere) all the time. Thus, for example, in an editorial on 3 November 2012 in the New Republic, Zakaria was on their list of “Over-Rated Thinkers.” He was described as “a barometer in a good suit … He was for the Iraq war when almost everybody was for it, criticized it when almost everybody criticized it, and now is an active member of the ubiquitous ‘declining American power’ chorus.” They even noted: “He ingratiates himself to his high-powered guests. This mix of elitism and banality is unattractive.” It should be.
Zakaria knows the way the world works, and he milks it all he can. In this respect, he’s like his Democratic counterpart, Harvard’s Lawrence Summers, who as an economist in 1998 advocated the deregulation that helped produce the 2008 crash. On 15 June 2012, Bonnie Kouvassi at huffingtonpost, bannered “Larry Summers: We Need To Focus On Inequality of Opportunity,” and she presented video of him teaching at Harvard, saying, “I think we can accept, I think we should accept inequality of results, recognizing that those who earn more are in a better position to contribute more to support society.”
Summers praised the aristocracy and attacked people who criticized America’s extreme inequality of wealth. He lauded at length “those who are in a better position to contribute more to support society.” He simply assumed that equality of opportunity can exist when such inequality of income and of wealth are soaring. This assumption was false, but it was a subtle wink and nod to the Republicans: they might get him back, if they bid high enough. It was spoken like the Reaganite that he used to be before it became opportune for him to become a “Democrat” and tie his future to the then rising star of Bill Clinton.
When Fareed Zakaria was studying at Yale, he was president of the Yale Political Union, editor-in-chief of the Yale Political Monthly, a member of the Scroll and Key Society, and a member of the Party of the Right. But, as the editor of the “nonpartisan” Council on Foreign Relations’ prestigious aristocratic Foreign Policy magazine, from 1992-2000, he knew better than overtly to claim to be a conservative, and so, when his fellow conservatives disagreed with him, they attacked him as being instead a “liberal,” and commentators at places such as Fox “News” often have done likewise. People have a hard time figuring out what he represents.
However, what Zakaria has always represented is simply international crony capitalism, and now he has (for at least one month) been bitten back by it.
Sadly, these people stay around; they never go, because their networks are so rich.
As for everybody else: Recognizing the con is already halfway to overcoming it. Calling the con out publicly is another 25%. But the last quarter is the hardest — publicly shaming these people so that they become embarrassments to be shown with in public.
The aristocracy are a web, and we are all now caught up in it — and the spider is working on its meal. Zakaria is part of that web, not part of the spider’s meal. He’ll be back soon.
This article was first published in Huffington Post.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.