The Paradise Papers extreme capitalism and the ICIJ

by Joe Montero

The massive Paradise Papers leak is as big as the Panama Papers release last year,. Although it is grabbing some attention, it is not producing headlines on  the same scale.

Each of these stories first came to light in a German publication (Suddeutsche Zeitung). But with the Panama Papers it was mainly WikiLeaks that brought the contents to the world’s attention. In the case of the Paradise Papers the WikiLeaks connection is missing.

The involvement of WikiLeaks in the first case, made sure that all the contents were made public. In the second case, what comes out has been more selective, although the Paradise Papers involved more than 13.4 million documents, which we are told, details more than 120 politicians around the world involved in of shore banking activities.

A massive 6.8 million of these documents were leaked from a major Bermuda based legal firm called Appleby and are in the hands of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

A group of corporate interests and very rich individuals initiated, fund and support the ICIJ and there is also an association with a formidable list of  corporate media outlets around the world. These links are important, because they  provide an explanation of what drives the group.

The two best known backers are the Ford Foundation associated with the car manufacturer of the same name and George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. What binds this group together is a shared political mission that is encapsulated by George Soros, who wrote that the main threat to society is the rise of “laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society”.

The Soros way to carry this out, is to create a political centre that proclaims opposition to extreme capitalism, as the means of defending the existing political, economic and social order, against forces hostile to it.  The method is to build a politics of compromise in connection to the class divisions that exist in society. The cry is that no one has absolute truth and harmony can only be guaranteed if conflict is ended through compromise. This means that big business must give some ground on the key issues of the day.

It is on this basis that he launched his concept of “open society,” a term borrowed from Austrian philosopher  Karl Popper’s book, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) and is the reason why he became the number one backer of Hilary Clinton and an opponent of Donald Trump.

This is a view of the world that is shared by the consortium that has given rise to the ICIJ, which is selective in the use of information. That which serves the political mission gets priority.

Nevertheless, what has been brought to light in this exposure of extreme capitalism is in the public interest. The downside is that within the ICIJ exposure there is an unhealthy obsession with the Russian connection and a seeming determination to squeeze this into the claim that they stole last year’s US Presidential election.

No doubt the Russians showed an interest in the outcome and nudged things along where they could. This is nothing new. It also works the other way around.  The American interfere in Russian elections and elections in many other countries. This is the unfortunate reality of global politics and international tensions.

Foreign interference is wrong and needs to be opposed. The danger is that over playing this card, can lead to the neglect of the most fundamental issues. In this case, Clinton was a rotten candidate, who turned out to be even more disliked than her opponent. She was the darling of Wall Street, corrupt in her own right and came across as an extremely arrogant individual, who stood for the continuation of the policies that were rousing so much anger in American society. These are these important factors that cost her the election. It was domestic factors and not Russians that determined the result.

Despite the weakness in the ICIJ handling of the issue, the much larger scale of the money laundering and tax evasion cannot be ignored. The ICIJ has had to deal with it by necessity, in the battle against extreme capitalism and this has provided  another warning that the world needs urgent action from governments.

To date, the political establishment in country after country has done very little to make a difference and is a worry that will feed the growing resentment, against as regime of unequal treatment, where justice is seen to be given on the capacity to buy it.

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