The headline on the final issue of Rupert Murdoch’s News Of The World, “Thank You & Goodbye”, provoked speculation of suitable rejoinders like “Piss Off & Good Riddance!” and more colourful expressions of the same sentiment.
There’s a global celebration at the political storm that continues to beset the Murdoch corporate media empire. And there seems no end in sight with former NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks arrested for alleged phone hacking and bribery of police officers — even though there is speculation that this arrest is a device to minimise the flack for the British police.
Of course, we know that Murdoch’s empire is still alive, powerful and malignant. But it is good to know that the empire is not invincible.
Last year, Forbes listed Rupert Murdoch as the 13th most powerful person in the world. And he certainly behaved like he was, routinely granting audiences to prime ministerial hopefuls from Australia to Britain who believed that he, rather than the electors, held the key to winning government.
People like Murdoch really do think they rule the world. There is an objective basis to this — never before in human history has there been such a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of such a small minority.
In an article in the June Monthly Review, “The Internationalization of Monopoly Capital”, John Bellamy Foster, Robert W McChesney and R Jamil Jonna said: “Inequality, in all its ugliness, is, if anything, deeper and more entrenched.
“Today the richest 2% of adult individuals own more than half of global wealth, with the richest 1% accounting for 40% of total global assets.
“If, in the ‘golden age’ of monopoly capitalism in the 1960s, the gap in per capita income between the richest and poorest regions of the world fell from 15:1 to 13:1 — by the end of the twentieth century, the gap had widened to 19:1.
“From 1970 to 2009, the per capita GDP of developing countries (excluding China) averaged a mere 6.3% of the per capita GDP of the G8 countries (the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, and Russia).
“From 2000 to 2006 (just prior to the Global Financial Crisis), this was only slightly higher, at 6.6%. Meanwhile, the average GDP per capita of the fifty-eight or so Least Developed Countries (a UN-designated subset of developing countries) as a share of average G8 GDP per capita declined from 1.8% in 1970, to 1.3% in 2006.
“The opening decade of the twenty-first century has seen waves of food crises, with hundreds of millions of people chronically food-deprived, in an era of rising food prices and widespread speculation.”
The Murdoch empire controls a huge 70% of print media in Australia and if Foxtel’s $2 billion bid for Austar is successful, it will give News Corp a pay-TV monopoly in Australia.
In Britain, even with the closure of the NOTW, Murdoch still controls big circulation newspapers such as The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times. News Corp still owns 39% of the television network British Sky Broadcasting.
In the US, Murdoch owns Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the rabidly reactionary Fox News Network and the New York Post, among many other smaller media outlets.
With media domination like this it is no wonder that many people believed Murdoch’s empire to be invincible. But it is not.
Every one of these corporate empires depends on the workers it employs — and exploits — to get anything done. Without the daily slog of their employees these corporate emperors can do zilch.
We saw a little revolt even from the NOTW staff as they prepared the final issue.
The July 11 Age said: “Sacked News of the World staff appear to have fired a parting shot at their former editor Rebekah Brooks, disguising mocking messages in the crossword of the tabloid’s final edition.
“Brooks, now the chief executive of News International, reportedly brought in two loyal proofreaders to sanitise Sunday’s final edition of any jibes directed at her following the newspaper’s spectacular demise during the phone hacking scandal.
“But they failed to detect the not-so-cryptic clues that appear to savage her in the crosswords on page 47.
“Among the clues in the paper’s Quickie puzzle were: ‘Brook’, ‘stink’, ‘catastrophe’ and ‘digital protection’.
“The Cryptic Crossword appears to go even further, including the hints ‘criminal enterprise’, ‘mix in prison’, ‘string of recordings’, and ‘will fear new security measure’.
“Another clue was ‘woman stares wildly at calamity’, with suggestions it refers to a photograph of Mrs Brooks as she left the News International headquaters in east London on Thursday after staff were told the paper would be shut down.”
A small and belated protest, perhaps, but it is a reminder of the real potential power of the workers to bring down even the biggest of corporate empires that rule the world today.