The Quotations of Chairman Ray

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. –Lord Acton

Modern postindustrial capitalism can endow vast amounts of wealth upon individuals. When the financial media, desperate for advertising revenue, deifies successful businessmen this frequently divorces them from reality, an effect amplified by lack of feedback from employees and associates petrified by their boss’s power over them.

This is not a new story. Three centuries ago, the wealth and adulation accorded John Blunt, head of the South Sea Company, evolved into a fearsome megalomaniacal malignancy of Blunt’s soul. As described by economic historian Edward Chancellor,

His ambition becomes limitless, a chasm opens up between the public appearance of success and universal adulation, on the one hand, and the private management of affairs which become increasingly confused and even fraudulent.

The economic and technological ferment of the early twentieth century accelerated this trend, as exemplified by Henry Ford, who fell into rabid antisemitism and whose racist tropes are still quoted by the Christian nationalist right.

In recent decades, the financial industry has yielded an ever-greater number of corporate game players, money managers, and “tech bros” who illustrate Lord Acton’s famous dictum, from Mark Zuckerberg’s blindness to social media’s corrosion of democratic norms to Elon Musk’s flirtations with homophobia and antisemitism.