What Others Have Said About the The Devil's Marriage
Excerpts of a review by S. Bartholomew Craig, Associate Professor of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. In Press, Book Review Section, Personnel Psychology. Gary Brumback’s (2011) The Devil’s Marriage is shocking. And frightening. And hopeful. In two hundred and sixty-three pages guaranteed to make your head spin, Brumback argues that the United States is being governed by a “corpocracy… a marriage between big business and big government that turns a formally democratic government into a vehicle for corporate ends” (p. 4), that any sense we might have that we live in a democracy is an illusion, and that major changes in the relationship between government and business will have to occur if we are ever to fulfill the dreams of our Founding Fathers. And when I say he argues, I mean he really argues. Brumback has loaded this book chock full of analyses of historically verifiable events that illustrate the influence of business on government (e.g., the rise of corporate personhood).
Brumback begins The Devil’s Marriage with definitions of terminology (e.g., “corpocracy”) and the basic philosophical premises upon which his arguments rest (e.g., corpocracy and true democracy cannot coexist in the same nation; corpocracies exist because both business and government benefit from them). He then provides brief histories of American corpocracies from eras past (e.g., the British Crown during the colonial era, the robber barons of the late 19th century). This section culminates in a discussion of the current corpocracy, which Brumback traces back to the 1970s, and is essentially his case for viewing the current state of affairs as a corpocracy.
After painting this rather bleak picture in the first thirty-two pages, The Devil’s Marriage starts its long climb out of the hole on page thirty-three, beginning with a discussion of factors that operate in opposition to the corpocracy (e.g., labor unions) and transitioning to a prescription for individual and group action to restore true democracy to the United States, which culminates in an all-out call to (metaphorical) arms. This call to arms appears to be Brumback’s real purpose in writing The Devil’s Marriage, and it constitutes the last two thirds of the book.
Brumback outlines his plan for restoring democracy in considerable detail—certainly no reader could accuse him of complaining without offering solutions. Without giving too much away, Brumback’s plan includes a large role for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), some of which currently exist, with others being brought into existence as part of the plan. Brumback includes proposals for how to leverage media, technology, and the educational system to combat the corpocracy. He proposes specific legislative changes (e.g., ending corporate welfare, reforming campaign finance and corporate charters) and the creation of a U.S. Chamber of Democracy as a counterweight to the Chamber of Commerce. Some of these ideas have been voiced before, by others, and Brumback takes care to attribute them to their sources. But an enormous fraction of Brumback’s plan appears to be original to him, and much of that is really quite out-of-the-box. My brief description here doesn’t begin to do it justice.
Despite the somewhat grim subject matter, The Devil’s Marriage is a lively, entertaining read—I was quickly hooked into wondering what wholly unexpected thing he would say next. In addition to his penchant for finding the patterns in what might otherwise seem to be unrelated events, Brumback has a gift for creating new terms (e.g., RuiNation, Alter-America)—chapters even end with lists of “memory ticklers and one liners” that boggled this reader’s mind with their linguistic creativity. There’s even a short poem that is completely on point. Perhaps most importantly, the book takes on a decidedly optimistic tone in its second half, as it paints a picture of how things should and could be. In addition to his plan, Brumback also includes three appendices containing pointers to additional resources to help motivated readers get started putting it into action. These include contact information for NGOs, corpocracy-unfriendly media outlets, and the encapsulated ideas of numerous similar-minded thinkers.
Readers who subscribe to conservative ideologies or who feel strongly that business is the solution to humanity’s problems probably won’t agree with Brumback, and a less-than-thorough reading could leave one with the impression that this is just another liberal rant against the “job creators.” But on closer inspection, Brumback is fairly equally derisive of Democrats and Republicans alike; his beef is much more with a system that allows too much cross-talk between government and business than with the individuals who inhabit that system. And, regardless of political orientation, all readers will be impressed with the compendium of public events that Brumback has amassed to support his case. The writing can seem frantic at times, and the examples and anecdotes can come at you so fast and furiously that you can lose track of the over-arching point if you’re not careful. But the overall effect of this book is that it gets you thinking. And possibly even acting. And I suspect that Brumback would consider that to be a mission accomplished. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- More Praise for The Devil's Marriage
"This is an extraordinary and timely book that deserves to be widely read. Gary Brumback tells it like it is: America is no longer a democracy, governed by and for the people; we are a ‘corpocracy’ governed by and for large corporations with the massive help of an obliging government. Their grip on our nation is tight, but not unbreakable. Brumback shows how we can loosen it and reclaim our democratic heritage.”---Peter Barnes, author of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons, and co-founder of Working Assets.
"Gary Brumback's passion for social and economic justice shines through every page of his new book. He tells it as he sees it, mincing no words. He shows how essential it is for us to change the rules of the game so that we may break the ties that bind corporations and government -- and move to a more equitable and sustainable future.” ---Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations.
"A refreshing, exuberant read, full of sock-it-to-them creative insights about how corpocracy in the US has subverted democracy and what to do about it. This book is a political version of “On the Road"-- a passionate out flowing of analysis, critique and transformative strategies, including a vision of a national coalition of NGOs and movements uniting to challenge the corpocracy, spearheaded by a US Chamber of Democracy. Not for the faint of heart but red meat for progressives and activists everywhere." ---Charles Derber, author of Corporation Nation, Regime Change Begins at Home, and, most recently, Greed to Green.
"At a time when corporations continue to tighten their grip on the reins of power, Gary Brumback's book provides a clear guide for action. Thoroughly researched yet easy to read, The Corpocracy pulls together a breadth of topics -- from the history of corporate empowerment to current topics like corporate welfare and corporate criminality. Brumback's proposals for reform are straightforward and sensible." --- Ted Nace, author of Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy
"Gary Brumback has written a book that every disgruntled American should read. He identifies the source of our nation’s most troubling problems (corpocracy), traces its history, and offers some practical albeit difficult solutions. Our democracy has been taken from us by unbridled corporate power. The Corpocracy is a manual of sorts for those who wish to recapture the essence of what America once was—and can be again.” ---Roger Terry, author, Economic Insanity: How Growth-Driven Capitalism Is Devouring the American Dream.
"Brumback makes a powerful argument for a radical democratic movement to take on corporate rule that Americans need to hear." ---Steven Hiatt, Editor, A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption, and president of Edicetera. “This book is a call to action for a society desperately trying to understand what is going wrong and why. Brumback’s message to our generation is clear, simple and straightforward: “It’s the corpocracy (big government married to big government), stupid.” The book is well thought-out, important, and demands our attention.” ---Professor Howard Karger, Head of School/School of Social Work & Human Services, The University of Queensland and author, Shortchanged.
“NGOs have been fighting the Corpocracy one company at a time for 30 years…and losing. Brumback tells us why, gives us a battle plan, and issues a challenge to join forces to reclaim our democracy. This is the pre-eminent American challenge for the 21st Century. The Corpocracy could not be more timely. Don’t just read this book. Take action. Now!” ---Michael Marx, PhD, Executive Director, Corporate Ethics International
"While you may not agree with his entire wide-ranging analysis, Gary Brumback's book is a tremendous tocsin that will rouse you from the malaise that plagues this country. We desperately need a democracy movement here in the U.S. to shake off the "corpocracy" that has colonized our culture and politics. This book has many good suggestions for building it." --- Charlie Cray, Director, Center for Corporate Policy, and co-author, The People's Business.
“A devastating analysis of the relationship between government and business in America. Brumback’s cutting insight and lively writing make The Corpocracy a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of this country.” ---S. Bartholomew Craig, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, North Carolina State University and a former book review editor for Personnel Psychology: A Journal of Applied Research.
“From warfare welfare to health care, Gary Brumback identifies the biggest challenge to the great American experiment we face in this modern era. If you wonder why the two political parties in Washington D.C. are fast becoming indistinguishable from each other it is because corpocracy has them right where it wants them. Gary names this for what it is and tells us what is required to save free society from corporate take-over. Americans who wish not to be awakened every morning by a big screen Big Brother (our Chairman of the Board!) need to read this book.” ---Jeffrey DeYoe, D. Min. Sr. Pastor, Worthington Presbyterian Church, Worthington, Ohio.
“In terms of its potential, Brumback's fine work is to political reform what General Smedley Butler’s War Is a Racket is to the anti-war movement. Brumback’s undermining of obsolete notions -- habitual ways of perceiving the electoral arena -- is refreshing, and if his recommendations were to be embraced we'd have a shot at citizens returning to the polls in large numbers.” - -- Richard Martin Oxman, founder of California political movement, TOSCA.
“I hope you are as thrilled with my Corpocracy as I am with yours.”--- Robert A. G. Monks, founder of ISS, The Corporate Library, the LENS Fund, and Governance for Owners; and author of Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World’s Greatest Wealth Machine-and How to Get It Back.
Excerpts from Two Amazon Reviewers: "Read This Book." "A good introduction to the concept of government by and for corporations." Excerpt from Library Journal Review: "A sound argument that corporate America has too much power."--- --- Selected for recommended reading in The CEO Refresher, April 2011. www.refresher.com --- Listed June 2, 2011 as a “great read” at “The Economic Collapse Book Store.” http://astore.amazon.com/theeconomiccollapse-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=19 --- Four radio talk show interviews.