How Does Lord Dennis Stevenson Get Away With It #THREE
“truth is not useful because it is true, but vice versa” (Simmel, 1907)
Some people who know or have met Dennis Stevenson might come to the conclusion that his outstanding characteristic is that he is a genuinely nice dilettante who had no understanding at all of the businesses he supposedly led. He trusted people who everyone else could see was totally useless and went on supporting them when any competent non-executive would have run a mile. For example, within Pearson’s senior management Stevenson was simply regarded as a joke who offered speeches where everyone just sat in embarrassed silence while he rambled on about his childhood. So the conclusion would be he is awful, but more ‘Dad’s Army’ than the forces of evil.
I will argue that social disorganization arises from the lack of a clearly recognized enemy and that this has combined with the development of secrecy as a political goal by what Veblen called the Absentee Owners of society.
This kind of ‘innocence’ is everywhere in banking now: recently, as part of an ongoing list of criminal activity, the biggest fine for a money laundering scam has been given to HSBC and Standard Chartered. The crimes include working with terrorists and with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. The big banks: ING, Credit Suisse, RBS, Lloyds, Barclays have all been caught doing much the same thing. Even in the face of this, and much more, the cheerleaders for such forms of capitalism, such as the Financial Times (owned by Pearson) keeps up the pretense of innocence by talking about a “rap on the knuckles” —in the world available to its premium subscribers. It’s denial time. Even when reporting on these absurd crimes the language is all about the share price and the assurance that “Pre-tax profit would grow.” Protest at the banks is presented by the Financial Times as the obsession of lonely individuals crying in the wilderness, with all and any sanctions being too harsh. The effects of what those at the top have done simply vanishes with this sort of language and we are left with an impossible pretense.
Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, has decided to pretend that large banks are too big to prosecute, he does concede that this raises “very difficult questions” for regulators like himself—i.e. it becomes pointless to have regulators. So we are back to de-regulation. Now maybe he has a point, but the bankers themselves can easily be prosecuted: they are small individuals. But for those who are not paid to pretend, as Bailey clearly is, this is simply evidence of the UK state’s inability to enforce the law, it is more or less a guarantee that the bankers will never face the consequences of their actions and little more than saying that ignoring extortion, funding terror, rigging the market and so on are vital components of how to keep the system going. Pretend innocence—complete denial: we have tax havens now we have law havens: there is no criminal offence that is pertinent to the behavior of bankers.
Assange and other whistleblowers are demonised routinely, but the bankers, like Dennis Stevenson, are nice, innocent, affable, somehow caught up in a dirty world—but they scheme to perpetuate this world. Thanks to the Financial Times and the other defensive financial reporting/hypnosis we cannot get the reality into our heads. Imagine we are watching the Nuremberg trials: it transpires that Rudolph Hess is a banker — the judge looks momentarily uneasy, then suddenly declares how affable Hess looks, how some people would think him another genuinely nice dilettante who had no understanding at all of the businesses he supposedly led…etc. Would that work as a defence? Banks underwright war.
The management of money is political: for every policy choice, there is an alternative that others would prefer. The enormity and influence of financial markets has obscured this political reality. The impression has been left that market forces transcend politics. This illusion is supported by another illusion that market forces impose some sort of ‘best practice’ on states: that policies are decided via the force of an ‘economic logic’ rather than by politics: thus whatever happens happens as if by an act of god. This is an illusion, albeit a well promoted one. If we ask ‘who are the forces that fostered and maintain it in our minds?’ then people like Stevenson come to the fore.
A consequence of the role that such ideas and beliefs play in the financial world is that they create policy choices out of self-fulfilling prophecies. Even with the vastness of global finance, economic logic limits the range of policy choices to a small plausible set. But the choice from this is still determined by the inescapable politics of money. Contrary to the talk of ‘de-politicizing’ the management of money, and monetary phenomena are always and everywhere political— the provenance of how these illusions influence public opinion can reveal the dominance of the political forces that shape the monetary landscape.
Why was Dennis Stevenson on the board of so many companies—mostly he is there as a non-executive director, this means he is there because he has ties and connections to lots of other companies. If we have a look at the organisations Stevenson has made money out of, it is a sizeable chunk of capitalism: British Sky Broadcasting, Halifax plc, HBOS, Lazard, Manpower, Western Union, Pearson, Loudwater Investment Partners Limited, The International Council on Security and Development, Economist, Bank of Scotland, the British Council, St James’s Place Capital plc, British Technology Group, Tyne Tees Television, Manpower Inc., Thames Television, J. Rothschild Assurance plc, English Partnerships, Aerfi (formerly GPA), Manocap, Cloaca Maxima, Saxton Bampfylde Hever plc and so on. One of the lesser known involvements is with The Diebold Institute and this organisation is one of many who foster the economic illusions that uphold the present ruinous system. Also known as the Diebold Institute For Public Policy Studies, Stevenson was with its Entrepreneurship and Public Policy Commission, and billed as “one of the two outside members of the Take-over-Panel” the other members were:
Paul Allaire —Former Chairman, Xerox Corporation also with J. P. Morgan & Co. and Lucent Technologies, In 2000, Allaire became Chairman of the Board of the Ford Foundation (having been a Trustee since 1997). According to the New York Times in 2003 he was one of: “Six former top officials at the Xerox Corporation […] to pay more than $22 million to settle accusations by securities regulators that they participated in a large accounting fraud that allowed the company to overstate its profits by $1.4 billion over four years.” Xerox paid their fines, and he was also barred from serving as a director of a public corporation for five years meaning he had to step down from chemicals giant GlaxoSmithKline (but the Ford Foundation kept him on). According to Research on Accounting Fraud at Xerox Company by Ahu Atay: “Xerox’s central problem was its inept, short-sighted and unethical senior executives.”
Sir Michael Angus —Former Chairman, Unilever; Confederation of British Industry, at his height he was the chair of Whitbread, deputy chairmanship of National Westminster Bank and a director of Thorn EMI and British Airways.
Sir Peter Bonfield (Former Chief Executive Officer British Telecommunications)
Sir John Browne (Chief Executive Officer, BP Amoco)
Sir David Cooksey (Chairman, Advent, Ltd.; Director, The Bank of England; Former Chairman, British Venture Capital Association)
Ray Gilmartin (Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.)
The Honorable Carla A. Hills (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hills & Company International Consultants; Former U.S. Trade Representative)
George Rupp (Former President, Columbia University)
Maxine Singer (President, Carnegie Institution of Washington)
Sir Richard Sykes (DSc FRS, Rector, Imperial College; Former Chairman, Glaxo SmithKline)
Ralph Weindling (Secretary of the Commission; Former Head Department of Management, Polytechnic University, New York)
The Hon. John Whitehead —Chairman AEA Investors Inc., Former co-head Goldman Sachs; Deputy Secretary of State (U.S.) and with the absurd facade of the American Council for Capital Formation, another secretive political organisation lobbying to corrupt politics as an ExxonMobil-funded, conservative think tank with a climate skeptic slant and a Koch Industries-funded climate denial front group.
Most of these people are part of secretive enclaves such as the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission—whose role is ignored by the mainstream media (and the vacuum filled by conjecture and conspiracy theory). Most too have been involved in fraud or other criminal acts. But they also represent overlapping elements of the power elite.
It was founded in 1968 by John Diebold (The Diebold Group, Inc/JD Consulting Group) and was particularly known for its work on privatisation and deregulation as a front for influencing democracy, or as it said itself:
From 1969 to 2005 its research assessed the interplay of government and business for the optimum achievement of public and private goals.
The Diebold Institute was also known for its advice to big companies, this included the observations that multi-nationals will shift their focus to developing companies because of seven reasons which it heartily approved of:
1 to gain access to cheaper labour and energy, as well as to escape strict standards against pollution; 2 to take advantage of changing trade relations; 3 to get close to a growing foreign market; 4 to prevent competitors from pre-empting a foreign market or source of supply; 5 to escape domestic anti-trust laws; 6 to shield a big corporation from cyclical fluctuations in its home markets; 7 to obtain the advantages of more thoroughly integrated operations on a large scale.
There is little coverage of how the absentee owners of society influence the political process and bend it towards maintaining their interests. In one sense this is because the owners of the media which might inform us of this are not against themselves; but there is similarly no real interest in the matter from academia.
But to return to the question of evil, are we not just too conditioned to think of social ‘evil’ as the product of a movie bad guy, ugly, possibly scarred etc. Greed and the mis-management it produces have accompanied Stevenson’s activities: but alongside this is a belief in his innate superiority that a Ku Klux Klan member would share. Social ills relate to the structure of society and many of them are caused by the centralisation of wealth together with the unaccountable influence of the greed-motivated elite on politics.
Liberty involves our ability to act independently of the whims of particular individuals.
The effects of such social structures on the mass of people are blamed on them. Think of this: Peter Mandelson spent the night of the 1997 election with Stevenson, and the pair fostered aspects of the financier friendly New Labour via SRU, Stevenson’s consultancy. SRU also took the Labour Cabinet to training session using the mixture of PR Postmodernist gibberish that was typical of think tanks like Demos (which Stevenson also fronted). This subversion of a political party is fairly common—they have become so centralized, so dominated and run by a small elite and removed from their membership that they are almost designed to be taken over by a small unprincipled group. The transformations are all in the name of ‘image’ but they are highly politicised and delimit what can be said and done by a political party. Stevenson has appeared as a Conservative, Labour and Liberal when it suited him.
In one sense it is liberal practicality we are criticising. This going along amiably with mass exploitation. In another it is government by what are in effect secret societies.
eems no one on the board of banks claiming any real knowledge of banking. Someone else told me that Peter Oborne had sais to them that Stevenson said that Tony Blair had misled him over the honours. He’s not so affable when caught out – yeah in front of the troops do the amiable old duffer routine and yeah some will spot the emperors attire, bur he’s a fuckin scammer preyong on public funds and people have had enough of incompetent appointees – the system of patronage must be a root of evil because it is that which upholds the love of money. Nepotism comes from Papel patronage after all. S network of tailored organisations that milk the public purse are impressive: Ivecwritten on Era and Demos, the network of little think tanks that also involve his sons, his role in a complex quasi-governmenral organisations largely involved in the cultural apparatus of the UK the establishment overlaps. No one thinks these people have some sort of evil essence, its structural baby! as the Marxists used to say. This idea of a social structure is a useful one really because it can be changed, it is a product of our imagination (social imaginary) but our problems lie with the remove between culture and the state – this aint Athens under Pericles right now. But the pretence goes on: all leaders are worthy, predestined, and here we come back to webers idea of capitalusm borrowing from christianity to impute itself with virtue – that (and the work on rationakisation and the bureaucracy that supports it was the social shift weber foresaw – this was a grwat evil for a great man who confronted the political leaders and found them wanting as much as he did the revolutionaries – but yes thisctransference of predestoned good (God wants Donald Trump, a Lottery winner, a drugs lord, etc to be rich – contrary to biblical injunction: in the protests about the city of london who’s side would Mr whip makong overturning of tables Jesus be – remember assaults on the commercialisation are validated by Christ: try saying that outside the Vatican. What would be evil here – the vatican bank: The Bank of Jesus Christ, lets start it up.
Critiques of liberalism just dont sit well in our organs of information: for years stevenson just didnt feature – Chria Blackwell did a good piece on him in, some writing emerged but it is a sub-culture Stevenson operates in – the image is of the presbeterian in the back of a Damilier writing notes – his dad dished out the teasure trove – why people like Stevenson failnus is that they thinknthey are too big to fail, I am the shore patrol as Jack Nicholson said. The truth has always been they were too failed to be big. Stevenson was the flim flam expert on the horror of Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping. He meets with Brenda Dean the other traitor in the war (who’s husband is in the same political lobbying world as Stevenson) against unions. Where has that got us in the UK compared to Europe who did not experience this cold war ethos cleansing. – yeah man social equality has just zoomed. So the statwment on the welfarw state let down says it all – welfare has become a dirty word, warfare is surgical and humanitarian and banking is virtuous because of god.
Weird things follow in Lord Stevensons wake – he does a nice liberal intelligence gatgering operation on festivals: the cops adopt a targeted beligerent approach. A report on black unemployment: Mangove etc. No man he aint one of us – he is one of them: but one of who? Who is there to scam with thats who: from the royals to the piles of crap at the Tate, thats who: Pearsons aimed to attact the BBC via one of Lord Stevensons got up ploys – hey the grass roots have spoken via a think tank once again! Stevenson is reaching retirement but making dough from nowhere must have an addictive quality to it i can only dream about – politics is the allocation of resources and I do not think he has ever been elected to anything: power is in the hands of people who have a range of traits, In my mind Genet’s balcony always pops into mind, then that horrific moment when cauchescau knew he was doomed (no matter how many books) Mussilini’s and I wonder what effect such centralisation of power and wealth in the hands of criminaly incompetent ‘theives on the cross’ will eventually have once belief in their illusions fails, as it is now doing. Who are the rich welcome customers these days now that every honest personnhas been fleeced with all these deals where tax pays gor that for which it was not gathered – bailing out customers is one thing bailing out the bankers another. The only problem is the future. Being stupid is a prerequisiye here – crackpot realism, cognitive disssonance, business plans, news manahement illusions. No wonder LS is dizzy, but yes EP thompson pnce adked what wpuld happen of elements of the elite vanished and compared this with the likrly results of large sections of the wofkong class vanishong. And we are back to that Pareto thing.
 Kirshner, Jonathan (2003) ‘Money Is Politics,’ Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 10, No. 4, Tenth Anniversary Issue, pp. 645-660.