Political Officer

Someone I know worked for a number of years at one of the top investment banks in the world.  This was pre-2008.  He had a value seat on a trading floor under one of the top producers of that firm; basically one of the top traders on Wall Street.  On said trading desk and on the sales desk linked to it were several very high ranking members of the bank, some of whom would go on to senior management positions.

To the extent finance is an army, this was the special forces.  The allocation of billions of USD (and other currencies) worth of capital was determined by the choices made by those individuals. Some economic systems have bureaucrats and well, it usually doesn’t pan out so well.  Capitalism, while certainly not perfect, has these voracious workaholics who ruthlessly chase profit (economic efficiency) like prepubescent males after porn

However, said efficient operators are not left to play their games alone.  Upon rewatching for the umpteenth time the glory that is Sean Connery’s accent in a certain movie, I realized we have a very clear parallel here.  The exact same function played by the political officers in the Soviet Army is that played by HR in corporate america.  They supervise, monitor, chastise, admonish, control, and punish the economic operators who manage the wealth on which the power of the West relies while maintaining a stricter ideological straightjacket than a radical communist could dream of.  Since wealth can lead to political power, Inner Party members must be strictly monitored for deviant thinking.  

And you’d be surprised how spending 12 hours a day 5-6 days a week strictly monitoring what you say/write easily becomes internalized.  This of course after the cursory k-12 years of education, 4 years at an Ivy, and often an MBA/JD/etc.  One’s social circles commonly involves true believers, and a simple comment/joke/email out of line can ruin a career.  Wearing a PC mask all day, and sometimes all night, one finds one’s mask becomes one’s face.

Which brings us to the personal connection at the belly of the beast.  Working on an international desk, our acquaintance witnessed the following spectacle:  One of the top traders at the firm laughed at a joke over the speaker by a colleague abroad, involving the spanish word for gay/faggot.  In that language and culture they have not yet reached the level of enlightenment the anglo world has, but give them time.  Unfortunately for our Master of the Universe a member of the new aristocracy took umbrage at said outrage and brought the issue to the attention of the political commissars.

And thus the spectacle occurred of a high ranking member of the econ elite having to kowtow to an infected aristocrat for violating the religious mores of society.  Only after a public apology/humiliation in front of the high priest was our Paul Allen spared the loss of job, status and prestige.  Never was a more clear example made of power over money.  

The system worked.  And all who witnessed it loved Big Brother a little more.

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