Robert Reich interviewed by Bill Moyers about his new film “Inequality for All”

As usual, Reich’s analysis of our situation is sound, but because he is a liberal, he is loathe to question the core tenets of capitalism.  The logic of capital is to concentrate wealth and power.  It makes everything a “resource” to be exploited, from the natural world to human beings (also part of the natural world, but that is another -related- discussion).  Capitalism works to commodify the entire world, i.e., put a price on everything and bring it into a market.  You can see this happening to education now with horrific effects.  It also demands ceaseless accumulation.   An example of that logic is embodied in the creation of corporate business cycles where each one has to be more profitable than the next, forever – by any means necessary.

The idea that we can’t have total equality because everyone would sit around and feed at the trough of the state is joke.  What do you do when you are relaxed and have time to yourself?  What happens when you get together with other people with a common goal? What would happen if you had the opportunity to create something and pursue your interests?  That we need fear or greed to motivate us is another sick myth perpetuated by capitalists because they don’t want us to have agency, control of our own lives. They don’t want us to realize we have the power to create a system without them – and they definitely don’t want us to be angry at them, much better to blame ourselves.  We have been so propagandized, we have internalized our corporate master’s attitudes.  Yes, you’re working two jobs and can’t make ends meet. Well, blame yourself.  This is bullshit.  One of the good things this film does is show how wrong that propaganda is, but Reich constantly falls down when he continues to put his faith in capitalism.  Of course, I don’t expect him to do anything else.  He is a liberal and the modern american liberal is afraid of radical change. He is an advocate of tweaking the system we have to make it more equal.  Unfortunately – and we can look back over more than 100 years to show this conclusively – the system we have is capitalism and for the reasons stated above, its logic is faulty and it progressively makes things worse.  The roller-coaster of change under capitalism can make it seem like some things are better, but the highs and lows get lower as time goes on and it is fueled literally and figuratively by exploitation.  It constantly works toward inequality and concentration of wealth and power through exploitation.  I won’t even begin a discussion of the psychological devastation it has caused because that would make this comment book-length.

Reich is correct, there is nothing wrong with globalization – but there is something wrong with corporate globalization.  Creating NAFTA and bringing China into the WTO decimated our economy.  Corporations (while they were making huge profits incidentally) wanted to rip our jobs from us (no, we didn’t “lose” them, we were bashed over the head and they were stolen) and exploit poor people in other countries, all just to make more, and more, and more…Neither Clinton nor Reich invented trade or trade organizations.  Corporate interests got Clinton elected, wrote the legislation, and served on the boards that made it all happen.  Yes, there are bad guys.  Moyers has been good about naming them for years. They are members of ALEC, they are the walton family who almost single-handedly created the system for our goods to be made in China, they are the koch brothers, GE, coke, mcdonald’s, big oil, monsanto, bankers, apple (yes, apple), microsoft, and the gates foundation…the list is long.

I’m sure Reich wants to be diplomatic and keep his friends in high places, most likely so he can try to convince them to change, but it is also because he has been paid by the elite and/or their institutions his entire career: public service is never wholly public and rarely is it service. Also, elite schools have always been a part of the power structure and as far as I know, Reich has spent most of his time at those institutions since leaving “public” “service.”  That being said, his heart is in the right place and his analysis of how we got here has a lot to recommend it.  Some of his prescriptions aren’t bad and some are downright necessary; so, I will probably see his movie and continue to post info from his site – and I will continue to insist that capitalism is a doomed course.  We need to organize to fundamentally change our system at the root.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s