Michael Hudson – Life & Thought (fascinating)

A Marxist who worked for capitalists/imperialists – and actually helped them, but was also able to lay bare that exploitation, explain it, and then get at its ancient roots. To hear him tell it, there doesn’t seem to be a contradiction. I’d have more than a few questions for him if I had the chance. I’ve been listening to him for years, but had no clue about his personal history and connection to the left. And the last few minutes is elucidating in more ways than one. Many questions that will never be answered…What can I say? Fascinating.

Chomsky: “The rich are running wild”

This clip sums up our current state pretty well. It’s nothing new to anyone who has been paying attention, but ideology can blind people. Even people watching this clip who have “trump derangement” symptoms might miss what Chomsky is saying. This is corporate power stealing as much as they can and killing with impunity. Listen to every word and sentence. If you don’t truly understand, a word, concept, or expression of an idea, research it.

For example, Chomsky mentions Greg Palast. Greg has a new book out detailing how trump will steal the 2020 election. What most people don’t know is that Greg has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that trump stole the 2016 election. Is it new that a u.s. election has been stolen? No. But most people are unaware of that fact, and for the strangest of reasons, even most on the left have discussed the trump win as legitimate. Discussing voting and elections is fine, but assuming any aspect of the voting and elections process is not corrupt and at the bare minimum broken (which Chomsky does briefly mention of course) will get us nowhere. In fact, discussion untied to action will get us nowhere. The inextricably connected issue of corporate power run amok, using the state as its play toy and free money machine, killing and decimating the systems we need to live, was here before trump and it will be with us long after he is dead and gone, so it is far from simply an issue of voting the monster out so “everything can get back to normal.”

While the republicans are as dangerous and horrific as Chomsky states, just blaming the republican party for this is disingenuous, or misguided to say the least. Chomsky does mention that we De facto have one party rule: the business party, but then he singles out republicans. It is good and right to point out how unhinged they are, but the Dems should be mentioned in the same breath.

As some might know, Chomsky has angered some on the left for always advocating for the lesser of two evils vote when it comes to the presidential election. He has doubled down on this with biden. It’s hard to take issue with Chomsky personally because he has been consistent in this view his entire life. He holds this view because he doesn’t ascribe all politics to voting. He identifies as an anarchist after all. His assumption is that people who do more politically than just walk into a booth for a couple of minutes every two years will just vote and then get back to being actually politically active. A problem with this message is that people misinterpret it to mean voting is all they have to do. Another issue is that it assumes a “free and fair” voting and elections system and tacitly promotes that idea. Yet another and possibly most obvious flaw in this logic is that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, things keep getting worse.

While it’s true that trump is in unprecedented territory, it is also true that he could not have gotten there or done as well for himself and capitalists without the last 40 years of the Dems enthusiastically implementing the neoliberal project, which is essentially class war by the rich on almost everyone else on the planet. Just in the last four years, the Dems have given this administration essentially everything it wanted, from keeping children in concentration camps, to war, from packing the courts with the federalist society judges Chomsky mentions in the clip, to more money for the military – the list goes on and on…They have not simply acquiesced to republican power, they largely agree with them when it comes to the implementation of u.s. power and because they have largely been purchased and directed by corporate power, they serve the same master: capital.

It’s important to understand everything Chomsky mentions here and it’s important to understand that voting will not “save us.” We are too far gone for that. I address the “what is to be done” question in many posts here. Essentially, in the last 50 years, the left has crumbled from within while being crushed from without. Not only has it been unable to mount a challenge to capital, it has been unable to re-win the fights it won in the past that, for the most part, the bipartisan implementation of the neoliberal project has reversed.

There has been a weak resurgence of the left since around 2011 and it has gained some steam over the years as material circumstances have continued to worsen for the majority of people, but it hasn’t been enough and in many cases it has been on the wrong path. As moribund and weak as the left is, it is our only hope to survive long term. The left has been unable to (and often refused to) organize itself, unify, and internationalize. Without everyday people (as Cornel West calls us) getting involved on the left, joining and forming organizations, and then unifying those organizations (eventually internationally), the corporate assault on everything we hold dear, including the means for life itself, will continue. If people want to see the changes they say they believe in they will have to become radical. Radical just means change at the root. We have to uproot the system of capitalism. The good news is that it will take a relatively small portion of the population to do it. The bad news is that the left has to be turned in to something new and is resisting it in many ways. It’s bleak. It’s up to us no matter what. It’s almost a cliche at this point, but Gramsci said, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” And as Chomsky just said again, time is running out.

Good luck to us all.

Corporate consolidation by brand

Corporate consolidation by brand

Click here for bigger image

This picture is but a drop in the ocean of corporate consolidation. When you read about an increase of M&A (mergers and acquisitions) it is usually an indication that rich people (using the corporations they own and the politicians they buy) have just stolen a great deal of money from you, legally (because the rich/corporations write the laws) and/or illegally (because they break the laws they don’t write). The past decade or so has been (yet another) one of these times.

The consolidation of money/power has surpassed that of the Gilded Age. Inequality has never been greater in human history. The rich have so much money they literally don’t know what to do with it. When you see things like stock buy-backs, art and property selling for record amounts, billions “invested” in silicon valley vaporware and apps that “innovate “by essentially enslaving working people, you see this in action.

The tendency to monopoly power is built into capitalism. Some apologists for capitalism will say that is why we need good regulation, but another tendency built into the logic of capitalism is profit at any (so-called “external”) cost. That means there will be a constant effort to destroy regulatory bodies or “capture” them. The u.s. government is now one big object lesson in that process. Because the rich/corporations make the laws, control money and the state, they also make “policy” or “laws” that funnel more to the top – and that means they are making us poorer and more vulnerable. International trade agreements work exactly the same way. Capitalism, in the form of corporate control, does the job of crafting regulatory bodies and agreements that make corporations richer and poison, immiserate, and kill the rest of us.

Another easily seen part of the corporate capture of government involves the rich buying politicians. They always came cheap and because of the just explicated processes, there are no constraints on campaign contributions either. Oh, and corporations have more rights than people – and corporations are legally people. But one of the most popular legal bribes comes in the form of the paid speech. Not coincidentally, it’s usually the first thing a president or any high government official does as soon as they leave office. They can’t wait to get to the payoff trough. Often it’s a speech to goldman sachs or an oil company, but only the high profile politicians get the $200,000/speech payoffs. The rest can usually be purchased with petty cash. Of course, a million here and million there is petty cash to corporations.

All of this contributes to the further consolidation of capital (which obviously increases inequality) and has led us to multiple crises coming together at once – and the creation of new crises as well. Voting will not get us out of it. Liberal tinkering around the edges will not save us. Getting radical (changing the system at the root) is the only way forward. We will have to do it by organizing ourselves, unifying, and creating another system that is not based on the exploitation of the earth and everything living on it. Socialism or barbarism was once offered as a pithy way to describe the choice. We can argue about what to label a new way of living and structuring life on planet earth, but it can’t be the neoliberal corporate capitalist system we have now, and we all have to be involved in organizing ourselves and unifying to become a force powerful enough to challenge the capitalists ruining the chance for continued human life on this planet.

Whatever group or organization you join (or start), work to make it as (small d) democratic as possible and work toward making connections with other groups. When groups can come together and unify internationally, we will have the beginning of a chance to challenge the power of the capitalist class. It sounds fantastical and crazy – and as things exist today, it seems impossible – but it is the only way to get off the path that leads directly to mass extinction. The choice seemed obvious when it was phrased as socialism or barbarism. That was another time. And because “we” chose barbarism (and capitalists made war against socialism), now the choice is socialism or the extinction of the human species. Again, if you don’t like the word socialism, call it something else, or think of something else. The point is that we all have to act, together, as one. We start by joining with others to help struggling people. Not as a charity, but in solidarity. That is the way forward. As you help others – with others – you will help yourself, in ways you can’t even imagine. If it is done in an organized, unified way – with a plan, strategies, and goals – it can change the course of the world.

Mark Blyth & Michael Roberts

When Blyth says, “it’s a matter of political will” that is not something to be elided. When you hear that phrase it usually indicates corruption. In this case, the entire system they are discussing is corrupt. Something to think about when you choose to find your hope in electoral politics.  I’m not saying don’t be involved in electoral politics, but when capital can buy politicians and elections, a more radical approach is the only thing that can break that kind of power. What is it? Well, it starts with people coming together locally, then nationally, then internationally in a way that builds power. That power and organization will eventually have to be equal to or greater than the power of capital. If people just come together for protests and to vote, there is no hope to be had.

DiEM25 Is Taking Shape

I have my own criticisms and reservations, but I support what I see at this point, simply because they have a unifying pan Europe(an) vision, which is a bigger vision than any other movement or group with any momentum has at this point. And, it’s something, as opposed to nothing, which is saying a lot at this moment in history, but whatever happens in whatever country – or collection of countries – we need a worldwide movement to fight the forces of capital.

This is part of my criticism. The elite will never act in good faith and the powerful will never give up power because someone has a winning argument. This may be too little too late, but the hope is that things change along the way – and we have to start somewhere. There is no reason this movement or something like it can’t spread around the world.

A worldwide movement is the only thing that can win the struggle against capitalists. I don’t believe an alternative model can be implemented which will organically replace capitalism. Capitalists have fought a vicious battle against most of us our entire lives. And they won. But it’s not enough. They’re still fighting, still amassing more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands, at our expense and on the backs of poor people throughout the globe. They are terrorizing the world and creating more suffering every day. They are bent on total ecological destruction and total war. It’s organized worldwide corruption on a scale that has never existed in history. It’s driven by the logic of capitalism, which is ceaseless accumulation and the commodification of all things. That can’t be confronted with reform – which takes us back to the beginning of my criticisms and reservations, but, at this point, I’m willing to back DiEM25 as a starting point – but it is only for the lack of more effective radical options. So, I suggest Europeans join DiEM25 and that they do so – and it sounds even more utopian than a Europe-wide movement – with an eye toward a worldwide movement, as I believe that is ultimately our only hope for long-term survival as a species.

Fuck work: The case against full employment, and for guaranteed income. [from @thisishellradio podcast]

This is a must listen interview from a must listen podcast:

James Livingston Interview

“Historian James Livingston examines the deep problem with employment in the 21st century – the broken relationship between work and income, and explains why we must look beyond capitalism’s intellectual decrepitude, and to the rising rate of transfer payments, if we are to reclaim our labor, our happiness and our time from the demands of capitalism.

“The end of work is in sight. The connection between work performed and character created, or work preformed and income received is absolutely unintelligible – so let’s get on with a society in which there doesn’t have to be a relationship between work and income. Let’s get on with what we used to call ‘Socialism.'”

James is the author of the new book, No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea from UNC Press and the Aeon essay Fuck Work.”

Looking for a stellar political podcast and news site? Check out Black Agenda Report

BlackAgendaRadio_AlbumArt

Click image above to go to site.

 

BAReport
Click above to go to site

In the fall of 2006, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and Leutisha Stills of CBC Monitor left Black Commentator, which Ford had co-founded and edited since 2002, and launched Black Agenda Report.
Check it out. Well worth your while…

 

Young people on the Real News Network talk about the problems they face in Baltimore [It’s not just #Ferguson]

NB: The Real News Network is fundraising and is getting every dollar matched up to $100,000. From what I’ve been able to see, they are doing great work and may end up serving as a model for communities everywhere. If you believe in supporting non-corporate news and empowering young people, this a great place to lend your support.

But first, donate to @BellaEiko at paypal: Bellaeikomedia@me.com because she is the most grassroots you can get: One woman on the front lines with a camera.