Economic Update: Cornel West on Pandemic Capitalism

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On this week's show, Prof. Wolff presents updates on how pandemic and capitalism are combining to worsen social divides in the US. Special guest Cornel West joins the show to talk about (1) how pandemic + economic crash are affecting US society and (2) the prospects for social change.

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Transcript has been edited for clarity

Welcome friends, to another edition of Economic Update, a weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives: jobs, debts, incomes, our own, and our children’s.

And I’m your host, Richard Wolff. I want to talk to you today about the pandemic. You all know what that’s about. What I want to stress is the pandemic, as it interacts with capitalism, the economic system we live under which makes that pandemic impact us in very special ways that need to be understood. So let’s go through a list. First, in this pandemic, what capitalism is doing is putting more of a burden on lower wage workers than on higher. Let me give you simply one statistic from the Federal Reserve. Of Americans, making under $40,000 a year, 40% lost their jobs in the last 6 weeks. That’s way worse than people earning more than that. At the top, the CEOs, the highest paid people, get a lot of public relations benefit out of taking, graciously, pay cuts. They didn’t lose their job. They took a pay cut. Public relations departments of corporations are letting out that they are having problems with their profitability, because of accommodating the coronavirus pandemic. Please be aware, those at the bottom are suffering the most, and those at the top are suffering the least. Or to say the same thing in biblical language, the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer.

And why do I say “richer”? Because people in the stock market, that is 10% of shareholders, own 80% of the shares, they’re doing reasonably well. They are getting richer. The rest of us are getting poorer. Let me drive it home some more about how capitalism makes the pandemic impact us unfairly and unequally. Women, the bulk of the workers in the service industry, have been hurt more than men, in terms of lost jobs. Black and brown people have been fired more than white people. And in a kind of sickness that really defies description, the homeless in America, the hundreds of thousands, if not more, homeless are being told, like the rest of us, to be safe in this pandemic. It’s important to stay indoors and wash your hands frequently. They tell that to homeless people who can’t do that. There’s something so wrong there, I really don’t allow myself to get into it.

Then there’s the disorder in our government. We have cities doing one thing, states doing another, and the government still doing something else. They can’t seem to get together. Nationalism is big in Washington, so the United States is going at it alone and not coordinating with other countries. The evidence is overwhelming. Arizona, for example, is allowing people to eat inside restaurants. They’ve opened their casinos. Next door, California is doing neither of those things. This makes it crazy, because you allow, of course, whatever disease there is to move easily in a disorganized society.

And I’ll tell you something that you may know from your studies of history. When leaders are incompetent and chaotic, and can’t their stories straight, when the federal and local and regional can’t be coordinated, when we can’t coordinate one nation [with] another, it’s the beginning of the end of a system. These are all symptoms and signs of a system disintegrating. And now another dimension of the same story. President Trump recently referred to himself as being like a wartime President at war with corona. Well, you know, during war, Mr. Trump, you may not remember—I’m being kind here—in World War II unity was so important, as it could be and should be during a pandemic. We didn’t allow the market to work. You know why? Because markets favor the people with the most money. They get the best and the most stuff. So we had rationing. We handed out cards to the American people. We did that. And you couldn’t get a quart of milk or a gallon of gas without a ration card. And ration cards were distributed to people according to their needs, not according to how much money they had. That’s what a wartime President could and should do. That’s what unity requires. That’s what President Roosevelt did. None of that is happening now. 

We are not fighting this pandemic unified. We are letting it divide us further than ever. And here’s a story that somehow, for me, captured it all in a sharp way. The story of New Orleans. It recently fired its garbage collectors. It was paying them $10.25 an hour. But the workers said they needed protective equipment, because garbage is full of coronavirus, or at least it can be. And they wanted an increase in pay to $15 dollars an hour as hazard pay for the dangers of their work. For their reward they were fired. But that’s not the end of this unspeakable story. New Orleans replaced the workers it fired by arranging contracting for labor instead from the prison inmates from nearby Livingston Parish, inmates paid $1.33 an hour instead of the $10.25 they had paid the garbage collectors. And those inmates, you guessed it, had to work without the protective equipment and of course without any hazard pay. So much for our unity, solidarity and compassion for the essential workers like those collecting the garbage. Prisoners. In other countries those are called slave laborers. And the fact that they are overwhelmingly black should leave no ambiguity at all about what is going on here. 

Well, we’ve come to the end of the first part of today’s show. Please remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and be sure to visit democracyatwork.info to learn more about other Democracy at Work shows, our union co-op store, and the two books we have already published: “Understanding Marxism” and “Understanding Socialism”. And lastly, a special thanks to our Patreon community whose invaluable support helps make this show possible.

And now, very special, please stick around for the second part of today’s show. We’ve got a very special guest, Dr. Cornel West. He’s a longtime personal friend of mine, as well as someone who really doesn’t need much further introduction. He is a leading intellectual, he is a leading theorist, a leading moral voice, and a leading activist. Any of those qualities is remarkable in a single person, all of them in Dr. Cornel West makes him someone I’m especially proud to bring on, to talk with me and with you on the next part of today’s Economic Update.

WOLFF: Welcome back, friends to the second half of today’s Economic Update show. As I promised you at the end of the first part, this is entirely now devoted to a conversation between myself and my long-term friend, a man I admire more than I can say, Dr. Cornel West. We are, of course, at different locations as all these kinds of interviews have to be now conducted. So first and foremost, welcome Cornel. Very glad to have you.

WEST: Well, my brother, I’ll tell you, I have wanted to be on this show, and you’ve tried to get me on the show for a good while. I’m glad to be here now and I want to salute you, my brother. We go back now almost 35–40 years in social status with Stanley Aronowitz, Fredric Jameson, and Steven Resnick. I’ll never forget him. I was saying that, I just… You are the most important, influential socialist, left, Marxian public intellectual. And you’re putting a smile on Paul Sweezy’s face as well as Harry and Didi Magdoff. You remember those most wonderful, kind memories we have of brother Harry and sister Didi around Monthly Review, my brother.

WOLFF: Alright that’s very kind of you, Cornell. Thank you, and I feel the same. I admire enormously this combination I find in you: of an activist, of an analyst, of an intellectual, and a moral force all combined. It is an honor and a pleasure to speak with you. So let me jump right in. What do you think, given all that you’ve thought and done, and all that you now see—even if it’s at an electronic distance—what do you think about the unspeakable failure to prepare for this virus, to now cope with it, to overlay the horror of the disease with an economic crash? What is the sense you would make of what this all means?

WEST: I think we’ve become more and more undeniable that we have overwhelming evidence of the madness, failure of the American capitalist system, hand in hand with the feeble democratic experiment called the USA. What I mean by that is, the 3 pillars: financialization of capitalism has led to not just Wall Street greed, but a level of unaccountability of capitalist, of economic elites going hand in hand with a militarized US nation state, externally manifested in attacks on Venezuela, advances in Africa, drone drops [inaudible] wars still taking place. But internally, having to do with mass incarceration, the massive militarization of local police departments and the commodified culture where everybody is for sale, everything is for sale, and militaristic metaphors, militaristic vernaculars and films, and videos, and movies, and culture across the board. So that what is left, there are few countervailing voices, figures, movements, and institutions, which at the moment we can see, but as well, I think, we’re moving forward to full-blown neo-fascist moment, but those voices, those figures, those movements, those institutions that are countervailing are very important. And that’s precisely why I began with your longevity and your integrity as a public intellectual. You’ve been a countervailing force against this capitalist failure, against the commodified culture, against this militarized nation state, all tied to “money, money, money, profit maximizing, profit maximizing”, but holding out for a democratic, public oriented, people centered way of being, let alone public policy that speak to the needs of ordinary and everyday people.

WOLFF: Is it your sense that the country is falling apart? I notice that people on the right, people on the left, people in the middle, there’s more and more of a growing sense, or so it seems to me, of a kind of all things falling apart. Some kinds of certainties that we thought were certainties, aren’t, assumptions are not, obviously our daily lives are all in turmoil. Do you see this producing a kind of reckoning with this system, a kind of opening up of options that have been closed off before?

WEST: Well, I actually see both tremendous possibility and, at the same time, I experience profound sadness. The profound sadness has to do with the fact that the decline and relative fall of the U.S. empire is generating a deep sense of paralysis. At the same time, there is new possibility, because crisis is tied to opportunity, and we’re seeing a younger generation, for example, the acknowledgement of capitalist failure. We’re seeing in the younger generation the refusal to put up with racist and sexist and homophobic and transphobic sensibility. This is very different than was the case, let’s say 30–40 years ago, when we were coming along in our relative youth. So that’s specific. And especially younger generations’ willingness to even talk about socialism explicitly, without it being associated with the old Cold War degradation [of socialism] that we saw between 1945 and 1991. So it’s a juxtaposition. There’s a sadness, but also a possibility of bounce back. Now imagine, I come from a tradition of black people in America, and we’ve been on the neo-fascist face the U.S. experience from the very beginning, with the white supremacist slavery, various forms of torture and barbarism, and with the neo-slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, and now Jim Crow Jr., The New Jim Crow, to use the language of Michelle Alexander. Black folk have always been on the underside and the ugly face of the U.S. capitalist experiment, recognizing its failure from the “chocolate” side of town. But at the same time, black folk often say, “While we’re in barbershops, that we experience that every setback is a setup for a comeback. So you have to bounce back.” But bounce back is what I mean by countervailing, counter-hegemonic voices, figures, and institutions. And so even as we think things are falling apart, considering that [15:40 — inaudible] in the language of [inaudible] it’s also true that the bounce back is there and we got to push that bounce back as far as we can, down the road toward democratization, down the road to de-commodification, down the road to de-militarization in the name of truth and justice, my brother.

WOLFF: Alright, before I explore the possibilities and the opportunities with you—and I agree with you that they’re there together with the sadness—I want to explore what probably helps make you sad, which is, how do you understand whatever that proportion is of Americans that support Donald Trump and the current Republican Party in its reversion to so many horrors of the past of American history, whether it’s a third or 40% or whatever the number is, how do you understand, as you put it before, Jim Crow Jr. or all of that right-wing lurching that we see?

WEST: Well, one is that I’m not surprised at the ugly white backlash in a moment of deep crisis, because that’s been a cycle in American history. The ruling class wants to divide black and white workers, black and brown, black and red, black and yellow workers. We’ve seen that over and over again. I’m not surprised at the Wall Street greed. That’s been in place for a good while. What I’m most surprised by is my precious black people themselves. That historically we have really been the most progressive group in terms of our critique of militarism, the critique of injustice as it relates to discrimination, the need for some kind of serious multi-racial solidarity in some of the trade unions—think of what A. Philip Randolph and what others are trying to do in the 30s and 40s. And I think that the Black Agenda Report, and Black Alliance for Peace, and other organizations have been raising this question. But it’s the strong failure of the neoliberal black bourgeoisie that has stood in the way of the kind of movement that would generate the focus on what we’re talking about. Brother Bernie Sanders, he would be the nominee if the black boulders could break the neoliberal hegemony of black leadership in the Democratic Party. And Bernie Sanders, my dear brother Bernie, he’s no messiah, he’s not God, but he’s opening up the kind of possibilities that we need for the kind of worker co-op project that you’ve been talking about for so long with such insight and caring, my brother. He would open up the critique of the privatization of education, the privatization of healthcare, and the need for healthcare for all. So part of my sadness has to do with looking and seeing how black middle class leadership has betrayed the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., has betrayed the legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, betrayed the legacy of Paul Robeson, W.E.B. du Bois, C.L.R. James, all those old great freedom fighters who were always connecting the critique of white supremacy with the critique of capitalism, with the critique of empire, with the critique of patriarchy. We’re in a moment now where this post-Obama moment is very difficult to get black leadership courageous enough and visionary enough to have the kind of critiques of capitalist failures that you put forward.

WOLFF: And why is, Cornel, why? Why is that happening?

WEST: I think that the black bourgeoisie is like any bourgeoisie. It’s a comment in of itself to empire and capitalism and a status quo that is unjust. And so, they may talk about the legacy of Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X, but they’re not serious about it. They want inclusion, they want incorporation, they want colorful, symbolic representation in a dying class hierarchy and imperial hierarchy, and think that somehow that’s the best we can do with black poor and black working, let alone all poor and all working people left out. And so they’re willing to become captains on this Titanic rather than transform the ship itself. And that’s what is sad to me. But I guess I could be surprised either though.

WOLFF: Alright, let me turn to the thing that I think you and I most care about. What are the prospects for a renewal of a real left in the United States? How do you see the Occupy Wall Street initiatives, the Black Lives Matter initiatives, Bernie Sanders’ two campaigns, pluses and minuses? Do you see something emerging here and where do you think it might go?

WEST: Well, you know what I think of the [inaudible] and Phil Agnew’s, so many others but the younger generation. I think that they know that without massive opposition to the economic, political, and cultural status quo in place—the critique of capitalism and white supremacy and the empire—that people are not going to be able to live lives in dignity, and therefore, the younger generation, more and more, I think, is acknowledging the need for multi-racial solidarity, I see it in DSA. I see it among even the further left, you’ve got intra-left, [inaudible] and dialogs going on. It’s intense. And that’s always been the case, as you and I know. In the end, it’s got to be anti-fascist coalition against the gangster neo-fascist in the White House. And it’s got to be radically left, democratic opposition that brings together the cultural and social issue with the critique of capitalism at the center, and the critique of empire and militarism in Latin America, in Middle East, in Africa as its center. And I’m hoping that the legacies of the people that I talked about before, Paul Sweezy, and the voices and others, and I would add even Toni Morrison in terms of her serious left critique as a literary artist, can play a very important role here, my brother.

WOLFF: Is the word “socialism” coming back? Is the concept of an alternative part of what you see emerging?

WEST: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. But as you know, you and I go back so far, as with sister Harriet [Fraad] who I also have a great love and respect for just as I love and respect you. As a revolutionary Christian, brother, to me, a lot of this superficial talk about “ism” ought to be worn like a loose garment. What I mean by that is when people talk about “capitalism” they mean so many different things. What they really need to focus on is the ancient and magic relation of power and domination and exploitation at the workplace. When you talk about socialism, you’re really talking about the empowerment of working people for people, against any form of domination. So that there’s a moral and spiritual dimension that needs to be incorporated by the people that call themselves “socialists” or “anarchists” or what have you. So that the “ism,” I’m hoping, doesn’t get in the way. But thank God, people are now open to what the great Sheldon Wolin always talked about, and brother Stanley Aronowitz too, which is how are we going to make sure that the plight and predicament of the weak and vulnerable would begin with class analysis and embraces anybody catching hell that they’re at the center of our vision, of our analysis, and therefore we’re able to come together in mass opposition without this one narrow “ism” or narrow ideology, but rather a movement, motion, momentum, against the greed, against the hatred, the contempt, the indifference to the suffering of others, the callousness of the plight and predicament of the weak and vulnerable, that’s what really at the center of the left, of a genuinely progressive movement, not just in the American Empire, but all around the world. It’s got to be an international. Frantz Fanon was right about that.

WOLFF: Yeah, I think that one of the things that America is frightening me about. And I want your thoughts about it. There seems to be a growing effort, right at the top but spread through Republicans, Democrats alike, to scapegoat the Chinese at this point, to try to create another kind of Cold War mentality to justify—God knows what they have in mind—domestically by a scare program about evil Chinese. It’s kind of horrible, at least for me, to watch and I wondered what you thought.

WEST: Rick, you’re absolutely right. But this is part of the neoliberal wing of the ruling class. They started with the tragedy in Russia. We know that Russia is authoritarian and Putin’s a gangster, there’s no doubt about that. But it was a distraction from having to come to terms with what it meant to run such a weak and feeble neoliberal candidate in 2016, sister Hilary against the gangster Trump. Now you get the kind of scapegoating of the Chinese in both parties again, and recognizing though that Trump represents the neo-fascist wing of the ruling class, that the Democratic Party establishment represents the neoliberal wing of the ruling class, and then brother Bernie and others represent the progressive neo-populist wing, not even the Democratic Socialists, but the progressive neo-populist wing of the ruling class. But now what we’re trying to push out the gangster and therefore the question becomes how do we proceed in such a way that we don’t engage in the kind of xenophobia you’re talking about that we’re able to push out the neo-fascist gangster in the White House, Trump, but also tell the truth about the level of indifference, callousness for poor working people that you get in a neoliberal society. And it’s a different issue in terms of with endorsements and so forth. I respect people who are integrating [the] party or other left parties. I think that a vote for Biden, especially in those swing states would be important, but recognizing who you’re voting for. I come from a prophetic Christian tradition. But we have deep class analysis, we understand the relation of class, and race, and empire, and we always have been willing to come together. I remember you even ran for mayor in 1985. Didn’t we have a good time doing it, my brother?

WOLFF: Right.

WEST: Just standing right there next to each other, 35 years ago, man.

WOLFF: Yeah, that’s true.

WEST: And here we are again. Standing there together. Being consistent. Trying to have a constant. That’s why it’s such a blessing to be in conversation with you today.

WOLFF: I only wish we had more time, Cornel. We’ve come to the end. I want to thank you. I know you have a busy schedule, even in your sequestration like us, but it’s a joy to reconnect with you and to proceed as they used to say, in agreement as we go forward. Thank you very, very much for your time and your wonderful intelligence.

 

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Showing 20 comments

  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-14 23:03:09 -0400
    Workers’ Program to Restart the Economy

    Workers across the country are facing unacceptable choices: risk your health and go back to work, or face economic hardship and maybe be fired and cut-off from unemployment. Meanwhile the richest 0.01% have retired safely to holiday homes and bunkers to sit out the pandemic. We should be under no illusion – this is what the ruling elites have always done in times of hardship. The working class has been left on the front lines in times of pandemics, war, and depression.

    Is it any surprise that workers are fearful of the future? Particularly frontline workers who are disproportionately lower paid, women, and people of color. As the billionaires try to drive through a shoddy reopening of the economy, we need to discuss in our workplaces and communities what a return to work that prioritizes the needs of the working class would look like. There should be no return to normal.

    READ MORE:
    https://www.socialistalternative.org/2020/05/26/workers-program-to-restart-the-economy/

    Prof. George M. Kallas
    Professor Political Science and History
    Social Science and Behavioral Science Department
    Miramar College
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-11 08:20:57 -0400
    As a mother and grandmother I am more than concerned about the world being left to the young. Men are great philosophizers but mothers are

    practical. Too bad no one posts about the evil in the Democratic party behind much of the chaos,lies and manipulation happening now. Their

    behavior is as bad if not worse than what is going on in Republican politics. At least Trump is trying to put a cap on the illegal behavior of

    major social media companies censoring posts happening not only to him but to everyday citizens just expressing their opinions in a so called

    democracy. Who gave these corporate tycoons permission to take over the presidents office by censoring him. Are they the presidents of the

    country now? I did not vote for Trump but he was democratically elected. If the people do not want him any longer he will be voted out of office.

    That is democracy, not the hatred and censoring of information across the board by the one percenter main stream media and fascists in democrats

    costumes. By focusing on hating Trump the democratic party moves forward on issues supporting the one percenter main stream media manipulators.

    Both sides of the isle have major problems, but within this we need to search for anything that will help and support the general population no

    matter which party is sponsoring it. Where is the reporting on D@W regarding H.R.6666 – COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone

    (TRACE) Act. Only Democrats are sponsoring this sleazy legislation to " authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to

    eligible entities to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID–19, and related activities such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and,

    as necessary, at individuals’ residences, and for other purposes. AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES?????? Where is the outrage around this

    Democratic Party fascist and capitalist manipulation of the American people? What do you think of this as an indicator of where the democratic

    party is going? Workers rights will never happen with these kinds of policies. No individual freedom or recognition of individual rights to

    choose. Just a big money maker on inflated covid death statistics, insane deadly mask wearing and vaccines not in compliance with standard

    medical testing protocols resulting in people sick and suffering all over the world from disgusting chemical and bio laden vaccines. Come on

    lets really put our lives on the line for justice.https://childrenshealthdefense.org/vaccinesafety/
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-11 08:15:05 -0400
    As a mother and grandmother I am more than concerned about the world being left to the young. Men are great philosophizers but mothers are

    practical. Too bad no one posts about the evil in the Democratic party behind much of the chaos,lies and manipulation happening now. Their

    behavior is as bad if not worse than what is going on in Republican politics. At least Trump is trying to put a cap on the illegal behavior of

    major social media companies censoring posts happening not only to him but to everyday citizens just expressing their opinions in a so called

    democracy. Who gave these corporate tycoons permission to take over the presidents office by censoring him. Are they the presidents of the

    country now? I did not vote for Trump but he was democratically elected. If the people do not want him any longer he will be voted out of office.

    That is democracy, not the hatred and censoring of information across the board by the one percenter main stream media and facists in democrats

    costumes. By focusing on hating Trump the democratic party moves forward on issues supporting the one percenter main stream media manipulators.

    Both sides of the isle have major problems, but within this we need to search for anything that will help and support the general population no

    matter which party is sponsoring it. Where is the reporting on D@W regarding H.R.6666 – COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone

    (TRACE) Act. Only Democrats are sponsoring this sleazy legislation to " authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to

    eligible entities to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID–19, and related activities such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and,

    as necessary, at individuals’ residences, and for other purposes. AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES?????? Where is the outrage around this

    Democratic Party fascist and capitalist manipulation of the American people? What do you think of this as an indicator of where the democratic

    party is going? Workers rights will never happen with these kinds of policies. No individual freedom or recognition of individual rights to

    choose. Just a big money maker on inflated covid death statistics, insane deadly mask wearing and vaccines not in compliance with standard

    medical testing protocols resulting in people sick and suffering all over the world from disgusting chemical and bio laden vaccines. Come on

    lets really put our lives on the line for justice.
    https://childrenshealthdefense.org/vaccinesafety/
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-07 22:14:06 -0400
    UPDATE

    Cornel West: The Future Of America Depends On How We Respond | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkYJeMwlsto

    George Floyd protests: America is at a ‘turning point’, philosopher Cornel West says

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4mcha_XWU8

    Thanks Brother West, keep fighting the good fight.

    We’ll get through this thing… times are a changing… ;-)
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-07 22:08:18 -0400
    Cornel West: The Future Of America Depends On How We Respond | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkYJeMwlsto

    Thanks Brother West, keep fighting the good fight.

    We’ll get through this thing… times are a changing… ;-)
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-05 12:54:55 -0400
    I am disturbed by the hatred toward Trump being expressed and promoted everywhere and especially through main stream 1 percenter mass media like CNN. Spreading hatred against the president is not going to transform the hatred he has represented. Only love will provide that miracle. Fear mongering about the questionable pandemic does not serve love. Intelligent investigation and reporting on the real facts behind face masks, death counts and covid19 statistics, vaccines, etc would better serve the effort to change the minds of the mass population. I recommend the work of Robert Kennedy www.childrenshealthdefense.org Jr. and Brian Roses interviews on London Real including https://londonreal.tv/the-coronavirus-vaccine-agenda-exposing-the-dangerous-truth-of-big-pharmas-master-plan-del-bigtree/?utm_source=webnotification&utm_medium=pushnotification&utm_campaign=del_bigtree_live_now
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 23:05:21 -0400
    Updated comment… Sharing the Share of Human Wealth Production…

    Sharing the Share of Human Wealth Production… creates a global political economy of less conflicts, less greed, less misery…

    Socially Produced Wealth Should Be Democratized = Political + Economic Democracy

    Human Production in Cooperation with Our Shared Habitat is Possible and Critical.

    While reclaiming our Shared Habitat on a Very Lonely Planet….. Why?

    Democracy is Knowing Freedom Together thru Working with one another Other on the basis of Equality + Liberty + Fraternity Otherwise Democracy dies…

    Time to choose… Thinking Beyond Capitalism… Time to Act.

    Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal… ;-)
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 22:51:09 -0400
    THE FUTURE IS NOW

    It is Time to Take People’s Capital Production Away from Capitalists.

    Folks, It’s a No Brainer…Spread the Work, Share the Share…On a Very Lonely Planet.

    One small step toward postcapitalism: A universal basic dividend to change the game’s rules – VIDEO by Sustainable Human

    https://youtu.be/AghfXFnKYe4

    https://www.yanisvaroufakis.eu/2020/06/01/one-small-step-toward-postcapitalism-a-universal-basic-dividend-to-change-the-games-rules-video-by-sustainable-human/
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 21:25:39 -0400
    Hi-Tech Exploitation of Capitalist Automation May Lead to Unintended Consequences for the Global Working Classes

    One small step toward postcapitalism: A universal basic dividend to change the game’s rules – VIDEO by Sustainable Human

    https://youtu.be/AghfXFnKYe4

    https://www.yanisvaroufakis.eu/2020/06/01/one-small-step-toward-postcapitalism-a-universal-basic-dividend-to-change-the-games-rules-video-by-sustainable-human/

    COMMENT/ANALYSIS OF THE FUTURE

    It’s Time to Start Re-thinking The Political Economics of Human Relations to the World It Creates for Itself…

    Be Careful What Capitalists Wish for, Because We’re Libel to Get It….. And Not the Way the People Believed…

    Thinking Beyond Conventional Capitalism…
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 19:47:06 -0400
    FYI NEWS/VIEWS 4U

    Our History is Our Future
    Posted By John Davis On June 4

    We can be sure that the public grandiloquence of Barack Obama grated mightily on at least half of the country during his eight years in the Oval Office. Now, we Libtards find every Trump tweet excruciatingly inane – or horrifyingly inflammatory. As ever, it is the style, not the content, of American political leadership that is in question. For Its neoliberal ideology has been unwavering for four decades and is but the contemporary version of an implicitly racist dedication to the well-being of the wealthy that was fundamental to the founding of the Republic. Committed to the economization of all facets of public and private life, we citizens are remade as human capital: mini entrepreneurs whose only civic duty is towards pumping up the GDP. This is what our government demands of us, and we would be foolish to expect more from it than further destruction of the public realm and further trivialization of the democratic process. Having relinquished our individual roles as a necessary part of the Republic’s sovereignty, our vote is rendered superfluous at a time of a viral pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and expectations of further economic dislocation likely to eclipse the melt-down of 2008.

    On a weekend when the nation’s streets exploded in violent protest against racialized police brutality, the President and the Vice President chose to attend a manned rocket launch contracted by SpaceX, a private corporation. Politics have been dethroned, the public realm abandoned and the public good forsaken. Trump is ascendant, his sun-bronzed, narcissistic gaze reflected in the ruddy glow of burning streets. His military, on high alert, awaits its orders.

    Our smoldering streets may no longer be safe for Trump’s ‘warriors’ attempting, around the country, to fully re-open the American economy. Many will doubtless now enlist as his Law and Order ‘vigilantes’. Neoliberalism demands the appearance of vibrant, life-sustaining markets. Trump has seen the financial
    indices decline as the epidemic curve has arced skyward, but his focus has always been on economic rather than public health. He, and his ‘warriors’, are quite prepared to sacrifice ‘flattening the curve’ for the sake of a rising Dow but his calculus must now include appeasing his newly enrolled ‘vigilantes’ while not entirely disaffecting African Americans.

    read more: https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/04/our-history-is-our-future/print/
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 19:29:01 -0400
    Trump’s “Reichstag fire moment” ?

    Trump Is Framing US Residents as Enemies to Be Met by Force. Don’t Let Him.

    Donald Trump, who has cratered in opinion polls this spring as the pandemic and the economic collapse have battered the U.S., is attempting to turn this past week’s explosion of political protest amid a deadly pandemic into his Reichstag fire moment.

    Back in 1933, when the German parliament burned (the Reichstag fire) — ostensibly at the hands of a Dutch communist, more likely at the hands of Hitler’s own agents provocateurs — Hitler seized on the event, and on the fears of chaos that it stoked up, to demand he be given unlimited emergency powers.

    In a similar fashion today, Trump, in this chaotic spring of 2020, appears to be banking on people being so scared – by looters, by viruses, by economic ruin, by political chaos — that they will sit back and watch. Or, if he can whip up enough fear of protesters, perhaps the public will applaud the president and return to his political fold, as he moves to consolidate dictatorial powers and to use the vast might of the military for domestic political repression.

    https://truthout.org/articles/trump-is-framing-us-residents-as-enemies-to-be-met-by-force-dont-let-him/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=61e9ade6-1b53-474a-86b6-b19b40a19d77
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-04 19:26:09 -0400
    FYI NEWS 4U: Where has all the surplus gone?

    THE LOOTING OF AMERICA

    Where did all the capitalist surplus in the United States go last year?

    Well, as in recent years, a large portion was paid to the Chief Executive Officers of the nation’s largest corporations, the ones that make up the S&P 500.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, median pay of the CEOs of those corporations reached an astronomical $13.1 million, setting a new record for the fifth year in a row. Most S&P 500 CEOs got raises of 8 percent or better during the year—compared to the increase in median household income of only 3.34 percent.

    The top 10 list goes from Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts’s $36.4 million (where median employee pay was $78.9 thousand) to Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai’s $280.6 million (where employee pay was $258.7 thousand).

    For purposes of comparison, the American workers who produced that surplus took home, on average, only $40,437.20 in 2019.

    The ratio of CEO to worker pay ratio last year was therefore an astounding 324 to 1.

    https://rwer.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/where-has-all-the-surplus-gone-5/
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-03 22:57:07 -0400
    Addition to Prof. Wolff’s citation of FDR and Why Regulating [ if not abolishing ] the Parasitic Capitalist System is Crucial for National / Global Survival…

    Putting the People to Work as a Nation, Spice it up with Socialism?

    FDR’s New Deal historically is an example how ‘productive investment’ can grow yet over time can be paid down. In fact, all sovereign states are based economically on some form of ‘public national investment’ systems, they have to be.

    The public investment is authorized publicly and shared, spread over the entire productive population thus not concentrating that debt while the public actively works is employed to grow national wealth.

    Now is this a picture of the current financial/economic state of America? No.

    So what did FDR do?

    Well, not rocket science but he promoted the and enacted the New Deal and later proposed something called ‘The Economic Bill of Rights’ to be integrated into the current Political Bill of Rights.

    Here’s what happened folks:

    https://youtu.be/3EZ5bx9AyI4https://youtu.be/3EZ5bx9AyI4

    On January 11, 1944, in the midst of World War II, President Roosevelt spoke forcefully and eloquently about the greater meaning and higher purpose of American security in a post-war America.

    FDR had the support of an array of American progressive Democrats, working classes, the socialist party, the communist party for this policy to regulate massive wealth inequality within capitalist states.

    Of course, the rightwing conservatives were virulently opposed to these Economic Bill of Rights and they eventually shelved it and it was lost to history until recently. Trump would undoubtedly be among these conservatives.

    Many today are attempting to look back on this speech as a possible partial remedy for today’s long post-2008 recession, one of the longest since the Great Depression.

    Here are the Rights You Could Have Had: The principles and ideas conveyed by FDR’s words matter as much now as they did over sixty years ago.

    The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
    The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    The right of every family to a decent home;
    The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    The right to a good education.

    Now ask yourself why we still don’t have these rights today in 2020?

    History is Prologue.
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-03 22:28:03 -0400
    MILITARIZATION OF PUBLIC POLICING: ‘GOOD COP’ V. ‘BAD COP’?
    Handling of street protests creates crisis for Pentagon boss
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper is facing the most politically charged crisis of his tenure, criticized for calling protester-filled streets a military “battle space” and accused of failing to keep the military out of politics.

    At the same time, eleven months into the job, Esper is seeing his relationship with President Donald Trump tested by the storm over the police killing of George Floyd and Esper’s urging of caution in the use of military force.

    Esper, an Army veteran and former Army secretary, has sometimes subtly puspphed back on Trump, including when the president intervened in the military justice system last year to pardon two soldiers accused of war crimes. But he has stayed closely aligned with the president’s national security policies and kept in his good graces.

    https://apnews.com/5d713adb017dd05c9d724c602fdbb0d7

    https://www.rt.com/shows/news/490593-rtnews-june-03-16msk/

    ’It’s a dynamic situation’: Esper does about-face on plan to return some 200 troops to home bases from DC after WH visit
    https://www.rt.com/usa/490693-epser-troops-washington-stay/

    Violence Towards Protesters Shows Why Many Want To Abolish Police
    June 3, 2020

    Minneapolis organizer Tony Williams speaks about the ongoing uprisings and how groups can work towards the strategic dismantling of the police.

    https://therealnews.com/stories/violence-to-protesters-minneapolis-shows-why-abolish-police

    Highly Recommended Political Analysis by Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America organizer Robin Wonsley to Watch in the first half of this report:

    On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America organizer Robin Wonsley about the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter uprising that has swept the United States. She discusses the postponement of the trial of the officer who killed George Floyd, the grassroots nature of the protests with no central leadership, corporations arguably feigning support for African Americans while suppressing wages and working with the security state, the militarization of US police, what would happen if Black Lives Matter protesters used the Second Amendment to arm themselves like white anti-lockdown protesters had, Minneapolis’ history of using bombings against communities of color when they rise up, the ‘civil war’ happening in America between the state and the police versus black and brown communities and the working class, the link between capitalism and police brutality, Joe Biden attempting to gain political capital from the protests, and the prospect of four more years of Trump.

    https://www.rt.com/shows/going-underground/490528-blm-uprising-minneapolis-police-brutality/

    COMMENT ANALYSIS

    What is the nature of AUTHORITY in class-based social system?

    When the poor, working classes and small business confront one another, what are the responses of the rich elites, the political elites?

    What happens when Leadership condemns all but the rich elites and seeks ‘national unity’? Are there hypocritical / double standards in the application of law and force?

    Are the fundamental problems of the social system being addressed or are they systematically being ignored, shoved under the rug to be dealt with later on?

    More questions arise from the current climate of public rage, discontent, and frustration for government to take effective action and LISTEN TO ITS PEOPLE.

    Leadership Character Rule: ‘Leadership is a Teacher to Its People.’ ‘True Leadership is last, Its People are first, if so, then all shall thrive and survive together.’

    A Simple Homework Assignment and Lesson Class-Conflicts in American History:

    Define Class: How Class Works — by Richard Wolff, a helpful study link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euH3pAuLuko

    Read and study A People’s History of the United States for answer, what is happening these days is NOTNEWS’ it’s history evolving from a past that still has unanswered questions about the nature of what the United States is… unresolved conflicts.

    1. Then take some time to study these links and their surrounding contexts, passages and chapters herein where you locate class conflicts and related terms and then ask yourself what is the same and what has changed in terms of class conflicts, racism and sexism in America. Have we as a nation learned from our own history?

    2. Have we learned anything? Have our institutional elites read this and have they listened and a took effective political economic action to address these problems? And maybe they simply don’t care? If so, then what?

    Related reference links:
    https://www.zinnedproject.org/collection/massacres-us/

    https://www.zinnedproject.org/?s=police+riot

    https://www.zinnedproject.org/?s=police

    https://www.zinnedproject.org/?s=militarism

    History is Prologue.
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-03 22:10:34 -0400
    Capitalism and COVID-19: Why We Need a Planned Economy

    Capitalism is set up like a house of cards. Disjointed supply chains, competition for component parts, research and technology hoarded – there are weak spots and vulnerabilities built into every joint in the capitalist system.

    The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic crisis which has been brewing for a decade, has caused that house of cards to collapse. Describing the breakdown in the global supply chains, The New York Times (4/10/2020) reported,

    “At some ports, goods are piling up, while elsewhere container ships sail empty. Dairy farmers are dumping their milk, while grocery store shelves have been picked bare.”

    https://www.socialistalternative.org/2020/06/02/capitalism-and-covid-19-why-we-need-a-planned-economy/
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-03 09:22:58 -0400
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-03 09:21:50 -0400
    mmm
  • jeanette thomas
    commented 2020-06-03 07:44:46 -0400
    I am disturbed by the hatred toward Trump being expressed and promoted everywhere and especially through main stream 1 percenter mass media like CNN. Spreading hatred against the president is not going to transform the hatred he has represented. Only love will provide that miracle. Fear mongering about the questionable pandemic does not serve love. Intelligent investigation and reporting on the real facts behind face masks, death counts and covid19 statistics, vaccines, etc would better serve the effort to change the minds of the mass population. I recommend the work of Robert Kennedy www.childrenshealthdefense.org Jr. and Brian Roses interviews on London Real including https://londonreal.tv/the-coronavirus-vaccine-agenda-exposing-the-dangerous-truth-of-big-pharmas-master-plan-del-bigtree/?utm_source=webnotification&utm_medium=pushnotification&utm_campaign=del_bigtree_live_now
  • George Kallas
    commented 2020-06-02 19:09:24 -0400
    Updated

    Thank you Prof.’s Wolff and West for your Enlightenment, Hope Many are Watching and Listening and Thinking…

    Here’s my 2 cents worth:

    Capitalism is a Social Economic Virus, It is Parasitic, Anti-Nature, and Deadly White

    It’s Leadership is self-serving by the nature of the capitalist social and cultural ideology.

    It is anti-Democracy both in terms of Political and Economical Democracy

    It is Crisis – ridden, unstable, chaotic and deadly system for both humans and our shared habitat.

    I shall rely on those thinkers who have give much thought about this:

    Why Socialism? by Albert Einstein

    Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science (aka, ‘neoclassical economics’) in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

    “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.”

    Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger unites of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society.

    Why should one seek socialism? It is common to adduce that socialism would be more just and fair than capitalism, but that does not fully resolve the issue, since people are not always motivated by social justice. Moreover motivation — especially for undertakings that are difficult and risky, such as changing a whole society! — is in fact a complicated affair. Not only are motivations not necessarily rational, but there is also the troubling question of how durable they are in time and whether the individual’s motive, while it lasts, will coincide with that of others long enough to coalesce into a viable socialist project. https://monthlyreview.org/2009/05/01/why-socialism/

    Capitalism will eat democracy — unless we speak up | Yanis Varoufakis
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB4s5b9NL3I

    Yanis Varoufakis: The Future of Capitalism | The New School
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihVcrnFag1s

    So, what are the hopes and possibilities?
    The Long Road to Transformations from Capitalist State and Social Institutions.

    1. Political Governance will not change without Social Economic mobilization of the working classes consciousness being enlightened, I think we’ve been seeing now….people are political confused, frustrated and demand answers and policies that address these serious capitalist crises

    2. Social Education and Health as foundational, habitat and human welfare first vs. warfare and neoliberal market – as – consumer prison profiteering

    3. Habitat Preservation and Safety: to reclaim what has been lost, exploited and destroyed; to regenerate, to heal, to cooperate with our shared habitat rather than DOMINATE IT.

    4. Transformation of Social concepts of politics, economics, culture and shared leadership… an offering: we all lead together:

    Leadership Character Rule:

    ‘Leadership is a Teacher to Its People.’
    ‘True Leadership is last, Its People are first, if so, then all shall thrive and survive together.’

    5. Finally, Most Important Problems to Ponder:

    3 Existential Threats to Humanity in Our Shared Habitat on a Very Lonely Planet:

    Existential Threat to Humanity #1: Ecocide: Global Human Habitat Destruction
    Existential Threat to Humanity #2: Global Poverty and Wealth Inequality
    Existential Threat to Humanity #3: Global Nuclear and Conventional Wars and Conflicts

    Much more needs to be done, the question remains how much time do we all have left?

    In Solidarity,
    Warm regards to one and all, we’ll somehow get through this thing,

    Prof. George M. Kallas
    Professor Political Science and History
    Social Science and Behavioral Science Department
    Miramar College
    professorgmkallas@gmail.com
  • Sonny Wiehe
    commented 2020-06-01 19:55:49 -0400
    I like brother West, but every time I listen to him I am reminded of Shakespeare’s dialogue in MacBeth:
    “And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”
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