Paul Street

Last active
2 years, 11 months ago
  • On a more positive note, we will have a left popular movement and uprising far, far beyond Occupy within the next five years. Take that to the bank/credit union! Thanks again to all.

  • Lower participation in off-year elections and rampant negative campaigning and vote-suppressing voter ID laws and other shenanigans should help the radical republicans prevail on the whole.

  • Oh just saw Lance’s 2014 question. With no political left permitted by the elections system to either (a) push Dems to do anything progressive (b)offer a different alternative to the dismal dollar Dems than the right, basically popular dissatisfaction with the persistently savagely unequal economy and the “direction of the country” will translate into victories for a part most Americans can’t stand: the GOP.

  • Yes, I think organization — and knowledge — can and do make a difference! LOL. I truly do. Thanks to all who participated and to Lance for his wonderful review and questions.

  • I lost the thread…that what makes a difference?

  • I’m no a fan of contemporary US business union God knows, but in a broader historical sense, the slashing of US union density from like 40% in the 1950s to less than 10% of workforce today is absolutely a factor in the increased concentration of wealth and income in the US over the last 3-4 decades!

  • Bev, I think we are winding down, yes?

  • Well, I never say the two parties are exactly the same. “Two wings of the same bird of prey” (Upton Sinclair, original edition of the The Jungle, 1904)…both business parties, Both empire parties. And so on. But with different constituencies and histories to some degree. Anyway the Age of Obama gave us a very useful and “blunt lesson about power: who has it and who doesn’t” (I paraphrase Greider). Expect a GOP victory in two days thanks to the imposed vacuum on the left.

  • I think its correct to put “the left” in quote marks. That phrase is thrown around with incredible recklessness these days!

  • A belated response And you know, Big Al, its amazing how mainstream it has become to acknowledge that the US is now basically an oligarchy, a plutocracy. I mean it isn’t just “wild eyed radicals” like me who make the judgment. Google up the liberal Princeton political scientist Martin Gilens. The former Republican congressional staffer Mike Lofgren. The New York Times Sunday magazine DC editor Mark Leibovich. Basically, these guys observe that its a bipartisan plutocracy at this point. Tying it to capitalism, the profits system…they don’t go there, of course, but the commentary now is often fairly candid in elite circles.

  • I once spoke to a group of young white Chicago antiwar activists in 2003…they were all gung ho to resist and were ticked off that more Blacks were not joining them in fights with the capitalist state. I asked what they knew about felony marking and mass incarceration and tried to get them to understand that folks on the West and South Side were in fairly regular and one-sided confrontation with the capitalist state. Completely clueless on Black experience. That said, I think with Trayvon case on now with Ferguson (which is not over by any stretch…verdict awaits) and in many other ways, we are seeing a new generation of Black militancy that is going to be quite remarkable.

  • Oh indeed. The US has no monopoly on class rule and oligarchy! And indeed Russia had a labor-exploiting ruling class in a time when it had no capitalists (for most of the 20th century).

  • The Piketty-mania last Spring very revealing in many ways. And perhaps you know he was asked if he’d ever read Marx and his answer was that he tried but found it too hard to stay with. Incredible answer from a heralded French academician who has clearly mastered statistics and names his book Capital in the 21st Century.

  • Absolutely. Class rule in the US has been inseparably linked to racial divide and rule from the beginning indeed from before the beginning of the US. Brilliant book on this…actually by a fairly traditional US historian many years ago: Edmund Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom (1976). Just a classic volume on how race and class rule were intertwined in 17th and 18th century Virginia.

  • Well, yes, and this is why They Rule argues ultimately for a world beyond the profits system, the system underlying the unelected dictatorship. In the interim, however, my sense is that elite fortunes have to be taxed to pay for things like massive green jobs programs to (quite viably) move the US and indeed the world off fossil fuels and on to wind, water, and solar; and for real national health insurance (single payer) and more.

  • Oh I see, late in the game. LOL.

  • On the workplace. YES, YES, YES. This is where folks spend the majority of their waking lives, of course, and for most Americans and indeed for most people living under capitalism, it is a thoroughly authoritarian environment, totalitarian even. Marx wrote so wonderfully about the despotic nature of social relations in “the hidden abode of [capitalist] production.” Well the despotism is alive and well in service sector, finance, distribution, transportation. It also lives on in the public sector and in big non-profit organizations, where coordinators/managerial elites rule with direct capitalist owners behind the scenes. I have some discussion of this in They Rule…needed more.

  • Piketty did a great service with his historical data sets and the demonstration of capitalism’s underlying tendency towards wealth and power concentration. After that, I see amazingly little of value. He calls his own hope for a global capital/wealth tax “utopian.” That tax has little resonance anywhere. Workers and unions and class struggle are almost completely non-existent in his book. He leaves out top down class warfare and financial manipulation from his account of how the rich got to unimaginably rich in the last 40 years. I could go on. There’s no serious left or progressive action agenda at all. It’s a book that let’s well off liberals say “oh well, I did my part and read Piketty” (usually little of the book is read, actually). It’s a little like voting for Obama. But like I said, the data and history on inequality…very impressive.

  • On apathy: you know I find that many everyday Americans are quite progressive and basically social-democratic, even socialist in their core opinions on policy and on how society should be structured and function. They just often feel powerless and have this pervasive sense that there is no alternative to the current order — a sense that is just pervasive in the doctrinal media and education systems. So they often give up. And yet its amazing how quickly something like the Wisconsin rebellion or Occupy or marching for Trayvon can take off. There’s this hidden spirit beneath all the outward atomization and apathy, always waiting and ready to take off. Organization is the key. And that of course has to be done right.

  • Endless war and the broader Pentagon system is a critical lynchpin of elite economic power. It is treated as such in They Rule.

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