Originally published at AlterPolitics
Off the release of his new publication, OCCUPY (Occupied Media Pamphlet Series), Laura Flanders (GRITtv) sat down with MIT professor Noam Chomsky to reflect on the grim state of America, and the role activists have to play in turning it around. When asked what should be the number one target of the ninety-nine percent, to foster change, Chomsky responded:
It’s the concentrations of private power, which have an enormous — not total control — but enormous influence over Congress and the White House. In fact, that’s increasing sharply with the sharp concentration of private power escalating across the elections, and so on. [...]
Chomsky believes a good way to combat the destruction that private corporations unleash on the societies in which they operate, is to work to redefine the concept of ‘business responsibility’ away from responsiveness to shareholders, and towards responsiveness to stakeholders:
There’s no economic principle that says that management should be responsive to shareholders. In fact you can read it in texts of business economics, that we could just as well have a system where management is responsible to stakeholders. You know, stakeholders meaning workers and community. Why shouldn’t they be responsible?
Of course this predisposes that there ought to be management. But that’s another question: why should there be management? Why not have the stakeholders run the industry? [...]
Of course, what he is referring to is a transformation from private (shareholder-centric) corporatism to worker (stakeholder-centric) Co-ops.
Flanders asks him whether changing from private ownership to worker ownership in itself would facilitate change, or if it would also require a change from the profit paradigm? “Could you,” she asks, “maintain the same exploitative profit-system under worker ownership?”
That’s a little bit like asking whether shareholder voting is a good idea. Yeah, it’s a step. Is the Buffet Rule a good idea? Yes, it’s a small step.
Worker ownership within a state Capitalist-market, semi-market system is better than private ownership, but it has inherent problems. Markets have well-known inherent inefficiencies. It’s just a part of markets. They are very destructive. I mean the obvious one is in a market system, a really functioning one, when whoever is making the decisions, doesn’t pay attention to what are called externalities — the effects on others.
So if, say, I sell you a car; if our eyes are open, we’ll make a good deal for ourselves. But we’re not asking, how it’s going to effect her [others]. And it will. There will be more congestion, gas prices will go up, environmental effects, and so on. And that multiplies over the whole population. Well that’s pretty serious.
Let’s take the financial crisis. Ever since the New Deal legislation was essentially dismantled, there’d been regular financial crises. And one of the fundamental reasons that’s understood, is the fact, let’s say the CEO of Goldman Sachs or Citigroup does not pay attention to what’s called systemic risks. So maybe you make a risky investment (transaction) and you cover your own potential losses, but you don’t take into account the fact that if it crashes it may crash the system. Which is what a financial crash is.
And the much more serious case of this is the environment effect. Now, in the case of financial institutions, when they crash, the taxpayer comes to the rescue, but if it destroyed the environment, no one is going to come to the rescue.
WATCH the entire interview, where they discuss subjects ranging from the state of the Democratic and Republican parties, to neoliberalism, the occupy movement, anarchism, the civil rights movement, racism, the labor movement, and the corporate media.