Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bill Curry — What would Paul Krugman do: Imagining the plan which defeats the ultra-rich

America now chooses between two radically opposed paths. One leads to a final consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchs of global capital; the other to a just distribution of prosperity and opportunity. One leads to the ultimate corruption of our democracy; the other to civic revitalization. One direction heads toward the absolute depletion of natural resources, ceaseless global conflicts and a likely environmental catastrophe; the other to economic and environmental sustainability and the possibility of peace.
What is extraordinary about this choice is its starkness, of course, but also that in a democratic society we are making it without benefit of an informed, full-throated debate. This is a debate Occupy was unwilling — and perhaps unable — to bring and that Democrats seem unable to grasp, at least not fully. The choice it frames is not as simple as that between Democrats and Republicans, or even progressives and reactionaries. It’s a choice between a status quo we know all too well and a future we’ve only begun to imagine; between an all devouring yet lifeless leviathan bent on a single goal and its opposite; a political economy that prizes pluralism and human scaled enterprise; that upholds a higher ethics and seeks our moral as well as material wellbeing.
Progressives must do what Occupy and the Democrats did not: conceive a new political agenda for a new political economy.....
Amen, but here on it's downhill. Curry doesn't confront the fundamental issue. The founding fathers established a bourgeois liberal government designed to be governed by the ownership class. There is no fix within those rules and the institutions that have developed from their application, since any viable alternative to the status quo and its logical extension is ruled out. And this is even before the more pragmatic issues of entrenched wealth and power. Moreover, the prevailing economic paradigm supports this.

Salon
What would Paul Krugman do: Imagining the plan which defeats the ultra-rich
Bill Curry, White House counselor to President Clinton

No, Elizabeth Warren is not going to replace Harry Reid as Senate minority leader, and neither is Bernie Sanders or any other progressive.

AlterNet
Chuck Schumer—Friend Of Wall Street and War—Ready to Be Anointed Head of the Senate Democrats
Zaid Jilani / AlterNet

5 comments:

Bob said...

Imagining a world without progressives: It's exactly the world we have now, without the yapping.

Dan Lynch said...

Tom said: The founding fathers established a bourgeois liberal government designed to be governed by the ownership class. There is no fix within those rules.

Well said.

I wish I could put a positive spin on the subject, but I'm not seeing one.

Tom Hickey said...

The controversy leading to the formulation and adoption of the US Constitution is well documented, and as it is also concerning subsequent institutional arrangements and legal precedent.

Importantly also, the subtext was the legal institution of slavery, with slaves making up the bulk of the capital of that period when the US was chiefly agricultural and industrialization was just beginning in the late18th century.

The colonists were chiefly British and the elite were well aware of the precedence that Britain put on land and capital ownership as a foundation of national power.

The American project was to retain what the founders viewed as positive about Britain and jettison the negative, which was largely the hereditary monarchy and aristocracy. But the plantation was an interaction of the landed gentry as agricultural rentiers, and factories were viewed as the urbanized form of the same arrangement, with the owners being rentiers.

The owners of land and capital lived off the economic rent that ownership afforded, based on the labor of workers. What America could offer that Britain and Europe could not was the possibility to establish oneself entrepreneurially since there was an abundance of land acquired from the indigenous inhabitants by primitive accumulation and a fast growing population providing demand.

The American system walled off the US with protectionism to prevent imperial economic colonization from abroad.

America is just continuing to do what it was designed to do. There reason that this seems to be unusual is owing to the Great Depression and New Deal, which was a historical fluke rather than the base case some assume it to be.

Ignacio said...

In other words Tom, USA has become Europe in the XIX century.

Now all the West is Europe of the XIX, and the non-West is even in a worse nightmarish scenario when it comes to power structure and class control.

The ownership class owns everything, including our lives and freedom. And the problem is we cannot colonize more land anymore. That escape route is over for the population.

Now, we are in much better shape technologically and in general have more wealth, but if this trend continues we will have a new class struggle (a real one like the ones in the last XIX and first half of the XX) pretty soon.

And all that considering other serious problems do not arise: environmental problems, overpopulation, resource depletion, etc.

The future looks bleak for humanity the next 50 years unless there is an uprise of progressism soon.

Tom Hickey said...

@Ignacio

I posted a link to an intro of Immanuel Wallerstein's World-Systems Theory that speaks to this. (ht Jan Milch).