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8 minutes | Oct 22, 2021
Why banning financing for fossil fuel projects in Africa isn’t a climate solution
The majority of the Congolese population doesn’t have access to electricity. Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images Benjamin Attia, Colorado School of Mines and Morgan Bazilian, Colorado School of Mines Today’s global energy inequities are staggering. Video gamers in California consume more electricity than entire nations. The average Tanzanian used only one-sixth the electricity consumed by a typical American refrigerator in 2014. Globally, the top 10% of countries consume 20 times more energy than the bottom 10%. And 1.1 billion sub-Saharan Africans share the same amount of power generation capacity as Germany’s 83 million people. At least half have no access to electricity at all. These stark energy inequalities are fueling thorny debates around financing Africa’s energy future as world leaders and their negotiators prepare for COP26, the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. One increasingly common theme from wealthy countries – including those responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions over time – is a vow that they will cease public funding for all (or nearly all) fossil fuel projects in less developed countries, even as they continue financing, and in many cases heavily subsidizing, fossil fuels in their own. It is generally easier for countries that offer overseas development finance for energy projects to make low-carbon rules for others, rather than for themselves. For example, China, Japan and South Korea – some of the world’s highest coal-consuming nations – have each recently pledged to stop funding coal projects overseas and increase investments in renewables. But they have made no equivalent commitments at home. The U.S. Treasury and the United Kingdom’s development finance institution, CDC Group, have taken a more nuanced approach. They are limiting all coal and oil-based power generation projects and leaving a narrow window available for natural gas projects in poor countries that pass a rigorous screening process. This is roughly similar to the approach of the World Bank. As experienced clean energy policy researchers, we believe the blunt exclusion of all nonrenewable energy projects from development finance is an inequitable and ineffective climate strategy that gaslights over 1 billion Africans. Tiny climate gains, major development losses Focusing on limiting the emissions of the world’s poorest countries while emissions continue to rise in industrialized countries is clearly misdirected in our view. Given stark inequalities in energy use and emissions, this could instead entrench poverty and widen inequality induced by worsening climate change, while simultaneously accomplishing very little to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the U.S., U.K., European Union, Japan and Russia have almost the same population – 1.1 billion people – as sub-Saharan Africa, but 35 times more gas-fired power plants in operation or under development, and 52 times more coal plants. When it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, sub-Saharan Africa is collectively responsible for barely half a percent of all global emissions over time, while the U.S., U.K., E.U., Japan and Russia are responsible for more than 100 times that amount, or about 57%. The upper bound for Africa’s future growth in power sector emissions is also negligible. If the region’s electricity demand hypothetically tripled tomorrow, rather than doubling by 2040 as the International Energy Agency recently forecast, and if only natural gas was used to meet the new demand, annual global emissions would increase by only 0.62%, according to one estimate. That’s equivalent to the state of Louisiana’s annual emissions today. What’s more, the share of renewable power in many sub-Saharan African national grids is already higher than for nearly all the big greenhouse gas emitters. In at least six countries – Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Uganda – renewables make up more than 50% of their annual generation. In 2018, hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind made up about 20% of the continent’s total power generated. Most of the region will find renewable power to be the fastest and cheapest way to expand their generation capacity, but some areas may still need to rely on some fossil fuels in various sectors of the economy as they develop. It has been clear for decades that the world needs to rapidly and aggressively cut its greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Many regions in Africa, including the Sahel and Mozambique, are already facing the effects of climate change, including worsening droughts, food insecurity and severe storms. Adapting to climate change and building resilience requires the very energy, economic development and infrastructure currently lacking in some of the most affected regions and those least prepared to adapt. Climate colonialism and legacies of colonization Other experts agree that this direction of climate policy is not just ineffective, it’s rooted in the historic inequities of colonialism. The philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò defines climate colonialism as the “deepening or expansion of foreign domination through climate initiatives that exploits poorer nations’ resources or otherwise compromises their sovereignty.” Colonialism’s legacy is a contributing factor to a wide range of issues, from conflict to corruption, and to the poor state of electricity access across much of Africa today. While industrializing nations in the 1900s were building electricity grids through massive public spending campaigns, like Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the United States and the Electricity Supply Act of 1926 in the U.K., most of Africa was being actively pilfered of its rich natural resources. Much of the infrastructure built in colonial Africa during that time was built only to facilitate resource extraction operations, such as mined commodities, oil, timber, rubber, tea, coffee and spices. In 1992, a coalition of low-income nations successfully advocated for the U.N.‘s climate mitigation pathways to include their right to development, and a “common but differentiated responsibility” to address the dual problems of development and climate change. This language has long been the basis of equity considerations in climate policy, including in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which expects deeper emissions cuts from developed countries based on their “respective capabilities”. A transition from what? Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently described “energy transition” as “a curious term” when applied universally, given the energy shortfalls in countries like Nigeria. He has argued for an energy transition in which Africa can develop quickly and grow. Increasing electricity in industrializing regions of sub-Saharan Africa would first power income-generating activities and public services, both drivers of economic growth. Equitable and effective climate negotiations will require nuanced policy considerations that balance the priorities of alleviating energy poverty with urgent climate change mitigation and adaptation. A just energy transition would leave African governments to make and implement policies and deliver on their own national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement rather than shouldering the West’s. [Over 115,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.] Benjamin Attia, Fellow, Payne Institute for Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines and Morgan Bazilian, Professor of Public Policy and Director, Payne Institute, Colorado School of Mines This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
50 minutes | Oct 22, 2021
Running to be Detroit’s Mayor – Against Democratic Party Machine
ARVE Error: src mismatchurl: https://youtu.be/4EW-vGMxnjUsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4EW-vGMxnjU?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://theanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4EW-vGMxnjUActual comparisonurl: https://youtu.be/4EW-vGMxnjUsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4EW-vGMxnjU?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftheanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4EW-vGMxnjU Anthony Adams is running for mayor of Detroit on a progressive platform. He’s being marginalized by local media and opposed by the Democratic Party, including President Biden. Anthony Adams joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news. TRANSCRIPT Paul Jay Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.News I’m Paul Jay. And please don’t forget the donate button, subscribe button, and the email list buttons, all the buttons because without your donations, we can’t do this. Be back in a few seconds to talk about the race for Mayor in Detroit with one of the gentlemen running for Mayor. Today, we’re looking at the upcoming election for the Mayor of Detroit. The race has national significance, I think, because it pits a progressive candidate, Anthony Adams, against the current Mayor who’s backed by the Democratic Party establishment, including President Biden. The media has already decided that the current Mayor Duggan will win after he overwhelmingly beat Adams in the Democratic primary in August under Detroit law, the top two winners of the open primary square off in the November election. In that primary, one of the key issues was Proposition P, a list of reforms to the city charter that could have made life better for working families. These include developing free public broadband Internet, providing reparations to black residents, changing police practices, policies, and training requirements, giving residents amnesty for water and sewage fees; and granting tax credits for residents who show proof of over-assessed property taxes. Duggan vehemently opposed Proposition P, and Adams was all for it. The vote was 46,711 votes, which is 67% against and 22,696 votes, that is 32.7% for it. But here’s the rub, there are approximately 500,000 registered voters in Detroit, and only 69,000 or so voted; that’s around 14%. This city is where most of the population are workers, and the city is almost 80% black. Why didn’t more people vote for Proposition B? This challenge for Anthony Adams in the November 2 election. Can he get black workers to tune in and vote for him, or will people tune out and allow Duggan to be reelected by the Democratic Party machine. I’ve invited Anthony today not only because this is an important race but also because Mayor Duggan has refused to debate Adams, and the Detroit media doesn’t think there’s a race left to cover. Of course, the media helped make it so, as proposition P was wildly unpopular with the elites of Detroit. So now joining me is Anthony Adams. He was the Deputy Mayor for the city of Detroit. He is executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young; he was elected Detroit Public Schools board education member, he was DPS board President, interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools. He’s also a principal in the Marine Adams law firm that he runs with his wife, attorney Lynn Marie Adams. And he’s got three kids. So thanks for joining me, Anthony. Anthony Adams Thanks for having me. Paul Jay So just a couple of days ago, I guess it was, you actually, I guess, protested or marched outside the governor’s house demanding he debates you. So why did you feel it necessary to do that? Anthony Adams Because the issues facing Detroit deserve a debate, Here we have a two-term incumbent who runs himself as the guy that fixes problems. Yet, he won’t stand on the stage and defend his record of hurting working-class people in the city of Detroit of not providing relief with respect to taxes, and we’ve had more than 150,000 people lose their homes as a result of tax foreclosures. Who has a policy of shutting the water off, who has a policy of providing tax captures and tax abatements for corporations that do not do what they claim they are going to do. And so here he is, not debating. So what we do in the old days, when you went in to find someone, you went to the house, you’re not going to do it, say, hey, come out and let’s have a debate. But obviously, he didn’t come outside. Paul Jay Now, I think also, kind of obviously, you did it partly because you’re not getting that much media attention, and that is a way to get some media attention, which this did. But why does it take a piece of theatre to get media attention? Anthony Adams Because, like you said, the corporate elite, the ruling class, the people who run Detroit, through their dark money packs, which are financing attack ads against me, which helped defeat a Proposal P with lies and distortions of the truth. They don’t want a public debate on the issues, and they certainly want to keep information suppressed. It’s a high-level form of voter suppression and that you don’t report on something. So if you don’t report on it, people tend not to know it’s happening. And so we’ve been using going through mainstream media, small Internet providers, a lot of podcasts, whatever we need to do in order to get our message out, that their victory is right within hand, given the level of turnout that existing more than I think 40,000 people at this time have not turned in their absentee ballots. And we believe they haven’t turned them in because they want additional information about my candidacy. And so we are very aggressive in getting the information out, going door to door phone banking, doing mailers, and using the Internet platforms to get our message out that there is a need for a serious change in the city of Detroit. Paul Jay As I said, Detroit is 80% black, and most of that black population are workers, working families. The proposition P proposals would have helped these people quite a bit, not just free Internet, but reparations and the other measures, you would think that it would be a no-brainer and the other thing is that to be blunt about it, you’re a black candidate, Duggan is a white candidate. And typically, black candidates at least do well. I lived in Baltimore for, like, almost 9-10 years, and it’s an anomaly that a white guy gets elected Mayor. It happened once with O’Malley, but that’s because several black candidates were very strong, and they split the vote in the primary. You did kind of get trounced. So what’s going on? Anthony Adams Yeah, but like you said, you’re only talking about 14% of the people. And the reality is that he is a two-turn incumbent; this guy is extremely well-financed; he has a lot of black ministers supporting him. He tries out a lot of black people who endorse him and make him legitimate. And so part of what I’m fighting through is, I think, a recognition that black people need to understand that we can actually represent ourselves with the problems that we had in the past, with black leadership, with the contrived bankruptcy, which stripped away political control from the city to the governor and her emergency manager, there was a toxic mix, I think, of diminishing and black value, and really people just being fed up and tired. Plus, we also have to realize that this is still a COVID environment, and people in the city of Detroit are simply trying to survive. And so when you’re talking high-level issues that really can impact their lives, they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to keep the lights on, how they’re going to pay their water bill, how are they going to pay their taxes, how are they going to stay in their house? How are they going to drive without insurance? All these are bread and butter issues which drag people’s, I think, interest in elections down. But I think we’re doing a great job of motivating the people we need to motivate to come out to vote. The very people that you talk about, working-class black women who make up the predominant voting block in the city. Those are the folks we’re speaking to; we’re speaking to the issues about the proposal P approach. How do we have an affordable water policy? How do we have an affordable housing policy? How do we provide reparations? How do we deal with over-taxation? These are issues. How do we provide child care? These are issues that the working class, in particular, working-class women, need to hear. And I think our message is starting to resonate. Paul Jay I think something you just mentioned is probably really the key to the whole thing: black churches, and especially if you’re targeting black women, a large proportion of black women are involved in Church life. And if you’re going to really break through again, I know from Baltimore; you got to break through to the black clergy. And at least in the primaries, so far, it doesn’t seem you’ve been able to, and the Democratic Party machine is usually very strong there. Biden won his nomination because of the strength of the Democratic Party and the black churches. So how are you going to buck this? Anthony Adams Well, they’re going to really be in for a rude awakening because there’s a lot of discontent in the ranks with respect to the Democratic Party and Democratic policies. People are really very frustrated with our governor, her inability to somehow or another address major issues impacting the people who live in the city of Detroit. There really is a lot of frustration with respect to Joe Biden and his policies, his inability to really adopt a very progressive agenda; it seems to be stalled in Congress, and they don’t get any movement there. And part of what they don’t understand is that you can’t turn the machinery on and off when you want to. And so when it was a presidential election, obviously, people showed out to vote not because of the Democratic Party, but because Trump was such a horrible person that people clearly understood that and needed to come out to vote, and they did in record numbers. And now we’re faced with a different, more subtle type of Trump attitude and approach. And you’ve got to begin to dissect that clearly working through the churches. And I do have some support in churches. I visited a ton of churches in the city of Detroit. I know a lot of pastors, but when you’re dealing with a cycle of fear in the community, the fact that the city was awarded more than $850,000,000 in federal money and he’s been promising, promising, promising pastors any and everything. And I told them if they add up the level of the promises that he made them, what they’ll figure out is that there just simply isn’t enough money to go around to meet and honour the commitments that he’s making. And so he’s really playing a shell game, a very sophisticated shell game. But we’re going to break through that because our message is right. What we’re talking about is good for the people who actually live in the city of Detroit. And I’m confident that on November 2 at 11:00, when they announce the result of this race, that a great political victory will be one for the people. Paul Jay You mentioned, the governor actually tried to keep Proposition P, if I understand it correctly off the bat, just to make it clear that the vote for Proposition P was on the same ballot as the primary in August. But the governor tried to keep it off the ballot, and it took the Michigan Supreme Court to put it on. What happened there? Anthony Adams Well, what happened was that there was again, after you had more than 500 organizations citywide that participated in a charter amendment process going over a two-year period, the charter commissioners voted out a charter, which the Mayor’s office didn’t even participate in the process. And so when you talk about a level of arrogance of who we’re dealing with here, this is what you’re dealing with, a high-handed, arrogant Democrat who doesn’t think that the people’s word means a damn thing. You coupled that with the governor, who was afraid of the Mayor. And so she blocked the move, even though by law, she really couldn’t block it. And they took an act of the Supreme Court, which is a four to three Democratic majority, to overrule the governor’s refusal to put this simple measure on the ballot. And then, obviously, with their dark money packs, well funded by the corporate interest in our community, they were able to trot out some black folks to say this is bad for the city of Detroit. And if you tell a lie long enough, people will actually believe it, and that’s exactly what happened here. But the truth of the matter is that the people who we really need to reach, the people who are being impacted by the policies proposal piece, sought to remedy. Those are the people that we need to speak to; those are the people that we need to get out to vote. And those are the people that are going to lead me to victory in this upcoming race. Paul Jay And during that fight over Proposition P, that was the threat. I guess that it would put Detroit back into bankruptcy. And I guess that would scare people some. But do you have any idea who is the dark money? Anthony Adams Well, there’s been some inkling that has been financed in part by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. Dan Gilbert has been a favourite financer of a lot of the dark pack monies. Dan Gilbert, who’s got more than two and a half-billion dollars in public subsidies to practically acquire all the property in downtown Detroit. Paul Jay This is the guy who owns Quicken Loans. Anthony Adams Is that right, quick. He’s the big Kahuna. Paul Jay But he’s normally a Trump supporter. Is that correct? Anthony Adams He is a Trump supporter, the irony here is that he’s a Trump supporter, but he’s also supporting Mike Duggan. And so you go figure. And then you have a Mayor who surrounded himself with Republicans recently appointed a high-level Republican to his staff, and so the question is, who’s a real Democrat here? And his father was also appointed as a federal judge by Ronald Reagan, so when you look at his roots, they’re deep in the Republican Party. And so he plays this chameleon game because obviously, in Wayne County, you can’t get elected to anything. If you’re a Republican, you have to be a Democrat. So he plays the shell game and changes his skin. But he can’t change his tune. The reality is that his policies are ineffective in attacking systemic racism, unlining and dealing with the issues of crime. He never speaks to these issues because he’s very uncomfortable in the culture that he’s seeking to govern. Paul Jay Now you’ve got a history of having various offices. As I outlined in the introduction, are you at all seen by ordinary black workers as somewhat part of the machine yourself? Anthony Adams I think there could be some perception like that. But when you look at my record of commitment to working on progressive issues, whether it’s working with Michigan welfare rights and landlord, tenant protection, protecting tenants from being evicted from their homes, whether it’s working with the ACLU[American Civil Liberties Union], and issues of water rights and water affordability, whether it’s very active in my Church and my social Justice Ministry aimed at providing expungement fairs, job fairs and job trainers. I have a very progressive background in the things that I’ve actually worked on. And I think if that background is really starting to come through and those organizations which I’ve worked with are starting to stand up and speak out about my progressive bonafide, I’m the most progressive candidate that probably ever run for the city of Detroit. When you talk about the need to create an affordable housing policy, how do we do that? How do we restrict the award of tax captures and tax abatements to large corporations to strip money away from our community? How do we create the immigrant bill of rights in our city to make sure that we aren’t participating with ICE with respect to deporting people back to their countries? Very progressive policies, very progressive views about life. And so, I am progressive. Even though I’ve worked in government, my policies and ideas clearly reflect, and you can look at my platform. It talks about the policies that I really support and want to promote, when I become Mayor of the city of Detroit. Paul Jay So I guess part of what you’re up against is in the community in general, but as I said, 80% of the city is black. The Mayor, as you kind of inferred, he gets to give away a lot of money, and if you want some, you don’t want to piss that guy off. Anthony Adams No. Paul Jay And if you run an NGO[Non-Governmental Organisation] or even in the churches and all kinds of organizations want to tap into that municipal money, so that’s a bit of a juggernaut to take on. Anthony Adams Yeah, but the question is, how much have they gotten? I’m a realist, and I like to speak to real issues. And so when they tell me that they’re afraid, I say, you’re afraid of what? You haven’t gotten anything with respect to his promises over the last eight years. What’s to lead you to believe that another four years of his administration is going to give you anything different other than what you got? And oftentimes, people want to fool themselves into believing something that’s going to be good. It’s sort of like being in a bad marriage with an abusive spouse. You kind of want it to work, but it’s not going to work. And so you need to go ahead; you don’t have to be a Raw Raw Sis Boom Bah cheer-me-on-type person. But clearly, you need to be talking with your parishioners about issues and impacting them and how they can see a better life for themselves. I’m the only candidate that just talked about how we can help young men and young women who are at risk and improve the quality of their life, the types of programs that are much more proactive in policing versus reactive. We have a reactive police force; they react to things. I’m saying that’s old school; we have to be much more progressive and going out and intervening and bringing these young men and women in and sitting down, talking with them, not in a confrontational manner, but how can we actually help you get your life together? The root cause of crime is clearly tied to poverty and lack of education opportunities. And so when I talk about people and I talk about this, they say, but how you’re going to do it? I said, well, we got to do it this way because we spent more than $3 billion in the city that’s cash strapped fighting crime over the last eight years. And we still have the highest crime rate that we’ve ever had. And so this requires a radical transformation of how we think, how we act, what we do, and how we spend our resources because I believe in the goodness of man that people want to change their lives, sometimes they just need some assistance in doing that. If we commit to that, to a very aggressive program of intervention, job training, educational training, providing a stipend if need be in order to help people get through the transition period from living a life of crime to being a productive citizen, I think we can do great things in transforming our city. Paul Jay Again, from having lived in Baltimore, I learned that at least I thought that there’s kind of two parts of this is reforming the police and then, of course, the economic issues of chronic poverty. Certainly, chronic poverty is there because it’s actually profitable; there’s a lot of businesses that benefit from people desperate to work and willing to work at the lowest possible wage. It’s not an accident that there is chronic poverty; the system actually benefits from it, I should say, the elites benefit from it. There’s a set of economic issues, but when you get to the policing issue, one of the demands I know that’s been talked to in a lot of cities. And in fact, I think at one point, Detroit even had a model for this, which is community control of the police. What’s the history of that in Detroit, and what’s your position on it? Anthony Adams So obviously, with the charter that we operate on now, we have was supposed to be an independent elected police Commission, but they seem to be nothing more than a rubber stamp of the Mayor because they appear to have been co-opted by the past chief of police, who is now running as a Republican for governor, I might add, which is an interesting dichotomy there. And so they really lost a level of independence that they need in order to do what they need to do, which provides civilian oversight of the Police Department. And that’s a charter– Paul Jay Let me interrupt for a second. Wasn’t it previously, even originally, more than oversight. Didn’t it actually have some kind of management like it actually had some control features to it, not just oversight? Anthony Adams Not really. I mean, when you look at how the Detroit border Police commissions have been established, they have not had direct management oversight responsibility. This is not similar to what, for example, you have in Chicago, where you have sort of an independent apparatus that can actually order corrective action within the police Department. By charter, they have some level of authority, but they’ve chosen not to exercise that. And in fact, they begin to see more and more authority back to the Mayor’s office for control because they simply are tools and pawns of the Mayor’s administration. Paul Jay So how would you change that? Anthony Adams Well, I think one is you’ve got to have people on that Commission who actually understand that their role is to be an independent voice in the community. We don’t need people rubber-stamping decisions from me; we actually need a check and balance in the process. I think we need to devote resources in order to support those types of programs and that type of thinking. I think we also have to embed within the Police Department itself, I think, a certain level of respect for independent thought. The Police Department is a paramilitary organization, and people tend to stick together. And if you try to operate outside those constraints, then there is no pathway for you to move up in the hierarchy. So how do we identify at very young stages in their career, people who have the level of independence with the level of independence in order to help assist in moving an agency forward? Which is why I advocated for the Black Lives Matter movement. I said in order to really transform the police Department, some young people actually need to go inside and become police officers, and you got to change things from within. You can’t get the level of change that you want by protesting outside the Police Department, you’ve got to go inside the Department, you’ve got to become police officers, and then you’ve got to have somebody, on the other end, who is supportive of your policies and empowers people to do what they need to do. Paul Jay Would you support the civilian Commission, if that’s what it’s called, actually having the power to hire and fire the police chief? Anthony Adams I think that the chief of police needs to somehow or another be tied to the Mayor because the Mayor often will be blamed for crime in this community. And so I think they need to have a good relationship and understanding as to what my desires are, how I like the police. For example, I’m not one to want to spend any time on low-level drug crimes, drug possession, things of that nature. I think it’s a waste of resources. I think a lot of that could be handled sort of administratively with tickets or referrals for treatment. I don’t think we need to spend time doing that. Conversely, things like sex, prostitution, street prostitution. How do we help women change and transform their life to move away from that? Because it becomes a neighbourhood quality of life issue in certain communities. How do we change our approach to that? But when we talk about major crimes, rape, robbery, murder, we have to be about the business of solving those crimes because they impact the safety of our community. And I think the chief and the Mayor need to be aligned on policy because, at the end of the day, the Mayor is going to be responsible for what goes on in the city. Paul Jay But the problem with that is, let’s assume you win on November 17 for the sake of argument. You might not win four years, eight years, you might have another Duggan. So then you’re going to get a police chief that another Duggan likes. Whereas if you have an elective civilian board that gets to hire the police chief and fire if necessary, at least that gives some protection to the community, regardless of who Mayor is. Anthony Adams Well, I think the protection of the community obviously isn’t electing a Mayor who is supportive of their policies and makes sure that things are done in the right way. I mean, we’re not going to necessarily agree on every facet of how the city should operate, but I think that particular aspect of operation, there needs to be a connection between the Mayor and the chief of police because he’s taking direction and orders from the city with respect to how he should do his job. Paul Jay Okay, so in terms of the economic policies, chronic poverty is not going to be solved by job training alone. And there’s been lots of attempts in job training, and it doesn’t go very far. Anthony Adams I agree. Paul Jay And certainly, there needs to be something very seriously done about public schools because in all the American inner cities, public schools, particularly in poor black areas, are awful. And it’s to do with, I know in Baltimore I assume it’s the same in Detroit, is that not only are they underresourced, but because of the consequences of poverty, they get a much higher percentage of students that have special needs, which is expensive. And so the resources go to that wherein the wealthier neighbourhoods, they don’t have to spend the same kind of money on special needs students. To what extent is the Mayor able to deal with that? Anthony Adams Well, I think, first of all, you got to understand the structure of educational financing in the city of Detroit. We have a foundation allowance that the state grants each district. So each district, at least at one level, was treated the same because they all received the same Foundation Alliance. But when they attacked the unconstitutionality of how education was funded in Michigan, there’s a little glitch there, which allows richer districts to still capture some level of property tax that they can apply to their school systems in order to provide additional services. And the theory is that with the foundation allowances and with categorical grants that the school district received, that the imbalance between what school districts like Detroit get in terms of their special needs population should be able to get more, but they don’t. They don’t get what they need in the foundation allowance approach. While it appears to be equal across the board, the needs of each district are not equal, and that’s a funding formula that really needs to be adjusted, not being waited to address the issues that impact the children in the city of Detroit. And so that– Paul Jay Just let me get clear. You’re saying that some neighbourhoods can get some of the property tax, but Detroit intercity Detroit cannot. Anthony Adams Well, when you look at the percentage of what Detroit can collect from its property taxes versus other districts with the low evaluations and assessments and the property, it doesn’t yield a lot of money. And so it looks on paper that everybody is being treated equally in the same, but the reality is that the numbers simply don’t work out. So if you got a city like Birmingham, Michigan, which has very high property tax assessments, if the average home in Birmingham is $450,000, if they’re taking one or two meals of their 450, it’s a big hit. But in Detroit, the average value is $40,000-$50,000; one meal/two meals isn’t going to generate what we need to generate in order to address those issues. And so, I have worked with some organizations that really try to attack the educational funding issue because we understand that crime is a direct product in many parts of not having an adequate education. And then when you coupled that with high levels of lead, high levels of air pollution in the community and issues that are impacting health, stress, and living in the urban area. All these things make it, from my perspective, a public health issue, and we should be treated as such with the wraparound services that we need in the schools as well as in the house with the parents. We can’t attack poverty by simply educating the children. We also have to deal with the inadequacy of the income of the parents. If we have parents, the average income is $27,000-$28,000, and they have to catch a bus to work, that means they’re leaving the house sometimes at 4:00 in the morning. Who’s watching the children, who make sure that the children get to school on time. All these things intersect and need to be talked about and addressed because if we don’t talk about them, then there’s no way in the world we’re ever going to come up with a solution to attack the underlying issue. The major issue of structural racism, the deindustrialization of Detroit, was not caused by the people who lived in the city; it was caused by the corporate leadership of the state, which severely felt the people who live in our state. And so we’ve seen the impact of that because, at one time, Detroit had 700,000 manufacturing jobs; it might have 10,000. You’re talking about a huge gap between the loss of the industrialization of the city, of the loss of population, greatest population loss of any city in America. We lost more than a million people. And so when you start staggering these things, bad old housing, bad infrastructure, poor economic policy, which is not designed to enhance the community and the people, but the corporate interest, you end up with what we have here in our city. Paul Jay Do you have any ability to raise more revenue through some forms of taxation, either on corporate or wealthy individuals? Anthony Adams I think no, because the way that is set up in Michigan, the income, the majority of the income and the generating state of Michigan actually flows up to the state, and then they return back to cities by the way, a formula approach to make it appear fair. There are some revenue, additional issues. For example, people can’t actually vote additional taxes on themselves, but we’re over-taxed right now. We need to be trying to reduce the level of taxation in our city. Obviously– Paul Jay But wait a second, on everybody or on working families because you might want to be looking at raising the taxes on people that can afford it. Anthony Adams They don’t allow for differentiation; unlike the federal tax code, we can’t differentiate. I mean, there is a percentage that is set on what the city can collect from people that actually earn wages, and we don’t have any ability that will require a change in state law. Paul Jay No, I’m talking about property taxes. Can’t you increase– Anthony Adams No Paul Jay Like in San Francisco, they had a special hike on land transfer taxes. Anthony Adams Right Paul Jay And they used that to help pay for free college education. I believe it was. Do you control the land transfer tax? Anthony Adams No, it’s controlled by the state. They actually set those rates. So when we talk about what the city doesn’t have, every opportunity for the city to raise revenue is captured at the state level. Paul Jay It sounds like you should be running for governor then, or somebody should be because there’s such control; for example, I know one of the ideas that’s been floated, which always made sense to me, is that there should be direct hiring by the city in poor neighbourhoods. Train people to renovate and refurbish houses, the housing values go up, people learn to trade, and you create employment. But you, of course, would need some funding to create such a program. Anthony Adams Well, see, I can maintain the argument that there’s money there that when you look at the allocation of affordable housing dollars in the city of Detroit when you look at the fact that the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which is supposed to be largest affordable housing lender in the state, and they do very little lending in the city of Detroit. And they’re sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves that can be used to fix up housing in the city of Detroit. But because it’s being controlled by Lansing, those dollars will never seem to be freed up to do what they need to do in the city. And then when you have a Mayor whose policy is to take the affordable housing dollars, put them in mixed-income developments downtown and then use an average median income to claim that these units are affordable and yet people in the city of Detroit, most people need a three or four-bedroom. They’re not trying to live in a studio or one or two-bedroom apartment in downtown Detroit, where the average rent might be $1,400-$1,500. If you’re only making $27,000, you can’t afford to pay more than 50% of your income for housing. But yet that’s what’s happening in our city. We have people that are working poor stress. They stress because their rent is high because we have the lowest level of homeownership. We have 47% homeownership, but we used to be at 85%. More than 150,000 people have lost their homes as a result of tax foreclosure. We have 40,000 people on the list today who are subject to tax foreclosure. And many of those people shouldn’t even be paying taxes, to begin with, because of exemptions or exclusions that exist under state law. So when you’re talking about helping working-class people, we need to be trying to figure out how we can change the tax structure to reduce the property tax burden that clearly needs to be reduced. But also the income tax burden, those things have generated some income for the city, but we need to take a look at those things. Paul Jay I got two questions here; let me think, which one I should do first. Let’s just a quick question. So all these foreclosures who are buying up all these properties once they’re foreclosed? Anthony Adams Foreign investors from China, Singapore, the Middle East, you name it, they’re coming in, and they’re snatching a property in Detroit sight unseen. They’re buying 100, 200, 300 blocks of houses, that’s what does. And so the irony of it is the city benefits from those taxes being paid because when it’s foreclosed, the taxes have to be paid. The city then gets the revenue for the foreclosed houses that they are foregone because they couldn’t collect it as a result of the regular process. My position is I don’t care. If we have people losing their homes, losing their homes and becoming renters. To me, it’s a much better policy to stop transferring property to the Wayne County Treasurer for tax foreclosure, manage that process with our taxpayers ourselves so that we are creating and allowing people to lose generational wealth that they’ve built up over 30, 40 years. The people to be harmed by these policies are people who’ve been in their homes, they’ve lived in their homes, they fall on hard times, they can’t pay their taxes. And yet, there’s no consideration for them to how we figure out how we keep you in your home. The best blight removal strategy that we have is to keep people in their homes, but they don’t seem to understand that. Paul Jay Well, I think if you combine that with an employment program based on renovating and retrofitting, that would keep people in their homes and in much better homes. The other thing, with all this property being bought by offshore money, one should look at how many of those transactions are essentially cash transactions, because I know in Toronto a lot of this property purchasing is money laundering, and it wouldn’t surprise me that’s the same thing going on in Detroit. Anthony Adams Well, that’s like a whole other level of analysis, and all that money comes through the Wayne County Treasurer. We really aren’t privy to who the investors are; we found out anecdotally when we look at the property tax records and see that there are foreign investors with shell corporations, and the money changes and quickly and the wide transfer. It’s a very sophisticated process of exploitation of people, especially working-class people. And that– Paul Jay But it’s also maybe a kind of collaboration between the state and money laundering. Anthony Adams Yes. I would agree with you on that point. Paul Jay It’s worth looking into. Let me get back to my next question then, are you in favour of taking a chunk of the police budget and then putting it into, for example, a direct employment program? Anthony Adams Yes. Paul Jay How would you do it? Anthony Adams Well, again, when I talked about some of the things that I talked about earlier about my community intervention force, that is exactly what that means; it entails that we hire. For example, when we talk about gang intervention specialists, the only person who talks to a gang person is a former gang person. And so how do we then put those types of folks on the payroll, provide with the income to provide the level of outreach and input and contact with the people that we need to reach? That is a reasonable use of dollars that are allocated to the police budget in order to help us do what we need to do. How do we program and then provide training? I think because we have a separate entity that handles job training, which gets to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. We have the resources available. It doesn’t necessarily all have to come out of the police budget. I think a portion of the services do directly come from the Police Department, and we need to use those dollars in a manner that’s going to put people on the payroll who can help us reduce the level of crime in our city. Paul Jay So where is UAW[United Auto Workers] in this election? You would think the UAW should be supporting you, in theory, support some of most of the demands you’re talking about, are they? Anthony Adams Well, no, they’re not. But what we have to understand is the history of the UAW; they used to really stand for a lot more than they do now, I think. And when you look at the leadership and the issues they’ve had themselves, they were under federal indictment, federal investigation, the President, pledged guilty, multiple officers pledged guilty, they’ve now been effectively being supervised by someone outside of their leadership structure. They have a monitor who watches their every move, and there’s a move now to sort of democratizing the UAW having direct election of the President and their offices, versus disproportional Union agent representative structure. I think if we had a different structure, they would be supporting me wholeheartedly. But given the old structure and the fact that they had their own legal issues and they needed certain, I think, relief from Joe Biden, they’re playing ball, no doubt about it. Paul Jay So what do you make of Joe Biden and his support of Duggan? Biden was promising to be the most progressive President since FDR[Franklin D. Roosevelt]. And he can claim to some extent truthfully that it’s not so difficult to pass everything in D.C. and with Joe Manchin from West Virginia and so on and so on. But that doesn’t explain supporting such status quo in Detroit. Anthony Adams Everybody wants to blame Joe Manchin and the Senator from Arizona, but the reality is we all understand politics in D.C., you only get so many cracks at the Apple in terms of your ability to transform things. And so, from my perspective, what he should have done was figure out exactly what was the most important thing that needed to be passed and spend his political capital on that. And I think he kind of missed the mark; he went off on some other tangents and did some other things. And now, the more money you spend, obviously, the more obstructionist that the Republicans are going to be, even though they gave away billions of dollars in tax cuts, which they shouldn’t have, which could have been used to fuel our economy. Biden is out of touch with what’s going on in Detroit. No question about it, because if he understood the real impact of his endorsements policies. I think he would have run like the plague away from him. But they’re all Democratic guys, they are really cut from the same cloth, and I expected that. It’s not going to deter me, and the people who are going to vote for me aren’t going to be deterred because Joe Biden says that he’s supporting my opponent. Paul Jay So Detroit is a Democratic party, but people have to come out to vote. But Detroit is surrounded by a lot of Michigan that voted for Trump and might, well, again, what’s your take on where sort of Michigan is, outside of Detroit and what might be coming in 2022 and 2024 and what should be done about it? Anthony Adams 2024 is going to be a very difficult race in Michigan and Detroit; the influence and I fear the control that Trump has over the party, and he still exercises a considerable amount of control. People are fatigued by COVID restrictions. They’re just tired of it. They’re tired of the government telling them what to do. Now I have to get a vaccine, even though, when you and I were growing up, vaccines were mandatory, and we didn’t have this anti-vaxxer movement. We probably had some of it, but not as prevalent today. And so we’re currently going through a redistricting phase where there was a vote of the people to take the redistricting away from the state legislature. Something that I never thought would pass, and now it’s in the hands of an independent redistricting commission. But now you have black politicians in the state complaining that the maps were not drawn properly to ensure a black representation in the city. And I found that ironic. And I actually sent out a tweet. I said I found it ironic that you would complain about black people voting when you’ve done absolutely nothing to promote a marrow election in the city of Detroit. There’s kind of one hand can’t be the other, which is my point. We can’t turn this button on and off to get people motivated. If you’re going to be progressive and effective, you have to keep people motivated and keep them engaged in the process. The other irony of Detroit being depopulated is the fact that now we have cities that where there was never a large presence of black people. And so when you look at Harper Woods or East Point Westland cities where black folks never live, they now live. And they’re changing the face of the electoral politics of these cities. And so you’ve got, for example, the first black Mayor of Beach Point ever, you’ve got a black judge that was appointed out in Harperwood. So you see the impact of black people moving out of the city and impacting the politics in the region. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a tough race because people are fragmented, and people are disappointed. They are disappointed that we can’t push through the types of real progressive legislation that we need that we have with FDR for him to compare itself to FDR; that’s a stretch. But FDR’s battles didn’t all come at one time. The guy was elected four times. I think so. He was able to create a progressive record, and it wasn’t without a fight, fighting the Supreme Court and the court-packing cases. I mean, there’s a lot of dynamics that the people need to understand from a historical perspective. Paul Jay What happens in Michigan in terms of the 2024 election, whether it’s Trump or somebody like Trump, because it’s going to be one or the other on the Republican side. What Progressives do in Michigan, and I don’t mean just Detroit, it’s going to be very significant nationally. Are progressives getting organized to actually go and talk to and organize amongst the white working-class of rural Michigan? Anthony Adams No, they’ve been really sitting on the hand; when you have a guy like me who has a very progressive agenda, most of the progressive organizations have chosen not to take a position on the Mayor’s race. In part because a lot of leadership of some of the progressive organizations actually come out of the Democratic Party machinery. And so, understanding how the old boy network works, they’re simply not getting engaged in this process. And I think it’s hurting their credibility, first and foremost, I think you have some organizations that are trying to do the leg work, but this is work that requires a commitment of resources and dollars on the ground. Everybody likes to rave about what happened in Georgia, but when you listen to Stacey Abrams should tell you that was a ten-year process. It didn’t just happen overnight. And if you don’t do the leg work, you don’t spend the money. The one thing I give the Republicans credit for is that they continuously push their issues and their agendas and their candidates. They’re creating candidates. They have a candidate form. They do what they need to do in order to keep a lot of fresh blood in the process. The Democrats don’t do as good of a job. I think they need to reform how they approach politics, and they need to be much more directed to grassroots empowerment. But then, when you’re looking at a Democratic structure, you’re looking at a top-down approach. And what we’re talking about is how do you govern from the bottom up? How do you empower the people who you need to when you need them to vote, to get out and do what they need to do? A top-down philosophy is risky from my perspective. Paul Jay Well, you can’t, I think, expect anything else from corporate Democrats because that’s who they are. But progressives better get organized to do what you’re saying and not just in the city but across the state. Otherwise, who knows, Michigan could wind up really, a real Trump state. Anthony Adams Well, we have a big test, obviously, next year with the governor’s race. You have a governor who is well funded, well-financed; you have Republican challenges, particularly; the former black chief police of Detroit is running as a Trump Republican, just recently went to visit Trump. And so, I always have historically huge militia movement in the state of Michigan far right-wing groups that agitate and will believe in showing force. They marched on the capital with arms and made a big show of it. So we got to understand we’re in the balance here. We’re in the balance politically. We’re in the balance socially. And we certainly, the progressives, need to be much more engaged in getting to the people who they need to get to because the irony of it is poor working-class people are being crushed in the same policies as poor black people. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all getting crushed the grapes, and they’re drinking the wine from that process. Paul Jay All right, well, November 2. Good luck, Anthony Adams running for Mayor. Let me extend an invitation to Mayor Duggan if you’d like to come on and be interviewed or preferably actually have a debate with Anthony. Be happy to host it; of course, I won’t hold my breath. Thanks again, Anthony. Anthony Adams Thank you, Paul. I appreciate the time. Paul Jay And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Again, please don’t forget the donate button and subscribe and share all the buttons. Thanks again. END
27 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
A Conversation With Paul Jay – Pt 4
ARVE Error: src mismatchurl: https://youtu.be/XU-36AENrbEsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XU-36AENrbE?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://theanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XU-36AENrbEActual comparisonurl: https://youtu.be/XU-36AENrbEsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XU-36AENrbE?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftheanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XU-36AENrbE Sections of the elites remain in climate denial, or believe technology will save the day, or dream about living in futuristic cities where most humans are expendable. Are there members of the elites who see the real danger and are willing to take effective action? Paul Jay is interviewed by Andrew Van Wagner. During the filming of this interview, the Canadian federal election was taking place. The Liberal Party won with a minority government. TRANSCRIPT Andrew Van Wagner Sometimes I wonder if I could just interview Larry Fink or any of these super mega billionaires, Jeff Bezos, like, what do they think the world is going to look like in 2060, 2070, 2080? What do they think? What is their picture of what the world will look like? And what is the point of living in a fancy bunker or living in New Zealand? If the world is burning, you would just be depressed. You would just be looking at the world burning around you. So just because you protected yourself in some little bubble in New Zealand doesn’t mean it’s psychologically worth living life if the world is just burning down around you. Paul Jay Well, I don’t think they care too much about that. I think they believe that, and they’re probably already working on this. Like, I know the Saudis have this crazy city in the future they’re building in the desert. Solar-powered for multimillionaires and billionaires. It’s going to be like a little paradise. They’re going to be able to create water from saltwater, desalinate the water. They’re going to have solar power, and rich people can live. Listen, what do rich people really want to do? Get rich, fuck, take drugs. What’s the great meaning of life for most rich people now? What do they do? They spend their money. They buy stuff. The whole society is based on selling stuff. All this artificial intelligence, all this fantastic technology, Google, you name it. It’s fundamentally driven by advertising to get people to buy crap. So rich people, I guess, imagine that sooner or later they’re going to build fortress America, fortress Canada, fortress rich people, wherever it’s going to be. And that they can create the technology. The thing is, they probably can that would last some time: massive amounts of solar power, robots, desperate people that live outside the gate. It’s a kind of feudal castle, a modern feudal castle. With denial— the other thing, too, is don’t underestimate the extent that financialization, a company’s fascistization, it’s this global capitalist system that created [Adolf] Hitler. It’s this global capitalist system that creates these very extreme religious nationalists, whether it’s in the U.S., or India, you name it, or Israel. They have a very apocalyptic view of the world. You have religious fanaticism on one side, and sections of the elites really at their heart of hearts find most of humanity expendable and don’t care whether millions of people die off. I mean, millions of people are dying now. Do they care? How many children die of starvation now in the poorer countries of the world? I mean, do the elites give a shit? This is the thing that the working-class in Europe and North America; they don’t get that the elites don’t consider them fully human. It’s not just they don’t consider people of colour fully human. They don’t consider the workers fully human. Look at child labour in the 1800s in England. In Wales, they had nine, 8, 9, 10-year-olds working in mines. These are nice little white kids, white working-class kids. I was in a mine in Wales, and it was an iron ore mine. It’d been mined continuously for like 2000 years. The Romans started mining the thing. In the mid-1800s before, I don’t know what the year was when they illegalized child labour, but prior to that. They would have little areas deep down in the top of where they had opened up space to get the iron ore, little crevices where only a kid could get in. So they would put the kid up there, and they would put sharp rocks down the back of the kid’s shirt because they had to work on their backs, but they didn’t want them to fall asleep. So if they laid down with any relaxation, they would get carved up by these sharp rocks they’d thrown down. They would take the ladder away so they couldn’t get down from where they were. Then because there was no ventilation system, no one was allowed to piss. You couldn’t urinate while you were working. If you did, you’d be fired. If you were fired, you, in all likelihood, might starve to death because that’s what was happening to people that didn’t have a job in the mine. They were starving. They couldn’t use donkeys to bring the ore up to the surface because you can’t tell a donkey not to piss. So they used women. Women’s bodies in such numbers were being so twisted, and their pelvises were being so weakened by hauling this iron ore up to the top they couldn’t have babies. They were literally demolishing this white working class. This was in Wales, this particular mine, but it wasn’t just there that it happened. They were getting to a point where the working-class actually couldn’t reproduce itself. Now the individual mine owners didn’t give a shit because there seemed to be enough desperate unemployed people and kids they could keep going. But there were some members of the elites of the capitalist class that started to realize that if you allowed child labour and such terrible conditions for women, you weren’t going to have a working-class anymore. So, where would your capitalist system be? So that merged with the rising and organizing of the working-class. With the demands of this more organized working-class and the consciousness in sections of the capitalist class that expressed itself to their politicians, that they couldn’t demolish the workers at that kind of level of exploitation. You actually did get a convergence of interest, and they passed child labour laws and outlawed child labour. Eventually, they even got to an eight-hour working day. There were other measures that the capitalist themselves realized that completely unmitigated capitalism wasn’t sustainable. Now, can we see something like that now where sections of the capitalists see that this isn’t sustainable? And that’s the 64 million, billion-dollar question. We’ll see because so far, there’s a glimmer of it, but not substantial. Andrew Van Wagner Yeah, it reminds me of Edward E. Baptist’s work where he talks about how they manage to, I think quadruple or whatever it was, the efficiency of cotton picking just by calculated torture. Calculated torture. You have to pick your quota of cotton. Every day your quota increases. If you stop, they whip you. And that was how they managed to extract the most productivity out of their workers. I was going to ask him if I ever got a chance to interview him how that philosophy evolved because some corporations might say, oh, you have to treat your work as well to get the most out of them. Well, clearly, they arrived at a system where you systematically tortured them in order to get the most cotton picked every day, you know. Paul Jay Yeah, that might work with cotton, but in the long run, it didn’t work very well with modern capitalism. The threat of our employment was a better force of coercion than torture. A modern production didn’t work very well with torture, and the Nazis tried. I don’t think it was very successful for them either. But going back to what I was saying about this mine in Wales, one section of the capitalist class started seeing it wasn’t sustainable. But the other part of it was that sections of the capitalist class had no problem with the abuse, exploitation, and virtual slavery of white children. Sections of the elites, when they look at the current world situation if they come to the conclusion that there’s no way to save the situation without a drastic fascistization, separation of the rich physically, the creation of these walls, essentially. You’ve got these science fiction movies like Hunger Games. There’s lots of this science fiction where the wealthy either live on some big spaceship or someplace. We shouldn’t underestimate that there’s serious thinking and planning for such a thing. Although I think right now, the preponderance of the elites believes that technology and will save them. Right now, they think there’ll be some great technology, carbon capture. It’s only a matter of time. And you don’t have to worry so much about it. Maybe there will have to be more investment. Right now, Wall Street is not against Biden’s investment of this other three and a half trillion he wants to do. Although, much of that has nothing to do with climate. I guess the level of their denial is a deep faith that capitalism will work it out in the end, and it will be a technological solution. But if worse comes to worst, we have enough money that we will be okay until there is a technological solution. I can’t imagine what else is going through their heads. Maybe for the richest of the elites, in a sense, maybe they’re right. Millions of people head from the south up to the north. Well, they won’t get past our walls as they think. And we’ll have fascist storm troopers that will keep people in line and will shoot people. You can imagine a fascist dystopia. That’s not maybe how they think of it, but this is the system that gave us Hitler and [Benito] Mussolini and lots of other dictators, fascists, and so on. How do we get this message through to ordinary workers? That is the challenge. Andrew Van Wagner Yeah, and I didn’t mean to dwell on elites. It’s not necessarily productive to dwell on what goes on in Larry Finks, mind or whatever, but it’s obviously a curiosity. It’s one thing to say, I will live in this global society while kids are starving in Africa. It’s another thing to say, I’ll live in a bunker in New Zealand while civilization is burning down. I mean, those are two very different— Paul Jay One, I don’t think it’s a frivolous topic. I think it’s a serious topic because I think as much as we have to find out how to talk to workers, we actually do have to figure out how to talk to the elites and see if they can be divided between those that are really fascistic and those that like to think that they’re Liberal and care about the world, and so on. And there are some that do look at themselves in the mirror. They do worry about their kids. They’re not all sociopaths, but they are locked into an economic model, but they’re not all sociopaths. I don’t think what they’re imagining is a bunker in New Zealand as the world burns down. They’re imagining beautiful cities, whether it’s the Saudi example or something else, whether it’s in Northern Canada. But there’s going to be places on Earth where you could build even dome cities with controlled climate. The solar technology is getting to a point where if you’ve got the money, you can create a whole area of protected living. I’m not saying it’s realistic in the sense that I think millions of people are going to have something to say about people living in dome city. They think everyone’s just going to lay down while they live in these little protected places. They’re out of their minds, but some of them are out of their minds. So we need to have these conversations, and far from thinking, it’s just a curiosity to talk about the mindset of the elites. I think it’s a very important topic. I almost feel like it’s part of why I want to make this [Daniel] Ellsberg doomsday film; it’s to kind of shake people out of this inertia and lethargy. When I say people, I also mean within the elites because there ain’t no building a dome city that protects you from nuclear war. There’s no bunker in New Zealand. Nuclear war, there is no defence against. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. In some ways, if sections of the elite get how dangerous nuclear war is, they can’t buy their way out of it. Andrew Van Wagner I read this article in the Financial Post up here in Canada, and it said something like ‘Canada’s climate will improve, Canada will be a better place to live’. And I was just thinking, are you going to build a dome over Canada? Like we live in a global society, and if India and Pakistan, I mean, India is a hot place. It’s already unpleasant how hot it is. Those places go down the tubes. How are you going to insulate Canada? Like, we live in a world where some tiny l our global society. And they’re talking about Canada’s climate will be okay. And it’s like, how are you going to insulate yourselves against the global effects of all these things? Paul Jay But even that isn’t true. Canada’s climate won’t be okay. I made a joke to this climate scientist. I said people are joking about growing mangoes in Muskoka. And he said, yeah, it’ll be warm, but wait until you see the drought that’s coming. The growing season is going to be earlier and earlier. There’s going to be less and less snow. Then where’s your water come from? Yeah, sure, if you’re in Muskoka right on a lake, maybe. But even the levels of lakes are already down this year. Droughts are coming to large sections of Canada. It may not hit as terribly or as soon as the Southern, Southwest United States, but it won’t be long before the water situation, even in Canada, is going to be serious. So even though Canada may get hit a little later and not as terribly, certainly, like in Ontario and Quebec. In the west, it is going to be terrible. You’re going to have a dust bowl in Western Canada, more and more fires in British Columbia. But extreme weather events are going to hit Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. They’ve looked at it. When you start getting to two to three degrees, two degrees, three degrees. The Canadian situation is very serious. It’s no, oh, look how well we’re doing, so never mind. I mean, I’m agreeing with what you’re saying. It’s ridiculous to think that most of the world can be unlivable, and somehow Canada is going to be okay ignoring that. But even Canada is going to be in terrible shape. Andrew Van Wagner So we covered extremely urgent topics, extremely serious topics. You know, it’s a bit of apocalyptic, but, you know, yeah, maybe just to end on a hopeful note: what gives you hope in the face of these crises? Paul Jay Yeah, I get asked that question. I always have a long pause. What gives me hope? What I said earlier, people organizing, direct organizing. There is a shift of consciousness on climate. You can see far more people get the danger of it than did before. But we’re reaching a real crossroad. And this rhetoric with China is a very dangerous rivalry. So what gives me hope? Not a lot, being very totally honest. I’m with Ellsberg. You got to act as if there’s still time to turn away from the iceberg. I just hope, what can you do? I hope that enough people will get the urgency of the moment, and then we have to get over— you know, there’s a wonderful article. I’ll just do one little rant on this. [Friedrich] Engles wrote this great piece not long before he died. It’s called On the History of Early Christianity, and he based it on this work of [Bruno] Bauer, who did some work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, some other stuff. But basically, it was a lecture to the European Left against sectarianist and the amount of fighting that was going on over secondary issues and how much it was undermining the working-class movement. And he says in this article— everyone should go look it up, On the History of Early Christianity. He says in this, the early Christians understood the need of building a broad movement. And he said essentially, this anti-Roman revolutionary movement was made up mostly and led by Jews, but they needed to broaden it to include the slaves and other oppressed people. And how do you broaden it when to be a Jew is so difficult. You need a Jewish mother, or you got to jump through a bunch of rabbinical hoops. How do you build a broad mass movement if you got to be a Jew? So they developed this idea, dunk your head in water, get baptized, say you believe, act in a way you believe, and join this movement and fight the Romans. And it was a broad revolutionary movement that fundamentally was to be inclusive and not sectarian. And keep saying to European Left, and unfortunately, they didn’t listen to them, that if we don’t overcome this kind of factional fighting, we’re going to lose. We’re in a moment like that if we don’t learn from the early Christians and build a broad movement based on very basic common objectives and values with an electoral strategy and a community workplace organizing strategy. Movement in the street strategy, but a strategy connected with electing and taking power strategy. And that can mean different things, depending on where you are, what’s possible. At a city level in the U.S., for example, you might be able to completely break out of the duopoly of the two parties. But other elections, whether it’s at a state level or otherwise, maybe you have to work within the Democratic Party. It depends on what’s possible in Canada. I really, I haven’t said this publicly. I don’t know anywhere, but I don’t understand what the point of the NDP [New Democratic Party] is. Everybody that supports the NDP joined the Liberal Party and fought it out for control of the party and created a legitimate kind of two-party system here with a kind of left-wingish party versus a right-wingish party. But right now, we’re looking at a federal election, in which there’s a serious conversation that the Liberals and NDP will split the vote, and the Conservatives could win. I mean, it’s mind-boggling. They could have another Conservative government nationally. We got to rethink the political strategy in Canada. This current party structure. I mean, the Green Party is at war within itself, and even if they weren’t, they’re marginalized to the extreme. There’s very little time to get a legitimate progressive climate strategy in place. And if the Liberals, which I don’t have, Liberal leadership is no better than the corporate Democrats, so it’s not like I have any faith in them. But maybe a war in the Liberal Party is worth fighting it out. The way the [Bernie] Sanders movement, at least it accomplished something with the Democratic Party, more than people thought possible. But what is the current structure, the way the NDP operates? And even when the NDP does win the provincial government, do they actually govern that much differently than the Liberals do? So this is a whole other conversation, but if you go back to my main point, learn from the early Christians. We got to figure out how to build a broad movement with a national vision and strategy and not just in Canada and the U.S., but It’s the same problem in really every country. Andrew Van Wagner Thanks so much, everyone, for joining us. And I hope you enjoyed the interview. END
51 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
Michael Hudson: Biden Between BlackRock and a Hard Place
ARVE Error: src mismatchurl: https://youtu.be/DbrLndwowV8src in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DbrLndwowV8?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://theanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DbrLndwowV8Actual comparisonurl: https://youtu.be/DbrLndwowV8src in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DbrLndwowV8?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftheanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/DbrLndwowV8 The Biden Administration is intertwined with Wall Street but must deliver some election promises to workers. Michael Hudson joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news. TRANSCRIPT Paul Jay Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button on the top of our webpage. So if you’re watching on YouTube, you could maybe come on over to theAnalysis.news and hit donate. I think there’s a link on YouTube there too. And if you’re on YouTube, you can hit the subscribe button; that would be good. Most importantly, you could share this with a few people. One of the most common comments we get is why aren’t more people watching this? It would help if there were more shares. Although a lot of people have suggested YouTube is shadow banning us, and I think it’s quite true, especially since they took down a few of our stories. And it was only after Matt Taibbi wrote an article calling them out for it that they actually put the stories back up again and took the strike away from our channel, which would have led to banning the channel. But at any rate, since that happened, our views have certainly gone down. So it would help if people would share and defy YouTube’s attempt to marginalize us. Also, come on over to the website. You’ll find some of the stuff on the website is not on YouTube. And most importantly, at the website, you can sign up for our email. All that said, I’ll be back in just a few seconds, and we’re going to talk about the economy and the [Joe] Biden administration. I will be back in a second with Michael Hudson. In an interview I did a few months ago with Mark Blyth, he said Biden was caught between a BlackRock and a hard place. I thought that encapsulates pretty well where the Biden administration is with its economic policies. It’s beholden to, intertwined with BlackRock and the financial sector, but must deliver some of the promises it made to workers to get elected. There’s also a very real problem of digging out of the destruction of the Covid pandemic, which is far from over. Biden set some goals that could even be described loosely as progressive. But is he serious about delivering? And could he even if he is? Now joining us is Michael Hudson. Michael is an economist, professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He’s also a former Wall Street analyst, political consultant, commentator and journalist. Thanks very much for joining me, Michael. Michael Hudson Good to be back, Paul. Paul Jay So, there are lots of fights going on here on many sides of this Biden economic plan supposed to be 3.5 trillion, another one for 1.5 trillion. The Republicans do predictably what they would always do in this situation, is try to stop a Democratic Party administration from accomplishing anything. Joe Manchin from West Virginia might as well be in the Republican Party. Except I suppose it does give the Democrats the chairs of important committees, assuming that does help in some way. And they’ve got this kind of dual problem as I described; even one of the senior BlackRock guys is now on Biden’s financial team. Clearly, the financial sector has enormous sway. Although it’s an interesting mood of the financial sector, they’re not all that against some stimulus spending now, at least sections of it. Anyway, it’s a complicated picture, all of which right now is leading to the legislation being stalled. So what’s the big picture for you and then get into the micro? Michael Hudson Well, in a way, the big picture is in the tiny details. And the tiny details is in the pay-to-play politics that in order to run for office and get elected, you have to raise money, and if you have to raise money, what do you do? You go to the campaign donors. And what do you do? Well, the rule of thumb is that for every dollar that a campaign donor pays, they get 1000 times back. And the problem, obviously, with Biden’s program right now is look at the people who’ve been able to raise the most money. Well, in West Virginia, since you mentioned Mr. Manchin, here’s a state with a population equal to Brooklyn, basically. And Manchin’s family owns the coal mines. And he said, well, there’s such a delicate balance between the two parties that you really need my vote. And you’re going to have to make me, representing the coal industry, the climate change law. So America’s climate change law put forth by Biden will be written by the coal industry, along with the oil industry, which, of course, is the other set of major donors. And alongside that, the other major contributor to the campaigns of Republicans and Democrats alike, but especially to [Kyrsten] Sinema’s campaign in Arizona and [Jim] Clyburn’s campaign in South Carolina, is the pharmaceutical industry. So in order to get the Democratic National Committee to designate you as a candidate, you have to outpoll all of your rivals and who can get the most money from the special corporate interests that you are committed to represent. So what you have in the situation in Congress and politics is very different from what you would have in law. If this were a court case to decide what policy they have, if a judge owned stock in a huge coal company, he would have to recuse himself from writing that. But in Democratic politics, the reason that Manchin wouldn’t recuse himself and the recipients of pharmaceutical money won’t recuse themselves is that’s why they get the money because they don’t have it. Paul Jay The thing is, if senators had to recuse themselves because of conflict of interest, you might have only three or four senators left to vote on anything. Michael Hudson That’s the problem right there. So the question is, do we live in a democracy, or do we live in an oligarchy? We live in an oligarchy where it’s sort of pay-to-play, and the largest campaign contributors get to designate who are going to write the laws in their own interest. So that’s what’s paralyzing Biden’s plan. The problem is if you have politicians elected by who can raise the most money from the special interests, how on earth can they get voters to vote for them? Well, the job of a politician is to deliver a given segment of voters to the campaign contributors so that they can win over other politicians who don’t get the money from these campaign contributors because they wouldn’t give them all of the special interest favours that politicians are able to get them. So corruption— this used to be considered corruption, but now it’s built into the system as part of the basic system. And that’s not how democracies are supposed to work. Paul Jay Hang on a sec. So, Biden, let’s assume Biden is serious about wanting to pass the 3.5 trillion plan. He seems to be, and he’s got obviously sections of the financial sector that think they’ll make a lot of money out of it, and they’re in support of it. Let’s assume they actually do understand there is a climate crisis. And again, if you read the statements of Larry Fink from BlackRock and some of the other people in the financial sector, many of them do get there is an urgency. Now whether they’re willing to really do anything about it is quite another question. But at any rate, I think they do want to pass this. So in the reality of this situation, what can Biden do about Joe Manchin in West Virginia to try to force him to go along with this? Is there anything Biden can do? Michael Hudson Well, first of all, you use the word urgency. Urgency for the financial sector and for corporate America, urgency is the next three months. The climate situation is not urgent. It won’t be urgent for the next administration. It won’t be urgent for the administration after that. Even if when the water level goes up 20 ft, it’ll never be urgent because the financial sector and corporate managers live in the short run. They’re only concerned with the next three months. And so they realized that, yes, indeed, it’s an urgent problem in 10 years or 20 years, and it’s going to make the Earth absolutely awful. But we care about how much we’re going to make in the next three months and the next year for our earnings report, for our stocks, and that’s what I’m paid to do. I’m paid to make the stock go up in the next three months, or else I don’t get as much of a bonus. And at the end of the year, if I don’t perform as well as other managers, then I’m fired. So that’s the whole problem: short-termism and long-termism. So Biden’s program, it’s as if it’s a party platform. His three and a half trillion dollar program that remember began as a six and a half trillion dollar program and is way down. The party platform isn’t really what’s achievable. So now you bring in Manchin. Well, I think Bernie Sanders made a very good point the other day. He said, well, look what we have right now in the Senate is 48 senators in favour of it. Two against it. When you have 48 to 2, you don’t compromise 50/50. And yet, that’s what they want. They want 50/50. They want no climate controls. They don’t even want to close the loophole on carried interest, which is a huge financial giveaway to Wall Street. And they don’t even want, the senators who receive pharmaceutical funding won’t even let Medicare bargain over drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. So obviously, there’s no way in which the corporate special interests are going to ally themselves with the Democratic voters. And what can Biden say? All he can say is, well, we can go to the people and say, well, I’m sorry, we have these two senators. We don’t have a big enough majority to win. But let’s say he gets an even bigger Senate majority. The question, then they’ll get seven senators, ten senators playing the role of five. The Democratic Party has a whole slew of senators just waiting in line between Sinema and Manchin to block really any kind of serious agenda that would serve the overall economy, help serve the world avoid global warming, but will not make money for the companies that are making money on the fact that they’re polluting the atmosphere. Paul Jay I agree with you. And let me say one of the things I think that proves you’re right is there is something Biden could do if he wants to weaken Manchin’s hand. And that’s something various people have been talking about. Bob [Robert] Pollin has actually priced this out, which is a real just transition for fossil fuel workers. Where you say to the coal miners of West Virginia, you won’t lose a penny if we fail— not if, when we phase out coal, you can maintain your income until you retire. Even if you go to other jobs, we’ll subsidize you. Pollin priced this out. And for every fossil fuel worker in the United States, if you made that promise for three years, it’s only $2 billion. So $4 billion for six years. I mean, you can give them a decade of subsidies. It’s not even the cost of one Ford-class aircraft carrier. [crosstalk 00:13:23] The thing is, if you do that, you’re actually saying you’re serious about facing out fossil fuel and coal, which it doesn’t seem they are. Michael Hudson I think that would be very smart because then he could go to West Virginia and say, look, here’s a chance for you to maintain your salaries in a time when all the coal employment is going down and down and West Virginia’s less and less coal than it used every year than it used to be. And you have one person blocking money for you, and also he’s blocking the family child support for you. Are you going to vote for your interest? Or are you going to vote for someone else? Well, of course, the coal industry will give even more money to Manchin. And the question is, can money always trump someone from the squad actually going out and raising money? Well, here you have the Democratic National Committee that absolutely hates the squad. That is absolutely in the tightly tight fist of the special interests. Biden has made sure to take steps to make sure that there’s no way in which his program can possibly be accepted. He’s killed it at the beginning by appointing special lobbyists in charge of the Democratic National Committee. So he said, look, let me go to the people. I can have this wonderful program, but I’ve made sure that I’ve put the controllers in the Democratic National Committee so that nothing in my program will ever be done. That’s the trick in the full game. Paul Jay Yeah. I don’t think he wants to lose these programs. On the other hand, I think he’s not willing to do what it takes to win these programs. Michael Hudson Right. Paul Jay This idea of the transition for fossil fuel workers would also weaken Republicans in various red States. And I’m not saying it’s the only issue. There’s a lot of cultural, ideological things that are getting people to vote for Republicans and Trump, but it’s a big issue if you get real direct subsidies to fossil fuel workers. The problem is in the final analysis, Biden’s corporate Democrats really do believe in the fundamental status quo, even though they talk about this being a transformative moment. Michael Hudson Well, when you say status quo, status quo is really a dynamic, and the dynamic is moving, as you say, towards global warming. It’s polarizing. You mentioned the Covid crisis and the real estate problem, and the fact that the rent arrears and mortgage arrears are rising for many American homeowners. So the status quo means don’t do anything to stop the polarizing direction in which the economy is going in. To be a centrist or to be a moderate is to go along with the immoderate economy and the marketplace that is shaped by the leading corporations and the banks and the lobbyists, not by the voters. Now wouldn’t Biden know this? He’s worked in Washington for 30, 50 years. He certainly must know that if he puts the national committee chairman in place and says, get rid of the squad, that he’s actually not in favour of the squad that’s supporting his program, that’s what politicians do. They make it appear as if they’re trying to do the right thing while actually serving their interests. And I think giving you the credit for what you’re saying. I think Biden would love to actually be the transformative President that Obama never was. Maybe he’s thinking, here I am, who everybody looked down on as a gray personage under Obama. But maybe I’m able with my program, and this program would be transformative. This program would really set the country in a more progressive direction. He would love to do that, on the one hand. On the other hand, there’s this personality that doesn’t want to shake up the existing power structure. And the power structure is antithetical to his program. And how is he going to solve that? Paul Jay I actually think there’s a section of the power structure that’s for his program. I mean, the BlackRock guy. I forget his name; that’s on the senior advisor in his economic team. He’s a former senior BlackRock guy. There’s a section of the financial sector that does want a kind of Keynesian moment here, at least for a while, because they assume they’re going to make money out of the expansion that takes place. So it’s not like his hands are completely tied. On the other hand, he won’t do what it takes to go to war with the Right. I love how they call them moderate. The right-wing section of the Republican Party, who, in fact, traditionally, Biden has always had one foot in himself. That being said, there’s a moderating effect— again, the word moderating of these kinds of Manchin types that serves the interests of the elites. But I think there’s a problem here, too, which is I think there’s a kind of irrationality to capitalism, and it’s at a very irrational dysfunctional moment here. The system itself actually would benefit by this Biden plan. I mean, the capitalist system itself. It will give some benefit to ordinary people for a while, probably short term. But it’s also better for ordinary people that you don’t go back into austerity, which the Republicans would probably invoke because the Republicans hate this lack of labour discipline. They can’t stand the idea. This whole thing empowered workers to actually decide what kind of jobs they want. They may start going into strikes again. Holy shit, we might see an increase in unionization. And the Republicans hate this moment and, of course, not just the Republicans. This is also probably giving some pause to sections in the financial sector who actually really own most of the corporate world anyway. So I think they’re really at a, what’s the word, betwixt and between about what to do here. Michael Hudson Well, here’s the tension. You use the word dysfunction and in terms of the survival of the economic system, in terms of the economy avoiding austerity, yes, it’s dysfunctional, but that’s not irrational because the rationality of the financial sector and the special interest is short-term. So their rationality is what is dysfunctional. Their rationality of living in the short run and not caring about global warming because they’ll be retired by then and their rationality of saying, well, we’re making money by selling our Pharmaceuticals at monopoly prices, that’s how we make money. Well, that’s rational for them dysfunctional for the system. So this assumption that whatever the market produces is rational and functional is the bedrock of Western economies. And it’s wrong. And it negates the fact that you really need some government power strong enough to override the special interests. And that takes a very strong government, which is why the free market people have always opposed strong government and why their economic models don’t give any acknowledgement for government investment in infrastructure that Biden wants or any government activity that is able to override that of the rentier class, the financial class, the property-owning class and the corporate monopolists. That’s the problem we have. Paul Jay So, what should people do about it? Michael Hudson I don’t know what they can do about it because it may be that we’re a failed economy and a failed state. There’s nothing that people can do as long as they’re confronted with a dysfunctional system. This is exactly what happened in the Roman Empire. Aristotle said that many countries had nominal Democratic constitutions, but in practice, they were oligarchic. Well, in Rome, everybody could vote, but the votes of the—Rome divided the voting groups into different layers and the top layer with only a few people. We can think of it as West Virginia who had as many votes as the whole next 40% of the population. The votes are weighted by money. Well, we don’t weigh the votes by money in America, but we weigh the campaign contributions to determine who’s going to be able to run to get the votes in this country. So given the fact that our political system is oligarchic, not Democratic and being oligarchic, the special interests all sort of come to a deal saying, well, we in the oil industry don’t make money from your pharmaceutical people getting a rip-off, and you don’t get a benefit from our polluting of the atmosphere and mining. But let’s agree we’re never going to disagree with each other’s special interests because we have one common interest. And you just said it; it is to prevent labour from increasing its wages, to make sure that all of the increase in economic growth goes to the top 1%. So the deal there is; this is the kind of deal that the Mexican government made a century ago with the ruling party. They won’t fight among themselves. They’ll always make a common front against labour or the peasantry, as it was in Mexico, and that’s the situation we have here. I don’t see how it can be changed without a change in the system. And we haven’t even mentioned the Supreme Court and all of the other non-elective things. We haven’t mentioned the Senate parliamentarian gets to decide what can be actually submitted to Congress. I mean, we have so many checks, not balances, but blockages and chokepoints instead of checks and balances. We have choke points that the existing vested interests use to stop anything that they feel is against their short-term interests. Paul Jay I think there’s got to be a sort of step-by-step here in terms of what needs to be done. And I do think we have to distinguish between the corporate Democrats, who I agree with how you have described them. But I still think that section of the elites, that section of finance, that section of capital do want to maintain the formal Democratic institutions that exist. I don’t consider that a real democracy, but it’s better than the alternative because there is a section of capital that’s really almost metaphysical in their beliefs. And the way Steve Bannon articulates this, Bannon is very close to Opus Dei and the right-wing of the Catholic Church. He works very closely with Christian nationalists, and I don’t think it should be underestimated how much they believe their rhetoric. And many, many, many people, especially in the military, are willing to die for this vision of essentially a Christian theocratic authoritarian America. So, step-by-step, I think we have to; while we don’t have illusions about corporate Democrats, we also shouldn’t have illusions about the danger of the far-right. And I think some on the Left are minimizing how serious the danger of that kind of fascism is in the United States because even if Wall Street thinks short-term, I don’t think these right-wingers are thinking short-term. They’re thinking long-term. And they have actually been working at this for decades. You could say from Barry Goldwater and then [Ronald] Reagan and then Trump— Bush administration, they’ve been actually trying to carve out this kind of right-wing authoritarian state. Even if there’s contradictions between them, like the Cheney’s are in contradiction with the Trump’s and so on, but I think that’s just a fight for leadership of the hard Right, not a fundamental fight over authoritarianism. So I interviewed Adolph Reed recently, and he said, look, whatever you think about the Democrats, you got to hold your nose and get past 2022 and try to make sure the Republicans don’t regain either the House or the Senate. And then there has to be a real fight over who’s going to be the candidate in 2024. Does that make sense to you? Michael Hudson It makes sense. But most of the forecasts about 2024 are that the Republicans, no matter what happens, they’re set to increase their Senate control. And I think one of the aims of Sinema and Manchin they may simply change parties, go over to the Republicans, and the Republicans will be in control. And as you just pointed out, the Republican Right is thinking structurally. It’s not thinking marginally. It’s been preparing this for a long time, and this is a basic structural change that will come down like a hammer. You’re absolutely right. I don’t see any structural, long-term alternative being put forth by the Democrats. They’re social Democrats, and they’re trying to move marginally, and so you have a marginal mover and a structural mover. And just in terms of physics, the structural revolutionists are probably going to win. And it’s not going to be a very nice country. But I don’t see the Democrats acting actively to stop it. That’s the problem. The Democrats are, if anything, have enough of their special interest senators that are enablers of the Republican Party that I don’t see the Progressive Caucus is getting enough power to change things. So I think the Progressive Caucus realizes this, and I think they’re absolutely right in their earlier statement. I don’t know this week what they’re saying, but they said, look, if we’re going to have to only pass Republican bills, we’re not going to do it. We’re just going to block it. Now they’re saying, okay, we’ve got to get something. And that’s what led Bernie and the squad to say, well, wait a minute. Do we have to give up 90% of what we want just because of two senators? And the answer of Biden was, ha, ha, ha, you stupid twits. It’s not two senators, it’s five senators, it’s ten senators, it’s 15 senators. No matter what, we have so many people behind Manchin and Sinema that we can just pull them out, and they’re going to block anything you’re going to do. And you can be sure that the DNC [Democratic National Comittee] is going to fight against AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and against the squad and trying to get more special interest groups. They’ll naturally merge into this Republican horror story that you quite correctly described. Paul Jay Well, I hope you’re wrong. But what’s that [Antonio] Gramsci quote about pessimism of the mind optimism of the heart? There’s got to be, I hope, a movement. And I say step-by-step in the sense that it is going to have to be an electoral and mass movement. There’s two points of potential change here. I can’t say I’m wildly optimistic. One is there has to be a real fight in the unions because I don’t see the ability to elect Progressives in the House and the Senate without a revitalization of the Union movement, you could see just the nurses and communication workers how close they came to backing Sanders and winning the nomination of the Democratic Party. If you had more unions, even though unionization is small, there’s nothing that compares to them in terms of financial resources and numbers of workers that are organized. On the other hand, I have a series of interviews coming out soon with Jane McAlevey. A lot of workers, you go ask them; they don’t even know the name of the Union they’re in. The unions’ leadership is so dormant, but a revitalization of the unions. And then number two, I think we need to try to identify some members of the elites who aren’t sociopaths. And I believe there are some. I do believe sociopaths rise to the top in capitalism. Especially in the financial sector. The short-term nihilistic, what’s good for me and my family practically like a Tony Soprano mentality. I think it’s very dominant, but it’s not the only; there are some people. I think we have to identify them. And there needs to be some kind of national way of organizing this kind of movement because right now, the Left and organizing are so siloed based on cities and then on issues. Michael Hudson Well, then you bring up the other fight that’s going on about the redistricting and the voting rights law. And again, you have leading Democrats opposing the voting rights law that Biden had tried it out, saying this would be the ideal. Suppose you do recognize the people in the way that you want. How are you going to get their votes counted with all of the gerrymandering that’s just gotten rid of some of the more progressive candidates? Paul Jay From what I’ve seen, if there was a real increase in the number of people that vote, you actually probably could overcome at least much of the gerrymandering. But you’d have to have a really massive increase. There would have to be a real serious campaign to register poor people who, to a large extent, have given up on elections. Michael Hudson Here’s the problem. The Democratic leaders and local leaders of the States which are in charge of redistricting are almost all actually Republicans. Look at the fight they had when they got rid of Dennis Kucinich’s representative section. They gerrymandered to get him out of Congress. They just had another election in Cleveland that also led to not the left-wing candidate being elected. You have the Democrats who are in charge of the districting locally as well as nationally, not favouring the groups that you want to favour and that I want to favour they’re favouring again, the special interest because that’s where their money comes from. And that’s where the Democratic Party’s Committee, through the National Committee, comes from. Now, as I understand it from what’s being told, when AOC and the squad raise money, they have to give much of this to the Democratic Committee that’s backing their opponents in a lot of this. I don’t see why the squad and the Progressive Caucus doesn’t immediately fight against the party structure and say, look, we can get what we want. We can get this Biden program, the whole six and a half billion that Biden says that he still wants. But we’re going to have to change the party’s internal administrative structure. And I don’t see them taking that step with the nitty-gritty. And that’s the nitty-gritty stuff you have to take in order to get all of these other things because that’s the choke point within the Democratic Party right now. Paul Jay There were some reforms that the Sanders campaign won, about the number of super delegates and some other things like that. I don’t know how effectively that will really play out leading into 2024. But I know notice in the audience people saying, well, what about a third party. What’s your view about that? Michael Hudson If this were like Europe, I wish we had a third party, but to have a third party, you would need a parliamentary system like in Europe. Right now, there’s a duopoly between the Republicans and the Democrats, and a third party simply can’t get on the ticket because of all the technical laws that the Democrats and Republicans have put in place at the state level, the local level and the national level. So there’s no way. Bernie Sanders thought about this for a decade, and he said he looked at it, and there was no way that he could see creating a third party that could even get onto the ballot because the Democrats have blocked off the ballot access and they’ve maintained the pay-to-play money in politics role. That sort of prevents something from happening here. If we had the ability of a parliamentary system like Europe, you’d have the Democratic Party falling to maybe 8% of the vote like the Social Democratic Party and parties in Europe. You’d have the Republican Party splitting with only part of the vote. You would have a real spectrum, a bell-shaped curve of parties like you have in Europe. And that would give an opening for exactly the kind of program that you and I are advocating. But we don’t have that here. And it would take a political revolution, or at least it would take a new Constitution to do it. The problems are now inherent in the Constitution, as are implemented by the Supreme Court justices who are in place, and they’re going to be in place for quite a long time. So we have a constitutional problem, just like Rome had a constitutional problem. Where you couldn’t have any reform by Julius Caesar or the other reformers, that’s the problem we have today. We’re stuck, and we’re unable to act. And this is what is letting other countries pull ahead of us that don’t have this paralysis problem that America now has politically. Paul Jay [Ralph] Nader said that Sanders was right to run within the Democratic Party, that it just really didn’t work otherwise. So I’m left with people who have to fight the primary right-wing Democrats leading into 2022. Then they got to elect whoever the hell a Democrat is shit or not, even though most of them are shit in 2022 because I think the alternative of the fascistized; overt fascistization of the Republican Party. I wrote an article Why People should Vote for Biden back during the election. I said vote for Biden without illusions. And I talked about how the corporate Democrats are part of a longer-term process of financialization and fascistization of America. They’re very much part of that. But there’s a malignant cancer on that process, and that’s the criminal Republican Party, not to say the Dems don’t have a lot of their own criminals. But it’s a very malignant particularized form of this cancer that leads to a very overt fascism. And people I think have to recognize living in the heart of the empire this is what it is. And so I think people have to primary Democrats. Then vote for Democrats one way or the other, except even a Manchin. I don’t know how you vote for a Manchin if you’re in West Virginia? But I don’t know what? The alternative might be worse. And then two, who the hell is going to be the candidate in 2024 and another big fight for progressive; for the Democratic Party and not worry about don’t split the party and facing another Trump. Michael Hudson Well, the way you frame the question, and I think it’s correct. Will the voters think, well, we’ve got to protect ourselves from another Donald Trump-type party, or will they say, gee, we elected the Democrats? They control the presidency, Congress and the Senate, and they couldn’t do anything. What’s the point of voting? Let’s just stay home and vote with our backsides. That’s part of the problem. The second thing is suppose that Bernie Sanders was the nominee in 2024. What could he do that he hasn’t been able to do this time around? Bernie Sanders has been able— he’s really been the voice of the program. Biden’s nominal program is very compatible with what Bernie Sanders wants. And Bernie’s made that quite clear. The only thing that Biden has done that Sanders would not have done was appoint right-wing Republicans, special interest lobbyists in charge of the nominating committee of the Democratic National Committee to make sure that they’re going to back only candidates that are Republicans running as Democrats as special interests, financed by the special interests. And that failure, that locking in of the corrupt political process is what’s really blocked; what’s blocking things. So even if you get Bernie, you’re going to have the Manchin’s, you’re going to have the bulk of Democrats say we’re leaving the Democratic Party and joining the Republicans because there’s really only one party, because that’s the only party that’s doing anything. And of course, it’s the only party doing anything; if they block everything the Democrats are doing, and then you have a Sinema saying, I will not vote for anything the Republicans vote for, and the Republicans insist in voting and blocking the Democrats. So I’m going to vote with the Democrats. I’m going to vote with the Republicans to vote against the Democrats because that’s being bipartisan. I mean, that’s the craziness that we’re in. Paul Jay Like I said, I’m not wildly optimistic. And even if you had a significant more number of Progressives elected in the House and maybe a few more in the Senate, and even if you got a Sanders presidency, that doesn’t change the elites and the nature of the elites and their ability to wage war against any politicians who aren’t on their agenda, there would have to be a transformative moment in the mass movement. People have to get organized. And I hope people do watch the series I have coming with Jane McAlevey about organizing in the unions. I don’t know where this all ends up. If you ask me to game theory, it doesn’t come out well because that’s the end of any climate program for the world. Michael Hudson Yeah. Paul Jay You might as well give up on any rational climate policy. We got to take our best shot. And unfortunately, a third party; even though, of course, I’d love to see a real progressive third party; there’s no way it’s going to have any chance of any significance in the time frame we’re talking about, which is 2024 or even if you’re talking the window for dealing with climate, which is what, less than a decade. So hopefully, there’ll be some breakthroughs in other parts of the world. But in the U.S., we better be realistic about what’s possible and mitigate the fascistization and mitigate the damage done by the corporate Democrats. We got to take our best shot. What else can we do? Michael Hudson Is there any way of getting a political corruption law in that you can’t vote for what your campaign contributors give you? Because that is corrupting politics as it would be if you were a judge in the court system. Paul Jay Yeah, well, you know the answer to that because the same people you’re asking to vote for that law are the people doing it. Anyway, I don’t want to leave this so completely pessimistic. People are going to say, okay, fine. It’s all shit. And we know that. What I’m saying, and I think other people are saying, is get organized wherever you are. Whatever organization you’re in, fight for policies that are both progressive in the short run. And whatever level of organization you’re in like if you’re in a Union, fight for a better contract. But link that with a fight for real democracy, both in terms of politics and economics and in terms of the political process, both state levels and otherwise, because just sitting home and getting angry and hearing us talk about how doomed everything is. That should hopefully only be something that helps motivate one to do more. Which means get into an organization and fight for that organization to take a progressive position on these things. Michael Hudson Right? You don’t want to be depressed. And even if it’s hopeless, it’ll make it feel better. Paul Jay Well, we’ll see if it’s hopeless. There have been transformative moments in human history where you figured it was all done, and then things happened. Look at some of the places there have been revolutions. Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Michael Hudson Whats transformed is the structure, not the individual within the structure. You can’t put your faith in princes. It’s got to be a structural change. And only the Republicans, as you point out, are planning these structural changes as they have for the legal system and the right-wing legal groups they have in the law and economics group in Chicago. That’s the whole problem. You do have to deal with structure. You sound like a Republican. Paul Jay No, it sounds like a socialist. Earlier, you said Biden is only a social Democrat. They’re not even really social democrats. An American social Democrat would have been an [Franklin D. Roosevelt] FDR, and he was willing to go to war. Are there any sections of the capitalist class left? That for the sake, even of capitalism, which is what FDR fought for, are willing to go to war as a social Democratic alternative rather than what much of Europe chose, which was fascism. And right now, it ain’t looking great. But I don’t think we should give up here because, to quote Daniel Ellsberg, we got to act like the captain of the Titanic. He can still be persuaded that he doesn’t have to set a speed record and he doesn’t have to sail at night, and that we can get to the owner of the Titanic and say, you don’t need to prove you’re the fastest. So I actually do think there has to be some effort to get to some sections of the elites because as much as I want a transformation of the workers’ movement and unions, I don’t see it happening fast enough. Michael Hudson Well, if you knew any such individuals, you’d certainly solve your fundraising problem. Paul Jay [Chuckles] Yeah, I’m not worried about that. I need to fundraise, but I don’t care about that. I’m more interested in do my kids have a place to grow up in? Michael Hudson Your site is a wonderful site, and it’s good you’re having these discussions because you have to describe what’s wrong. And even if it’s pessimistic, you have to say here’s where the bottleneck is, and you’re focusing on what the problem is and what the bottlenecks are. I want to say one thing about unionization. I talked a lot to University professors, and like at NYU [New York University], there was an argument the other day, and one of the— faculty arguments, one of the professors said, they’re treating us like we’re wage earners. And a Marxist professor said, but we are wage earners. Don’t you get it? There’s an interest we should get unionized. Well, that’s something that blue-collar workers do. So, it’s amazing how many people just do not think of themselves as having the broad interest that you and I have been talking about for so many years. Paul Jay All right. Let me just end with one thing, which I would suggest to everybody watching to read it’s by Friedrich Engels. And it’s called ‘The Early History of Christianity’. And it’s a piece that most people have never seen. He wrote it right near the end of his life. And it’s a lecture to the European Left to get over their sectarianism, and his messages was learn from the early Christians. And he says the early Christians were an anti-roman, Jewish movement rebellion. But they realized that you can’t fight the Romans just with Jews. You have to broaden out to all the slaves and to other oppressed classes. But you can’t ask them to be Jewish because it’s too complicated you need a Jewish mother. You have to go jump through rabbinical hoops. So they said, look, dunk your head in some water, say you believe and now join us in fighting the Romans. So it’s very nonsectarian. And then Engels is saying if the European Left doesn’t get over the sectarianism, they’re going to lose. And they did. And the same thing I think is true in so many countries, but particularly the U.S., the Left has to figure out how to build a broad front and get over so much of this competition. And a lot of it is driven by economics; whether it’s NGO-ish in funding or branding on the Internet, there’s so much fighting over secondary issues. And in my opinion, there’s not nearly enough effort to figure out how to build a common front. Michael Hudson Well, that metaphor with early Christianity is very appropriate because it is how Christianity grew until — how did the Romans detooth it? They made Christianity the state religion. And once they made the state religion, they backed St. Augustine against the reformers, and Augustine really founded the Inquisition. And Augustine began having them fight against all of the social reformer games and said, we’re not going to change the world. It’s okay for people to be rich. It’s okay for them to be users as long as they give the money to the poor, meaning us, the Church, to do everything. So when they were co-opted by being made to state religion, that’s what happened to the Left, to the Social Democrats, they were co-opted. They were made the official policy. And once they were the official policy, all of a sudden, what happened to them is what happened to the Christian Church after the fifth century. Paul Jay Well, Engels was not talking about learning from the Christians of the later, of Constantine and so on, when it came to religion. He’s talking about when Christianity had a revolutionary character. So let’s leave it there because otherwise, you’re going to come up with another thing that won’t work! Thanks a lot, Michael. Michael Hudson It’s good to be here. I like the discussion. Paul Jay Thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Don’t forget the donate button. Subscribe to the email list subscribe on YouTube and all the buttons. Thanks for joining us. eND
36 minutes | Oct 13, 2021
The Agribusiness Alliance for a Green Revolution Failed Africa
ARVE Error: src mismatchurl: https://youtu.be/GrCv-M8WpyMsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GrCv-M8WpyM?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://theanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GrCv-M8WpyMActual comparisonurl: https://youtu.be/GrCv-M8WpyMsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GrCv-M8WpyM?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftheanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GrCv-M8WpyM Research by Tim Wise (GDAE-Tufts University) is conclusive and fully resonates with claims by Africa’s biggest grassroots movement, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa: the corporate capture of food systems should be rejected. Donors and government funding must shift to agroecology. This is an interview hosted by Lynn Fries of GPEnewsdocs. Here is a link to the website: https://gpenewsdocs.com/ TRANSCRIPT TIMOTHY A. WISE: One of the things that we are really pleased about, about the the book, is the title: Eating Tomorrow. The double meaning captures the real essence of what I was trying to communicate. Which is that humanity does indeed face a continuing challenge to ensure that everyone can eat today. And climate change makes that challenge all the more daunting about making sure everyone can eat tomorrow. But the way we are producing our food on chemical intensive, industrial scale farms is quite literally devouring the natural resources – the seeds, the land, the soil, the climate, the water – on which future food production depends. By continuing and now even expanding such unsustainable production methods we are eating our collective tomorrows. And the powers that be far from shifting away from that kind of a damaging farming model are instead promoting evermore industrial scale agriculture. I wrote this book because with thirty years in this field, I wanted to understand why policy-makers were ignoring all the low cost solutions all around them offered by their own small-scale farmers. And instead they are pushing expensive policies that not only fail to help the hungry eat today; they are undermining the capacity of all of us to eat tomorrow. LYNN FRIES: Hello and welcome. I’m Lynn Fries producer of Global Political Economy or GPEnewsdocs. Today’s guest is Tim Wise. In that opening clip, Wise was speaking at the 2019 launch of his book Eating Tomorrow, a book about Agribusiness, Family Farmers and the Battle for the Future of Food. Today, we will be looking into the battle for the future of food in Africa. We’ll do this through the lens of two very different alliances. One, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and the other, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Their respective acronyms being AFSA and AGRA. Tim Wise is senior research fellow at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute. And senior advisor on the future of food from the US to India, Mexico to Mozambique at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Welcome, Tim. TIM WISE: Thanks so much, Lynn. FRIES: In early Sept, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released an open letter stating the Green Revolution had failed Africa. In the statement, AFSA demanded that donors of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa stop funding the AGRA initiative. There was a press briefing held at the time. So, Tim, start by giving us some background on all that. And who the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa represents. And something about the discovery process of your own research findings on the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. WISE: When I was researching my book a lot of the work I did was in Southern Africa. I heard a lot about the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. And its program to promote the use of chemical fertilizers and commercial seeds to replace seeds and practices that farmers typically use in those regions. But you never came across the actual organization, AGRA. What you saw was lots of promotional activity and direct subsidies by African governments to sell those inputs. And you heard a lot about how it wasn’t working. After I’d heard about that really for the three, four years I was doing the research for the book, I finally got the occasion to do a deeper study on whether the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa was having the kind of impact that it claimed it was going to have. Really promising a productivity revolution for Africa’s small-scale farmers. They promised in their original goals to double productivity and yields and incomes for 30 million small-scale farmers, that’s a lot of farmers, while cutting food insecurity in half. So I just looked at the 13 countries that AGRA has focused on for most of its 15 year history. And looked at whether there was any sign of a productivity revolution: income improvements or food security improving. And there really isn’t. So it was striking that what I had observed more anecdotally out in the field doing my research for the book was so dramatically confirmed in this research on: Well, where’s the Green Revolution? And the farmers I’d talked to in Southern Africa weren’t wrong when they said: it’s not working. It’s not working. So the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is the largest civil society organization in Africa. Those farmers I was talking to in Southern Africa are members of organizations, peasant unions, networks that are often members of the Alliance. They claim among members and affiliates over 200 million members across the continent in 50 countries. So this is a large powerful grassroots organization representing food producers largely, not just farmers but fisher-folk, pastoralists, and others. And so when they take a stand and directly challenge the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and donors to it, to stop funding it, it’s a big deal. And it really deserves attention because it’s a bold step for an organization to come out that publicly and say to aid organizations: Hey, your aid is not what we want or need. We want something else. And the something else they want is support for agroecology. And other low input small-holder friendly climate resilient programs that actually support small holders doing what they do, but doing it better. FRIES: In the words of AFSA at that press briefing: After nearly 15 years spending more than $1 billion to promote the use of commercial seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides in 13 African countries and an additional $1 billion per year of African government subsidies for seeds and fertilizers, AGRA has failed to provide evidence that yields, incomes or food security increased significantly and sustainably, for small holder households across its target countries. So the message from AFSA to AGRA’s donors is: stop funding Green Revolution technology. And shift support to agroecology, an approach that Africa’s small hold food producers say works and they want. What in short is meant by agroecology? WISE: Agroecology is defined in many different ways but I think the simplest way to understand it is an approach to growing food that tries to work in harmony with natural systems rather than trying to overcome them by using say pesticides to control pests, fertilizer to create soil fertility for the crops, etc. But it’s also a social movement at this point. And I think a lot of people, like those at the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa are really connecting it to food sovereignty. In the sense that it’s really about empowering local food producers to take the lead in determining how agriculture and food moves forward. FRIES: The General Coordinator for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa put it this way: We welcome investment in agriculture on our continent. But we seek it a form that is democratic and responsive to the people at the heart of agriculture, not as a top down force that that ends up concentrating power and profit into the hands of a small number of multinational corporations. The AFSA press briefing at the time the Open Letter made clear that well before releasing that Open Letter in September, AFSA had sent letters to major AGRA donors asking them for evidence AGRA was living up to its promises. In other words, meeting its goals. But AFSA reported they received few and no credible responses. This despite the fact that AFSA network represents as you say 200 million food producers across Africa. WISE: These leaders are deeply insulted and they should be. I mean, it’s not just the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. One of its member organizations, the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute, an organization started by faith leaders in Southern Africa, wrote an open letter to the Gates Foundation. The Gates foundation is far and away the largest donor to AGRA. I mean really it is the Gates Foundation’s organization. They’ve contributed two thirds of a billion dollars over 15 years of AGRA’s billion dollar budget so far. So it’s really their organization. And they never even responded to this letter sent by faith communities, a letter signed by 500 faith leaders across the region. I mean, I don’t know the lack of accountability is really astonishing from these organizations. AFSA, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa wrote its letter in June. Sent it to all of the major donors to AGRA. And got very few replies, absolutely no evidence. And no response at all from the Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, from USAID a major sponsor, UK AID. They got very little and nothing in terms of evidence. It’s a little bit surprising to me that having published my research now more than a year ago, that none of the donors and AGRA itself have come up with anything credible that refutes or challenges our findings that it’s not working. I mean, we found such failure. We found that yields have increased hardly faster than they had before AGRA and the Green Revolution push came along. And at very low rates. We found that poverty was still endemic, particularly in rural areas. And the most remarkable and to me surprising finding honestly was that the number of undernourished people, the UN’s measure of severe hunger, had gone up 30% rather than being cut in half in Agra’s 13 countries. FRIES: The published research you just cited is the July 2020 Tufts University paper titled Failing Africa’s Farmers: An Impact Assessment of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. And for this impact assessment, we should note you used national-level data to assess progress in productivity, poverty reduction, and food security in AGRA’s 13 target countries. Because despite spending billions, there was little publicly available documentation on the impact of the AGRA initiative was having. Either from AGRA, the Gates Foundation, or donor governments. And AGRA itself declined to provide data from its own monitoring and evaluation. However in 2020 as AGRA reached its own self-imposed deadline in meeting its own stated goals, your study revealed that AGRA had failed on its own terms. And you’ve confirmed those findings in subsequent updates. So fast forward to October 2021, you find it surprising that AGRA and AGRA donors have failed to provide credible evidence to refute the findings of your research publications. And a related report: False Promises. So as an alarming example of all this you were saying that far from meeting its goal to cut hunger in half by 2020, undernourished people in Africa, which is the UN measure of extreme hunger, has gone up in AGRA’s 13 countries. WISE: The most recent UN report is even more alarming about this being just the wrong, the wrong path for Africa to follow. Because it showed that the number of undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa, as a whole since 2006 when AGRA was founded, has increased by 50%, not decreased by 50%. So taking Africa in the absolute wrong direction. And no answer providing any evidence that anything they’re doing is really working. And then, like you said, no accountability. No interest in engaging and responding to these major community organizations and networks in Africa. The real stakeholders that matter, if you’re talking about increase in small holder productivity and incomes and food security, no response to them. FRIES: Among other things, the report A Sting in the AGRA Tale makes the connection between Africa’s being taken in the wrong direction and AGRA’s influence on laws in favor of agribusiness in Africa. That report details how AGRA promotes and creates through financial and other contributions, an institutional framework in many of its focus countries that makes its own Green Revolution approach binding through laws and framework conditions. In other words, AGRA’s role in the corporate capture of governance of food and agriculture in Africa. The upshot being the exclusion of voices of the real stakeholders at the heart of agriculture in Africa. Which is what AFSA obviously argues. What the UN Food Systems Summit has shed light on is AGRA’s influence in as it’s put in the title of a report on this topic Cementing corporate capture of food governance through decision making in the worlds international public institutions. And the corporate capture of the UN Food Systems being a case in point. And a recent report Exposing corporate capture of the UNFSS through multi-stakeholderism gets into details. Among other things, the report shows how AGRA fits into the interconnections between multi-stakeholder institutions and corporate actors and corporate influence in the leadership of the UN Food Systems Summit. So given all that, comment more broadly on the battle for the future of food in Africa. And specifically, give us more context on the statement by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa that they quoted wanted: to state clearly and categorically that AGRA does not speak for Africans. WISE: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa is based in Nairobi. Every year they hold an annual Green Revolution Forum, it’s called. It’s really a place where agribusiness and governments and foundations come together and kind of rally the troops and make deals for investment and the rest. This year they were, I thought pretty brazen and insensitive in announcing that their Green Revolution Forum would offer what they called a single African, a coordinated African voice going into the Food System Summit. As if they spoke for Africa and African food producers. And that just incensed the leaders of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. It was like; you do not speak for Africans. We speak for African food producers and you won’t even answer our letters. The battle for the future of food is exactly a battle between, I call it agribusiness and family farmers but it’s much broader than that. Right? It’s the, it’s the battle between those who are advocating an equitable, just and climate resilient and sustainable food system that produces healthy food. And those who are advocating really business as usual. In spite of their claims that business as usual is no longer an option. That’s exactly what they’re offering at this UN Food Systems Summit, for example. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri has participated in that process with a very critical eye. And came out with a report as the UN Special Rapporteur is saying the problem with the way this has been conducted and the way it’s being carried out and with the conclusions that it’s coming to with a bunch of so-called game-changing solutions to our food system problems is that corporate interests have dominated the agenda. That it has marginalized the actual food producers from those discussions. And the outcome is more strategies that are threatening to have us eating our collective tomorrows by undermining a resource base we need to grow food in the future. Not just in Africa, in the US. Not just in the U S, in India. The Food Systems Summit was convened on the premise and the recognition that we were not on track to meet the goal by 2030 of eliminating extreme hunger. We absolutely are not. In fact, we’re moving in the opposite direction. And unfortunately, the Food Systems Summit has jettisoned all of the most promising approaches that could actually end business as usual and give us food systems that begin to restore the earth, provide healthy and nutritious food to everyone on the planet. And achieve the promise of the right to food that is enshrined and endorsed by so many countries around the world. FRIES: Let’s talk now about another common denominator in what’s happening with food systems. Whether how the AGRA initiative is taking Africa in the wrong direction or the UN Food Systems Summit is taking the world in the opposite direction of what you say could actually begin to restore the earth and provide healthy and nutritious food for everyone on the planet. I am thinking here about disinformation campaigns that demonize approaches like those jettisoned from the UN Food System Summit that you’re talking about. For instance, an OPED by renowned economist Jomo K.S. titled Beware UN Food Systems Summit Trojan Horse draws attention to what he calls deliberate deceptions to undermine support for agroecology. And the Gates funded, Cornell Alliance for Science, for instance has been widely criticized for disseminating this kind of disinformation. In a Scientific American OPED titled Bill Gates Should Stop Telling Africans What Kind Of Agriculture Africans Need AFSA gives details how this applies to Africa where support for the agroecology paradigm they support is being undermined among Africa’s scientists and political leaders by this kind of disinformation campaign. So, comment on this demonization of agroecology. WISE: It’s a concerted campaign. And in part that’s the result of the movement for agroecology gaining traction in international institutions like the UN Food and Agricultural Organization where they adopted a scaling up agroecology program to support governments that want expand ecological agriculture. The UN’s High Level Panel of Experts on Food Systems is a very well-respected group that does these in-depth studies. They just recently did one that resulted in a resolution by the Committee on World Food Security [CFS] to promote agroecology as one of the important solutions to the climate crisis and to hunger. So it’s gaining traction and the powers that be are alarmed. And they’ve fought back with just crazy disinformation campaigns portraying African farmers as backwards, saving their seeds and being wedded to what they call traditional technologies. What most offended me as a researcher who has worked with a lot of different organizations that promote agroecology is that they are wildly innovative. I mean, the idea that this is somehow backward is just ludicrous I mean, they’re basically taking scientists out into the field and talking to farmers and saying: what do you need? How can you improve your soil fertility, so you get higher yields? How can we help you? The innovations are not minor in that process. And in fact, farmers themselves are some of the most innovative because they are the ones on the front lines of climate change. They see what see perform well under drought conditions. They see how growing a multiplicity of crops in the same fields improves soil fertility and reduces their climate risk. Because if a drought comes through and wipes out the corn crop, they have other crops that they can rely on for food. That’s where the Green Revolution model is so limited. But to have these proponents of what I argue is actually really old technology. Seeds and fertilizers, that strategy comes from the Green Revolution of the sixties and seventies in the last middle of the last century. We are 50 years on from that and they’re still selling the same old technologies. How can you, how can you demonize people who are truly innovating with ecological agriculture with this old technology claiming that it’s an innovation that is somehow fresh, new and, and going to solve today’s problems. It’s just not. FRIES: So then the way you see it, is that these disinformation campaigns partly reflect agribusiness’ alarm at a situation where governments instead of depending on corporate solutions to combat hunger and climate change are increasingly seeking solutions in other approaches. And in the case of scaling up agroecology, doing so with the support of programs at the world’s public institutions of food governance. In this case, the UN Rome based agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization or FAO. So, it is not so hard to understand how an agenda and narrative coming out of the UN that agroecology is a win-win-win for people, planet, and livelihoods would alarm agribusiness and its allied interests. And how as you say corporate interests are fighting back. This then serves to protect markets for corporate innovation from old technology like the Green Revolution technology we’ve been talking about in the context of Africa to new technology like the kind championed as techno-fixes at the UN Food Systems Summit. Talk more about as a market for corporate innovation. Most of us thing of Green Revolution technology as genetically modified crops. So tell us about the kind of Green Revolution technology that’s being advocated by AGRA in Africa. WISE: Agra itself is very careful not to publicly state that it is advocating for genetically modified crops because they are just so widely rejected on the continent of Africa. What it’s doing though and what the Gates Foundation is doing and others USAID are advocating for changes in seed laws and intellectual property laws that would open the door for genetically modified crops to start to be used in Africa. They’ve made some incursions in that regard in Nigeria and in Ghana. Overwhelmingly the countries do not allow genetically modified crops particularly food crops to be grown. Cotton is often an exception to that because it’s not directly consumed. But it’s important to recognize the road to genetically modified crops has a number of steps along the way. First what you do, if you’re trying to open that door is you get farmers to stop using the seeds that they save year to year. And you don’t need GMOs to do that. What the Green Revolution sells is what are called hybrid seeds. Seeds that have been bred. And they’re bred in such a way that they supposedly will give you high yields. Usually only if you have all of these inputs that mostly farmers can’t afford: irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides and the like. Hybrid seeds can’t be saved from year to year because they don’t hold their what’s called vigor, their productivity. It will degenerate if they’re saved from year to year. So the first step you do and I saw this in Malawi is you try and get farmers to give up their local seeds. You tell them they’re unproductive, some of them are not very productive. That they’ve been overused. That they’re tired, as people would say, and you should start using our commercial seeds. And once you’re using them, you can’t save them. So you need to buy them every year and you’ve opened up a market for seed suppliers. Monsanto and now Bayer in Malawi sells 50% of the hybrid maize seeds in that market. And so those are big markets for these seed companies. They don’t need to be selling GMOs to make money. And that path of getting farmers dependent on commercial seeds that are these hybrids, you can’t save year to year so they have to buy them every year and the fertilizers to make them grow creates a dependency that is very much serves the interests of these agribusiness corporations. FRIES: So the experience we have seen in the Green Revolution from the ‘60s and ‘70s over the decades in other parts of the world is that as farmers get put on the path of dependency on these corporate inputs they can run into serious debt problems. So comment on that risk. WISE: Sure that’s a huge risk. It’s probably the headline risk that people have heard about from India because of the high levels of farmer suicides. Farmer suicides, because crops fail and farmers have gone into debt to buy the seeds and fertilizers and rather either out of the humiliation or being in debt or that the desire to free their families from the debt that the farmer himself has incurred, they take their own lives. We’re not at that level in Africa. I mean the levels of dependency are not as high on these inputs. This is a relatively early stage in the attempt to bring African agriculture under agribusiness’s control. The vast majority of African food is still produced by Africans using seeds they’ve saved from year to years from their crops. So that’s the market that the Bayer Monsanto and others want to get. FRIES: In wrapping, talk now about agroecology as the kind of approach members of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa want AGRA donors to shift funding to. There is plenty of compelling and inspiring stories in support of that on AFSA’s website which has a whole section of agroecology case studies. Your work takes you all over the world but staying with today’s focus on Africa, tells us some of what you are seeing there. WISE: Oh sure. I mean, it’s very inspiring stuff. That’s what keeps me in this work. It’s been awful under COVID not to really be able to travel and do that kind of international research and reporting that I was able to do for the book. And in my career generally to be out in the field and see what’s going on. It really is a growing movement. I mean you have literally millions of acres in West Africa in a program of restoration of degraded dry lands through the regeneration of tree farming. A very simple but labor-intensive process of getting trees that have been cut down to grow again. They provide shade. They literally changed the climate in that region and allowed food once again to be grown on those lands, wildly successful and literally on millions of acres of land. You have others where again, I think it’s millions of acres of farmers doing what’s called either inter-cropping or cover-cropping. It’s basically farmers who’ve grown dependent on monocultures of maize of corn, which is what’s generally promoted being coached into choosing good leguminous crops, like beans to inter-crop in the rows of corn. Very much taking from what we know in the United States, as the old three sisters model of the ancient Maya, right? You grow bean squash and corn in the same fields and you are both producing a nutritious diet in combination and a way to sustain the soil in combination. That’s all been destroyed by industrial agriculture. That’s been broken apart each crop on its own field and mining the nutrients from the soil in their own ways. In Africa, they are huge projects to get farmers growing these leguminous crops with their maize crops. And they found, these guys have more than doubled yields for maize and other food crops in the process without resorting to dependence on chemical inputs. It’s really not hard to find success stories out there. But if you have your blinders on like the Gates Foundation does, and others, and you are wedded to the dogmatic notion that the only way you can get progress and solve problems is with technologies, then you’re missing that train. FRIES: Tim Wise, thank you. WISE: Thank you so much, Lynn. FRIES: And from Geneva, Switzerland thank you for joining us for this segment of GPEnewsdocs. For related stories, I will put links in the transcript to conversations with guests Harris Gleckman, Nick Buxton, and Pat Mooney respectively. The conversation with global governance expert, Harris Gleckman, unpacks the multi-stakeholder model championed by multi-stakeholder institutions like the World Economic Forum as the mechanism and pathway for the corporate takeover of global governance. A process that is being at the United Nations under a strategic partnership agreement signed by the UN Secretary General with the World Economic Forum. The conversation with Transnational Institute’s Nick Buxton was on how people’s movements all over the world are mapping the corporate takeover of global governance in sector after sector from agriculture to technology. What Buxton calls a silent global coup d’état. The conversation with ETC Group & IPES Food’s Pat Mooney goes into the corporate takeover of global governance of food and agriculture and reaches into the corporate capture of the UN Food Systems Summit that was part of today’s conversation with Tim Wise. This program was recorded September 20, 2021 END Timothy A. Wise is author of Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, & the Battle for the Future of Food. He is a senior research fellow at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute & senior adviser at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Produced by Lynn Fries / GPEnewsdocs
30 minutes | Oct 13, 2021
A Conversation With Paul Jay – Pt 3
ARVE Error: src mismatchurl: https://youtu.be/C0YRqrFUcuMsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/C0YRqrFUcuM?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1&origin=https://theanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/C0YRqrFUcuMActual comparisonurl: https://youtu.be/C0YRqrFUcuMsrc in: https://www.youtube.com/embed/C0YRqrFUcuM?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftheanalysis.newssrc gen: https://www.youtube.com/embed/C0YRqrFUcuM Paul is interviewed by Andrew Van Wagner about the urgency of the climate crisis and the lack of an effective plan coming from most governments. Paul says a just transition for fossil fuel workers could change the politics of the issue in the U.S., but it’s not part of the Biden plan. TRANSCRIPT Andrew Van Wagner I interviewed Bob Pollin, and he and [Noam] Chomsky wrote a book called Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal. And Ellsberg actually, I quote him in my piece where he did a review for that book where he says, this is the road map to save ourselves. This is the plan everyone needs to read this. It is a survival manual for the species. I wonder, you never looked to elites for anything, really. But do the billionaires, do they understand that that government action is needed? A Global Green New Deal is needed. Pollin said he’s like, we’ve got till 2050 to get to zero global emissions. Do the elites understand that that’s needed? And if so, are the Larry Finks of the world putting their weight behind that? Paul Jay Oh, they understand it’s needed. They’re not doing what it takes to get there. They’ve adopted the rhetoric of net-zero by 2050. The problem is the concept of net-zero is kind of bullshit because net-zero means you can have carbon offsets. You can have various tax schemes, but most importantly, they’re relying on carbon capture. Not deliberate, regulated, law-enforced phasing out of fossil fuel. If you look at the Biden plan and you look at all the rhetoric around their carbon capture and nuclear power, it’s a big piece of the plan, but there’s no there, there. Even if carbon capture, and it looks like there are ways to have carbon capture to suck some carbon out of the air, but nothing at a scale that can accomplish much and reach these targets. But they keep talking about it as if there is. I was just reading an article today on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and there’s been some studies. They’re building a carbon capture operation in Finland or Iceland; I can’t remember one of those two. It works. The technology works, but the calculation that this guy made after interviewing and talking to a bunch of scientists that maybe if 80% of carbon reduction comes from phasing out of fossil fuel, the 20% that would still have to be dealt with maybe that happens through carbon capture. First of all, if you only deal with the 80%, which means immediate phasing out of fossil fuel, immediate meaning 5-10 years, an urgent plan. But even that 20% is a total question mark. It would take billions, and billions of dollars, probably trillions, to create enough carbon capture capacity with this process, at least. Even if it did, it’s optimistic to think it might deal with 20%. Now, I don’t know if all his numbers are right or wrong, but everything I’ve read is that in terms of getting to net-zero, well, first of all, net-zero by 2050 is not enough. That 2050 number only makes any sense at all if you get to 1.5° warming, stabilized at 1.5° by about 2032-2035, in that area. But you don’t get there if you don’t essentially get there by the end of this decade. So you have to stabilize at 1.5° by the end of this decade to not get to 2° by 2050. Well, we’re nowhere near getting to 1.5°. Based on this interview and the recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, people should understand 1.5° is a disaster. The extreme climate we’re seeing now and all over the world, we’re now at 1.3° or 1.4°, I can’t remember the number. Maybe 1.2° in warming. We’re two, three, four degrees to get to 1.5°, and they’re expecting we can do that in a decade. Well, to get to 1,5° is like a doubling of our current extreme weather, between now and 1.5°. So, look at all the forest fires, all the storms, all the flooding, all the heating, we can get close to doubling; 1.5° to 2° is more than doubling, 2° to 3° is quadrupling, 4° is more than quadrupling. So at 4°, most of the southern hemisphere, as I said, is unlivable. When I interviewed the climate scientist, I said, at 1.5° or 2°, what is the American agricultural west look like? I think I asked him that at 2°. I said some people are saying it’s a dust bowl at 2°. I said am I exaggerating? He said, no, you are not exaggerating. The other thing that’s really scary in Chapter Eleven, he talked about unexpected climate events, extreme events, which they can’t estimate the risk. There is not enough data. One of the examples he gave is the oceans. I don’t know the specifics of this, but the oceans absorb an enormous amount of carbon naturally. There’s a phenomenon that’s begun, which I believe is part of global warming itself, where some of that capacity is being reduced. There is the possibility of a kind of tipping point where there’ll be a significant drop in an unexpected way of the oceans absorbing carbon. One of the examples of— he said if that happens, all bets are off. All their estimates about 1.5° and 2°, and how much time we have, it all goes out the window. There’s other such events that are possible. They can’t just put a number on it. It’s not like they don’t think they’re not going to happen; it’s that they are scientists. They don’t have enough data to say it’s this percent or that percent. So, do the elites know it? Well, they’re not stupid. They read the same stuff we read. I think for the majority of the elites, at least so far, they think that when it really comes down to it, they have so much wealth, and they’ll be okay one way or the other. I mean, it’s not for nothing that all these rich guys are building spaceships, and they buy land in New Zealand. The rich— Rob Johnson, who knows a lot of these rich people, he says denial is very comforting. Yet you go about your life. I mean, so do most of us. If you have millions, and millions, and billions of dollars, you feel you’re immune. Will there be some individual elites that with enough power and influence and get the catastrophic nature of this that they will have to actually think about their own children? And understand that they may for a time be able to mitigate the effects on themselves and their families, but what planet are they planning to live on? I guess we’ll see. In some ways, everything about capitalism I know tells us they’re not going to, but there’s been some examples where they kind of did. They did deal with acid rain, sort of. I don’t know. The jury’s out and will find out. If you work backwards from how we save human civilization given the weakness of the people’s movement, given the weakness in places where you would have hoped there would be a real breakthrough like Brazil you would have thought there could have been a really progressive breakthrough, even if [Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] Lula wins the next election it’s still so chaotic there. You would have thought a place like India by now would have a really revolutionary progressive socialist movement of some strength. Instead, you’ve got an insane Hindu nationalist running the place. So it may take that we’re going to get deep into the shit before enough people wake up and take action, and one hopes it’s not too late. Andrew Van Wagner Yeah, just to clarify, it’s one thing for Larry Fink, and I’m just using him as a mascot, but it’s one thing for these elites to say my company is going to do X-Y-Z. It’s another thing for them to actually get political. Like the Koch brothers are highly political, right? So why don’t you put your billions of dollars into politics to push for a Green New Deal? Since these people are very intelligent, very well informed, and they understand that it’s a serious emergency, I would expect to see them shift from my company’s going to do this, too, I’m going to get political now. They’re not stupid, and they know that we need to get political. We need to have a Global Green New Deal. Paul Jay They’re very political, and the Democratic Party is— Larry Fink, has his man and close to Biden as an economic advisor. They’re very political. They control the corporate Democrats, but like I say, they have to, it has to be the kind of thing that happens during war, wherein, like World War II, they accept it and have no choice. An enormous amount of government intervention to quickly put the country on a war footing. And that’s what’s needed now. There has to be government intervention like there’s a war. It has to be a war to reshape the economy, which means enormous power handed over to the state. It has to also be a government that is not completely controlled by the financial sector because they have their own agenda. It’s like they can’t help themselves, but to just try to make money out of whatever gets done. I honestly, at this point, don’t care if there was a, quote, unquote New Deal, a Green New Deal, not the kind that’s been proposed by the Progressives, but one that made the financial sector even richer because they built the public out of tons of money, but actually was a factor of phasing out fossil fuels. Well, do we have a choice? Like right now, they should nationalize the fossil fuel industry, obviously. If you have to pay all the shareholders, which is mostly these financial institutions and say, okay, here’s X trillion dollars go away. We now own the fossil fuel industry. You haven’t lost anything. We’re phasing this out. The same thing— like a simple proposal would be, Bob Pollin made this, and I just talked about this with him in an interview a little while ago. He reckons that you could pay every fossil fuel worker in the United States three years of their current wages for $2 billion. I mean, $2 billion isn’t much money for Jeff Bezos, or never mind BlackRock. So double that. So $4 billion dollars in six years and keep going. You can guarantee all the fossil fuel workers they won’t lose a dime with a transition to sustainable energy. Not only that, you would electorally weaken the Republicans in all these fossil fuel States because they’re going to scream. What fossil fuel worker is going to turn down money to retire? But they’re not doing it. Why isn’t Biden doing it? Because if you do that, it means you’re serious about phasing out fossil fuel, which means you’re going to go to war with the fossil fuel companies that are owned primarily by the financial sector. That’s the most obvious thing in the world. Again, this goes back to this kind of on-the-ground organizing because if you organize in States where there’s fossil fuel workers and start organizing with this as a demand. Yes, transition, but transition with full support and subsidy to fossil fuel workers. I think it would have some success. Pollin is talking about in California, the Union that represents the refinery workers is actually advocating and supporting this proposal: the phasing out of fossil fuel with a just transition. And of course, why should fossil fuel workers bear the brunt of something the whole society has participated in. But it’s the conundrum. The logic of capitalism isn’t that. Except if they do get that their own wealth, their own status, their children are going to be in a livable world maybe some of them start to get it. They got it more now. The Biden Administration, at least in rhetoric, and at least with a little bit of plan and investment, is taking it more seriously. But it’s nowhere near what scientists say needs to be done. Andrew Van Wagner In Canada, can the federal government just bail out Alberta? Alberta is just stupid on climate change because that’s where their bread is buttered. So you just do the same thing with them, just transition, bail them out, and then they won’t care, and then you can move forward on climate. Right? Paul Jay Well, yeah. You offer the fossil fuel workers wage subsidies, whatever. It isn’t that much money. Of course, the fossil fuel companies will scream blue murder because they’ve invested so much money in the Tar Sands. If you start with subsidizing the workers electorally, it will really weaken the hand of the right-wing in Alberta, which are essentially just fronts for the fossil fuel companies. It’s clear the writings on the wall with Tar Sands. It’s the same thing with the Trudeau government; they won’t be any different. Even the NDP when they were elected in Alberta wasn’t any different. They don’t want to take on the fossil fuel companies. They’re afraid, but there’s no choice. The best way to start is with the subsidizing of the workers. Andrew Van Wagner I did a piece on climate communication. Do you know who Katharine Hayhoe is? She’s a climate communicator. She puts out statistics where she shows that people in America largely agree that global warming is real, largely agree that it’s going to harm people in poor countries like in Africa, and so on. They agree it’s going to harm their kids. They agree it’s going to harm plants and animals. But the thing that prevents action is that they don’t think that it’ll harm themselves. It’s so strange to me because you have to be a real psycho. I mean, even if you’re a psychopath, you want your kids to have a good life. So that’s crazy to me. You know what I mean? Paul Jay I think that’s changing. I don’t know those stats. I don’t know how old they are. I think in the last couple of years that number has really changed. It used to be really alarming how many people answered poll questions the way you said. I think that in recent events, especially the last year, year and a half, two years, people are really directly affected. Look at what happened in New York, New Jersey, wildfires out west. People are getting it, but there isn’t enough consciousness about what’s really required. And so the fact that the Democrats claim they’re doing something and can blame the Republicans for not doing more in the U.S. it paralyzes the situation so far. In Canada, there’s— yeah, I think in Canada, in the big urban centers outside of maybe British Columbia. I’m in Toronto now, and we have a lovely climate. We’re having a great summer. People joke that in about 10, 15, 20 years, we will grow mangoes in Muskoka. It’s easy to be in denial and the Canadian urban centers— and what is it, 80% of Canada is urban. Different out west because the fires have clearly hit people in a way that hasn’t happened before. I guess one change is the extent to which the Conservative Party in this federal election ongoing now is trying to claim they have a climate policy, which for a long time they didn’t even have one, really. It’s a reflection of Canadian public opinion. Not that the Conservatives are serious about doing anything. They’re far too tied to Alberta and fossil fuel areas for votes, and as I said before, mouthpieces for the fossil fuel industry. The Liberals aren’t a heck of a lot better. Why there isn’t a larger-scale climate movement in Canada, I guess it’s kind of what you just said. Even if people in polling questions in Canada say yes, it affects me. It doesn’t really yet. Certainly not in, like I say, not in Toronto. It’s hot, maybe hotter than usual in the summer. But most people, a majority of people; I’m not even sure if it’s most. A majority have air conditioning. The significant numbers of people that can’t afford air conditioning are very marginalized and not organized; you don’t hear about them. The media is terrible on the whole in Canada and the U.S. The amount of time spent on climate crisis is minimal, and very, very little expose about how ineffectual government policy is. So people get fooled very easily when a party or the government claims they’re going to do this and that. It sounds, oh, okay, they’re taking it seriously now. Andrew Van Wagner It’s incredibly confusing to me why— if you have kids or you care about the future of society— again, even if you’re a psychopath, you should, on the most narrow, self-interested grounds, you should be in panic mode. That’s what I’m saying. Paul Jay Well, I would disagree with that. I don’t think psychopaths do think that way. Psychopaths, I think they’re psychopaths because they don’t think very far, except about their most immediate impulse, need, and logic. The problem with capitalism is psychopaths rise to the top. Capitalism rewards psychopaths: people with no conscience, people who don’t give a damn about society, who are totally focused on money-making. At the very most, and this is where I give you something, but it’s very narrow. Maybe they care about the interest of their own family the way the Mafia does. I think Tony Soprano, the Mafia mentality is a pretty good way to understand how much of the capitalist elites think that everybody’s expendable in the entire world. All humans are expendable, except maybe their immediate family. But even there, it’s within the confines of very narrow money-making. So there’s a kind of lodging to a Mafia family. But they don’t give a damn that the activities of getting millions of people addicted to drugs, crime, the destruction, and the havoc they reek. The Mafia doesn’t care about that because they’re making money today, and that’s somebody else’s problem. I think most of the capitalists think that way. What I mean by most of the capitalists is people who are actually actively running the system, whether it’s big corporations or government. There’s a lot of sociopaths that rise to the top. They’re not out and out psychopaths. It’s not like they’re going to run around individually, killing people and such. But they just have accepted the logic of the system that’s so internalizing. The example, I guess that I always go back to when I hear this kind of question. Tobacco companies who sat and hid the research, they knew tobacco smoking caused cancer. But not only did they hide the research from the public knowing that tobacco causes cancer, all the executives smoke, because if you didn’t smoke, you didn’t rise to the top of the tobacco company. If you wanted to advance your career, you better be a smoker. They let and encouraged their kids to smoke for the same reason. They let their kids smoke knowing what they knew because they were just embodiments of the corporate culture. You know, [Karl] Marx says this great line that social consciousness reflects social being. Well, they become the culture of where they work. They become the corporate culture. They used to have this line you are what you eat. It wasn’t right. You are how you make your money to eat. That starts to defy your consciousness. The odd person gets it, quits, and breaks away. You get whistleblowers. But on the whole, the inertia of habit; it’s very hard for people to break out of it without an external event that really shakes them. Eventually, the insurance companies had enough of cancer. It was just costing them too much. Governments, especially and even States that had a certain amount of public insurance, but private insurance companies, especially, they wanted to stop the amount of smoking going on. It was costing them a fortune. So eventually, one sector of the economy started pressuring the tobacco industry, and they had these big lawsuits in the States, and they’re still smoking; it hasn’t been banned. When it comes to something as fundamental as what’s required to deal with climate, a real restructuring of the economy, the inertia and habit, it’s very difficult. It’s growing. I can’t say it hasn’t changed because there’s a lot more people who get it now that didn’t even five years ago. But we who have any kind of platform at all have to really focus on what’s effective climate action as opposed to what’s empty rhetoric. I’m hoping that people that are in the trenches organizing, whether it’s about unions against police injustice or crimes against Indigenous people, whatever it is, people have to take up the question of climate. They have to make sure that wherever they’re working, wherever they’re organizing, whether it’s advocacy or organizing, the solution to these issues, whether it’s climate or even nuclear weapons, they’re very similar, which is there has to be a radical restructuring of how the economy is organized. It can’t be as radical as I’d like to see. I mean, obviously, anybody that looks at this would know that some form of Democratic socialism is the only real way out of this. I mean, it’s just too obvious. But the time frame to have a real kind of socialist transformation, whether it’s in Canada or the United States— now, this may not be true in some other countries. It may be possible there’s a breakthrough. Like Bolivia right now, maybe it’s going to go that way. Who knows? Maybe something in Brazil might be possible. But in the U.S. and Canada, the elites are so powerful here. I don’t see in a time frame that could be nine or ten years, if we have that moment, that you’re going to have that kind of transformation. There needs to be this kind of real restructuring of the Canadian economy if we’re going to talk about Canada, which is so much based on fossil fuel. That conversation, it’s hard to have because the Canadian media is not very interested. With the fires in B.C., people can see what happened in New York; maybe we’re getting closer to that moment. Andrew Van Wagner Alright, thanks so much, everyone, for joining us. And I hope you enjoyed the interview. END
55 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
The Whole Country is the Reichstag
Adolph Reed says, "The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective— taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible." Reed joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.
32 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
A Conversation With Paul Jay – Pt 2
Paul is interviewed by Andrew Van Wagner where they continue their discussion about nuclear weapons, the media, and climate crisis.
50 minutes | Oct 1, 2021
Pt 2/2 – Paul Jay & Abby Martin on Afghanistan, 9/11 & Climate Change
In an episode of the Empire Files Podcast, Abby interviews Paul about his investigation into the 9/11 attacks, his experiences in Afghanistan, and his interviews with climate scientists.
46 minutes | Sep 27, 2021
Pt 1/2 – Paul Jay & Abby Martin on Afghanistan and 9/11
In an episode of the Empire Files podcast, Abby interviews Paul about his investigation into the 9/11 attacks, his experiences in Afghanistan, and his interviews with climate scientists.
32 minutes | Sep 24, 2021
A Dangerous Provocation Driven By Commerce – Wilkerson
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was a special assistant to a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, comments on Milley‘s phone call to China, the nuclear submarine sale to Australia, and the danger of a single man, the president, having the ability to launch a nuclear strike and end life on earth.
10 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
AI Should Improve Quality of Life, Not Make Capitalists Rich – Lester Earnest on RAI Pt 5/5
Artificial Intelligence can make the world better or be a tool for war – says Lester Earnest, founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford, on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced January 4, 2019.
10 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Billionaires Shouldn’t Control Artificial Intelligence – Lester Earnest on RAI Pt 4/5
“Patents block progress” – says Lester Earnest, founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford, on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced January 2, 2019.
13 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Military-Industrial Congressional Frauds – Lester Earnest on RAI Pt 2/5
Corporations bribed politicians—it’s legal, it’s called campaign contributions—and they funded projects the Defense Department contracted out, giving the crooks a lot of money; that’s still going strong today – says Lester Earnest, founder of the AI Lab at Stanford. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced December 26, 2018.
21 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Cold War Radar System a Trillion-Dollar Fraud – Lester Earnest on RAI Pt 1/5
Profit and deception drove cold-war militarization, says Lester Earnest, founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford; Earnest says the anti-nuclear bomber SAGE radar system never worked and carried on for 25 years – Lester Earnest on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced December 24, 2018.
26 minutes | Sep 21, 2021
Ellsberg on Milley, China and the Danger of Nuclear War
In a commentary, Daniel Ellsberg explains that Gen. Milley’s call to China may have prevented a near catastrophe, as happened in 1983 when the Soviet Union believed Reagan had gone mad and planned a first strike. He calls for a fundamental change in U.S. nuclear strategy.
10 minutes | Sep 20, 2021
DOD Criterion for Success Spend all Your Money by Year-End – Lester Earnest on RAI Pt 3/5
After working on the MIT SAGE radar system and at the Joint Chiefs, Earnest concluded “it’s basically a money-making system, that’s what it’s about and has nothing to do with real defense” – Lester Earnest on Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced December 28, 2018.
36 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
A Conversation With Paul Jay – Pt1
Paul is interviewed by Andrew Van Wagner, and in this segment, he talks about working with Daniel Ellsberg on a documentary film based on the book Doomsday Machine.
26 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
Will Cuban Reforms Create More Inequality – James Early on Reality Asserts Itself Pt 3/3
On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, James Early who has visited Cuba more than thirty times says what’s needed is more citizen participation and less centralization but Cuba is not headed towards the Chinese capitalist model. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced November 18, 2013.
18 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
Obama and the Post Racial Society – James Early on Reality Asserts Itself Pt 2/3
On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, James Early says the economic indices of the black community are worse at the mass level than they were before Obama became president. This is an episode of Reality Asserts Itself, produced November 19, 2013.
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