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Author Topic: Profiles in Courage  (Read 4075 times)

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AGelbert

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Re: Profiles in Courage
« Reply #165 on: January 06, 2019, 11:56:12 am »
Why are People Talking About Socialism? Ė with Paul Jay

January 2, 2019

From Donald Trump, Karl Rove, and Fox News to an invigorated progressive movement and many newly elected members of Congress, many are saying that socialism will be the issue in the 2020 elections Ė a viewer mailbag segment with Dharna Noor and Paul Jay

Story Transcript 🕯️

DHARNA NOOR: Itís The Real News. Iím Dharna Noor. And Iím back in the studio with our editor-in-chief, Paul Jay.

For the past few days weíve been taking a look at viewer questions and comments from The Real News Network. And weíre here to discuss some of those. Howís it going, Paul?

PAUL JAY: Good.

DHARNA NOOR: So we recently were looking at a segment that you did with Francesca Fiorentini on November 2, which was called Trump Defines Socialism as a Key Issue in the 2018 Elections. And often when we put socialism in a headline or discuss socialism in pieces we get lots of viewer comments that are pretty skeptical. They say socialism doesnít work, itís never worked. Look at, for instance, a country like Venezuela. What goes through your mind when you see things like that? Whatís your response to those sorts of critical viewers?

PAUL JAY: Well, first of all, let me say again what I said to, you know, some of the other mailbag things. Iím giving you my opinion. Real News does not have an opinion on whether socialism is a good thing or a bad thing.

DHARNA NOOR: But Paul Jay might.

PAUL JAY: But I do. And Real News does have an editorial guideline that we should try to follow evidence and facts. And so my response is, and may be the the most common one these daysĖand by the way, everybody all of a sudden thinks socialism is the thing to talk about. Trump, as you said, itís the issue of the 2018 elections. Karl Rove 😈 wrote an op ed saying itís going to be the issue of the 2020 elections. Fox News 👹 canít stop talking about socialism, of course, how bad it is.

DHARNA NOOR: And the Democratic Socialists of America has grown in membership. We have people really excited about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-avowed democratic socialist.

PAUL JAY: Who Tom Perez says is the future of the Democratic Party. Thereís arguments about what is social democratic socialism versus socialism, and so on. So itís a big topic. Everybodyís talking about it. And so weíre weíre going to talk about it too. And the reason I think everybodyís talking about it is not because socialism failed in Venezuela, which is a particular case. And it did, in a sense, fail in Venezuela. But weíre talking about it because capitalism is failing. And the reason socialism has come again to such a forefront of conversation is because capitalism is out of solutions. You can barely talk about an area of life which is critical to our existence, whether itís climate, whether itís the threat of accidental nuclear war, if itís the threat of financial meltdown and financialization, whether itís the coming of artificial intelligence which, at the very least, could be replacing millions and millions of jobs. Mass unemployment. Like, take all the big picture questions. Capitalism is not offering solutions to any of it.

But letís say, yes, socialism failed in a lot of countries where it was attempted. But before we kind of get into that, capitalism has failed on a far grander scale. Because you got to ask, you know, capitalism succeeded for whom? Failed for whom? Capitalism gave us World War I, and capitalism gave us World War II. Capitalism has given us endless wars since World War II. I mean, you know, you can go on, from Vietnam, to Korea, to Iraq and Syria. I mean, you canít endĖcapitalism has given us endless numbers of outright fascist dictatorships. Capitalism gave us Hitler. Capitalism gave us Mussolini. Go on with all the Latin American dictatorships and capitalism gave us kleptocracy in Africa. You go on and on. Capitalism has been, for most people, a disaster, and continues to be for the majority the people of the world. 


Now, if youíre an American, and particularly if youíre a white American, but not only, capitalism hasnít been so bad until recently. Especially after World War II, there was a big expansion of the United States. The United States became the global hegemon. The United States grew into a position where it could essentially plunder much of the wealth of the world. And the elites, the oligarchs the United States, did share some of that wealth; at least with the upper stratum of the working class. You know, workers living and working in critical areas of the economy. The auto industry, transport, telecommunications, where workers had real leverage, because if the workers went on strike in those sectors they could close down whole sections of the economy. And of course the Democratic Party, that was an important base for the Democrats to get elected, this upper stratum. Some people called it the labor aristocracy.

So yeah, so capitalism workedĖand even you could say empire 🦍😈👹💵🎩🍌🏴‍☠️🚩 workedĖfor a large section of the American population for quite a while. Western Europe, for a lot of period of this expansion, most of Western Europeís standard of living was pretty good. The kind of social democracy that developed in Europe, which is important to distinguish that from what most people think socialism is. Social democracy, European style, the governments that came to power, is essentially just reining in some of the excesses of capitalism. Thatís their words. But it continues concentration of ownership, private ownership, and concentration of political power. And you can see even in Europe eventually, you know, the savagery of capitalism asserts itself as soon as you brought online the availability of getting cheap labor from China and other places, and you could start undercutting the wages both of American, Canadian, and West European workers.

So when you start assessing whether socialism failed in a Venezuela, or even a Soviet Union, or whatever, we have to first of all acknowledge that yeah, more or less, it did. I think one example which I think was, you know, relatively positive was Cuba, but a tiny place that could never withstand the global forces without some big ally. Cubaís a long conversation. Itís certainly no utopia. But the main point is that when we look at this issue of what socialism is, and does it make sense, and is it possible, the starting point is the absolute failure of capitalism. Even though, sure, it made some people rich. And somebody wrote in we have cars and nice houses. But how many people lost their cars and nice houses in the 2007-08 crash?

DHARNA NOOR: That was Mike Newman commented.

PAUL JAY: And thatís coming again.

DHARNA NOOR: So I think, again, there are viewers who are writing in and saying that this is kind of a whitewashing of socialism. Somebody wrote in saying, well, coming from a socialist countryĖthey donít say which oneĖI can tell you that itís terrible, very very bad, but not so different in some aspects from the U.S. present system. And evenĖI mean, Francesca, in your segment with her, mentioned that the basis of the Venezuelan economy, though of course more democratic, was based on the extraction of oil. Which, of course is, I think we can both agree, a flaw of Venezuela. So whatís your response to people who say, well, I lived there, or I went through it, and it wasnít so great?

PAUL JAY: Well, you know, you have toĖand I havenít walked a mile in those peopleís shoes. And for example, if you were living-

DHARNA NOOR: Youíre from Canada. Thatís not a socialist utopia?

PAUL JAY: No. And that is an important point, actually, that just because you have a socialized healthcare system doesnít make the country socialist. But listen, if I had grown up in the Soviet Union, if Iíd grown up in Eastern Europe, if Iíd been who I am, I mean, I could likely have been in jail. So I understand the sort of anger and rage, even, people had to how bureaucratised, especially in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it got. The extent to which it became very much like a police state. I think itís sometimes exaggerated, especially in Eastern Europe. I think itís very exaggerated in Cuba. Itís, you know, Cuba is a kind of unique situation.

But Venezuela, just to take it, because thatís the one theyíre talking about all theseĖsocialism is not just somebody has a good idea, oh, letís have, letís have a socialist system, any more than capitalism was just a good idea. Oh, feudalism. Yeah, kings, and aristocracy, and lords. You know what? Iíve got an idea for a whole new system. Letís have capitalism. It doesnít begin as an idea. It begins as an objective process of how human society develops, and how human economy, the economies of human society, develop. And you know, we learn how to make tools, and now we donít want to haveĖyou know, our tribal society that was built on just gathering berries and, you know, running around chasing animals. All of a sudden we had agriculture and animal husbandry. And our society changes. And with that the ideas change. So we start to become conscious of whatís possible because of objective developments. Itís not all just springing from peopleís heads.

So to apply that idea to Venezuela, I mean, Hugo Chavez comes to power because neoliberalismĖand one of the first big mass protests against this hypercapitalist policies was in Venezuela prior to Chavez getting elected, and prior to his involvement in the attempted coup. But these policies were destroying Venezuela. And people, you know, they rose up against these policies. Hypercapitalism wasnít working. And the exploitation of the oil resources was, you know, a tiny elite was benefiting from it, and people were conscious of this.

So sure, socializing the benefits of that oil, it was obvious as a way out of the situation. You have a movement, and you have leaders that emerge from the movement, and it is what it is, meaning, you know, it wasnítĖthey didnít have some great worked-out plan. It wasnít you know a party where they had economists and all kinds of people to figure out what to do once you get elected. You know, stuff happens. They may have been been as surprised as anyone that they actually wound up running the country. And with all its defects and all its weaknesses and all its warts, the Venezuelan or Bolivarian revolution, it accomplished a lot. And it wasnít just about spreading more of the oil money around. There was, and I guess still isĖI havenít been for a while, and I donít have the same kind of a handle on itĖbut the kind of community decision-making, community governance at the local levels. There was a, there were real experiments and development, developing different forms of democracy, which has to be part of the socialistic conversation. Because, like, you have a big state-owned sector in China, right. But you donít have any democracy to speak of. And you have a class of billionaires that have emerged that run the Communist Party.

So I donít know what kind of socialism it is. Itís not socialism just because you have state ownership. And on the other hand, thereís a certain amount of planning going on in China. Peopleís standard of living is going up. These are complicated processes, and we need to analyze them as such. But Iíll go back to where it was in the beginning. The reason we need to have this conversation of what does a modern socialist system look like, and how will it operate, and what are the features of itĖyou know, we talk about even the United States is a mixed economy. Thereís socialistic features. Weíve got a publicly-owned post office. We have public libraries, and schools, and such. Why? Because it made so much sense. But the same sense that it made to do that has made sense to have socialized healthcare in virtually every advanced capitalist country. It makes sense here. But once that makes sense, so does banking. Why would you let big banks 👹💵🎩🍌🏴 blackmail the whole society and whole economy so that they can go speculate? So it makes sense. You should have socialized banking. 

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah. Or here in Baltimore, Baltimore recently became the first major city in the U.S. to ban water privatization. And in my reporting on this I found a lot of peopleĖpeople in Baltimore are generally pretty fed up with the Department of Public Works because there have been so many instances of, you know, false bills that have been sent to people. The price of water has gone up so much. And so many people I spoke with would say, well, public ownership shouldnít really be on the table because, you know, we have a publicly controlled system right now. Itís not doing very well. But I think the point that I want to make is that just because not privatizing doesnít fix everything doesnít mean itís not the right first step. I mean, the statistics show that the price of water goes up across the United States when a private 😈 system does come in.

PAUL JAY: And thereís cities that privatized and went back again because it was such a failure.

DHARNA NOOR: Sure.

PAUL JAY: I guess I just want to end on where I started. Itís not just some intellectual conversation, is socialism good or bad. Yeah, thereís beenĖas, frankly, any major transformation of human societyĖthereís going to be tremendous fallout and weaknesses and stupidities. Especially if you talk about the Soviet Union building, trying to build socialism in what was a very backward country. And that was a matter of great debate at the time.

But we need to look at this. We need to talk about it, because capitalism has failed. Itís failed most of the population of this world for at least the last hundred years. But most importantly, it has no solutions to the actual threat to us as human society. Capitalism is completely out of steam with the most urgent threats facing us. So this is not just some idea, I mean, cafe conversation. This is about our existence or not. And unless somebody has some other idea, and I donít think there is, when you look at what there is, you need to take whatĖyouíve got to break up the concentration of ownership. Because with concentration of ownership goes concentrated political power. Everybody understands that. But thereís no way to weigh against that without public ownership. How else do you break up concentrated ownership? Itís not because youíre going to give everybody a share of a company. Thatís not going to happen. The only counterbalance, counterweight, to concentrated private ownership is public ownership.

On the other hand, public ownership in a small number of hands, like a single-party state or some of the models of the 20th century, thatís as dangerous. Because concentrated power, even if itís in the name of socialism, will also be a disaster. Will be aĖyou know, become a dictatorship. Because concentrated ownership equals concentrated political power. So weíve got to look at how does this public ownership look in a way thatís very diversified? You know, whether itís ownership at a city level, at a state level, at the federal level when necessary. Whether itís workers co-ops, whether itís regional conglomerations.

But you know, but Iíve said this before. Weíre in an era now, because of artificial intelligence, where you could coordinate an economy like that. You could have a Green New Deal which is mostly built out of public ownership in many ways, so that it doesnít get too concentrated, and still coordinate that. I donít think it was ever possible in human history to have the kind of socialism that could also be democratic. And as I said before, I donít think thereís any choice to this. The alternative is weíre not going to have civilization at all.


DHARNA NOOR: Right. Thanks very much, Paul.

Again, weíre in the middle of our end of the year fundraising campaign right now. Weíre going to keep doing this. Paul and I are going to keep discussing your viewer comments and questions. So if you have any comments or questions about this or anything else, put them down below, and please support The Real News Network. We donít take any corporate funding or government funding, and we donít sell ads, which means that the only people we have to answer to are you. So please help us make Real News, and stay in touch.

Thanks, Paul. And thank you for watching The Real News Network.

https://therealnews.com/stories/why-are-people-talking-about-socialism-with-paul-jay
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

 

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