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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Bern is a very dangerous man…

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

The Bern is a very dangerous man…

Because Democrats and Republicans and all those who hold fast to the divine status of the market theory do not want a national discussion on free markets and for whom these free markets are really designed to serve. And this is why the 1% and international elites need to pull the plug on a socialist who has some serious political momentum.
But first let’s look at Bernie Sanders. He is not a cult figure working the masses into a frenzy. Nor is the Feel the Bern movement going to fizzle anytime soon. This is because the personal pain of real human beings in the US is acute and chronic. It has not gone away with George Bush and Barak Obama, nor will it go away with Hillary Clinton or any republican candidate, especially with billionaire narcissist Donald Trump. This is because the 1% in the US and the international elite with whom their investments are interlinked, have taken over this country and replaced it with economic collapse, short sales on homes, foreclosures, job loss, wages cut, underemployment, wage stagnation, survival credit card debt, usury level student loans, and the longest war in the history of the US. In response the 1% and their elite allies provide an apologetic for the continued sanctification of the same free market that delivered the social and economic massacre that the US has experienced. The economy has improved modestly, but the aftermath is still personal devastation. Is the improved economy going to bring back a job that was lost and now replaced with a minimum wage job? Will people get their homes back? Will Obamacare help people with a $65,000 medical bill that has ruined their credit?
None of this affected the 1%; they’re doing great, maybe even better than ever. In fact the 1% claim they would like to improve things for everyone by cutting social security and even replacing it with a private Wall Street funded pension that ruined the economy in the first place. How’s that for generosity? And get a load of this kind gesture, they want to up the age for retirement to 67 and grow the economy on the backs of workers by demanding 4% GDP growth to fix the sluggish economy which will then allow entrepreneurs to reinvest in capital and create jobs. What they don’t tell you is that to do this workers will need to work longer and harder without the overtime, compensation, and benefit packages to go with this. The 1% will be doing this over golf and brews written off at tax payer expense on the very funds taxpayers give them for this type of working lunch. But it is important to be clear. The problem here is not about capital, competition, and the profit motive. It is not about the threat of a socialist devil. What it is about is avarice, packaged in free market divinity, by a miniscule fraction of elites in the US and around the world. As a result of the sacred doctrine of free markets, any discussion or question on the equitable distribution of wealth and worker’s rights and their creation of surplus profit from capital, is essentially verbotin. Nor will the 1% allow any discussion in this regard, whether media, elite academics, and institutional commentators. This discussion is easily shut down by simply writing it off as socialism, the new “s” word. Follow the money and see where the 1% invest their money and assets, right in the financial portfolios of those financiers who control the media, academic elites, and commentators.
What the 1% wants is for the Bern to keep quiet about any discussion of what a socialist is and how it emerged, and what particular issues it addresses with respect to inequality. The Bern is a very dangerous man because he just might get around to a public national discussion as to why the 1% in essence really needs to maintain inequality and an underclass, and any analytic discussion on the systemic cause as to why poverty is needed in order to maintain the 1%’s standard of living. It is not at all the case that the capitalist class fears the “s” word as such or Bolsheviks owning and controlling the means of production. After all they believe the Bern is not electable as an “s” and the electorate is not ready for an “s”, even though the country has been held together for the past seventy years by socialist programs and policies to mitigate, in microeconomic terms, market failures in capitalism. They live in visceral dread that their capitalist strategy and bourgeois existence, justified through the unquestioned laws of the universe, will be outed, not by an economic rival such as “s”, but by the deeper levels of existential human suffering that have finally impacted the middle class. The poor and underclass had no real chance to organize against this since they had no power or effective community organizing efforts such as those of Saul Alinsky. Instead the Little Sisters of the Poor took care of everyone on skid row. It’s radically different now, because the middle class feel what the people on skid row have now felt for decades. The 1% dread this revelation and it is too late already: the new skid row middle class know they are expendable to the 1% and they know the 1% don’t care if they live or die. And this is what asshole Jason Horowitz of the NY Times will never get. The Bern is not a left lunatic fringe thing that asshole thinks it is. This has become a middle class offensive line that is now taking control of the line of scrimmage.
The other unspoken talking point that the 1% does not want discussed in public is the fact that what has developed is socialism for the 1% and rugged individualism for the rest of us. M. L. King scored this. This is the other major issue, and one much like the 800 pound economic gorilla that the establishment Democrats and Republicans must keep from the electorate. So what’s wrong with socialism? They don’t use the “s” word, they call it subsidies. So that’s OK. Anyway, the 1% knows that Joe Blow will tell you the 1% can run it better than any socialist state or public entity. If fact, there are plenty of examples of public ownership and socialist style programs that suck. Sure. But push the analysis along to democratic ownership and democratic rights in the workplace, or an economic bill of rights, constitutionally, as FDR, sought. The push back is usually a crass description of phlegmatic public sector employees or a Marxist-Leninist state that stole private property and redistributed that wealth to loyal peasant revolutionaries. The foregone conclusion … everyone knows socialism is economically inefficient and morally wrong so you must be out of your mind to think socialism has value.
OK, but what about workers and the huge amount of wealth they create and is there anything we could possibly learn from socialism and socialist thinkers such as Robert Owen, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Albert Einstein that would benefit the US? Not the 1%, but the 99%? Is FDR’s economic bill of rights, and the foundation of any democratic socialist or social democratic society, such as those in Northern and Western Europe totally devoid of any economic rationality or moral validity? Hardly utopias, but the middle class and poorest members in Northern and Western Europe are prioritized, not increasingly marginalized like in the US. And what about every Catholic Pope since Leo XII from1891 to 2015? Isn’t their social analysis worth something? What about the present pope? This guy, Francis, is a big daddy Menshevik socialist with a sustainable economic development strategy and a social exclusion postmodern liquid modernity world-view. I’ll bet he did some form of an apostolate working with the poor in a Buenos Aires favila. Francis makes the Bern look like he’s a bench player on a junior varsity anarchist soccer team. Just wait till Pope Francis comes to the US this fall!
Right now Hillary Clinton is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, she might even be counter- productive. There’s no fire in her belly and here’s why: she has not suffered enough, personally, financially, existentially, over the past decade plus, to carry on a fight for the middle class and poor. The social and existential distance between Hillary, and the media, and the 1%, is one major reason for the misanalysis of why the Bern is scorching the field. But the other more formidable reason is that they don’t care to know, really, what it is like to lose a home, a job, a car, a son killed in Iraq, massive debt from a health care emergency, manic stress from inability to pay creditors just to stay alive in America. Hillary is not there for them … and never will be. Do you really think Hillary would go after her son-in-law’s hedge fund. Ann Coulter said it best on Bill Maher, Hillary “cares more about the Chamber of Commerce than the American people.” And neither does Jeb Bush, con artist Donald Trump, MSNBC, FOX News, and CNN. The Bern, on the other hand, has some fire in his belly for those who have been squatted on by the 1%.
To the point.
Capitalism itself is “on trial” at least as it manifests itself today in the US and around the world. The Democrats and Republicans don’t want this discussion, not even Robert Reich and his public policy pitch for safety nets and addressing negative externalities. Nonetheless, Reich in Inequality for All, never goes beyond the superficial repairs needed for capitalism as free markets to work better for everyone. He is a hopeless Keynesian like his buddies Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs. None of them ever identify the underlying causes of poverty and inequality. Because ultimately Reich, Krugman, Sachs, Hillary Clinton, the media, democrats, and republicans refuse for very strategic reasons any analysis of the very foundations of market capitalism: the private ownership of capital, the priority of capital over labor, and profits over people. They do not want the socialist discussion because it is too threatening to the interests of the 1%. And for sure, it is not very good for media ratings. It’s not just the critiques of radical thinkers like Richard Wolff, Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Klein. There are past conservative thinkers such as Josef Schumpeter who provides an analysis of capitalism, in which he argues that the success of capitalism will ultimately undermine the social, cultural, and economic well-being, not only economically, but the foundations of Western Civilization itself. Holy Shit!
Naturally, liberals and Keynesians will talk about managing the problems of the market. They argue that the boom-bust cycle and the downward pressure on wages that results from private capital investment does indeed result in outcomes such as unemployment, underemployment, poverty, and all the assortment of health-related disasters that accompany these disasters, is arrogantly dismissed as an acceptable transaction cost on the way to an eventual market boom and bull market. Yet the Bern is relentless and has not lost sight of the real outcomes of the billionaires getting richer, the middle class disappearing, and the poor left as expendable. He has not compromised the class conflict message that is the underlying theme in the Bern movement. So this isn’t about identity politics as in socialist versus capitalist; it’s about the capitalist class and their undermining, politically, economically and socially, the economic well-being of others and simultaneously destroying the democratic foundations of the United States. And with all his great criticisms inveighed against Republicans and Obama’s international trade agreements that will benefit the global elite through TPP, Reich needs to argue for a guarantee that workers’ rights to a job supersede any corporation’s right to take that same job and relocate it to developing countries. This would imply property rights for workers as some form of stake holder claim, something argued for by John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Then is it possible for capitalism and socialism to work together? If both theories are understood as flexible models that can work harmoniously, it should not be a problem at least as both have been applied intelligently over the past two centuries. In industrialized and post-industrialized countries, capitalism has been able to take on a variety of forms, socially, culturally, politically, and ethically. As an economic system it has been able to morph into a Scandinavian model, Western European model, Australian-New Zealand model, Japanese model, Chinese model, Russian model, English model, Irish model, and US model. All of these are different versions of capitalist development and for that matter socialist development. But without public sector support, and public financial investment, the capitalist system on its own will collapse. Capitalism is dependent on public financial support without which the entire system would collapse. Public infrastructure investment is imperative.
What is needed to make capitalism work better in the US in particular is more public funding in providing free health care, free public education, public financial support in housing, etc. The libertarian streak has ruined the market by dismissing needed regulation on one hand, and then gladly accepting public support as a form of socialism for the elites. The cure is regulation of the capitalist system and public financial support to maintain a healthy economy. Whether defined as democratic socialism or social democracy, the market economy that we know needs to be understood as an entire public good, or as Elinor Ostrom describes it, a “common pool resource.” The market needs to be understood and dealt with as a public resource not a private enterprise subject to the laws and rules of traditional private property and is too important to place in the hands of individuals seeking their own rational ends since this ultimately comes at the expense of others. The 1% do not want to let go of this, nor will they ever. This is the point of the Bern and democratic socialism and why the Bern is a very dangerous man.
Save the market and socialize it.
Edward Martin is Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Long Beach, and co-author of Savage State: Welfare Capitalism and Inequality. Read other articles by Edward J..

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