The Country without a Future
By Marc Batko
In the country without a future, elite democracy has long supplanted political participation. Life alternates between self-absorption and escapism, infantilism and dementia. There is no interest, passion or curiosity in a country leveled by neoliberal myths and the irrationality of profit maximization at any price. Critics are demeaned as troublemakers and philosophy, sharing and alternative economics are relegated to the realms of fantasy and the distant past. How should the state, market and neoliberal myths be understood and reconstructed? Should education, health care, housing, energy, banking, the Internet, communication, and transportation be public enterprises? Should health, education, and housing be human rights or privileges dependent on one’s descent?
In a country without a future, the leader cannot complete a sentence without drifting off into irrelevance or distraction. Money abounds for “space programs” and all-time record military budgets for weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist with money we don’t have (Joseph Stiglitz). The Congress consists of “errand boys for the banks” (Bill Moyers). Education has long mutated into profit centers where critical learning and intercultural learning have been replaced by sycophancy and corporate double speak. Corporate profits are mistaken for community health. The social state is held to be the result of trickle-down surplus profit production. Concentration and contempt for anti-trust legislation lead to four firms controlling Internet access and four airlines dominating nearly all airline service.
In a country called thankless, the corporate media divides its boundless time into lies, vulgarities, scapegoating and fear-mongering. In Trump’s budget, everything is cut except for the military. The GOP tax bill pushed through without hearings, compromises, concessions, countermeasures, and testimony gave over $5 trillion to households with over a million dollars income. The attacks on the poor, seniors, students and children included “third-rails” like social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell college grants, Meals on Wheels, food stamps, after-school programs, legal aid, the departments of education and environmental protection. Public policy is worlds away from sledgehammers and wrecking balls. The November election will be a chance to throw the scoundrels out along with their corporate profit-maximization strategies. In the 2008 bank bailout, $18 trillion was lavished on the “too-big-to-fail” banks. Private risks became public risks. The banking crisis became a state revenue crisis. The real cause of the state revenue crisis is tax avoidance. Tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Bermuda, Panama, and Delaware hide between $22 and $33 trillion. Corporations spent more than $460 billion in the first eight months of 2018 buying back their own stock.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyr, leader of the underground Confessing Church and highest name in Germany, said the ultimate is the hope and goal of the penultimate. The language of proclamation runs crossway to the language of time. One act of obedience can be more important than a thousand sermons. The state exists to fulfill public responsibilities and not to be the plaything of special or private interests. The state exists to reduce inequality, to create meaningful work when there is hardly any private investment and to overcome poverty by tackling the scandal at its roots. People want to be encouraged and supported in their self-determined work and to live in a multi-layered life with desires, interests, projects, and achievements.
Reducing working hours is the only way to create full meaningful employment. The economy is a part of life and self-determination and creativity should be encouraged. The goal is the embedding of the economy in society and not vice versa (Karl Polanyi and Peter Ulrich). Education is the “great transformer” (John Kenneth Galbraith). Technology and the computer are ways to make us both subjects and students, commenting and correcting ideas that can either widen or narrow future possibilities. How could the Internet lead to a liberating and evocative future where everyone could be authors, editors, translators, aggregators, explorers and admonishing prophets? The 26 community centers in Vancouver Canada have a cushioning and a multiplying effect. Before 1980, they were bursting with activity, game rooms, casserole dinners, gyms, theaters, libraries, surrogate classrooms and counseling opportunities.
If the people are not supported in their need for peaceful revolution, they will be mired in violence revolution (John F. Kennedy). The GDP measures everything except what makes life worthwhile (Robert Kennedy).
In German, the future is represented by three words Futurum, Zukunkt, and Advent. The future is at once chronological, transformational and eschatologically anticipatory.
Beware of those drowning in self-admiration and pathological narcissism! Separation of powers and checks and balances have been slowly enervated under the cries of efficiency and competition. Life is complex and uncertain and cannot be reduced to buying cars or manufacturing blackjack tables. Life is not longevity, sickness is not sin and success is more than car ownership.
The future could be protected and anticipated in the present, not extrapolated from the present. We can go beyond everything past and present in the power of the coming, the power of the promise (Jurgen Moltmann). Faith in the infinite God means the death of the ego and the celebration of the selfless transcendent God (Soren Kierkegaard).
The only disability is attitude and a country slavishly engrossed by a vulgar, uneducated, uncultivated, racist, xenophobic, misogynist, narcissist, paranoid, sadistic and victimized misanthrope! Liars seek to manipulate us and live in their own reality without recognizing their lies. Malignant narcissists start wars and seek to fulfill grandiose and paranoid delusions instead of reality. JFK found face-saving solutions through empathy and recognizing the humanity of others (John Gartner). Impeachment or encouraging resignation can save the system from self-destruction. Fear-mongering, scapegoating and narcissism can end like illiteracy and prejudice since they are all home-made curses that make life into a seemingly manageable 2-inch world!
by Raul Zelik, 1/29/17
Capitalism is winning to death. The exit from the overheated machine of capitalism represents an enormous challenge. We cannot avoid the question about common property in the search for social alternatives. Can greater social equality be achieved without changing property relations?
The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business
interview with Rana Foroohar, May 9, 2018 (1/6)
with host Paul Jay on therealnews.com
Our capitalist system is sick and the name of the sickness is financialization. The financial sector damages the real economy, creates poverty and ruins the American dream.
Video: Thomas Frank, Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society, CSpan, June 27, 2018, 58 min
This is what society looks like when the glue fails, a time of cascading collapse, a golden age of corruption when the human intellect serves money or it serves nothing at all
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was a sense that we are in this together, a defacto social democracy.
A sense of social solidarity has nearly disappeared as people identity upwards and the right-wing ideology of victimization spreads. We are like buffaloes nestling with the rifles.
RELATED VIDEO LINK:
Video: Lawrence Tribe: To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, 59 min
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and lawyer Joshua Matz explored the history of impeachment and its potential role in the 21st century.
Against Market Radicalism
by Christa Luft, 2018
Capitalism is not “the end of history” as the American Francis Fukuyama postulated in 1992. The system question is open! Nothing raises the system question as clearly as capital itself. The economy should be re-embedded in society. What seems rational in micro-economics collides with the irrationality of maximizing profits as an end-in-itself.
Capitalist elements could be implemented in a socialist economy. A paradigm shift is necessary.
Psychiatrist: Trump Mental Health Urgently Deteriorating
–Dr. John Gartner, Founder of Duty To Warn and co-editor of “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald…
and three reading samplers from The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2018.
Happy reading and happy research!
WIE ER LERNTE, DIE BOMBE ZU LIEBEN | ROSA LUXEMBURG STIFTUNG NYC
Regulation of Global Business (English), 1-20
Strategies against the Far Right (English), 1-22
Free Trade for the Powerful by Ulrike Herrmann (English) 4-23
Decline of American Unipolarity
DONALD TRUMP UND DER NIEDERGANG DER AMERIKANISCHEN UNIPOLARITÄT | ROSA LUXEMBURG STIFTUNG NYC
Capitalism and Worldwide Inequality
by Conrad Schuhler and Thomas Fromm, 2018
Thomas Piketty’s motto “Inequality is always a problem when it is excessive” introduces the new World Inequality Report. The inequalities of income and wealth swell globally and in individual regions and nations. The top 1% of income earners worldwide profited twice as much from growth since 1980 than the lower 50% of the world population.
We Will Have to Face the Consequences of Donald Trump Getting His Hands on the Economy
by Nomi Prins, Aug 2, 2018 commondreams.org
Subsidizing farmers isn’t in itself necessarily a bad thing. It is, in fact, very New Deal-ish and Franklin Delano Roosevelt-esque. But doing so to fix an unnecessary problem? Under such circumstances, where will it stop? When those $200 billion or $500 billion in tariffs on China (or other countries) inflames the situation further, who gets aid next? Auto workers? Steel workers?
What we are witnessing is the start of the entropy wars, which will, in turn, hasten the unwinding of the American global experiment. Each arbitrary bit of presidential pique, each tweet and insult, is a predecessor to yet more possible economic upheavals and displacements, ever messier and harder to clean up. Trump’s America could easily morph into a worldwide catch-22. The more trust is destabilized, the greater the economic distress. The weaker the economy, the more disruptable it becomes by the Great Disrupter himself. And so the Trump spiral spins onward, circling down an economic drain of his own making.
Raul Zelik and Elmar Altvater discuss the nature of utopia, economics, how growth and work became fetishes, how what is rational in micro-economics can become irrational in macro-economics, time prosperity, how the financial crisis shows the self-destructiveness of capitalism and how Marx recognized the contradictions in capitalism. Alternatives are possible and necessary. Viva Occupy!
Elmar Altvater: Utopia is not only a non-place, “a land that is not yet.” No, it is a full-blown contradiction. The concept of measuring must break down in the utopian. Therefore utopias have such a bad reputation. Progress seems to go from utopia to science. That was Friedrich Engels’ perspective. Wanting to measure utopia is itself a presumptuous utopian undertaking. This is shifting a little. A “new surveying of the world” is suddenly not entirely utopian any more. It has become the theme of realpolitik. The necessary new surveying is the activity of those think tanks that are paid for their scholarly advice to politics.
Political consultation is not our goal. The utopia that is central here has to do with another measurement – that appears in a text by Heinrich Heine from 1835. There we read:
“We have surveyed the land, weighed the natural forces, calculated the means of industry and behold we discover that this earth is big enough to offer adequate space to build the huts of their happiness, that this earth can feed all of us reasonably well if we all work and don’t want to live at the expense of others and that we don’t need to expel the poorer class to heaven.”
We people – the nine billion that we will soon be – could all have a reasonably bright life but must do something for that and simultaneously refrain from many things. We must reorganize the earth and spruce it up ecologically so to speak. Nature was ruthlessly exploited in the few centuries since the fossil and industrial revolution. We must prevent climate catastrophe and ensure that the intensifying battle for raw materials does not result in a bloodbath. We must prevent financial- and economic crises further aggravating the social oppositions.
In an interview, the English historian Eric Hobsbawm recently voiced the fear that the crises of capitalism could lead to a great and extremely bloody war. I hope these were only the fantasies of an old man who lived through two world wars and the “age of the extreme.” However I fear Hobsbawm could be right with his scenario.
Thus the standards for a utopian project are clear: enable people on earth to live reasonably well and not banish them to Paradise any more.
Raul Zelik: What is central is not only “bread,” the basic provision of people, but something that could be described generally and concisely with the term happier life, a life in which communication, work and social relations have another rank and substance.
Elmar Altvater: Right. Utopias can be presumptuous and not do justice to reality. We should be aware of this double meaning. One cannot simply escape the danger. Obviously we can be presumptuous when we speak about something that does not exist or does not yet exist.
Robert Zaretsky recently commented in The New York Times that Donald Trump’s presidency marks the coming of age of The Society of the Spectacle—a society in which truth is essentially reduced to a mere hypothesis and consistently subordinated to orchestration.
Indeed, lies and deception reign in the White House. During his first year in office alone, The Washington Post counted more than 2,000 cases in which Trump lied or made misleading statements—equating to roughly five times per day.
The 45th President of the United States, sworn into office one year ago today, may be a notorious denier of truth and understand next to nothing about politics—as a reality TV star and celebrity, however, he definitely commands the media. Under his presidency, politics has been replaced by a frantic scramble for media coverage. This Twitter-President has made it his habit to hurl out daily insults against his domestic and foreign adversaries. Here, even scandals serve a purpose by drawing in the public as a consumer (i.e. audience), thus including them as part of the spectacle.
Scandals Without End
With scandals following the President’s every move, there is little time to analyze one incident before the next one makes the headlines.
Reading Against Fascism
by Henry Giroux, July 19, 2018
Capital as Climate Killer
by Tomasz Konicz, June 2018
The growth pressure of the world economy makes a resource-sparing social order only possible beyond capital. The seeming rationality of capitalist goods production serves an irrational end-in-itself – the multiplication of capital. Capitalist business as usual is like a process of burning more and more resources.
Mapping the Resistance
by Ethan Young, May 2018, 28 pp
The 2016 election and one year in office for
Donald Trump have resulted in an intensifying
polarization in mainstream US politics. A many
-sided attack is underway on democracy as it
has been shaped by movements for protection
of rights, living standards, and the environment
over the course of the last century.
Up Against Trump: From Fragmentation to Unity
The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, “The Resistance” was born in the streets of cities and towns across the United States. The grassroots-organized Women’s Marches, held on January 21, 2017, saw the largest-ever demonstration. Protests have been joined by many other groups and constituencies, especially by those most affected by the policies of the Trump administration, including immigrants, LGBT people, victims of gun violence, the poor, environmentalists, and even scientists.
Over the course of the past eighteen months, however, the protests have lost some of their steam. Trump’s repeated distortions and lies, his sheer meanness (as in the case of DACA recipients), and the constant assaults by his administration seem to have worn out the millions of activists fighting against the country’s shift toward an authoritarian government. After all, resistance is not futile, but it can be tiresome.
In this analysis, Ethan Young examines the state of resistance to the Trump administration. In doing so, he refuses to buy into the centrist notion that the current President of the United States will eventually be rejected, or maybe even impeached, for his deeds. In fact, Trump might be gaining ground, given the relatively strong macroeconomic indicators and the tax reform (including small benefits for many). How, then, can Trump be resisted? First and foremost, Trump and his cronies must be defeated at the polls in the upcoming midterm elections. However, voting Trump out of office will not be enough to defend democracy against the Trumpists.
In this paper, Ethan Young demonstrates that the resistance to Trump’s “new authoritarianism”—which is diverse, ranging from the radical left to the establishment center—only stands a chance if it is able to combine opposition to the far right with a rejection of neoliberal policies. In order to do so, we have to overcome the competition and fragmentation that exists among the political groups
that are opposed to Trump. Only then is a new united front—outside of or beyond the political mold of twentieth-century socialism—possible. Only once democratic political power has been defended against the onslaught of right-wing populism and neoliberalism can we move toward the task of creating a new politics based on equality, justice, and solidarity.
Stefanie Ehmsen and Albert Scharenberg
Co-Directors of New York Office, May 2018