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Promote Public Housing! Arguments for a Housing Policy Alternative

Promote Public Housing! Arguments for a Housing Policy Alternative
by Sebastian Gerhardt, July 6, 2018


A basic principle of the market economy is that the market only reacts to solvent demand, not to needs. If a need is not reflected in a solvent demand, the market simply does not react. Expanding the supply of affordable housing is key, not subject promotion. The funds expended in subject-promotion land directly in the pockets of real estate owners.

Renouncing on any political intervention would be a market-radical and nihilist answer to the housing crisis.

Rejoice, Post-materialists!

On BookTV, Jean Twenge, author of “The Narcissism Epidemic,” warns that the cult of specialness was thought to be the ladder to corporate success and turned out to be anti-social.


Possessions can possess us more than we possess them. The car is not only a metal box but a way of looking at the world and an encouragement to narcissism. Football and politicians push cars nonstop while cities become gridlock. We become examples of disconnection when we deride community and sociality and degrade nature into a free good, external or sink.

The future should be anticipated and protected in the present, not extrapolated from the present. Hope distinguishes us from the rest of creation. We can go beyond everything past and present in the power of the coming, the power of the promise. (Jurgen Moltmann)

Dostoevsky, a great admonisher of the West, warned we would surrender our freedom to the Grand Inquisitor for his promise of happiness. The ego must die for the self to be born. The state must represent the public interest and not be a bonus pot for special interests and self-enrichment. Maybe the Good News is that Trump could be impeached within a year so his damage would be contained. How are democracy and language possible when the leader is a cross between Al Capone and King Midas?

Don’t let fear-mongers destroy the “unaffordable” social state while building 2440 F-35 fighter jets for $291 billion! Don’t let fear-mongers like Paul Ryan force us into a spiritless 2-inch world where only the rich enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

Thanks, Dr. Martin Luther King for your unending inspiration and encouragement! Time for the human race to gain priority over the arms race! Time for a people-society to replace the things-society and the people-logic to replace the things-logic!

Eliminating the $118K cap on social security taxes would make the system solvent for 75 years. Access could replace excess; enough could replace more; exchanging roles and digital cloud workers could make sorrow more distant than a star!

In the hope of forming a consensus on a future-friendly economy, I offer these propositions:
1) The state revenue crisis is caused by tax avoidance and tax havens.
2) The bank crisis became a state crisis when private risks mutated into public risks. $18 trillion was infused in “too-big-to-fail” banks in the US and 4.5 trillion euros in the European Union.
3) Corporations in the US spent $460 billion in 2018 buying back their own stock. Corporate success is often artificial. Not everything that glitters is gold! Even a broken clock is right twice a day!!
4) The state was a major risk-taker in the creation of the Internet and touch-screen technology while Apple and the rest pretend to be the only innovators.
5) The state should represent the public interest though special interests or private interests are in the driver’s seat with deregulation, privatization and liberalization of markets (speculation).
6) The future is the social state although the social state is wrongly slandered or demonized as “Bolshevism.”
7) All personal and corporate success is based on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, libraries, airwaves, food safety and water quality.
8) Social security created in FDR’s “New Deal” 1935 saved millions from poverty and early death. In the era of outsourcing and robotization, social security keeps the economy alive by stabilizing demand.

Happy Labor Day, post-materialists!
more at www.freembtranslations.net, www.openculture.com, www.grin.com, www.onthecommons.org and www.citizen.org

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Carl Schmitt and the New Right

Carl Schmitt and the New Right
by Bernd Reismann, 2005


The intellectual New Right may be more a loose network of persons, political projects, publications and publishers than an organization or party. Carl Schmitt redefined democracy as the “identity of ruler and ruled.” He started from the unity and homogeneity of the people’s will with the will of the government and the state. State and people merge in the rule of the people.

The plebiscite is used to overcome and delegitimate pluralism and parliamentary democracy. The goal is creating an identity democracy based on ethnic and political homogeneity.


From the Constitutional State to the Security State
by Giorgio Agamben, April 2016 and translated from the German in Luxemburg 1/2016:

The state of emergency is that arrangement by which totalitarian powers were established in Europe. Hitler’s first official act after his nomination (to Reich chancellor) was the proclamation of the state of emergency that was never retracted (during the NS rule). If one is amazed at the crimes committed with impunity in Germany by the Nazis, one forgets that these actions were absolutely “legal” because the land was subjected to a state of emergency and basic rights and freedom rights were suspended.

The security state is neither part of the constitutional state nor what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society.. The security state is permanently grounded on fear and must keep fear alive at any cost because it has its essential function and legitimacy from it…

The three characteristics of the security state-maintaining a generalized state of anxiety, de-politization of citizens and renunciation on any legal certainty-should make us think. The security state to which we are moving does the opposite of what it promises. While security means the absence of worry (Latin sine cura – without worry – as the root for the French word securite), the security state foments permanent fear and terror. The security state is a police state that increases the police’s freedom of decision by suspending the power of the judiciary. The state of emergency that becomes daily routine and acts as the sovereign more and more becomes the normal case.

The security state breaks out of familiar politics to move to an indeterminate zone where public and private whose borders are hard to define become ever more blurred – through the increasing de-politization of citizens.


Right Wing Populism and the Social Question
by Nikolaus Kowall and Fabian Lindner, April 17, 2017


Fascism also promised an alternative to unfettered markets

The scary thing is that this modern right-wing strategy is not modern at all, but the very principle of 20th century fascism: it and national socialism already offered “herrenmensch social democracy” in the 1920s and 1930s. Widely overlooked today, this aspect explains much of its appeal at the time – when there was almost no welfare state in Europe and the economy was devastated by war, inflation and financial crises.

Fascists identified real economic and social problems of the time, using them to build nationalistic mass political movements while many socialists were still fighting each other over the right interpretation of Karl Marx. In her book “The primacy of politics”, Sheri Berman argues that modern right-wing extremism and social democracy even share the same ideological roots in the late 19th century debate among socialists over “revisionism”. Revisionists argued that socialists should not cling to the Marxist idea that only proletarian revolution could improve workers’ lives. Socialists should and could improve the social and economic situation of the masses by good policies in the here and now. And this required allies in agriculture and the enlightened bourgeoisie.

The revisionist reasoning led to two kinds of solutions: modern social democracy on the one hand and fascism on the other. Both shared the idea that not all of capitalism was bad. They liked its dynamism and the ensuing economic growth which led to real wage gains for many workers – quite contrary to what Marx had predicted. They thought that good politics could harness capitalism’s dynamism and get rid of its bad side-effects like the unequal distribution of income and the chaotic up and downs of the business cycle. Both modern social democrats and fascists believed in the primacy of politics over markets, but not in the total abandonment of the market economy.

The fundamental difference between both movements was, of course, the ways they chose to achieve the primacy of politics: Social democrats believed in parliamentary democracy and human rights; fascists despised human rights and believed in a single omnipotent leader.

As Berman shows, Benito ‘Il Duce’ Mussolini was an important direct link between revisionist socialism and fascism: starting out as a fierce revisionist socialist, he actively participated in socialist debates about the way forward for the labour movement. Later on he would indeed fulfil many of the revisionist demands in fascist Italy: Berman writes that Italy’s welfare state was much more expansive than what Swedish social democrats achieved when they played by the democratic rulebook.

She argues that Hitler’s “national socialism” indeed incorporated many elements of revisionist socialism: The Nazis expanded the rudimentary German welfare state and achieved full employment. This is what gained them legitimacy among Germans who did not then see what price they had to pay later.

Trump is the Laughingstock of the World by Scott Ritter, Sept 26


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The Country without a Future

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!

NOTE from August 23

Russians in your cornflakes?

Trump is promoting the “Uncle Sucker” myth, that the US carelessly let itself be exploited by everyone! (cf. Michael Hudson).

7 and a half million tons of bombs were dropped on little Vietnam. The system of finance capitalism has allowed the richest 85 persons to have more wealth than 3.5 billion people. It’s time to see the log in our own eye and not only the speck in the other’s eye!

What are the antidotes to exploding inequality and precarious work, to concentrated wealth and to the nefarious effect of money in politics?

Posted in Essays, Political Theory | 1 Comment

Post-capitalist Perspectives

Post-capitalist Perspectives
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.

Posted in Alternative Economics, Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Video: Thomas Frank: Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society, 58 min

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.


Video: Lawrence Tribe: To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, 59 min
by www.booktv.org

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and lawyer Joshua Matz explored the history of impeachment and its potential role in the 21st century.


Posted in Neoliberalism, Political Theory, Roosevelt and New Deal | Leave a comment

Against Market Radicalism

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.

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Video: Psychiatrist: Trump Mental Health Urgently Deteriorating, July 28, 2018, 13 min

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!


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

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Capitalism and Worldwide Inequality

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.

Related Link:

We Will Have to Face the Consequences of Donald Trump Getting His Hands on the Economy
by Nomi Prins, Aug 2, 2018 commondreams.org

more at www.therealnews.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.

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Surveying Utopia: Raul Zelik and Elmar Altvater (2012)


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.

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

The Trump Spectacle by Albert Scharenberg

The Trump Spectacle
by Albert Scharenberg, January 2018

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

Posted in Political Theory, trickle-down economics | Leave a comment