“It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.” — Howard Zinn
If the capitalist ruling class get their way, the revolts that the U.S. and the other parts of the neoliberal world have been experiencing this last year will be only a blip in the march towards corporate domination. Their goal is to use militarism—both within the imperial core’s borders and abroad—to indefinitely keep the power structure reinforced.
with Chris Hedges
The Democracy At Work on Aug 31, 2020
On this week’s Economic Update, Prof. Wolff discusses the following: Denmark’s new taxes on banks and rich people to help workers doing dangerous jobs; West Virginia AG sues Walmart and CVS for complicity in opioid scandal; and US State Department urges universities to sell shares in Chinese corporations. On the second half of the show, Prof. Wolff interviews author and journalist Chris Hedges on signs of the declining US empire.
Within moments of Joe Biden announcing Kamala Harris as his running mate, the Trump campaign and the American right-wing propaganda machine began portraying the California senator as a “far-left radical” of the “Marxist” variety.
Consumerism, and the capitalist mentality more broadly, are equivalent to nihilism. They strip the human experience of meaning beyond what serves the market. When a culture revolves around this monetary and commercialist view of the world, it ceases to bring true fulfillment.
The high-tech sector, along with the U.S. national security state that it partners with, have lately been pushing the idea of upgrading society into a futuristic technological structure that makes life far more convenient. Last year the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, an organization created in 2018 to further the partnership between U.S. intelligence agencies and tech plutocrats, articulated this vision in a document. It called for a near future where the country’s “legacy systems” are replaced with a new paradigm of infrastructure, one that allows for self-driving cars, total home delivery in alternative to retail, and home appliances that can connect to an “internet of things.”
Latin America has surpassed more than 5 million Covid-19 cases to overtake North America, with 4.8 million Covid-19 cases, as the region worst-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. This astronomic increase in Covid-19 cases has been accompanied by a corresponding economic catastrophe of great magnitude. According to a United Nations Policy Brief entitled “The Impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean”, “Parts of Latin America and the Caribbean have become hotspots of the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic, exacerbated by weak social protection, fragmented health systems and profound inequalities. COVID-19 will result in the worst recession in the region in a century, causing a 9.1% contraction in regional GDP in 2020…This could push the number of poor up by 45 million (to a total of 230 million) and the number of extremely poor by 28 million (to 96 million in total), putting them at risk of undernutrition.” The Policy Brief further states that “The sharp drop in economic activity is expected to lift the unemployment rate from 8.1% in 2019 to 13.5% in 2020. The poverty rate is expected to rise by 7.0 percentage points in 2020, to 37.2%, while extreme poverty is expected to rise by 4.5 percentage points, from 11.0% to 15.5%, which represents an increase of 28 million people.”
Consider the scenario presented by the TV series Mr. Robot, wherein a group of hackers aims to take down the giant conglomerate E Corp-known by the head hacker Elliot Alderson as Evil Corp. To put an end to Evil Corp’s hegemonic control over finance, the hackers sabotage its ability to keep count of how much debt people owe it. When the first big digital attack happens in the show’s universe in 2015, Evil Corp is struggling, hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost, the public is protesting Evil Corp over its failures to provide for society’s needs, and the capitalist world is falling into a depression.
America pulls down monuments to racist oppressors, renames streets and paints Black Lives Matter all over them. But the real inequalities of cities like Chicago – rooted in class as well as race – are left to fester.
Throughout its era as the “world police” that overthrows governments for the benefit of corporate interests, the U.S. has perfected a strategy for destroying societies and remaking them according to its own preferences. To varying degrees, this playbook for regime change has consisted of a basic formula: destabilize a society, then use propaganda and violence to impose Americanism onto its culture and governmental system. We’ve seen this carried out in Iran with the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew the country’s democracy and replaced it with the Shah, in Chile with the 1973 CIA coup that overthrew the country’s socialist president Allende and installed the Pinochet dictatorship in his place, and so on.
Underneath the bluster of a Trump administration that still acts like the United States is the world hegemon, the ruling class is working to pragmatically respond to the loss of America’s status as a dominant power. In 2017 the Pentagon put out a report that admitted American global influence is rapidly declining, and now that the U.S. is sure to soon lose its superpower status, the corporatocracy has to address this issue.
Covid-19 has brought about the era of biopolitics, an era that will continue for the foreseeable future. This is because the virus is far from being defeated; a resurgence of it is likely to happen this fall, and the neoliberal world’s refusal to sacrifice business for public health is sure to perpetuate the pandemic for as long as neoliberalism exists. Biopolitics is also here to stay because we’ve reached a point in the climate crisis where global weather patterns are much more compatible with viruses than they used to be. More viruses are going to appear in the coming years with increasing ferocity, which will necessitate an irreversible series of changes to how society functions.
“The liberal co-optation is the genesis of repression not only in the state as we see it now with the police brutalizing protesters, killing black people, targeting journalists, all of the egregious human rights violations that we see occurring right now in the United States. That is one form of repression but then there’s the other ideological repression and war that is part of this struggle and we are seeing it pretty outwardly right now with the corporations and the local governments and the Democratic Party with the Kente cloth-kneeling all that as part of this ideological war, a war of placation, the attempts to really steer the movement into acceptable means of protests.” — Danny Haiphong
“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” — Aristotle
It has been an extraordinary week. On the heels of a pandemic and months-long lockdown, a nationwide uprising erupted in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd. In some 75 cities across at least 16 states, and around the world, militant, multiracial gatherings of thousands of rightfully-enraged people overwhelmed police forces, prevented arrests, forced the evacuation of, and burned, a police precinct, and damaged and burned dozens of buildings. Mainstream news reporters from around the world were arrested and fired upon with rubber bullets on live television. Police SUVs drove into crowds of people. It has been the most extensive, and the most threatening, explosion of popular rage against the machine since the uprisings of 1967-8.