'Inclusive Capitalism', Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet

by Paul Street, July 21, 2017, via CounterPunch

A recent Washington Post and ABC poll finds that just 37 percent of Americans think that the Democratic Party “stands for something.”  Fifty two percent say it’s about nothing more than opposing Trump.
The 37 percent is right. The Democratic Party stands for something, alright.  It stands for the socio-pathological system of class rule and environmental ruin called capitalism – and for capitalism’s evil Siamese twin imperialism.
So does the far more openly right-wing Republican Party, of course, but that’s fairly common knowledge.  It’s more complicated with the Democrats, who like to pose as being “on the left” while carrying water for Big Business.
It’s nothing new. Long before the rise of dismal, dollar-drenched neoliberal era Dems and Robert Rubin associates like Bill Clinton and Barack Hamilton Project Obama, the Democrats stood in the lead of the profits regime. This goes all the way back to that savage Indian-killer Andrew Jackson and up through that quintessential corporate liberal Woodrow Wilson, New Deal hero Franklin Roosevelt (who boasted about having saved the profits system during the Great Depression), the handsome proto-neoliberal Jack Kennedy, the blood-drenched Lyndon Johnson, and even poor old Jimmy Carter – the Christian peanut farmer whose cabinet was stocked with corporate hatchet men (If you want some basic historical background on all that, read Lance Selfa, The Democrats: A Critical History [Haymarket, 2012], and Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States).
Part of what has put the Democrats in the vanguard of U.S. capitalism (I’ll save the imperialism angle for a future commentary) is that they’ve always been better than the Republicans at coming up with smart-sounding and progressive-seeming justifications for the system.  For one example among many, read the stealth corporatist Obama’s sneakily conservative 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope, which combines repeated noble and erudite statements of concern for the poor, working people and the common good with creepy and preposterous praise for the U.S. “free market” business order as “our greatest asset.”
Another example came when House Minority Leader and champion corporate fundraiser Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was challenged by a Bernie Sanders fan and New York University student during a CNN “town hall” last January.  The student, Trevor Hill, caused CNN host Jack Tapper to say “oh, oh” by asking Pelosi when the Democratic Party was going to shift to the portside on political economy.  Trevor Hill mentioned a Harvard University poll showing that “51% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support capitalism… The younger generation,” Trevor told Pelosi, “is moving left on economic issues… I wonder if there’s anywhere you feel the Democrats could move farther left to a more populist message…[and] if you think we could make a more stark contrast to right-wing economics.”
The well-heeled San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi is an unlikely candidate for populism.  Having leveraged her long Congressional career to build up a net worth of $196 million, she is a poster child for the disease of corporate plutocracy.
Still, Ms. Pelosi did her best to keep her brilliant fake smile plastered on her expertly botoxed face during young Trevor’s ideologically impertinent question. She stood up from her seat to “school” the student on “our” “free market” system while acknowledging the need for better and smarter behavior on the part of its masters:

“I thank you for your question, but I’ve have to say that we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is. However, we do think that capitalism is not necessarily meeting the needs with the income inequality that we have in our country, and let me just tell you this… About forty years ago, a little bit more now, no less a person in terms of capitalism than the chairman of the Standard Oil of New Jersey said – he talked about stakeholder capitalism, capitalism that said when we make decisions as managements and CEOs of the country, we take into consideration our shareholders, our management, our workers, our customers, and the community at large. At that time, the disparity between the CEO and the worker was about 40 times, 40 times more for the CEO than the worker. As productivity rose, the pay of the worker rose and the pay of the CEO rose. Everything rose together. Around 20 years ago, it started to turn into — maybe 15, 20 years ago, it started to turn into shareholder capitalism, where we’re strictly talking about the quarterly report. So a CEO would make much more money by keeping pay low, even though productivity is rising, the worker is not getting any more pay, and the CEO is getting a big pay because he’s kept costs lows by depriving workers of their share of the productivity that they created…the disparity between the CEO and the worker in the shareholder capitalism is [now] more like 350 to 400 to 1. That income inequality is an immorality. And it is not even smart from an economic standpoint, because it doesn’t grow the economy.The more money you put in the pocket of the worker for the productivity he or she has produced, the more money they will spend, consume with confidence, inject into the economy and grow the economy… A job and being able to have a home and send your children to school and have a dignified retirement…what we want for all Americans…capitalism should serve that purpose. The capitalist system has been well-served by the so-called safety net. It’s not just a safety net for individual workers. It’s a safety net for capitalism, because they can go through their cycles, and when they don’t need as many employees, they — we have unemployment insurance or all kinds of benefits as a safety net that enable them to go through cycles…So we have to change the thinking of people. I don’t think we have to change from capitalism. We’re a capitalist system. The free market is a place that can do good things.”

Here Ms. Pelosi was talking the “inclusive capitalism” language (a nice bit of doublethink) of her good friends in the arch-neoliberal Clinton campaign and at the global corporatist Clinton Foundation.  As the Clintons explain on the Website of their recently formed Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism:

”Inclusive Capitalism is a global effort to engage leaders across business, government and civil society in the movement to make capitalism more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive. Together we can achieve this through business and investment practices that extend the opportunities and benefits of our economic system to everyone. We believe that firms should account for themselves not just the bottom line. By taking a broader view of the firm – its purpose, products, people and planet – it is more likely to prosper over the long term.”

A lot of the leftish commentary you can find online about the Trevor Hill-Nancy Pelosi dialogue stops with Pelosi’s blunt opening statement: “we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.”  The point of such commentary was that all she did was dismiss Trevor. But that’s not quite right.  She went from opening dismissal to an elaborate and slick defense of capitalism as a system that can be turned back to the advantage of workers and other “stakeholders” if CEOs wise up – and as a system that actually wants and needs a strong social “safety-net” along with strong purchasing power in the hands of workers.
Pelosi’s response was borderline impressive.  It was also pretty much complete bullshit.
Beyond being a butchered clause, “Not necessarily meeting the needs with the income inequality we have in our country” was a drastic understatement considering the remarkable poverty and savage class disparity stalking life in capitalist America today. Half the U.S. population is poor or near-poor. More than a fifth of the nation’s children (including well more than a third of its Black and Native American children) are living at less than the nation’s Dickensian poverty level.  42 million Americans — including 13 million children — live in “food insecure” households with limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.  All this and more terrible to contemplate exists in a nation where the top 1% has pocketed 85% of all income growth since the 2008-09 recession.
At the same time, that truest and deepest inequality under capitalism concerns wealth, not income.  Currently in glorious “free market” America, the top tenth of the upper 1 Percent (Pelosi’s class) has as much net worth as the bottom 90 percent. Globally, the world’s richest five people have as much wealth between them as the poorest half of humanity.
Pelosi’s history lesson was loaded with mistakes.  It was sixty-eight years ago, not forty or so, when Frank Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, proclaimed that “The job of management is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly interested groups … stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large.”  That was the kind of thing that smart corporate-liberal capitalists said at the height of the long New Deal era, when the world capitalist system was the United States’ oyster in the wake of “Europe’s suicide” (Thomas Piketty’s phrase for the 20th century’s two Europe-centered world wars), when the Soviet empire posed something of a state-socialist alternative to U.S.-led capitalism, and when U.S. corporations could make some substantive claim to be simultaneously  meeting the material needs of their workers, consumers, and investors. It’s true that inequality declined and wages and consumption rose alongside profits during the “Great Compression” that came with the U.S.-led “Golden Age” of western capitalism from the end of World War II through the 1960s.
But anyone who thinks that the nation’s leading corporations and financial institutions placed workers and the public on an equal footing with investors and the bottom line in this (or any other) time is dreaming.  It was first and foremost the rise of a momentarily powerful and significantly Left-sparked industrial workers’ movement – rooted largely in the special workplace bargaining power of mass-production workers, not some mythical corporate benevolence – that created a new and rising floor for working-class incomes during these years.  (Pelosi naturally said nothing about the role of unions and working class struggle in aligning wages more closely with rising productivity back in the good old days of purportedly “inclusive” and “stakeholder” capitalism.”)
At the same time, the gains enjoyed by ordinary working Americans were made possible to no small extent by the uniquely favored and powerful position of the United States economy (and empire) in the post-WWII world. When that position was significantly challenged by resurgent Western European and Japanese economic competition in the 1970s and 1980s, the comparatively egalitarian trends of postwar America were reversed by capitalist elites who had never lost their critical command of the nation’s core economic and political institutions. Working class Americans have paid the price ever since. For the last four decades, wealth, income, and power have been sharply concentrated upward, birthing a New Gilded Age of abject oligarchy and brazen plutocracy. (It’s an era in which, among other things, Ms. Pelosi can use her $193,000-per year House position to accumulate an asset portfolio just shy of $200 million.) Along the way U.S.-led global capitalism has pushed livable ecology to the grave’s edge.
Pelosi needs to adjust her time-frame. This “Great U-Turn” (Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison) – this reversal of the “Great Compression” and its purported “stakeholder” commitments – dates from the finance- and policy-designed onset of the neoliberal era in the mid-1970s, not from “maybe 15 or 20 years ago.”  It goes back to the Carter years.  And – a very important point – it marked a return to capitalism’s historical norm, as Thomas Piketty’s showed in is widely read tour de force Capital in the Twenty First Century (2014).  People born or raised in the post-WWII golden age (like this writer and like Nancy Pelosi) are prone to forget that “Les Trentes Glorieuses” (the “thirty glorious years” from 1945 to 1975) and not the neoliberal period that followed were the truly anomalous era in the history of U.S. and Western capitalism.
The neoliberal era and its current New Gilded Age capstone is the profits system returning to its long and militantly inegalitarian norm.  Along with this ugly restoration has come the re-elevation of vicious, anti-social bourgeois culture, which drowns all noble, altruistic, and solidaristic sentiments in “the icy waters of egotistical calculation” and “resolve[s] personal worth into exchange value” (Karl Marx, 1848).
Does capitalism really need and want a strong social safety net, as Pelosi suggested?  It does for those who wrongly “assume, as Keynesians do,” writes the British Marxist economist Michael Roberts, “that the foremost weakness of capitalism lies on the demand side of the economy.”  As Roberts demonstrates in his important book The Long Depression: Marxism and the Global Crisis of Capitalism (Haymarket, 2016), the real internal growth weakness of capitalism today (as in the past) – the secret to its current long phase of slow growth and weakened productivity – resides in the fact that the profitability of capital is too low (and that the debt built up before the Great Recession is still too high.)  Rapid economic growth cannot not return until another slump restores a sufficiently elevated rate of profit.  The profits system wants more austerity and misery and a continued restriction of government investment, social benefits and wages.  As Roberts notes:

The post-slump austerity policies of most governments are not insane, as most Keynesians think.  These policies follow from the need to drive down costs, particularly wage costs, but also taxation and interest costs, and the need to weaken the labor movement so that profits can be raised.  It is perfectly rational policy from the point of view of capital, which is why Keynesian policies were never introduced to any degree in the 1930s.  Capitalism came out of that Great Depression only when profitability rose and that was when the United States went into a war economy mode, controlling wages and spending and driving up profits for arms manufacturers and others in the war effort. Capitalism needed war, not Keynesian policies” (emphasis added).

But why should we want the system to take off and restore rapid growth – to “grow the economy” in Pelosi’s words?  The super global-expansionist post-WWII “golden age” brought us to the brink of environmental crisis – to what Barry Commoner rightly described in 1971 as “The Closing Circle.” The long neoliberal expansion of 1983-2007 (with surplus value and commodity production rooted largely in China) has taken us to the point where Earth scientists speak all too realistically (if all too reticently) about the specter of human extinction in this or the following century. It’s not for nothing that Stephen Hawking says human survival depends on colonizing other planets and Tesla founder Elon Musk is developing fantastic plans to do precisely that.  The last thing we need on “our only world” (Wendell Berry) is more economic expansion.
Accumulation- and hence growth-addicted capitalism (500 years old)and not humanity per se (200,000 years old) is the driving force behind this grim environmental predicament, which is why the brilliant Marxist environmental historian Jason Moore tells us that we are living (ever more dangerously) in the Age of the “Capitalocene,” not the “Anthropocene.”   And the very same profits system that has hatched the unfolding ecocide is a great barrier to averting full environmental catastrophe.  There are no solutions as long as we remain captive to the horrific system that Nancy Pelosi wants us to see as “just the way it is.”  As Roberts rightly notes in terms that (frankly) seem to underestimate how dire the ecological crisis of our time is:

“The evidence of climate change and its man-made nature is increasingly overwhelming.  The potentially disastrous effects from higher temperature, rising sea levels, and extreme weather formations will be hugely damaging especially to the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.  But industrialization and human activity need not produce these effects if human beings organized their activities in a planned way with due regard for the protection of natural resources and the wider impact on the environment and public health.  That seems impossible under capitalism (p. 265)…What is really needed is proper planning of available resources globally, plus a drive, through public investment, to develop new technologies that could work (like carbon capture, transport not based on fossil fuels, goods produce locally with low carbon footprints, etc.) and, of course, a shift out of fossil fuels into renewables. Also, it is not just a problem of carbon and other gas emissions, but of cleaning up the environment, which is already damaged.  All these tasks require public control and ownership of the energy and transport industries and public investment in the environment for the public good (pp.267-68)….The evidence is overwhelming that unless the capitalist system is replaced in the next fifty years, the planet will be suffering from such damage to the natural environment that economic growth will slow, natural disasters will become more common, and the cost of restoration and prevention will become too much for a profit-making mode of production to prevail” (p. 269). [emphasis added]

It’s worse than Roberts seems to know. Fifty years is too broad a timetable; it’s more like three decades – a generation – at most and even that is generous. It’s the whole world, including Chicago and not just sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, that will collapse under the weight of capitalogenic climate change.
Forget just the profit system and economic growth. The damage inflicted by capitalism, not humanity as such (the point bears repeating), will be too great for homo sapiens itself to survive without a radical and indeed revolutionary shift in public priorities and social organization.  But Roberts is quite right to suspect that the changes required to rescue a decent future are “impossible under capitalism.” The profits system is long past its use-by date and now poses a profound existential threat to human survival.  When do the Clintons unveil a new Coalition for Sustainable Ecocide?
It’s ecologically sustainable “socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky” at this stage of developing capitalist geocide. “The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued 16 years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.” We make the leap beyond Obama’s, the Clintons’, and Pelosi’s system or its game over for humanity along with the countless other species homo sapiens is wiping out under the soulless command of capital.
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Jul 31, 2017 11:58 PM

Capitalism works best in businesses employing under 500 people. To survive, firms like that need to produce goods/offer services that people genuinely want. They do not have the ability to abuse market piwer, bribe officials, threaten competitors, assassinate Presidents etc.
At the very top level, TNCs and investment banks are in favour of cartels and oligarchy, not capitalism.
What has failed to happen is an evolution of approach from pure capitalism when small to societal contribution when large.
Any new synthesis must increase responsibilities greatly and control freedoms significantly for the very small number of hugely powerful executives and investors.

David Simpson
David Simpson
Jul 24, 2017 7:40 AM

Last I heard Jeremy Corbyn is 8 points ahead in the polls, and all the evidence suggests his message and policies are getting through to people. For most I suspect this is not a “Left vs Right” issue, but about fairness and equality for the majority. I still feel hopeful.

Jul 23, 2017 11:53 PM

It is not the fault of the capitalist class. They simply cannot help themselves.
They seek ever-more money and power with a degree of fixation that equates to extreme addiction.
“When is enough ever enough?” is not a question they ever ask or understand.
The only solution that comes to my mind is for everyone to stop consuming at the rate we have been.
We should all stop wasting food, buying things we don’t really need and publicising – as opposed to privatising – large parts of our economy, especially those which are socially necessary, such as health care, social care, public education, public transport, energy, water and telecommunications, etc.
We also need political leadership that subscribes to an alternative vision of a society where individual greed is not envisaged as a principle goal.
Sanders in the US and Corbyn in the UK hinted at being such leaders – but they fell short, regrettably.
Where to next? Really, who knows? Sanders and Corbyn may yet encourage new, younger proteges of themselves to emerge, though the example of France does not provide much encouragement.
I guess we should all start attending survivalist training sessions, just to be on the safe side.
I read – somewhere – that after the election of Trump as President, Democrat supporters had started to buy guns in gun shops in greater numbers than Republican supporters.
A harbinger of things to come?

Jerry Alatalo
Jerry Alatalo
Jul 23, 2017 5:30 PM

While Paul Street rightly deserves credit for his skill at writing from a progressive perspective, his reputation remains soiled until he apologizes for the string of articles critical of Sanders during the height of his contest against Clinton. As Sanders steadily closed the gap one would go to Counterpunch, a very popular website, and find piece after piece by Mr. Street where he described Sanders as “the sheepdog” for Clinton. Whether Street’s articles played any role in Clinton’s defeating Sanders will never become known; in all likelihood the nomination was criminally stolen outright from Sanders, with evidence being the many thousands at Sanders events compared to next-to-none at Clinton and Kaine “rallies”.
Instead of writing more articles critical and focused on Clinton and leaving Sanders alone – between Clinton and Sanders, Clinton in anyone’s eyes being the “greater evil” – Mr. Street found it somehow impossible to constrain himself from going after Sanders, an inexplicable decision on his part for it served no good purpose, repeat no good purpose, but to boost Clinton. There were moments during the heat of that Clinton-Sanders contest when one wished they had Paul Street close enough to grab him by the throat, and demand to know “what the hell are you doing?”
End of commentary on Mr. Street and his befuddling writing decisions during the memorable 2016 presidential campaign…

Jul 23, 2017 11:29 PM
Reply to  Jerry Alatalo

It was not only the Clintons who stole the Democratic nomination from Sanders but the entire Democrat elite, including the likes of Nancy Pelosi. They thought they knew better than Democratic Party members and the wider US electorate what was best for them.
The Democratic elite manipulated the early primaries and downright stole the nomination for Clinton, and then had to watch as one of the worst-ever candidates for the US presidency went on the take the presidency.

Jul 24, 2017 12:43 AM
Reply to  John

Bernie Sander was used as a ploy to get the so-called “anti-Establishment” and “anti-Wall Street”. He succeeded in fooling many brainwashed American voters including Dr. Norman Finkelstein who couldn’t see the writings on the wall that Sander, like Hillary and Trump were part of the Establishment and whose loyalties are with a foreign state (Israel) than United States.
Sen. Sanders is a military hawk when it comes to Israel’s conceived enemies. He has admitted that he voted against Iraq war because he feared that removal of Saddam Hussein from power would bring Iranians closer to Israeli borders. I must say, the dude was right. Now Iraq is Iran’s closet Arab ally along with Syria.
Last year, Sanders fired his “Jew outreach” director Simone Zimmerman over making fun of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu.
Last year, America’s renowned international lawyer Barry Grossman, in an interview with Iran’s Press TV, claimed: Voting for Hillary or Sanders is voting for Israel.

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Jul 24, 2017 5:11 PM
Reply to  Jerry Alatalo

Street isn’t the only person of the opinion that Bernie Sanders’ role is/was that of a ‘sheepdog:’
Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016 By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Spoiler alert: we have seen the Bernie Sanders show before, and we know exactly how it ends. Bernie has zero likelihood of winning the Democratic nomination for president over Hillary Clinton. Bernie will lose, Hillary will win. When Bernie folds his tent in the summer of 2016, the money, the hopes and prayers, the year of activist zeal that folks put behind Bernie Sanders’ either vanishes into thin air, or directly benefits the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Don’t believe us? Then believe Bernie himself interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News “This Week” May 3.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?
SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent?
SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I’ve been very clear about that.
Bernie Sanders is this election’s Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there’s no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders, and the sheepdog candidate is charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic party, either staying home or trying to build something outside the two party box.
1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The function of the sheepdog candidate is to give left activists and voters a reason, however illusory, to believe there’s a place of influence for them inside the Democratic party, if and only if the eventual Democratic nominee can win in November.

Dixon published this short piece in May of 2016. Was he (like Street) prescient or did he merely have a better grasp of the typical “electioneering” pattern of the U.S. and its significance? Although I suppose that one might accuse Dixon, like Street, of having had an undue influence over the outcome of the “contest” between Sanders and Clinton . . .

Jerry Alatalo
Jerry Alatalo
Jul 25, 2017 1:34 AM
Reply to  Norman Pilon

Hello Norman,
Obviously, the election is long done and over, so nothing will change the outcome. The fundamental point we were making is that of the three – Clinton, Sanders, or Stein – which would have been the one to criticize during the Democratic primary? Clearly, Mr. Street, Mr. Dixon, etc. might have influenced the election more positively had they focused their criticism on Clinton, not Sanders, and/or wrote pieces favorable to Stein.
Sanders threw real punches at Clinton. One can only imagine what punches were returned by the Clinton group (think JFK, MLK, RFK), but if they included threat of ultimate bodily harm only Sanders can confirm. If Sanders willingly played the sheepdog role he deserves an Oscar like the White Helmets, only in the “Best Actor” category. The most ironic, paradoxical aspect of Sanders 2016 is that either way – if he were/is fake or real – he ends up a severely wounded historical figure, like the unfortunate characters described in Greek tragedy.

Norman Pilon
Norman Pilon
Jul 25, 2017 4:34 AM
Reply to  Jerry Alatalo

Hey, Jerry,
The sheepdog herds not voters who are pro-establishment, but ardently anti-establishment, to keep them distracted by the “illusion” that by engaging themselves body and soul in the “primaries,” they can subvert the undue influence of the billionaire class.
Not only in this way dissipating their energies, but by so engaging, they, the dissidents and dissenters, quite in spite of themselves, perform an essential service for the establishment elites: they legitimize the electoral process as it exists — that is to say, as it has been conceived and instituted and reformed and refined by and for the elites — thereby playing their appointed role in helping to maintaining among average Americans the delusion that change in America can come by the ballot, that the only authentic and legitimate political practice open to the American public is that already prescribed by the rules already written and sanctioned by the American ruling class.
The sheepdog performs his or her appointed role either consciously or not. All that is required of him or her is that he or she take the prescribed election process seriously and that in turn the majority of the radicalized or dissenting portion of the electorate also take him or her seriously.
Consequently, the fundamental twofold point to be made in addressing all dissidents and dissenters is, on the one hand, that it doesn’t matter who wins any election, either “long done and over” or ‘yet to come,’ be it a Clinton, a Sanders, or a Stein, for each will have to behave according to a set of pre-established dictates to which she or he will have to submit or be impeached (or worse) ( — as Pelosi puts it, “. . .we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is. . .);” and, on the other hand, that limited time and scant resources would be better spent disillusioning the American publics about their real prospects under the status quo, so that they might get on at long last with the business of forging their own independent political strategies to subvert the power of the billionaires and their corporations.
Therefore, to answer your question about ” which would have been the one to criticize during the Democratic primary,” since Clinton was the personification of the establishment, and Sanders personified the (unjustified) hopes of the radical electorate, and if the point was to try to ‘wake up’ the radicals to the actual reality of American elections, the target to criticize was not Clinton, but Sanders (and ultimately even Stein).
What matters from the point of view of Street and Dixon is to help people recognize a rather simple and well established truth about electoral politics under the rule of money, so that they might set themselves free to engage in the business of politics in an entirely different manner, to channel their efforts into more realistic and constructive channels, in ways more in tune with their own class interests.

Jerry Alatalo
Jerry Alatalo
Jul 25, 2017 7:23 PM
Reply to  Norman Pilon

Thank you for taking the time to write an extended conveyance. While the perceptions of men and women on all points of the spectrum concerning the “Was Sanders a sheepdog for Ckinton or not?” question are firmly held, after reading your comments, along with others, the thought popped up that wouldn’t it be nice if Norman and Jerry could spend a few hours with Sanders – including the favorite beer brand of each – and get to the bottom of the issues. 🙂
You may remember “Brunch With Bernie”, a weekly live call-in show hosted by Thom Hartmann with Sanders which went out over worldwide cable on Free Speech TV. A few years ago, was watching and decided to call in, redialed close to a dozen times and surprisingly got through to talk to Sanders on-air. We asked him to comment on the “$trillion per year global tax haven/evasion industry, and his thought on nationalizing the privately-owned Federal Reserve…”
Sanders said a few words critical of the tax evasion industry, then the show’s background music came on signalling a break from the discussion for announcements. After the break Sanders didn’t comment on the idea of nationalizing the (privately-owned is how we described it on-air) Federal Reserve. We were disappointed he – either intentionally or not (one suspects intentionally) – failed to address the issue. Just between you and me, Norman, we suspect Sanders pressed an “escape button”, an insider, pre-arrangement communication to break when on-air/live talks became “too heated”.
Ms. Stein for her credit at least mentioned nationalizing the Federal Reserve, a new investigation of 9/11, along with other topics few political beings dare to mention, although – perhaps because of social conditioning making full honesty difficult to practice – her level of explanation and analysis on these such massively important topics was far too shallow.
William Pepper, a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. in the last year of King’s life before being murdered by elements in the “deep state” in 1968, believes King’s transformational potential on American society was so immense that, according to Mr. Pepper: “…they had to kill him”. Perhaps Norman, when you and I sit down with Sanders and the beers, we’ll have the opportunity to ask if he had an “MLK experience”, and chose to back off… Then again, if … “What’s the damn (..emails!!) truth, Bernie?…”
Thanks again, Norman. Peace.

Greg Bacon
Greg Bacon
Jul 23, 2017 3:18 PM

he talked about stakeholder capitalism, capitalism that said when we make decisions as managements and CEOs of the country, we take into consideration our shareholders, our management, our workers, our customers, and the community at large
Why of course they do! They think about newer and more ingenious ways to separate Americans from their money and getting Congress to bless it all as being legal, like the killing of the Glass-Steagall Act–Thank you Bill–that led to the 2008 Great Recession.
Why anything as harmful to people as what happened in 2008 to the economy is called ‘Great’ is beyond me, but maybe that’s because I’m just a peon and don’t see the Big Picture!
Now excuse me, I have to go out and replace the cushion on my stump that got worn out from me being bent over the damned thing so many times by greedy pigs like Pelosi.

Jul 23, 2017 1:34 PM

Paul Street needs to read USA’s political system from some objective source to find out there is no difference between the Democrat and Republican parties. Both are two-sides of the same coin when it comes to Capitalism, Imperialism, support for the Zionist entity and hatred toward America’s religious and ethnic minorities.
Capitalism is the life-line for every Western nation and criticism of it is considered a HATE CRIME.
“Israel has long devoted major funding and great efforts to deflecting blame for its policies and practices by raising the black flag of antisemitism to discredit responsible and deserved criticism,” says Richard Falk, American Jewish academic and former UNHRC envoy for Palestine.
Werner Sombart (died 1941), German sociologist and author in his 1911 book, ‘The Jews & Modern Capitalism’, claimed that Jewish elites were the dominant beneficiary of Capitalism.
India’s famous human rights activist and author, Arundhati Roy, in her new book, ‘Capitalism: The Ghost Story’, examines the dark side of democracy in contemporary India, and shows how the demands of the globalized western capitalist banking system has subjugated billions of peoples to the highest and most intense form of racism and exploitation. Watch a videos below to understand the evil world of capitalism and the evildoers who benefit from this system.
Capitalism is based on Usury, which is a great sin in Islam. Islam hold the view that economic disorder is not the cause of a nation’s miseries – but the result of nation’s moral degradation. Character building and development of moral health are the only remedies humanity is in need of – Without which social, political, economic or any other reform is just waste of time – as proven by both Capitalist and Communist dogmas…

Jul 23, 2017 12:54 PM

Yes, Roberts is right to identify the TENDENCY for the rate of profit (S/C+V) to fall due to the rising organic composition of capital resulting in a fall-off of investment and leading to economic stagnation. But he seems somewhat fixated on this point. Marx also emphasized opposing tendencies in the same process of accumulation; first and foremost the increase in the rate of Surplus Value S/V which would tend to counteract (albeit to a limited degree) the decline in the rate of profit. That was Marx’s supply-side theory of capitalist crisis.
There was also a demand side aspect, however. What Marx called ‘the realization problem’ namely, the transformation of surplus value into money profits. In other words, the mass of produced surplus value had to be sold on a market at a profit to complete the cycle of accumulation. His formula was: M-C … P… C’-M’, where M stood for money capital, C stood for physical capital and P stood for the productive aggregation of raw materials and human labour, but it was the last bit which could be problematic: where C’ = capital plus surplus value ‘ and -M’ where M’ represented surplus value in monetary form. To buy the goods produced required a given level of aggregate monetary demand which might not necessarily be forthcoming, this would result in unsold inventories. C’ would not realize its monetary value since aggregate demand was only M.
To quote the man himself:
”The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit.” (K.Marx, Capital Volume 3, p.484, London 1974).
It could be argued that crisis theory started with David Ricardo, with his theories of ground rent and diminishing returns, and Malthus with his theory of population – a tradition carried on by Marx and John Stuart Mill. For Mill – a transitional figure spanning classical liberalism and socialism – the problem was a parasitic system of landlordism and rentier capitalism. This was also the view of David Ricardo. Contemporary capitalism seems to be transmuting in reverse to this earlier type. Contemporary economic thinkers such as Michael Hudson blame the rise of financialisation and wealth extraction (as opposed to wealth creation) debt as the most destructive and insidious form of capitalism.
Whatever, I suppose what I am trying to say is that capitalist crisis can never be attributed to a single factor. Such variables are by their nature multi-causal, as well as being manifestly political. Whether or not we make a transition from a decaying capitalist order to a socialist will be deicded politically.

Jul 23, 2017 8:27 PM
Reply to  Frank

Marx described productive capital investment by the formula M–C–M´, signifying money (M) invested to produce commodities (C) that sell for yet more money (M´). But the growth of “usury capital” – government bond financing for war deficits, and consumer lending (mortgages, personal loans and credit card debt) – consist of the disembodied M–M´, making money simply from money in a sterile operation.

As Michael Hudson shows: the form of Industrialized Capitalism Marx critiqued has metastasized into a very different beast – Financialized Capitalism – where money makes money by leveraging debt (M-M’) – with no tangible product. In other words: we’ve been cut out of the equation. Not required to ‘make’: our value to the system is in our indebtedness to it – so that what little wealth we have can be withdrawn by taxation, rent and interest. It’s this strategy that has gone as far as it can. Inclusive Capitalism is a euphemistic way of keeping us happy while we pay down our debts! Our taxation (plus whatever the corporations care to chip in) pays down the debt to Government Bond owners (austerity): but it also depresses the economy. What Michael Roberts is saying – workers are required to tighten their diminishing share to decrease the debt – a bit like letting a little bit of air out of the Bubble Economy – so that it can be re-inflated; and return the rentier class to profit. It’s win win for the rentier class.
Overburdened with debt, as it is, our Zombie economy is doomed to a bumpy plateau: a mini bust and boom series extending indefinitely into the future. I’m afraid the political will is to keep us hoping that someday we will return to prosperity – before the planet is (more) irrevocably wasted. What Paul Street’s article says to me, is why should we accept ever diminishing returns that literally cost the earth – to benefit the few??? It’s the Zeitgeist question that people are barely beginning to form: let alone answer.

Jul 23, 2017 12:04 PM

A superb and powerful analysis that had me gripped until I read this: “The evidence of climate change and its man-made nature is increasingly overwhelming. (…) the whole world, including Chicago and not just sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, that will collapse under the weight of capitalogenic climate change.”
There is massive evidence for the destructive effects – on humans and the environment – of a capitalism that focuses only on profit. There is zero real evidence of anthropogenic climate change – and the capitalists know it! So they will not be moved by these arguments. They have to be named and shamed for their callous disregard for the welfare of the vast majority. And many other forms of action need to be taken, including mass opposition to more resource wars and a global self-imposed austerity programme that is the only thing that will undermine exploitative capitalism.
Let’s remember what Bush and Blair said immediately after their respective ‘terrorist’ events (neither of which was what the official stories said): “Don’t stop shopping!” It’s disingenuous and dishonest to blame the predatory capitalist class for the ills of humanity and the environment when it’s our obsession with electronic trinkets and easy mobility and an all-year-round supply of produce regardless of the season (including the obscene levels of wasted foods) etc. Most of us in the so-called ‘developed’ world are living well beyond the planet’s means.
And many more need to wake up to the message of the Georgia Guide Stones which spells out the agenda of massive engineered depopulation. It’s not climate change we have to fear – but the Brave New World of an enslaved humanity. And it would be our own fault.

Jul 23, 2017 8:47 PM
Reply to  paulcarline

It’s both.

Dead World Walking
Dead World Walking
Jul 23, 2017 11:20 AM

These people (and I use that term with trepidation) do not live in the real world. They may as well be bacteria from a distant galaxy for all the understanding and/or empathy they possess.
Their arrogance is surpassed only by their ignorance.