NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday December 12th 2017

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Saving Capitalism

By Peter Molenaar

Author Robert Reich’s most recent book bears the title: Saving Capitalism – For the Many, Not the Few. Those of us born to black and white TV, might remember Robert as the Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. Of interest currently, is the former secretary’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders.

Certainly, the Sanders Campaign reflects a new mass consciousness, formed in the wake of the “Great Recession.” However, is this campaign merely an effort to save capitalism, or is it an aspect of a process towards a fundamental transformation (i.e., towards public ownership of financial institutions and the dominant means of production)?

Meanwhile…

In its March 2016 issue, Southside Pride published the article: “Socializing Capitalism –

Creating a Market Economy with a Social Conscience.” The author, Kari Andrade, claims to be a capitalist! Oh, my… Perhaps she has read the book of Reich.

However, Ms. Andrade begins by disparaging Sanders’ emphasis on closing the income gap: “The gap is not the problem.” But then curiously, she states: “In capitalism there is no regard for doing what is right and ethical [and so] I agree with many of Sanders’ solutions…” Is she one of us?

Truthfully, I detect a flaw in her reasoning. Did we not just recently experience the “bubble” with its associated hedge betting, bailouts, and bonuses? Clearly, capitalists have too much money to play with and we the people have not enough.

Next she offers a “feel good” comparison between us and the rest of the world. For example: “The poverty line in the U.S. is $11,880 and globally that makes you in the top 15% of the richest people on the planet.” Sweet. Really? Years ago poor Russia was able to rapidly develop its industry, in no small measure because university tuition was free, moreover, rents were set at 5% of income, health care was free and regular, etc. In other words, comparison by personal income paints a false picture.

The charade continues with an attack on Sanders’ opposition to the TPP and similar “trade agreements.” She states: “When we trade with other nations and invest in jobs overseas we are helping other economies grow and exporting our way of life and increasing their standard of living as well as our own.” Gosh.

What is the actual history of imperialism? Think about war and blockades, torture and assassinations, among other things…

In its early phase, imperial policy sought to deform the development of “lesser nations.” Thus, financial credits were advanced only for the production of raw materials needed by “our” home industry. On the other hand, historical socialism defended the right of all nations to develop an industrial-manufacturing base, which was reason enough for a long “Cold War,” leading ultimately to the collapse of socialism. It was coincidental then to the Clinton Administration, that a line of new “trade agreements” commenced the deindustrialization of the United States, a lower standard of living for the majority, and the most massive incarceration in world history. Yes, well done.

Lastly, Ms. Andrade attempts to finish us off with the assertion: “The failure of the former Soviet Union and China’s shift to state capitalism has proven that socialism doesn’t work.” Oh, sorry, socialism did not “fail,” as such, socialism was defeated in a prolonged confrontation with capitalist imperialism.

So, to return to the question: Is the Sanders campaign a movement to save capitalism? In the short term, the answer is yes, more or less. But, in the long-view, it forecasts something much deeper and more profound.

Thank God I’m not a capitalist. I can think for myself.

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