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Nous vous présentons un ensemble assez conséquent pour le volume de lecture, puisqu’il s’agit de trois textes qui ont tous pour sujet la situation autour et dans les élections présidentielles aux USA. Il est vrai que, plus que jamais, notre appréciation est que cette crise-là, qui nous fait pénétrer dans le chaos, est aussi la porte ouverte sur l’infini des possibles qui accompagnera l’accomplissement de l’effondrement du Système. Bien entendu, c’est notre évaluation et des opinions complètement divergentes sinon opposées ont complètement droit de cité. L’époque est si complètement exceptionnelle, si complètement inédite dans l’Histoire que tous les possibles sont probables, jusqu’à l’improbable lui-même. Il reste que notre engagement intuitif va dans le sens que nous disons, pour des raisons que nous avons déjà largement évoquées.
Successivement, vous pourrez donc lire 1) un texte sur la “haine extraordinaire” que l’establishment US, ou establishment-Système, éprouve à l’encontre de Donald Trump ; 2) un texte sur l’exceptionnel rétablissement de Sanders face à une Hillary Clinton de plus en plus mise en question par son incroyable corruption psychologique et son rôle d’obstinée servante-Système, et cette thèse avec notamment une perception intéressante de l’effet du Panamagate justement sur le sort d’Hillary ; et 3) une longue interview du Dr. Richard Wolff, professeur emeritus d’économie à l’université du Massachusetts, sur l’aspect révolutionnaire de la crise qui se manifeste aux USA à l’occasion de ces élections présidentielles, et cela envisagé dans le contexte le plus large, notamment et à nouveau celui de la fuite majeure dite du Panamagate. Ces trois textes, parmi une multitude d’autres qui paraissent dans le monde anglo-saxon (quelle pauvreté d’analyse en France, par contraste, sur les évènements des USA), nous paraissent d’une qualité et d’une amplitude suffisantes, et aussi d’une diversité très enrichissante, pour documenter l’éventuelle intuition, – dans tous les cas, celle qui est nôtre, – de l’importance absolument centrale et décisive du cas américaniste dans ces temps sans précédents.
Jamais, nous semble-t-il, dans cette époque où un tel mot (“jamais”) est employé si souvent pour désigner le caractère inédit et unique des événements, jamais nous n’avons perçu comme si évidente et lumineuse l’approche d’événements colossaux qu’au long de cette élection présidentielle au caractère et à l’exceptionnalité si imprévue et in inattendue. La marche même des événements, c’est-à-dire leur formidable résilience qui fait qu’aucun des facteurs déstabilisants n’accepte de s’effacer, est également un caractère totalement inédit. C’est comme s’il s’agissait d’un tourbillon crisique qui, en évoluant, perdait ses caractères de désordre et d’agitation inexorable, mais conservait tous les facteurs crisiques qui le composent, tous à un paroxysme en constant renouvellement, désordre devenant chaos et chaos avec sa dimension d’une capacité d’éventuelle recomposition sinon de renaissance.
La façon dont s’enchaînent les coïncidences et les similitudes d’une crise nouvelle à l’autre ou d’une crise centrale avec ses “productions annexes“ est, dans le cadre de la crise de l’américanisme, complètement fascinante. Par exemple, mais exemple sollicité par le thème de l’article sur le redressement de Sanders face à Clinton, comment finalement considérer le Panamagate par rapport aux élections US ? (Nous avons envisagé une approche spécifique de ce thème du croisement ou de la confrontation des deux crises le 7 avril.) Est-il vraiment bien compris, ce montage où les manipulateurs semblent évoluer en aveugles et agir avec une précision diabolique sans savoir ce qu’ils font, précisément dans un but présenté comme si précis et dont finalement il s’avère qu’on ne sait pas de quoi il s’agit et qu’eux-mêmes semblent en ignorer l’essentiel ? Ou bien, n’est-ce pas une opération absolument “conspirationniste” montée par les Russes eux-mêmes, sinon Poutine en personne, et dont l’effet indirect, de bande en bande (billard à mille bandes) est de discréditer le bloc-BAO dans ses pratiques, le Système, et, comme on le voit, à handicaper Hillary Clinton elle-même, tout cela (ditto, le “complot”) selon un expert très “sérieux” (Clifford G. Gaddy) puisque de la très vénérable et respectable Brookings Institution, repris par diverses autres, aussi bien de la presse-Système que des réseaux antiSystème... On verra, – ou l'on ne verra rien, justement, – et dans tous les cas nous disposons de la bienheureuse vertu d'inconnaissance.
(La thèse va même jusqu’à nous préciser que Poutine tient encore dans ses vastes mains de formidables moyens de chantage sur ses “partenaires” du bloc-BAO, dans la plus formidable opération d’intoxication jouée selon les échecs si fameux pour définir l’esprit russe... On notera que Sputnik-français lui-même en a parlé, peut-être avec un secret plaisir, notamment en citant les commentaires défavorables du Washington Post ; cela, qui montre que le Post, prompt à conchier les “conspirationnistes” quand ils sont non-agréés par le Système et mettent en cause le Système, les examine avec le plus grand sérieux dans le cas contraire, quand ils mettent en cause Poutine... On verra, et en attendant, en effet, l’inconnaissance fait notre affaire tout en observant qu’un monde où la Brookings Institution vous présente des thèses conspirationnistes de cet acabit [billard à mille bandes], sans que le courant de la presse-Système dénonce ce déplorable esprit du “conspirationnisme”, est un monde qui, dans son absence totale de cohérence, de dissimulation de ses manœuvres, de ses dérisoires façon d’écarter les innombrables soupçons qui pèsent sur lui, finit par se métamorphoser en une marionnette de lui-même, – notre monde-Système, “marionnette de sa propre marionnette”.)
Plus personne n’est capable de dire quelle orientation va prendre cette élection, comment vont se dérouleur les conventions, encore moins qui seront les candidats en lice et qui sera l’élu(e). Le sentiment diffus qui doit se développer, encore mal réalisé et surtout cantonné à la psychologie donc encore à l’état de perception diffuse, est que ces effets ponctuels le cèdent de plus en plus aux incertitudes beaucoup plus importantes, qui se développent hors des normes et des contraintes du Système comme l’est une élection, le vainqueur potentiel fût-il révolutionnaire. L’incident Bill-BLM, qu’on a vu le 9 avril, marque combien la tension raciale ne cesse de grandir, et d’une façon de moins en moins “contrôlée” comme elle l’était pour l’essentiel à l’origine puisque BLM est un groupe monté et financé par Soros, et donc répondant à l’entente tacite Soros-Hillary, et qu’il est train de se transformer en une force incontrôlée qui, dans la logique de cette forme d’affrontement, prend comme cible aussi bien les démocrates, aussi bien Hillary, puisque cette dernière est bien de la couleur de peau qu’on sait.
Comme l’on voit, sans surprise une fois de plus, la communication joue un rôle exceptionnel, presque exclusif dans l’aggravation de la situation. Bien entendu, cette dynamique de la communication désormais bien au point et parfaitement identifiable ne se traduit pas par des événements sonnants-et-trébuchants de type-“sensationnaliste”, comme par exemple une fausse alerte à la bombe dans une capitale européenne, – les seuls stimuli auxquels réagit la presse-Système européenne, qui se retrouve donc complètement atone et hébétée devant la dynamique de la crise de l’américanisme galopant comme un incendie de forêt par fort mistral. La sottise européenne, l’aveuglement primaire, presque défini comme “aveuglement de l’ignorance volontaire”, est un autre (avec la chute de l’américanisme) phénomène fascinant de notre époque. Il y a bien entendu fort longtemps que la “civilisation européenne”, et au-delà la contre-civilisation représentée dans son opérationnalité par le bloc-BAO, n’est plus que la caricature d’elle-même, l’ombre de son ombre, notamment face aux symboliques “barbares” que nous annonçait Jean Raspaiul dans son Camp des Saints. Mais même cette interprétation fait la place trop belle aux modèles historiques que nous singeons manifestement, parce que même les réfugiés-migrants sous forme de déluge finiraient par être happés et digérés par cette contre-civilisation si, d’ici là, des événements bien plus graves ne trancheront dans le vif pour ces crises (comme celle des migrants) qui semblent aujourd’hui essentielles et qui vont vite devenir accessoires.
... Voilà donc le cercle bouclé, – puisque, pour nous, l’un de ces “ événements bien plus graves”, sinon “le plus grave”, est certainement cette crise de l’américanisme, parce que c’est la crise du “centre”, de la matrice elle-même, de la source d’inspiration, du modèle sans égal, de l’incontournable blockbuster nous racontant la narrative de la postmodernité et, finalement, transmettant directement les impulsions du Système désormais dispensatrices du chaos d’où peuvent sortir des issues inattendues qui acteront l’effondrement achevé du Système. Et plus nous avançons dans la saisons électorale, plus les issues à peu près boiteuses-chaotiques envisagées pour sembler écarter pour quelques temps encore les effets gravissimes de cette crise paraissent de plus en plus dérisoires l’une après l’autre.
Bref, ces trois textes qui suivent donnent un aperçu nous semble—t-il assez complexité de la diversité des situations qui caractérisent l’actuelle vérité-de-situation d’une colossale importance qui s’établit aux USA. Nous les rappelons, avec leurs références, dans l’ordre où ils défileront ci-dessous :
1) Un texte de John McMurtry, auteur et universitaire canadien, sur le thème de « Why the Establishment Hates Trump », le 5 avril 2016 du site CounterPunch.org.
2) Un texte de Jake Anderson, sur le site Antimedia.org, le 6 avril 2016, dont le thème, qui semble concerner Hillary Clinton (« Yes, the Panama Papers Could Really End Hillary Clinton’s Campaign »), concerne en fait la remontée de Sanders et sa position de plus en plus solide face à Clinton (consolidée par sa victoire, samedi dans les primaires du Wyoming).
3) Une interview du Dr. Dr. Richard Wolff, de l’université du Massachusetts, auteur de Democracy at Work: a Cure for Capitalism, sur le thème de « Americans cast a vote of no confidence to the government of today – leading economist » Il s’agit du verbatim de l’émission télévisée de RT, Sophie & Co, du 8 avril sur RT.
On the face of it, Trump is Reagan on steroids. His towering size, his nativist US supremacism, his down-home talk, and his reality-show confidence make him ideal for the role of bullying and big lies from the oval office. He is America come to meet itself in larger-than-life image to rejuvenate it as its pride slips away in third-world conditions and a multi-polar world.
While Trump’s narrative is that the American Dream seeks recovery again, the dominant media and political elite relentlessly denounce him as an implicit fascist and disastrous fake. Something deeper is afoot. An untapped historic resentment is boiling up from underneath which has long been unspeakable on the political stage. Trump has mined it and proposed a concrete solution always denied of his candidacy. From his promise to halve the Pentagon’s budget to getting the Congress off corporate-donation payrolls, the public money that the big corporate lobbies stand to lose from a Trump presidency are off the charts. But his attackers dare not recognize these explosive issues because they are all part of the problem.
The public money stakes may be bigger than the US corporate stakes behind the foreign wars the US state has initiated since 1991. The takeaway promised by Trump’s policies threaten almost every big lobby now in control of US government purse strings. It grounds in the military-industrial complex spending close to $2,000,000,000 a day for its endless new untested weapons and foreign wars both of which Trump opposes. But the cut-off of hundreds of billions of public giveaways to the Big Corps do not end here. They hit almost every wide-mouthed transnational corporate siphon into the US Treasury, taxpayers’ pockets and the working majority of America. Masses of American citizens increasingly without living wages and benefits and in increasing public squalor and insecurity are paying attention to what the political establishment and corporate media have long buried and continue to silence.
Trump has raised the great dispossession from impotence into the establishment’s face, and this is why he is a contagion on the American political scene. He is pervasively mocked, accused and slandered in non-stop public fireworks of ad hominem hits, but the counter-attacks never engage what Trump has set his sights on – the long stripping of America by cancer stage corporate globalization selecting for the limitless enrichment of the very rich living off an ever-growing take from public coffers and the impoverishment of America’s working people. A primal rage unites the political establishment across party lines, but they can’t say why. No defaming scorn and abuse is off limits, but Trump’s underlying betrayal of the ruling game remains unspeakable on the stage.
The electoral dynamite of all the Americans who have lost all their good blue-collar jobs, social benefits and public infrastructures is recognized only in class condescension. But the facts cannot be denied of a corporate globalization effectively stripping the lower middle classes and the public realm itself with no-one in Washington establishment saying a word against the greatest transfer of wealth to the 1% in history.
Trump may deserve back as bad he gives. But this understanding keeps our eyes on the ego-contest which is the standard spectacle to avoid the real issues. The personal attacks only tells us how deep the rupture has become between Trump’s campaign and the establishment on the issues kept out of sight. This is why the corporate politicians and media are almost as wound into one-way demonization of Trump as they are when they beat the drums of war against a designated Enemy abroad.
In the end, it may get to him – as when he tries to find angry millions again from onside with an evangelical trumpet of abortion-is-murder just before the primary in Wisconsin.
Trump is a shameless opportunist, no doubt. Yet we continue to revolve within an ad hominem circle until we go deeper than the establishment morality tale of the evil of the stigma object – the oldest propaganda trick in the book. The major money interests that are really at stake in the conflict between Trump and the political-economic establishment remain unconnected and blocked out. “Who will stop Trump’ is not only now asked across America, but the world’s media in China too. But nothing is less talked about than the globally powerful interests he has promised to rein back from the public troughs bleeding the country’s capacities to build for and to employ its people. On this topic, there is only silence or abusive distortion frothing from the mouth.
Eventually people may ask why the establishment unanimously abhors Trump across party divisions which are otherwise unbridgeable. Even if he is a caricature of American privilege and self-promotion, who else could fight the corrupt corporate-state and media establishment? Who else could ever get public support from dispossessed masses and from inside the Republican Party base itself? Who else could take on the supra-dominant corporate interests of the war state, drug monopoly, health insurance racket, lobby-run foreign policy, off-shore tax evasion, and global trade with only corporate rights to profit taking jobs in the tens of millions from home workers, and still hold a large and right-wing voter base onside?
Conversely, what else than Trump’s threat to the corporate-state establishment can explain the unity of voice and venom against an American paragon of wealth and chupzpah? What else could motivate a cross-party and corporate media hate campaign where there is nothing else in common across the condemning voices? Only those citizens depending on the deep system corruptions he promises to reverse are really threatened by Trump’s candidacy. But how do these huge private interests go on getting away with a corporate-lobby state transferring every more public wealth and control to them at the expense of the American majority and their common interest when most people already dislike and are systemically exploited by them? They get away with it by no-one being able to do anything about it.
Trump represents a threat to these gargantuan public-trough interests that even the super clean and informed Ralph Nader candidacy for president never did. The corporate media and party machines just shut him down on the electoral stage so few even knew he was a presidential candidate. You can’t do that with Trump. That is the very big problem for the otherwise seamless political and media establishment who are all in on the fabulous payoffs of this corporate state game. Trump’s entire strategy is based on getting public attention, and he is a master at it, unbuyably rich, and the most watched person in America across the country and the world. He can’t be shut up. Personal stigmatization and attack without let-up are the only way to gag his policies and turn the tide against him at the same time.
Maybe it will work in the end. It’s how disastrous and bankrupting foreign aggressions and wars have been sold whatever the ruinous costs to the public paying for them.
When you join the dots to Trump also preaching a policy revolt against the insatiable corporate jaws feeding on trillions of dollars of public budgets in Washington, the meaning becomes clear. But that connected meaning is blacked out. In its place, the corporate media and politicians present an egomaniac blowhard bordering on fascism who preaches hate, racism and sexism. But the silenced policies he advocates are more like jumping into a crocodile pit. He is on record saying he will cut the Pentagon’s budget “by 50%”. No winning politician has ever dared to take on the military-industrial complex, with even Eisenhower only naming it in his parting speech. Trump also says that the US “must be neutral, an honest broker” on the Israeli-Palestine conflict – as unspeakable as it gets in US politics. Big Pharma is also called out with “$400 billion to be saved by government negotiation of prices”. The even more powerful HMO’s are confronted by the possibility of a “one-payer system”, the devil incarnate in America’s corporate-welfare state.
Trump even challenges “the Enemy” cornerstone of US ideology when he says “wouldn’t it be nice to get along with Russia and China for a change?” Not very fascist of him. He was also open to nationalizing the Wall Street banks after 2008. None of this sees the light of day in the hate-Trump culture that been effectively mounted across even left-right divisions. Most of all, Trump rejects the whole misnamed “free trade” global system because it has “hollowed out the lives of American workers” with rights to corporations to move anywhere to get cheaper labour and import back into the US tariff-free. But again the connected meaning is repressed. That Trump also wants to get the US out of foreign wars at the same time, the other great pillar of corporate globalization, is the real danger to the transnational corporate state he has set in motion.
All these policies threaten only the ruling money interests of America that depend on the superpower public purse to extend their transnational monopolies and multiply their wealth. This is the real establishment interest that has so far evaded the glare of publicity and critique of the Donald Trump phenomenon, bigger now with Bernie Sanders than any political challenge to the US system since the 1960’s. Trump is certainly not a working-class hero. He is a pure capitalist, with all the furies of private interest and greed that capitalism selects for. But at this time he is a capitalist who is not rich from looting the public purse as the biggest annual cash flow, nor from exporting the costs of labor and taxes to foreign jurisdictions with subhuman standards that come back to the US as “necessary to compete”. Trump has initiated a long overdue recognition of parasite capitalism eating out the life capacities of the US itself.
With Senator Bernie Sanders winning seven of the last eight delegate battles — the most recent was Tuesday night’s Wisconsin victory — there’s a feeling in the air that most progressives haven’t felt since the Iowa caucus. It speaks to a hard truth Hillary Clinton and her choleric campaign staffers will encounter when they wake up in the morning: Bernie really could still beat Clinton and become the Democratic nominee for president.
No way, some of you are saying. The television faces said the delegate math was too hard. The superdelegates make it impossible. Hillary wins the primaries, Bernie only wins caucuses; America won’t elect a socialist; the nation won’t rally behind free healthcare and college tuition.
Despite the supposedly ineluctable logic of Sanders’ unelectability, many pundits now believe there has been a seismic shift in the 2016 presidential race. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Americans are sick to death of the two corporatist political establishments and will do anything to send them a message. The evidence of this is that the two most popular candidates in the 2016 election are a Jewish democratic socialist and a reality TV star who referred to his penis during a nationally televised debate.
Then there’s the matter of the Panama Papers. In case you haven’t heard about them over the roar of mainstream media’s ‘round-the-clock anti-Trump coverage, it’s being referred to as the biggest data leak in history. For the last year, 400 journalists have been secretly decoding 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The 2.6 terabytes of data show billions of dollars worth of transactions dating back 40 years.
Acquired from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the documents present a jaw-dropping paper trail of how the upper echelon of the 1 percent has used shell companies and offshore tax havens to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. In less than a week of exposure, the Panama Papers have already implicated 140 world leaders from 50 different countries. Top executives and celebrities who appear in the leaked emails, PDFs, and other documents may also be indicted in money laundering, tax evasion, and sanctions-busting activities.
The revelations are relevant to the 2016 presidential election because they once again illustrate the stark contrast in judgement between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The transgressions documented in the Panama Papers were directly facilitated by the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, which Congress ratified in 2012. In 2011, Sanders took to the floor of the senate to strongly denounce the trade deal:
“Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade US taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. The Panama free trade agreement will make this bad situation much worse. Each and every year, the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations evade about $100 billion in taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and in other countries.”
Clinton, on the other hand, completely ignored the tax haven issue, and instead, regurgitated the same job-creation platitude she used to peddle NAFTA, which has decimated American manufacturing jobs and led to an economic refugee crisis in Mexico.
Beyond just exposing her unwillingness to understand how modern free trade agreements benefit the rich and punish impoverished countries, Clinton may have a more nefarious connection to the Panama Papers.
In lobbying for the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, Clinton paved the way for major banks and corporations, most notably the Deutsche Bank, to skirt national laws and regulations. After she resigned as Secretary of State, the Deutsche Bank paid her $485,000 for a speech. While criminality can’t yet be definitively established, this may change when the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” publishes its comprehensive list at the end of the month. In addition to the aforementioned connection, Clinton’s name has already surfaced in connection to a billionaire and a Russian-controlled bank named in the files.
The fallout from the Panama Papers is being felt around the world. On Tuesday, Iceland’s Prime Minister resigned after it was revealed his family had used a shell company to hold millions of dollars worth of bonds in a collapsed bank. After an interview in which Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had a meltdown when asked about the company’s assets, over 20,000 citizens of Iceland protested.
How does this lead to Bernie Sanders defeating Hillary Clinton? The Sanders campaign has been run on the premise that Clinton is inextricably linked to political corruption, disastrous military interventions, and collusion with Wall Street. If it can be shown that Clinton was involved in criminal improprieties exposed by the Panama Papers, this will constitute yet another major line of attack for Sanders headed into the April 14th debate in New York. If Sanders wins the New York primary a few days later and scoops up a proportion of its 247 delegates, the narrative of the election will dramatically shift.
When added to the myriad other Clinton scandals and political vulnerabilities, the Democratic party’s gatekeeper superdelegates could decide that Clinton is too big of a liability going into the general election. It all comes down to New York, though — Sanders must win New York. If he does, you will see historic chaos unleashed upon the American electorate. And if the Panama Papers leak sets off an unstoppable domino effect, the DNC may soon find its fractured party looking just as ghoulish as the clown’s autopsy being conducted on the Republican Party.
The American election campaign is bringing the issues of inequality and economic dysfunction to the forefront. Millions are upset with the current state of the economy – they are disillusioned with the capitalism system. Thus, people are throwing their support behind candidates that wouldn’t even have appeared on the political scene just 10 years ago. With Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders gaining unprecedented support among the masses, will the future of America be changed forever? Are we going to see shifts in the economic model that has existed for more than a century - and is it possible that big corporations will have their power cut? We ask a leading economist, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts - Richard Wolff is on Sophie&Co.
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Dr. Richard Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the university of Massachusetts, author, welcome to the show, great to have you with us today. So, doctor, the Panama Papers, the biggest leak in financial history highlights how the world’s elite dodge taxes and hide assets, politicians like the PM of Iceland, Ukraine President, plus celebrities, athletes - I mean, it’s really amazing how billions and billions of dollars can be just concealed from the world economy. Does the whole other backstage economic world exist for the rich and famous? »
Richard Wolff: « Absolutely, and the leaks, these latest leaks from Panama are really only one more in the long list of leaks from the media, but also research by academicians. The basic explanation is this: trillions, more than billions - trillions of dollars are regularly secreted around the world, mainly by wealthy individuals and businesses to escape taxes, and they stand as a mockery of the claim by the rich and famous around the world that they can’t be required to pay more taxes because of their economic situation. The truth is, they are much richer than they are even publicly known to be, and their wealth could solve many of the world’s economic problems if they paid the taxes they are legally required to do. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Well, according to Bloomberg, the U.S. is becoming the world’s new favorite tax haven. American is resisting the new global disclosure standards and they are now attracting rich foreigners who want to store their cash in places like Nevada or South Dakota. Why did Washington refuse to sign the international tax evasion regulations? »
Richard Wolff: « Well, our government here in the U.S. more than ever has become a kind of a representative above all for the richest, the biggest corporations, the wealthiest individuals. They are the ones that are hooked up with the international elites that are hiding money, so those elites bring the money here, they have the friends here to get the political arrangement so that they have the power in this country to escape what they might not be able to escape in their own countries. The U.S. has been a place where wealthy individuals around the world legally or illegally pock their money by buying real estate, by putting their money in secret accounts in the various states that make that easy. So this is just the continuing role for the U.S. that has some ancillary benefits in terms of bringing capital here, but is fundamentally about those who have the most making sure they keep hold of it. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « When Obama took office, the U.S. economy was in freefall, and now unemployment is down to healthy 5%. Nine million new jobs have been made, and the stock market is at all time high. Would you say that the Administration has done a good job? »
Richard Wolff: « No! I think the Administration of President Obama, and of course, the Republican party is at least as much responsible for this, has done an awful job. Let’s be real on this: the so-called “recovery” has bypassed the vast majority of the American people. For example, a large part of the reduction of the unemployment rate is because people have left the labor force. People are no longer accounted in the labor force. Not because they found a job, but because they are not looking anymore. It’s a number that’s largely a mirage. Number two: the vast majority of jobs that have been founded over the last 7 years since the collapse have been jobs of much lower rates of pay than the jobs that the people lost, jobs that are less secure, jobs that have fewer benefits that go with them. That’s why the American economy is having such trouble despite getting people back to work, a smaller number than they claim, it’s jobs that don’t pay with insecurities that really shake the whole family and personal life structure of Americans, which is why so many are voting for Trump, so many are voting for Sanders, expressing their anger that the recovery has really only affected the richest at the top, the ones who brought the crash in the first place, who got the bulk of the bailouts, who now enjoy a recovery that is making the rest of the society increasingly angry and bitter. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « We’re going to talk about the upcoming elections soon, but as you’ve said, every three to seven years, America faces an economic downturn, and now we’re hearing predictions that the next one is just around the corner, and it’s going to be big. What do you think? What should we be preparing for? »
Richard Wolff: « I think the illusion in the U.S. has been that somehow the so-called “recovery” in the U.S., even though it has only affected the top 10% of our people, if even that, would eventually trickle down and help everybody to recover. We’re still waiting for the famous trickle-down - it hasn’t happened. Number two: we are part of the world economy, more than ever before, a world economy no part of which is independent of any other part. We know that the economic growth of the People’s Republic of China, which has carried the world economy for the last 15 years, is slowing down. We know that the so-called “third world” as we used to call it - Asia, Africa, Latin America - is slowing down as a result in part of China. There is no way that those slowing down, together with the problems of Europe which has still not emerged from the great crash of 2008, those problems everywhere in the world will come to the U.S.. It’s not a question of whether that happens, it’s only a question of when that happens, and the guessing now is later this year or 2017, and we are very worried in the U.S. how bad that will be and how disruptive of our society, coming on top of the crash of 2008, it promises now to be. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « But at the moment, people are preoccupied with Presidential race, not so much about the looming economic downturn. So, Bernie Sanders, the surprise Democratic candidate, may not get nominated, judging by some of his defeats, but over the course of his phenomenal campaign, he has built a huge grassroot support base. What will happen to that? Will it rally around Clinton, will the movement he has inspired outlast its leader? »
Richard Wolff: « I think there are many things that are happening. First, let’s be really clear. In terms of the long history of the U.S. and of the world economy, Bernie Sanders has already won. Here’s what I mean: he was expected by the leaders of the both parties to get somewhere between 1% and 3% of the vote. He has shown that that was completely wrong. That was a complete underestimate of how angry the majority of Americans are. He is doing way, way better. He has mobilized millions of people, he has made it possible in the U.S. to talk seriously about the flaws of capitalism, to consider socialism as a serious alternative. This is something that will change American history, and in that sense he has already won. Number two: even if mrs. Clinton becomes the official nominee, the movement for mr. Sanders is already in high gear. Think of it this way - in 2011, the OWS movement exploded. Tens of thousands of people were involved. Four years later, the Bernie Sanders movement explodes, and it now involves many millions of people. The line of development is obvious. The economic problems that produced the OWS, have not gone away, they’ve gotten worse for most Americans - that’s why mr. Sanders is so successful. No matter what he does, whether he endorses ms. Clinton because of the horror of either mr. Trump or mr. Cruz as the Republican candidate, or whether he goes independently, there will be a new left political movement in the U.S. in the years ahead, much stronger than anything we have seen before. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Okay, then tell me where is Bernie Sanders falling short, why are voters choosing Clinton over him? If the economy, like you’ve said, isn’t benefiting common people, surely they should turn to candidates who promise to fix exactly that, or other 3rd party candidates. So why they are choosing Clinton over Sanders? »
Richard Wolff: « I think there are two basic reasons. The first one is very-very important for people around the world to understand: for the last half-century at least until 1947-1948, we have been in the U.S. in a condition of an endless demonization of everything that is socialist or communist or anarchist. We have been told as a people in our schools, in our newspapers, by our politicians, that anything that calls itself socialist is evil, is dangerous, is unpatriotic. For a candidate like mr. Sanders to accept the label “socialist” and thereby be seen to commit a political suicide is an earth-shaking change, and that takes time for people. Many people cannot yet vote for something they’ve been taught to believe is so terrible. The very fact that millions of people are doing it despite all of this, that’s the most important factor that will make the rest of them come along. That’s why his ability to do so well now is such an important sign for what’s coming. Number two: ms. Clinton is part of the establishment, ms. Clinton is part of the kind of the politics in both of the Republican and the Democratic party, that has run this society for the last half of the century. Therefore, she holds on to the people who believe that our current problems are temporary, who believe that anything that changes this country will be more troubling and dangerous than holding on. It’s like the devil that you know is less frightening than the devil that you don’t yet know. So, those two forces give ms. Clinton her vote. But if you look, for example, at the statistics about how young people are voting, people between the ages of 19 and 35, mr. Sanders in election after election, when he wins and loses, he gets between 70% and 80% of the young people vote. That tells you where we are going in the U.S. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Now, Sanders, Clinton, even Trump, everyone is pouncing on Wall St., saying how it has to be reigned in, proposing plans to keep it under control. Is big business now seen as a danger to the American society? Or is it just easy to blame everything on it? And can anybody really take on Wall St.? »
Richard Wolff: « Well, let me answer the last part first. Of course, one could change Wall St., one could take on Wall St., one could reduce its influence. That’s simply a question of political will. If that will is produced by this election or by what follows, then Wall St. will be changed and perhaps even dramatically. At this point, there isn’t that while, there isn’t that political organisation that can make that happen. Number two: we live in an economic system, it has a financial center in Wall St., but it has all kinds of other dimensions, and you’re absolutely right that part of this attack on Wall St. is because it’s easier to attack a part of this system than to confront the reality that it may indeed be our system and not just one part of it that is the problem. So, there’s a little bit of this hopefulness that we can fix the whole system’s problems by focusing just on the Wall St. part - frankly, as an economist, I think that’s silly, that doesn’t work. We have tried that in the past. If you don’t change this system as a whole, then even if you’re lucky enough to change a part, the unchanged other parts will undo what you’ve done - and I can give you the best example: the last capitalism collapsed in the 1930s here in the U.S., we passed the Banking Act of 1933. When that was finally undone by the banks who didn’t want it and by the rest of the capitalist system, when president Bill Clinton signed the bill that cancelled that Act, 8 years later, we had the same collapse from the same financial behaviour. The joke is that if you don’t change the whole system, even when you do change the Wall St. story, it will come back and be undone by the same forces you haven’t changed by not changing this system. I think we’re seeing a slow learning of that reality, and in the months and years ahead, it will be the system that finally comes into clear view as the problem we have and not just the Wall St. or any other part of it. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « What needs to be changed? What kind of total change you’re talking about? »
Richard Wolff: « I think we’ve learned from the efforts to change capitalism, starting in the XIX century, across the XXth century, that something was never changed, that is, in a way, a core problem - and that is how we organise enterprises, factories, offices, stores. The basic enterprises of our system. We organise them in a following way: a tiny group of people own them and a tiny group of people run them. In most corporations which do the business of capitalism these days, major shareholders are a handful of people and institutions and they elect a board of directors, typically 12 to 20 people. They make all of the decisions: what to produce, how to produce, and what to do with the profits. Here’s a simply reality of economics - if a tiny group of people owns the businesses and if a tiny group of people they select make all of the decisions, they will run the economy for them, and not for the rest of us. And if we don’t like the outcome, which is where we are now in the global capitalist system, then we have to change that arrangement. To be as simple as I can - if you want the economic system to serve the people, you have to put the people in charge, and until we do that by making enterprises democratically owned and operated, we are going to be playing games that don’t solve our problems. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « So you’ve been saying that Americans are becoming more open to these socialist views, so to say. How will the next president manage to keep these left ideas in line and not to lose popular support? »
Richard Wolff: « Well, I believe that if any Republican becomes the next President or if ms. Clinton becomes the next President, and that looks like the likely outcome, one or the other of those, then every effort will be made to push socialism off the agenda, to use the metaphor of the genie that comes out of the magic lamp, to take this genie of socialism and push him back into the lamp - that’s what they will try to do. I am firmly convinced they will fail at that effort. This is a genie you cannot put back in the lamp. The younger generation, particularly, in the U.S. is now in huge numbers against the capitalism that has destroyed their job prospects, which has destroyed their income prospect, which has saddled students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt at the time of the increasing economic difficulty. Those people are going to be interested in socialism more and more. So, the real question is, how will a government that wants to prevent socialism from spreading deal with a population that is going exactly in the opposite direction? That will be the key political question in the months and years ahead. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Let’s talk about Donald Trump. So Trump’s campaign was expected to be a publicity stunt, more or less. But, fluke or not, he now has a real shot. Are people supporting him because he’s not from establishment? Is fringe politicians like Sanders or Trump becoming more influential than mainstream in America? »
Richard Wolff: « Absolutely. Both mr. Sanders in one way and mr. Trump in a different way, are cashing in on the feeling of huge numbers of the American people that their government is corrupt, that their government is in the hands of a few very wealthy interests who use it for their own growth and their wealth and power and have no concern about the rest of the American people. There’s a feeling that a large part of the elite in the U.S. have moved their interests to China, to India, to Brazil, where they do more and more of their production, because the wages are so low, et cetera, et cetera, and for whom the mass of the American working class is of no interest. . Those people are feeling that, their jobs are disappearing, their wages are going down, security of their job is gone, benefits that they were counting on in their old age are disappearing in front of them. They are very, very angry. If they are right-wing and conservative - they express that through mr. Trump. If they are open to the left or to socialism, than they do it through mr. Sanders. But it is absolutely a vote of no confidence in the establishment of the U.S. in both parties and the capitalist system that both parties are seen to be servants of. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « Trump also is a unique candidate in many other regards. For instance, one of the most interesting things about him is, of course, he’s independent from Wall St. money, because he simply doesn’t need it, he’s rich enough. Political issues aside, could this business-like approach be good for the American economy? »
Richard Wolff: « I don’t think so, I think that what’s happened is that whatever mr. Trump says, everybody knows that the truth is what you’ve just said - every American knows that mr. Trump can do what he is doing because he is a billionaire and can buy his way into political importance. So, even though he’s a critic of the establishment, he also exemplifies, illustrates, proves the very argument that the government is now something for rich people to play with. This is not what Sanders’ campaign is doing, but it is what mr. Trump is doing. He, in a sense, mocks the establishment even as he underscores the very corruption by money that American politics has now become. So I don’t think he will fundamentally solve or overcome the disaffection, even of the people who vote for him. They will see him as caught up in the very system that they don’t like anymore, and his biggest problem will be holding on to the popularity he had this time, once he’s in office, and has to be seen by the people as perpetuating the very system that is their problem. »
Sophie Shevardnadze : « So, one of Trump's most impressive promises is eliminating U.S. debt - $19 trillion in 8 years. How much does the U.S. debt really matter at this point? Is it too big now so it is like it doesn’t even exist? »
Richard Wolff: « It is a feature of our economy. No one that I know, including mr. Trump’s supporters, believed for one minute that is anything other than overheated rhetoric. There is no way to pay off a debt of that size in that amount of time, unless he was prepared to tax the American people on a scale they’ve never seen before or to cut government spending on a scale no one has ever seen before, in order to free up the money to reduce that debt. He can’t do that with this Congress and he can’t do it by himself. The bottom line is: he can’t do it and it is just the kind of rhetoric to portray him as the man who can get things done when the rest of Washington can’t. It is an illusion and it will fade from everyone's memory within days of the election being behind us. »