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Sean Case
26 articles
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  • This is where the American system began to diverge wildly from democratic norms elsewhere.
  • A true working-class party must be democratic and member-controlled. It must be independent — determining its own platform and educating around it. It should actually contest elections. And its candidates for public office should be members of the party, accountable to the membership, and pledged to respect the platform.
  • “It’s not easy for Americans to understand a party that’s not electoral. I think that that was just a difficult sell.”
  • proportional representation
  • But notice what is missing from this list: there is no mention of a separate ballot line.
  • Waged by a candidate who had never run as a Democrat before and has declined to do so in the future, the Sanders campaign has revived hope that a serious electoral politics to the left of the Democratic Party might be possible. The question is what such a politics would mean in practice.
  • “Although these statutes have been assailed on all sides,” a 1937 Columbia Law Review article reported, “their severity is constantly being increased, probably because the interests oppressed seldom have representation in the legislatures.” Indeed, when the Florida legislature found socialists and communists advancing at the polls, it responded in 1931 by banning any party from the ballot unless it had won 30 percent of the vote in two consecutive elections; naturally, when the Republican Party failed to meet that test, the state immediately lowered the threshold.
  • Today, in almost every established democracy, getting on the ballot is at most a secondary concern for small or new parties; in many countries it involves little more than filling out some forms
  • once the job of printing the ballot was handed over to governments, some mechanism was needed to determine who was “officially” a candidate, and under which party label.
  • Over the three decades following US entry into World War I, as working-class and socialist parties burgeoned throughout the industrialized world, American elites chose to deal with the problem by radically restricting access to the ballot. In state after state, petition requirements and filing deadlines were tightened and various forms of routine legal harassment, unknown in the rest of the democratic world, became the norm.
  • The new restrictions came in waves, usually following the entry of left-wing parties into the electoral process
  • In the lore of American politics, these direct-primary and “Australian ballot” laws (i.e., laws mandating government-printed ballots cast inside a private booth) were the work of idealistic progressive reformers aiming to depose the party bosses and enshrine popular sovereignty. In reality, they were adopted by the party leaders themselves when such measures were deemed to suit their interests.
  • This political moment offers a chance to fill in some of these blanks — to advance new electoral strategies for an independent left-wing party rooted in the working class.
  • Instead, the problem arose from the oldest dilemma of America’s two-party system: running candidates against Democrats risked electing anti-labor Republicans. For unions whose members had a lot to lose, that risk was considered too high.
  • The Labor Party always assumed that a genuinely independent labor party must have a separate party ballot line. That assumption was a mistake. The assumption gave rise to an intractable dilemma: if the party took a separate line and ran candidates against incumbent Democrats, it would destroy relationships with Democratic officeholders who might otherwise be sympathetic to unions, and thus lose the support of the unions that depended on those officeholders. On the other hand, if it didn’t run candidates — which is ultimately the path it chose — the nagging question would arise: what’s the point of having this so-called “party” in the first place? That question ended up spurring endless internal debates over whether and when to run candidates. And in the end, by not contesting elections, the party failed to give workers a reason to pay attention to the organization in the first place.
  • But the United States is different. Beneath our winner-take-all electoral rules, we also have a unique — and uniquely repressive — legal system governing political parties and the mechanics of elections. This system has nothing to do with the Constitution or the Founding Fathers. Rather, it was established by the major-party leaders, state by state, over a period stretching roughly from 1890 to 1920.
  • The Council of Europe, the pan-European intergovernmental body, maintains a “Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters,” which catalogs electoral practices that contravene international standards. Such violations often read like a manual of US election procedure. In 2006, the council condemned the Republic of Belarus for violating the provision of the code proscribing signature requirements larger than 1 percent of a district’s voters, a level the council regards as extremely high; in 2014, Illinois required more than triple that number for House candidacies. In 2004, the council rebuked Azerbaijan for its rule forbidding voters from signing nomination petitions for candidates from more than one party; California and many other states do essentially the same thing.
17 annotations
 law, govt and politics 118
  • the Sanders campaign signaled the possibility of a break with the politics of lesser-evilism and “harm reduction” that dominated progressive electoral activity since the Popular Front
  • a self-isolating focus on “social movements” on one side, and subordination to the forces of official liberalism on the other
  • Despite its largely disorganized state, the working class is still the key to fundamental social transformation because of its size and strategic location in the social order.
  • But localities, even the biggest and most economically self-sufficient ones, are extremely vulnerable to whipsawing by capitalist interests. They often lack the level of resources necessary to effectively address their most intractable problems, and
  • he brought the question of socialism versus capitalism into the heart of U.S. politics
  • Whether we like it or not, election campaigns – and presidential elections above all – are the form of political activity that ordinary Americans engage with the most
  • To begin with, congressional elections occur every two years, a timetable that offers the opportunity to carry out a permanent campaign in support of democratic socialism in the district. Furthermore, the value of having even a handful of self-identified socialists in Congress has been decisively proven first by Sanders, then the rapid ascent of AOC, Omar, and Tlaib
  • This process of self-selection, combined with the academic and professional milieus we often draw upon, also goes a long way toward explaining the current racial composition of the organization
  • Effective electoral action, through both Democratic Party primaries and independent campaigns where feasible, can help us build the forces we need to challenge the power of capital and create a truly independent political movement. 
  • The social underpinnings of unionism have also been significantly eroded. Unionism in the basic manufacturing industries tended to be tightly integrated with working-class community life in the neighborhoods and towns surrounding the factory
  • To a significant extent it was parties that organized classes, not the other way around.
  • Bernie’s campaign primed huge swathes of the country for an unabashed class politics, and made the only organization with “democratic socialism” in its name the place to go for those who wanted to keep the political revolution going beyond 2016.
  • our growth, particularly of the activist layers, has been driven mainly by what the political sociologist Paolo Gerbaudo calls connected outsiders: people (often with high levels of formal education) who are unorganized by churches, unions, or other social organizations, and are therefore reliant on digital communications and social media platforms to overcome their atomization. 
  • The 2016 Sanders campaign showed us what might be possible if we manage to avoid two pitfalls that have long bedeviled the left:
  • in many places the largest employers can effectively blackmail local government with the threat of lost jobs and tax revenue
  • Today, however, there is a growing tendency for voters to base their electoral decisions, including those at the state and local levels, on their views of the national parties in general and the sitting president in particular
  • Bernie’s 2016 campaign played a key role in creating the political conditions for the teacher strike wave, and now educators (and nurses) are the leading source of working-class support for Bernie 2020.
  • “the class structure is taken to generate class consciousness, which in turn induces workers to build class organizations,” but in reality “class consciousness is the consequence of class organization” and conflicts between collective historical actors
  • As manufacturing moved out of the central cities and factory towns lost their plants, workers chased after work or got stuck in increasingly distressed communities. The leading edge of the working class was disorganized, the class solidarities that were built in an earlier period were eroded, and a generation of working people lost out on the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experiences that result from running one’s own organization.
  • Class identities do not necessary flow from the objective structures of the class system – they must be created.
  • The absence of such parties in U.S. history is both cause and consequence of the relative weakness of class politics in this country
  • Local level politics gives our members valuable opportunities to gain skills and experiences at a manageable scale, develop themselves as leaders and candidates, use local offices as organizing centers, and address important issues and problems directly through community-based organizing.
  • Today, U.S. elites show little interest in absorbing or encouraging working class organization. Even with the labor movement in a position of historic weakness, employers and their political functionaries continue to pursue their assault on the right to organize. This is occurring in tandem with a wide-ranging campaign to suppress voting rights, the ultimate goal of which is to further reduce popular control of government, which already is virtually non-existent.
  • It exposed the utter bankruptcy of the Democratic Party establishment, which proved itself more effective in combating a left-wing challenger than Donald Trump and the odious political project he represents. 
  • The Constitution doesn’t discuss local government at all, and all powers not granted to the federal government are expressly reserved for the states
  • Commitment to a common national program will ultimately amount to little, however, if we fail to root ourselves in a solid social base
  • any left political project aspiring to mass support needs an ongoing electoral expression if it wants to be successful
  • It should be a program that links the democratization of political institutions with encouragement of working-class organizational capacity in politics, the economy, and in every arena of social life. In short, an American Chartism for the twenty-first century.
  • At the same time, however, it means that unlike the mass organizations of the old left, DSA tends to draw support from self-selecting individuals with weak or non-existent links to a broader working-class or popular constituency.
  • By the end of the Obama administration, a broadly oppositional — yet politically undefined — mood took hold of a substantial section of younger adults, their status undercut by persistent economic insecurity and a general sense of alienation from established politics and institutions. Instead of becoming organic intellectuals for the ruling class, they’ve flooded the ranks of DSA, essentially refounding an organization built for a different political period. 
30 annotations
  • A true working-class party must be democratic and member-controlled. It must be independent — determining its own platform and educating around it. It should actually contest elections. And its candidates for public office should be members of the party, accountable to the membership, and pledged to respect the platform.
  • “It’s not easy for Americans to understand a party that’s not electoral. I think that that was just a difficult sell.”
  • proportional representation
  • But notice what is missing from this list: there is no mention of a separate ballot line.
  • Waged by a candidate who had never run as a Democrat before and has declined to do so in the future, the Sanders campaign has revived hope that a serious electoral politics to the left of the Democratic Party might be possible. The question is what such a politics would mean in practice.
  • This political moment offers a chance to fill in some of these blanks — to advance new electoral strategies for an independent left-wing party rooted in the working class.
  • Instead, the problem arose from the oldest dilemma of America’s two-party system: running candidates against Democrats risked electing anti-labor Republicans. For unions whose members had a lot to lose, that risk was considered too high.
  • The Labor Party always assumed that a genuinely independent labor party must have a separate party ballot line. That assumption was a mistake. The assumption gave rise to an intractable dilemma: if the party took a separate line and ran candidates against incumbent Democrats, it would destroy relationships with Democratic officeholders who might otherwise be sympathetic to unions, and thus lose the support of the unions that depended on those officeholders. On the other hand, if it didn’t run candidates — which is ultimately the path it chose — the nagging question would arise: what’s the point of having this so-called “party” in the first place? That question ended up spurring endless internal debates over whether and when to run candidates. And in the end, by not contesting elections, the party failed to give workers a reason to pay attention to the organization in the first place.
8 annotations
 law, govt and politics 152
  • But notice what is missing from this list: there is no mention of a separate ballot line.
  • Waged by a candidate who had never run as a Democrat before and has declined to do so in the future, the Sanders campaign has revived hope that a serious electoral politics to the left of the Democratic Party might be possible. The question is what such a politics would mean in practice.
  • “Although these statutes have been assailed on all sides,” a 1937 Columbia Law Review article reported, “their severity is constantly being increased, probably because the interests oppressed seldom have representation in the legislatures.” Indeed, when the Florida legislature found socialists and communists advancing at the polls, it responded in 1931 by banning any party from the ballot unless it had won 30 percent of the vote in two consecutive elections; naturally, when the Republican Party failed to meet that test, the state immediately lowered the threshold.
  • Today, in almost every established democracy, getting on the ballot is at most a secondary concern for small or new parties; in many countries it involves little more than filling out some forms
  • This political moment offers a chance to fill in some of these blanks — to advance new electoral strategies for an independent left-wing party rooted in the working class.
  • once the job of printing the ballot was handed over to governments, some mechanism was needed to determine who was “officially” a candidate, and under which party label.
  • Over the three decades following US entry into World War I, as working-class and socialist parties burgeoned throughout the industrialized world, American elites chose to deal with the problem by radically restricting access to the ballot. In state after state, petition requirements and filing deadlines were tightened and various forms of routine legal harassment, unknown in the rest of the democratic world, became the norm.
  • The new restrictions came in waves, usually following the entry of left-wing parties into the electoral process
  • In the lore of American politics, these direct-primary and “Australian ballot” laws (i.e., laws mandating government-printed ballots cast inside a private booth) were the work of idealistic progressive reformers aiming to depose the party bosses and enshrine popular sovereignty. In reality, they were adopted by the party leaders themselves when such measures were deemed to suit their interests.
  • Instead, the problem arose from the oldest dilemma of America’s two-party system: running candidates against Democrats risked electing anti-labor Republicans. For unions whose members had a lot to lose, that risk was considered too high.
  • The Labor Party always assumed that a genuinely independent labor party must have a separate party ballot line. That assumption was a mistake. The assumption gave rise to an intractable dilemma: if the party took a separate line and ran candidates against incumbent Democrats, it would destroy relationships with Democratic officeholders who might otherwise be sympathetic to unions, and thus lose the support of the unions that depended on those officeholders. On the other hand, if it didn’t run candidates — which is ultimately the path it chose — the nagging question would arise: what’s the point of having this so-called “party” in the first place? That question ended up spurring endless internal debates over whether and when to run candidates. And in the end, by not contesting elections, the party failed to give workers a reason to pay attention to the organization in the first place.
  • This political moment offers a chance to fill in some of these blanks — to advance new electoral strategies for an independent left-wing party rooted in the working class.
  • Instead, the problem arose from the oldest dilemma of America’s two-party system: running candidates against Democrats risked electing anti-labor Republicans. For unions whose members had a lot to lose, that risk was considered too high.
  • The Labor Party always assumed that a genuinely independent labor party must have a separate party ballot line. That assumption was a mistake. The assumption gave rise to an intractable dilemma: if the party took a separate line and ran candidates against incumbent Democrats, it would destroy relationships with Democratic officeholders who might otherwise be sympathetic to unions, and thus lose the support of the unions that depended on those officeholders. On the other hand, if it didn’t run candidates — which is ultimately the path it chose — the nagging question would arise: what’s the point of having this so-called “party” in the first place? That question ended up spurring endless internal debates over whether and when to run candidates. And in the end, by not contesting elections, the party failed to give workers a reason to pay attention to the organization in the first place.
  • But the United States is different. Beneath our winner-take-all electoral rules, we also have a unique — and uniquely repressive — legal system governing political parties and the mechanics of elections. This system has nothing to do with the Constitution or the Founding Fathers. Rather, it was established by the major-party leaders, state by state, over a period stretching roughly from 1890 to 1920.
  • The Council of Europe, the pan-European intergovernmental body, maintains a “Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters,” which catalogs electoral practices that contravene international standards. Such violations often read like a manual of US election procedure. In 2006, the council condemned the Republic of Belarus for violating the provision of the code proscribing signature requirements larger than 1 percent of a district’s voters, a level the council regards as extremely high; in 2014, Illinois required more than triple that number for House candidacies. In 2004, the council rebuked Azerbaijan for its rule forbidding voters from signing nomination petitions for candidates from more than one party; California and many other states do essentially the same thing.
  • “Perhaps the clearest case of overt partisan manipulation of the rules is the United States, where Democrats and Republicans appear automatically on the ballot, but third parties and independents have to overcome a maze of cumbersome legal requirements,
  • Another unique aspect of American party law raises similar issues: in their internal affairs, ballot-qualified parties in the United States are “some of the most comprehensively regulated parties in the world.”
  • Such groups generally maintain no formal standards for judging a candidate’s worthiness. Even if they did, in drawing up such standards they would be accountable to no one, and would have no power to change those candidates’ policy objectives.
  • As a nationwide organization, it would have a national educational apparatus, recognized leaders and spokespeople at the national level, and its candidates and other activities would come under a single, nationally recognized label. And, of course, all candidates would be required to adhere to the national platform.
  • At a deeper level, the “party-less” model that dominates progressive politics today is an outgrowth of America’s lamentable history of “internally mobilized” parties: that is, parties organized by already-established politicians for the sole purpose of creating a mass constituency around themselves. The Democratic Party — created in the 1830s by a network of powerful incumbents led by New York senator and power broker Martin Van Buren — is the classic case.
  • But it would avoid the ballot-line trap. Decisions about how individual candidates appear on the ballot would be made on a case-by-case basis and on pragmatic grounds, depending on the election laws and partisan coloration of the state or district in question. In any given race, the organization could choose to run in major- or minor-party primaries, as nonpartisan independents, or even, theoretically, on the organization’s own ballot line.
  • “externally mobilized” parties: organized by ordinary people, standing outside the system, who come together around a cause and then go about recruiting their own representatives to contest elections, for the purpose of gaining power they don’t already have.
  • The ballot line would thus be regarded as a secondary issue. The organization would base its legal right to exist not on the repressive ballot laws, but on the fundamental rights of freedom of association.
  • Start with the most fundamental fact about the Democratic Party: it has no members.
  • party membership in the United States has been described as ‘a fiction created by primary registration laws.’”
  • Just as the Democratic Party has no real membership, it offers only the most derisory semblance of a “program”: a quadrennial platform usually dictated by an individual nominee (or occasionally negotiated with a defeated rival) at the height of the election-season frenzy, a document that in most years no one reads and in all years no one takes seriously as a binding document. (At the state level, party platforms often reach hallucinatory levels of detachment from real politics.)
  • To whom, then, is the senator accountable? An electorate, in theory, come reelection time. But no party.
  • Today, a national political organization could adopt the “Carey” model of campaign finance
  • In addition, it would be allowed to establish a PAC that maintains two separate accounts: one permitted to donate to, and directly coordinate with, individual candidates (though subject to FECA contribution limits and allowed to actively solicit contributions only from the organization’s own members); and the other allowed to accept unlimited contributions and make unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of its candidates (though not donations to candidates themselves). A separate online “conduit” PAC, on the ActBlue model, could aggregate small-donor hard-money fundraising on a mass scale to finance the individual campaigns.
  • In this “party-less” model of politics, it’s the Democratic politician who goes about trying to recruit a base, rather than the other way around. The politician’s platform and message are devised by her and her alone. They can be changed on a whim. And there is no mechanism by which the politician can be held accountable to the (fairly nebulous) progressive constituency she has recruited to her cause.
  • A true working-class party must be democratic and member-controlled. It must be independent — determining its own platform and educating around it. It should actually contest elections. And its candidates for public office should be members of the party, accountable to the membership, and pledged to respect the platform.
  • This is where the American system began to diverge wildly from democratic norms elsewhere.
  • “It’s not easy for Americans to understand a party that’s not electoral. I think that that was just a difficult sell.”
  • proportional representation
  • This is one fundamental problem with the third-party strategy: the need to continually maintain ballot status — an onerous process in most states — places the party’s viability at the mercy of the legislature.
  • The following is a proposal for such a model: a national political organization that would have chapters at the state and local levels, a binding program, a leadership accountable to its members, and electoral candidates nominated at all levels throughout the country.
  • , not a single externally mobilized party has ever attained national electoral significance in the United States.
  • We have to stop approaching our task as if the problems we face were akin to those faced by the organizers of, say, the British Labour Party in 1900 or Canada’s New Democratic Party in 1961. Instead, we need to realize that our situation is more like that facing opposition parties in soft-authoritarian systems, like those of Russia or Singapore. Rather than yet another suicidal frontal assault, we need to mount the electoral equivalent of guerrilla insurgency. In short, we need to think about electoral strategy more creatively.
  • In this model, the national organization would incorporate as a 501(c)4 social welfare organization, permitting it to endorse candidates and engage in explicit campaigning, while accepting unlimited donations and spending unlimited amounts on political education. (It would also, of course, be free to adopt rigorous self-imposed disclosure rules, as it should.)
  • These parties are frequently forced to devote the bulk of their resources not to educating voters, or knocking on doors on election day, but to waging petition drives and ballot-access lawsuits. The constant legal harassment, in turn, ends up exerting a subtle but powerful effect on the kinds of people attracted to independent politics. Through a process of natural selection, such obstacles tend to repel serious and experienced local politicians and organizers, while disproportionately attracting activists with a certain mentality: disdainful of practical politics or concrete results; less interested in organizing, or even winning elections, than in bearing witness to the injustice of the two-party system through the symbolic ritual of inscribing a third-party’s name on the ballot.
  • But electing individual progressives does little to change the broad dynamics of American politics or American capitalism. In fact, it can create a kind of placebo effect: sustaining the illusion of forward motion while obscuring the fact that neither party is structurally built to reflect working-class interests.
  • “One of the best-kept secrets in American politics,” the eminent political scientist Theodore Lowi has written, “is that the two-party system has long been brain dead — kept alive by support systems like state electoral laws that protect the established parties from rivals and by federal subsidies and so-called campaign reform. The two-party system would collapse in an instant if the tubes were pulled and the IVs were cut.”
  • In other words, when third-party activists seek ballot status, they are often seeking to grant far-reaching control over their own internal affairs to a hostile two-party-dominated legislature. That is a peculiar way to go about smashing the two-party system.
  • Typically, advocates of the third-party route depict their strategy as a revolt against a rigged two-party system; sometimes they even castigate doubters as timid accommodationists. Yet, in the context of American law, when such advocates speak of creating an independent “party,” what they mean, ironically, is choosing to subject their organization to an elaborate regulatory regime maintained by, and continually manipulated by, the two parties themselves.
  • Orbiting around these ambitious office-seekers are the progressive “grassroots” organizations exemplified by MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, or Progressive Democrats of America. (In an earlier, direct-mail era, it was Common Cause, People for the American Way, or even the Americans for Democratic Action.)
46 annotations
 law, govt and politics 188
  • It’s very dangerous for the ruling class to encourage any kind of mass mobilizations of workers, because when they see how they can exert their power through demonstrations they will begin demonstrating in their own interests.
  • The American ruling class — from McGovern and Kennedy right on down to Nixon — would love to have a free hand, a situation where it would be acceptable to send however many soldiers would be necessary to take control of Cambodia and “secure” Vietnam. The warmakers haven’t had any change of heart.
  • But what the liberals and the ultralefts don’t understand is that what the majority thinks can be decisive. Such things as where the troops can be sent and whether bullets can be fired or not, can be determined by what the mass of the people think. Because their ability to resist, and the potential, the danger of their resistance, is dependent on what they think.
  • What was the response of the ruling class to this upsurge? The number one point which they understood perfectly was that decisive power does not lie within the student movement, but that the student movement is a direct danger because it can act as a catalyst, spreading ideas and setting other forces into motion.
  • If you were to look at the students in isolation, you would say they don’t have any real power. But put the students into the actual network of society — the interrelationship with their parents, the interrelationship with society as a whole, the interrelationship between each university and other universities and schools and the community around it — and the ruling class can see an immediate threat.
  • People don’t suddenly understand everything at once. Think about your own political development. There’s always one issue or another, depending on the objective conditions, which tends to wake a person up. As we’ve said over and over again, at the present stage the most effective weapon to stop the ruling class from moving to the right is to get masses of people in motion. The most effective way to do this, at this stage especially, is mass, peaceful, legal demonstrations in the streets.
  • events by relating to any differences within the ruling class.
  • This is the concept of getting people into motion, into action. Not talking down to them, but organizing actions which are able to give expression to the mass opposition to the policies of the ruling class, at the level of understanding that people have reached about what’s happening in this society. It’s the concept of bringing masses into motion, but at all times keeping the movement independent of the ruling class.
  • You’ve got to deal with people where they’re at. When a woman comes along and says, “I’m against the abortion laws. I want to see them abolished,” and she wants to join a demonstration for free abortions on demand, but she still has illusions about the war in Vietnam, still supports Nixon, what is our attitude? Do we say, “You’re an imperialist pig! Don’t you know what’s happening in Vietnam? You can’t go on this demonstration. Keep away from us. We understand these things — we’re the elite. We don’t want to taint ourselves by letting someone who’s for the war in Vietnam join this demonstration”.
  • We advocate many things, but we try to put into practice those things the masses are prepared for. We advocate general strikes, but we don’t call them, because we’re not fools. We know there cannot be a general strike, on any issue right now, given the present level of consciousness. And you won’t get to the point where there can be general strikes unless you put people in motion, precisely because when they start to move on any one issue, whether women’s liberation, the war or racial oppression, people begin to question the whole society, and to see the interrelationship between the different issues. In fact, it is the way people radicalize.
  • The US had an army of 15 million in the Second World War, with a population then of some 140 million. With the present population of 220 million, the US could put an army of 22 million to 24 million in the field now if it wanted to mobilize on the scale it did for World War II. Which means it could put 10 million into Vietnam. And it would be economically possible too, if the government was willing to pay the price, in terms of the standard of living of the American people, that it paid in the Second World War. That is, there is nothing militarily stopping them from escalating. The national liberation forces of Indochina couldn’t physically stop them from landing two, three, or five million soldiers.
  • The postmen, for instance — all they had to do to tie up the economy was to go home. That’s all. Just go home. That’s power.
  • This is the key thing to understand about the ultraleftists. The actions they propose are not aimed at the American people; they’re aimed at those who have already radicalized. They know beforehand that masses of people won’t respond to the tactics they propose.
  • That is the big difference between the perspective of the ultralefts and our perspective, because we do want a general strike. We do want a real strike. We do believe you can win the workers, so therefore we don’t just raise our hands in games, we raise our hands for what really can be done, for what can begin to move masses of people.
  • These liberal-ultraleftists think that’s what moves the ruling class. Actually they come close to a correct theory when they say that if people start leaving the system the ruling class will respond. But they don’t believe that the masses can be won. They think it is enough for them to leave the system themselves, small groups of people carrying out direct confrontations.
  • The real explanation is that the masses of people in this country have become a force that enters into the balance on a world scale. There is a change taking place in the consciousness of the people of the United States, and this change is altering the relationship of forces. An understanding of this fact is crucial for deciding our strategy and tactics. You can’t work out tactics for how to affect the course of the war unless you understand what is affecting it at this very moment
  • You see, you can take 200 or 300, or even a few thousand people and fight in the streets, throwing rocks at windows, and putting on a big show. You can play revolution, not make revolution. But when you’re talking about 15 million workers who control basic industry in this country, you don’t play games. Because they don’t run around throwing things at windows. They do things like stop production, period.
  • This is another thing that these ultraleft-upside-down-liberals have: the panic button. Since they don’t see any countervailing force, they think at any moment the whole country could just go BANG! At any moment the ruling class can make a move to the right, and they don’t see any way to stop it, so they throw in the towel, they just panic. The ad says: “If you’re reading this — don’t kid yourself any longer. Big Brother is making his list. And you’re on it. Can we stop 1984? It’s 11:59 p.m. now. The clock is ticking loudly. What in hell are we going to do about it?”
  • You get the issues around which people are moving against the government and create a unified movement around them, in order to maximize the numbers that will come into motion.
  • So the liberals don’t look to the masses. They look directly to the ruling class and try to affect the course of events by relating to any differences within the ruling class.
  • Now basically an ultraleft is a liberal that has gone through an evolution. What happens is this. They start out as liberals, and suddenly the war in Vietnam comes along. Now, what does a liberal believe? He believes that the ruling class is basically responsive to his needs. So he demonstrates.
  • We’re not interested in moving 20 or 200 or several hundred community organizers to engage in some sort of civil disobedience, window trashing, or whatever. We say that is a dead end, because it doesn’t relate to the power that can stop the war — the masses. You can’t ask the 15 million trade unionists to sit in at a congressman’s office. There just isn’t enough room. Of course, the ultralefts know that 15 million workers aren’t going to do that, so that call is clearly not aimed at involving workers.
  • What we want is to call for concrete demands and mobilize people to win them. Demands like Get Out of Vietnam, or Black Control of the Black Schools, or concrete campaigns around specific cases of repression. But that’s not what the liberal-ultralefts do. What they call a multi-issue program is a list of abstract reforms.
  • So then you ask the liberal who is protecting his civil liberties? He will say, “Well, it’s because our system allows it. Our system works to a certain degree.” Since they have confidence that the system basically works, the only problem is to find members of the ruling class who are responsive and will help protect civil liberties, and get them in power. They continuously look for a more liberal wing within the ruling class to support.
  • haven’t had any
  • the masses of people have different interests than the ruling class and they have independent power.
  • The working class and the oppressed nationalities are mass social layers, and they can only realize their potential power when they organize as a massive social force. The ruling class can deal with any one individual or any small group; it’s only masses that can stand in their way. So the potential power of the working class to stop the war is a big threat.
  • cause they couldn’t see any force around that was protecting their civil liberties. Then what they began to develop was the thesis that civil liberties, elections, courts, all bourgeois democratic forms, are a gigantic put-on, a fantastic manipulation. That it is all a ruling class trick. So, these people concluded that the elections and civil liberties are unreal, and the people who run the country could call them off tomorrow. Elections and civil liberties, they said, “have nothing to do with reality”.
28 annotations
  • the “Stop Wall Street Looting Act”
  • a radical proposal that would effectively destroy the leveraged buyback model.
  • The unabashed greed displayed by corporate America is not just a result of easy money. It’s also nurtured by a broader ideological climate that privileges the prerogatives of business — that sees the private sector as a site of efficient, rational investment, of innovation and progress.
  • In addition to the colossal waste of share buybacks and the wanton destructiveness of PE firms, the last ten years of expansion have seen the privileging of firms that fail even on capitalism’s own terms.
  • The new normal of low interest rates is designed to sooth the palpitations of capitalists, not to improve the lives of working people.
  • Uber lost $3 billion last year. Lyft lost a billion. Yet these companies, along with dozens of other loss-making “unicorns,” are Wall Street darlings. Their sky-high valuations rest on the promise they hold, the stories they tell about a future where AI, platforms, and self-driving cars solve everything.
  • Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, is tackling the issue of share buybacks
  • Characterizing the last decade as an “expansion” is a peculiar sort of euphemism. What, precisely, is being sustained through central bank–engineered, low interest rates?
  • share buybacks
  • Shareholders received a record-breaking $1.25 trillion in share buybacks and dividends in 2018, bringing the post-crisis decade total to nearly $8 trillion in handouts to shareholders and corporate executives.
  • America’s two-century-old limited liability model ensures that PE firms are never on the hook for more than their equity contribution. Whether the company survives or dies, PE executives get paid.
  • the average PE-owned company today has debt levels that are eleven to twelve times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization
  • Warren calls for an end to the limited liability rights of private equity firms. Her bill’s provisions would make PE firms responsible for the debt they pile onto their portfolio companies. If they drive a company into bankruptcy, the PE firm would be responsible for the acquired company’s debt, and by extension, for paying its creditors — including workers and retirees — what they’re owed.
  • he recently proposed legislation to prohibit companies from repurchasing their own shares until they’ve demonstrated that they are looking out for other stakeholders first.
  • Buybacks — when companies repurchase their own stocks to take them out of the market, thus increasing their value — are a key feature of neoliberal capitalism
  • 85 percent of all stocks are in the hands of the top 10 percent.
  • Low interest rates have become the new normal of global capitalism — necessary to, as Morgan Stanley chief economist Ellen Zentner recently observed, “sustain the expansion.”
  • wages for factory workers and non-manager service workers (82 percent of the workforce) have been stagnant for three decades. In ten years of expansion, only the top decile has seen substantially improved wages.
  • Corporations who want to buy back shares would have to demonstrate that they pay a living wage to all their employees (including paid sick leave) and that they provide health and pension benefits.
  • wages have barely budged, despite low official unemployment.
  • Instead of investing in modern, sustainable public transportation — something both rural and urban areas desperately need — capital is allocated to retrograde projects that increase fossil-fuel use and foster consumption behaviors antithetical to the needs of society. We don’t need self-driving cars — we need green subways, buses, and trains.
  • Nearly 40 percent of Americans would be unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense. One in four children relies on food stamps to meet their dietary needs. More than half of US households don’t have enough in savings to cover more than one month of expenses, and according to the New York Fed, household debt reached a new high in the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • A decade of easy credit (on top of a multi-trillion-dollar quantitative easing program), combined with a corporate sector emboldened by a generation of business-friendly reforms, has exacerbated a number of trends that exemplify the worst tendencies of capitalism.
  • Consider the ride-sharing sector. U
  • Students can’t borrow loans for school at the federal funds rate. A low benchmark rate doesn’t help the people who are desperate enough to take out payday loans, or the families who rely on credit cards to buy groceries and gas.
  • Today more than 90 percent of corporate profits go to share buybacks and dividends. More and more companies are using cash to buy shares rather than invest in jobs or research and development. Alphabet, for example, just announced its first-ever share buyback program; the tech giant will purchase $25 billion of its own shares.
  • A lower benchmark rate also invigorates the vultures. Private equity firms thrive in a low interest rate environment like the one we have now, and it seems, will have for a long time to come. PE firms like KKR and Blackstone operate using a leveraged buyout model, forcing the companies they take over to borrow a boatload of cash to pay for their own acquisition.
27 annotations
 investing 595
  • It is impossible to understand corruption in Puerto Rico without looking into its long-standing colonial relationship with the United States
  • A prime example of this “pay to play” system can be seen in the slow, corrosive influence of corruption in the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) — now bankrupt and physically devastated but once considered a crowning achievement of effective public management, bringing electrification to remote parts of the island that private companies had neglected to serve.
  • Over time, politicians of both parties have secured their own political appointees to PREPA, often without regard to qualification. Such appointees — now numbering in the hundreds — are there to fundraise (in part through favorable contracting) and to implement the pet energy projects of whatever party is in power.
  • . Corruption dates back to US military rule and the first governors, unelected officials appointed by the US president, often in response to political favors or campaign contributions and with no corresponding knowledge of Spanish, let alone of the people under US governance.
  • Public ownership — if not democratically accountable — turns out to be just another structure from which to steal from ordinary citizens.
  • It is not just the chats. It is not just the recent arrests. It is not even the poorly managed response to Hurricane Maria. Rosselló has offered Puerto Rico no way out, no road map — just failure cloaked in rhetoric and self-dealing and influence peddling in broad daylight. The governor has presided over the decimation of public education (the former education secretary had closed down nearly four-hundred schools and aggressively introduced charter schools), cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, cuts to pensions, and the privatization of major public services, including ongoing efforts to privatize the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).
  • In the early days of American rule, Puerto Rico’s domestic coffee industry was destroyed and supplanted by sugar plantations imposed by Washington
  • PREPA is allegedly one of the largest sources of political fundraising on the island
  • the real winners have been off-island, American interests. In the early days, it was industrial interests, first in the sugar industry. Then came the oil companies who remain a powerful presence. Now it is financial interests — in particular the law firms, financial advisers, auditors, and other consultants who profited from deals that helped get Puerto Rico into its enormous debt crisis and now profit from ushering in the next phase.
  • These lawyers and financial consultants are particularly pernicious because they have no real incentive to fix problems — if Puerto Rico goes bankrupt again, the whole cycle of fees starts all over.
  • The challenges ahead are for the Puerto Rican people to force a new government to bring in independent monitors who can root out corruption on a daily basis, demand the democratization of compromised institutions, maintain institutions under public ownership that is actually accountable, and ultimately, to change the fundamentally colonial relationship with the United States.
11 annotations
 law, govt and politics 666
  • White supremacists fear and hate Omar because they see her as a threat to their vision of a permanent racial hierarchy. But for the Right more generally, she’s a deeper threat. With her politics, her personal appeal, and her knack for building working-class coalitions, Omar threatens their ability to keep on legislating for the rich while trampling the poor and pointing the finger at the Other. That’s why they hate her.
  • Meanwhile, a recently released House report determined that “with regard to Saudi Arabia, the Trump administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests.”
  • Trump is, on one level, trying to use racist fearmongering to distract from his own wilful failure to improve the lives of working Americans, a strategy that’s already failed spectacularly during the 2018 midterms. On another level, he’s trying to undermine the working-class solidarity Americans of all backgrounds ought by rights to feel.
  • In the state legislature, she put her political vision in action. She used her newfound clout to back Twin Cities workers campaigning for a minimum wage and trying to unionize, saying it was “part of our country’s history for people to come together and collectively fight for their rights.” She helped write the Working Parents Act, a package of measures that mandated paid family leave, sick leave, stronger wage theft protection, and more, and co-authored bills repealing the prohibition of rent control, requiring the expunging of evictions more than three years old, prohibiting drug manufacturers and distributors from price gouging, and much more.
  • One of Omar’s bills, in particular, has been overlooked: the Frank Adelmann Manufactured Housing Community Sustainability Act, which seeks to incentivize mobile home park owners to sell their land to residents, named after a Minnesota man who killed himself after the park he’d lived in for ten years was sold and closed, leaving him stranded.
  • Counter to the Right’s narrative, Omar is keenly aware of the plight of the working class, white or otherwise.
  • Omar, whose legislation strengthening oversight of foreign lobbying passed the House earlier this year, is accused of being some sort of alien, terroristic influence by the supporters and members of an administration that is embarrassingly servile to Saudi Arabia — a state that quite literally collaborates with international terrorists and turns a blind eye to their funding
7 annotations
 law, govt and politics 614
  • But the Chinese system lacks the flexibility of bourgeois democracy, with its many political ‘safety valves’ for releasing mass pressure. In a crisis, the capitalists in the West can often use an election to defuse or divert mass pressure, introduce a ‘new face’ who can buy time with a honeymoon period (although these breathing spaces become shorter and shorter as capitalism’s woes pile up).
  • Xi Jinping’s concentration of personal power, viewed as a sign of strength and resolve by most commentators, is equally an admission of the depth of centrifugal pressures that Xi’s leading group are fighting to control.
  • This also underlines the difference between China’s dictatorial capitalism and the bourgeois democracies in Western countries. For more than a decade the Chinese regime has felt vindicated in refusing to relax its repressive grip – on the contrary its grip has tightened significantly – because most ‘democracies’ are in disarray, with precarious or zombie governments like in Britain, the rise of destabilising populists such as Trump, and other serious problems. In contrast, China’s technocratic authoritarianism has won many admirers among capitalists in the West who say it “gets results”.
  • Lam’s government is doubling down over the extradition law, fearing that to abandon this project now would damage the government beyond repair but also – more significantly – powerfully undermine the fear factor wielded by the Chinese dictatorship (CCP, so-called Communist Party). Fear and an aura of invincibility are crucial political ingredients for the CCP’s continued rule in China, let alone Hong Kong.
  • The democracy struggle which has been waged with ebbs and flows for more than 30 years in Hong Kong is a classic example of a ‘cross class’ movement in which the mass protests are made up of ordinary workers, pensioners, students and middle-class professionals, but the leadership is dominated by bourgeois and petit bourgeois liberals, the pan-democratic opposition parties, and a multitude of likeminded NGOs. These organisations are small, closed, lacking any real membership structures and advocate a non-political approach. The fact that the democracy struggle has stalled in Hong Kong is largely due to the inability of these groups to offer real leadership.
  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s amendments to the extradition law, which serve to legalise the Chinese dictatorship’s abductions of political dissidents, even those just transiting through Hong Kong’s international airport, are seen as the most serious attack yet on Hong Kong’s fragile and badly damaged democratic rights, won through decades of mass pressure and activity. In China’s judicial system there is no such thing as a fair trial and 99 percent of convictions are based on confessions rather than evidence.
  • With his hardline stance on Hong Kong, Xi has become pure ‘Taiwan repellent’ to the majority of Taiwanese. Instead of undermining Tsai’s DPP and coaxing Taiwan closer economically and politically to China, the CCP has further revealed itself as a monster in the eyes of the Taiwanese people during these events. The only strategy then available to Beijing is more bellicose speeches and threats to use military force, which again further alienates the Taiwanese masses.
7 annotations
  • for Beijing, saving face is always paramoun
  • This trade war is no regular trade war. It is merely the first battle of a prolonged US–China rivalry, and one that would bring disaster to the world.
  • Xi’s project of modernizing China, carried out in the name of his people, has no common ground with working people’s interests. He is defending interests in the South China Sea while giving away the future of China — its natural resources, its ecological balance, and its people’s health. He is defending the mandarins’ assets and position while destroying people’s livelihood.
  • Moreover, the China extradition bill involves Taiwan and therefore goes beyond the Hong Kong government’s usual jurisdiction. How would it be possible for the bill to be brought forward solely by Carrie Lam?
  • The Chinese term “localism,” when first adopted by social movements, was used by people who were broadly leftist. However, it is the right wing that has grown bigger and bigger. These localists are more like nativists — very xenophobic.
  • The repression in Mainland China is surely the most direct factor in isolating and exterminating solidarity efforts with the Hong Kong resistance. But the Chinese regime is also very good at manipulating public opinion. Selective reporting or outright fake news about Hong Kong are the crudest tricks of this game.
  • the general trend of an intensifying US–China rivalry may persist, because now both the Democrats and the Republicans have consensus over China policy.
  • for Beijing, saving face is always paramount
  • There is strong anxiety and bitterness among them — and fear that, if they cannot win this time, they will lose forever.
  • China’s capitalism is a kind of “bureaucratic capitalism,” where the ruling class combines the coercive power of the state and the power of capital. This kind of capitalism is highly exploitative, monopolistic, and, importantly, expansionist. Hence the US–China rivalry. Yet we must understand that China is still far from being on par with the United States in many fields.
  • Since the 1980s, the Japanese case has always been the subject of debate among Chinese economists, strategists, and nationalists, and the nationalists’ argument has always been the strongest: China, as a developing country, cannot afford a Japanese-style defeat at the hands of the United States, and China must resist the United States if Washington begins to show its teeth. This is precisely what Xi has done so far.
  • The CCP has a long record of provoking a premature uprising among people just to legitimize the later bloody crackdown. We should watch closely whether this is the case. The more worrying side of the story is that if Beijing’s regime remains stable, a Hong Kong people’s uprising probably will not end well.
  • Unlike Japan, the CCP under Xi is not going to accept, indefinitely, a second-rate position. Unlike Japan, Xi wants to replace the “Western” version of globalization with his “Chinese” version, right here and now.
  • Workers have nothing to win in this rivalry.
  • We must not fall into the nationalist trap of supporting either US aggression or Chinese aggression. That will be the first step toward opposing the US–China rivalry and preventing it from turning into a war. End Mark
15 annotations
  • That “perhaps” is doing a lot of work here, considering the outpouring of money, volunteer energy, and enthusiasm from Sanders supporters for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Tiffany Cabán, Rossana Rodríguez-Sanchez, Julia Salazar, and other socialist women who have newly run for office within the past two years. Neoliberal identity politics is a kind of Etch A Sketch into which socialism instantly disappears.
  • While it’s true that Warren supports Medicare for All on paper, she has recently waffled on the matter. Relatedly, Sanders’s view that abortion should be part of a full reproductive health-care plan offered under single-payer is stronger and more specific than Warren’s pro-choice position. She talks a lot about a “strong military” and “military readiness,” while Sanders has been doggedly leading the fight to end the devastating war in Yemen. Warren is a committed fan of American global power, one of the most destructive forces on earth; Sanders has been an enemy of imperialism all his life, growing even more outspoken over the past year, hardly the typical trajectory for a presidential candidate.
  • Politico reported this week that for establishment centrists, Warren was emerging as an acceptable alternative to Sanders. Third Way, a proudly centrist think tank that has drawn donations from some of the same hedge funders who backed Mitt Romney — its board is made up of bankers and other Wall Street executives — once vilified Warren’s economic populism as “disastrous.”
  • If Bernie Sanders weren’t running, an Elizabeth Warren presidency would probably be the best-case scenario. Warren is a “good liberal,” a species that nearly went extinct after Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign and has only recently been spotted again roaming the savannahs of Washington, DC. Left and socialist organizing has been at least partly responsible for the resurgence of this highly vulnerable political animal; we should claim credit for such creatures, not misclassify them
  • the term “neoliberal identity politics” refers to the way the politics of identity can be — and often are — abused by those in power, to undermine the very politics of collectivity upon which the liberation of all oppressed groups depends.
  • Yet at a time when health-care and pharma profiteering are killing people and capitalist greed threatens the existence of the human species, the idea that there is no other reason to choose a lifelong socialist over an agreeably indignant liberal is simply not serious.
  • For people who prefer to discuss issues — most voters are not especially ideological — Sanders is better on those policy areas where he and Warren differ. That’s because rejecting capitalism affects the way a person thinks about everything.
  • Sanders is more popular among black voters than any candidate except Biden, who benefits from his association with President Obama.
8 annotations
  • “You can’t just have these private sector incentive programs. That’s just not going to get it.”
  • Economists’ and policymakers’ fixation on unlimited economic growth as the metric for measuring economic prosperity is a really recent invention, developed in large part by the exponential returns that were being brought in by a ballooning financial sector–and not to that point factored into economic accounts.
  • . For the green movement to talk about growth at all, she says, “is to adapt that OECD framing of what the economy should be about” and “to adopt the framing of a neoliberal idea of the economy. I would prefer to us to talk about full employment.”
  • While they pride themselves as green for buying organic and taking the train, luxury high-rise inhabitants — with their taste for carbon-intensive imports, summer homes, and first-class business trips — have the largest footprints in their cities, which account for around three-quarters of carbon emissions worldwide. “When it comes to the carbon emissions of New York’s individual residents, as calculated in terms of consumption, Manhattan is the worst borough. Because it’s the richest,”
  • Ocas
  • “Dealing with climate change in the way that we need to is not just about passing a suite of policies that will transform our society to both end the causes of climate change and prepare society for the climate change that is already baked in,” he said. “It’s also changing our conception of what government is and who its for.”
  • Pollin calls it “equitable green growth,” coupled with “degrowth down to zer
  • A Green New Deal, moreover, “will actually help the economy by stimulating productivity, job growth and consumer spending, as government spending has often done,” Kelton, Bernal, and Carlock add. “In fact, a Green New Deal can create good-paying jobs while redressing economic and environmental inequities.”
  • “Crowded but well-to-do West Villagers’ carbon footprints are comparable to sprawling suburbanites’ all over the country.”
  • According to a 2018 analysis by Oil Change International, the U.S. government annually spends about $20 billion on direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; the richest “G7” nations overall spend about $100 billion
  • A federal job guarantee, which is cited in the draft resolution and a hot topic among 2020 presidential hopefuls, might put people to work remediating wetlands and tending community gardens while providing an alternative to low-paid work bound up in hugely carbon-intensive supply chains
  • the funding question is less about how to reconcile line items than about reconfiguring what goals the economy is working toward — that is, to make it do something other than simply grow GDP by some fixed percentage each year.
  • That shift toward measuring growth above all else started to displace an earlier focus on full employment in the 1960s, making multiplying profits and consumption the goal rather than ensuring people’s basic needs were met. As a result, carbon emissions spiked.
  • “When Congress authorizes spending, it sets off a sequence of actions. Federal agencies … enter into contracts and begin spending. As the checks go out, the government’s bank — the Federal Reserve — clears the payments by crediting the seller’s bank account with digital dollars. In other words, Congress can pass any budget it chooses, and our government already pays for everything by creating new money.”
  • Public housing, well-stocked libraries, accessible transit, gorgeous parks: these are democratic low-carbon amenities. And they’re the political achievements of working-class New York.”
  • But extending the Green New Deal beyond the narrow confines of U.S. borders would also involve upending the traditionally obstructive role the U.S. has played in international climate talks, stymying ambition and binding pledges. As Naomi Klein noted last week, the U.S. taking the climate crisis seriously — adopting what could be the world’s most ambitious decarbonization plan, in its most dominant economy — would have a tremendous ripple effect throughout the rest of the world, and more narrowly in the talks themselves as countries figure out how to ratchet up their commitments to the Paris agreement in the coming years.
  • A federal jobs guarantee that paying that much, as outlined by several proposals, would effectively create a national wage floor, compelling retail and fast food chains to either raise their wages or risk having their employees enticed into better-paid jobs that improve their communities and make them more resilient against climate impacts.
  • while a concerted transition to renewable energy could cost as many as 6 million jobs around the world in carbon-intensive sectors, it could create 24 million jobs, or a net gain of 18 million, and far more than the profound job loss that would stem from unchecked climate change.
  • The US represents about 15 percent of global emissions, so acting alone won’t get us too far. Coal is on a steady decline here, but Asia accounts for around three-quarters of global coal consumption, which has actually risen overall in the last 2 years. And while China has backed what might be the world’s most ambitious green spending package, it’s also continuing to finance coal plants domestically and throughout the global south, encouraging other countries to pursue a path to economic development based on a fuel source that climate science is increasingly clear should be zeroed out
  • For extractive industry workers, whose wages are traditionally high thanks to decades of labor militancy, $15 an hour may not be too big of a draw, meaning other programs could be needed to finance what’s widely referred to as a just transition, making sure that workers in sectors that need to be phased out — like coal, oil, and gas — are well taken care of and that communities which have historically revolved around those industries can diversify their economies. Spain’s social democratic government recently sponsored a small-scale version of this, investing the relatively tiny sum of $282 million, with the support of trade unions, to help coal workers transition into other work while shuttering the last of the country’s coal mines.
  • By 2100, heat-related deaths could cost the U.S. $141 billion. Sea-level rise could rack up a $118 billion bill, and infrastructure damages could cost up to $32 billion. Along the same timeline, the report’s authors found, the financial damages of climate change to the U.S. could double those caused by the Great Recession.
  • o of the fossil fuel industry.” Incumbent fuel sources, and coal in particular, aren’t exactly saving anyone money. A recent analysis from the group Carbon Tracker has found that 42 percent of coal capacity worldwide is already unprofitable, and that figure could spiked to 72 percent by 2030.
  • Dense, transit-connected cities are on the whole more sustainable than the car-centric suburban sprawl encouraged by a mix of mid-century development schemes, segregationist policies and white flight. Yet the home solar market is oriented largely around rooftop installations, which creates obvious barriers to entry for renters in multi-unit buildings, where landlords have little incentive to upgrade.
  • the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates that as many as 21.5 million people have been displaced thanks to climate-related impacts, and the civil war in Syria that has led many refugees to flee that country is owed at least partially to climate-induced drought and agricultural crisis. Largely, governments in the global north have treated these flows as a problem. But the Green New Deal could adopt a different approach.
  • “We’re going to need tens or hundreds of millions of jobs,” Chakrabarti said, projecting that there could even be a labor shortage. “What that’s going to result in is that, yes, we’re going to have to retrain and invest in the current American workforce. But we’re probably going to be begging for more immigration.”
25 annotations
  • Thorpe and Urban’s projections of a surge in care are based on micro-level studies which found that when a few families in a community got better coverage, they increased their utilization of services. Doctors and hospitals can easily accommodate that tiny increase. But in macro-level studies, the supply of doctors and hospitals, not patients’ insurance coverage, is the main driver of the large regional differences in utilization. More surgeons mean more surgery and fewer mean less, regardless of whether uninsurance rates are high or low, a phenomena health economists label “provider-induced demand.”
  • Single-payer systems like Canada’s pay hospitals a lump sum through global budgets (like fire departments), obviating the need for hospitals to bill for each patient. That has held the administration’s share of hospital budgets to 12 percent, half the US level and far lower than nations with universal, multi-payer systems.
  • Moreover, co-payments and deductibles boost administrative costs. Providers have to collect them, and insurers have to track them to ensure that they’re collected (and that providers stop charging them when enrollees reach their deductible). Schemes that vary user fees according to income or medical condition add even more bureaucratic complexity and cost.
  • When we reward entrepreneurs based on data they record, the data will be as close to the truth as a tax return.
  • If the wealthy can pay extra for better care — through private insurance or higher fees — there’s little incentive for them to ante up the taxes needed to fund excellent services for everyone (as is painfully evident in education). Moreover, if private insurers can sell plans that duplicate public coverage, they’ll lobby to make the latter second rate. No one will buy a private plan unless it gives you something unavailable in the public one.
  • The two nations with the highest health care spending — the United States and Switzerland — have the highest out-of-pocket costs
  • when many people in a region get better coverage, doctors and hospitals increase care for the newly covered while trimming back discretionary (often unnecessary) care, much of which now goes to the affluent.
  • Research indicates that every $1 invested in new hospital capital projects drives up future operating costs by 30 cents each year.
  • At present, four strategies tend to determine financial success, and hence the allocation of capital: (1) preferentially serving well-insured patients; (2) filling beds and exam rooms; (3) focusing on lucrative services like elective surgery while avoiding money-losers like mental health; and (4) inflating revenues by gaming payment rules. All these entrepreneurial actions raise costs — none of them improve care.
  • These per-case fees are supposed to give hospitals incentives to improve efficiency. But increasing efficiency is hard; gaming the system by exaggerating how sick your patients are (“upcoding”), and cherry-picking lucrative services, are far easier routes to profit/surplus. That’s why Billing and Accounting is the fastest growing department at most hospitals, expensive consultants are brought in to buff up diagnostic coding, and attendance at diagnosis-coding lessons is mandatory for doctors.
  • Additionally, they’ve geared physician training to produce more primary-care doctors and fewer specialists than in the United States, a mix that saves both lives and money.
  • In both cases, coverage expansions didn’t cause any overall increase in doctor visits or hospitalizations, nor did they cause patient pileups or a backlash from the previously well insured. Under single payer, increased care for the currently underserved would be largely offset by decreases in useless care, which the National Academy of Medicine estimated at $210 billion in 2009.
  • Four additional design features are critical to health care equality, affordability, and excellence: Don’t let rich people buy their way to better care. All effective treatments must be free. Care must be organized as a public service, not a business. Allocate resources and capital investments based on need, not market forces.
  • Some single-payer proposals would allow co-payments and deductibles, often with a sliding scale that varies with income. Such user charges selectively penalize the sick, and even minimal co-payments discourage poor people from seeing doctors or filling prescriptions.
  • Payments for patient care should be used only for care, not diverted to profits or investments
  • A single-payer system should ban payments to for-profit providers — a ban that’s unfortunately missing from Sanders’s bill.
  • Today our health care financing system allocates new investments based on institutions’ financial success, regardless of community needs. The cash-rich Hospital for Special Surgery can build medical palaces like its David Koch Pavilion in Manhattan’s over-doctored Upper East Side, while Harlem Hospital’s deficit precludes upgrades or expansion. Although donors like Koch sometimes provide down payments for new buildings, hospitals’ profits (or nonprofits’ “operating surpluses”) fund the overwhelming majority of capital investments.
  • That’s why adopting Medicare’s payment strategies for a single payer — as Sanders’s bill would do — would leave a mess. Both Medicare’s long-standing diagnosis-related group (DRG) system, and its new “value-based” payment programs (e.g., “accountable care organization” initiatives), pay hospitals fixed per-case fees based on diagnoses that hospitals and doctors report to Medicare. Hospitals get to keep whatever they don’t spend on patients — generating the profit/surplus to fund new capital.
  • single payer would achieve universal coverage with little or no cost increases in the short term, and substantial savings over the longer term.
  • But it’s much more likely that Medicare would become a de facto high-risk pool, as private insurers cherry-pick healthier, profitable enrollees, and shunt the expensively ill onto the public plan. That’s not a theoretical concern. It’s what’s happened already in Medicare, where private Medicare Advantage plans outcompete traditional Medicare by cherry picking and other subterfuges, reaping tens of billions in unwarranted profits and raising costs to taxpayers.
  • nvestor-owned providers deliver inferior care at inflated prices. For-profit hospitals have 2 percent higher death rates and cost 18 percent more than their nonprofit counterparts. For-profit dialysis clinics, which have captured 93 percent of the US market, have death rates 9 percent higher than nonprofits. For-profit hmos have lower quality and higher overhead than nonprofits. For-profit nursing homes and home-care agencies’ quality of care are likewise lower.
  • Medicare-for-more is far more expensive than Medicare-for-all.
  • The persistence of multiple payers under a public option precludes global budgeting, requiring hospitals to maintain the elaborate cost-tracking and billing systems that waste about $150 billion annually
  • . In practice, that means paying health care institutions’ operating budgets, and not letting them keep what’s left over to use as they please. A single payer should, like Canada and Scotland, fund capital investments through separate grants, guided, as a Blue Cross executive once opined, by the questions: “What can we afford, and how can we make certain that the truly needy institutions are the ones that build, modernize, or renovate?”
  • As long as care remains a commodity and profiting from sickness is accepted as natural and appropriate, the goal of just, affordable, and sustainable health care will evade us. To make the system work for patients, it must stop working for profit. Any reform that doesn’t go far enough in this pursuit will be undermined.
25 annotations
  • The problem is the economics: If the tax is too light, it fails to suppress fossil fuels enough to help the climate. But if it’s heavy enough to really suppress them, then companies and consumers balk and resist the tax -- because without any safety net for businesses and consumers, the entire burden falls on them, so they rationally resist to save profits and jobs.
  • No government will set a price high enough to spur truly deep reductions in carbon emissions because they all understand that this would force companies out of business, throw workers out of work, and possibly precipitate recession or worse. What government wants that?
  • Instead, we propose a strategy of rationally planned, democratically managed, wind-down and phase-out of fossil fuels and a coordinated transition to renewable energy that avoids economic collapse and guarantees reemployment for the affected workers. Our strategy is based on a three-point
  • Everyone affected by the outcome has a right to make their case openly…In public forums, open to all citizens, the principles of social dialogue and transparency come to life. It is an extraordinary exercise in democracy–and it works.
  • But if society is to pay a fair price for those companies, their nominal retail value would have to be discounted by the harm their production has already done to people and planet. On any fair assessment, that would leave these companies owing the government, not the other way around. Yet even at their current retail value, just under a trillion dollars, by the standards of wasted U.S. expenditures, this is affordable. President Trump just gave away $2.3 trillion in tax cuts to the rich this year alone.
  • Thus, we categorically reject, in advance, any argument that the government cannot afford to buy out the fossil fuel producers and dependent industries to save the humans. On the contrary, we maintain that even at a retail value of $2.25 trillion, this buyout of fossil fuel producers and burners is a bargain – barely more than a third of what the U.S. has squandered (so far) on its oil wars in the Middle East since 2011.[36] Plus, since the U.S. military is the largest institutional GHG emitter, cutting the military budget would also slash emissions from this sector.     
  • It’s not the workers’ fault if the industries they work in need to be closed or cut back to save our children and theirs. They deserve jobs, different jobs, better jobs. If society is going to abolish their present jobs then it owes them new jobs with comparable pay and benefits. This is not only morally right but it’s also the only way we can win the support of those workers in the struggle for the common good.
  • Any and all citizens and groups are invited to take part:
  • FDR’s construction programs built the bulk of this country’s national infrastructure that we still rely on today. If in the midst of depression, the government could afford to provide full-time government-funded jobs for tens of millions of workers from 1933 through the 1940s, becoming the nation’s largest employer by far, our immensely wealthier society and government can easily afford to re-employ the millions of workers from the fossil fuel-based industries to construct a permanently sustainable economy.
  • it’s difficult to imagine how this could be done within the framework of any capitalism
  • We don’t need to nationalize the entire economy. Small producers, worker co-ops, family farmers, mom & pop shops, restaurants and so on, aren’t killing the planet.
  • We face the opposite problem: We face a booming capitalist economy at the top of its form with a powerful entrenched ruling class in full command of their economy and their state.
  • We need to establish democratic institutions to plan and manage our social economy -- planning boards at local, regional, national and international levels.
  • The first step is to stop doing what we’re doing: immediately begin shutting down fossil fuel production, stop new drilling, stop producing and registering fossil fuel-powered vehicles, drastically curb air travel, ration fossil fuels, curtail manufacturing and construction. The second step is to force through an immediate transition to renewable energy across the economy (and do what we can to enable this transition around the world).
  • Large corporations are killing the planet. They can’t help themselves. To preserve a habitable world we need to take them under public ownership so we can rationalize, reprioritize and restructure production to create a permanently sustainable, if somewhat less industrialized, economy.
  • The problems we face with respect to the environment and the climate, can’t be solved by private corporations competing in an anarchic market.[41] Saving the world requires the sort of large-scale economic planning that only governments can do. We need to replace market anarchy with rational planning and management of a mostly, though not necessarily entirely, publicly-owned economy.[42]
  • The reason why no government dares take the obvious steps to save the humans is because no one has come up with a magic fix to suppress emissions without suppressing economic growth and profits
  • FDR’s virtual takeover of the commanding heights of American industry during WWII was tantamount to a temporary nationalization but his “command and control” was accepted by labor and capital and it succeeded – brilliantly -- providing the industrial base to win the war.
  • This is the ultimate contradiction of capitalism: We have to destroy our children’s tomorrows to hang onto our jobs today.
  • Environmental groups have focused too narrowly on fossil fuel producers, their pipelines and such, while ignoring the downstream industrial and personal consumers
  • The IPCC plan, they said is “a blueprint for destroying the world economy.”[21] Given capitalism, they’re right, of course. In a world of abstract models, the carbon tax strategy works perfectly. But in the real world, with real investors and real employees -- and without a rationally planned, carefully managed wind-down and phase-out combined with guaranteed state support for the investors and guaranteed “just transitions” for the affected workers, the imposition of draconian carbon taxes would bankrupt some of the largest companies in the world, precipitate a stock market crash, throw millions out of work, and most likely “destroy the world economy.”
  • We say to Democrats, Republicans, capitalists, and pro-fossil fuel trade unions too, “If you have a better strategy to save the planet, where is it?
  • We can save the fossil fuel industrial complex for few more decades till we collapse, or we can reverse these priorities and save the planet. That’s the choice before humanity today.
  • We burn the oil producing, processing, transporting and refrigerating food, driving our cars, building our homes, heating and cooling our homes, manufacturing this and that, jetting off on vacations, and so on
  • . Fossil fuels are pervasive.
  • The carbon tax idea was straightforward: tax fossil fuels and consumers and companies will seek non-fossil fuel alternatives. As taxed coal-fired power plants and fossil-fuel powered motor vehicles became more costly to operate relative to untaxed (and even subsidized) renewable energy and electric cars, over time coal and gas-fired power plants and petrol-powered motor vehicles would fade from the scene. The theory seemed compelling, even obvious, in the abstract.[16] In the real world, carbon taxes don’t work. The whole idea was doomed from the start.[17]
  • The government could buy all these companies, even without discounts for their social and environmental crimes, for a paltry $727 billion. Add in the bulk of private and shareholder-owned gas and electric utility sector, 20 companies with a combined market value of $557 billion, and the government could buy up all of America’s fossil fuel producers and the bulk of its fossil fuel-burners for $2.26 trillion and still have some pocket money left after rescinding Trump’s tax giveaway to the rich
  • Perhaps the biggest weakness of the GND Plan is that it's not based on a the fundamental understanding that an infinitely growing economy is no longer possible on a finite planet
  • If we’re serious about suppressing fossil fuel emissions, then we have to drastically retrench and in some cases completely shut down thousands of downstream fossil fuel-dependent companies in transportation, petrochemicals and plastics, manufacturing, construction,[13] agribusiness, tourism and more in the U.S. alone. In cases like plastics, disposable products and others, we would have to virtually abolish entire industries because there’s just no other way to suppress their emissions and make them sustainable. 
29 annotations
  • As in the classical accounts, the state becomes a kind of a tool wielded by capitalists to further their singular interest of capital accumulation.
  • For many working within the problematic of dependency theory, imperialism, if the term is even used at all, has simply come to mean the transfer of wealth from the periphery to the core, or even more broadly, the capitalist world system itself. From this perspective, it becomes very hard to differentiate imperialism from capitalism, and the two risk becoming synonymous. Despite refining the classical theories, many dependency theories have preserved this core weakness.
  • As a result, they could only think of the state as that which realizes the interests of capital. In so doing, they completely erased the specificity of the state, and with it, that of imperialism.
  • historically speaking, the non-correspondence between imperialism and capitalism is the norm, not the exception
  • Of course, the frequency and intensity of contradictions can change. There are historical moments when one fraction of the ruling bloc succeeds in asserting its hegemony over all the others, winning the consent of the other dominant social forces. In these cases, a given state’s imperialist policies may appear more coherent for a time. At the same time, there are moments, as in the United States today, where the level of tension among the dominant social forces is extremely high. Not only is there outright disagreement between different factions of the ruling class, there are open contradictions within the administration itself, as different institutions propose wildly different solutions to the same crisis, producing a highly incoherent, even unpredictable, imperialism.
  • But in all cases, there was debate, often fierce disagreement, within ruling classes over exactly how they should proceed. The resultant form of imperialism was often a confusing, tenuous compromise.
  • there is a tendency among some on the left today to defend whatever régime opposes the United States
  • . Instead of trying to “cram all of this into a universal concept of imperialism,” we “need a new way of looking” at the world. For Harvey, that means we have to start by ditching the word “imperialism.”
  • In addition to its scientific function of attempting to explain historical reality, imperialism also served a number of incredibly important political functions. 1 It named an enemy, united different struggles, and signaled a collective project to change the world.
  • we should develop imperialist theory out of a theory of the state
  • “Imperialism,” he summarized, “is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”
  • Despite very significant differences between these accounts, all the classical Marxist theories effectively treated imperialism as an extension of crisis theory
  • Imperialism, in other words, became a mere reflection of capitalist contradictions
  • The majority of capital exports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries traveled not from European countries to their colonies, but within the capitalist countries themselves
  • we have to see the state as an ensemble of contradictory institutions themselves traversed, and produced, by fierce struggles between and within classes
  • Approaching the state as a social relation, rather than as a thing, and seeing states as themselves embedded in contradictory, even antagonistic relations with each other, helps us refine the concept of imperialism. Imperialism, to anticipate the argument, has to be broadly understood as a relationship of domination between states, rather than as a synonym for capitalist expansion.
  • It deprives accumulation by dispossession of its substance to treat as the same sort of thing workers’ loss of employment through their firm’s bankruptcy, which is a standard result of a well-established process of capital accumulation, and the expropriation of peasants from their land – in the English enclosures of the eighteenth century of through the destruction of the ejidos in contemporary Mexico – which is about creating the conditions for capital accumulation
  • In other words, imperialism is the process through which “imperial capital” uses the nation-state to force open subordinate economies to the capitalist market as a way of transferring wealth from the weaker nations to the stronger nations. Capitalist imperialism is the point at which imperialism relies predominantly on economic coercion, though still drawing on extra-economic coercion, like war, to realize this goal.
  • The Specificity of Imperialism Salar Mohandesi February 1, 2018 PDFGilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 1968 “Imperialism,” David Harvey announced at a roundtable last year, should be seen as a “sort of metaphor, rather than anything real.” This came as quite a shock, not least because it was none other than Harvey himself who wrote one of the most acclaimed accounts of contemporary imperialism, The New Imperialism. Harvey went on to explain that recent developments in capitalism – such as multinational corporations, technological networks, or shifts in the global division of labor – have raised enormous questions about how we understand imperialism today. What, for example, are we to make of the fact that Latin America is being turned into a massive soybean plantation, with most of the exports headed for China? Or, to take a similar, though even more drastic example that Harvey does not mention, how can we explain the fact that the single greatest U.S. export to China is soybeans, while China’s biggest export to the United States is computers? Does that make China an imperialist power? Is it extracting wealth from the periphery? Is the United States slipping into the periphery? Reality, Harvey suggested, has become far too complicated for conventional models of imperialism. In fact, the concept of imperialism has become a kind of “straightjacket,” preventing us from really understanding new historical developments. Instead of trying to “cram all of this into a universal concept of imperialism,” we “need a new way of looking” at the world. For Harvey, that means we have to start by ditching the word “imperialism.” Harvey is certainly right that most Marxist theories of imperialism have run into stumbling blocks trying to explain the richness of contemporary reality. I would go further to suggest that these limits are not actually new. In fact, from the start, most Marxist theories of imperialism had a difficult time offering an accurate account of historical developments. Even when their predictions seemed to be true, for example V. I. Lenin’s claim that capitalist rivalries were leading to world war, these theories were sometimes right for the wrong reasons. For a time, these limitations were overlooked, not only because these theories did seem to explain some very important features of the late 19th and 20th centuries, but because “imperialism” doubled as both a scientific concept and as a popular rallying cry. In addition to its scientific function of attempting to explain historical reality, imperialism also served a number of incredibly important political functions. 1 It named an enemy, united different struggles, and signaled a collective project to change the world. By the 1970s, imperialism was perhaps the most commonly used word in the radical vocabulary, but it was also one whose specific meaning was becoming increasingly unstable. But by the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the defeats of so many anti-imperialist struggles, alongside new and strange historical developments, forced many thorny questions – some old, others new – onto the table. Why was it that for many countries, colonialism preceded capitalism? How do we explain the fact that for many states, colonial expansion in the late 19th century was in many cases not primarily motivated by the search for greater profits? How come many empires fought to retain their colonies even though the extreme violence they imposed on subjugated peoples did not really generate anticipated profits for the metropole? How was it that some peripheral countries supposedly doomed to perpetual “backwardness” came to develop highly advanced capitalist sectors? Why did newly independent countries themselves start to exhibit imperialist behaviors? Indeed, how do we make sense of the fact that in the 1970s three socialist countries in Southeast Asia threw themselves into what looked very much like an imperialist war? These are only some of the questions that have challenged conventional theories of Marxism. The fact that these theories have often failed to offer convincing answers has led some to doubt the usefulness of the term. But the solution to the impasse is not, as Harvey suggests, to jettison the word “imperialism.” On the contrary, the concept of imperialism can still provide answers to these questions, make sense of recent developments, and help inform internationalist struggles today. But before that can happen, the concept of imperialism has to be modified. That means, first and foremost, rethinking some of the key assumptions of older Marxist theories. The most fundamental of these assumptions, and what has become the primary w
  • A parallel current, called “world systems theory,” shared many of the same positions
  • Trump’s imperialist policies towards Cuba stem not from economic motives, but from a desire to secure the loyalty of older, conservative, Cuban-American voters, and more importantly, to solidify the support of important political allies like Marco Rubio and Mario Díaz-Balart, especially now that Trump is finding himself increasingly isolated.
  • postwar relations between the dominant capitalist states should also be seen as imperialist
  • Instead of following Marx, who argued that the capitalist mode of production generates surplus-value by paying workers less in wages than the value they generate when their labor-power is exploited at the point of production, some of these theorists, like Frank or Wallerstein, argued that capitalism is basically the transfer of income from one part of the world to another. It is a static, zero-sum game, based primarily in unequal exchange.
  • The primary weakness of most Marxist theories of imperialism, then, is precisely their tendency to overplay the causal relationship between capitalism and imperialism
  • The Specificity of Imperialism Salar Mohandesi February 1, 2018 PDFGilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 1968 “Imperialism,” David Harvey announced at a roundtable last year, should be seen as a “sort of metaphor, rather than anything real.” This came as quite a shock, not least because it was none other than Harvey himself who wrote one of the most acclaimed accounts of contemporary imperialism, The New Imperialism. Harvey went on to explain that recent developments in capitalism – such as multinational corporations, technological networks, or shifts in the global division of labor – have raised enormous questions about how we understand imperialism today
  • Their efforts would culminate in what came to be known as “dependency theory,”
  • In all this, the state is once again left undertheorized, and the concept of imperialism collapses into capitalism.
  • why is it that imperialism so often undermines the interests of capital?
  • The same can be said about the theory of imperialism. There is no single, general theory that could simultaneously explain every historical example of imperialism, from the Roman Imperium to the Mongol Empire to the United States today. Instead, each theory of imperialism is a theory of a specific conjuncture, potentially valid only for its moment, but always limited and subject to revision
  • But the solution to the impasse is not, as Harvey suggests, to jettison the word “imperialism.” On the contrary, the concept of imperialism can still provide answers to these questions, make sense of recent developments, and help inform internationalist struggles today. But before that can happen, the concept of imperialism has to be modified. That means, first and foremost, rethinking some of the key assumptions of older Marxist theories.
  • n fact, this was the specific meaning of the term “imperialism” for Hobson, as it would be for Lenin: the tendency for rivalries between capitalist countries, expressed most dramatically in colonial competition, to lead to war. 5
  • eakness of most Marxist theories of imperialism, is the tendency to see imperialism as a symptom of the inevitable contradictions of capitalist developmen
  • While imperialism may have economic motivations, it is always conditioned and propelled by a plurality of other, often contradictory, forces. This is why imperialist policies often seem so incoherent. This is why so often in history imperialism has actually worked against capital accumulation. And this is why many nation-states trying to free themselves from imperialism often found themselves exhibiting behavior that came dangerously close to the very imperialism they sought to abolish.
  • Already in the 1970s, several countries in the Global South, such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Iran, or Brazil, were developing quite spectacularly. Now, in the 21st century, we see a whole host of developed capitalist countries outside the conventional metropolitan core: India, China, Turkey, or Thailand, to name only a few.
  • Lenin tended to see imperialism as the attribute of an entire period of history beginning in the 1880s. In so doing, he ended up drawing too sharp a line between different conjunctures, making it very difficult to explain forms of imperialism before that decade, such as the British colonization of India, the French occupation of Algeria in the 1830s, or Great Britain and the United States’ informal influence over Latin America
  • But the most significant theoretical problem with Lenin’s account was his inability to adequately theorize the state
  • Nevertheless, he, along with all the other classical theorists, treated states as the transparent instruments of capitalist monopolies. In explaining the actions of states, and imperialism as such, by more or less exclusively looking to the purported needs of capitalism, these theorists ended up in a kind of economic reductionism that made it impossible to theorize the overdetermination of the state.
  • Most countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia had clearly taken a path very different from those in North America and Western Europe. Even formal political independence, which most Latin American countries had won in the 19th century, had not ushered in the kind of economic development most had expected
  • In short, “accumulation by dispossession” refers to everything from dispossessing peasants in Nigeria to foreclosing on the homes of lower-middle class Americans who could not meet their mortgage payments. What, one may reasonably ask, is not “accumulation by dispossession?”
  • The state is not only composed of overlapping, and often competing, institutions, but it is also a primary site of class struggle
  • Imperialism, in other words, is a constant possibility even in those states that emerged from socialist movements dedicated to anti-imperialism. Socialist revolution, the Third Indochina War suggests, will not automatically abolish imperialism. It can be overcome only through the systematic, long-term work of thoroughly dismantling states and inventing new kinds of social organization.
  • In social formations dominated by the capitalist mode of production, most states tend to develop institutions designed to manage the expanded reproduction of capitalist relations. A whole set of apparatuses work to protect private property, maintain infrastructures, control the money supply, mediate labor conflicts, and regulate social reproduction.
  • Here, I wish to put forward just one of these general theoretical propositions on imperialism: imperialism is not a thing, but a relationship. Indeed, if the state is a relationship between social forces, then imperialism could be broadly understood as a relationship between states, though of course the causes, meanings, and specific forms of these relationships vary historically.
  • Vietnamese resistance to American imperialism, for example, caused substantial turmoil in the United States, supercharging domestic social movements, forcing President Lyndon Johnson not to seek re-election, and ultimately realigning political forces in the country.
  • To begin with, the state has always been bound up with modes of production, each present in the other’s reproduction. In this sense, the state apparatuses, and the social forces within them, have always engaged in a whole range of activities one might call “economic.” In the capitalist mode of production, states sponsor technological development, manage the flow of money, restructure industry, provide training, assist in the reproduction of labor-power, shape the composition of the working class, set the terms of employment, and can even nationalize industries. The same can be said with regard to imperialism: states control monetary policy, tariffs, copyright law, sovereign debt, assistance to corporations abroad, regulation of commodities crossing borders, and so forth
  • Gilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 196
  • Capital, in other words, always tries to move wherever it can find a higher rate of profit. For the same reason that a firm might move some of its operations from a city to another region of the same country to turn a higher profit, businesses might move to other countries. Calling normal processes of capitalism “imperialist” is not only redundant, it effaces the specificity of imperialism.
  • It is precisely the economic reductionism at the heart of so many Marxist theories of imperialism that prevents us from grasping the overdetermined nature of imperialism
  • State policy is frequently the product of a compromise between rival, or outright antagonistic, social forces
  • And, most importantly, it meant preventing newly independent countries from gravitating away from capitalism, which often involved resorting to extreme violence. Exactly how the U.S. did this depended on the specific conjuncture. In some cases, keeping newly independent countries within the capitalist sphere mean pouring millions of dollars of aid into “development” programs. In other cases, it meant punishing them with coups, invasions, or unmanageable debt. Yet in still other cases, contradictions within the state led U.S. imperialism to deviate from this objective altogether.
  • The history of U.S. imperialism after 1945, in short, has also been the history of the U.S. ruling classes’ attempts to reinvent their hegemony over other capitalist states.
  • ind of anti-imperialism runs the risk of substituting antagonistic relations between the classes comprising a state with the antagonistic relations between nation-states
  • We have to ask how these imperialisms differ from one another, why their objectives may be distinct, why they change over time, and why some have been, and continue to be, so much more destructive than others
  • Gilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 196
  • In fact, historically speaking, the non-correspondence between imperialism and capitalism is the norm, not the exception. While some states certainly pursued imperialist actions because of foreign investment, raw materials, or markets, they also did so because they sought national glory, desired military outposts, hoped to divert internal social discontent by turning abroad, believed in spreading their allegedly enlightened civilization, or simply did not want potential colonies to fall into the hands of rival imperial powers
  • By contrast, the state can be better understood as a relationship. Or to be more precise, the state, in the words of Nicos Poulantzas, is the “material condensation of a relationship of forces.” 33 This is to say, the state is not only an ensemble of apparatuses, but that ensemble is entirely traversed by struggles between different social forces. Class struggle should not be seen as external to the state, but as something inscribed in its heart.
  • . With classes homogenized, and class struggle downplayed, or even erased, the subject of liberation becomes the nation-state itself, not the working classes. At its extreme, this kind of thinking can lead to supporting authoritarian states founded on the destruction of the left and the repression of workers’ self-activity because they are said to be embarking on an autonomous, anti-imperialist path of development in the face of “Western” imperialist depredations.
  • But this imperialist arrangement was not unilateral. Faced with catastrophic destruction, the threat of communism, and the need to rebuild their polities, dominant classes in many Western European states welcomed U.S. support, despite the risks. For a time, most factions of the ruling bloc in the United States believed it was in their country’s best interests to rebuild Western Europe, while most factions of ruling blocs in Western European states felt that their interests could in part be realized by allowing the United States pursuing its own. In this way, the United States came to secure hegemony over the imperialist chain in the capitalist world.
  • Although U.S. imperialism is rarely absent, conflicts in the Global South cannot be explained solely in terms of Yankee machinations. Inter-imperialist conflicts in the Global South have their own dynamic, even if they often unfold within a wider set of imperialist relations. These conflicts show that contrary to most assumptions, imperialism is not only an attribute of dominant states, but potentially, of all states.
  • The state as such is inseparable from specific configurations of social forces in struggle
  • It is precisely because the state is so thoroughly riddled with contradictions that imperialism often takes such contradictory forms. Since the state is traversed by struggles, different social forces within each of these distinct institutions will fight over different ideas about imperialism.
  • Limiting imperialism only to the “West,” or even just the United States, tends to obscure the imperialism of those states often combatting that imperialism. Of course, there are enormous differences between, for example, U.S. and Russian imperialism, which become especially important when considering the struggles on the ground today, but the fact remains that for those who call themselves socialists, the ultimate objective must remain the abolition of both, not the defense of one against the other.
  • Events like the Third Indochina War have unsurprisingly posed an enormous challenge to Marxists. 51 The states that called themselves socialist, preached international unity, and defined themselves against capitalist imperialism went to war with one another, behaving in ways that one would expect from capitalist countries
  • Communism in much of Asia was heavily articulated with nationalism. This was especially the case in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge developed a form of nationalism that was particularly xenophobic, especially against the Vietnamese
  • the very separation between the state and society should not be understood as as an absolute and transhistorical dividing line between two distinct substances, but rather as a constructed division within a single social formation
  • Denying the existence of the state would be as foolish as fetishizing it into singular substance. If the state is ultimately a material condensation of struggles, even if it is not separable from particular configurations of social relations, it nevertheless still designates a specific terrain of struggle. For that reason, it is strategically imperative that we pinpoint what at a given moment counts as the state, where its boundaries lie, how it relates to social relations said to stand outside its borders, and how the separation between the state and society is being reproduced at that specific conjuncture
66 annotations
  • The Specificity of Imperialism Salar Mohandesi February 1, 2018 PDFGilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 1968 “Imperialism,” David Harvey announced at a roundtable last year, should be seen as a “sort of metaphor, rather than anything real.” This came as quite a shock, not least because it was none other than Harvey himself who wrote one of the most acclaimed accounts of contemporary imperialism, The New Imperialism. Harvey went on to explain that recent developments in capitalism – such as multinational corporations, technological networks, or shifts in the global division of labor – have raised enormous questions about how we understand imperialism today
  • . Instead of trying to “cram all of this into a universal concept of imperialism,” we “need a new way of looking” at the world. For Harvey, that means we have to start by ditching the word “imperialism.”
  • In addition to its scientific function of attempting to explain historical reality, imperialism also served a number of incredibly important political functions. 1 It named an enemy, united different struggles, and signaled a collective project to change the world.
  • But the solution to the impasse is not, as Harvey suggests, to jettison the word “imperialism.” On the contrary, the concept of imperialism can still provide answers to these questions, make sense of recent developments, and help inform internationalist struggles today. But before that can happen, the concept of imperialism has to be modified. That means, first and foremost, rethinking some of the key assumptions of older Marxist theories.
  • The Specificity of Imperialism Salar Mohandesi February 1, 2018 PDFGilles Aillaud, La bataille du riz, 1968 “Imperialism,” David Harvey announced at a roundtable last year, should be seen as a “sort of metaphor, rather than anything real.” This came as quite a shock, not least because it was none other than Harvey himself who wrote one of the most acclaimed accounts of contemporary imperialism, The New Imperialism. Harvey went on to explain that recent developments in capitalism – such as multinational corporations, technological networks, or shifts in the global division of labor – have raised enormous questions about how we understand imperialism today. What, for example, are we to make of the fact that Latin America is being turned into a massive soybean plantation, with most of the exports headed for China? Or, to take a similar, though even more drastic example that Harvey does not mention, how can we explain the fact that the single greatest U.S. export to China is soybeans, while China’s biggest export to the United States is computers? Does that make China an imperialist power? Is it extracting wealth from the periphery? Is the United States slipping into the periphery? Reality, Harvey suggested, has become far too complicated for conventional models of imperialism. In fact, the concept of imperialism has become a kind of “straightjacket,” preventing us from really understanding new historical developments. Instead of trying to “cram all of this into a universal concept of imperialism,” we “need a new way of looking” at the world. For Harvey, that means we have to start by ditching the word “imperialism.” Harvey is certainly right that most Marxist theories of imperialism have run into stumbling blocks trying to explain the richness of contemporary reality. I would go further to suggest that these limits are not actually new. In fact, from the start, most Marxist theories of imperialism had a difficult time offering an accurate account of historical developments. Even when their predictions seemed to be true, for example V. I. Lenin’s claim that capitalist rivalries were leading to world war, these theories were sometimes right for the wrong reasons. For a time, these limitations were overlooked, not only because these theories did seem to explain some very important features of the late 19th and 20th centuries, but because “imperialism” doubled as both a scientific concept and as a popular rallying cry. In addition to its scientific function of attempting to explain historical reality, imperialism also served a number of incredibly important political functions. 1 It named an enemy, united different struggles, and signaled a collective project to change the world. By the 1970s, imperialism was perhaps the most commonly used word in the radical vocabulary, but it was also one whose specific meaning was becoming increasingly unstable. But by the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the defeats of so many anti-imperialist struggles, alongside new and strange historical developments, forced many thorny questions – some old, others new – onto the table. Why was it that for many countries, colonialism preceded capitalism? How do we explain the fact that for many states, colonial expansion in the late 19th century was in many cases not primarily motivated by the search for greater profits? How come many empires fought to retain their colonies even though the extreme violence they imposed on subjugated peoples did not really generate anticipated profits for the metropole? How was it that some peripheral countries supposedly doomed to perpetual “backwardness” came to develop highly advanced capitalist sectors? Why did newly independent countries themselves start to exhibit imperialist behaviors? Indeed, how do we make sense of the fact that in the 1970s three socialist countries in Southeast Asia threw themselves into what looked very much like an imperialist war? These are only some of the questions that have challenged conventional theories of Marxism. The fact that these theories have often failed to offer convincing answers has led some to doubt the usefulness of the term. But the solution to the impasse is not, as Harvey suggests, to jettison the word “imperialism.” On the contrary, the concept of imperialism can still provide answers to these questions, make sense of recent developments, and help inform internationalist struggles today. But before that can happen, the concept of imperialism has to be modified. That means, first and foremost, rethinking some of the key assumptions of older Marxist theories. The most fundamental of these assumptions, and what has become the primary w
  • eakness of most Marxist theories of imperialism, is the tendency to see imperialism as a symptom of the inevitable contradictions of capitalist developmen
  • While imperialism may have economic motivations, it is always conditioned and propelled by a plurality of other, often contradictory, forces. This is why imperialist policies often seem so incoherent. This is why so often in history imperialism has actually worked against capital accumulation. And this is why many nation-states trying to free themselves from imperialism often found themselves exhibiting behavior that came dangerously close to the very imperialism they sought to abolish.
  • we should develop imperialist theory out of a theory of the state
  • As a result, they could only think of the state as that which realizes the interests of capital. In so doing, they completely erased the specificity of the state, and with it, that of imperialism.
  • we have to see the state as an ensemble of contradictory institutions themselves traversed, and produced, by fierce struggles between and within classes
  • Approaching the state as a social relation, rather than as a thing, and seeing states as themselves embedded in contradictory, even antagonistic relations with each other, helps us refine the concept of imperialism. Imperialism, to anticipate the argument, has to be broadly understood as a relationship of domination between states, rather than as a synonym for capitalist expansion.
  • n fact, this was the specific meaning of the term “imperialism” for Hobson, as it would be for Lenin: the tendency for rivalries between capitalist countries, expressed most dramatically in colonial competition, to lead to war. 5
  • “Imperialism,” he summarized, “is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”
  • Despite very significant differences between these accounts, all the classical Marxist theories effectively treated imperialism as an extension of crisis theory
  • Imperialism, in other words, became a mere reflection of capitalist contradictions
  • The majority of capital exports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries traveled not from European countries to their colonies, but within the capitalist countries themselves
  • Lenin tended to see imperialism as the attribute of an entire period of history beginning in the 1880s. In so doing, he ended up drawing too sharp a line between different conjunctures, making it very difficult to explain forms of imperialism before that decade, such as the British colonization of India, the French occupation of Algeria in the 1830s, or Great Britain and the United States’ informal influence over Latin America
  • But the most significant theoretical problem with Lenin’s account was his inability to adequately theorize the state
  • Nevertheless, he, along with all the other classical theorists, treated states as the transparent instruments of capitalist monopolies. In explaining the actions of states, and imperialism as such, by more or less exclusively looking to the purported needs of capitalism, these theorists ended up in a kind of economic reductionism that made it impossible to theorize the overdetermination of the state.
  • Most countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia had clearly taken a path very different from those in North America and Western Europe. Even formal political independence, which most Latin American countries had won in the 19th century, had not ushered in the kind of economic development most had expected
  • Their efforts would culminate in what came to be known as “dependency theory,”
  • A parallel current, called “world systems theory,” shared many of the same positions
  • Instead of following Marx, who argued that the capitalist mode of production generates surplus-value by paying workers less in wages than the value they generate when their labor-power is exploited at the point of production, some of these theorists, like Frank or Wallerstein, argued that capitalism is basically the transfer of income from one part of the world to another. It is a static, zero-sum game, based primarily in unequal exchange.
  • Already in the 1970s, several countries in the Global South, such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Iran, or Brazil, were developing quite spectacularly. Now, in the 21st century, we see a whole host of developed capitalist countries outside the conventional metropolitan core: India, China, Turkey, or Thailand, to name only a few.
  • For many working within the problematic of dependency theory, imperialism, if the term is even used at all, has simply come to mean the transfer of wealth from the periphery to the core, or even more broadly, the capitalist world system itself. From this perspective, it becomes very hard to differentiate imperialism from capitalism, and the two risk becoming synonymous. Despite refining the classical theories, many dependency theories have preserved this core weakness.
  • In short, “accumulation by dispossession” refers to everything from dispossessing peasants in Nigeria to foreclosing on the homes of lower-middle class Americans who could not meet their mortgage payments. What, one may reasonably ask, is not “accumulation by dispossession?”
  • It deprives accumulation by dispossession of its substance to treat as the same sort of thing workers’ loss of employment through their firm’s bankruptcy, which is a standard result of a well-established process of capital accumulation, and the expropriation of peasants from their land – in the English enclosures of the eighteenth century of through the destruction of the ejidos in contemporary Mexico – which is about creating the conditions for capital accumulation
  • As in the classical accounts, the state becomes a kind of a tool wielded by capitalists to further their singular interest of capital accumulation.
  • In other words, imperialism is the process through which “imperial capital” uses the nation-state to force open subordinate economies to the capitalist market as a way of transferring wealth from the weaker nations to the stronger nations. Capitalist imperialism is the point at which imperialism relies predominantly on economic coercion, though still drawing on extra-economic coercion, like war, to realize this goal.
  • In all this, the state is once again left undertheorized, and the concept of imperialism collapses into capitalism.
  • The primary weakness of most Marxist theories of imperialism, then, is precisely their tendency to overplay the causal relationship between capitalism and imperialism
  • Capital, in other words, always tries to move wherever it can find a higher rate of profit. For the same reason that a firm might move some of its operations from a city to another region of the same country to turn a higher profit, businesses might move to other countries. Calling normal processes of capitalism “imperialist” is not only redundant, it effaces the specificity of imperialism.
  • why is it that imperialism so often undermines the interests of capital?
  • historically speaking, the non-correspondence between imperialism and capitalism is the norm, not the exception
  • In fact, historically speaking, the non-correspondence between imperialism and capitalism is the norm, not the exception. While some states certainly pursued imperialist actions because of foreign investment, raw materials, or markets, they also did so because they sought national glory, desired military outposts, hoped to divert internal social discontent by turning abroad, believed in spreading their allegedly enlightened civilization, or simply did not want potential colonies to fall into the hands of rival imperial powers
  • It is precisely the economic reductionism at the heart of so many Marxist theories of imperialism that prevents us from grasping the overdetermined nature of imperialism
  • In social formations dominated by the capitalist mode of production, most states tend to develop institutions designed to manage the expanded reproduction of capitalist relations. A whole set of apparatuses work to protect private property, maintain infrastructures, control the money supply, mediate labor conflicts, and regulate social reproduction.
  • The state is not only composed of overlapping, and often competing, institutions, but it is also a primary site of class struggle
  • By contrast, the state can be better understood as a relationship. Or to be more precise, the state, in the words of Nicos Poulantzas, is the “material condensation of a relationship of forces.” 33 This is to say, the state is not only an ensemble of apparatuses, but that ensemble is entirely traversed by struggles between different social forces. Class struggle should not be seen as external to the state, but as something inscribed in its heart.
  • State policy is frequently the product of a compromise between rival, or outright antagonistic, social forces
  • The state as such is inseparable from specific configurations of social forces in struggle
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  • depends on openness to trade and finance, as well as income deflation in the periphery countries to suppress local demand
  • He himself sees imperialism as a relationship that underlies capitalism. He argues that the Northern demand for primary commodities from the South has perpetuated and solidified an imperialist relationship. In his view, the capitalist system itself requires commodities that cannot be produced at adequate quantities in the core and that are subject to increasing supply price. The key here is that capitalism relies on commodities that are outside of its frontiers.
  • A critique Fraser has for the Patnaiks is their description of ‘capitalism’s spontaneous behavior’. She considers the only truly spontaneous element in capitalism to be the endless drive for accumulation and therefore that imperialism itself cannot be understood by only focusing on this economic aspect. Rather, political control must also be taken into account. She argues that expropriation may be necessary for profitable exploitation in capitalism. This begs the question: is imperialism necessary for capitalism?
  • He considers the Patnaiks’ book to be too crude and argues that it is not asking specific enough questions about where things are produced. E.g. one of the biggest producers of food grain is the USA and part of the USA is in the tropics. Latin American countries are producing soybeans – not for the US (who is a net exporter of soy beans) – but to China.
  • He cautions that globalization has been like a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ for many developing countries, and that ‘we as Marxists must take this into account’.
  • However, she also points out that it is important to keep in mind that there are different phases of imperialism, as well as different dimensions. Furthermore, the various dimensions play different roles in the different phases. The dimensions she identifies are the economic (the concentration of wealth is related to impoverishment elsewhere), the political (freedom in one region is related to subjection in another), the ecological, and social reproduction (efforts to supply care in one region is related to care deficits and ‘care drains’ elsewhere). Neither of these processes can be understood fully without understanding all of them and how they relate to each other
  • expropriative versus exploitative transfers, which illustrates a mix of political and economic mechanisms
  • Harvey argues that circumstances have changed so much that although imperialism once was a relevant concept, it is simply not useful anymore
  • s
  • His primary concern with the Patnaiks’ analysis is with the identification of the mechanisms
  • Duncan Foley observes that the imperialist wars have been necessary for the political stability of the metropolitan countrie
  • She stresses the entwinement of the political and economic dimensions of imperialism, and contends that the distinction is often blurry, although on the surface it might appear to be straightforward.
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  • The anti-imperialist sentiment implicit in the statues, whatever its source, did not curtail empire. It denied its existence.
  • Many may recall that W. E. B. Du Bois argued in 1903 that “the problem of the twentieth century” was “the problem of the color-line,” but fewer may recall that he followed this klaxon of a phrase with a definition that extends beyond Jim Crow: “the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and in the islands of the sea.”
  • But the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution also indicates how the goals of U.S. empire were shifting in this moment. Instead of territory, influence mattered, and the Cold War set the terms of the struggle for influence
  • The international order that the United States constructed after 1945 had two purposes: to contain communism and to benefit capitalism
  • Even U.S. “competitors” purchase dollars at face value that the United States prints nearly for free. This is called seigniorage, and it is another facet of exorbitant privilege
  • empire is a way of life
  • At the end of World War II, for example, before Alaska and Hawaii became states, before the Philippines gained independence, and while U.S. troops occupied much of Germany, other parts of Europe, Japan, and Korea, there were more people “under U.S. jurisdiction” outside the mainland United States than within it.
  • Today, while the ravages of Hurricane Maria still afflict Puerto Rico, this conclusion is not shocking.
  • The United States, as one theorization phrases it, superintends capital. It acts on behalf of capital as a whole, unifying its unruly constituents and disorganizing or destroying its even more unruly opponents.
  • The Spanish-American War, for instance, may have been anti-imperialist in initiation, but was certainly not anti-imperialist in resolution
  • both types of statue celebrated a fight against empire
  • Indeed, the peace treaty, effective in April of 1899, did not actually result in peace or freedom for the effected territories.
  • The United States developed three commitments: to republicanism, to white supremacy, and to overseas expansion. But as the bait-and-switch in the Philippines showed, it could only ever maintain the latter two
  • What if these non-white populations were granted full admission into the U.S. polity? What if these “outsiders” gained power in the United States? The statues served as a powerful reminder—that white supremacy was an integral part of U.S. order.
  • barren guano islands were now U.S. territories, unloved and ignored until some began serving other purposes: bases at which naval ships could dock and, later, airfields on which airplanes could land. This was the practical step forward for U.S. empire that distant shit stools allowed
  • “Forgetting . . . is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical studies often constitutes a danger for [the principle of] nationality.”
  • The empire of bases exists to protect the dollar’s exorbitant privilege, including by sheer intimidation.
  • Hikers searched for guerrillas; guerrillas attacked and quickly fled; hikers searched some more. They usually found only unarmed civilians, whom they occasionally massacred. This pattern of combat marked U.S. efforts in Southeast Asia in decades to come. Long after economic imperatives of territorial occupation receded, it remained a core attribute of U.S. imperialism
  • It is mediated by money, and it transcends but also hierarchizes territory. You cannot hide empire because you cannot touch it or see it.
  • Their anti-imperialist sentiment resonated with a different kind of monument that emerged in the same period—those to the Confederacy
  • Guano was mined under ghastly conditions: mostly black or native men held in virtual bondage were left stranded on these islands for months at a time—in order to “pay” for their passage back, they had to scrape and collect large quantities of malodorous guano.
  • About 4 million people live in U.S. colonial possessions today, with almost no voice in Washington, D.C
  • Dozens of these unpopulated islands saved U.S. farms: they held mountains of guano, the hardened feces of millions of sea birds, which could be used to reanimate U.S. soil. Farmers’ demand for guano led to annexation, as well as uncomfortable questions that the United States has never adequately answered.
  • How do you really hide an empire? You seat it in the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.
  • Empire is not a thing or a territory. Empire is a social relation
  • By insisting on holding fast to the master category of territory, Immerwahr’s case is undermined by the fact that the imperial logic of capitalism thrives even as holding territory is no longer essential
  • Expansionists wanted territorial control because it provided economic access to Asia, but white supremacists at home would never stand for full inclusion of Filipinos as U.S. citizens
  • Moreover, global economic dynamics have also shifted enough that U.S. yearly expenditures on the military-industrial complex help keep the global economy afloat. Predicted to reach $1 trillion soon, the U.S. military budget will be equivalent to around one-seventeenth of annual global merchandise exports. (Homeland Security and all types of law enforcement are separate.) Further, the United States sells military implements to clients such as Saudi Arabia, and in the process Saudi Arabia spends dollars.
  • Rather than asserting a distinction between territory and mainland, this response highlights how racism was the glue holding them together
  • the United States decolonized its territorial empire by extending its nonterritorial empire; it sacrificed much of its territory so that its monetary empire would live on.
  • Capital today belongs to no nation. “Japanese” auto corporations, like “American” auto corporations, are transnational entities with supply chains and financial linkages functionally integrated across borders. In contrast to Donald Trump’s rhetoric, corporate competition is global, not national.
  • The dollar is not only what Americans carry in their wallets every day; it is also the deterritorialized medium of exchange for most global trade. This flexibility confers its power, its necessity, and its “exorbitant privilege,” as Valéry Giscard d’Estaing quipped, as the global reserve currency
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