NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • The Road to Political Dictatorship Pt2


    John Weeks: The economic power of Wall St., if not restrained, will lead to political dictatorship -   December 5, 2011
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook


    I support TRNN because it is the closest expression of the ideal of a free press I have seen. - Daniel
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    John Weeks is Professor Emeritus of the University of London and author of the forthcoming book, The Economics of the 1%: How mainstream economics serves the rich, obscures reality and distorts policy. His recent policy work includes an supplemental unemployment program for the European Union and advising the central banks of Argentina and Zambia.

    Transcript

    The Road to Political Dictatorship Pt2PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. And now joining us again is John Weeks. John is the author of Capital, Exploitation and Economic Crisis. He writes at jweeks.org. He's also professor emeritus at the University of London. Thanks for joining us again, John.

    JOHN WEEKS: Well, thank you.

    JAY: So, John, in a recent piece you wrote on your website, you stated the following: "why are so many people protesting against Wall Street? Because it has become stronger than our democratic state and if unrestrained will take us down the dark road to political dictatorship to join the economic tyranny it currently enjoys." So, John, why does the strength of Wall Street potentially lead to an overt form of political dictatorship? I mean, people on Wall Street would argue, well, they already own a lot, and we're not living in an overt dictatorship now; why should that change in the future?

    WEEKS: Economic power need not translate automatically into political power, but if you don't control it, it will. So, at the moment, the financial sector exerts great control over those institutions which are intended to regulate it--and this is the Securities Exchange Commission, for example; in a less indirect way the Federal Reserve system, which plays a very important role in regulation; and many others that are less so well known. So that's the first step: you take over those institutions that seek to regulate you. The second step--not necessarily in this order, but it has been more or less in this order--you begin to control politicians who have the key positions in deciding the laws that are going to regulate your industry. So if you look at the economic advisers to the president of the United States, they are people either directly or indirectly linked to Wall Street. Larry Summers has left advising the president to go back to financial dealings, because, I guess, he can't go back to Harvard. And you can name many others. They come from a stable of young economists run by the former secretary of the Treasury Rubin. Okay. So that's--you--you control the legislators, you control the advisers. Then the question of redistribution becomes much easier for you. You get the taxes down. Taxes in the United States are quite low. How is the financial sector going to further redistribute to itself when wages are flat, the public sector's quite small, taxes are quite small? I think it's fairly clear that one strategy is to eliminate those vestiges of social welfare, what optimistically one might call elements of the welfare state, eliminate those as much as possible, shorten the amount of time you can draw unemployment compensation, privatize or reorganize Social Security payments, reduce the size of state and local governments. These many important steps are being taken at the state level to restrict the right to vote. I grew up in Texas. When I grew up in Texas, there was something called a poll tax. It wasn't very much, but you had to pay it before you could vote for your government. We're getting back to something like the poll tax. You have to prove that you are an American citizen in order to vote. And then, when there are drives to try to get more people to vote, as during--in anticipation of the election of 2008, those organizations that do it, the famous ACORN, is attacked for fraud and putting ghost voters on the rolls. And these are attacks against basic democratic principles. There are other examples, too, at the state level that probably some of the viewers may know about. I know--though I don't live in Texas, I return to Texas frequently. Governor Perry has introduced a number of measures which restrict local governments to zone--tremendously important power for a local authority, because it determines whether or not people can be dispossessed of their land, many, many other things. What all of these things have in common is the restriction of the Democratic process. And then I want to add one thing to go back to what I was saying at the beginning of the first part of the interview. Why is it that people are--so many Americans have faith in markets when it is contrary to their experience? I think part of it is the fostering, the selling--the systematic selling of certain big lies. And among these are: a citizen is smart enough to be able to choose in the market. A lot of places that you can buy your health care. You are clever enough to figure out how long you're going to live and what diseases you're likely to get, so you can choose this health care program over that health care program, but you aren't smart enough to understand how the economy works. That has to be left to the experts. Right? You aren't smart enough to figure out monetary policy. Right? That should be left to the Federal Reserve system. And if in fact anybody in Congress starts complaining about what the Federal Reserve system is doing, then they're just trying to politicize economic policy, and that would be a terrible thing, because then the experts won't be able to do what is appropriate for the economy. And an amazing number of people believe that, believe that the management of the economy is much too complicated for the person in the street. And so I think the systematic selling of the idea that the big things in life are beyond your capacity to understand is the underlying rationale for a authoritarian system. Now, I think Wall Street plays on that. It plays on that. And it is a depoliticizing process. So people come to--or what is desired by the masters on Wall Street is that people will say, well, politics is a dirty business. I don't want to have anything to do with it. The economy's too complicated. Let the experts run that. Don't tax me, leave me alone, and let me try to struggle on. In short, the end of community, I would say, the end of citizenship. That is, we aren't all--we aren't in this together; we're each person for himself. And I think fostering that idea that there's no collective route to improvement is an essential part of the authoritarian program.

    JAY: So in the next segment of our interview, John, let's talk a little bit about the Occupy movement, the debate about demands, and just where this all might lead. So please join us for the next part of our interview with John Weeks on The Real News Network.

    End of Transcript

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Kurdish Fighters Move to Regain Kobani
    Hedges and Wolin (3/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    The Financialization of Life (3/5)
    Hedges & Wolin (2/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    US Dropping Arms and Ammunition to Syrian Kurds in Kobani
    Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: An Indigenous People's History of the United States (1/3)
    The Financialization of Life (2/5)
    Hedges & Wolin (1/8): Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
    American Exceptionalism at Play in Interpreting the Convention on Torture
    UN Issues Statement on Human Rights Violations in Detroit
    The Financialization of Life (1/5)
    Study Finds Sea Levels Rising at an Unprecedented Rate
    Nuclear Deal with Iran 95% Complete
    Low Black Voter Turnout Could Unseat Senate Democrats
    Nearly Four Years After the Revolution, Where is Egypt Headed?
    U.S. Border Patrol Influence Expands Down to Mexican Southern Border (2/2)
    Does Iran Have Legitimate Nuclear Energy Needs? (2/2)
    48th Anniversary of the Founding of the Black Panther Party
    Why Are Republicans Linking Ebola & U.S-Mexican Border? (1/2)
    Culture of the National Security State - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (5/5)
    Does Iran Have Legitimate Nuclear Energy Needs? (1/2)
    Behind America's Store Fronts - Drugs, Homelessness and Abandonment
    Protests at St. Louis University - TRNN Reports From Ferguson
    Why Are Stock Markets So Volatile?
    The Islamophobia of "Homeland" - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (4/5)
    U.S. Will Fail In Attempt to Create Proxy Army in Syria
    Emissions Reduction Impossible without Demilitarizing Foreign Policy
    Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire - Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself (3/5)
    Pollution Inequality and Income Inequality
    Whose Interests Are Served by Occupy Hong Kong?

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting