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Paul Jay says the elites are incapable of making cities safe, dealing with chronic poverty and unemployment, and facing up to economic stagnation and climate change – their only answer is war

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Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. As we’ve reported, people are resisting. The powerful movements in Ferguson and across the country have shaken American politics out of its lethargy. But resistance is not enough. People in many places are setting their sights on governing. Only through governing can laws be changed and force–that’s right, the police, the courts, and the prisons–be used to enforce laws that insist on more equality. When one looks at contemporary experience around the world, significant change comes about by combining mobilization in the streets with the ballot box. This does not mean becoming an appendage of the Democratic Party. While nationally this may look almost impossible at this time, at the level of cities and smaller states there’s evidence that breakthrough is possible. And when that happens, The Real News will be there. People are making demands–and so they should. Communities are calling for control of the police, saner drug laws, and policies that will create decent jobs. At best, the elites won’t make more than minor changes, although that’s better than nothing. The problem is is in the current political situation, they won’t even do that. Why? Capitalism has lost its dynamism. Far too few people own far too much. And that’s the root of the problem. The class that owns so much, that wields so much political power, is not capable of effecting policy in the interests of the majority. The top 20 percent are not even capable of effecting public policy in the interest of their own class. They can’t deal with systemic threats to the very system that made them wealthy. Nothing makes this more obvious than their inability to regulate the big banks or deal with regulating carbon emissions. They are fractured: different billionaires and pools of capital–and the political class that represents them–bicker and claw for even more money and power. They unite around a policy of global dominance that destroys whole societies, driving them into a perverse medievalism, all in the name of promoting freedom and democracy. Not capable of facing up to economic stagnation or the threat of climate change, war is the only answer they’ve ever had. Our ruling elites are dysfunctional and not fit to rule. They own a news media that makes it all seem so reasonable, so humane, so inevitable. Perhaps they even believe it. History shows in periods such as these the threat of fascism and war is great. The far right has considerable strength in the white working class, especially outside the major urban centers. The impotence and hypocrisy of the corporate Democratic Party bears great responsibility for this. Corporate television news, both overtly right and liberal, also played a major role in reviving the Republican Party after the debacle of the Bush years. The weak link in the corporate media chain is in cities and smaller states, particularly those with large black and Latino populations. Local news is based on an advertising model, so they go where the money is, and that usually means upper-income whites. In Baltimore, 75 percent of the on-air talent on local corporate news is white in a town that’s 63 percent black. These corporate news conglomerates have no interest in representing the interests of the city’s majority black population. Local corporate television news addresses none of the concerns of white working-class families either, who also face unemployment, low wages, the scourge of drug abuse, and disintegrating families. Young people of all backgrounds are thirsting for a realistic vision to fight for, and it’s from ordinary people like these that real change will come from. That’s who we want to watch our news. That’s why The Real News is headquartered in Baltimore.


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Paul Jay was the founder, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network, where he oversaw the production of over 7,000 news stories. Previously, he was executive producer of CBC Newsworld's independent flagship debate show CounterSpin for its 10 years on air. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 20 films under his belt, including Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows; Return to Kandahar; and Never-Endum-Referendum. He was the founding chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and now the largest such festival in North America.