Noam Chomsky: What next for Occupy?

(…..) How do you assess the goals of the Democratic party as far as co-opting the movement, and what should we be vigilant and looking out for? The Republican party abandoned the pretence of being a political party years ago. They are committed, so uniformly and with such dedication, to tiny sectors of power and profit that they’re hardly a political party any more. They have a catechism they have to repeat like a caricature of the old Communist party. They have to do something to get a voting constituency. Of course, they can’t get it from the 1%, to use the imagery, so they have been mobilising sectors of the population that were always there, but not politically organised very well, religious evangelicals, nativists who are terrified that their rights and country are being taken away, and so on. The Democrats are a little bit different and have different constituencies, but they are following pretty much the same path as Republicans. The centrist Democrats of today, the ones who essentially run the party, are pretty much the moderate Republicans of a generation ago and they are now kind of the mainstream of the Democrat party. They are going to try to organise and mobilise, co-opt, if you like, the constituency that’s in their interest. They have pretty much abandoned the white working-class; it’s rather striking to see. So that’s barely part of their constituency at this point, which is a pretty sad development. They will try to mobilise Hispanics, blacks and progressives. They’ll try to reach out to the Occupy movement. Organised labour is still part of the Democratic constituency and they’ll try to co-opt them; and with Occupy, it’s just the same as all the others. The political leadership will pat them on the head and say: “I’m for you, vote for me.” People involved will have to understand that maybe they’ll do something for you, that only if you maintain substantial pressure can you get elected leadership to do things, but they are not going to do it on their own, with very rare exceptions. As far as money and politics are concerned, it’s hard to beat the comment of great political financier Mark Hanna. About a century ago, he was asked what was important in politics. He answered: “The first is money, the second one is money and I’ve forgotten what the third one is.” That was a century ago. Today it’s much more extreme. So yes, concentrated wealth will, of course, try to use its wealth and power to take over the political system as much as possible, and to run it and do what it wants, etc. Public has to find ways to struggle against that. Centuries ago, political theorists such as David Hume, in one of his foundations for government, pointed out correctly that power is in the hands of governed and not the governors. This is true for a feudal society, a military state or a parliamentary democracy. Power is in the hands of governed. The only way rulers can overcome that is by control of opinions and attitudes (…..)



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Consultor Internacional

2 Responses to Noam Chomsky: What next for Occupy?

  1. Before the Great Recession, I would sometimes give public lectures in which I would talk about rising inequality, making the point that the concentration of income at the top had reached levels not seen since 1929. Often, someone in the audience would ask whether this meant that another depression was imminent. Well, whaddya know? Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we’re now living through? It probably contributed. But the more important point is that inequality is a major reason the economy is still so depressed and unemployment so high. For we have responded to crisis with a mix of paralysis and confusion — both of which have a lot to do with the distorting effects of great wealth on our society. Put it this way: If something like the financial crisis of 2008 had occurred in, say, 1971 — the year Richard Nixon declared that “I am now a Keynesian in economic policy” — Washington would probably have responded fairly effectively. There would have been a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong action, and there would also have been wide agreement about what kind of action was needed. But that was then. Today, Washington is marked by a combination of bitter partisanship and intellectual confusion — and both are, I would argue, largely the result of extreme income inequality (…..)

  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Prof Krugman is back to his favorite subject, the nature and solution of the US economic recession. He thinks the solution is NOT complicated ” All the evidence, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus.” This time, he adds a new twist to explain the reason why his Keynesian policy recommendation is not implemented. The real culprit is the political system “the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority’s malign influence.” Is he correct in his assessment or the truth is still out there? My view, shared by many American and foreign economists, is that the US is experiencing a Japanese-type event that will last longer than previous recessions. Nothing can be done in the short term.The genesis of this new economic normal was a real state bubble implosion followed by the collapse of the financial system. In the aftermath, a huge public and private debt overhang constrain any fiscal stimulus and neutralize FED’s monetary policy. Benchmark interest rates are the same as in Japan, zero. Regarding the 1% super rich taking over the Republican and Democrat parties, I share the same opinion as Prof. Krugman.

    The question is: can the US political system be reformed? I don’t think so.


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