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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 21, 2009 11:00am-11:30am EDT

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the arm with the recent u.s./indian nuclear arguments, a sharp blow to the nonproliferation treaty. two countries have twice come to nuclear war. it was -- these developments pose a very serious threat to world peace, even to human survival. well, there's a lot to say about this crisis but no time here. coming back home, whether the deceit here about the monstrous enemy, johnson's case might as well have been sincere. suppose say 50 years ago americans had been given a choice of directing their tax money to development of information technology so that their grandchildren could have ipods and the internet, or else putting the same funds into
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developing a liveable and sustainable socioeconomic order. well, they might very well have made the latter choice but they had no choice. now, that's standard. there's a striking gap between public opinion and public policy on a host of major issues, domestic and foreign and at least in my judgment, public opinion is often a lot more sane. it also tends to be fairly consistent over time which is pretty astonishing because public concerns and aspirations, if they're even mentioned, are marginalized and ridiculed. it's one very significant feature of the yawning democratic deficit as we call it in other countries. that's the failure of formal democratic institutions to function properly. and that's no trivial matter. there's a book that will come
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out where they ask where the evolution of formal democracy in inxç and in the united states, in fact, her words might turn out to be the endgame of the human race and that's in the an idle question. it should be recalled that the american republic was founded on the principle that there should be a democratic deficit. james madison, the mainframer of the constitutional order -- his view was power should be in the hands of the wealth of the nation, the more responsible set of men. who have sympathy for property owners and their rights. and madison sought to construct a system of government that would in his words protect the minority of the opulent from the majority. that's why the constitutional system that he framed did not have a coequal branches.
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the executive was supposed to be administrator and the literature was supposed to be dominant but not the house of representatives. rather, the senate where power was vested and protected from the public in many ways. that's where the wealth of the nation would be concentrated. this is not overlooked by historians. gordon wood, for example, summarizes the thoughts of the founders saying that the constitution was intrinsically an/sz aristocratic development designed to check the democratic tendencies of the period delivering power to a better sort of people and excluding those who were not rich, well born or prominent from exercising political power. all through american history there's been a constant struggle over this constrained version of democracy. and popular struggles have won a great many rights. nevertheless, concentrated power and privilege clings to the
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madisonian conception. changes form as circumstances change. by world war ii, there was a significant change. business leaders and elite intellectuals recognized that the public had won enough rights so that they can't be controlled by force. so it would be necessary to do something else. namely, to turn to control of attitudes and opinions. these were the days when the huge public relations industry emerged in freest countries in the world, britain and the united states where the problem was most severe. the public relations industry was devoted to what walter litman approvingly called a new arc in the practice of democracy. the manufacturer of consent was called the engineering of consent and the phrase of his contemporary edward berna
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circumstance s. they had taken part in woodrow wilson's state propaganda agency which the public information in an orwellian term. it was created to kind of -- to try to a pacifist population to fanaticism and hatred of all things german. and it succeeded brilliantly, in fact. and it was hoped that the same techniques could ensure that we're called the intelligent minorities would rule. and that the general public who litman called ignorant and meddle some outsiders would serve their functions as spectators, not participants. these are all very highly respected progressive essays on democracy. and by people who -- by a man who was the leading public intellectual of the 20th century and was a
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wilson/roosevelt/kennedy progressive as he was. and they capture the thinking of progressive opinion. so president wilson -- he held in an elite of gentlemen with elevated ideals must be empowered to preserve stability and righteousness essentially the perspective of the founding fathers. in more recent years, the gentleman are transmuted into the technocratic elite and the action intellectuals of camelot, straussian, neocons and other configurations and without the document prevails. samuel huntington is an example that you heard. on a more hopeful note the popular struggle continues to clip its wings quite impressively in the wake of 1960s activism which had quite
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an affect on civilizing society and raised the prospects for further progress to a much higher plane. it's one of the reasons it's time of troubles. too much of a civilizing effect. well, what the west sees as the crisis, namely, the financial crisis, that will presumably be patched up somehow or other. but leaving the institutions that created it pretty much in place, a couple days ago the treasury department, as you read, permitted early t.a.r.p. repayments, which actually reduced capacity -- it was touted as giving money back to the public. in fact, as was pointed out right away it reduces the capacity of banks to lend although it does allow them to pour money into the pockets of the few who matter. and the mood on wall street was captured by two bank of new york
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employees who predicted that their lives and pay would improve even if the broader economy did not. that's paraphrasing adam smith's observation that the architects of policy protect their own interests no matter how grievous the effect of others and they are the architects of policy. obama made sure to staff his economic advisors from that sector. which has been pointed out,, too the former chief economist of the imf, simon johnson pointed out that the obama administration is just in the pocket of wall street as he put it throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interest of the financial institutions or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. and the elite business interests
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who played a central role in creating the crisis with the implicit backing of the government, they are still there and they're now using their influence to prevent precisely the set of reforms that are needed and fast to pull the economy out of its nosedive as the economy -- the government seems helpless or unwilling to act against them, which is no surprise considering who constitutes and who backs the government. well, there's a far more severe crisis even for the rich and powerful. it happens to be discussed in the same issue of the new york review that i mentioned. an article by bill mckibbon who has been warning about the impact of global warming that relies on the british stern report which is sort of the gold
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standard now. on this basis he concludes, not unrealistically, that 2009 may well turn out to be the decisive year in the human relationship with our home planet. the reason is that there's a conference in december in copenhagen which is supposed to set up a new global accord on global warming, and he says it'll tell us whether or not our political systems are up to the unprecedented challenge that climate change represents. he thinks that the signals are mixed. to me that seems kind of optimistic. unless there's really a massive public campaign to overcome the insistence of the managers of the state's corporate sector on privileging short-term gain for the few over the hope that their grandchildren might have a
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decent future. well, the picture could be be more grim. i read a couple days ago a group of mit scientists released the results of what they described as the most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the earth's climate will get in this century, which shows without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated a couple of years ago. and it could be even worse than that. because their model does not fully incorporate the positive feedbacks that can occur. the increased temperature that is causing a melting of permafrost in the arctic regions, which is going to release huge amounts of methane. it's worse than c02. the leader of the project says
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there's no way the world can or should take these risks. he says the least cost option to lower the risk is to start now and steadily transform the global energy system over the coming decade of low to zero greenhouse gas-emitting technologies. and there's very little sign of that. well, furthermore, while new technologies are essential, the problems go well beyond that. in fact, they go beyond the current technical debates about just how to work out cap and trade devices that is discussed in congress. we have to face something much more far-reaching. we have to face up to the need to reverse the huge state corporate and social engineering projects of the post-second world war period, which very consciously -- [applause]
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>> they very consciously promoted an energy-wasting destructive fossil fuel economy. it didn't happen by accident. that's the whole massive project of suburbization then destruction and later gentrification of later cities. the state corporate program began with a conspiracy by general motors, firestone rubber, standard oil of california to buy up and destroy efficient, electric transportation systems in los angeles and dozens of other cities. they were actually convicted of criminal conspiracy and given a tap on the wrist, a $5,000 fine. the federal government then took over. it relocated infrastructure and capital stock in disturban areas and also created a huge interstate system under the unusual pretext of defense.
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railroads were displaced by government finance to motor and air transport. the public played almost no role apart from choosing within the narrowly structured framework of options that are designed by state corporate managers. they're supported by vast campaigns to fabricate consumers with created wants borrowing evelyn's terms. one result is the adamization of the society and the entrapment of isolated individuals with huge debts. these efforts grew out of the recognition that i mentioned a century ago that democratic achievements have to be curtailed by shaping attitudes and beliefs. as the business press put it,
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directing people to superficial things of life like fashionable consumption. all of that is necessary to ensure that the opulent minority is protected from ignorant and meddlesome participants. i was joined in the jewel of the crown of the new high speed railroad technology, the first time i came from boston to new york was 60 years ago. and there was improvement since then. it was five minutes faster today than it was 60 years ago. [applause] >> while state and corporate power was vigorously promoting privatization of life and waste
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of energy it was undermining the efficient choices that the market doesn't and can't provide. that's another highly destructive built-in market inefficiency. to put it simply, if i want to get home from work in the evening, the market does allow me a choice between, say, a ford and a toyota but it doesn't allow me a choice between a car and a subway, which would be much more inefficient and maybe everybody wants it but the market doesn't allow that choice. that's a social decision. and a in a democratic society it would be the organization of an organized public. but that's just what the elite attack on democracy seeks to undermine. now, these consequences are right before our eyes in ways that are sometimes surreal. a couple of weeks ago "the wall street journal" had an article reporting that the u.s. transportation chief is in spain. is meeting with high speed rail suppliers. europe's engineering and rail
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companies are lining up for some potentially lucrative u.s. contracts for high speed rail projects. that stake is $13 million that the obama administration is allocating to upgrading existing rail lines and would build new ones that would one day rival europe's. so think what's happening. spain and other european countries are hoping to get u.s. taxpayer-funding for high speed rail and related infrastructure. at the very same time washington is busy dismantling the leading sectors of u.s. industry, are ruining the livesíj of workersd communities who could easily do it themselves. it's pretty hard to have a more damning indictment of the economic system that's been constructed by state corporate managers.
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surely, the auto industry could be reconstructed to produce what the country needs using its highly skilled work force. [applause] >> but that's not even on the agenda. it's not even being discussed. rather, we'll go to spain and we'll give them taxpayer money for them to do it, what we destroy in the capacity to do it here. it's been done before. so during world war ii, it's kind of a semi command economy. government-organized economy. that's what happened. the industry was reconstructing for the purposes of the war dramatically. it not only ended the depression but it initiated the most spectacular period of growth in economic history in four years, u.s. industrial production just about quadrupled and as the
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economy was retooled for war and that laid the golden age that followed. warning signs of possible signs of u.s. publication capacity have been familiar for decades. maybe most prominently by the late seymour mehlman who many us knew well. he was also one of those who pointed the way to a sensible way to reverse the project, the process. the state corporate leadership, of course, has other commitments but there's no reason for passivity for the part of the public, so-called stakeholders, workers and community. i mean, with enough popular support they could just take over the plants and take over the strict construction themselves. [applause] >> that's not a very exotic proposal. one of the standard texts on
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corporations in the economics literature points out that nowhere is it written in stone that the short-term interest of corporate shareholders in the united states -- in the united states deserve a higher priority than all other corporate stakeholders, workers in community. that's a state corporate decision. that has nothing to do with economic theory. it's also important to remind ourselves that the notion of workers control is as american as apple pie. [applause] >> i was impressed with what's there in the early days of the industrial revolution in new england, working people just took it for granted that those who worked in the mills should own them and they also regarded wage labor as different from slavery only in that it was
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temporary. also abraham lincoln's view approximate. there's been immense efforts to drive these thoughts out of people's heads to win what the business world calls the everlasting battle for the minds of men. on the surface they may appear to have succeeded but i don't think you have to dig too deeply to find out their lane and they can be revive and there have been some important concrete efforts one of them was undertaken 30 years ago in youngstown, ohio, where u.s. steel was going to shut down a major facility that was at the heart of this steal town and there were substantial protests by the work force and the community and there was an effort to bring to the courts the principle that stakeholders should have the highest priority. well, the effort failed that time. but with enough popular support it could succeed.
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and right now is a proefficiency time to revive such efforts although too old be necessary that we have to do the this to overcome the effects of this concentrated campaign to drive our own history and culture out of our minds. there was a very dramatic illustration of the success of this campaign just a few months ago. in february, president obama decided to show his solidarity with working people. he went to illinois to give a talk at a factory. the factory he chose was the caterpillar corporation. now, that was over the strong objections of church groups, human rights groups who protested -- who were protesting caterpillar's role in providing what amounts to weapons of mass destruction in the israeli occupied territories. apparently, forgotten was
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anything else. in the 1980s after ronald reagan had dismantled the air track controllers and they brought in scabs to break up a strike. that was the first time that had happened in generations. that practice is illegal in other countries, apart from south africa at the time. now, the united states is in spendid isolation as far as i'm aware. at that time obama was a civil rights leader in chicago and he certainly read the "chicago tribune" which ran a very careful study of the events. they reported that the union was stunned to find unemployed workers crossed the picket line with no remorse while caterpillar workers found little
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moral support in their community. this is where the community lifted the standard of living for many communities. which is waged by the highly class conscious business classes. now, the union leadership had refused to understand it was only in 1978 that uaw president doug frasier recognized what was happening and criticized the leaders on the business community and i'm quoting him for waging for waging a one side class, the unemployed, the poor, the minorities, the very young and the very old and even many in the middle class of our society and for having broken and discarded the fragile
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unwritten compact previously existing during a period of growth and progress. that was 1979 and placing one face in a compact with owners and managers is a suicide pact. the uaw is discovering that right now. as the state corporate leadership eliminates the hard-fought gains of working people while dismantling the core of the economy and sending the transportation secretary to spain to get them to do what and it highlights the long-term strategies to build impart and resurrect the foundations of the functioning democratic society.
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one short-term goal is to revive a strong, independent labor movement. in its heyday it was a critical base for advancing democracy and human and civil rights. it's a primary reason why it's been subjected to such unremitting attack in policy an propaganda. an immediate goal right now is to pressure congress to permit organizing rights, the employer free choice act legislation. [applause]íi >> that was promised but now seems to be languishing.0 and5.y a longer term goal is ton the educational and cultural battle that's been waged with such bitterness in the one-sided class war that the uaw president perceived far too late.l'÷#y that means tearing apart
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enormous edifice ofçu delusionf free market trade that's been constructed over many yearsoic to overcome the marginalization atomization of the public. of all the crises that
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[applause] >> noam chomsky, professor emeritus at the massachusetts institute of technology is the author of dozens of book including failed states and the forthcoming hopes and prospects. the brecht forum hosted this event. to find out more visit
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brechtforum.org. >> we're at bookexpo america in new york city. the booth for regnery publishing with margini ross publisher and president of the press. what do you have coming out this season? >> well, we're actually very excited for several of our books in summer and fall and, of course, it's a good time to be a conservative publisher in washington, d.c. because there's a lot to talk about. our first book is a book by repeat bestselling author forna regnery it's the first anti-obama book coming from a publisher. michelle has done a real investigative reporter's job of looking at president obama, his team, who he's nominated, who he's brought in to work with him, who'som

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