This week an invitation to reflect on capitalism in crisis not as an economic but a political phenomenon. We hear two 'bigger picture' talks on the interrelationships between Economics and Politics, one with a European focus, one which concentrates on USA. First Tariq Ali gives us "The Rotten Heart of Europe" summarising the machinations of the political elite in Europe. Next it is Gar Alperovitz, author of "America Beyond Capitalism", on the growth of US movements to decentralize wealth and ownership.
What world would you like to live in? Would it have politicians of businesses? Are you, as David Graeber noted, like so many others whose life has been shaped by capitalism, struggling to think about viable alternative futures? This week we present a pair of speakers who may help. First, it's "The Rotten Heart of Europe", a talk from Tariq Ali. He retells the development of European political union, which didn't used to be synonymous with submission to USA. This focuses mostly on understanding the status quo in Europe. Only since Margaret Thatcher and the entrenchment of neoliberal doctrine in the European integration project, has real independence from Washington become effectively lost. His talk considers into the second hour. I trimmed the end of the talk and all the Q & A in order to leave time for our second speaker.
Fifteen minutes into our second hour, we hear Gar Alperovitz from October 2012 speaking in Seattle on "America Beyond Capitalism". Echoing Chris Hedges, Alperovitz highlights the death of the liberal institutions in USA - particularly organized labor - in the late 20th century as a key point of systemic failure. Highlighting the feudal disparity in wealth in USA (an elite of around 400 being comparable in financial terms to the bottom 180 million) he suggests that the increasing hardship of the majority of Americans has been spurring them on to innovate. How to begin decentralizing the ownership of wealth, he asks? And by way of answer notes that many such separate projects are underway, which he argues should be viewed as a response to the pain of the systemic crisis faced by American citizens. He reports a flourishing of cooperatives and worked owned businesses in areas such as urban gardening and solar power. Twenty US States, he says, are seeking to set up a state bank such as the State Bank Of North Dakota, while other states are seeking a single-payer health system.