Political philosophy – section two

Also see Political philosophy – section one

The Other Big Surprise of 2016 Is the Return of Democratic Socialism By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network, commondreams.org, May 25, 2016  Democratic socialism used to be a vibrant force in American life. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Socialist Party of America, headed by the charismatic union leader, Eugene V. Debs, grew rapidly, much like its sister parties in Europe and elsewhere: the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Australian Labor Party, and dozens of similar parties that voters chose to govern their countries

The rise of American authoritarianism by Amanda Taub, VOX.com, March 1, 2016  A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what’s driving Donald Trump’s ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016. Trump has found the key to appealing to authoritarians, which makes him dangerous. The ability of any political party to respond to the anxieties of this group of people is very limited. Do we have institutions and structures in place to prevent the dark side of this growing trend?

Radical Politics in the Age of American Authoritarianism: Connecting the Dots By Henry A. Giroux,  truth-out.org, April 10, 2016, There has never been a more pressing time to rethink the meaning of politics, justice, struggle and collective action.

The New Populism Is A Fight For America’s Values by Elizabeth Warren, The New Populism conference, May 22, 2014  populism –  the power of the people to make change in this country… In every fight to build opportunity in this country, in every fight to level the playing field, in every fight for working families, the path has been steep. Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind…We – the people – decide the future of this country.

Trump-Sanders Phenomenon Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse By Sally Goerner, Evonomics,  May 29, 2016    Oligarchies win except when society enacts effective reforms   Scientifically speaking, oligarchies always collapse because they are designed to extract wealth from the lower levels of society, concentrate it at the top, and block adaptation by concentrating oligarchic power as well. Though it may take some time, extraction eventually eviscerates the productive levels of society, and the system becomes increasingly brittle.

America’s New Normal By Robert Zaretsky, THE STONE, New York Times, JUNE 22, 2016

The New Populism Is A Fight For America’s Values

by Elizabeth Warren, The New Populism conference, May 22, 2014 https://ourfuture.org/20140522/the-new-populism-is-a-fight-for-americas-values

Excerpt:

populism –  the power of the people to make change in this country… In every fight to build opportunity in this country, in every fight to level the playing field, in every fight for working families, the path has been steep.

Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind.

…The tilt in the playing field is everywhere…The game is rigged. The rich and the powerful have lobbyists, lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everyone else, not so much. Now we can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.This is a fight over economics, over privilege, over power. But deep down, this is a fight over values. Conservatives and their powerful friends will continue to be guided by their age-old principle: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” But we’re guided by principle, too. It’s a simple idea: We all do better when we work together and invest in our future…We – the people – decide the future of this country. https://ourfuture.org/20140522/the-new-populism-is-a-fight-for-americas-values

Full text

Thank you, Bob Borosage and Roger Hickey for all your hard work, for inviting me here today, and for featuring my book, “A Fighting Chance.”

I wrote this book out of gratitude – gratitude to my parents who worked so hard and had so little. And gratitude for an America that gave a kid like me a fighting chance.

I’m told you’ve spent much of the day talking about populism – about the power of the people to make change in this country. This is something I believe in deeply.

In 2009, I was fighting hard for a new consumer agency that would level the playing field for families, by preventing the big banks from pushing people into loading up on credit cards and mortgages with tricks and traps. As you probably remember, the big banks hated the idea. For over a year, they spent more than $1 million dollars a day lobbying Congress to stop financial reforms.

But we were able to fight back. We were able to fight back because people like you – along with people across the country – said: we’re in this fight, too.

And because the people were with us, we won that fight.

And it matters. That little agency has been up and running for only a couple of years, but already it has forced the largest financial institutions in this country to return more than $3 billion to people they cheated. That’s how we can make government work for people!

Our uphill, against-the-odds, can’t-win battle for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wasn’t unique. In every fight to build opportunity in this country, in every fight to level the playing field, in every fight for working families, the path has been steep.

Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind.

Just look at the big banks. They cheated American families, crashed the economy, got bailed out, and now the six biggest banks are 37 percent bigger than they were in 2008. They still swagger through Washington, blocking reforms and pushing around agencies. A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank breaks the law on laundering drug money or manipulating currency, and no one even gets arrested. The game is rigged – and it’s not right!

But it isn’t just the big banks. Look at the choices the Federal government makes: Our college kids are getting crushed by student loan debt. We need to rebuild our roads and bridges and upgrade our power grids. We need more investment in medical research and scientific research. But instead of building a future, this country is bleeding billions of dollars in tax loopholes and subsidies that go to rich and profitable corporations. Many Fortune 500 companies, profitable companies, pay zero in taxes. Billionaires get so many tax loopholes that they pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. But they have lobbyists – and their Republican friends – to protect every loophole and every privilege. The game is rigged – and it’s not right!

Or take a look at what’s happening with trade deals.

For big corporations, trade agreement time is like Christmas morning. They can get special gifts they could never pass through Congress out in public. Because it’s a trade deal, the negotiations are secret and the big corporations can do their work behind closed doors. We’ve seen what happens here at home when our trading partners around the world are allowed to ignore workers rights and environmental rules. From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters, and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the upcoming trade deals in their favor.

Why are trade deals secret? I’ve heard the supporters of these deals actually say that they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed. Think about that. Real people – people whose jobs are at stake, small business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day – those people, those people without an army of lobbyists – would be opposed. I believe that if people across this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not happen.

The tilt in the playing field is everywhere. When conservatives talk about opportunity, they mean opportunities for the rich to get richer, for the powerful to get more powerful. They don’t mean opportunities for a young person facing $100,000 in student loan debt to start a life, for someone out of work to get back on his feet, for someone who worked hard all her life to retire with dignity.

The game is rigged. The rich and the powerful have lobbyists, lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everyone else, not so much.

Now we can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.

This is a fight over economics, over privilege, over power. But deep down, this is a fight over values. Conservatives and their powerful friends will continue to be guided by their age-old principle: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.”

But we’re guided by principle, too. It’s a simple idea: We all do better when we work together and invest in our future.

We know that the economy grows when hard-working families have the opportunity to improve their lives. We know that the country gets stronger when we invest in helping people succeed. We know that our lives improve when we care for our neighbors and help build a future not just for some of our kids – but for all of our kids.

These are progressive values. These are America’s values.

These values play out every day. These values are what we’re willing to fight for.

We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe no one should work full-time and live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe people should retire with dignity, and that means strengthening Social Security – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe that a kid should have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe in equal pay for equal work – and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe equal means equal, and that’s true in the workplace and in marriage, true for all our families – and we’re winning that fight right now.

We – the people – decide the future of this country.

These are our shared values. And we are willing to fight for them.

This is our fight!

https://ourfuture.org/20140522/the-new-populism-is-a-fight-for-americas-values

Progressive Movement

Our Invisible Revolution by Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, October 28, 2013

Anger Can Be Power

The Rise of the New New Left

Cynicism Is Corporate America’s Greatest Weapon. Disarm It. Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America’s Future, 08/20/2013

Don’t Wait for the Revolution — ‘Be the Change’ and Live It By Andrew Boyd, YES! Magazine August 6, 2013 

Movements Without Leaders — What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet by Bill McKibben, Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com, 8/18/2013  

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action by Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, August 16, 2013

Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical By Robert Jensen, YES! Magazine, Alternet.org, May 28, 2013  - Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? … Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic. We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world… A deep grief over what we are losing—and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered—is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work…The task for those with critical sensibilities is not just to resist oppressive social norms and illegitimate authority, but to speak a simple truth that almost no one wants to acknowledge: The high-energy/high-technology life of affluent societies is a dead end… to get apocalyptic means seeing clearly and recommitting to core values…we must affirm the value of our work for justice and sustainability…Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous…To adopt an apocalyptic worldview is not to abandon hope but to affirm life…By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution! By David Daley, Salon.com, Jun 25, 2013

The Obama Majority By Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, January 22, 2013…There is an Obama majority in American politics…whose existence is both the consequence of profound changes to our nation’s composition and values and the cause of changes yet to come. That majority…would not exist but for Americans’ struggles to expand our foundational belief in the equality of all men. The drive to expand equality, [President Obama] said in his speech’s most historically resonant line, “is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.” Our history, Obama argued, is one of adapting our ideals to a changing world. His speech…reclaimed U.S. history from the misrepresentations of both constitutional originalists and libertarian fantasists…the moral and practical arc of U.S. history bends toward equality..The president closed his speech by asking his supporters to join him to help “shape the debates of our time.”..The Obama Majority — its existence and mobilization — is what enabled the president to deliver so ideological an address. No such inaugural speech has been delivered since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, demanding the curtailment of government programs and secure in the knowledge that much of the white working class had shifted its allegiance away from the Democrats and supported his attack on the public sector and minority rights. On Monday, Obama, secure in the knowledge that the nation’s minorities had joined with other liberal constituencies to form a new governing coalition, voiced their demands to ensure equality and to preserve and expand the government’s efforts to meet the nation’s challenges

Overview of the Occupy Movement

Our Progressive Populism by Robert Kuttner, Prospect.org, September 2, 2010   Populism comes in two varieties — progressive and reactionary…distressed voters who are seduced by the right on social issues must be mobilized by progressives on economic ones…
This is a kind of class politics, but not one of facile slogans or easy scapegoats. It is hardly demagoguery to point out that concentrated wealth has too much political power. There is a class war, billionaire Warren Buffett once quipped, and my class is winning…
Populism, however, comes in two varieties, progressive and reactionary. Right-wing populism is an ugly brew of know-nothing resentments — of government, bankers, cosmopolitans, minorities and immigrants — that nonetheless taps into genuine economic anxiety. Without effective progressive populism, the reactionary variety gains ground…
good populism rallies economically distressed voters to elect progressives who legislate structural reforms…
With the right taking no prisoners, how do we restore civility? …How do we use politics to rebuild competent government?…
Paul Krugman…concluded, “What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite?” The answer, surely, is a politics that rallies regular people against the stranglehold of economic royalists — a progressive populism.

A Checkerboard Strategy for Regaining the Progressive Initiative 

Group Challenges Corporate Power, Government Secrecy With Crowd-Funded Transparency 

Introduction to Community Organizing: Choosing an Issue 

New Year, New Era for Progressives and Obama 

The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics 

The Obama Majority   

A Global Convergence of Social Movements?

A Liberal Moment

Liberalism’s Glass Jaw

Power Shift: How the Youth Climate Movement is Changing the Game by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine, posted on Alternet.org, April 27, 2011

Where The 99 Percent Get Their Power – Why is this protest spreading when others have fizzled? by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine, Oct 07, 2011

Power and the Progressive Movement by Mike Lux, OpenLeft.com, April 13, 2010

Whatever Happened to the American Left? By Michael Kazin

A Politics for the 99 Percent by Katrina vanden Heuvel and Robert L. Borosage, The Nation – posted June 6, 2012

6 People You Need to Start a Revolution By Sara Robinson AlterNet, April 12, 2012

New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, February 1, 2012

Progressivism Goes Mainstream by John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, The Prospect, April 20, 2009