Posted 2 years ago on Feb. 14, 2012, 5:26 p.m. EST by flip
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
"Well, that's up to the public. I mean, traditionally states have been defenders of private power. Either they are the power or they defend private power. There are struggles over this going on constantly, that's why we have more freedom than people used to have, through constant popular struggle. By the end of the Second World War there was a mood of a sort of radical democracy, practically revolutionary, over almost all the world. The war had a tremendous effect, and actually the first post-war policies of Britain and the United States - the victors - were to try to destroy the anti-fascist resistance; that was the first chapter of post-war history in Europe, and in Japan. Destroy the anti-fascist resistance and restore the traditional societies, now subordinate to the victors. It happened with considerable brutality in many places, like in Greece, where Britain and mostly the United States probably killed about 150.000 people and left a residue which was basically fascist, and actually included a fascist coup and went up into the mid seventies.
In Italy, the United States intervened at once to try to prevent popular democracy, subvert Italian elections and so on; in fact Italy was the main focus of CIA subversive activities at least into the 1970s, including support for military coups, terror, and so on. And pretty much the same was true in Germany, France, Japan, and elsewhere.
So the first goal was restore the basic structure of the traditional society, undermine the anti-fascist resistance, crush the popular labor movements and so on, but it couldn't be done completely. And the power of the radical democratic thrust had to in part be accommodated, in the United States as well. So you get a period of "welfare state" systems, social democratic systems in which it's true that the state was compelled to act in ways that accommodated public demands, and it leads to the social market in Europe, the welfare state in the United States and England, and so on...
Q: ...but it was the people...
Yes, they forced it, and in fact the financial arrangements reflected that. So the Bretton Wood system designed by Britain and the United States after the Second World War was based on control of capital and relatively fixed currencies, and that was done very consciously with the understanding that unless states have the right to control capital movements, you can't have democracy, because the "virtual senate" of investors and lenders could control state policy simply by...
Q: That's actually what we are getting at with that this question. There was this huge debate about if in certain moments the state has to be strengthened in a certain sense because what we are hearing all the time from the politicians all across the board: OK, we would like to do something for you, but we can't because the corporations wouldn't let us.
But that's by design. The post-war system was designed so as to permit the state to use capital controls to prevent investors and lenders, banks, and corporations from running the domestic economies, and currencies were fixed relative to each other to prevent speculation, which is another way of attacking government decisions. And it was understood, very consciously, it was not a secret, that this was to enable governments to carry out policies relatively free from corporate control, and that in turn led to the greatest economic growth in history.
The first 25 years after the Second World War, often called "The Golden Age of Capitalism," there was very fast growth, there was nothing like it ever before or since, and to a degree egalitarian growth. So in the United States, which is the least egalitarian of the major countries, the bottom twenty percent actually gained more than the top twenty percent in that period. That went on up until the early seventies. At that time, there began a major reaction in order to destroy democracy, which is considered a great threat to elites, properly, and to undermine the system that allowed governments to respond to the public to create welfare state systems. The first move in fact was to eliminate controls on capital, which is understood are at the core of allowing the government any kind of space for independent decision making. Eliminate the controls, let currencies flow freely, so you get a huge explosion of speculation against currencies, and in many other ways.
In fact if you look at the neo-liberal programs, every single element of them is designed mainly to destroy democracy. That's true of elimination of fixing currencies amd freeing capital flight. Privatization by definition undermines democracy. It takes things out of the public arena. Turning services into private control takes away everything that the government might want to do. So when the Germans say that, yes it's true, because they designed it that way. They designed the system in such a way that the state would lose the capacity to respond to its citizens and would be compelled to respond to concentrations of private power.
Q: I mean the point is that you can still reverse it.
Of course you can reverse it! It was reversed in 1945. It's not a particularly radical position to say, let's restore the Bretton Woods system. I mean, nobody wants to do exactly that, that's perfectly well understood, but yes of course it can be reversed, in fact corporations, they don't have to exist, not any more than any other form of tyranny has to exist.
Q: Is this maybe also the reason why the movement of the "Workers Without Bosses" in Argentina is less known here? I mean nobody knows about it here. It is not discussed in the mainstream media.
Any form of democratic participation has to be suppressed. So when you read a reference to what's called the "anti-globalization" movement, it's described as people who throw rocks at windows or something like that, riffraff who, you know, have riots. When you read descriptions of the World Social Forum, it's quite interesting. The World Social Forum and the World Economic Forum take place at the same time. The World Economic Forum is mostly rich people going to fancy restaurants and things like that. The World Social Forum is detailed, extensive discussions of real issues in the world, African-Brazilian relations, international economic policy, and so on. If you take a look at the descriptions, I've actually done it, I've compared them, the World Economic Forum is described as some profound thing with the deep minds of the world dealing with major problems, and the World Social Forum is people having carnivals and games. Actually it is literally described as a center of anti-Semitism. I don't know if you were at the World Social Forum in 2003, but the way it's described in US foreign policy journals is that it was full of neo-Nazis waving swastikas, and so on and so forth.
Or just to take a recent example, take the elections in Iraq. In fact, they were a major triumph of non-violent resistance. The non-violent public resistance simply compelled Britain and the United States to accept elections. Try to find anybody who writes that. Actually the business press points it out, but almost nobody else.
Q: ...what the Christian Science Monitor called "the Sistani factor" in an article titled "The Sistani Factor."
The Sistani factor, yes, occasionally the reporters - any reporter with his head-screwed on knows it.
Q: I mention it because you mentioned it in your blog on ZNet.
Yes. There I mention anything I can find. I mean there are some who pointed it out and everybody knows it, but the main story communicated is that Britain and the United States in their magnificence carried out wonderful elections as they bring democracy to Iraq. That's sheer nonsense, as a look at the immediately preceding events demonstrates. However, for somewhat similar reasons, I don't think it's appropriate to call them "demonstration elections," as many of my friends do.
Q: ...you mean they were compelled to hold the elections.
They were compelled to accept more or less authentic elections…
Q: …but what about that other description, as "demonstration elections"?
It is described that way only by the left. The mainstream describes them as marvelous elections brought about by Bush's messianic vision to bring democracy to Iraq. It was neither that nor was it "demonstration elections." It was a popular resistance compelling the occupying forces to allow a certain level of elections which they are now trying to subvert. That's quite different from what happened in El Salvador or Vietnam, where there really were "demonstration elections," created by the occupying authorities to try to give an aura of legitimacy to the occupation. It's not what happened in Iraq. That's clear also from the direct reports of the most knowledgeable and experienced correspondents, like Robert Fisk. In Iraq, it was mass popular non-violent resistance, which compelled the occupying authorities to accept elections that they opposed and are now trying to subvert. This doesn't say they were wonderful elections. They weren't, but not for the reasons of El Salvador and Vietnam.
I mean it's part of this incredible failure of the occupation. I mean if you think of the Nazis in occupied Europe, they had much less trouble, than the Americans are having in Iraq, much less.