We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wall Street, Small Business, and the Limits of Corporate Personhood: An Interview with Doug Henwood

Click here to access article from MRzine.

I found that many of his views cut through so much of the confusion that Occupiers and other activists on the left have shown recently regarding many issues. 

This confusion doesn't surprise me after living all my life in the US and being involved with activist organizations. Up until rather recently there was sufficient upward mobility in the US to stifle dissent and questioning of the dominate ruling class views. This combined with the pervasive control by the ruling One Percent over news and ideas through their consolidation of media and insertion of ideologues in education has insured that the 99 Percent remain dumbed down and confused about social-economic-political issues. With the recent economic collapse people inside the Occupy movement and many others are beginning to really question things, and this is wonderful as Henwood acknowledges.

However, I did have problems with his views when he got on the subject of the Federal Reserve and, to a lessor extent, on corporate personhood. At this point in the interview he seemed to take off on a liberal critique of these institutions and was merely arguing for reform. This disturbed me. I think his confusion on these subjects is explained in the answer he gave to this question:
Interviewer: Clearly, your skepticism about small banks, corporate personhood, and community money aren't motivated by love of the established order.  If these solutions aren't radical enough, what would be?
Hudson: Well, god, I don't know.  Our imaginations have been so constricted by 30-35 years of reaction that it's almost hard to think about these things.
Regarding the Federal Reserve, a much better critique and understanding of their function is provided by the American Monetary Institute. Read this article entitled, "The Need for Monetary Reform" in which the author states:
Money has value because of skilled people, resources, and infrastructure, working together in a supportive social and legal framework. Money is the indispensable lubricant that lets them “run.” It is not tangible wealth in itself, but a power to obtain wealth. Money is an abstract social power based in law; and whatever government accepts in payment of taxes will be money. Money’s value is not created by the private corporations that now control it.

    ...the money issuing power should never be alienated from democratically elected government and placed ambiguously into private hands as it is in America in the Federal Reserve System today.
Better yet if you have the time, read their book entitled, The Lost Science of Money. The only problem with their views is that they see the Fed as the only problem.