Sanders breaks out . . . let’s talk.
With his hot off the presses Corporate Accountability and Democracy plan — Sanders has always had more, better, and more comprehensive actual plans than Warren, contrary to media narratives — Sanders has re-opened his post heart attack campaign in what could be a very effective way.
This plan is the most radical ever submitted by a viable American candidate for the Presidency. Follow the link above to see why. Tonight, Sanders will be on the debate stage with his emergent eventual rival, Elizabeth Warren (something here soon on the dangers of her candidacy). Last week, during a post-op interview, Sanders also revealed a new style, if you will, an adaptation to his recent hospital experience, that included a far more personal and vulnerable candidate. He did so in a way that did not feed into the media narrative aimed at portraying him as too sick to serve; and he did so even as he threw the gauntlet down before Elizabeth Warren.
This bodes well, I believe, for his campaign, because it has been well-received at the same time that a masterful and viral homegrown four-minute-plus internet ad, made by a young activist named Matt Orfalea, has pulled of hits in mere days. (There is a minor scandal brewing about Orfalea now, but we won’t trade in all that now.)
If he can nail it at the debate tonight, I’d expect him to start eating into Warren’s numbers a bit; but the real watershed for Sanders will be defections (or refugees) from Biden, which have a good chance of putting him in the lead before Super Tuesday (if Biden falls).
Which brings us back to The Plan (above), some of the assumptions people, including Sanders, may have about how the US economy will evolve, what could go wrong, and what could go right if we can make a case.
What is the assumption? The main assumption that underlies this economic transformation plan is that the US can return to is 1970 Keynesian regime of wage growth and its vigorous industrial base. It’s an attractive assumption that is plainly wrong for a couple of reasons — one financial and one ecological.
First of all, factory labor, even with a good paycheck and 70s style bennies, is shit work at its best. “Good” job or “bad” job, you still look at that clock waiting longingly for Mickey’s little hand to hit the five.
The relation that we call capital is as essential a nucleotide for the systemic “DNA” of what is tearing up an increasingly unstable biosphere as the tearing-up itself. By that I mean the wage relation, where someone with enough money can hire someone with not enough money to obey him or her to make more money for the hirer than they pay the hiree. Even in the “best” jobs, let’s face it, we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t need the cash. And even the best boss is still . . . well, a boss.
Yes, we have to have wage labor for a while longer (until we can design ourselves out of it); but no, we don’t need to put everyone back into the manufacturing sector . . . in fact we can do that, given our technology, with far fewer people, leaving the rest to do needs-based public works. And let’s not forget that much of our domestic manufacturing base is producing war material.
So there’s a good reason not to even attempt a mythopoetic industrial Renaissance in the US. The work is repetitious and mind-numbing, many of the outputs unnecessary and even harmful, and the whole process inevitably continues the environmental vandalism that capital is committing right now.
The other reason is that financial institutions aren’t in a position to make it happen. They’re leveraged past their eyeballs again already, for one thing, but even more importantly, the organic composition of capital — the ratio of technology/physical plant and labor power employed in production — has irreversibly changed, in such a way that capital cannot yield a profit paying labor at first-world rates. There are monetarist schemes like Modern Monetary Theory that say we can simply run the Treasury’s printing press to pour in money — which could work in the US if the rest of the world is okay with us continuing to export our inflation to them. That might be attenuated by forgiveness of external debt in struggling economies, but that presupposes the nationalization of US banking as a public utility.
If the temporary fix is imperial-privilege MMT, we are still left with the question of full employment in a redesigned domestic economy that is simultaneously confronted with rising temps and rising seas and all the bad stuff coming with them. That suggests that we need to gear a transition economy toward, first, massive infrastructure redesign aiming at eventual degrowth, using a system of need-based growth that massively rebuilds public assets, beginning with smart grids, sustainable energy, transitional agroecology, and a comprehensive nationwide refit of transportation systems. This means employment contracts must maintain a progressively rising wage floor that accompanies smart inflation (enough to attenuate household debts); and employment itself be regulated to ensure that as certain tasks are accomplished, workers will have transition incomes as they are, on a needs-basis, reskilled and redeployed.
Do we need factories? Of course, but only to make things that are good for us, and only under some kind of community and worker control.
A good plan is NOT trying to re-establish the Rust Belt good old days (where workers were paid well, until work related illness and injury plagued their retirements and these communities poisoned their own water and soil).
Meanwhile, out best actual shot at any of this . . . is through a teeny window called a Sanders Presidency and a militant left to support and critique where necessary.