Paul Jay is the guest on The Barricade, a news outlet set up by a group of left-oriented activists from around Eastern Europe – Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, and Serbia. Paul was asked to provide background on the events in D.C. on Jan 6th.
Transcript edited for clarity
Welcome, friends. Welcome on “The Barricade.” This is Maria tonight, and as usual, we have with us Boyan Stanislavski, the co-host of our show. We also invited a very special guest, renowned journalist and filmmaker Paul Jay. He agreed to come to our show to talk initially about pandemics. However, tonight he’ll talk about the events, the extraordinary events taking place in Washington on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building and made us change our perspective. And the first part of our show will be dedicated to the analysis of what happened on Jan. 6.
I will ask Paul to give us a historical and broader perspective on the events for us to understand what led to the extraordinary things taking place there.
(ED: there is an audio drop out at this point. What’s missing is a few sentences from Paul on the process of financialization.)
You have industrialization and you have a need for enormous amounts of capital to build great, big factories with thousands of workers, thousands of machines.
Banking takes on a different kind of role, a more dominant role, and this reached its peak, you could say its first peak, in the 1920s, when everybody’s encouraged to buy stocks. The banks are selling stocks. The banks are loaning money for people to buy stocks. You could buy $100 of stock with $1 down and borrow the other $99.
So by 1929, 1930, it goes completely out of whack. And you have one of the great triggers of the Great Depression of 1929, 1930.
So this is part of the global crisis of capitalism throughout the 1930s. And capitalism really has two ways to go: towards fascism and/or towards eventually by 1932 you have in the United States what Roosevelt did, the New Deal, and you have a compromise between the elites and the working class. So either a vicious suppression of workers, which is what most of Europe supported, and a big fight in the United States over whether to go the route of fascism, as it was in Europe, or what FDR was pushing, which is that the United States could afford and should have concessions, as is called the New Deal. And that’s where the United States went, so that these kinds of pro-fascist forces have been in the U.S. for a long time.
I was just saying before we got on camera, you really in many ways can trace this right back to the American Civil War where the Confederacy fights to defend the system of slavery. One of the critical parts of the Civil War is that white workers, poor white workers, poor white farmers, go and join the army and fight for the Confederacy against the North in defense of slavery. Even though these poor white workers economically benefited very little from slavery, what the white ideology of white supremacy was, was to give these white workers the feeling, well, at least we’re not black, you know. At least we’re not slaves, which was something not to be a slave, although in truth, they probably, in terms of the real economic interest, had more in common with the slaves than they did with the slave owners.
But this ideology, that of a section of the white working class, feeling at least superior to blacks, gave them something.
And this continues to this day among sections of the working class. Sections. Not the whole. But definitely sections.
So the New Deal gives concessions to the working class. You have a big employment program that employs almost nine million people. Later, as Social Security develops, you have a lot of very progressive social programs, and so on. After World War II, there’s a concerted effort by the leadership of both parties — the Republicans, certainly, but also sections of the Democratic Party — to start undoing the New Deal.
And as the United States is the supreme power in the world, there’s a lot of wealth to go around, and the American elites don’t mind sharing some of that wealth with some of the higher levels of the working class. By higher levels, I mean unionized workers in key sectors, like transportation or the auto industry.
And so those workers do pretty well.
I know when I was a kid, if someone had a job in the auto industry, they probably had a cottage. The family probably had two cars. The kids of the family were guaranteed to be able to afford to go to university, and that’s a whole section of the American working class that does really well. Now, the majority were not doing really well. And I’m talking about the white working class. Of course, the black working class, Latino, workers of color, very few of them shared in this kind of boom after the war.
Some did. It’s not like you didn’t have any black workers working in the auto industry or some of these other sectors. But it was greatly in the minority. But there were enough white workers that did pretty well.
And that was the vision of America. This, what they call the middle class. I don’t know why they call it the middle class, because they don’t like using the words working class, because it sounds socialist or communist or something. But the working class, a stratum, did really well.
So, jumping ahead, you start to get in the 1970s digitization, computerization. The digital revolution between the 1970s, moving into the 1980s, it does something very, very important in my mind.
It takes globalization to a whole nother level. So now you can have production in China and other low-wage countries coordinated with the retail sales in the United States in a way that would have been unimaginable before. I mean, you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a tube of toothpaste, and in China or Vietnam, they know instantly, OK, we’re going to make another tube of toothpaste. You know, I’m simplifying it. But the global supply chain became such that American workers lost their leverage.
And especially that upper strata. It coincided with the destruction of the steel industry. It got cheaper to move heavy industry, to a large extent, not just to China, but to Mexico and other places. So it’s a very objective development of capitalism that starts to weaken the power of the working class in relationship to the American elites.
So this globalization, which doesn’t just affect the United States, this is happening in Canada. It’s happening in Europe. Workers, again, the upper stratum of workers, start to lose the privileges they were gaining post World War II. And also the other big factor was the fall of the Soviet Union. The fear of socialism, the fear of the Soviet Union inspiring workers to want socialism, and especially in the days after World War II, was enormous. You know, in the United States, they have McCarthyism. They have the House of un-American Activities Committee to purge communists, socialists, leftists out of the unions, which was the real target, the unions.
You know, people focus on Hollywood and the Hollywood 10. But, yes, they wanted to get the left out of Hollywood, no doubt, because the left was very strong in Hollywood during World War II and after.
And in 1946, the United States had more strikes, worker strikes in 1946, than ever in history, before or after, because a lot of soldiers came back from the war and they said we came to Europe to fight for democracy. Well, now we’re home. We want some ourselves, demanding economic rights, including black workers who also fought and said, now we’re coming back, you know, you’re not going to treat us like slaves anymore.
So 1946 was a year of militancy of the American working class. And the response of the American elites was very harsh labor laws. And ideologically, politically, this McCarthyism, as it’s come to be known, although McCarthy was just one part of it, where they literally purge whole sections of American society of the left. They just fire people.
People lose their jobs in Hollywood. My father worked in a left-wing union, and he was purged in Canada, which was not, this wasn’t going on in Canada as badly as the United States.
But the Cold War, this side of the Cold War, was to crush dissent in the United States. Then the other piece of the Cold War, you can’t separate all this. So I may feel like I’m going all over the place. But it’s very connected, which is after World War II, the aerospace industry in the United States that had grown to enormous proportions — and this includes other parts of industry as well — what are they going to do now? The war is over. Where was the need for keeping this enormous infrastructure of military production? There was a great need for an existential threat. And that threat is the Soviet Union. I’ve been doing some work now with Daniel Ellsberg, who’s the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers, and he actually worked for RAND Corporation as a nuclear war planner.
He was planning nuclear war. In fact, he, in 1959, ’60, wrote the nuclear war plan for the United States, when he was like 31 years old. And then he started to find out that the threat of the Soviet Union, at least as an external global military threat — I’m not talking domestically here — was a fraud. Kennedy in 1959, ’60, he runs for president, and one of his big planks is the missile gap, that the Soviet Union has way more ICBMs than the United States. And this general, Curtis LeMay, who was head of Stratcom (Strategic Air Command) — he’s the guy who dropped nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, firebombed most of Japan during the war, and is still head of Stratcom — he says that the Soviet Union has 1,000 ICBMs. This is about 1960, when the United States only has 200. And they called it the missile gap, and there has to be this massive increase in nuclear war production, weapons production and arms.
So anyway, Ellsberg, who works in the Pentagon as an adviser, he finds out that the real number of Soviet ICBMs at that point was four. Four. Not a thousand. It was a crock. It was total bullshit. This is part of a narrative, which is this existential threat of the Soviet Union. When I grew up as a kid, we used to have to hide under our desks for drills because they’re going to drop bombs on our heads. And supposedly, if you got under your school desk, that’s going to save you.
There was a hysteria, and it served two purposes. One, to justify this massive military expansion. And two, it justified the crushing of the left, socialist, communist progressives in North America. So that helps shape much of the upbringing, and the thinking of also the American working class.
So now you’ve got this kind of combination Cold War ideology and the remnants, the hangover, of this white supremacy. I may be not doing all that well, but at least I’m white, and whatever I do have, these people, these blacks, are going to come try to take away from me.
That’s so, so sad because they are playing with this type of getting people out of each other’s throats, I mean, having the working class fight against black Latinos and people of color, while the elites as Cornell West said so nicely, that the elites are doing their game all the way.
Now, for those of you who tune in later, we are joined here by Paul Jay, the producer, host of theAnalysis.news and Boyan Stanislavski. I am now going to turn to Boyan Stanislavski to ask his question. I asked Paul to give us some sort of political, economic and historical perspective that led to the terrible, horrifying events that took place in Washington on Jan. 6.
Can I just add a little piece to this to quickly get us up to date here? So when you reach this period of the ’70s into the ’80s, globalization, the real weakening of the working class, economic crisis, as we head into the 1980 election. The real roots of Trumpism is Reaganism. It’s the election of President Reagan that brings in all these threads together. It’s Reagan that says government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem. It’s the idea of being anti-government. The racism, they call it dog whistle, they used this phrase of states rights as if somehow it was a constitutional question when really it was the right of states to suppress blacks and black voters. This combination of racism, white supremacy, and a great anti-socialist, anti-left rhetoric, this is all Reagan. And, in fact, if you look at the Reagan campaign, and in Showtime, I’m not sure it’s available in Europe, in the United States there’s a series called “The Reagans,” a four-part series, which depicts this very well.
The Trump campaign is a straight carbon copy of the Reagan campaign in almost every respect, except instead of the smiling Reagan, you got this angry Trump. But everything else is more or less the same. So the movement that leads to what happened on Jan. 6, this kind of crazy, disaffected, you used earlier this term, lumpen or white worker movement, its roots are Reaganism, and its roots are the development of capitalism as a very parasitical form of economy where workers are losing the little rights that they had. And I can’t underestimate the way racism is a thread throughout all of this, the way people are manipulated. Sorry. Go ahead.
So I’m going to turn to Buyan to ask his question now. All right.
Thank you. Well, Paul, I want to say thank you to you as well, because this was a very interesting kind of historical perspective. And I think it’s important to, you know, to remind people that history doesn’t start anew every day, which is what, for example, the mainstream media would like us to think, or the majority of the so-called public opinion, and that there is this, as I said, historical continuum to all of it, to all of those events, pathological as they could be like on Jan. 6th in Washington.
And, you know, I’d like to add a little bit more of a description. I’d like to ask you for a bit more of a description of the current situation. I mean, not regardless of the historical facts, of course, but I’d like the Eastern European viewer to understand better what actually happened in the United States, because, you know, for us in Eastern Europe, these things, these sort of sending depictions of political life, as you experienced that on Jan. 6, is not something entirely new.
It’s embarrassing. It’s violent. It’s dangerous. And it normally brings a lot of bad things. And it has a name. It’s called Color Revolutions. And, you know, the United States government has been instigating that kind of political process pretty much everywhere around the world, from Ukraine to Venezuela to Hong Kong. OK, so for us, it was like, wow, it was some sort of cognitive dissonance. OK, this was happening all around here in Eastern Europe.
And suddenly we see this sort of thing happening right there at the center of the, I don’t know, the belly of the beast. OK? And, you know, I got to say that for us, for the Eastern Europeans, we were shocked by that. But we were also shocked by the reaction of the elites, like everybody going, you know, sort of hyperventilating on how, oh, democracy’s in peril, everything’s terrible, the capital stormed by some Nazis or racists or all kinds of despicable people.
And, you know, Trump instigating a coup. And the more I listened to that, the more I was like, oh, come on, give me a break. Democracy in peril? We really have this kind of things all around all the time. Well, maybe not all the time, but on a regular basis.
I come from Bulgaria, and this is where, according to these historical records, that’s where the first Color Revolution happened in 1997. OK? And then there is this historical archive, which is full of Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe. And, you know, I want to quote from your kind of commentary analysis that you published on your website that I read with great interest on the very events of the sixth, and there’s one paragraph that is particularly interesting for me, because you say the following. You write the following. The images of the storming of Congress was a manipulated piece of theater that pulled off the real coup that almost everyone wanted, that is, the end of Trump. And now, my first question is, if this is a provocation, then aren’t they completely out of their minds? In a way, this guy is almost out.
Why actually strengthening him? Why validating him in the very last moment? All these actions, all this hype about how terrible his followers are, or how they are domestic terrorists, how they are violent, how they are a mob, how this is all, as I said, democracy in peril and all these phrases, right? There’s going to be so much of martyrdom now built on this. And then when you have the kind of taking away his Twitter account and other social-media accounts, apparently, then, you know, like, of course, I’m not against banning, not necessarily against banning, you know, kind of violent hate speech and stuff like that, although I realize it’s disputable in terms of the social-media censorship and all the rest of it. But what I want to say is that … I like the way he (Trump) was, in plain sight on Twitter, on Facebook, so that you can follow actually what’s happening with him and around him and all the rest of it. Now, the next Trump that is coming, he’s not coming on Twitter.
He’s not coming from Twitter or Facebook or all these platforms that we’re so used to. He’s coming from some hidden forums of conspiratorial theorists that are not going to be detectable for anyone in the public opinion. Plus, you’re inflicting an extra wound, in my opinion, on the notion of public communication, because people don’t trust anything anymore which appears in the media, in the public sphere in general that comes from official actors.
Now it’s going to be even worse. So what’s happening is a terrible destruction of the public discourse, public debate, to an extent that it will be impossible soon. So what do you think?
Well, there’s two really big questions. There’s the social media stuff, but the first is what happened. So let me try to start with the first. Obviously, we don’t know everything, and we’re trying to piece together the dots here. It may turn out, and there’s certainly some evidence of this, that in the end we’ll call this a coup within a coup.
It looks like there is evidence that Trump was attempting to get the military to intervene on his behalf, and that the idea of sending a crowd to the Congress perhaps was meant to trigger a series of events that would justify some kind of martial law, with the military playing ball. And with Trump obviously as the commander in chief.
Sorry, can I just ask one additional question here, just to make it clear. Are you saying that there is evidence, or there are rumors at least, that Trump was conspiring with the military to …
No, no, no. No, there’s evidence that, well, here’s the evidence. A few days ago, 10 former secretaries of defense sent an extraordinary letter, or published the letter, I guess, in the press, calling on the military not to get involved. Now, that’s a public letter. This is not some secret conspiracy. Ten former secretaries of Defense from both parties. Now, why send such a letter unless they thought there was something happening? What it seems like, then, assuming that Trump reached out to the military, it looks like he was rebuffed, that the military did not go along with this. I don’t know, there’s some individuals at some higher levels of the military that are very pro-Trumpian, that are in fact right-wing evangelicals. The right-wing evangelical organization movement has actually infiltrated, not just at the lower levels of the American armed forces, but at very senior levels of the American armed forces. I’ve done some stories about this.
But it looks pretty clear that (Gen. Mark) Milley, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not going to play ball with Trump, and perhaps the majority, or all of the senior command, were not going to play ball with Trump.
So it’s not that there’s any evidence that there was a conspiracy in the sense that the military was willing to do this. There’s some evidence that Trump was trying to get the military to do this. Otherwise, why do 10 secretaries of Defense send this letter? So I think what happens is maybe in Trump’s crazy schemes he’s able to persuade the authorities in Georgia to reverse the vote and declare fraud. He’s able to get the military to be on standby.
They expect way more people to show up in D.C., they being Trump and his allies, including people like Steve Bannon. Just before the Nov. 3rd election, Steve Bannon says the war begins on Nov. 3rd, when they steal the election. That was prior to the election that he said this, because they knew all this was going to unfold.
They not only expected much, much bigger crowds in D.C. I think it’s pretty clear from the social media and the way Bannon’s been talking, they expected almost something like a national series of protests and demonstrations and craziness everywhere. A little bit happened in other cities, but very little of the crowds like in D.C. I can’t get a decent number anywhere. I’ve been looking for a real crowd estimation. It may be, and this is just going on TV images, maybe it’s 20-, 30-thousand people. Forty thousand.
I certainly cannot say that with any certainty, but they thought it would be a million. So if you imagine if they were able to get the military to play ball, if they got Georgia to undo the results and the million people show up and then they storm Congress, maybe that’s what Trump had in mind. I think by Jan. 6 that it all collapsed. The military did not play ball. In fact, there’s evidence the military offered the Capitol Hill police National Guard support, but we’re told they didn’t want it. I’ll get into that in a minute.
Why didn’t they want it? The D.C. police wanted to beef up security. It was obvious that there was a plan to send these protesters into Congress. It was all over social media. Instead of preparing for that, what did they do? They don’t even set up a real perimeter around the buildings, which is normal security protocol. You don’t defend the doors, wooden doors. You set up barricades, to use the name of your show, all over around the buildings. And you defend those barricades.
You don’t let people get anywhere near the buildings, and that’s standard operating procedure. So not to do that takes a decision not to do that. Otherwise, you do it. So Trump goes along with the playbook anyway. Now, I think the real tell here — you know, in poker, when someone is bluffing or is going to do something, it’s called a tell, they blink their eye or they do something, I don’t know — the tell here about what was going on is that before the events where the buildings get stormed, that day Lindsey Graham, the senator, the leading right-wing hawk senator who’s been this massive Trump supporter all this time; Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate; and Mike Pence, vice president, they announce they’re not going to support Trump in the Senate in reversing the certification of Joe Biden. For your audience, I assume people know this, there’s the House and the Senate. Well, the Senate is considered the more senior body.
Honestly, the Senate is a completely undemocratic institution. It shouldn’t exist. Every state gets two members regardless of size. Something the size of Delaware gets the same senators as California. It’s crazy, but that’s how it is. So these three guys who have been the biggest cheerleaders and supporters of Trump, bail on Trump. Why? Well, I think by this point, they’ve seen the letter from the secretaries of defense. They know whatever Trump has in mind is falling apart.
They blame him for losing the two Senate races in Georgia. Trumpism — I shouldn’t say Trumpism — Trump, is unraveling. He’s going mad. I can see he is literally. I mean, he’s been pretty mad the whole damn time.
And they’ve been feeding that narcissistic megalomania for four years because everybody, by everybody, meaning, first and foremost, Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the right-wing evangelical leaders, got everything they wanted out of Trump. They got the Supreme Court they wanted. They got the military budget they wanted. Wall Street got the deregulation they wanted. The guy, Larry Fink, who’s the head of BlackRock, which is the largest asset-management company in the world, something like seven trillion dollars, it’s really the power of Wall Street now. Larry Fink, who actually supports the Democrats, he said once that with Trump, we got our entire bucket list checked off. Everything they wanted from a president, Trump did. So even though they knew he was descending into madness, utter delusional, it didn’t matter because he handed over the keys to the Treasury, the piggy bank, and they got what they want. So in these final days, this is what I think happens. Some of this I can’t definitively prove, but I’ll give you, I’ll tell you the things that I know are factually verifiable.
I think what happens is Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence, who excuse me, have been eating Trump’s shit for four years, again, excuse me, bending over and showing their backsides to Trump for four years and hate his guts, have to keep playing ball because of these millions of people that voted for Trump.
Trump threatens to primary these guys and remove them, throw them from the Republican Party, practically. They live in terror of Trump’s power.
But the morning of Jan. 6th, they see an opportunity to bring the guy down, and that is when they see the crowds are not big enough. With the military not playing ball, it’s time to bring this guy down once and for all.
OK, I’m sorry, Paul. Again, one additional question just for our viewers and for myself, actually, as well, to make sure that I follow and I understand. OK. I kind of get the idea that Trump gets totally unhinged and he’s probably getting uncontrollable and mad, as you said. Fine. I get this. But he’s on his way out. The military wouldn’t have shown up to help him stay in power illegally. The crowds aren’t big enough. I mean, why not let it play itself out?
Play itself out meaning what? This is the sort of key to understanding this. What do you do when Trump tells all these crowds to go? Now, who is in charge of that decision? Well, you have the Capitol Hill police, and the chief of the Capitol Hill police answers to whom? The sergeant at arms is the name of the guy of the Senate who is the guy who is overall in control of security on Capitol Hill. And the chief of police of the Capitol Hill police answers to the sergeant at arms. Now, who hires, appoints the sergeant at arms? Who then has the power to fire the sergeant at arms? Who does the sergeant at arms answer to? The majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell has to be in on the decision of what to do when these crowds are heading to Congress. Do you set up the security perimeter or not?
There’s no way. I mean, I can’t prove the conversation took place. But how is it possible with such a politicized event where the president is telling people to head to Congress? How is it possible that the guy who represents, speaks for the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and the sergeant at arms, who commands the chief of police, how is it possible that they don’t have a conversation? What are we going to do on Jan. 6th? Do we set up the normal course?
Do we set up the security perimeter, which is the normal thing you do with any protest? And clearly, they decided, no, let them in.
But why? Why would they do that?
Because if they can blame the shit show on Trump, which is what they did, if they can blame him with insurrection and sedition and everything else, he loses all power in the Republican Party. If he left the way he was leaving — the election is a fraud, and my people we protested outside Congress, and millions of people support me, and now that I’m leaving, I’m setting up a new television network, and I’m going to make sure every candidate of the Republican Party is picked by me. I was saying even a couple of weeks before the election in Georgia, I said on camera, you know what, I’ll bet Trump wants these guys to lose in Georgia, because if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, who’s the star of the right-wing show? Mitch McConnell, majority leader, not Trump, who’s out trying to build some TV network. But if Democrats control the Senate, then Mitch McConnell is a secondary player. And everything in Trump’s strategy is to make everything about Trump.
OK. Then just one last question. Again, a clarification question. So now it’s clear to me, but then is it like they wanted to make sure that this sentiment, social sentiment that Trump managed to orchestrate around him, around his persona, that they wanted to make sure that Trump and this sentiment, which is which translated itself into this …
No. No, no. This is why I did this whole history thing off the top.
The roots of this in terms of the modern roots, is Reaganism. This kind of sentiment, this weave of racism and anti-government, and so on, and so on, this is the bread and butter of the Republican Party. No, they just need a Trump who’s not nuts.
Aha. OK. No, no, no.
Oh, far from it.
They will flat fan the flames of this. This is the only way they win elections. Oh, no, no, no. I don’t think this party’s going back to, say, like a Romney or something.
No, I wasn’t trying to say that the Republican Party isn’t going to be as dangerous as it is. I mean, that wasn’t what I had in mind. I was just trying to figure out, like, why do they necessarily want Trump out? And in a way that, you know, makes sure that he has no way back into the party.
Which thing are you talking about now? The Republican leadership, or the elites? The Republicans, they want a demagogue who doesn’t believe he’s God.
They certainly want another Trump type, but they don’t want one they lose control of. They controlled Reagan. Reagan was an actor. He was created by a cabal of, in those days, multimillionaires. Today, it would be billionaires.
Reagan was a front man who they could pull the strings of. They started losing control over Trump because, and this is an important piece of this, Trump wasn’t their choice. He wasn’t the guy they wanted. They wanted Bush’s brother. They thought they were getting George Bush again in Bush’s brother.
So, are you saying that Trump just flirted with the population in a manner that kind of was endangering the control of the Republican elites, whatever Republican leadership over him as a candidate and afterwards as a president? Is that it?
Yeah, very much so. But the important piece of this is that the elites are very fractured. And because there is now so much wealth in the hands of billionaires, a few billionaires that are far-right crazies themselves can bring a president to power. And that’s exactly what happened, because when Trump wins the Republican nomination, he’s out of money. He’s faced immediately with enormous scandal. You remember this audiotape of him talking about grabbing women’s crotches and, you know, he was on the way down the toilet. And who rescues him? A guy named Robert Mercer, who’s a New York hedge-fund guy who owned Breitbart News, the right-wing website. Who works there? Steve Bannon works there. Kellyanne Conway works there.
Robert Mercer was approached by, I believe it was Ivanka Trump, and he agrees to help bankroll Trump. But more importantly, to bring his apparatchiks, Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and the social-media expertise of Cambridge Analytica, because who founds Cambridge Analytica? Robert Mercer. Mercer comes in and helps make Trump president with the help of the money of Sheldon Adelson, this far-right-wing Zionist casino owner who is so close to Netanyahu in Israel that they sometimes want to give him a Cabinet seat. This little cabal of far-right billionaires is able to give Trump the legs to win.
Now, the rest of the elites never thought it could happen. To the last minute, they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win that election.
They didn’t know what Cambridge Analytica and some of the other social-media mechanisms that Mercer and his team have worked out. Just to give you another little piece of Mercer, it’s that Robert Mercer, together with a couple of other hedge-fund guys, created a thing called Renaissance Technology, which is what they call a quantitative high-speed trading fund. What it means is they’ve developed algorithms that can predict the most minute shifts in the stock market, either up or down, doesn’t matter.
And then throw enormous amounts of money at stocks that are going to move a little bit up, or go short a little bit down. They went out and hired, I believe the number was 700 of the leading mathematicians and physicists of the world to work on these algorithms. So they had a tremendous strength and ability in data crunching. And they brought that data-crunching ability to politics through Cambridge Analytica, and I think a couple of others. And they played a role in Brexit in the United Kingdom as well.
They worked how to target on social media individuals profiles and message them based on their own individual interest. But in the millions and millions and millions of people.
Well, this is a very important topic that I want us to discuss right now. What was the role of the media in all this? Because I’m appalled and horrified by the fact that we all said, oh, it is so good that now Twitter and Facebook finally decided to close down the account of Trump.
I would say, why don’t we think it from another perspective? We should be thinking about Facebook and Twitter being held accountable for letting him do all the damage that he did in the first place. But we as a society, and you as a society, we’re not able to hold these guys accountable. And now we are in the position where we are begging the owners of the platforms to be socially responsible. And we are cheering that they finally closed down the account.
But let us think about how much money did they make, you know, during all those times where they profited and they used hatred and hate speech that Donald Trump was fueling and other right wingers like Ted Cruz and others.
So, I think it’s so twisted and sad when we first of all, that some elite like Facebook and Twitter owners just fought with another elite crazy right wingers and mainly Trump. And secondly, that we are not able to hold them accountable for the damage that they did in the first place in creating because they are partially responsible for creating Trump and using him for gaining a lot of money.
Well, it’s a complicated problem. But let’s just go back to something I was talking about at the beginning. Take a look at who owns Facebook and Twitter and these other platforms, but also the media, because you have to include conventional television, cable television. All of these places that are on the stock market, the primary ownership are these big asset-management companies.
They’re institutionally owned. There’s some individual billionaires that have significant stakes. But almost every one of these, including even The New York Times, but including Facebook and all the rest of it, there’s no doubt Zuckerberg has an enormous amount of shares, but the financial institutions are the ones that have the main ownership. If you want to solve the problem, if you want to jump to what a solution looks like, the serious, serious solution needs to be part of a process of democratization, which includes public ownership. Because as long as you have individuals and financial institutions that own these platforms, profit-making is the only thing that’s going to drive them.
And if it’s profitable to promote Trump or whoever the next Trump is, they will do it. Now, it’s only now, when Trump is mortally wounded, oh, now let’s keep him off. Although Twitter was starting to do this a little bit before the election, because one of the billionaire hedge-fund guys, who has a big piece of ownership in Twitter, was already having a fight with Trump. You can see it through this guy Tucker Carlson’s show who went after him.
But the bottom line here is, OK, let’s say Facebook and whatever ban this guy. The billionaires on the right are just going to create a right-wing Facebook or right-wing Twitter. I mean, it’s not like these guys aren’t going to communicate with each other again.
If you would create serious legal liability that publishers have, like, if a newspaper publishes something that is defamatory, they know is defamatory, or they know is a lie, there’s a responsibility on behalf of the publisher, and they can be sued.
The law is a little murky when it comes to social-media platforms, whether they actually really have any legal responsibility. I think they should be publicly owned. They should be treated like public utilities. The management should be elected. It has to be part of a real process of democratization if you’re really going to deal with it.
Otherwise, it’s a weird conundrum. So in the end, do I think they should ban the guy? I don’t know that it accomplishes much of anything, banning him, because, like I say, they’re going to create a new one. It’s a bit of a facade and hypocritical. As you say, they’ve been making so much money out of all this crap, and all of a sudden they make a show out of banning him.
It’s probably more dangerous that we accept the principle that they can choose what’s politically acceptable and what isn’t. That’s probably the more dangerous piece of this.
Obviously, it’s already against the law to publish hate speech. In the United States, actually, hate speech is not against the law. It is in Canada. But incitement to violence is against the law. So maybe that could be strengthened. I’m personally not really against laws on hate speech. That was a big debate about it in Canada. It doesn’t get used hardly ever, except real hate speech, like outright Nazi kind of rhetoric. Maybe there needs to be something like that in the United States.
But if you’re asking me, is the principle that private corporations get to decide what’s going to be on social media or not, that principle is more important than banning these guys. So, yeah, the more dangerous thing here is what’s happened to the mainstream media. Never mind social media. What’s happened to cable TV? There’s no journalism left. It’s all partisan propaganda, whether it’s pro-Trump or anti-Trump. CNN, MSNBC, they’ve given up any pretense of doing journalism.
Who does go to CNN anymore to actually see the news?
Where else are you going to?
If you want the ability to have the resources to do relatively live video-news gathering, where else are you going to go? They’re the only ones that have the resources, the networks to some extent. And you have to kind of parse it, like in the sense you have to just stop listening to the commentators almost completely. I mean, I watch them because I’m just interested in what, how the pundits break down, because it tells you something about how the elites are thinking about things.
You can’t consider it news. But the lack of like, even the fact like these words they’re using, insurrection and sedition, now. I mean, how is that an insurrection? A bunch of people. Maybe they found, what, six or seven guns, one van apparently parked nearby that had more guns and a couple of bombs or something, which is probably one crazy guy.
I mean, how is that an insurrection without some involvement of the military? Without some involvement, military involvement, the police force.
I mean, just without a viable perspective of actually taking over the building of the power. Right.
As you’re going to take what you’re going to take over the government. I mean, just because you take over a government building doesn’t mean you take a government.
I mean, a group of climate activists took over Nancy Pelosi’s office two years ago or something, and nobody called that an insurrection.
It’s just being overblown because it serves people’s purposes to inflame the importance of what happened, because many sides, now I’ve talked about the motivation of the Republican leadership, but obviously the Democratic Party leadership wants the sink Trump and damage the Republican Party and pro-Trumpers in the Republican Party as much as possible.
And they have intimidated some of them, like that senator who lost her seat in Georgia, Loeffler, she actually had to back up and not back the decertification, the challenge to the certification in Georgia. She had to get back up and not do it because she was so intimidated with this language of sedition, treason, and all of this. So everybody’s got an angle here to inflame what happened.
I’m not saying what happened isn’t atrocious. Of course it is. And to have this, you know, gang of odds and ends of people who believe in QAnon and the craziest blood theories and live in some delusional world and can be manipulated.
And, yeah, you know, five people died. One police officer apparently was beaten badly enough to die. It’s not like these events weren’t serious, and it’s not like the people doing it aren’t capable of being manipulated and led into doing far worse things. There’s this guy named Timothy McVeigh a few years ago that blew up an enormous federal building that killed hundreds of people (ED: 168 people were killed). I mean, this stuff can become really dangerous. I don’t want to underestimate that.
But what’s happening now is just being inflamed all to hell because finally, especially from the leadership of the Republican Party, finally they get their revenge on this guy that’s been humiliating them for four years.
Right. Well, I just wanted to make kind of the same point in a way that, obviously, for example, in Poland, where I’m based, and we have a terrible government here, and the government has taken over the public media, so-called public media, they are now state media, government media, and they are using it as their own propaganda tool, propaganda leverage, and it’s terrible. And older people, their adult lives before 1989 would tell you today that it’s much worse than it even used to be before 1989, because back then, the leaders of the party, they at least they kind of respected the people in a way that they thought they are talking with. They’re doing propaganda to intelligent people, thinking people, whereas those now aren’t doing even that. So, I’m saying this because obviously, when I want to get some news that I have to go to the public TV just to see what’s going on there. Right? In a way, what’s going on the ground, like what facts are reported, what is happening?
And obviously you have to go to these channels, I don’t know, big media and so on and so forth. But I don’t think many people really take it seriously, in a way. Most people, I don’t know what it’s like in America, but I assume it’s pretty much the same as in Europe, and it’s pretty equal in Eastern and Western Europe, people just don’t believe anything that is in the media.
Like, you know, they consume this information. Sometimes they use it in some discussions. But generally, you said in America journalism, it ceased to exist, basically. No one even pretends that they do journalism anymore. And it’s pretty much the same all over this whole so-called global north, I think. Or at least in Europe and America.
And so the thing is that obviously the media did play a very important role here because they were fueling this. They were adding gasoline to the fire and sort of propping up this conspiracy theory. Actually one conspiracy theory after another. This is the most fashionable thing to do now in the mainstream media, just to throw around conspiratorial ideas, because the fact that the idea that Trump actually won the elections and they were stolen from him and so on and so forth, this was the kind of conspiracy theory that part of the media, those that supported Trump, they went on board with it. Right?
And if it was obvious that at one point it could end in the manner that it did on the 6th of January. OK? And as much as it was pathetic, and you said it yourself, it could have also been dangerous, or it could be dangerous in the future.
And, also about the social media, the thing, banning of Trump, who I think is very important for everyone here to actually consume this, that what you said I think is very important that it wasn’t really any decision on the part of the board or the executive committee of Twitter to take down his account or some of his tweets, I mean, Trump’s tweets, or Trump’s account, because they thought that it’s actually ethically not OK. But what is behind it is some kind of corporate intrigue, oligarchic intrigue going on in the background that just manifests itself that way. And then, of course, you know, we’re kind of explained, as the population. We’re explained that, oh, it’s because Trump’s inciting violence or something like that. You know, I’ve seen the two tweets that were taken down right before his account was totally erased, apparently, and they weren’t anything untypical. I’ve seen worse from Trump on his account in the past four or five years.
So, for me, it wasn’t anything particularly, how to say this, anything particularly decisive in a way that was something so bad that it would be something like, oh, now we have to really take it down. And also the other element is that these are private corporations, and here’s a president of the state. I mean, this is the highest ranking top bureaucrat. OK? He’s the highest ranking politician in the state.
And whether he can communicate via social networks or not, it doesn’t depend in any way on anyone, just on, you know, some people that are part of the Twitter team, whatever.
I agree that it’s complicated, but it’s also dangerous in a way that we have this technological giants that can take away president’s account, and without any consequences, really. I mean, nothing can be done about this. And, on the other hand, this constant pushing, aggressive pushing of all kinds of propaganda in a way that the enemy is right here, right behind the corner, and they are very dangerous. And by pointing their finger, they are pointing at the other media that are part of the propaganda machine of the other party.
So this is like a kind of conflict that I do not see how it can end up in any other way than further lumpinization of the society in a way that people fall into. They trust less and less the information that appears, and they trust more and more all kinds of conspiratorial ideas that just appear here and there, because there’s nothing to counteract against this process of rottening of the media. Do you agree with this?
Yeah, I do. Let me just add to it. The number one thing you’re hearing from the pundits that represent the authorities, the elites, is how are we going to restore people’s faith in the electoral process in democracy and government, but particularly in democracy and elections?
So there’s a very important trade off that takes place in the United States, and not only the U.S. But the trade off is this: Yeah, maybe it’s true that in the Soviet Union they had full employment; maybe they had health care; maybe people didn’t live that well, but maybe they didn’t face such profound economic insecurity, and so on and so on; but we Americans, we get the right to vote.
We have free speech. We have freedom to choose. And as long as we have that, I guess you can live with the fact that one tenth of one percent of the population owns more than the rest of the 50-, 60-percent of the population. The massive concentration of wealth is justified because supposedly it’s a democracy. So people lose faith in the electoral process, and lose faith that democracy. Maybe they’re also going to really start to question who the hell owns stuff and who wields real power. Now, of course, the right-wing movement doesn’t do that. The right-wing movement covers up the role of the big corporations. Although I got to say, when you watch Fox News now, and people like Tucker Carlson, they’re actually starting to use anti-corporate rhetoric, because the right needs to, the elites need to control this conversation so it doesn’t end up pointed, in real terms, at that one percent, the ownership class.
So, the problem facing them is that if, what is it, 74 million people voted for Trump, 75 five million. And they’re saying, what is it, two thirds or something of those people think the elections were rigged. That’s threatening to the process itself, and you combine that with the more left of the spectrum, people believing that all of the progressive motion that was behind Bernie Sanders is now being essentially left out of Joe Biden’s calculations, or diminished, or marginalized. It’s a very dangerous brew here for the elites. So, yeah, the media is trying to put the genie back in the bottle here and control the conversation. But they’re facing something which is making it almost uncontrollable. And that’s the Covid pandemic.
I just wanted to get it to tell us how is the pandemic playing out? Because all this crazy show just took place in the middle of a deadly pandemic. And here in Romania, everybody says, well, the Chinese are just lying. They are sure that dozens of millions of people are dying in China, and the government is just covering it up.
OK, just to somehow preserve the idea that the U.S. is superior because we have so self-colonized intellectual elites here, that the U.S. is superior and somehow say, look, the pandemic in the U.S. is greatly managed, and the Chinese are lying. This is basically the mainstream media and mainstream intellectuals’ narratives. So what’s your take on that?
Well, there’s no reason to believe the Chinese are lying. There’s too many Western doctors and scientists and journalists and everybody crawling all over China, if that was the case, that would come out. I think it’s silly. But the fact that people believe it, it’s part of what’s driving these right-wing forces all over the world. That there’s science and evidence don’t seem to matter very much. But what’s the real threat of the pandemic in the United States is that there looks like there’s going to be no way to control it without much more profound lockdowns, and closing down sections of the economy again, which is going to throw things back into deeper recession, higher unemployment. And, you know, I was talking earlier about sections of the working class that because of globalization have lost their sort of status and privilege.
There are sections of the working class now being thrown into abject poverty that never believed they would ever face such a thing. That’s a time bomb, political time bomb. And the vaccine, the distribution of the vaccinations in the United States is a disaster. It’s chaos. What was it? They thought they would have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of December, and it was two million. It continues to be completely chaotic. It’s raging out of control.
So, the elites are in a situation where they really don’t know what to do. Again, they needed to sink Trump because it helps calm the waters some, at least on that side of things. They needed to legitimatize the Biden presidency. Biden is going to have to take some measures that are going to be very strong if they’re going to control the virus. So anything they can do to legitimatize the presidency. And he won the election, he doesn’t, like it needs legitimization within the framework of American politics. There’s no question he won. But they needed to assert that. It was important to the elites that McConnell and Pence and Graham broke ranks with Trump. I think there’s a very important piece of this which needs to be talked about. Within hours, practically of the events on Jan. 6th, the American Manufacturers Association, which is one of the most powerful lobbying groups on behalf of corporate America, called for Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as president.
Now, this is the same American Manufacturers Association that’s been pro-Trump for four years. But Trump had lost, had outlived his usefulness. The chaos is not good. I interviewed an economist named Mark Blyth. He calls it the investors’ paradox. The chaos was threatening the investors’ paradise.
They needed to calm things down, and in Trump’s own narcissistic, egomaniacal interest, chaos was good. In fact, you remember when he first got elected, Steve Bannon, who was one of his closest advisers, was openly calling for the destruction of the administrative state. They know the destruction of the government as we knew it, which included the destruction of the Republican Party, it was their public agenda. But the elites went along with all that because, like I said earlier, they got everything they want on the economic side.
But, by Jan. 6, Trump had completely outlived his usefulness. They needed to get rid of him. And the elites wanted the transition to Biden so they could go back to, quote unquote, normal.
What’s normal? Normal is the process that gave us such gross inequality. Normal is the process of the less one tenth of one percent concentrating so much wealth and power in their hands. Normal is the process that gave birth to Donald Trump. Which means in 2024, if Biden goes back to normal, I don’t think it’s going to be Trump. I think they, in all likelihood, could have mortally wounded this guy. But it doesn’t matter. They’ll find a new, less crazy Trump.
So the real issue now comes down to, can the progressive forces, can there be a mass movement? Can there be a people’s broad front? Can real pressure be asserted on this new Biden administration to get some kind of reforms, some kind of dealing with inequality and most importantly, climate. If that doesn’t happen, then 2024 ain’t looking good.
Right, right. And I also want to ask this. If this doesn’t happen. If there’s no major reform. If no steps are taken in order to improve the situation in general for the poorest, for the most disenfranchised and so on, so forth, then the other question appears: How is the American system, brutal and barbaric as it is, how is it going to contain this, this growing disenfranchising, this growing frustration, growing violence? And when you read about America today, I don’t know, you can take the book, for example, by Chris Hedges. I read it like a month, two months ago, “America: The Farewell Tour.” You read this book and it’s striking how violent American society is or has become.
No, that’s not right. Has always been.
OK. Has always been. All right.
It’s very important. It isn’t hasn’t become. Has always been.
OK. Has always been. That’s fine. I’m just talking about my impressions upon reading the book. Like I’m not an expert in American sociology. So that’s my mistake. But, what I want to say is if this doesn’t happen, you said that some reforms, some basic at least reforms are needed, then how are they going to contain this? Through repression?
I think they contain it through short-term measures. See, the thing is this, the Brookings Institute did a study on how much wealth is in private hands in the United States. Actual assets after liabilities. It’s something like 98 trillion dollars are in private hands. That’s an enormous amount of money that gives a power to United States to create money through the Fed and the Treasury. What did they just came up with a stimulus package of what, it was like three trillion. They’re talking about another two trillion. They can come up with trillions to quell the fires without doing any systemic reform. So that’s what they do.
They have a combination of policing. But more importantly — and this is part of the difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party — the Republicans lean more towards more repression. But they’re not against stimulus when they have to. And the Democrats would lean more towards stimulus. Not no repression, by any means, but a little less reliance on repression.
So what the most likelihood, especially now that Democrats control the Senate, more or less. I say more or less because some of the Democratic senators are as right wing as some of the Republicans, but they will come in with some big stimulus package. Two trillion. Three trillion. People will start getting probably 600 bucks a week again. They’ll ride out the Covid problem.
And in some way or another, it’s almost going to be like a lever. If they start seeing social unrest rising, they’ll throw more money at it. They have the capacity to throw a lot of money at the domestic situation if they think it’s getting too radicalized.
OK. OK. I get this. But by just throwing money at the problem, you don’t normally solve it, or at least don’t solve it in a longer perspective. What I’m trying to say is that my impression is from the news and the opinions that I read about the state of the American society that there is not only poverty and inequality, but there’s this bleeding wound like everybody’s so frustrated, so aggressive, so, well, violent. OK?
Nothing new. It’s been that way since the American Civil War.
It’s the same anger that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980. There’s nothing new here except, this is the new: Globalization has weakened and to some extent impoverished, lowered the standard of living of sections of the working class. That’s the thing that’s new. American workers are weaker and poorer than they used to be. But so far, the radicalization that’s taking place is more on the right than it is on the left. And I don’t know if that starts to change or not, because that’s the key to the whole thing.
But, you’ve got to ask the question: Is global capitalism sustainable? Well, maybe not in the long run, but boy it ain’t going away tomorrow. And global capitalism depends on American capitalism. You know, all this talk about losing faith in the U.S. dollar, except every time there’s a crisis, what does everyone of the world do? They buy U.S. dollars. China has how many trillion U.S. dollars? Global capitalism cannot afford to have such an American decline. The entire global military-industrial complex, including, may I add, the military-industrial complex of Russia and China, need the American military-industrial complex that helped fuel militarization. And the Russian military-industrial complex isn’t going to be able to get their cut of the budget if the Americans aren’t big.
I think it’s five of the 15 largest manufacturers of arms in the world now are Chinese. There’s so much money being made out of arms manufacture, like global capitalism can’t let American capitalism fall. And I got to tell you, I don’t think it’s anywhere near falling anyway. And these wounds people talk about, you know Gore Vidal had this phrase called the United States of Amnesia. There’s nothing new. It’s just more we’re in a very intense period right now.
But these wounds, honestly it all comes back down to the economics of the situation. If there is a return in any way to the measures of austerity in the United States while this pandemic-slash-depression continues, then watch out. And the problem is, I don’t know if the “watch out” is going to be on the right or the left or both. But some kind of spontaneous rise in a real mass movement I think will come. But as I say, they’ve got a lot of money to throw at this. So we’ll see.
Right. Right. And so the very last question here, because you mentioned the question of the left and whether some popular populist left-wing movement is possible. I mean, he tries in the foreseeable future then, OK, I think this prediction that you made sounds very rational in a way that, of course, like sooner or later, it might just happen because of the popularity of austerity measures and the kind of the repression that they could use against the people and that there could be urban unrest, that there could be social unrest, that there could be some perhaps movement. But then do you see any factors on the American left, and I’m not talking about the Democratic Party. I’m talking about left left, social democratic at least, or socialist communist, whatever.
Are there any serious, viable factors that are prepared to intervene in a situation like this where a spontaneous movement of protest against the barbarity of American capitalism starts? Is this what you hope?
Well, not my hope.
What I mean by that is protest is not enough.
Oh, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. That’s why I’m asking about like a political formation.
Right now, in my opinion, the only game in town that has clout at the national level is the progressives that have gotten elected at the Democratic Party, whether it’s a Bernie Sanders, or AOC, The Squad, those types, because they have a platform. I can’t say they have power. Although in the new House of Representatives, because the Democrats have a narrower majority, the progressive group has a little more strength than they might have otherwise.
Outside the Democratic Party, there’s lots of groups and formations. The Democratic Socialists of America is one of the larger ones. But it’s quite amorphous. From what I understand, and I’m not an expert in this, but from what I get, on a state level, city level, really, not even regional, maybe a little bit, you have lots of organizing taking place. You have groups that at city levels can mobilize some people. You can get people elected in New York State. They’ve elected a lot of progressives to the New York State Assembly. But unfortunately, the majority, I don’t know if it’s a majority, but almost a majority of state legislatures, are still Republican.
Anyway, the answer is there’s a crying need for a really organized national body that can help develop a broad front of people, organizations that fight for democracy, for action on climate, for against fascistization. But it’s still very disparate. You can get people together, groups and stuff for a big protest some day, like even a million people maybe show up against the Iraq war. Right after Trump’s presidency, there were some big, big protests, but they’re not sustained.
And there’s division between activists electorally and activists that don’t see electoral politics as very viable. I would like to say one thing, because a lot of the discussion, argument is going on right now. I don’t think the Democratic Party is the enemy any more than I think the Republican Party is the enemy? Any more than I actually think Trump is the enemy or Biden is the enemy. But you get a lot of politics framed that way.
If you want an enemy, the enemy is a system of ownership that concentrates so much wealth and power in so few hands. That’s the enemy. And the political parties that front for them are part of the problem. But the more you can infiltrate them, particularly the Democratic Party, because it’s more possible right now, the more you can get some kind of progressive clout in there, because at the national level a third party just can’t get traction. It’s just structural. There is possibilities for third parties at state levels and certainly at city levels. At the national level, it’s practically impossible.
But my opinion is we need a broad, broad front that can support any candidate it deems worthy.
They run its own candidates at certain times. But to do that, we— I’m a dual citizen, so I can say we Canada and we United States — we need to overcome sectarianism and the competition on the left.
You know, there’s got to be a way to disagree about tactics without calling each other names, without saying, oh, you’re a sellout because you don’t agree with such and such tactics.
That’s right, that’s right. I totally, totally agree with you.
Some people are calling AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of The Squad, they’re calling them sellouts. You can disagree on a tactic in Congress without being a sellout when you’re in Congress dealing with the real need of how to operate in that environment.
Honestly, I don’t know what the right tactic is. I’ve never had to do it. But I also have no problem with people advocating a certain tactic. Maybe they’re right. But stop the name calling. Stop demeaning them and making yourself out to be the most revolutionary person on the planet.
You can’t build unity that way. And I’m not saying unity at any price. Yeah, of course you’re not going to have unity with people who don’t want to have effective climate policy. Let me take that back. On certain issues, you might, because you might find that if this next administration wants to start something aggressive, I don’t know, with Iran or something else, it looks like they’re going to be rational on Iran, you could find on a specific issue of war and peace, libertarians who don’t even believe humans cause climate change. You might be able to get together with them on a specific thing of opposing war or something.
On a solution. Right? Not necessarily on the problem, but on a solution.
Yeah, but generally speaking, I’m not saying unity at any price. There are going to be arguments about what’s the right way to go on this and that. But if we can’t figure out how to develop unity and stop the name calling, then we’re doomed.
Yeah, you’re totally right, and this is a topic for an entire conversation or a series of conversations about the kind of, let’s say, political culture problem that we have on the left and obviously is present in America, because I kind of recognize pretty much every symptom that you described. It’s also part of my observations here in Eastern, Western Europe, and so on and so forth.
Anyway, thanks a lot for this very exhaustive conversation, all the information and all your comments. I think it was really fantastic. And I see many, many comments. OK, we’re not able to tackle them. I’m talking about the social media, our social media appearance. And Maria, back to you.
Well, thank you very much. I also want to do a quick answer to those who said that this is going to be owned by the state and then it’s going to turn into some sort of authoritarian channel. But I think it should be owned by the public. And we have here in Romania the specific tax that was designed to finance the public media channel, the Romanian national television. So we have that. Then the government changed the way it’s financed, so we have pretty good ways of doing that. Like the BBC is publicly owned. So it’s not like we are reinventing the wheel. Here is something that is pretty common and pretty successful. And apart from that, of course, a lot of calls. We are not able to take them.
Now, if Paul has something to say, maybe he wanted to say something that was important and we did not ask that specific question. If you have something to add.
That’s very dangerous. I always said you’re going to want to shut me up.
Just quickly on the last thing you said. This is going to be the great challenge of humans. If we ever get to take up this challenge, how do you have public ownership and democratization? Because concentration of ownership in a few hands, as you know well in Eastern Europe, even better than we do, can be also just as dangerous if the public, if the state ownership is concentrated in a tiny handful of hands. A single party concentration of political power, yeah, public ownership can be dangerous.
So we need public ownership with real democratization. And if I have anything to add, it’s this: Artificial Intelligence can either be the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity, which will include the means for democratization, because you can have participation electronically and otherwise in ways unheard of before. Or, A.I. is going to wind up being the most dangerous thing that ever happened to humanity, which includes the elimination of millions and millions of jobs. And some very credible scientists even think someday A.I. doesn’t need humans anymore, although my mind’s always been that if the elites are the ones that develop A.I. and get rid of workers, I’m rooting for the robots.
OK. Thank you so much. Thank you both of you for your comments and the information and analysis that you provided. I am sorry that the Internet connection was not so good all the time. These things happen. So I have to apologize to you and to our viewers, and I hope to see you on our show again, Paul. Thank you very much for being here with us tonight.
I’ll be happy to anytime.
OK. Thank you. Bye.