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The Whole Country is the Reichstag

Adolph Reed says, “The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective— taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible.” Reed joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.


TRANSCRIPT

Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news. In a few seconds, I’ll be back with Adolph Reed to talk about his new article; The entire United States is now the Reichstag Building. Please don’t forget the donate button, because we can’t do this if you don’t do that. If you’re watching on YouTube, please subscribe. Most importantly, come to the website, get on our email list. We’ll be back in a few seconds.

In a recent article titled The Entire United States Is Now the Reichstag Building Adolph Reed writes:

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It’s time to be blunt. The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible. And they’re more than ready, even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country to do so.  

They smell blood in the water. They have a strong majority on the Supreme Court and a majority in the federal judiciary overall. Republicans imagine that with the aid of the aggressive campaign of disfranchisement they’re pursuing in forty-three states, they’ll take control of one or both houses of Congress next year.

Paul Jay

Further down, Adolph writes:

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 It is not far-fetched to worry that 2022 or 2024 could mark the end of the proceduralist democracy to which we’ve been accustomed.

Paul Jay

He concludes with this:

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A crucial characteristic of the current situation is that the antagonism between the pragmatic and the visionary that liberals have often used as a cudgel against left aspirations and programs—the ubiquitous “now is not the time” or “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” —is passé. The way forward, both to avert the most dangerous possibilities and begin working seriously to change the terms of political debate, is to push for and propagate a public good framework for government.  

Paul Jay

Now joining us is Adolph Reed. He’s a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s taught at Dale, Northwestern, and the New School for Social Research. He is considered by many to be a leading voice of progressive and socialist thought in the United States. Thanks for joining me, Adolph.

Adolph Reed 

Oh, It’s my pleasure, man. Always good to hang out.

Paul Jay

Thank you. Start with the title. What did you mean by the whole country is a Reichstag moment? Also, keep in mind that a lot of our viewers are younger and may not know what you mean by a Reichstag moment.

Adolph Reed 

Well, I think it would be good for them to find out. What I mean by that is after the Nazis had an effect and had come to power in Germany, there was a suspicious fire set in the Reichstag building, which is the Parliament. The Nazis used this as an excuse to clamp down, to impose Martial law, to crush the Left and the trade unions. It really enacted a dictatorship.

After watching Trumpism and the emergence of [Donald] Trump, I’ve said to somebody, not that long ago. I think it’s a mistake to center too much on Trump himself. Trump is, I think, more like a cross between the lonesome road’s character, from the 1950s film A Face in the Crowd. Maybe even Lee Harvey Oswalds because he is the frontman around whom these very dangerous factions and the tendencies in the Right that have been there for all of our lives are congeal. People sort of call that early. The less whacked-out Republican candidates in 2016 tried to do everything they could to suppress him, and then they figured out how to make it work for them.

These tendencies, which I discussed in the article, have been around since the ’40s at least. Ultra the reactionary, often the American equivalent of the Uyghur class in Germany. They’ve never been committed to popular democracy of any sort. They’re happiest with a dictatorship, which is near, by way of a principal condition for the realization of the neoliberal understanding of utopia anyway. To give a Democratic government.

With [Ronald] Reagan, they congealed around [Barry] Goldwater and his candidacy for the presidency in the mid-’60s. Reagan came to power partly on the strength of that political base and helped to bring them in a little closer to the mainstream from the fringes of American political life. [George W.] Bush brought them in a little closer, and Trump has given bent to them.

So, it’s not so much people and extremists congealing around Trump as it is that what we’re up against is, in fact, a pretty well organized and more or less cleverly if dangerously orchestrated political movement. It’s an explicitly anti-Democratic one, and that’s what we need to face up to. I think it’s a lot.

If, as I’ve argued in that piece and elsewhere. I’m certainly not alone in making this argument either, that neoliberalism has come to a point where it’s pretty much exhausted its capacity to deliver enough stuff to enough of the population to sustain its legitimacy as a Democratic order. I apologize for the functionless summary.

There are only two ways forward, and it’s like we’re at a T-intersection. You either go right to authoritarianism or Left, which is something, that approaches like a social Democratic orientation to government. This was the kind of spirit of one of the quotes that you write about, how the Liberal and the Left agendas at this moment converge. Not so much around defending Bidenist half measures, but understanding that if we can’t keep the Democrats in power in 2022 or, for that matter, 2024. But, you know, four comes after two last time I looked. Then we are seriously facing a danger of an explicit or de facto putsch.

As I sent an email to some friends a few days ago— and I’ll shut up after this. When you look around the world and see the emergence of authoritarian capitalist regimes in Hungary, India, Ukraine, and also [Jair] Bolsonaro like in Brazil— I would toss in Boris Johnson that kind of feeds the idea that neoliberalism is in trouble as a Democratic order. Especially if you include the rise of what is summarized as nationalist, or even less appropriately, right-wing populist movement. The tendencies around Europe and the rest of the world. That shows that there’s a problem or suggests strongly that there’s a systemic problem here. People like Adam Tooze and others were right about it.

If we look at the recent history and forms of U.S. intervention in places like Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the prospect of a de facto constitutional coup where the courts undermine Democratic institutions. Then look at the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court now. My quip was that if a constitutional coup is good enough for the U.S. to deploy in Latin America, it’s good enough for the ruling class to deploy here.

Paul Jay

Well, haven’t they already deployed it in Bush versus [Al] Gore? The Florida vote that, essentially, was a constitutional coup.

Adolph Reed 

That’s right. Yes, it certainly was. So the framework has been established already.

Paul Jay

As you point out in your article, to a large extent, legitimized by much of the leadership of the Democratic Party by Gore not fighting Bush over what happened in Florida, really out of class solidarity. I don’t know what else you can explain it with.

Adolph Reed 

Well, I think that’s absolutely right. By the way, I just noticed in a New York Times article a couple of days ago that [Chuck] Schumer was largely responsible for encouraging Kyrsten Sinema to run for the Senate because she was a conservative Democrat.

Paul Jay

Well, I mean, they would argue because that’s the only kind of Democrat that could get elected. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what they would argue, but I don’t know if they expect her to be that conservative.

Adolph Reed 

I don’t know.

Paul Jay

Well, listen, let’s go back to your use of the Reichstag fire because you’re not the only one that used that. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, [Mark] Milley, in the lead up to the events of January 6th. I think there’s been far too much focus on what happened on January 6th. The real issue is what happened before January 6th.

Adolph Reed 

Absolutely.

Paul Jay

The Financial Times called on January 4th. They had an editorial saying a coups in progress, which not many people paid attention to at the time. Now, assuming these quotes from Milley are correct that are in Bob Woodward’s book and others. He said this is a Reichstag moment. Apparently, the head of the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] said there’s a right-wing coup in progress. I think that points to something very interesting. Which is that there is a split in the ruling class, certainly about the idea of a Trumpian coup. I certainly agree with you. I’ve been using the phrase Trump is the buffoon tip of a fascist spear. There’s a real serious fascist movement there.

Adolph Reed 

That’s right.

Paul Jay

But maybe that’s what [Adolf] Hitler was too?

Adolph Reed 

Well, you may know that [Paul von] Hindenburg always referred to him as a little Bavarian Corporal and Von Papen, and all the rest of those guys thought he was a buffoon, right? Until he wasn’t.

Paul Jay

Well, the Americans have been doing this abroad. They create people like- what was his name? [Manuel Antonio] Noriega in Panama. They create these little monsters. Then they start to believe that they’re chosen by God, and then they get out of their control. Now they created one inside the United States.

Adolph Reed 

Well, yeah, that’s right. Chickens do have the tendency to come home to roost. I admit I can’t help. Any person on the Left who’s lived through Vietnam, Chile, and on and on, I think it would be tough for anyone with that experience not to have at least a moment of schadenfreude about what’s going on here because it is a matter of what we’ve done elsewhere coming home to us.

Even the Russian interference in the 2016 election. What was kind of striking to me is the self-righteousness with which Liberals complain about having the chickens come home to roost. So it’s almost like, no, that’s good enough for us to do to them, but not to ourselves. But that’s not a healthy emotion either, especially when we know exactly what we’re facing. 

Paul Jay

Let me just say I’m still not entirely sure what the Russians actually did. We have to rely on American intelligence agencies for so much of that. My instincts are certainly not to rely on those agencies. I just want to say again. What I keep saying every time this topic comes up. If the Russians are guilty of everything U.S. intelligence agencies accuse them of, and I’ll say again, I don’t know whether they are or they’re not. It’s so minor. If you’re talking about the Russians undermining American democracy, it doesn’t come close to what the American oligarchy has done to undermine American democracy.

Adolph Reed 

Well, that’s quite true.

Paul Jay

As you point out in the article, so much of this Trumpian alliance, the conditions and the soil for it, were seeded by the corporate Democrats.

Adolph Reed 

Yeah. Absolutely. I’d go so far as to say that [Barack] Obama was kind of the warm-up back for Trump. Pretty much the same way that Jimmy Carter was the warm-up back for Ronald Reagan. So here we are. It’s always the same, right.

In fact, I just saw a Times article a couple of days ago on how Midwestern working-class voters are the people who were most hurt by Democrat’s trade and disinvestment policy. What do you think is going to happen? I mean, the vicious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic expression the frustration has taken to some extent is organic. It’s organic partly because this has been a dominant friend in American political discourse for a half-century. Democrats haven’t offered them anything.

I mean, I go back to this point all the time that Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia, who I think has the best data on who voted how in 2016. He identified between six and a half and nine million people who voted for Trump, who had previously voted for Bernie Sanders and Obama at least once. So that tells you that there’s got to be something else going on there, besides backward aggrieved white men who couldn’t abide the idea of a black person in the White House.

Paul Jay

Now there are some people on the Left, and the Left is a pretty broad term. What’s Left? They argue that this sort of focusing on the fascist threat and Trump is exaggerating the danger of Trump and taking the heat off the corporate Democrats. They sort of see that there’s not really that much difference between them. If anything, they spend more time savaging the corporate Dems than they do going after— and they can even see certain elements, whether it’s Tucker Carlson or others, as sort of allies in this fight.

Adolph Reed 

Oh, yeah. I know. I mentioned this to somebody not that long ago, that there was a sliver within a corner of the Internet Left for some time, that was kind of enthusiastic about my arguments, which [inaudible 00:18:01] paid attention to this. Who at the same time took this line to the extent of arguing that the nationalist Right and the authentic Left or the post-left, I think some of them are calling themselves now, are the natural allies against the corporate Dems and Liberals.

Some of these people even have referred to themselves, ironically as Strasserites, in honour of Gregor Strasser, who was the left-wing of National Socialism. I said to somebody, so I guess they didn’t watch that movie until the end because it plays out in a way that’s not too good for our side of things. The people generally who take that view, I think I’d have to say. I think you need to get out more and get off the Internet and pay attention to what’s going on politically.

In one state after another, where the Republicans are in power, they’ve been moving systematically to disenfranchise voters on a mass scale to reject federal authority. To punish municipalities that try to impose federal law over your state governments attempt to dismiss federal law. They’re doing this strategically and self consciously. This is partly what the abortion cases are all about. The redistricting, by creating more and more of the Republican safe seats. Control of State legislation, for instance, in Florida now, the clown who is Governor there, is criminalizing adherence to federal mask mandates. So there’s something serious that’s going on out there.

Paul Jay

Actually, there’s another piece, which has come to my attention recently. Maybe other people have seen this, but apparently, there is a constitutional argument that’s being advanced with a great deal of seriousness that the final choice of the electoral college votes is up to and can be solely up to the state legislatures. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the popular vote is. If they have any excuse at all, like if it’s a close election at all, apparently there’s an argument that even the Governor. In some of these States, you have a Democratic governor with a Republican-controlled State Assembly that they can even— the Governor can’t veto this. The state assembly could actually just give the electoral votes to the Republican presidential candidate and simply disregard the popular vote.

Adolph Reed 

Right and Paul, I mean. You add all that up, and to me, it just says that the other argument, the argument that the corporate Dems are the main danger, is fundamentally a dilettantish argument. It doesn’t take account, or maybe it’s more like a religious argument. The people are so accustomed to wanting to demonize the corporate Dems that they become the devil in this narrative. It just seems to me it’s very difficult or should be very difficult to hold on to that view if you watch what the Republicans are actually doing both at the national level and at the State level. The way that they’ve been stoking anti-government sentiment through the course of the pandemic is telling in that regard. The idea that my right, which I allocate to myself, just seems to me to be such a Protestant way of thinking about the world. But my right, which I allocate to myself to carry an AR-15 into a daycare center, trumps, no pun intended, concern with public safety. Or that my right not to wear a mask or vaccinated trump’s public health concerns. It’s crazy, right? It’s something like a moral panic. It’s not really about— and the Right again has been very clever in doing this. When you start to peel away the nature of the objections more often than not, my sense is that it’s not really about vaccines anyway or mask mandates. It’s about discrediting the government and then demonizing the government.

Even going back to the stolen election narrative, I think a deep structure to that argument is that no real American would have voted Biden. And only real Americans should be permitted to vote. So the only way that Biden could have been elected is by the contrivance of the Democrats to collude with people who are not real Americans. It doesn’t matter whether they’re illegal aliens, or they’re blacks, or they’re gay, or they’re Liberals. It’s a condensation symbol that can call up any one of those at the proper moment. You have to justify the argument that even though there’s absolutely no empirical evidence of voter fraud, the very fact that all these people who shouldn’t be permitted to vote voted is itself in the effect of an expression of fraud.

Paul Jay

There’s a lot in common between the Trumpian base and the Hitlerite base in the sense that the 1920s, as you know, in Germany, was extremely, what’s the word, sexually permissive. The culture and art were libertarian in the sense that the Nazis could declare it as moral decay or moral degeneracy. That was part of the weakening and decline of the great German nation. I think it gets underestimated here how much of the Trumpian base fervently believe in religious values. The majority of which is Christian nationalism. Christian denominationalism, a very extreme and right-wing form of Christianity, and it’s also right-wing Catholic in terms of whether it’s Opus Dei or just a form of this very far-right of the Catholic Church. That’s why abortion still becomes a symbolic issue.

Liberalism, in general, is seen as a force of decay and weakening. Like you want to make America great again, you have to destroy liberalism in the culture, and it’s okay to have authoritarianism if that’s what it takes to accomplish that.

I interviewed this guy recently, Mikey Weinstein, and he works with this thing called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They fight against evangelical and far-right Catholic proselytizing and recruitment within the military. He’s estimating that as much as a third of the military could already be organized Christian nationalists and that it goes up to the very highest levels. The real secret of why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was so concerned, why they really thought a coup of some real threat was in progress. They don’t want to say this openly, and I’m not sure why. But it’s because of the extent to which this Christian nationalism has such strength within the military, and they might have been able to involve them in the January 6th events. Now it failed. But there’s a real force there.

Adolph Reed 

Oh, no, Paul. I agree completely. I said this about January 6th for a while. On one level, it’s like a Buster Keaton version of the Beer Hall putsch in 1923. Trump was tossing the dice and hoping that somebody would convoke this up to a third of the military. We know they’ve got the Air Force, and the Air Force high command has been saturated with Christian nationalist fascists for some time and coming from the Air Force Academy. Yeah, that’s real.

I think it’s also important to stress that it’s not a genetic condition. I’m reminded that my good late friend Anthony Mazzocchi pointed out 30 years ago that neoliberalism can’t hold. More and more people are going to find themselves driven to the wall. If we as Left Progressives, working-class activists, or whatever we are, can’t find ways to get to people with convincing accounts of what’s responsible for their fears, anxieties, and suggestions about ways to move forward or to overcome them, then much more dangerous and reactionary forces will do it.

They have the virtue of having internally consistent, seeming narratives, which is what the scape-building stuff does. What we’re living with now is the fact that the Right has been able to penetrate those populations much more effectively than the Left has because the Liberals never have anything to offer them except bubble gum and hard times. They are always fresh out of bubble gum. So, what they do is hector people about the need to give up something for Blacks, Native Americans, or for immigrants. When you go out into depressed areas of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and whatever, and then try to tell people they have something they have to give up. That’s like holding a recruiting meeting for the Klan and the white nationalist.

It’s time for us as the Left to face up to that. I’ve been ranting on this theme for as long as we’ve known each other and a lot longer. This is what we’re reaping now. It is the product of a generation or more of what the Liberals have sewn for us. They’ve been offering us sort of partial, in effect, means-tested approaches to social policy that define some people as beneficiaries and to define everybody else out. That also feeds a kind of resentment. 

Paul Jay

I think this is so important what you’re saying because if you looked at so much of the messaging from the left, it’s really directed at the Liberal elites. You guys should feel guilty. Do something for Blacks. Do something for Latinos. Worry about what’s going on at the border. Yes, okay, fine. There’s a role for that kind of advocacy to try to pressure the elites. But that’s not the message to the white working class, because like anyone else, their first reaction is going to be what’s in it for me. If you’re struggling to survive every day, you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to be worrying about everybody else.

Adolph Reed 

No. I mean, look, it’s not even a very effective massage with the Black working-class or the Hispanic working-class. I was talking to my son about that this morning. I think it may be time for us to take the next step in this chain of argument, which is to consider the possibility that these identitarian political tendencies, discourses, and formations at this point are ultimately active agencies of the ruling class. 

It’s striking that Jeff Bezos gives Van Jones $100 million to give away but still, it’s $100 million. We know that one thing that Jeff Bezos isn’t is friendly to working-class politics. Not even for his own workers.

When you look at the recently announced winners of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, at least three of them: Ibram Kendi, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and a third one that I’m blanking on now, are avatars or exponents of this kind of race reductionist politics as a progressive. So what does that do for us?

It does nothing for us with respect to trying the struggle to make life better for working people and less precarious for working people of whatever colour or gender. It does something to further reinforce the fundamentally bourgeois understanding of social justice as being all about radical equality of opportunity because that’s what the anti disparity politics is all about. That the effective metric of social justice is what one of the black power preachers said back in the ’60s, that blacks should at every level of the population, from corporate CEOs and board members to custodians. Be represented in proportion and roughly equivalent to their share of the overall population at every point.

As you know, Walter Benn Michaels and I’ve been arguing for a long, long time now, that’s a standard of justice that means society could be just if 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources. So long as 12% of that 1% were Black, 14% were Hispanic, half women and whatever. That’s in a political philosophy class or an ethics class. That’s a notion of a just society that’s defensible and as defensible as any other. But to the extent that we’re political actors, is that the model justice that we want to die to realize? I say no. I think it’s time for us, whatever considers itself to be on the Left, a progressive movement, or whatever. To draw that line in the dirt. To get people to be clear about what they stand for and what they want.

I mean, I just saw, but I forgot what it was now that there are so many of them that come around. I just saw a few days ago another celebration of some black first, another first black female CEO of whatever. My only response to that could be, who cares? I mean, who cares except people who are likely to benefit directly from breaking down these barriers. It’s time that we need to have a political discourse that focuses directly on the concerns of new working people.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to make a plug now. The Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute is preparing to start a podcast sometime in the next month or month and a half. They are calling that Class Matters. The tagline that accompanies it is what would the country look like if it were governed by and for the working class, who are the vast majority of people who live in a society? We connected with Trade Union leaders. This is going to be what our podcast is all about. It’s time for us to have that discussion and not just to have it like in coffee shops in Brooklyn. It’s a time for us to try to encourage this discussion off the Internet, in friendships, families, workplaces, and personal networks. We got to get out and do the same kind of organizing that the Right was able to do after—

Paul Jay

You can’t do that without a real vision of what the society could be short term, midterm, and long term. The whole conversation has to take place.

Adolph Reed 

Absolutely. Man, you’re absolutely correct. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing since we began with the Labor Party advocates at the beginning of the 1990s. That’s been the animating question.

Paul Jay

I go back— so much of the conversation about what the society could look like has, simply, focused on Medicare for all and barely goes beyond that. I’m a dual citizen, I live in the U.S., Canada, and I go back and forth. Well, in Canada, we have Medicare for all, more or less, and one in five kids in Toronto live in poverty. So it’s not the panacea. The conversations got to go beyond that.

Adolph Reed 

Well, no, I think that’s right. That’s why I think now is a good time for us to take stock of exactly that question because of Biden’s presidency. First of all, it means that in practical terms, the struggle for Medicare for all is off the table. Nothing’s going to happen by the Biden administration. That does leave us much broader space around the infrastructure stuff or many other issues. You have to try to push debate about the need for a public-good approach to public policy.

Paul Jay

But some people are going to say your focus on getting past 2022 to create the space for organizing is, quote, once again, tie the Left down to electing whatever Democrat there is, and things don’t change. What do you say to them?

Adolph Reed 

Well, yeah, but I do have a response, as you might imagine. I have a couple. Well, one of them is, we aren’t going to win anything worth having by 2022 or by 2024, no matter what. It’s important to note Sam Gindin, my friend observed in a conversation two weeks ago, that we also need to face up to the fact that the Left or our version of it anyway is in no position to drive the current debates. So, what can we do?

The most that we can do, for instance, is around the infrastructure stuff. If Brian Deese and the other Wall Street Keynesians have come to a sense that public policy, especially economic policy, has to do something beyond what I’m stimulating, economic growth. To take the pressure off of the working people, and that’s fine. So, we can try to be part of that conversation or on the edge of the conversation but with respect to infrastructure spending, in particular, where even the Wall Street tangents seem to be leaning, is that the point is as Deese put it once that the point is that public spending should help to bring private capital to investment opportunities.

What our view should be is that no. Public spending on infrastructure needs to expand and reinvigorate the public sector, keeping the post office going through campaigns, which is now linked to Deb-Jones Douglass, who threw the campaign for postal banking. That expands the social uses of the post office. It also goes after these payday loan places and these check-cashing joints that gouge people in the working-class communities. So, I don’t think that we can— that we have the collective power. Although, I never felt better about the Progressive Caucus in the House than I have in the past couple of weeks. 

We may not have the collective power to force them to do what we want or want them to do, but we do have the collective power to use debate in public, around these different ways forward, to help us organize and to organize among their own base. The point is that whether- if the Democrats don’t hold Congress in 2022, and— look, I’ve been fighting against the Liberal Democrats practically all my life, but if they don’t hold power in 2022, something much, much worse is going to happen, and we’re going to be in much worse shape as a Left. Even more important than what it’s going to mean for the 25 of us is that working people are going to be screwed. Screwed, in a way that it may well take generations, to get out of.

Paul Jay

Well, let me just add.

Adolph Reed 

Yeah. 

Paul Jay

I don’t think that’s the worst of what’s going to happen because the working class is going to get screwed, whether the corporate Dems win or don’t win. They will get screwed worse, but I don’t think that’s the big danger. The big danger is climate crisis. There is practically no time left to deal with decarbonization— a real legitimate climate strategy. I think the Biden strategies, very half-baked. It relies on carbon capture, which is completely unproven, but at least there’s a conversation there.

If in 2022, never mind 2024, climate deniers are in the majority in Congress. Other than the odd state legislature, maybe in California, New York, and a few other places but in terms of a national policy, we are all, I need to use a word stronger than screwed. We are all fucked because maybe we’re already out of, well, we’re certainly out of time in terms of not reaching 1.5°. We are going to hit 1.5°, and in all likelihood, we’re going to hit 2°. That is of such crisis proportions because once you hit 2°, it’s almost an unstoppable process. That means you’re on the way to 3° and 4°, which means most of the globe, certainly more than half of the Earth, becomes uninhabitable. Imagine what the politics of authoritarianism under those conditions are because— forget any even semblance of formal democracy when that happens.

Adolph Reed 

Well, no. I think that’s absolutely right, Paul. Also, sometimes the marvel, the hubris of really rich people. Actually, the first time I had this thought was when Bush, [Condoleezza] Condi Rice, Cheney, [Donald] Rumsfield, and the rest of them literally demonstrated in the summer of 2001 that none of them could identify countries on a map of the Middle East unless they were marked. Then like six months later, they’ve got the hubris to think that they can redesign the political map. I guess, the region. The idea that was kind of crystallizing in my head was that it was the combination of supreme arrogance that seems like it’s only possible twinned with supreme ignorance and vice versa.

I’ve noticed that— so, rich people like to think that they can always find a way to protect themselves and to buy themselves out of it, like these clowns going into space or— I was quite taken in by Barbara Ehrenreich’s book. I think it’s called Natural Causes, but it’s about people like Elon Musk and a bunch of these other billionaires who have devoted themselves to beating death. They want to live to run marathons until they’re 140. What one of the Russians thinks is that he can beat death completely. I thought, okay, so these are like filthy rich people who command resources and power, but they have the mental and emotional development of a 14-year-old. 

That kind of arrogance, and I guess it percolates down. By the time you get to find these basement-level grifters like Marjorie Taylor Green, [Lauren] Boeburt, Hawthorne, and Krysten Sinema, who just don’t think beyond the day and just can think of the Facebook likes that they’ll turn into wheelbarrows full of money. Who are the decision-makers? It’s a big problem. Obviously, you’re right about the existential crisis and—

Paul Jay

I also think that there’s a significant section of people that voted for Trump because of their direct experience with an extreme climate are coming around to believing there really is a climate crisis. It’s a very important wedge issue that I don’t think the Left is using enough because the Left— to go back to what we were talking about earlier, is so focused on— I don’t like using the term identity politics because it’s too broad. There’s a reason people fight for their identity. It’s not all bad. It has to be done as part of a broad movement for bigger objectives. That’s the problem. Everybody that’s doing anything has to also be doing climate. If you’re not, you’re missing the boat.

Adolph Reed 

Yeah. Well, look, I think it all comes back to working-class politics, too, because of fracking. The other side— so you drive across Pennsylvania. Once you get about 15 miles west of Harrisburg, you’ll see the billboards that the environmentalists, the hippies, the Liberals, they’re trying to take your job away. We’ve got to be able to for the steelworkers, for instance, workout. They represent a lot of those people, and we need to be able to engage with the steelworkers’ locals. Leadership and other members need to start having a conversation about this.

Paul Jay

Well, this is what infuriates me, other than foreign policy and issues of China, which you can talk about another time. This is what infuriates me most about the Biden administration, which is there’s a proposal out there. The progressive economist Bob Pollin has actually costed this out. You could subsidize every fossil fuel worker in the United States for three years. For $2 billion, you could give them their current pay or make a differential subsidy between whatever they wound up doing otherwise. So take that out. Six years. One Ford-class aircraft carrier, which is now up around $14 to $16 billion. It’s so obvious that’s what the Biden administration should do.

It also would help them electorally in States that are dependent on fossil fuels, which most of the Republicans support. They don’t do it because to do it would be to actually be serious about phasing out fossil fuel. Biden wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants to be able to deal with the climate crisis without having a war with the fossil fuel companies.

Adolph Reed 

Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right about that too. Bob Pollin has also done really great work on the cost of just transition in healthcare, too, like Medicare for all. That’s one of our signal issues within your DJDI, too, because the idea of a just transition came out of the old oil Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, where they felt that the bulk of the workers or the bulk of the work that their members did, was going to be phased out at some point because it’s hazardous. It’s right there in the name of the Union Oil, Chemical Atomic.  

So the leaders of the unit thought they had to have the plan for this, right. We brought that into the Labor Party, and we’ve got it going now. But that’s the way you got to approach this stuff. That means, like with everything else. The first question has to be about any policy intervention or a proposed one.

The first question is, what is this going to mean for the working class? I want to say for the record, too, when I talk about the working class, I mean something much broader than what I think people typically need. I am, and we, by extension, mean about the working class. Is every one of us who is expected to work for a living, or does work for a living, who doesn’t have substantial management or obligations but who is also likely to be no more than six months or a year from destitution without a job? I think that’s something else that we need to do. It is to think more expansively and less in culturalist terms about what the working class is and who makes it up.

I want to add this additional shot that I like to make every time I can against the strains of anti-racist politics that ultimately come from the Ivy League and from the MSNBC, but that have presumed a juxtaposition between something called black people or people of colour and in something called the working class, which in this narrative gets constructed as a racial group. The working class means white people, when Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are disproportionately among the working class or a greater representation among the working class. So, I just want to say that for the record, for anybody who wants to think about it for a couple of seconds.  

Paul Jay

Yeah. I think that’s the thinking of people that have never actually been in the working class, which is completely— people don’t get it. If you haven’t worked in a big factory or something like it, you don’t actually understand. It’s a different culture completely, but that’s another conversation.  

So listen, this is just the beginning of a conversation. Let me know about your podcast. Maybe we can do a joint one on this in visioning because I’m all into this. I have a whole theory about how if there were a progressive government, one of the first things I would do is by controlling interest in BlackRock, and I would either buy or create a competitor to Amazon. I think those would give you levers of power in the economy.  

Adolph Reed 

Absolutely. You’re thinking expansively about this. I got into a conversation with an older friend of mine who was an official in the UE. We were complaining about how hard we’ve been working on a project. I said to him, you know Frank, the only thing that keeps me going is imagining the trials after we win. Frank got a twinkle in his eyes, and he said, ah yes, the trials. The only thing that will be more fun is the roundup.  

Paul Jay

Okay, I would argue against all of that. So maybe we should do that on the next one because I don’t think scaring the elite shitless is a very effective strategy. All right, thanks very much for joining me, Adolph.   

Adolph Reed 

Yeah, thanks a lot, Paul.  

Paul Jay

Paul Jay Thanks very much for joining me, Adolph.

Adolph Reed 

Thanks for having me again. It’s always a blast, brother.

Paul Jay

Thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Again, please don’t forget the donate button. That’d be great if you’d become a monthly subscriber. On YouTube, subscribe to the channel. Get on our email list. And if you’re watching on YouTube, it’s really worthwhile going to the website theAnalysis.news. There’s content there that doesn’t show up on YouTube. Thanks again.  

Adolph Reed 

Take care.  

END

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6 Comments

  1. On the left, I have also heard support for unity in the working class (which makes more sense to me) instead of simply unity of left and right.

  2. The SDP Social Democratic party of Weimar Germany is the equivalent of the current corporate capitalist Neoliberal neocon Imperialist national security state Apparatus Democratic Party of the USA.

    The SDP not only paved the way for Hitler, it midwifed him.

    Read Donny Gluckstein: The Nazis, Socialism and the Working Class.

    Moreover, I question whether Mr. Reed can be considered a trusted source given his predilection to *continue* to spout the disproven Russian meddling propaganda tripe. As opposed to US meddling in Russian elections and everywhere else? Or, say, Saudi and Israeli meddling in the US?

    To oppose a looming Trumpist Coupr requires the Left to promote an aggressive Left agenda that is meaningful to ordinary Americansfrom M4A to $15 to free tuition to stopping the assassination is young Black men by police to putting the Absolute unfettered Right to Vote into the US Constitution.

    Nope, it ain’t there.

  3. “The way forward, both to avert the most dangerous possibilities and begin working seriously to change the terms of political debate, is to push for and propagate a public good framework for government.”

    Thanks Paul, for this episode.
    The points that Dr. Reed made in his Nonsite article, articulates what I was trying to put forth in my Viewer Comment and when you interviewed me.

    This quote from the episode regarding Trump voters hit it on the head.
    “In fact, I just saw a Times article a couple of days ago on how Midwestern working-class voters are the people who were most hurt by Democrat’s trade and disinvestment policy. What do you think is going to happen? I mean, the vicious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic expression the frustration has taken to some extent is organic. It’s organic partly because this has been a dominant friend in American political discourse for a half-century. Democrats haven’t offered them anything.“

    The Democrats haven’t offered us anything.

    I believe that that’s why Wisconsin went for Trump in 2016.

  4. While agreeing with this assessment of the Republican leadership, what neither Paul nor Adolph perceived AT ALL was the intensely fascist program being implement principally by the Democrats! That is these Draconian mandates everywhere that make no scientific sense at all. Vax mandates with who knows what is actually in them (!) are a flagrant and blatant violations of the Nuremberg Code against forced medical procedures.
    Coercion exists on all sides–lose your job, lose travel rights, be ostracized, be “excommunicated” by your medical profession, and in Australia it actually involves police beating people up at random for trivial “violations.” No doubt some here too. Recognize THAT as the fascism it truly is.
    Did you know that as of now some 11,000 medical professionals and other scientists have signed the Physicians Declaration Global Covid Summit? (Look it up, folks), and that was in a matter of days! Let doctors and nurses take care of people using the bedrock medical ethics principles of First, Do NO Harm, and Informed Consent. These principles are being violated wholesale by the Medical Industrial Complex–which include the huge pharmaceuticals, government agencies, administrative personnel of medical institutions in deep state collaboration with the major news media.

  5. Thanks, Paul, I admire the hell out of Adolph Reed and am always glad to hear from him. Now I’ve got a recent article to look forward to as well.
    Say, maybe you can do something about equalizing the sound? You tend to BOOM in and it’s hard on the ears while your guests’ sound is at times much lower.
    Thanks for your work. ~djo

  6. > Adolph Reed says, “The right-wing political alliance anchored by the
    > Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete
    > objective— taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively
    > as possible.” Reed joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news. -Adolph Reed

    I’ve heard Reed before, and Adolph Reed is right … 110% right.

    The country is under imminent threat of extinction, and this has been allowed
    to happen with the slow morphing of our own laws to the point that now they
    have subsumed the actual country out from under a sleeping publics noses.
    Our system legally seems to coincide with fascism now, and it is just a case
    of shocking and awing the public so that they surrender silly ideas of
    socialism and democracy and start scrambling for survival under the Fourth
    Reich.

    That is what happens when society is allowed to stratify based on wealth and
    power. The solution, AND the problem are outside the structure of our system,
    our system is the problem, and those who use it to take over the system are
    the criminals/enemies.

    Quite a pickle we are in … and I do not hear the supposed loyal political opposition
    saying anything at all about what is the real problem.

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