So the new US government, if it is to deliver to the next generation of working Americans, will need to have the courage to take on ‘Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industrial complex and many profitable corporations who continue to exploit their employees.’ [i] That’s according to Bernie Sanders, who’s been around a fair bit and should know what he’s talking about.
He reckoned they’d be facing the most desperate situation since the austerity driven Great Depression which followed the 1929 Wall St crash. Well, Bernie’s memory isn’t that good! For the record, Roosevelt’s version of those he had to take on – which he referred to as organised money – included ‘business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.’ He said they had ‘begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.’[ii] More recently that section has grown to include, the shadow banking sector, financialised business, supportive strands of academia and the media now led by social media, and a political sector of richly funded think tanks and lobbyists.
Organised money is clearly far more powerful now, than it was in Roosevelt’s day. And it still, as Trump demonstrated only too forcefully, regards government as a mere appendage to its own affairs. And that is not just in the US, but also in the UK and beyond.
But Sanders was surely right suggesting that the new government will have to have the courage to take organised money on, if it is to achieve genuinely sustainable progression.
It doesn’t need to be a head-on confrontation between two directly opposing forces. The one thing that has become apparent from planet earth’s ecological predicament, currently being emphasised by Covid-19, is the real interdependence of all humanity, present and future.
Organised money is not some criminal conspiracy to take over the world and exploit it for their own self-interested purposes. The constituents of organised money are, like most other sections of society, made up of 79%, or thereabouts, of perfectly decent people who wish first of all to survive and prosper, and while doing so, to contribute positively to making the world a better place.
The 79% are likely to regret actions they take which have the opposite effect. A bright young person works hard through school, gets to university and completes, say, a good BSc in quantum physics and electronics. They have the world at their feet. They have been educated to contribute to some future progression. But the system such young graduates are invited to enter, offers far greater rewards if they join the ranks of organised money, rather than seeking to develop and apply their scientific training and knowledge. Moreover, they will be persuaded that the greater reward is a reflection of the greater value they will be contributing to the world. So it is not unreasonable that they become takers of value rather than its creators. Their scientific knowledge and understanding, that could be deployed, as intended, to advance society, is simply thrown away. In short, those young people are corrupted, by the system imposed by organised money. It is the system that does the damage and needs correction, not the individuals who join it in order to make a living and develop as human beings.
That is what Remaking the Real Economy is all about – https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/remaking-the-real-economy – It is the system the new American government will have to take on. The brainless neoliberal economic modelling will have to be replaced by government decision making based on knowledge and understanding of the long term macrosystems within which all humanity exists. And it will need to give full weight to human values on which decisions will in due course surely be judged.
[i] Sanders, B, (2020), ‘How to avoid a second even worse Trump’, The Guardian Opinion, 26th November.
[ii] Roosevelt, F D, (1936), Address at Madison Square Garden, New York, 31st October. Original record held at FDR Presidential library & Museum.