Trump And The Infrastructure Of Fascism

Prof.dr. Gerald Epstein

Infrastructure investment: it’s that economic policy sweet spot that everyone loves to love.

Fixing bridges, building roads, modernizing airports, improving mass transportation, keeping lead out of our water: nearly everyone can relate to the need for it and can imagine how much better their lives would be with more of it.  For years, most people have faced crazy-making delays in traffic, long lines at airports, and have seen pictures of bridges collapsing. And the experts agree. Economists and engineers have warned us about the problem for decades.  The most recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a D+ on its infrastructure building and maintenance, which means that, overall, our infrastructure is in critical condition. These civil engineers estimate that over the next 10 years, the U.S. will have about a $1.2 trillion in infrastructure financing shortfall unless something dramatic is done. Studies have confirmed that, properly done, infrastructure investment can generate millions of jobs, create big time saving efficiencies, and keep people safer. These infrastructure shortfalls, fed by years of Republican austerity initiatives at the Federal and State levels, too often aided and abetted by Democratic bankers and other Democratic “deficit hawks,” are much in the everyday texture of American life.

On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump jumped on the bandwagon, decrying America’s “Third World” infrastructure and touting his ability to fix it in short order—as “demonstrated” by his “building prowess “in New York City and “around the world.” Trump promised to quickly fix the country’s decaying infrastructure and generate millions of good paying job with a $1 trillion program that will “Make America Great Again.”

That Trump had hit a political “sweet spot” was made clear early on by the number of prominent Democrats and labor leaders who announced not only an interest but real enthusiasm for cooperating with Trump on making a $ 1 trillion building-spree a reality. How could they resist? A true, well designed, well-implemented $1 Trillion government investment in infrastructure is a plan many Democrats, progressive economists and labor leaders had been promoting for years. As Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO explained: “During my January meeting with President Trump, we identified a few important areas where compromise seemed possible. On manufacturing, infrastructure and especially trade, we were generally in agreement. Mr. Trump spoke of $1 trillion to rebuild our schools, roads and bridges. He challenged companies to keep jobs in the United States. He promoted ‘Buy America.’ He promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.” Read more

Bookmark and Share

The Gordon Parks Foundation

Gordon Parks ~ Self Portrait, ca.1948

Gordon Parks was one of the seminal figures of twentieth century photography. A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice, he left behind a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture from the early 1940s up until his death in 2006, with a focus on race relations, poverty, civil rights, and urban life. In addition, Parks was also a celebrated composer, author, and filmmaker who interacted with many of the most prominent people of his era – from politicians and artists to celebrities and athletes.

Born into poverty and segregation in Kansas in 1912, Parks was drawn to photography as a young man when he saw images of migrant workers published in a magazine. After buying a camera at a pawnshop, he taught himself how to use it and despite his lack of professional training, he found employment with the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which was then chronicling the nation’s social conditions. Parks quickly developed a style that would make him one of the most celebrated photographers of his age, allowing him to break the color line in professional photography while creating remarkably expressive images that consistently explored the social and economic impact of racism.

Go to: http://www.gordonparksfoundation.org/artist

Bookmark and Share

Great Lakes Of Africa ~ From Problems To Solutions

“People are the problem, People are the solution” the keynote speaker’s concluding words at the first Great Lakes of Africa Conference held in Uganda in May 2017, generated a flurry of nods and agreements. Entebbe hosted over three hundred delegates at the shores of Lake Victoria, to discuss sustainable solutions for the pressing problems of the African Great Lakes. Spanning across 11 countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia), the African Great Lakes region is large and indispensable as it provides livelihoods to millions. It was interesting to see a variety of stakeholders, including government leaders, regional and basin authorities, inter-governmental organizations, development and funding agencies, non-governmental organizations, community groups and the private sector come together to discuss challenges and solutions for this special region. Presentations made by delegates resounded the problems of pollution, over extraction of natural resources, pressure on natural resources, changes in land use and need for further research in many areas. For me, it echoed some of my thoughts on what I have observed in the Lake Chilwa Basin in southern Malawi. Lake Chilwa, although a smaller lake compared to the giants such as Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, is very important for the millions that live in its basin. And indeed, I have also seen in the Lake Chilwa Basin that people are the cause of its problems and certainly, they are the solution too.

Why people are the problem comes to light when one looks at anthropogenic causes of Lake Basin changes. They include watershed deforestation causing sedimentation in lakes, over abstraction of water for irrigation leading to lowered water levels of lakes, poor solid and sewage waste management leading to eutrophication, use of toxic chemical for agriculture in lake basins and competing land uses leading to reduced land for conservation. Several examples were presented including the case of Kenya’s Lake Turkana which is renowned as the world’s largest desert lake. Hydropower development and large-scale irrigation plantations have depleted river inflow into the lake. As a result, the lake level has already fallen two metres, and the local fishing industry has taken a toll. It was chilling to hear at the conference that this lake has been likened to “an African Aral Sea in the making”. Nearby, at Lake Victoria, which employs over 1 million people, over the years, impacts of eutrophication and climate change, are threatening its critical ecosystem services. While, Lake Tanganyika has experienced various ecological changes including lake warming and heavy pressure on various fisheries resources. Lake Malawi is also no exception, where degraded habitats, declining fish stocks and agriculture runoff into the lake all threaten livelihoods of those depending on this lake. Almost all presenters accepted that rapid population growth in the region puts tremendous pressure on the natural resources in the ecosystems. Some called for an integrated approach, where women’s needs especially that of family planning should be considered and population numbers managed. Read more

Bookmark and Share

Is Capitalism In Crisis? Latest Trends Of A System Run Amok

To order the book: see below

Having survived the financial meltdown of 2008, corporate capitalism and the financial masters of the universe have made a triumphant return to their “business as usual” approach: They are now savoring a new era of wealth, even as the rest of the population continues to struggle with income stagnation, job insecurity and unemployment.
This travesty was made possible in large part by the massive US government bailout plan that essentially rescued major banks and financial institutions from bankruptcy with taxpayer money (the total commitment on the part of the government to the bank bailout plan was over $16 trillion). In the meantime, corporate capitalism has continued running recklessly to the precipice with regard to the environment, as profits take precedence not only over people but over the sustainability of the planet itself.
Capitalism has always been a highly irrational socioeconomic system, but the constant drive for accumulation has especially run amok in the age of high finance, privatization and globalization.
Today, the question that should haunt progressive-minded and radical scholars and activists alike is whether capitalism itself is in crisis, given that the latest trends in the system are working perfectly well for global corporations and the rich, producing new levels of wealth and increasing inequality. For insights into the above questions, I interviewed David M. Kotz, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2015).

C.J. Polychroniou: David, corporate capitalism and the masters of the universe have bounced back quite nicely from the global financial crisis of 2008. Is this an indication of the system’s resilience, or do we need to think about larger considerations, such as the trajectory of the class struggle in the contemporary world, the role of ideology and the power of the state?

David M. Kotz: The severe phase of the economic and financial crisis ended in the summer of 2009. By then the banks had been bailed out and the Great Recession ended, as production stopped falling and began to rise in North America and Europe. As you say, since then profits have recovered quite well. However, normal capitalist economic expansion has not resumed, but instead, global capitalism has been stuck in stagnation.

Stagnation means no economic growth or very slow economic growth. Stagnation has afflicted most of the developed countries since 2010, with some countries, such as Greece, still in a severe depression. US GDP growth has averaged only 2.1 percent per year since the bottom of the Great Recession in 2009. That is by far the slowest expansion following a recession since the end of World War II. Even mainstream economists, such as Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman, have recognized that the economy is stuck in a severe stagnation.

In the US, the official unemployment rate has fallen to a low level, but that is due to millions of people being dropped from the official labor force as a result of giving up looking for work after finding none for a long period. Most of the new jobs pay low wages and provide little or no job security. Meanwhile, the rich continue to get still richer.

The long-lasting stagnation has brought stagnating wages and worsening job opportunities. This creates a severe problem for capitalism, even with rising corporate profits and growing wealth for the top 1 percent. This problem has an ideological and a political dimension. While capitalism always brings a high degree of inequality, it is tolerable for those holding the short end of the stick as long as living standards are rising and job opportunities are good for most people. A long period of stagnation delegitimizes the existing system. As growing numbers of people turn against “the system” and the elites who run it, a political crisis develops. The bourgeois democracy that normally acts to stabilize capitalism turns into a source of instability, as anti-establishment parties and candidates start winning elections. Read more

Bookmark and Share

Ahmet Şık’s Defence Statement On The Trial Of Cumhuriyet 24 July 2017

I will start with a quote from the prologue of my book “We walked parallel on these roads”, published in 2014, three years ago. The foreword of this review-research book explaining how the mafia-governing coalition between the AKP and the Gülen community is dispersed begins as follows: “The AKP and Gulen congregation, two forces that turn Turkey into political and social coexistence and continued together with the support of partisans, so-called powerhouse, sewage exploded. The two forces that built the so-called ‘New Turkey’, a Machiavellian understanding that is appropriate to apply any kind of rush to achieve it, AKP and Gulen Congregation split.

Both do not want the democratization of the system and society, they are the foci of power that seeking to conquer the state, they are trying to organize it by making their authority predominant.

These two foci, with an understanding of trying to make the commitment to the authority of the state, which they think they will be the only power to speak in the long run, have accumulated material for destroying each other while fighting common enemies on the other hand.

The closeness of the day that these materials could be used was apparent from the fact that the stench in the drainage was spreading out over for a long period of time. Threats from media columns, underhanded liquidations, occasionally leaked phone calls, and police-judicial operations based on illegality were the signs that they would be targeted at the constituents of the government after common enemies.

When they were convinced that there were no enemies to be destroyed, they were aiming at each other by holding onto the fight that the state’s owner would be. Yes, it was a mess and still it is a mess. Apparently it will be like this for a while. In this battle where ethics and religion are used, the lies that meet the needs of the parties are more prevalent than the truths. So, do not be fooled by the defenses made by them. This war is not for democracy and clean society, nor for peace or civilization as somebody claimed. They just fight for being the owner of the state.

After these lines were published, the war between the AKP and the Gülen congregation worsened. The period of a false history writing process, which started with the Ergenekon investigations in 2007, who took more share on the plundering of the state and the country by the ruling and crime partners, extended to a coup attempt. On 15th July 2016, 250 people were killed in a bloody upheaval.

There is serious doubt that this attempt, which we are forced to believe is the sole responsibility of the Gülen Community, was already known by the government. Despite the fact that over a year has passed and numerous investigations have been launched, suspicions have increased rather than decreased. The July 15 coup d’etat, which is required to remain in the dark with many signs, which led us to believe that the needed ‘Controlled Chaos’ was being yielded, was the most important milestone of the fake historiography that spanned the last 10 years.

The only truth of this fakeness which has been constructed with the words “democratization-civilization” and lies, is the people slaughtered by the coup plotters.

It is worth to ask questions about what is wanted to be left in the dark and saying “Controlled Chaos” to this situation. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is the target of the coup attempt, has spilled the beans by expressing his intention while the country was in the middle of a bloodshed, and said “This coup is a blessing from God to us”. We have seen what ‘blessing’ means and have witnessed it together and are still witnessing it. We pass through the dark and increasingly darker days, where those who voiced the truth, those who objected to the crime order, those who demanded their usurped rights, are the voices being muted and strangled.

Read more: http://www.pen-international.org/ahmet-siks-defence-statement-on-the-trial-of-cumhuriyet-24-july-2017/

 

Bookmark and Share

Zygmunt Bauman: Liquid Modernity Revisited

The Baumann Institute
Founded in 2010 in recognition of the critical sociology of Leeds’s Emeritus Professor Zygmunt Bauman, our work cuts across various disciplines including sociology, social policy, political science, heterodox economics, as well as media and cultural studies.

We aim to be a home for stimulating intellectual debate across the social sciences, arts, and humanities in order to achieve new critical and empirical perspectives on contemporary social, economic and political life.

We are heavily involved in the teaching of sociology on the BA Sociology programme and lead the MA Social and Political Thought programme, which offers the competitive Janina Bauman Prize for our best MA Dissertation each year.

To stay up to date with our latest news, research, and events, please follow us on Twitter, or check the School website for further details.

Go to: http://baumaninstitute.leeds.ac.uk

Bookmark and Share

  • About

    Rozenberg Quarterly aims to be a platform for academics, scientists, journalists, authors and artists, in order to offer background information and scholarly reflections that contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue in a seemingly divided world. By offering this platform, the Quarterly wants to be part of the public debate because we believe mutual understanding and the acceptance of diversity are vital conditions for universal progress. Read more...
  • Support

    Rozenberg Quarterly does not receive subsidies or grants of any kind, which is why your financial support in maintaining, expanding and keeping the site running is always welcome. You may donate any amount you wish and all donations go toward maintaining and expanding this website.

    10 euro donation:

    20 euro donation:

    Or donate any amount you like:

    Or:
    ABN AMRO Bank
    Rozenberg Publishers
    IBAN NL65 ABNA 0566 4783 23
    BIC ABNANL2A
    reference: Rozenberg Quarterly

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please see our About page or contact us: info@rozenbergquarterly.com
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Follow us on Twitter

  • Archives