This Is the Way
February 28, 2021 9:26 AM Subscribe
Interview: Saikat Chakrabarti, creator of the Green New Deal - "He also discovered AOC, served as her chief of staff, and co-founded the Justice Democrats."
...I do hope there is a more powerful “democratic industrialist” movement, and that is what I've been working on. This “democratic industrialism” must have some core, non-negotiable values. It should stand for democracy, first and foremost. It should believe in a fair, multi-racial society and strive to create better lives for all in America, regardless of race, gender, or anything else. It should believe in welcoming immigrants to come join us in this great American project--especially because there will be so much work to do. And it should believe in solving problems at a scale where the vast majority of Americans’ lives will be improved, rather than just the lives of a wealthy few. This last part means that our industrialism is combined with investing in social programs. We should use part of the wealth we create by upgrading our economy to build the best universal healthcare system in the world, the best public education system in the world, and end problems like poverty, hunger, and homelessness.Interview: Liam Kofi Bright - "The decorated philosopher offers his philosophy of...well, a lot of things."
Democracy and inclusiveness are important not just on principle but also out of practicality: we live in a democracy, so if we want to see this happen, the people will need to support it. The way to win their support is to pitch them on a plan that benefits everyone.
The same way FDR was one of the few figures in the early 20th century to push back the international wave of fascism, which was the right-wing version of industrialism, we need a “democratic industrialist” movement to do the same today. The right-wing authoritarian wave today is also international. We see it with figures like Bolsanaro in Brazil, Modi in India, and Orbán in Hungary. And it’s not going to go away on its own with just a return to “normal.”
What we see over and over, though, is that the right-wing industrialists are all talk and no action when it comes to actually investing in industry. They win their votes with racism and xenophobia, because that’s easier than rebuilding an economy. Their “industrial policy” tends to just be corruption and giant handouts to the wealthy who don’t use it to build anything new. Trump felt he could get away with just building a wall, and only a few parts of it. He didn’t need to build those factories he promised during his campaign. The only way democratic industrialists can win majorities and keep them is by actually building a better life for people.
Without really being able to claim this is in any objective sense the most important issue that philosophers should be tackling, I am personally worried about the state of democratic institutions and culture.also btw...
Even profoundly anti-democratic movements tend to declare themselves for rule by the people. As mentioned, the Q conspiracy theories in the United States, for instance, seem to involve de facto persuading people that an election that does not go their way cannot have been fairly carried out. It thus gives people who are objectively acting to thwart the results of the electoral process the assurance that they are really on the side of true democracy. But such assurances evidently cannot always be trusted. After all, even setting aside these conspiracies, there are countries in the world wherein there is a sort of smoke-and-mirrors democracy - every now and again one may go through the motions of marking an X next to a candidate of your preference, but the relationship between this social ritual and what actually happens is opaque at best.
Thinking about how to identify instances of sham democracy, get out of that state once one is it, and avoid getting there if it is still avoidable, seem to me very important things for social theorists to be engaged in. Doing better will involve knowing about democratic theory, so as to think about the various institutional designs and voting mechanisms that might best guard against pseudo-democracy. And it will also involve being able to understand and see through the propaganda and ideology that can serve to mask or conceal non-democracy behind an illusion of formal democracy. Philosophers should hence be part of that conversation
But, in addition to these external sociological matters, there is something like an underlying spiritual malaise that must be addressed. The worry is not just that we risk slipping into, or retranching, such pseudo-democratic states. And my worry goes beyond the fact that people are deceived by aspects of their social environment that appear to empower them without actually rendering them able to affect the course of things. Worse, I think, is that a great many don't care, or at least have passed a point of cynicism wherein they do not really think things can be otherwise.
I am worried people do not recognise their disempowerment for what it is; harmful and contingent, capable of amelioration. Of all modes of government democracy is, on pain of self-contradiction, most dependent on the population actively buying in. This lack of investment in self rule, and lack of a nourishing democratic culture, must be understood, theorised, and ultimately combatted. We must work towards a renewed faith in the importance and possibility of genuine self-governance. This will be a task for ethics, cultural theory, and, in some sense, existential phenomenology.
I think democracy is of intrinsic worth, as democratic institutions embody and constitute our collective self-determination. I also think democracy has instrumental value, as a means of protecting ourselves against domination and abuse, and also securing peace abroad. These are very great goods, and I do not want the possibility of realising them to slip away from us.
- Video interview: David Shor, political data scientist - "The whiz-kid political analyst explains why Democrats need to talk about bread-and-butter issues." (58m52s: "It's very hard for politicians to do the right thing now under our current electoral system.")
- Freedom from the Market - "By drawing on what has happened in American history, Konczal makes it easier for Americans to understand that things they might not believe are possible in America must be, because they have been. He rescues moments such as the WWII government run daycare centers that allowed women to work, or the use of the power of the federal state to force through the integration of Southern hospitals, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Notably, although he doesn't dwell on this point, many of these changes began at moments that seem shittier and more despairing than our own."
- Seeing Like a Pro-Family State - "Addressing our fertility and family-formation crises will require us to push the boundaries of family policy and embrace a whole-of-society approach."[3,4]
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