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Commentary :: Politics
Video: Beautiful Country Burn Again, 39 min
10 Nov 2018
October 13, 2018
Beautiful Country Burn Again
Ben Fountain recounts the 2016 election and explores where he thinks the country is headed today.

The Great Depression required reordering society with a social democratic state, strong anti-monopoly laws, a robust social safety net, collective bargaining, and strong unions. In the 1950s Americans got a higher share of the fruits of productivity. Grover Norquist doesn't realize what holds him up.

Progressive government gave clean water and raised life expectancy. FDR was elected in a democratic movement. Our politics has been degraded in the past 18 years. Americans are working more hours; corporate profits soar and wages haven't risen since the 1970s.
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Right Wing Populism and the Social Question
13 Nov 2018
Right Wing Populism and the Social Question
by Nikolaus Kowall and Fabian Lindner, 11/4/2017,

Right-wing extremists only gain traction because the left let them: in the Great Depression of the 1930s German social democrats actively supported austerity and thus deep cuts in the welfare state. Rudolf Hilferding, the prominent Marxist, social democratic intellectual and one-time finance minister, rejected Keynesian demand policies as “un-Marxian”. He hoped the economic crisis would be the harbinger of revolution. While social democrats clung to their fantasy of the proletarian revolution, the only party to actively campaign for Keynesian demand management to overcome the crisis and bring people back to work were the Nazis. They could present themselves as the only alternative both to unfettered market fundamentalism and abstract Marxism.

This might be the lesson for today: Social democrats have to regain credibility in the social and economic area and not cling to their neo-liberalism “light” if they want to stop right-wing extremism. Simply branding right-wing extremists as racists in the hope voters will be scared and stop voting for them will not work as long as people feel they have lost control over their lives.

About Nikolaus Kowall and Fabian Lindner

Fabian Lindner is an economist working at the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK) of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation. He studied in Germany and France and holds master degrees in political science and economics. He also writes columns on the blog Herdentrieb of the German weekly Die Zeit. Nikolaus Kowall is Managing Director of the Forschungsinstitut für Gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung (Research Institute for Societal Development) in Düsseldorf, Germany. He holds a doctorate in Economics, having focussed on competitiveness of economies.
The future coulld be open and dynamic, not closed and static
14 Nov 2018
Harry Kravitz, a buyout artist who "earned" $35 million a year and has six homes, sold portions of companies with money borrowed from the govt and never paid tax on his earnings. Closing the tax havens and ending tax competition are vital for a fair tax system. Trump is a symptom and not a cause of an inverted or upside down economy where only the super-rich profit and workers and nature fall by the wayside!

Generalized corruption, selective perception, spineless branches of govt, path dependency and internalized cowardice all combine to make the US into a "one-dimensional" country. A critical and independent media and educational system are indispensable for a democratic constitutional system that is threatened by neoliberal authoritarianism!

The left must become inclusive and positive or it falls into irrelevance. An anti-fascism alliance is crucial like taxation of corporations and high incomes, shriveling the financial sector and expanding the public sector. Competition and cooperation depend on each other. May the blue wave symbolize a new commitment to the future that is open and dynamic and not closed and static!

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