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[Yanis] Good evening, good day, good morning, good afternoon, wherever you might happen to be. I'm Yanis Varoufakis on behalf of DiEM25. I have the honor, the privilege and the extreme joy of being joined by two usual suspects, two great friends and comrades of DiEM25, and, I'm glad to say, of myself personally. Ann Pettifor, Ann I believe you are in London
- yeah Correct, correct. Ann is of course a usual suspect. She's been involved in struggles to make sense of economics against the edicts of the economics profession, struggles against the financial sector. She has tried to help the Labour Party when the Labour Party was in the hands of people who wanted to confront the Establishment.
We've done quite a few things together. Noam Chomsky does not need an introduction. The only part of his illustrious CV that I'm going to mention is that he is a member of the Advisory Board of DiEM25. This is a very self-serving mention, Noam. I haven't seen either Ann or Noam for a while. This Covid-19 situation has been appalling for the human condition.
Today we have this opportunity to see each other, even if it's only in two dimensions, through the medium of the Internet. We're getting together to discuss the appalling fiasco, the lost opportunity - well, it was never a real opportunity, I don't think - the fraud that was COP 26,
an occasion that was advertised by the powers that be as a great chance humanity had, maybe the last chance humanity had, to prevent itself from going past the point of no return regarding climate catastrophe. Without further ado, let me begin with Noam. Noam, what do you make of it? What do you make of COP 26?
[Noam] Well, it's unfortunate, but predictable and predicted. We could run through the content very quickly since there basically wasn't any. A number of nice words. Promises, we'll meet next year and see if we can do anything,
but, essentially, that's the content. Which is what was anticipated. And it teaches us, it reinforces a lesson that we already knew. The only way anything is going to change, the only chance for humanity, to borrow their phrase, is for massive, organized, popular action and opposition.
The important part of COP26 was what was happening in the streets. That's the hope for humanity. And unless many more people become involved and more deeply engaged, that hope may vanish. There's a - I almost hate to quote it:
but one of my favorite statements in the Confucian Analects is a definition of the exemplary person, presumably the master himself. The exemplary person is the person who keeps on struggling, even though he knows there is no hope.
Well, I don't think we've reached the level of being exemplary people, yet, there is hope, but it's diminishing. So we're short of being exemplary for the time being, but getting close. And there are developments taking place in the world which are even more ominous than the predictable collapse of COP26.
The most powerful state in world history is going to have an inordinate effect on whether there's a way out of this crisis, and it is moving into the hands of a radical denialist party. We've had four years of racing towards the abyss as quickly as possible,
a brief escape from it, very likely coming back soon, and it's coming back in a way which may be virtually permanent because of the radical efforts on the part of the far right - that's the Republican organization- to undermine the prospects for elections in the United States.
They 're working hard on it. They may succeed. Well, that's a special burden on the United States, but on the rest of the world too. If Europe continues its craven subordination to U.S. power, there will be no counter force to this, and Europe doesn't have to do it. Europe has the resources, the capacity, to move in an independent way,
instead of subordinating itself consistently to the master of the world, and if it doesn't take that role, it will accelerate the process of decline. These are all matters that we... it's one of the reasons why the Corbyn movement was so important in England. It gave a chance for the Labour Party to become a true popular party
that would be dedicated to the needs of the working people and the general population of England. I don't have to tell you, but, as you know better than I do, that led to a huge campaign on the part of the whole Establishment, including, what's called the Left, to try to squash this heresy before it took place
and to return the Labour Party to essentially Blairite neo-Thatcherism. It's a catastrophe for England and for the world. But these are things that have to be overcome wherever they take place. As far as the failure of COP26 is concerned,
it was a success on the streets and it reinforced what we already knew. That's where the hope lies. It's mostly young people, which is a severe condemnation of my generation, your generation, of just beyond belief that we're imposing this burden on the young people of the world
who are taking up, picking up the gauntlet. They need every possible assistance they can get, because what they're doing on the streets of Glasgow is the hope of the future. [Yanis] Ann, I don't know about you, but I'd try to navigate the conundrum that Noam has just put forward by distinguishing between hope and optimism.
I choose to be pessimistic while not losing my grasp on hope, how about you? [Ann] Well, I'd like to start where Noam ended, with the young people on the streets of Glasgow because they are hope. I wasn't there, but everyone who was there tells me that they understand that this is a need for system change
in a way that our generation didn't understand. And they're clear about that and I think from all the evidence we see that that is the case. So I am not entirely without hope, although I'm angry, I'm very angry at the outcome of this. I'm also angry at the way in which we've allowed ourselves to follow the agenda set by global capital, if you like,
which is to set some unattainable target and just to have target-based discussions and debates around a target which is just a number out there, without discussing changes to systems and policies. And that's exactly where they want us to be. They want us to be in that box of saying: "Are we going to hit this number or not hit the number?"
They don't want us in the box of transformation of the system and change to policies. Indeed, policies weren't even discussed, as far as I can tell, at this event. So I, like Noam, I despair, because we know what is happening to global temperatures. We know that the physics doesn't respond to this kind of empty blah, blah, blah
but responds to real change, and we haven't seen that real change. But I I'm also heartened by looking at history and understanding that there have been periods in history when global economic systems have undergone great transformations and they've undergone those transformations almost overnight. This last year, we've celebrated the 50th anniversary of the "Nixon Shock".
Now the Nixon Shock is a story that has remained secret, if you like, for a very long time. Economists pride themselves on ignoring that moment in history. It's taken a historian this year, a Republican historian, Garten, to write the story of how Nixon met with Paul Volker and others over a weekend in 1971
and plotted the downfall of an international system of financial architecture, i.e the Bretton Woods system and announced on a Sunday night, just after a big cowboy show that was very popular with Americans, to the world and without consulting his partners, his allies, or indeed the IMF, the World Bank, or any other institution, or, indeed, well, the Federal Reserve was involved in this,
but anyway, overnight, announced the dismantling of the global financial architecture, just like that. Boom! Bang! Bash, right? And there was no alternative offered. And then alternative, of course, was the United States Dollar - not just the United States Dollar, but the United States' debt - as the world's reserve currency. That's what emerged, ultimately.
But at the point I want to make is that the right does not hesitate transformation when it wants to and has achieved such a transformation. Now, that was one that was regressive, but in 1933, equally, when Roosevelt came to power on the night of his inauguration, - as the historian Eric Rauchway has documented - on the night of his inauguration,
he decided he was going to dismantle the global financial system of the day, which was the gold standard. And he said to his staff: "We're going to close the banks and we're going to take the gold out of Wall Street and put it in the Treasury and we will in future determine the value of the currency. We won't leave that to Wall Street. And his staff said: "You can't do it tonight or tomorrow because tomorrow is a holy day, Sunday.
You'll have to wait to close the banks on Monday. And when he closed the banks, the story the economists tell is that he just closed the banks in order to save the banks. But he didn't! He closed the banks in order to take the gold out of their vaults and take from them the power to manage key levers of the economy, the exchange rate, the interest rate, the the flow of capital across borders,
and that transformation also took place overnight. And because the United States was in a state of profound depression, Wall Street was slow to react. They did react ultimately, but, initially, they were just taken aback. So I'm trying what I'm trying to argue is that we have to take hope from the fact that we have in the past transformed the global economy. It is not impossible. We need political will and we need leadership.
We need intellectual thought leadership as well as political leadership. I want us to think about it. And, above all, and can I just end on this note? The Green New Deal has been attacked recently in favor away from the Green New Deal and towards something called localization. Now, localization is actually a really important feature
of the Green New Deal, but what was absolutely key about the Green New Deal was that we understood that in order to save and transform the ecosystem, we had to change the international financial and economic system. And until the left focuses on the international financial system and the fact that it acts as master of the global economy. And until we learn to do something about that,
it's not going to be possible, in my view, to fight to save the ecosystem. So I want us to understand the interconnectedness of these things, how sort of highly complex they are at the moment, but how closely integrated they are, and we have to deal with the system. We have to have system change before we can save the climate. I'll stop at that point.
[Yanis] Hear hear on the last sentence! Unless we have system change... if I may put in my reaction to what you said, Ann. Look, the two examples that you gave, 1933 Roosevelt's shutting down of the banks, the night the money stopped, as at that day or night was remembered,
and the 15th of August 1971, the end of Bretton Woods. They were momentous events. They were very radical breaks from the previous phases of capitalism. But, at the same time, Roosevelt's move was a progressive move. Nixon's move was an inevitable move. He could not have sustained the Bretton Wood system, which was built and predicated upon America being a surplus country.
By 1967-68, it wasn't a surplus country, it would have to go. And the Americans, unlike the Germans or the Europeans, are very good at destroying a system they created when it's past its due date. But in both cases this was top-down change, fundamental change. Sometimes, as we used to say, once upon a time we radicals, those in control of the system, those who are governing the system in order to make sure
that nothing changes will change everything. Everything must change so that nothing changes. So, in both cases occasions: Roosevelt was not a leftie. He was just a very smart patrician who understood that he had to change the system completely if he was going to keep capitalism. And, similarly, Nixon in 1971. I believe LBJ would have done it if he'd hung around.
They realized that in order to keep American hegemony going now that they were a deficit country, they had to pump up the volume in terms of debt and turning debt into what backs up the the global currency, the exorbitant privilege of the US dollar. But in both of those occasions you had the system which is now destroying the planet,
reacting violently against Itself, in order to preserve itself. What we now need is a similarly monumental change, which is going to go against the system, not in the interest of the system. And I don't think those two examples of 1971 and 1933 are good examples. More generally: allow me just to say a few things,
because I want you to react, both you Noam and you Ann, to react to an analysis of mine. The climate catastrophe we're facing is the result of three issues, three processes. One, is the standard Free-rider problem. You know, let the others do the costly things that need to be done to save the planet and let them do it.
If they manage to do it, then I'm scot-free, I will survive as well. If they don't do it - What am I? The sucker who's going to do it for them!? This is a free ride. The problem is typical of all collective action problems. There is a second problem, which is a major coordination failure. Mark Carney went to Glasgow representing a big financial syndicate,
saying: "I have 130 trillion dollars with me, the money is here, the world must decide whether to use it!" It is completely true that the money is there. The world financial circuits have never been more replete with money. The money exists, but there is no way of coordinating the money which is there, the technologies which are necessary,
and the wants of the people, the needs of humanity and the planet. This is a coordination. And, then, thirdly, there is capitalism, because capitalism is a process which began, as we all know, three centuries ago. It's a process of commodifying everything, privatizing the commons, and eating up anything which has no price but value, and converting that into a price and to private profit.
So once they've started eating up the commons and the only impediment to the degree of exploitation of humanity and of nature was the cost - the private cost, not the social cost. And this capitalist beast is going to continue. You talked about the target that they set, the number in Glasgow,
net zero by 2000 and something, right? I mean the whole point of net zero is to make sure that they will continue to exploit fossil fuels as long as the private cost to them is much much lower than the social cost. In other words, they will continue to destroy the planet. There will be very clear numbers when it comes to how much destruction they will wreak,
and then offset it somehow, some time, somewhere, by means of mechanisms that we have no way of measuring. And the Green New Deal is an absolutely necessary stepping stone towards saving the planet because it helps us overcome the Free-riding problem and the coordination problem. Taking the money, - like Roosevelt did in 1933 - taking the extra cash which was available,
the idle savings of the rich, and pressing them into the service of common works and the New Deal in the 1930s. We can do this with Green Works. So the Free-rider problem and the coordination problem can be solved by means of the Green New Deal if we can impose it upon the powers that be. But that doesn't do away with the problem of capitalism. For that we need to reconsider the system, as you said, Ann.
We have to reconsider property rights, who owns stuff, who owns the processes? Anyway. I've spoken enough! Noam. [Noam] Well, what you're talking about is the evolution of capitalism from, back to the enclosure movement in England, which took away the commons from the population
and commodified it and turned the independent farmers into what was called wage slaves. People fought against it bitterly in the United States, right through the 19th century. Radical farmers, workers bitterly opposed the efforts to turn them
to take away their rights as free, independent citizens and to force them to subject themselves to masters. The goal of the rising Warburg Movement in the 19th century was to establish a system of cooperation in which workers would own and manage their enterprises
in coordination with one another. The farmers movement - it was mostly an agricultural country then - sought to develop a what they called a cooperative commonwealth in which farmers would be free from the rule of northeastern bankers and market managers. They would set up their own banks. They would (set up) their own cooperative management systems.
They came very close to integrating with each other, the Knights of Labor and the radical populace. If that had happened, it would have been a very different country and a very different world. So the question is: can it now happen again? Well, that's what we have to try to achieve. Now, there are some objective facts that we can't overlook:
questions of time scale. The urgency of the climate crisis is such that it must be dealt with within, basically the framework of existing institutions. That doesn't mean you stop trying to change the institutions and lead to the system change that you've both eloquently described.
There are parallel acts in parallel, but the fact of the matter is that the concrete measures will have to be done by actions within the framework of institutions that exist, but compelling them to behave differently, while at the same time seeking to change them. That 130 trillion dollars can be used for the common good
if enough pressure is imposed to force those who illegitimately own it to use it in that way, in what they describe as, "the peasants coming with the pitchforks" We have to make sure there are more peasants and sharper pitchforks. It's succeeded enough so far for them to be beginning
to be concerned about what they call 'reputational risks'. We saw that at Davos, for example. We've got to be worried about the reputational risks The peasants may come and take it all away from us, because our ownership of this is very fragile and if the peasants rise up and come to understand that, it'll all disappear.
It's in their hands if, they understand enough to take it. So we therefore better present ourselves as what used to be called "soulful corporations". Corporations that are working with the management, working day and night slaving away for the common good, because we are so dedicated to the welfare of humanity.
We are soulful corporations. This is from the 1950s, but it's being revived. Well, it's necessary for the peasants with the pitchforks to understand what's happening, to know that the pressures have to be mounted. There's no soulful corporations. There are institutions dedicated to short-term profit for the wealthy
and for the managerial sector, but you can compel them to do things, while at the same time, trying to spread the understanding that their ownership is illegitimate. It's not their wealth. It's ours, the your wealth. the wealth of the population.
We should reconstruct society to take it from them, take it back, and use it for the purposes of creating the kind of cooperative commonwealth that workers and farmers were committed to for centuries. That can be done, while at the same time, we have to carry out urgent measures
by pressures on the illegitimate owners to spend their illegitimate wealth in ways which will overcome immediate crises. And I think, those are difficult tasks, but not impossible ones, and they have to be carried out energetically and simultaneously.
We can't put off the urgent measures until we've come to create a more free and just society, work on that, but meanwhile, pursue the urgent measures and in fact there are feasible ways, important to recognize. There are feasible proposers within a small percentage of GDP
- a couple of percent of GDP - to carry out measures which, in the short term, will overcome the urgent crises and at least allow us time to move towards the more far-reaching and fundamental questions of significant system change.
That's the task that's in front of us. [Ann] Thank you. [Yanis] Ann, can I ask you to, because you spoke about system change as well, so did I and of course, Norm just gave us a great insight into the importance, how crucial system change is. For our audience, can you just share with us your vision
of ownership, of corporations, of energy, of energy grids, I should say. How do you imagine a radically different system? [Ann] So I didn't mention 1971, without understanding that what Nixon was doing was consolidating capitalism. I mentioned 1971 and 1933 which, as you rightly argue, Yanis
were both attempts at consolidating capitalism, simply because I wanted to show that actually, these big international global systems, these meta-economic conditions that safeguard capitalism on the scale of the entire world, that those conditions can change overnight, right? Now, the question those, on those two occasions, they were for consolidation, right? But they were also transformational.
My problem is that I don't think that the Left, in the broader sense of the world, progressives, are ready for what to put in place when the next crisis comes and I think it could be as sudden and as, [Yanis] Well. that's why I'm asking for your vision. [Ann] Well, my vision is the Green New Deal, that we subordinate the globalized financial system, to the interests of
local communities and national communities where democratic accountability is possible. My vision is for on-shore-ing mobile capital, basically. My vision is for managing flows of capital between countries. My vision is for restoring democratic accountability to the financial system,
to the economic system, and in order for that to happen, we have to abolish capitalism. There's no doubt in my mind, because capitalism relies at the moment on those meta-economic conditions. It relies for its expansiveness on the fact that it's detached from regulatory democracy. I'm bringing it down to earth. Sorry? [Yanis] So who owns Facebook in your schema?
[Noam] For me? [Yanis] Let Ann answer first and then Noam. [Yanis] Who owns it Who should own it? [Ann] I think the public should own it. I think this is a public utility. Facebook is a public utility, of course. There are utilities that should be publicly owned. I'm very clear about that Water, electricity, energy - these are all important to the survival of humanity
and to the stability of social systems, so I I'm very clear about that. But I'm also clear that we will have some private sector activity, we will have markets, we've had markets for more than 5000 years of human society, so we will have markets, but markets will not govern societies. Societies will govern markets and societies will make what is joint, what is collaborative,
what is communal, communal, and that's what will happen, but it cannot happen until we begin to on-shore capital, until we begin to subordinate our, now detached, financial system to the interests of local and national communities. And the thing I despair of is that the Left will not look at and study the 400 trillion dollar system that is the shadow banking system.
It's no accident, because the shadow banking system has been designed to be in the shadows. It has been designed to be invisible to us, but that we shouldn't fall for that, we should be challenging it. Instead, we are myopically preoccupied, in my view, and I'm being a bit exaggerated here, with what's happening here, locally, at our feet. Now, we've got to be caring about that, and we've got to be accountable for that,
but we also have to look at the international system, in the way that Rosa Luxembourg... Rosa luxembourg was about the Internationale, a sort of central theme of socialism the time of Rosa Luxembourg, but it isn't anymore. We don't talk about it in that sense, so I want us to understand that. That's my vision. My vision is: bring global capital back, onshore
and allow monetary systems, which are social systems systems constructed by society for the purpose of facilitating transactions which enable us to do what we can do. That's a social construct, one that we should be in charge of and that shouldn't be detached from regulatory democracy.
I feel I'm ranting and raving now, so you better stop me Yanis! [Yanis] That's what we're here for tonight! Noam, who should own Facebook? The electricity grid across Europe, let's say, or the North Americas, and the local cafeteria? The electricity grid and the local cafeteria.
[Noam] Well, I think that's the place to start. First of all, I'm not so convinced that anything improves much, if it becomes national. I think the idea that workers of the world should unite has a serious point to it. There are good reasons for working people around the world to unite in taking back the international commons, which is not local, it's international.
So, I would like to see international... You know, a lot of unions have the word international in their name. I think it would be a good thing if that became operative the way it once was. There has to be an international movement of solidarity with people who want to take their lives over and run it themselves.
So, yes, let's take the notion of public ownership of utilities. I think that makes sense, but then the question is: who is the public and how do they own it, and what do they do about it? Well, here I think we have to go back to the fundamental evil of the capitalist system. The idea that you have to subject yourself to a master
for most of your waking life. It's considered, it's called taking, having a job. Having a job means you subordinate yourself to arbitrary control of a totally unaccountable master for most of your waking life, who has the kind of controls that Stalin never dreamed of.
Stalin couldn't tell you you're allowed to go to the bathroom at 3 pm for 5 minutes, and here are the clothes you have to wear and here are the steps you take, if you want to move from here to here and, also in your private life, you're not allowed to do this and that. This, for thousands of years back to Classical times,
this was regarded as a fundamental attack on human rights and human decency. Qualification: It was okay for slaves, they could do it, but not for free people or more precisely free men. Free men had to be free from this indignity. Well, we now extend it.
It's not free men, it's free people not free, while the slaves do the work, but no slaves. It's the general population who take over from the beginning, from the spot, where they're spending their lives, control over their lives, control over their workplaces,
not subordinating themselves to a master, moving in association with others towards the kind of cooperative commonwealth based on popular, informed participation at every level, eliminating the whole concept of masters and subordinates,
unless, representatives can be chosen under popular control, but there should be no form of authority other than that. I think that's the kind of system change we need. It will, it must be international because they're international - none of the crises we face have borders - there's no borders to heating the climate, to pandemics, to nuclear war.
We either work on all of this together or we're all doomed, and I think the point of departure is from breaking this idea, that you should be subordinated to a master during your waking lives. That's a 20th century idea, that was beaten into people's heads with major efforts and struggle,
and we have to free ourselves from it. If we do that, the rest of the system begins to collapse. I think we can work on that at every level, including the levels that Ann has been talking about, at every level, at the level of increasing the so-called reputational risk to compel those who illegitimately own capital to use it in the common interest.
At the same time, dismantling, laying the basis for dismantling, their illegitimate ownership and, at the same time, carrying out the urgent measures, which can be implemented now, feasibly, to at least, give us some space to survive. If we don't do that in another couple of decades, it'll all be over.
All of this will be academic. [Ann] Yanis, I want to just add to what Noam said there, and to give credit to my colleague, Geoff Tily, who's the senior economist at the TUC here. He argues, correctly I think, that what we have now is the globalization of wealth, a form of internationalism that benefits the 1%
and, as Noam has argued, what we want is an inter-nationalism of labor in the sense of the 99%. That's what we need. We need to transform our global system of globalization, which serves only the interests of the master, the 1%, into a form of inter-nationalism that serves the interests of labour.
So I think Noam was absolutely right on that. [Yanis] If you allow me, I would like to add a note of optimism, which is very rare for me, to try to do these days. Because, listening to you, both of you now... This internationalization of labour is not without precedent and it is recent, the precedent I'm referring to.
If you think of the first, the original Internet, if you think of Linux, open source software which is now taking over, I mean even Jeff Bezos's machines run on Linux. Linux is the result of internationalized, massive, technologically sophisticated supreme software, produced by people who worked, without bosses
without trying to maximize their profits from their wares, from their intellectual labour. They collaborated across the ether, across the world, they keep doing it and they are putting together this magnificent, technological infrastructure. Because, what I want us to avoid is for our audience to think that, if we're going to have a cooperative, it must be rural. It must be, you know, avocados and potatoes that we grow together
and we go back to a kind of rural idiocy. No, it is happening already at the most advanced level of technology. The problem is that all this internationalized, anarcho-syndicalist technology is then used by Bezos to appropriate our data and to build on top of these commons, this technological,
labour-intensive commons, to build his own empire. The only way of stopping that from happening is by clashing mercilessly with the interests that own, these not technologies, but the property rights over our identities, over our humanity, because this is what they do. There's nothing else that they have.
They have property rights over us. This is very illiberal as well. It's not just capitalism, it's feudal, actually! I don't think that we even live in capitalism anymore. I call it techno-feudalism. So, it is crucial to let people know out there, that the commons are already happening, except that they are again, being privatized by leeches
and we have to be ready to call them out and to clash with them, so that we can energize and we can press into the service of humanity the new commons that are being created by young people and not so young people, who simply do not want to play the capitalist game anymore. [Ann] So the only way to do that, Yanis, is to manage capital mobility - trans-border capital flows -
[Yanis] Property rights as well! [Ann] The fact of the matter is, if we wanted to build a new system at home, we cannot, for example, raise the tax revenues to do that, because Mr Bezos and Amazon and Google and Facebook are all shifting their profits out of our domain and in some tax haven or wherever and their ability to move their capital across borders is their great power.
And we have conceded that power. [Yanis] Sure, that is one thing we need to do. Capital controls is one thing we need to do. [Ann] I don't like to call them controls, I like to call them, managing capital flows. [Yanis] To manage it, you need controls. Let's not beat about the bush but it's also the question of property rights. [Ann] they're associated with that power.
[Yanis] Of course, the two go together. Redistributing property rights and inroducing capital management. Noam, you want to come in. [Noam] Well, property rights are not graven in stone. They were imposed by organized capital when they instituted the Uruguay round of the WTO arrangements,
which were designed to radically violate any meaningful form of free trade by introducing extraordinary property rights, TRIPS, patent rights of a kind which had never existed in history. If they had existed, England would never have developed,
because it was taking higher technology from India and the Low Countries, even from Ireland. The United States would certainly never have developed, since it was taking superior British technology. The United States would still be exporting, you know, fur and cotton. These were imposed in the neoliberal globalization programs.
As Ann said, no consultation with anyone. This is just the organized international capital saying here's the way we can rob people for the long term by imposing the kinds of extensive property rights which guarantee monopoly pricing opportunities, indefinitely.
So there's no legitimacy to that, it can be torn down very quickly, the way labour tried to break it up at the beginning. We should remember there have been struggles about this. When Clinton tried to impose NAFTA, he had to do it in secret.
He never informed the labour movement, contrary to American law. He informed them just at the last minute, and the reason was they had alternative programs for integration of the North American countries, which would lead to high-growth high-wage economies, and the owners didn't want that
and since they also owned the government, the government was able to ram through, over popular opposition, a low-wage low-growth form of NAFTA which has, in North America, led to what we've seen since, is internationalized in the Uruguay round. But that's just a power play, with better organization, more activism,
and, in fact, international cooperation, the labour movements of the countries could have created a very different form of international economic integration in their interest. Just as if you go back to the turn of the century, late 19th century, radical farmers and workers could have created a cooperative commonwealth.
A kind of radical democracy in the US would not be subjected to the rule of actually a fraction of 1%. If we look at the details, it didn't happen by laws of nature, just by use of private power and you could see it coming. You could see it when Margaret Thatcher said "there's no society",
either she's very stupid or she was lying and I don't think she was stupid. She knew perfectly well that there's plenty of society, rich society, at the upper top levels. There are all sorts of integrations of capital, business roundtables, chambers of commerce, international business trade associations,
all work very closely internationally to ensure their own benefit. So there's a rich society for the very wealthy and the owners, the illegitimate owners of capital, but no society for the general population and that's basically neoliberalism, in a nutshell.
Marx described it. Thatcher was paraphrasing him, probably unwittingly, when he condemned the autocratic governments of the 19th century for wanting to turn people into a sack of potatoes. Isolated, atomized individuals who cannot fight back against the attempt to turn them into virtual slaves.
That's, basically, neoliberalism. A form of class war, which is quite old. It takes new forms and at every point, including property rights, as you mentioned, a crucial point, the struggle can go on to take this away. There's no reason why Bill Gates should be a multi-millionaire, because he has monopoly pricing rights over Windows,
or that Big Pharma should be able to charge 10 times the price of a drug because they have property rights granted to them or why Apple corporation can become very rich by rent, by using its property rights while somebody else does the work. These are not laws of nature. These are structures designed and imposed by the very wealthy,
the corporate sector for their own interests, and that has to be dismantled from top to bottom. [Ann] I'm so glad that Noam has raised... [Yanis] Hold up, hold on, because we are entering the last 10 minutes and you will share it with us, because we're entering the last 10 minutes, I have a duty, as the "moderator" to put to you at least one question that's coming from our audience:
So here is one, and maybe you can blend what you just wanted to say and with your answer to this question. "Humanity has been struggling now for a couple of years to adapt itself to the new circumstances of the pandemic. How has this collective struggle changed your expectation on our capacities (as a) species to respond to climate change?"
So, say what you want to say, Ann, and address that question as well: [Ann] I'm going to drop Bill Gates because Noam dealt with him. No, no, I think the pandemic was extraordinary and it showed how capitalism had to be nationalized to survive the invasion of a small virus, basically.
So, capitalism was nationalized. Wall Street was nationalized. Wall street collapsed in March 2020 and had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve, right? And the same applied to financial sectors everywhere. So, what the pandemic showed us is that the state - and this is the point I really would like to make here - is that the state,
what Noam's referred to as property rights, the power that we give to Bill Gates to earn money effortlessly without any real innovation or technological advance, but simply because he has property rights over something, that power is given by the State. And the State, in turn, - and Noam was quite right to say that it's owned by capital right now -
but actually the state depends almost entirely on the tax revenues of us individual taxpayers, of the citizens, basically, and the citizens must, once again, re-claim the State - as it is our own, really - and not, for example, empower the State to dispense these property rights.
So I think what the pandemic showed us is that the state is quite capable of doing that. We were quite capable of nationalizing Wall Street, but then we allowed them to take all of those gains from all of that quantitative easing and use it for - God knows what they're squandering it on at the moment! - at the moment, what they're doing is trying to transform those virtual assets
wITH the finance they obtain via QE into real assets, and so private equity firms are going around the world grabbing up every asset they can land their hands on. So, we learnt of the power of the State to subordinate capital through the pandemic, but we haven't learned how to hold that power because, of course, capitalism has reclaimed...
is now exalting in all of those subsidies and those bailouts and using that to even consolidate themselves even more than they did in 1933 and 1971. I'll stop at that point. [Noam] Well, just adding a word to that: I think the pandemic has brought out with extraordinary clarity
the pathological elements in the State Capitalist System which are also preventing us from dealing with the global climate crisis, which is far more severe. Just a very simple fact, which we all know. Everyone, the leaders of all countries understand very well, that the pandemic is an international crisis.
If they continue what they've been doing, as we all know, is monopolizing two things: monopolizing the vaccines for themselves and preserving the property rights, - the illegitimate property rights - of the manufacturers.
Those are the two major principles that the leaders of the world have been following: make sure that Big Pharma gets exorbitant profits because of the illegitimate property rights that we've granted to them in the neoliberal globalization system.
Insist on that, and also insist on using the vaccines for ourselves. They all know perfectly well that this is a suicide pact. They know perfectly well that as long as they withold - prevent a People's Vaccine, as India and South Africa and others have called for,
preserve the right of the big pharmaceutical corporations to control not only the product but also, crucially, the process. Something that was granted to them in the WTO negotiations. Never existed before, Control the process, so others can't manufacture it. So long as they insist on that,
most of the world is not going to get vaccinated, is not going to be protected for years. Which means, that the virus will mutate, may turn into forms that are far more lethal. Maybe, forms that can't be even dealt with by current understanding and technology. It'll all seep back to the rich countries and destroy them, too.
But it doesn't matter as long as we can make short-term profit for the powerful, doesn't matter if we kill ourselves in the long run as long as the very rich can make profit and protect themselves in the short run. Translate that into the global warming, into Glasgow, that's what you see happening. We're going to make short...
As you all know, the biggest delegation in Glasgow by far was the lobbyists and they were there to make sure that the very rich and the corporate sector can make as much money as possible, while dooming the world and their own grandchildren to utter catastrophe. That's the pathology at the core of the system,
and that has to be weeded out. It's made clear in the response to the pandemic, very clear in the response or lack of response to the far more serious problem of destroying the global commons, and we have to recognize the depth of that pathology,
root it out, turn to the commitment of general populations to the form of cooperative, mutual aid, mutual support, which we've also seen in the pandemic. One of the striking things in the pandemic is how in communities, very poor communities,
people have just gotten together to help each other. If there's some elderly person stuck in his house and can't get food they'll bring him food. This has taken place in the most amazing circumstances. One of the most remarkable is in the Brazilian favelas, these miserable, hideous communities which are run by criminal gangs, all involved in the drug trade.
Well, it turns out that the criminal gangs organized something the State wouldn't do: the criminal gangs organized the favelas to bring water to people who needed it, to bring help to people who needed it, with the cooperation of local people. Humans are capable of overcoming the crisis
and we have to bring out those capacities of humans, not the pathological ones of those who are in a ruling dominating situation, not because they're bad people, because that's the nature of the institutions. All of that has to be dismantled. [Yanis] Hear hear! I just want to add a couple of numbers.
One is by last May, I think it's more now, but last May when I was keeping tabs, the major central banks had printed 9,000 billion dollars and given it to financiers, who then gave it to companies who then took it to the stock exchange where they bought back their own shares to increase their share price. So, nine thousand billion was wasted on that.
At the same time, the IMF, International Monetary Fund, had estimated that it would cost only about 50 billion to vaccinate the whole world, even if they paid the crazy prices that Pfizer and everybody else wanted. So they printed 9,000 billion. It would have taken them 50 to vaccinate the world and it didn't do it! You just need to state it!
You don't need to say anything more than that! So the money tree is there. It is producing oodles of money for the haves. It could save us from climate extinction, from climate catastrophe, from pandemics, but they proved, just to misquote Noam,
they prove that the State is more criminal than the criminal gangs in the favelas. Noam, Ann, thank you so much, we've come to the end of our hour. It was a great joy to talk to both of you. We need to stop doing it in two dimensions and go back to three dimensions.
I want to thank the audience for being with us. I want to to encourage you to join DiEM25 because we are doing an enormous amount of work. Yesterday, in Berlin, we founded our new political party there, because we need a new progressive political party in Germany. We are doing transnational politics in order to bring together progressives because the fascists and the bankers are together.
It's about time we go together! So, please join DiEM25 and contribute to our efforts. We are part of the Progressive International. We helped set it up. Both Noam and Ann are part of this, as are our friends from all over the world, please join DiEM25 and join the PI and do contribute a little bit of money, because the financers have a lot and the progressives have very very little to do the work
on a daily basis. Look, I said it, I'm not very good at fundraising, but I tried it! I've been pushed to do it! Noam and Ann, thank you so much! [Noam and Ann] Thank you!
End of transcript