Sunday, December 20, 2015

Easily waylaid by racism and fear

GUEST: Les Leopold, an economic researcher who co-founded The Labor Institute and The Public Health Institute, talks about his latest book: Runaway Inequality: An Activists Guide to Economic Justice.

Les Leopold is a story teller. What happened in the early 1980's that started giving all of society's wealth to the very rich? It is sort of a detective story, with the University of Chicago, and major corporation think tanks playing a role. Somehow, most economists embraced this new doctrine favorable to Wall Street, and the genie was out of the bottle. 

But why bother with understanding how the average wage earner has been screwed over the last few decades? Most Americans know that working people are now under the thumb of major corporations and Wall Street. Why not start the revolution now?

Eli and I had that discussion after the interview. I said that all liberation movements have to start with understanding and self knowledge. Unless people can see the totality of their oppression, they are easily waylaid by racism and fear. That is why we are seeing the return of fascist candidates now, eager to point the finger of blame in any direction but the wealthy elite. 

Eli had a good point too. Both of us had lived in occupy camps, although certainly not for very long. Wan't that a better way to see the emerging of a new world? Isn't it going to be a communal experience rather than a history lesson that really brings change!

Of course, self awareness groups are communal experiences, like our local reading of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Les Leopold's last chapter is all about group learning, facilitators going out into the field to tell the story of Wall Street's takeover. 

The 99% has to be educated and organized to take on the neoliberal national security state. Organize a group and read Les Leopold's book for the new year!

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