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Sunday, November 26, 2006

journalists as thoughtless as moms in iowa who screw nuclear warheads on missiles at the munitions factory so they can take their kids to Disneyland

Theatre -- George Monbiot brings doom then hope to Vancouver

But like Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky who came to Vancouver before him,
he does hold out one hope for the future: us

By Kevin Potvin

Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, and George Monbiot walk into a bar; bartender
says, “What is this, some kind of joke?” But of course it’s no laughing
matter what these three revered authors have all come to Vancouver
recently to say. Not many people knew, for example, that Vietnam is
compelled to keep paying reparations payments to the United States
resulting from the war that took place in Vietnam, ended three decades
ago, and by the general consensus as a loss for the US. It was Chomsky who
revealed this utter grotesquery of justice, adding that Democratic
president-with-a-heart Bill Clinton eased the burden somewhat by offering
to deduct from the bill any new spending on education that Vietnam
initiates. Ain’t that kind?

Revelations by the two British journalists were just as striking. But it
must be a peculiarly annoying British trait that accords respect to
journalists who haplessly get into all sorts of trouble in the oddest
corners of the far-flung world. In both their introductions to Vancouver
audiences, written by themselves, both Fisk and Monbiot laid heavy
emphasis on their Evelyn Wough creds, drawing attention to police beatings
and jailings they have suffered, exotic insect bites they have endured,
and in Monbiot’s case, the cerebral malaria he caught, causing him to be
pronounced dead in a hospital somewhere in northern Kenya. That certainly
tops most other British journalists’ stories, but Canadian audiences might
be more impressed by a journalist able to describe how he caught no weird
deadly viruses, got bit by nothing dangerous, and avoided all
skull-crushing encounters with police. Note to all British journalists: on
this side of the pond, you just sound careless when you rattle off all the
injuries and accidents you have suffered while doing your job.

Aside from that, what Monbiot offered Vancouver audiences last week, and
Fisk a couple of months ago, and Chomsky sometime last year, adds up to a
pretty grim picture. The global climate is very near to crossing the
threshold that brings irreversible warming, said Monbiot, mostly due to
abject failure of political leadership to recognize the problems brought
by unrestrained economic growth and industrialization, particularly in the
wealthy West, lead in particular by the Americans. The wars for dwindling
resources, particularly energy resources and the capacity of the Earth to
absorb environmental degradation by the burning of fossil fuels, are on
now, says Fisk, lead by the wealthy West again, in particular America. And
most people who might have the democratic ability to demand a different,
more sensible and sustainable, approach to both problems, says Chomsky,
lack information because of a woefully conformist press, and anyway they
don’t have enough democracy enabling them to act even if they knew they
had to, because the political systems of the wealthy West, in particular
those in America, offer only a (sophisticated) façade of democracy.

Time is short, what to do?

Monbiot parted with one final shot in his hour-long presentation: it’s up
to us to do something. That’s the subtext running through pretty much all
of Chomsky’s work too: democracy can be a powerful tool for creating
progressive and sustainable state policy, but it has to be used, and that
can only happen when the media plays its proper role. But the prospects of
that happening anytime soon, according to both Monbiot and Fisk—among the
highest regarded media journalists in the English world presently—is slim
so long as media remains monopolized in the very few hands of the very

So the solution—and there must be a solution, or we’re for sure doomed—
begins it seems with a media liberated from the clutches of those few rich
guys so that the public can be more fully informed and motivated to use
their latent democratic powers to force their political leaders to act
more certainly in their interests and to beat back the big business
interests and their shameless shills who are using their undemocratic
political power to strangle the Earth’s prospects for survival for the
sake of blind shareholder return for those same few rich guys.

The problem, as I’ve found it, is that if you so much as mention Noam
Chomsky or Robert Fisk and their media critiques in any gathering of
journalists, you are met with utter contempt and cynical dismissal. It’s
partly because knee-jerk dismissal of everything, if you squint your eyes
enough, can be made to appear as sophisticated skepticism, a prerequisite
for journalists. But genuine, informed skepticism is hard to acquire,
hence the handy and very cheap imitation. Only a buffoon in the sciences
would stand around at a cocktail party and breezily declare Einstein got
it all wrong or was incomplete in his analysis or didn’t really mean this
energy or that matter, yet at parties of journalists, those who cannot
even properly construct a paragraph feel boozily confident enough to
dismiss Chomsky. Most of what he says to journalists therefore tragically
falls on intentionally deaf ears; anyone who tries to repeat what he says
or directly apply to their craft what he prescribes, is heartily laughed
at. A junior cub reporter knows more than Chomksy, Fisk, and Monbiot
combined, or so the prevailing attitude among journalists seems to be. No
one, therefore, is willing to try to practice what Chomsky and the others
are preaching.

But even this article, a slight directed at journalists, will be dismissed
with a curt “blaming the journalists again!” tsk’ing. That’s only fair
though: I do think big corporate media is at the root of all evil, and the
journalists who make it all possible are as guilty and thoughtless as the
moms who screw nuclear warheads on missiles at the munitions factory in
Iowa so they can take their kids to Disneyland.

This issue of The Republic completes six years of our efforts to create a
liberated and independent media, and we can certainly reply to Monbiot,
Fisk, and Chomsky with a laundry list of problems encountered by anyone
trying to fulfill that key requirement for democracy and sustainability
they all set out. On the other hand, as battles to save the planet go, it
hasn’t been that hard.

See the article in this issue about how you can become a member of a real
editorial board and help create an actual print newspaper supplement in
ten weeks—an experience, once you are taken through it, that you’ll be
able to repeat on your own or with friends as many times as you wish on
into the future.

Friday, November 24, 2006

cultural amnesia -- New Zealand lecture

Gordon Campbell – Bruce Jesson Lecture
Maidment Theatre, 22 November 2006, Auckland, New Zealand

Good evening, thanks for coming. My name is Gordon Campbell, and it is my privilege tonight to present this annual lecture which, as you know, is intended to honour the life and works of Bruce Jesson. As much as anything, it was the deeds of politicians - and the media’s failure to hold them properly to account - that impelled Bruce into his life of commentary and political action. And I think he’d have enjoyed being here tonight, to argue the toss afterwards about this topic.

I do apologise for reading this lecture. Listening to someone read a lecture must be a deadly experience. If its any consolation…for someone who writes, reading this out loud is….well, its like karaoke. The music is all in the head. Believe me, I know.

One disclaimer I should make. The kind invitation to do this lecture came before I started work with the Greens. The views I express do not reflect in any way, shape or form the views of the Green Party or caucus. I’m here tonight strictly as a former journalist, and part time music promoter.

Oddly enough , the last time I was in the Maidment Theatre just over a year ago, was to hear a musician, called Joanna Newsom. One of her songs captures in a few phrases something of what I’ve got to say tonight. So please, bear with me if I quote :

And all the books our fathers wrote
are in the middle of the road
Little by little, we implode

We can’t remember what was spoke
But we stare in wonder at the smoke
What it begets is born alone
We know not now what we have known…

It’s a song about cultural amnesia, and not just with regard to the war in Iraq. I think that theme speaks to any regular viewer of the news, or of the visible workings of Parliament. The events matter, but they often don’t seem to grounded in any sense of history or context, and nor is there any opportunity to respond. It looks like a private, hermetically sealed game. To the point where, as Joanna Newsom intimates, you can start to doubt your own convictions – we know not now what we have known.

In a speech delivered this time last year, Al Gore pointed out the obvious irony of this situation. Television is now more accessible to more people than any other medium of communication in history, but its content allows for less and less genuine participation. Unlike the marketplace of ideas that emerged in the wake of the printing press, Gore pointed out, there is virtually no exchange of ideas possible in television’s domain. “It is a rigged market, an oligopoly, with imposing barriers of entry that exclude the average citizen.”

Early on, people did try to get around television’s lack of true interactivity. “Soon after television established its dominance over print, “ Gore continues, “young people who realised they were being shut out of the dialogue of democracy came up with a new form of expression in an effort to join the national conversation – the demonstration.” Basically, this was a poor quality theatrical production aimed at getting the attention of the cameras ljust ong enough to hold up a brief message on a placard to the wider public. These days, even that doesn’t work any longer as an avenue for getting on the six o’clock news.

My starting point then has to be to look for the sources of what seems a fairly widespread sense of exclusion. Television keeps on telling us that its our news, that its us, that its part of our community, because patently it isn’t. Its an alien, pretending to be part of the family. But obviously television news isn’t the only source of this alienation.

Politics in also a one way street - voters don’t vote in governments, they vote out Governments whose apparent indifference to them has become intolerable, as the Helen Clark administration seems well on the way to discovering. Unfortunately, the operating stance of the political media is more part of the problem than it is part of the solution.

I’m talking in particular about the media’s gaming impulse. As the American journalist James Fallows says : “Deep forces in political, social and economic structures account for most of the frustration of today’s politics, but the media’s attitudes have played a surprisingly important and destructive role. Issues that reflect the collective interest, such as crime, healthcare, education, economic growth – are presented mainly as arenas in which politicians can fight. The press is often referred to as the Fourth Branch of Government, which means that it should be providing the information we need, so as to make sense of public problems..”
Far from making those public challenges easier to grasp, Fallows says, the media routinely makes it harder. “ By choosing to present public life as a contest between scheming political leaders, all of whom the public should view with suspicion, the news media help bring about that very result.”

Now, there are several reasons WHY the media treats politics with such corrosive cynicism. Some are more justified than others. In part, I think the cynicism serves as a shield against the humiliations they endure daily at the hands of their sources, but….safe to say, if you do convince yourself that its all crap - or all just a game, or all just business as usual – you’ve largely rid yourself of any imperative to evaluate it on any other level.

It is probably an unfair comparison, but it may be salutary. You can only contrast the stance of today’s media with the achievements of the “golden age of public service journalism” – aka muckraking – between 1900 and 1912. As journalism historian Mark Feldstein says, that period of advocacy journalism was strongly linked to many progressive reforms – and he lists among them the Pure Food and Drug Act, child labour laws, federal income taxes, the direct election of Senators, and the anti-trust prosecution of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company – a blow against monopoly capitalism that Richard Prebble seemingly had never heard about before he sold Telecom.

The current stance of the profession has consequences for the news coverage that we receive, and affects both style and content. For the purposes of this talk, I’m classified what I see to be the key elements in this process as being one, commercialisation, two personalisation and three, the tabloid mindset.

Commercialisation is easy enough. It has to do with the concentration of media ownership - and the impact this has had on the media’s Fourth Estate role, to ensure that it remains secondary to market forces and ratings. Media de-regulation here in the late 1980s quickly saw most of our print and electronic media fall into the hands of Australians and North Americans.

Worldwide, the concentration of media ownership has seen profits rise, while the number of journalists employed continues to shrink. The normal career path in print journalism in particular makes it look m ore and more like an apprenticeship scheme for the public relations industry. Even television is doing less, with less. As late as 1989, the CBS network had 38 foreign correspondents in 28 bureaus. Today, CBS has five correspondents in four bureaus. At home, TVNZ is being rumoured to be about lose nearly one sixth of its current workforce during 2007.

Personalisation is a bit more complicated. In practice, it refers to the relentless pursuit of the human interest angle – whereby political process is depicted as something done merely by individuals to individuals, usually without reference to the impact that class, income or other forms of privilege and opportunity have on the outcome of the story. It also elevates personal anecdotes above policy, puts victim narrative ahead of analysis, and focusses on outcomes far more often than it does on causes.

We saw much of this at work recently in the media’s handling of the Herceptin cancer drug decision. The meta-narrative of that story – Paul Krugman calls it the “media script” - was that cancer victims were being denied life saving treatment by the heartless bureaucrats down at Pharmac. Telling the story via accounts of personal tragedy is always going to be easier to present and to consume than figuring out the real balance between Herceptin’s costs and the extent of the benefits it may deliver.

A narrative of victim-hood is also easier than tackling say, the political decisions and Government priorities that give the Pharmac its skinflint mandate, which has meant that New Zealand now has the lowest per capita spend on pharmaceuticals among nine developed countries cited in a report last week by the Commonwealth Fund. Is that good for society? Hey, no one was asking last week. It was all about whether we should spend $400 million, $600 million or $900 million on a rugby stadium, and where we should put it.

This personalised approach not only dramatises and exploits the emotional extremes of individuals - it can also expose them to retribution by the authorities. This is particularly the case when it comes to stories about the welfare system. The media always wants personal stories, but the exposure can be really dangerous, for people who are already vulnerable. The beneficiaries involved may also be naïve enough to expect that the media will look out for them, and protect them.

Even more to the point, this personalising process is wide open to manipulation by politicians, and the media is usually more than happy to serve as their production crew. The two parties have gained quite a lot of experience in recent years in staging folksy photo opportunies and media events. Right now, Rodney Hide’s best chance of getting re-elected doesn’t hinge on very much at allon Act policies – but on him being taken to our hearts as that oddly emotional guy who dances badly, swims across the harbour and cooks kebabs on television.

Similarly, the media has re-packaged Richard Prebble as a loveable elder statesman, the nation’s rascally uncle. No one is churlish enough anymore to bring up his political legacy : the sales of Telecom, Railways and a few other achievements. The game here is to maximise exposure, by choosing the sort of contexts where the opportunity for genuine scrutiny is kept to a minimum.

I thought the retirement of SIS Director Richard Woods a few weeks ago was the most striking example of the media’s love affair with personality packaging. Surprise– there were no questions about the credibility gap or the human rights issues facing the SIS and other security agencies, post 9/11. No one asked Woods why = given the SIS had three whole years to prepare its case against Ahmed Zaoui - it failed to meet the deadline to get its paperwork ready in time this year, and thus forced Zaoui and his family into another round of delays.

No one has asked why, despite this history of official bungling and delays, the part time judge hearing the review is said to be working only three or four hours a week on the Zaoui case. And in particular, no one asked Woods why - of the 39 classified files of information that the SIS plan to present against Zaoui, a whole 28 of them don’t even mention Zaoui by name. How can this stuff be so secret and so damning that Zaoui and his defence team can’t be allowed to see it – when 72% of these classified files don’t even mention him? We’ll maybe never know, because the media image was a of a wise old head, taking his leave.

The third plank is the tabloid trend in news coverage. The jury is still split on this one, and that might seem surprising. Al Gore again, sees tabloid style and content as an erosion of democracy, because it denies citizens the information they need – not only to fully participate in decision making, but in the informed discourse with each other that is the stuff of a healthy society. Bruce Jesson used to talk and write a lot about the hollowness of discourse in New Zealand, and Gore is right there alongside him in decrying the consequences.

Tabloid style demands shorter stories That’s been an undeniable trend. If you think television sound-bites are getting shorter, you’re right. If you think stories in magazines and newspapers are getting shorter, you’re right again. Count the word length of the one, two and three page stories in the Listener now compared to five years ago, and you’ll find those stories have shrunk on average by a third, and that’s the common rate of contraction in Time, Newsweek and other newsweeklies as well.

There are other symptoms. Sensational tone and celebrity driven content. The interviewing style is also …increasingly on the hyper side. Often it’s a schtick, a pantomine of aggression : news reporters get to ask softball questions in a phony, hardball fashion. If it is covered at all, politico-economic policy tends to be relegated down the bulletin, or into the business pages. At the same time, there has been a higher ratio of coverage afforded to celebrities, crime, sex and sports – or in the case of O.J. Simpson, all four at once.

If this sounds like I’m complaining about tabloid media, I am. But by doing so, there’s always a risk of romanticising what came before – like the early days of television when authority meant middle aged men in suits. It wasn’t that great. In fact, news and current affairs during the 70s and 80s tended to make a virtue out of one part of the elite talking to the other in a language and tone of exclusion - BBC accents and all. It was, in effect, a club for the educated few, claimingto be a national forum.

What it aspired to were the virtues of print journalism. Yet it now about 30 years since print lost its place as the main conduit of news in this country - although for the first 20 of those years, television news had slunk along like some low life cousin of the print media, ashamed of its own flashiness. That all changed in 1992, when TVNZ consciously adopted the tabloid style of news coverage.

That was the year that Paul Norris, then head of news and current affairs at TVNZ, brought in the American adviser Fred Shook to transform the state broadcaster’s mode of news presentation. This included teaching journalists how to write news for the visual medium and coaching newsreaders on how to read it - or more accurately, Shook taught them how to emote their lines. This included tips on how news anchors could signal the desired response to news items, via side comments and visible reactions, thus giving viewers comfort and guidance on how they should be reacting to a given story.

All of this being based on the premise, as Norris told me in a Listener interview at the time, that “Television is not very easy to use for detailed examination or analysis of complex matters.” Mr Norris is now an astute critic of the media, and head of the Broadcast School of Journalism in Christchurch.

Not a happy state of affairs. Fourteen years ago, we entered an era when taxing the brain was seen to be a violation of television’s true and essentially visual nature. TVNZ news, to use Lindsay Perigo’s classic term, has essentially been ‘brain dead’ ever since that point in 1992, and the charter has made no visible difference.

Even so, the tabloid trend has its defenders. In their view, tabloid media are trading in different realms of subjectivity. Quite different so this argument goes, to the remnants of mainstream journalism – which, however shakily these days – still tries to present facts as if they belonged to an empirical reality. If there are any veterans of the 1990s cultural studies wars here tonight, you’ll know I’m really channelling the views of the British cultural theorist John Fiske.

Fiske believed that more information is embedded in popular culture about the prevailing power relationships in society than mainstream journalism is ever likely to uncover. As Larry Strelitz, one of Fiske’s protégés, says about mainstream journalism : “The tone [of mainstream journalism] is serious, official, and impersonal, aimed at producing understanding and recruiting belief – largely by addressing the audience from the position of one who knows, and providing information to those that don’t.”

By contrast, the tone of tabloids is conversational. It employs the language of its audience in order to promote DISBELIEF, and it provides the pleasures of not being taken in by a shifting constellation of them, the ruling others. The stance is a bit like the cynicism of the political press that I mentioned earlier, but at its best, its tone is far more playful. At its worst, it exploits and promotes the sexual and racial anxieties of its audience – particularly by directing them against foreigners and ethnic minorities.

Lets take a concrete example. A relevant one, as we head into a major debate here in New Zealand on immigration policy. Not so long ago, the term "refugee" had positive meanings. A refugee was a victim fleeing persecution, a survivor needing our help and deserving our sympathy. More recently, it has become fused in the public mind with the more negative term ‘asylum seeker’ - which carries the added sense of a foreigner seeking something for nothing, while being a drain on taxpayer funds, social services and the country's reputation.

From there, the leap to ‘ illegal immigrant’ and ‘potential terrorist’ is a pretty short one. The tabloid media has been a key player in the transformation of language and attitudes. In a speech marking Refugee Week in Britain in 2004, Forward Maisokwadzo noted ironically how the British media had blamed asylum seekers for terrorism, TB, AIDS and SARS, for failing schools, failing hospitals, falling house prices, rising house prices, road accidents and dwindling fish stocks in British rivers.

In two sensationally untrue beat-ups, asylum seekers were blamed for snaring and baking swans on the banks of the river Lea, and for stealing and eating a missing donkey.

"If asylum seekers did not exist, " Maisokwadzo says, " they would have to be invented. When every major and minor problem of the day can be blamed on a small number of outsiders who make up only a tiny fraction of the population and expend only a tiny fraction of the public purse, then ..I want to put it to you that the problem has nothing to do with asylum seekers. It is a failure of democracy.."

For all that, John Fiske, who was a genuine maverick, saw tabloid media as potentially subversive. Why is the tabloid style so popular ? In his view, it was because its audience had been subordinated for centuries, and systematically excluded from conventional political discourse. Structurally, he wrote, shows like Jerry Springer, by giving open rein to conflicting voices, allowed viewers to challenge the traditional role of the news anchor. It was kind of a 90s thing. Since then, Fiske’s approach has been pretty much supplanted by Ben Bagdikian and his protégé Robert McChesney, who use more trad left analysis to trace the impacts of media convergence and de-regulation.

I think we still do need Fiske’s sensitivity to populist media and popular culture - allied to McChesney’s analysis of the impacts of media ownership and de-regulation. Its easy to be conspiratorial about big media. And its true - the media corporates do have something of a vested interest in screening the hoopla around Tom and Kate’s wedding, rather than giving their reporters a free hand and expansive budgets to chronicle the evils of growing income disparity.

I’m probably wrong about this, but I’ve never been as agitated as some by media ownership issues. If big media didn’t exist would people be any less passive, as news consumers ? Beyond a certain point of critical mass – which we reached decades ago - genuine diversity in media opinion in New Zealand all but disappeared long ago. We’ve been gleaning for content ever since.

That doesn’t bother me unduly. One, because I believe that in the United States and here at home, the private sector is reliably incompetent – you only have to look at the marriage of Time Warner and AOL, or scrutinise most issues of the Herald on Sunday to see that. Second, anyone who’s ever worked for a media conglomerate knows the various arms compete with each other even more viciously than they do with players in the outside world. And thirdly, I think the ideologies that journalism embodies are a bigger problem than who happens to be sitting in the big chair in the media boardroom.

What is the ideology of the media ? Its collective mind and the socio-economic privileges that help to shape its worldview are rarely probed. The skirmish earlier this year between Michael Cullen and TVNZ’s Guyon Espiner’s over whether the latter’s interest in tax cuts was driven by the prospect of personal gain, was not a very helpful exception. Tom Frewen eventually estimated in NBR that the average gallery journalist earns between $65 -$85,000. That’s the top tax bracket, but it hardly explains the desire to keep banging on about tax cuts.

More likely, it probably reflects another point made by Frewen – that once journalism’s collective mindset gets fixated on a media script, no counter evidence can be allowed into the frame to disrupt the narrative. The S59 issue is a classic case. From day one, the media has framed this as an anti-smacking issue, about the rights of parents. In fact, the measure is about the rights of children, and about preventing violence against them. That perspective has never framed the news coverage of S59 – even though the international comparisons leave New Zealand with a lot to be ashamed about with respect to our record of violence against children.

The example Frewen chose was our nuclear policy. For years, the US has been telling us in various ways – hey guys we’re pretty much over it. This year, Frewen indicates, they’ve even mentioned our anti-nuclear stance is as being of help in their anti-proliferation efforts. None of this seems able to deflect the media’s insistence - - at say, the infamous Peters/McCain meeting this meeting -that it’s still a barrier to better relations.

Most days, we talk about the media in the same personalised and theatrical terms – boy, that Sean Plunket interview was rough - that the media now use to talk about everything else. Its gossip. Unfortunately, I think it tends to inflate the power that journalists have, in their dealings with government and with bureaucrats. Sure, politicians who are in opposition, or who belong to small parties certainly do need to woo the media - but the Government and the media hardly need each other to anything like the same degree.
It is a tricky intersection, though. Personally I’ve found it a bit disturbing to see the degree of dependence that journalists seem to have on the spin cycle, the press release, and on the “he said/ then he said” two hander that passes for objective reporting. Not to mention the managed leak by sources with agendas of their own that journalists seem to be quite happy to serve, as the admission price for information.

Initially, when I started on this lecture. I had thought that relationship counselling might help to explain what is so dysfunctional in this exchange. But its too lopsided for that to make much sense.

Out on the margins, the best journalists try to battle against the clock to extract information from people who – thanks to the prevalence of media coaching - have been trained not to divulge it on anything but their own terms. If all else fails, the Government is often quite willing to resort to the final sanction : shut up, release nothing, and after a couple of days, the media will usually go away, starved out for lack of official comment.

For all those reasons, I’ve come to think that the effectiveness of journalists usually stands in inverse proportion to their proximity to power, especially when it comes to investigative reporting. Its not an accident that the White House press corps, for instance, broke none of the major Watergate stories. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the three US television networks screened 414 stories about Iraq between September 2002 and February 2003 – and all but 34 originated at the White House, Pentagon or State Department, with predictable results.

In most political press galleries around the globe, original research usually just means being the first person to be told something, by someone else.

So believe me, if Sean Plunket sounds a little testy some mornings, that’s the least of our problems. If it really wants to be seen as the peoples’ check on government excess – which is what its Fourth Estate privileges hinge upon – it had better start playing the part. Because more often, the ideology of the profession points it in the opposite direction. Quite some time ago, journalism came to regard its job as being to report the news, not to make it or analyse it – and as a consequence, the sayings and doings of public officials have come to dominate our news agenda.

I would argue that this co-dependency between officialdom and journalism became pathological quite a long time ago. In the name of objectivity, journalism largely shrinks from countering the spin machines of government and corporate public relations. There is a strong conservative ideology in journalism that says the format of news and current affairs should resemble a blank slate – on which the forces of the left and the right are invited to write, under equal fire from the host. I strongly disagree. I think the media outlet should be encouraged to reach conclusions based on its own prior evaluation of the evidence, and to subject the politicians to strong and persistent questioning to pursue the truth. That is precisely why the recent TV3 dioxin doco was so powerful. One other reason it was so effective was because it wasn’t shoe-horned by TV3 into a commercial television hour.

It’s a tough system to crack, though. Down at the Broadcasting Authority – for instance – the notion that fairness and balance require a theatre of conflict where all parties are subjected to the same rations of aggro from the interviewer is deeply ingrained. That was central to their verdict on TV3’s Corngate programme. So the tabloid mindset isn’t just popular with the viewers, its apparent in the thinking of the regulators as well.

In my view, that kind of ping pong dualistic thinking inhibits the media from performing its key functions: which I see as being to evaluate and to discriminate, and to pursue a responsibility for social outcomes that is rarely parcelled out equally on all sides, however rosily that might fit the textbook notions of balance. Not every story – in reality, hardly any - has two sides, neatly and equally arrayed.

My own theoretical grounding ? Such as it is, it derives from Louis Althusser and 1970s film theory, which holds that the medium IS its ideology. As I’ve said, that holds true for the media as well. Even at their best, the media’s motivating impulses are reformist, not radical. In ,my experience, most of its practitioners have bought into the meritocracy – perhaps partly because, educationally at least, they have been prime beneficiaries of it.

What I mean by that is that the days when people could walk into journalism literally off the street – as I did – are all but over. Entry to journalism now requires a degree ticket, and specialist training. That’s really quite a change. During the 1993 election campaign, I remember interviewing Jim Bolger on the National campaign plane and he asked me rhetorically at one point - how many of of the journalists in this cabin here do you think, are Catholics, or used to be ?

Quite a few, at the time. It used to mean a career in politics, or journalism, Bolger said wryly. He was referring to the strand of Christian social activism cited at the recent Labour party conference, but which is now much less common as a motivating impulse for taking on the job.

For most people, objectivity is probably the word that would come to mind if anyone ever did briung up the question of the media’s guiding ideology. Quite wrongly I think, the word has been equated with fairness or honesty. In practice, it enjoys only a fleeting acquaintance with either. I find it interesting that the objectivity ideal began as a commercial impulse 100 years ago – after the owners of the partisan press began to see it as a useful new tool of the trade, to help them extend their readership base.

Much of the time it is an excuse for a “get the two sides and go home” coverage. In political coverage, this is a particularly useless technique for framing stories about issues like immigration or national security - or any subject at all where the two major parties share roughly the same position.

For that reason, when the Zaoui review finally begins, I have a hunch that the Crown could well try a line of attack that seeks to discredit him personally – and I say that not because there is anything substantial for them to feed on, but because I really can’t see how the Crown can have any faith left in the ability of the SIS to win them this case on legal and policy grounds. The Government knows the media’s appetites. And apart from Keith Locke, there are no “two sides” with which the political media could even begin to frame a story of substance about the Zaoui case. With a couple of notable exceptions, the media have treated the subject as being too hard for them.

For many people, it is the language of objective journalism that is its real Achilles heel. Robert Fisk, when he was here earlier this year, talked about the sanitised language that that objective journalism routinely uses, particularly in its coverage of the Middle East. Fisk also objected to the way the profession’s aversion to making judgement calls on contentious issues regularly leads it into putting the aggressor and the victim onto the same, morally neutral footing. Providing history and context is treated as advocacy, and self censored out of the frame.

There have been a few attempts to fill the gap. While the mainstream media potters about within its self-imposed restraints, the so called “newsbook” has come along to fill the void. People like Al Gore, Bob Woodward, James Fallows, Seymour Hersh, Ron Susskind – and in New Zealand, Nicky Hager – have ending up doing the traditional media’s job, The news books have ended up providing the history, the context and the newsbreak research that the mainstream media has been failing to deliver.

In Fallows’ opinion, the rise of Fox television in the States may have drilled the final nail in the coffin. As he told me in a Listener interview a couple of years ago, that 100 year experiment in objectivity now seems all but over. “Essentially the change to a market driven and more partisan press has become an undo-able thing ..Murdoch has set so powerful an example of the success of mainly market minded, mainly partisan media that the rest of the media world is just having to align itself with this example. It is taking the US system toward a European system of more identifiably partisan newspapers.”

While there will always be a high end niche for sophisticated news and comment – and some of that has migrated to the Internet – the mass market will, Fallows says, steadily become more partisan.

In the States, this process is well under way. The mainstream media is being hollowed out, with partisans rising on both of its flanks. The success of Fox on the right is matched by the popularity of Michael Moore and the parody news of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert - while at the centre, the bastions of trad news coverage, like the New Yort Times are in deep trouble.

In New Zealand, we’re not in that situation of partisan diversity, as we might find in parts of Europe. Thanks to the legacy of Prebble and his colleagues, we’re virtually at the mercy of media covergence. TVNZ’s sale of its Sky shares under National, and the Clark government’s ongoing refusal to invest in any significant way in digital media, has left control of the digital gateway in this country firmly in the hands of Rupert Murdoch.

What are we willing to do about it? Usually at this point, the speaker points at the Internet and disappears over the horizon in a visionary cloud I don’t think the Web is our salvation. Its freedoms are crucial, but they’re also vulnerable, and though I’m no expert, I don’t think the battle for control over domain naming - which is just one area where the Net is vulnerable to control - is over. In fact, if you want a new cause, or career worth fighting that may be new to you start working on copyright law.

If I can take time for an aside on that point…There’s a good reason why intellectual property rights are the leading edge of the US free trade agenda – its because copyright law is not only about commerce, but is perceived to be tool of social, economic and cultural domination. I think the battle over Don Brash’s emails, which has been waged so far as a battle over property - is very revealing, because as argued in court last week, it’s a gagging order on content of political and social importance.

Fort my five cents on this, I think an interesting double standard may be at work here. When employees use the office computer, the content is said to become an issue for the boss, because its his computer – that’s what licenses him to read personal communications posted on office gear. Yet Brash seems to be arguing that emails on the Parliamentary Services system are his private property – I would have thought that if anyone should be filing for redress from the courts, it should be Parliamentary Services. In other words, there’s not only a public interest in the content – arguably, there’s public ownership at stake with the emails. Once Brash put this stuff onto publically owned systems, I think he may well have lost his absolute right to object if they now become part of the public discourse.

Moreover, when one considers the difficulty in gaining access to this information by traditional channels, the means used by Nicky Hager are far more understandable.

Back to the Net. For all its influence, it is still really a political niche player when its outreach is measured by gross numbers. In the US, Pew opinion studies a few months ago showed that the overwhelming majority of teens and young adults still receive get their news information from the television networks, just like everyone else.

In other words, blogging alone will not allow us to defeat or significantly alter the upcoming immigration legislation. This I believe is looming to be the single worst prospect during the twilight years of the Clark administration.

I hope you already know about the draft immigration proposals that were released earlier this year. Briefly, they increase the powers of surveillance and powers of entry of immigration officials, reduce narrow the access to Ministerial review and discretion, and significantly broaden the use of secret information and hearsay information by officials. Cumulatively, the measures proposed would reduce the capacity of ordinary people to challenge the crucial and sometimes even life threatening decisions taken by officials and politicians.

My point throughout this talk has been that the media is just not configured in a way likely to be of very much help. The information lies elsewhere. Already, blogs such as the always excellent No Right Turn, and the efforts of Tze Ming Mok have been invaluable sources of information on the draft immigration documents, and their contributions have put the traditional media to shame. I think what we might need to do now - given the glimpses we already have had of what our immigration policy will look like, and given our related readiness to put some of our most ancient freedoms at risk in the name of the war on terrorism -–is to pool our resources. I think there’s a need here now for an organization that functions in a way very similar to the Liberty organisation in the UK. This organization – perhaps expanding upon the existing Human Rights Foundation – would seek to bring together legal expertise and campaigners. It would serve both as a lobby group to Government and an information base for the media on issues of human rights, and to protect the freedom of political and cultural expression. I think there’s room within that mandate for centre left and libertarian perceptions to come together.

That’s probably enough. I hope its not seemed too long.. Just over there on this stage a year ago, Joanna Newsom also played some long songs - some of them almost as long as this lecture, but with far more grace. The very long song I quoted earlier ends by warning us just what it can require to finally get our eyes open, and our minds engaged :

And all the baby boys we’ve born
With eyes averted from the storm
Sent off to die in perfect form
We know now what we have known

And I guess thats always has been the ultimate price of not being aware – that you end up by betraying your children. That prospect should be motivation enough for all of us. Thanks for listening.

all the books our fathers wrote
Are in the middle of the road
Little by little we implode
History brittle, brown and broke
We can't remember what was spoke
So we stare in wonder at the smoke
What it begets is born alone
We know not now what we have known

Ladies; breathe deep against your whalebones
For your children come home made of stone

The terror seething sees a way
Or like the wheezing of the bay
In miniature agonies
They travel westward on the breeze
Bring us all to our knees

The dappled horse, the sorrowed mare
With eyes that do not see but stare
Beneath boots as black as Malachi
He drives a nag into the nigh
Into the nigh

And all the baby boys we've born
With eyes averted from the storm
Sent off to die in perfect form
We know now what we have known

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Noam Chomsky lecture from 1970 (!) -- full text transcript

Government in the Future. Poetry Center, New York. February 16, 1970.

Download and listen to the mp3 file:

ANNOUNCER: The sound seminar you are about to hear was recorded at the Poetry Center of the New York YM-YWHA on February 16, 1970. This program presents Noam Chomsky, speaking on "Government in the Future". Here is Noam Chomsky. [00:19]

CHOMSKY: I think it is useful to setup as a framework for discussion four somewhat idealized positions with regard to the role of the state in an advanced industrial society. I want to call these positions 1) classical liberal, 2) libertarian socialist, 3) state socialist, 4) state capitalist and I want to consider each in turn. [00:43]

Also, I'd like to make clear my own point in advance, so that you can evaluate and judge what I am saying. I think that the libertarian socialist concepts, and by that I mean a range of thinking that extends from left-wing Marxism through anarchism, I think that these are fundamentally correct and that they are the proper and natural extension of classical liberalism into the era of advanced industrial society. In contrast, it seems to me that the ideology of state socialism, that is, what has become of Bolshevism, and of state capitalism, the modern welfare state, these of course are dominant in the industrial countries, in the industrial societies, but I believe that they are regressive and highly inadequate social theories, and that a large number of our really fundamental problems stem from a kind of incompatibility and inappropriateness of these social forms to a modern industrial society. [01:39]

Well then let me consider these four points of reference in sequence, beginning with the classical liberal point of view.

## Classical Liberalism [01:50]

Classical liberalism asserts as its major idea an opposition to all but the most restricted and minimal forms of state intervention in personal or social life. Well this conclusion is quite familiar, however the reasoning that leads to it is less familiar and, I think, a good deal more important than the conclusion itself. [02:13]

One of the earliest and most brilliant expositions of this position is in Wilhelm Von Humboldt's "Limits of State Action", which was written in 1792, though not published for 60 or 70 years after that. In his view: "The state tends to make man an instrument to serve its arbitrary ends, overlooking his individual purposes. And, since man is in his essence a free, searching, self-perfecting being, it follows that the state is a profoundly anti-human institution." That is, its actions, its existence, are ultimately incompatible with the full harmonious development of human potential in it's richest diversity. Hence incompatible with what Humboldt, and in the following century Marx, Bakunin, Mill, and many others, what they see as the true end of man. And for the record I think that this is an accurate description. [03:07]

The modern conservative tends to regard himself as the lineal descendant of the classical liberal in this sense, but I think that can be maintained only from an extremely superficial point of view, as one can see by studying more carefully the fundamental ideas of classical libertarian thought as expressed, in my opinion, in its most profound form by Humboldt. [03:30]

I think the issues are of really quite considerable contemporary significance, and if you don't mind what may appear to be a somewhat antiquabrian excursion, I'd like to expand on them. [03:41]

For Humboldt as for Rousseau, and before him the Cartesians, man's central attribute is his freedom. "To enquire and to create, these are the centers around which all human pursuits more or less directly revolve." "But," he goes on to say, "all moral cultures spring solely and immediately from the inner life of the soul and can never be produced by external and artificial contrivances. The cultivation of the understanding, as of any man's other faculties, is generally achieved by his own activity, his own ingenuity, or his own methods of using the discoveries of others." [04:16]

Well, from these assumptions, quite obviously, an educational theory follows and he develops it, but I won't pursue it. But also far more follows. Humboldt goes on to develop at least the rudiments of a theory of exploitation and of alienated labour that suggests in significant ways, I think, the early Marx. Humboldt in fact continues these comments that I quoted, about the cultivation of the understanding through spontaneous action, in the following way: He says, "Man never regards what he possesses as so much his own, as what he does and the laborer who tends the garden is perhaps in a truer sense its owner, than the listless voluptuary who enjoys its fruits. And since truly human action is that which flows from inner impulse, it seems as if all peasants and craftsmen might be elevated into artists, that is men who love their labor for its own sake, improve it by their own plastic genius and inventive skill, and thereby cultivate their intellect, ennoble their character, and exult and refine their pleasures; and so humanity would be ennobled by the very things which now, though beautiful in themselves, so often go to degrade it." "Freedom is undoubtedly the indispensable condition without which even the pursuits most congenial to individual human nature can never succeed in producing such salutary influences. Whatever does not spring from a man's free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very being but remains alien to his true nature. He does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness. And if a man acts in a mechanical way, reacting to external demands or instruction, rather than in ways determined by his own interests and energies and power," he says, "we may admire what he does, but we despise what he is." [06:04]

For Humboldt then, man is born to enquire and create, and when a man or a child chooses to enquire or create out of its own free choice, then he becomes, in his own terms, "an artist rather than a tool of production or a well trained parrot". This is the essence of his concept of human nature. And I think that it is very revealing and interesting compared with Marx, with the early Marx manuscripts, and particularly his account of "the alienation of labour when work is external to the worker, not part of his nature, so that he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself and is physically exhausted and mentally debased. This alienated labour that casts some of the workers back into a barbarous kind of work and turns others into machines, thus depriving man of his species character, of free conscious activity and productive life." Recall also Marx's well known and often quoted reference to a higher form of society, in which labour has become not only a means of life but also the highest want in life. And recall also his repeated criticism of the specialized labour which, "mutilates the worker into a fragment of a human being, degrades him to become a mere appurtenance of the machine, makes his work such a torment that its essential meaning is destroyed, estranges from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour process in very proportion to the extent to which science is incorporated into it as an independent power." [07:37]

Robert Tucker for one has rightly emphasized that Marx sees the revolutionary more as a frustrated producer, than as a dis-satisfied consumer. And this, far more radical, critique of capitalist relations of production, flows directly, often in the same words, from the libertarian thought of The Enlightenment. For this reason, I think, one must say that classical liberal ideas, in their essence though not in the way they developed, are profoundly anti-capitalist. The essence of these ideas must be destroyed for them to serve as an ideology of modern industrial capitalism. [08:13]

Writing in the 1780's and early 1790's, Humboldt had no conception of the forms that industrial capitalism would take. Consequently, in this classic of classical liberalism, he stresses the problem of limiting state power, and he is not overly concerned with the dangers of private power. The reason is that he believes in and speaks of the essential equality of condition of private citizens, and of course he has no idea, writing in 1790, of the ways in which the notion of private person would come to be reinterpreted in the era of corporate capitalism. "He did not foresee", I now quote the anarchist historian Rudolf Rocker: "he did not foresee that democracy, with its model of equality of all citizens before the law, and liberalism, with its right of man over his own person, both would be wrecked on the realities of capitalistic economy." Humboldt did not foresee that in a predatory capitalistic economy, state intervention would be an absolute necessity. To preserve human existence. To prevent the destruction of the physical environment. I speak optimistically of course. [09:18]

As Karl Polanyi for one has pointed out: "The self-adjusting market could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society. It would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness." I think that's correct. Humboldt also did not foresee the consequences of the commodity character of labor. The doctrine, again in Polanyi's words, "that it is not for the commodity to decide where it should be offered for sale, to what purpose it should be used, at what price it should be allowed to change hands, in what manner it should be consumed or destroyed." But the commodity in this case is of course human life. And social protection was therefore a minimal necessity to constrain the irrational and destructive workings of the classical free market. [10:03]

Nor did Humboldt understand in 1790 that capitalistic economic relations perpetuated a form of bondage which, long before that in fact, as early as 1767, Simon Linguet had declared to be "even worse than slavery," writing :"it is the impossibility of living by any other means that compels our farm labourers to till the soil, whose fruits they will not eat, and our masons to construct buildings in which they will not live. It is want that drags them to those markets where they await masters, who will do them the kindness of buying them. It is want that compels them to go down on their knees to the rich man in order to get from him permission to enrich him. What effective gain has the suppression of slavery brought him? 'He is free,' you say. That is his misfortune. These men, it is said, have no master. They have one, and the most terrible, the most imperious of masters: that is, need. It is this that that reduces them to the most cruel dependence." And if there is something degrading to human nature in the idea of bondage, as every spokesman for the enlightenment would insist, then it would follow that a new emancipation must be awaited, what Fourier referred to as the third and last emancipatory phase of history. The first having made serfs out of slaves, the second wage earners out of serfs and the third which will transform the proletariat freemen by eliminating the commodity character of labour, ending wage slavery and bringing the commercial, industrial and financial institutions, under democratic control. [11:28]

These are all things that Humboldt in his classical liberal doctrine did not express and didn't see, but I think that he might have accepted these conclusions. He does, for example, agree that state intervention in social life is legitimate "if freedom would destroy the very conditions without which not only freedom but even existence itself would be inconceivable" which are precisely the circumstances that arise in an unconstrained capitalist economy and he does, as in remarks that I quoted, vigorously condemn the alienation of labour. In any event, his criticism of bureaucracy and the autocratic state stands as a very eloquent forewarning of some of the most dismal aspects of modern history, and the important point is that the basis of his critique is applicable to a far broader range of coercive institutions than he imagined, in particular to the institutions of industrial capitalism. [12:21]

Though he expresses a classical liberal doctrine, Humboldt is no primitive individualist, in the style of for example Rousseau. So Rousseau extols the savage who lives within himself, but Humboldt's vision is entirely different. He sums up his remarks as follows, he says "the whole tenor of the ideas and arguments unfolded in this essay might fairly be reduced to this: that while they would break all fetters in human society, they would attempt to find as many new social bonds as possible. The isolated man is no more able to develop than the one who is fettered." and he in fact looks forwards to a community of free association, without coercion by the state or other authoritarian institutions, in which free men can create and inquire, achieve the highest development of their powers. In fact, far ahead of his time, he presents an anarchist vision that is appropriate, perhaps, to the next stage of industrial society. We can perhaps look forward to a day, when these various strands will be brought together within the framework of libertarian socialism, a social form that barely exists today, though its elements can perhaps be perceived, for example in the guarantee of individual rights, that has achieved so far its fullest realization (though still tragically flawed in the western democracies), or in the Israeli kibbutzim, or in the experiments with workers' councils in Yugoslavia, or in the effort to awaken popular consciousness and to create a new involvement in the social process, which is a fundamental element in the third world revolutions, coexisting uneasily with indefensible authoritarian practice. [14:07]

So let me summarize this first point. The first point of the state that I want to setup as a reference, classical liberal, its doctrine is that the state function should be drastically limited, but this familiar characterization is a very superficial one. More deeply, the classical liberal view develops from a certain concept of human nature: one that stresses the importance of diversity and free creation. And therefore this view is in fundamental opposition to industrial capitalism, with its wage slavery, its alienated labour and its hierarchic and authoritarian principles of social and economic organisation. At least in its Humboldtian form, classical liberal thought is opposed as well to the concepts of possessive individualism, which are intrinsic to capitalist ideology. So it seeks to eliminate social fetters, but to replace them by social bonds, not by competitive greed, not by predatory individualism, not of course by corporate empires, state or private. Classical libertarian thought seems to me therefore to lead directly to libertarian socialism or anarchism, if you like, when combined with an understanding of industrial capitalism. [15:17]

## Libertarian Socialism

Well the second point of reference that I want to discuss is the libertarian socialist vision of the state. A French writer rather sympathetic to anarchism once wrote that "anarchism has a broad back, like paper it endures anything" and there are many shades of anarchism and I am concerned here only with one, namely the anarchism of Bakunin, who wrote in his anarchist manifesto of 1865 that "to be an anarchist one must first be a socialist". I am concerned with the anarchism of Adolph Fisher, one of the martyrs of the Haymarket affair in 1886, who said that every anarchist is a socialist, but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist. [15:57]

A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production. Such property is indeed, as Proudhon in his famous remark asserted, a form of theft. But a consistent anarchist will also oppose the organisation of production by government. I'm quoting: "it means state socialism, the command of the state officials over production and the command of managers, scientists, shop officials, in the shop. The goal of the working class is liberation from exploitation and this goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie. It is only realized by the workers themselves being the master of production by some form of workers' councils." These remarks, it happens, are quoted from the left wing Marxist Anton Pannekoek and in fact radical Marxism, what Lenin once called infantile ultra leftism, merges with anarchist currents. [16:53]

This is an important point, I think, and let me give one further illustration of this convergence between left wing marxism and socialist anarchism. Considering the following characterization of revolutionary socialism: "the revolutionary socialist denies that state ownership can end in anything other than a bureaucratic despotism. We have seen why the state cannot democratically control industry. Industry can only be democratically owned and controlled by workers electing, directly from their own ranks, industrial administrative committees. Socialism will be fundamentally an industrial system. Its constituencies will be of an industrial character. Thus, those carrying on the social activity and industries of society will be directly represented in the local and central councils of social administration. In this way the powers of such delegates will flow upwards from those carrying on the work and conversant with the needs of the community. When the central administrative industrial committee meets, it will represent every phase of social activity. Hence the capitalist political or geographical state will be replaced by the industrial administrative committee of socialism. The transition from one social system to the other will be the social revolution. The political state throughout history has meant the government of men by ruling classes. The republic of socialism will be the government of industry, administered on behalf of the whole community. The former meant the economic and political subjection of the many, the latter will mean the economic freedom of all. It will be therefore a true democracy." [18:24]

These remarks are taken from a book called "The State: Its Origins and Function", written by William Paul in early 1917, just prior to Lenin's "State and Revolution", which is his most libertarian work. William Paul is one of the founders of the British communist party, later the editor of British communist party journal. And it is interesting that his critique of state socialism resembles very closely, I think, the libertarian doctrine of the anarchists, in particular in its principle that the state must disappear, to be replaced by the industrial organisation of society in the course of the social revolution itself. Proudhon, in 1851, wrote that what we put in place of the government is industrial organisation and many many similar comments can be cited. That, in essence, is the fundamental idea of anarchist revolutionaries. [19:13]

What's more important than the fact that many such statements can be cited, is that these ideas have been realised in spontaneous revolutionary action several times, for example in Germany and Italy after the first World War, in Catalonia in 1936. One might argue, at least I would argue, that council communism in this sense, in the sense of the long quotation that I read, is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects the intuitive understanding that democracy is largely a sham when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, managers, technocrats, vanguard party, a state bureaucracy or whatever. Under these conditions of authoritarian domination, the classical liberal ideals, which are expressed also by Marx and Bakunin and all true revolutionaries cannot be realised. Man will, in other words, not be free to enquire and create, to develop his own potentialities to their fullest, the worker will remain a fragment of a human being, degraded, a tool in the productive process directed from above. [20:18]

And the ideas of revolutionary libertarian socialism in this sense, they have been submerged in the industrial societies of the past half century. The dominant ideologies have been those of state socialism and state capitalism. But there has been an interesting resurgence in the last couple of years. In fact, the thesis that I quoted from Anton Pannekoek, these were taken from a recent pamphlet of a radical French workers group and the quotation that I read from William Paul on revolutionary socialism was taken from a paper by Walter Kendall at the national conference on workers' control in Sheffield, England, last March. Both of these groups, the French and the English one, represent something significant. The workers' control movement in England, in particular, has developed into a, I think, remarkably significant force in the last few years. It includes some of the largest trade unions for example. The Amalgamated Engineering Federation [probably "Amalgamated Engineering Union"]

, which I think is the second largest trade union in England and which has taken these principles as its fundamental ideas. It has had a series of successful conferences putting out an interesting pamphlet literature and on the continent there are parallel developments. May 1968 in France of course accelerated the growing interest in council communism and similar ideas and other forms of libertarian socialism in France and Germany as it did in England. [21:39]

Given the general conservative cast of our highly ideological society, it is not too surprising that the United States is relatively untouched by these currents. But that too may change. The erosion of the Cold War mythology, at least makes it possible to discuss some of these questions and if the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build on the achievements of the past decade, the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace as well as in the community, this should become the dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the problems of contemporary society. And, as a mass movement for revolutionary libertarian socialism develops, as I hope it will, speculation should proceed to action. [22:28]

It may seem quixotic to group left marxism and anarchism under the same rubric as I have done, given the antagonism throughout the past century between Marxists and anarchists, beginning with the antagonism between Marx and Engels, on the one hand, and, for example, Proudhon and Bakunin on the other. In the nineteenth century, at least, their differences with regard to the question of the state was significant, but in a sense it was tactical. The anarchists were convinced that capitalism and the state must be destroyed together. Engels, in a letter of 1883, expressed his opposition to this idea as follows: "The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the political organisation of the state. But to destroy it at such a moment would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the victorious proletariat can assert its newly conquered power, hold down its adversaries and carry out that economic revolution of society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat and in a mass slaughter of the workers, similar to those after the Paris commune". Now the Paris commune, I think it is fair to say, did represent the ideas of libertarian socialism, of anarchism if you like, and Marx, of course, wrote about it with great enthusiasm. In fact, the experience of the commune led him to modify his concept of the role of the state, as you can see, for examples, by looking at the introduction to the "Communist Manifesto", the edition of which was published in 1872, and to take on something like a more anarchist perspective of the nature of social revolution. [24:03]

Well the commune was of course drowned in blood, as the anarchist communes of Spain were destroyed by fascist and communist armies. And it might be argued that a more dictatorial structures would have defended the revolution against such forces. But I doubt this very much. At least in the case of Spain, it seems to me that a more consistent libertarian policy might have provided the only possible defense of the revolution. Of course this can be contested and it is a long story, which I do not want to go into here, but at the very least it is clear that one would have to be rather naive after the events of the past half century to fail to see the truth in Bakunin's repeated warnings that the Red bureaucracy would prove the most violent, terrible lie of the century. He once said "take the most radical revolutionary and place his on the throne of all Russia", he said in 1870, "or give him a dictatorial power and before a year has passed he will become worse than the Czar himself." I'm afraid, in this respect, Bakunin was all too perceptive and this kind of warning was repeatedly voiced from the left. For example the anarcho-syndicalist Fernand Pelloutier asked, in the 1890s: "Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be the collectivist jail ? Can't it consist in a free organisation, limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared ?" [25:28]

I don't pretend to know the answer to that question, but I think that it is tolerably clear, that unless the answer is positive, the chances for a truly democratic revolution that will achieve the humanistic ideals of the left are perhaps rather slight. I think Martin Buber put the problem quite succinctly when he said: "One cannot in the nature of things expect a little tree, that has been turned into a club, to put forth leaves." For just this reason, it's essential that a powerful revolutionary movement exist in the United States, if there are to be any reasonable possibilities for democratic social change of a radical sort anywhere in the capitalist world. And comparable remarks, I think, undoubtedly hold for the Russian empire. Lenin, till the end of his life, stressed the idea that: "It is an elementary truth of Marxism that the victory of socialism requires the joint effort of workers in a number of advanced countries. At the very least it requires that the great centers of world imperialism be impeded by domestic pressures from counter revolutionary intervention. Only such possibilities will permit any revolution to overthrow its own coercive state institutions as it tries to bring the economy under direct democratic control." [26:43]

Well, let me summarize briefly again. I have mentioned so far two reference points for discussion of the state: Classical Liberalism and Libertarian Socialism. They are in agreement that the functions of the state are repressive and that state action must be limited. The libertarian socialist goes on to insist that the state power must be eliminated in favour of the democratic organisation of industrial society, with direct popular control over all institutions by those who participate in, as well as those who are directly affected by, the workings of these institutions. So one might imagine then, a system of workers' councils, consumers' councils, commune assemblies, regional federations and so on, with the kind of representation that is direct and revocable, in the sense that representatives are directly answerable to and return directly to the well defined and integrated social group for which they speak in some higher order organisation, something obviously very different than our system of representation. [27:40]

Now it might very well be asked whether such a social structure is feasible, in a complex, highly technological society. There are counter arguments and I think they fall into two main categories. First category is that such an organisation is contrary to human nature, and the second category says roughly that it is incompatible with the demands of efficiency. I'd like to briefly consider each of these. [28:03]

Consider the first, that a free society is contrary to human nature. It is often asked: do men really want freedom ? Do they want the responsibility that goes with it ? Or would they prefer to be ruled by a benevolent master ? Consistently, apologists for the existing distribution of power have held to one or another version of the idea of the happy slave. Two hundred years ago, Rousseau denounced the sophistic politicians and intellectuals "who search for ways to obscure the fact," so he maintained, "that the essential and the defining property of man is his freedom. They attribute to man a natural inclination to servitude, without thinking that it is the same for freedom as for innocence and virtue. Their value is felt only as long as one enjoys them oneself, and the taste for them is lost, as soon as one has lost them." As proof of this doctrine he refers to the marvels done by all free peoples to guard themselves from oppression. "True", he says, "those who have abandoned the life of a free man do nothing but boast incessantly of the peace and repose they enjoy in their chains. But when I see the other sacrifice pleasures, repose, wealth, power and life itself for the preservation of this sole good, which is so disdained by those who have lost it, when I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness and endure hunger, fire, the sword and death to preserve only their independence, I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom. A comment to which we can perhaps give a contemporary interpretation. [29:36]

Rather similar thoughts were expressed by Kant 40 years later, "he cannot", he says, "accept the proposition that certain people are not right for freedom, for example the serfs of some landlord." "If one accepts this assumption," he writes, "freedom will never be achieved. For one cannot arrive at the maturity for freedom without having already acquired it. One must be free to learn how to make use of ones powers freely and usefully. The first attempts will surely be brutal and will lead to a state of affairs more painful and dangerous than the former condition. Under the dominance but also the protection of an external authority. However, one can achieve reason only through one's own experiences and one must be free to be able to undertake them. To accept the principle that freedom is worthless for those under one's control and that one has the right to refuse it to them forever, is an infringement on the right of God himself, who has created man to be free." [30:29]

This particular remark is interesting because of its context as well. Kant, in this case, was defending the French revolution during the terror, against those who claimed it showed the masses to be unready for the privilege of freedom. And his remarks too, I think, have obvious contemporary relevance. No rational person will approve of violence and terror, and in particular the terror of the post-revolutionary state, which has fallen into the hands of a grim autocracy, has more than once reached indescribable levels of savagery. At the same time no person of understanding or humanity will too quickly condemn the violence that often occurs, when long subdued masses rise against their oppressors or take their first steps towards liberty and social reconstruction. [31:17]

Humboldt, just a few years before Kant, had expressed a view very similar to that. He also said that freedom and variety are the preconditions for human self-realization. "Nothing promotes this ripeness for freedom so much as freedom itself. This truth, perhaps, may not be acknowledged by those who have so often used this unripeness as an excuse for continuing repression, but it seems to me to follow unquestionably from the very nature of man. The incapacity for freedom can only arise from a want of moral and intellectual power. To heighten this power is the only way to supply the want, but to do so presupposes the freedom, which awakens spontaneous activity." "Those who do not comprehend this", he says, "may justly be suspected of misunderstanding human nature, and wishing to make men into machines." [32:01]

Rosa Luxemburg's fraternal, sympathetic critique of Bolshevik ideology and practice was given in very similar terms. Only the active participation of the masses in self-government and social reconstruction could bring about what she described as the complete spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois class rule, just as only their creative experience and spontaneous action can solve the myriad problems of creating a libertarian socialist society. She went on to say that historically the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest central committee, and I think that these remarks can be translated immediately for the somewhat parallel ideology of the soulful corporation, which is now fairly popular among the American academics. For example Karl Casen who writes: "no longer the agent of proprietorship seeking to maximize return on investment, management sees itself as responsible to stock holders, employees, customers, the general public and perhaps most important the firm itself as an institution. There is no display of greed or graspingness, there is no attempt to push off on the workers and the community at large part of the social costs of the enterprise. The modern corporation is a soulful corporation." [laughter]

Similarly, the vanguard party is a soulful party, and in both cases those who urge that men submit to the rule of these benevolent autocracies may, I think, justly be accused of wishing to make men into machines. [33:33]

Now the correctness of the view which is expressed by Rousseau and Kant and Humboldt and Luxemburg and innumerable others, I don't think that the correctness of this is for the moment susceptible to scientific proof. One can only evaluate it in terms of experience and intuition. One can also point out the social consequences of adopting the view that men are born to be free, or that they are born to be ruled by benevolent autocrats. [33:57]

What of the second question, the question of efficiency ? Is democratic control of the industrial system down to its smallest functional units incompatible with efficiency ? This is very frequently argued on several grounds. Some say, for example, that centralized management is a technological imperative, but I think the argument is exceedingly weak when one looks into it. The very same technology that brings relevant information to the board of managers can bring it at the time that it is needed to everyone in the work force. The technology that is now capable of eliminating the stupefying labour that turns men into specialized tools of production, this technology permits in principle the leisure and the educational opportunities that make them able to use this information in a rational way. And, furthermore, even an economic elite which is dripping with soulfulness, to use Ralph Noloban's phrase, is constrained by the system in which it functions to organise production for certain ends; power, growth, profit, but not in the nature of the case human needs. Needs that to an ever more critical degree can be expressed only in collective terms. It is surely conceivable and perhaps it's even likely, that decisions made by the collective itself, will reflect these needs and interests as well as those made by various soulful elites. [35:12]

In any event it is a bit difficult to take seriously arguments about efficiency in a society that devotes such enormous resources to waste and destruction. As everyone knows, the very concept of efficiency is dripping with ideology. Maximization of commodities is hardly the only measure of a decent existence. The point is familiar and no elaboration is necessary.

## State Systems [35:32]

Well let me turn finally to the two final points of reference: The Bolshevik or state socialist and state capitalist. As I have tried to suggest they have points in common and in an interesting respects they diverge from the classical liberal ideal or its later elaboration in libertarian socialism. Since I am concerned with our society let me make a few rather elementary observations, about the role of the state, its likely evolution and the ideological assumptions that accompany and sometimes disguise this phenomena. Its obvious, to begin with, that we can distinguish two systems of power, the political system and the economic system. The former consists in principle of elected representatives of the people who set public policy, the latter, in principle, is a system of private power, a system of private empires that are free from public control, except in remote and indirect ways in which even a fuedal nobility or a totalitarian dictatorship must be responsive to the public will. There are several immediate consequences of this organization of society. [36:34]

The first is that in a subtle way an authoritarian cast of mind is induced in a very large mass of the population, which is subject to arbitrary decree from above. I think that this has a great effect on the general character of the culture: the belief that one must obey arbitrary dictates and accede to authority, and I think that in fact a remarkable and exciting fact about the youth movement in recent years is that it is challenging and beginning to break down some of these authoritarian patterns. [37:10]

Second fact that is important is that the range of decisions that are in principle subject to public democratic control is quite narrow. For example it excludes in law and in principle the central institutions in any advanced industrial society that is the entire commercial, industrial and financial system. And a third fact is that, even within the narrow range of issues that are submitted in principle to democratic decision making, the centers of private power of course exert an inordinately heavy influence in perfectly obvious ways, through control the media, through control the political organizations, or in fact by the simple and direct means of supplying the top personnel for the parliamentary system itself, as they obviously do. Dick Barnet in a recent study of this reports his study of the top 400 decision makers in the post war national security system, that: "most have come from executive suites and law offices within shouting distance of each other, in 15 city blocks in 5 major cities." And every other study shows the same thing. In short, the democratic system at best functions within a very narrow range in a capitalist democracy and even within this narrow range its functioning is enormously biased by the concentrations of private power and by the authoritarian and passive modes of thinking that are induced by autocratic institutions such as industries, for example. It is a truism, but one that must be constantly stressed, that capitalism and democracy are ultimately quite incompatible. And a careful look at the matter, I think, merely strengthens this conclusion. [38:41]

There are perfectly obvious processes of centralization of control taking place in both the political and the industrial system. As far as the political system is concerned in every parliamentary democracy, not only ours, the role of parliament in policy formation has been declining in the years since WWII as everyone knows and political commentators repeatedly point out. The executive, in other words, become increasingly powerful as the planning functions of the state become more significant. The house Armed Services Commitee a couple of years ago described the role of Congress as that of a sometimes querulous but essentially kindly uncle, who complains while furiously puffing on his pipe, but who finally, as everyone expects, gives in and hands over the allowance. And careful studies of civil military decisions since WWII show that this is quite an accurate perception. Senator Vandenberg 20 years ago expressed his fear that the American chief executive would become "the number one warlord of the earth". That has since occurred. The clearest decision is the decision to escalate in Vietnam in February 1965 in cynical disregard of the expressed will of the electorate. This incident reveals I think with perfect clarity the role of the public in decisions about peace and war. The role of the public in decisions about the main lines about public policy in general, and it also suggests the irrelevance of electoral politics to major decisions of national policy. [40:13]

Unfortunately you can't vote the rascals out, because you never voted them in, in the first place. [applause]

The corporate executives and the corporation lawyers and so on who overwhelmingly staff the executive, assisted increasingly by a university based mandarin class, these people remain in power no matter whom you elect and furthermore it is interesting to note that this ruling elite is pretty clear about its social role. [40:37]

As an example take Robert MacNamara, who is the person widely praised in liberal circles for his humanity, his technical brilliance and his campaign to control the military. His views of social organisation, I think, are quite illuminating. He says vital decision making in policy matters as well as bussiness must remain at the top, that is partly though not completely, what the top is for, and he goes on to suggest that this is apparently a divine imperative. [laughter]

I quote: "God is clearly democratic. He distributes brain power universally, but he quite justifiably expects us to do something efficient and constructive with that priceless gift. That's what management is all about. [laughter]

Management in the end is the most creative of all the arts for its medium is human talent itself. The real threat to democracy comes from undermanagement. The undermanagement of a society is not the respect of liberty. It is simply to let some force other than reason shape reality. If it is not reason that rules man, then man falls short of his potential." So reason, then, is to be identified as the centralization of decision-making at the top in the hands of management. Popular involvement in decision making is a threat to liberty, a violation of reason. Reason is embodied in autocratic tightly managed institutions. Strengthening these institutions within which man can function most efficiently is in his words "the great human adventure of our times." Now all of this has a faintly familiar ring to it and it is the authentic voice of the technical intelligensia, the liberal intelligensia of the technocratic corporate elite in a modern society. [42:16]

There is a parallel process of centralization in economic life. There is a recent FTC report which notes that the 200 largest manufacturing corporations now control about two thirds of all manufacturing assets. At the beginning of WWII the same amount of power was spread over a thousand corporations. I quote the report. It says: "a small industrial elite of huge conglomerate companies is gobbling up American bussiness and largely destroying competitive free enterprise." Furthermore it says "these two hundred corporations are partially linked with each other and with other corporations in ways that may prevent or discourage independent behaviour in market decisions." What is novel about such observations is only their source: the FTC. They are familiar to the point of cliche among left-liberal commentators on American society. [43:05]

The centralization of power also has an international dimension. It has been pointed out that, I am quoting from "Foreign Affairs", "on the basis of the gross value of their output, US enterprises abroad in the aggregate comprised the third largest country in the world, with a gross product greater than that of any country except the United States and the Soviet Union. American firms control over half the automobile industry in England, almost 40% of petroleum in Germany, over 40% of the telegraphic, telephone, electronic and business equipment in France, 75% of the computers. Within a decade, given present trends, more than half of the British exports will be from American owned companies". And furthermore, these are highly concentrated investments: 40% of direct investment in Germany, France and Britain is by three firms, American firms. [44:01]

George Ball has explained that the project of constructing an integrated world economy dominated by American capital, an empire in other words, is no idealistic pipe dream, but a hard headed prediction. It's a role, he says, into which we are being pushed by the imperatives of our own economy. The major instrument being the multinational corporation which George Ball describes as follows: "in its modern form the multinational corporation, or one with worldwide operations and markets, is a distinctly American development. Through such corporations it has become possible for the first time to use the world's resources with maximum efficiency, but there must be greater unification of the world economy to give full play to the benefits of multinational corporations." These multinational corporations are the beneficiary of the mobilization of resources by the federal government and its worldwide operations and markets are backed ultimately by American military force, now based in dozens of countries. It is not difficult to guess who will reap the benefits from the integrated world economy, which is the domain of operation of these American based international economic institutions. [45:04]

Well, at this stage in the discussion one has to mention the specter of communism. What is the threat of communism to this system ? For a clear and cogent answer, one can turn to an extensive study of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and National Planning Association called the "Political Economy of American Foreign Policy", a very important book. It was compiled by a representative segment of the tiny elite that largely sets public policy for whoever is technically in office. In effect, it's as close as you can come to a manifesto of the American ruling class. Here they define the primary threat of communism as "the economic transformation of the communist powers in ways which reduce their willingness or ability to complement the industrial economies of the West." That is the primary threat of communism. Communism, in short, reduces the willingness and ability of underdeveloped countries to function in the world capitalist economy in the manner of for example the Philippines, which has developed a colonial economy of a classic type after 75 years of American tutelage and domination. It's this doctrine which explains why the British economist Joan Robinson describes the American crusade against communism as a crusade against development. [46:23]

The cold war ideology and the international communist conspiracy function in an important way, as essentially a propaganda device, to mobilize support at a particular historical moment for this long time imperial enterprise. In fact, I believe that this is probably the main function of cold war. It serves as a useful device for the managers of the American society and their counterparts in the Soviet Union to control their own populations and their own respective imperial systems. I think that the persistence of the cold war can be in part explained by its utility for the managers of the two great world systems. [46:52]

Well, there is one final element that has to be added to this picture, namely the ongoing militarization of American society. How does this enter in ? To see, one has to look back at WWII and to recall that prior to WWII of course we were deep in the depression. WWII taught an important economic lesson. It taught the lesson that government induced production in a carefully controlled economy, centrally controlled, could overcome the effects of the depression. I think that is what Charles E. Wilson had in mind at the end of 1944 when he proposed that we have a permanent war economy in the postwar world. Of course the trouble is that in a capitalist economy there are only a number of ways in which government intervention can take place. It can't be competitive with the private empires for example, which is to say that there can't be any useful production. In fact it has to be the production of luxury goods. Goods, not capital, not useful commodities, which would be competitive. And unfortunately there is only one category of luxury goods that can be produced endlessly with rapid obsolescence, quickly wasting and no limit on how many of them you can use. We all know what that is. [48:01]

This whole matter is described pretty well by the business historian Alfred Chandler. He describes the economic lessons of WWII as follows: "The government spent far more than the most enthusiastic New Dealer had ever proposed. Most of the output of the expenditures was destroyed or left on the battlefields of Europe and Asia, but the resulting increased demand sent the nation into a period of prosperity, the like of which had never before been seen. Moreover, the supplying of huge armies and navies fighting the most massive war of all time required a tight centralized control of national economy. This effort brought corporate managers to Washington to carry out one of the most complex pieces of economic planning in history. That experience lessened the ideological fears over the government's role in stabilizing the economy." (This is a conservative commentator, I might point out.) It may be added that the ensuing cold war carried further the de-politicization of the American society and created the kind of psychological environment in which the government is able to intervene in part through fiscal policies and in part through public work and public services, but very largely of course through defense spending. [49:16]

In this way, to use Alfred Chandler's words, "the government acts as a coordinator of last resort when managers are unable to maintain a high level of aggregate demand." As another conservative business historian, Joseph Monson, writes, "enlightened corporate managers, far from fearing government intervention in the economy, view the new economics as a technique for increasing corporate viability." Of course, the most cynical use of these ideas is by the managers of the publicly subsidized war industries. There was a remarkable series in the Washington Post about this about an year ago, by Bernard Nossiter. For example he quoted Samuel Downer, financial vice president of LTV Aerospace, one of the big new conglomerates, who explained why the postwar world must be bolstered by military orders. He said: "It's basic." "Its selling appeal is the defense of the home. This is one of the greatest appeals the politicians have to adjusting the system. If you're the president and you need a control factor in the economy, and you need to sell this factor, you can't sell Harlem and Watts, but you can sell self-preservation, a new environment. We are going to increase defense budgets as long as those bastards in Russia are ahead of us. The American people understand this." Of course, those bastards aren't exactly ahead of us in this deadly and cynical game, but that is only a minor embarrassment to the thesis. In times of need we can always follow Dean Rusk, Hubert Humphrey and other luminaries and appeal to the billion Chinese armed with to the teeth and setting out on world conquest. [laughter]


Again I want to emphasize the role in this system of the Cold War as a technique of domestic control, a technique for developing the psychological climate of paranoia and psychosis in which the tax payer will be willing to provide an enormous, endless subsidy to the technologically advanced sectors of the American industry and the corporations that dominate this increasingly centralized system. [51:06]

Well, of course it's perfectly obvious that Russian imperialism is not an invention of American ideologists. It's real enough to the Hungarians and the Chezchs, for example. What is an invention is the uses to which it is put, for example by Dean Acheson in 1950 or Walt Rostow a decade later when they pretend that the Vietnam war is an example of Russian imperialism. Or by the Johnson administration in 1965, when he justifies the Dominican intervention with reference to the Sino-Soviet military bloc. Or by the Kennedy intellectuals, who, as Townsend Hoops put it in an article in the "Washington Monthly" last month, were "deluded by the tensions of the cold war years, and could not perceive that the triumph of the national revolution in Vietnam would not be a triumph for Moscow and Peking." It was the most remarkable degree of delusion on the part of presumably literate men. Or, for example, by Eugene Rostow, who in a recent book that was very widely praised by liberal senators and academic intellectuals, outlined the series of challenges to world order in the modern era as follows: "Napoleon, Kaiser Willhelm, Hitler," and continuing in the post war world, "general strikes in France and Italy, the civil war in Greece, and the attack on South Vietnam" where, he writes in 1968, "Russia has put us to severe tests in its efforts to spread communism by the sword." [52:31]

Now this is a very interesting series of challenges to World order: Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, general strikes in France and Italy, the civil war in Greece and the the Russian attack on South Vietnam. If one thinks it through he can reach some pretty interesting conclusions about modern history. [52:50]

Well, one can continue with this indefinitely. I mean to suggest that the cold war is highly functional, both to the American elite and it's Soviet counterpart, who in a perfectly similar way exploit Western imperialism, which they did not invent, as they send their armies into Czechoslovakia. It's important in both cases in providing an ideology for empire and for the government subsidized system here of military capitalism. It's predictable then that challenges to this ideology will be bitterly resisted, by force if necessary. On many ways American society is indeed open, and liberal values are preserved. However, as poor people and black people and other ethnic minorities know very well, the liberal veneer is pretty thin. Mark Twain once wrote that "it is by the goodness of God that in our country that we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them." [laughter]

Those who lack the prudence may well pay the cost. [53:53]

Roughly speaking, I think its accurate to say that a corporate elite of managers and owners governs the economy and the political system as well, at least in a very large measure. The people, so-called, do exercise an occasional choice among those who Marx once called "the rival factions and adventurers of the ruling class". And those who find this characterization too harsh may prefer the formulations of a modern democratic theorist like Joseph Schumpeter, who describes modern political democracy, favorably, "as a system in which the deciding of issues by the electorate is secondary to the election of the men who ought to do the deciding. The political parties", he says, accurately, "is a group whose members propose to act in concert in the competitive struggle for political power. If that were not so, it would be impossible for different parties to adopt exactly or almost exactly the same program." That's all the advantages of political democracy as he sees it. [54:49]

This program, that both parties adopt more or less exactly, and the individuals who compete for power, they express a narrow conservative ideology, basically the interests of one or other element in the corporate elite, with some modifications. Now this is obviously no conspiracy, I think it is simply implicit in the system of corporate capitalism. These people and the institutions they represent are in effect in power and their interests are the national interests. It is this interest that is served primarily and overwhelmingly by the overseas empire and the growing system of military state capitalism at home. [55:25]

If we were to withdraw the consent of the governed, as I think we should, we are withdrawing our consent to have these men and the interests they represent; govern and manage American society and impose their concept of world order and their criteria for legitimate political and economic development in much of the world. Although an immense effort of propaganda and mystification is carried on to conceal these facts, nonetheless facts they remain. [55:52]

We have today the technical and material resources to meet man's animal needs. We have not developed the cultural and moral resources or the democratic forms of social organization that make possible the humane and rational use of our material wealth and power. Conceivably, the classical liberal ideals, as expressed and developed in their libertarian socialist form, are achievable. But if so, only by a popular revolutionary movement, rooted in wide strata of the population, and committed to the elimination of repressive and authoritarian institutions, state and private. To create such a movement is a challenge we face and must meet if there is to be an escape from contemporary barbarism. [Applause.]

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