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"ProjectCensored" by Project Censored - This image has been downloaded from the website of Project Censored at www.projectcensored.org.. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ProjectCensored.png#/media/File:ProjectCensored.pngLUMPENPROLETARIATFree speech radio KPFA is currently holding its on-air 2016 Winter Fund Drive.  In order to encourage support for the first listener-sponsored free speech radio station and network in the nation, perhaps the planet, audio excerpts from cutting edge documentary films are often featured.  One such film is poised to be an invaluable resource for helping the general public understand the capitalist mode of production, which engulfs us all.  It presents a wide breadth of information and analyses about economics. [1]

Capitalism: A Six-Part Series (2015) was directed by Ilan Ziv and released through Icarus Films. [2]  Capitalism is celebrated as much as it is misunderstood by its proponents.  This enlightening documentary series is required viewing for all students, citizens, migrant workers, and economic refugees, as it encourages a clearer understanding of capitalism and the social relation at its core known as capital, and, therefore, more informed public decision-making toward the healthiest economic outcomes for society.

Messina

Capitalism: A Six-Part Series (2015) directed by Ilan Ziv

***

ICARUS FILMS—Capitalism has been the engine of unprecedented economic growth and social transformation. With the fall of the communist states and the triumph of “neo- liberalism,” capitalism is by far the world’s dominant ideology. But how much do we understand about how it originated, and what makes it work?

CAPITALISM is an ambitious and accessible six-part documentary series that looks at both the history of ideas and the social forces that have shaped the capitalist world.

Blending interviews with some of the world’s great historians, economists, anthropologists, and social critics (view the complete list of participants), with on-the-ground footage shot in twenty-two countries, CAPITALISM questions the myth of the unfettered free market, explores the nature of debt and commodities, and retraces some of the great economic debates of the last 200 years.

Each fifty-two minute episode is designed to stand alone, making these ideal for classroom use or as an additional resource for students:

Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market
Capitalism is much more complex than the vision Adam Smith laid out in The Wealth of Nations. Indeed, it predates Smith by centuries and took root in the practices of colonialism and the slave trade.

Episode 2: The Wealth of Nations: A New Gospel?
Adam Smith was both economist and moral philosopher. But his work on morality is largely forgotten, leading to tragic distortions that have shaped our global economic system.

Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?
The roots of today’s global trade agreements lie in the work of stockbroker David Ricardo and demographer Thomas Malthus. Together, they would restructure society in the image of the market.

Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?
Have we gotten Marx wrong by focusing on the Communist Manifesto instead of on his critique of how capitalism works – a critique that is relevant and as penetrating as ever?

Episode 5: Keynes vs Hayek: A Fake Debate?
The ideological divide between the philosophies of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek has dominated economics for nearly a century. Is it time for the pendulum to swing back to Keynes? Or do we need a whole new approach that goes beyond this dualism?

Episode 6: Karl Polanyi, The Human Factor
An exploration of the life and work of Karl Polanyi, who sought to reintegrate society and economy. Could the commodification of labour and money ultimately be as disastrous as floods, drought and earthquakes?

CAPITALISM is an impressive series that makes economics accessible through an interdisciplinary approach that explores the work of great thinkers, while embedding economics in specific social, political, and historical contexts. The series can be watched as a whole, but each episode also stands alone.

The series features some of the world’s top economists, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, including Thomas Piketty, Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, Nicholas Phillipson, Kari Polanyi Levitt, David Graeber, and Abraham Rotstein. View the complete list of storytellers.

“A captivating epic… a major contribution to economic and social reflection.”Le Monde (France)

“Brings clarity to confusion, makes complexities accessible, and produces a clear narrative of a system that seems opaque to most people.”Journal du Dimanche (France)

“Masterly… is going to revolutionize our vision of the economic world.”La Vie (France)

“In first look CAPITALISM seems like the economics class you should have skipped…. but in a second look CAPITALISM is the seminar that you must take in the second semester … the point of view is very different and surprising, the result is an impressive, visually rich series.”Israel HaYom (Israel)

“Should not be missed! Combines highly educational explanations of concepts, economic history and contemporary life, to create a series of documentaries, each of which it is difficult to stop watching!”Alternatives Economiques (France)

“10 Stars! A truly captivating series that delves into history, philosophy, investigates four corners of the planet, and stimulates the viewer with a re-examination of the basic concepts that define our lives.”Globes (Israel)

The series was chosen as one of the ten best programs in France in 2014.

Learn more at ICARUS FILMS.

***

Notes on CAPITALISM: A Six-Part Series

[Notes on Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market by Messina]

[On Adam Smith]

[David Hume]

[Amazon…rubber found by foreign resource extractors…indigenous Maijuna people, then, are enslaved and proletarianised…]

[Dr. David Graeber]

[On the barter myth]

[Romero Rios (c. 18:49)]

[Amazon…rubber found by foreign resource extractors…indigenous Maijuna people, then, are enslaved and proletarianised…]

[(c. 19:07)  Robert Boyer, economist, on the “actors who invented capitalism”]

[transforming indigenous communities, which were previously self-sufficient, into homo economicus, i.e., the process of proletarianisation]

[(c. 19:55) On the “discovery of the Americas”, which was important for the development of science and capitalism as well as the interrelations between them.]

[Yuval Noah Harari, historian]

[SNIP]

 

***

Notes on CAPITALISM: A Six-Part Series

EPISODE 4:  What if Marx was right?  [episode summary by Icarus Films]

“Paradoxically, we can’t really learn that much about socialism or communism or the future from Marx. We can learn a great deal about how capital works.”Marx historian David Harvey

When the communist systems of the 20th century crumbled, many thought that was the end for Karl Marx as a serious thinker too. But the last few years have seen a reawakening of interest in Marx’s work – in particular for his analysis of the nature of capital and the forces it unleashes.

film still

Concentrating on commodification, alienation, and the fetishization of money and credit, WHAT IF MARX WAS RIGHT argues that Marx is more relevant now than he has been in nearly a century. Have we gotten Marx wrong by focusing on the Communist Manifesto instead of on his still-cogent critique of how capitalism works?

Featuring former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, small farm activist Vandana Shiva, economist Thomas Piketty and Marx experts Mary Gabriel and David Harvey, among others.

Episode 4: What if Marx Was Right?

*

[Working draft transcript of actual free speech radio broadcasts by Messina for Lumpenproletariat, Icarus Films, and KPFA/Pacifica Radio]

Episode 4:  What if Marx Was Right?

NARRATOR:  [3] “We were told that capitalism is the product of big thinkers and big ideas.  But is it true?  How did ideas shape our lives?  What is their relation to reality?  Can they help us understand today’s economic crisis, let alone the future of capitalism?

“[Audio of disciplined Chinese schoolchildren training and chanting in unison]  Dawn in Nanjing, China’s last surviving communist commune.  On the surface, a time warp, complete with revolutionary posters and radio news piped into the main square.  But the community claims it rediscovered Marxist values, as a defence to China’s roaring capitalism.

“In London’s financial center, Marx is unexpectedly being rediscovered here as well.”

DR. TRISTRAM HUNT: “And all of Marx’s and Engels’ warnings over the dangers of monopoly capitalism and concentrated finance have come to pass.” [4]

NARRATOR:  “And we thought he was gone forever.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism, that system of government was consigned to the dustbin of history.  And Marx was thrown out along with it.”

NARRATOR:  “So, is it possible that we’ve misread Marx?  Is it possible that his insight into 19th century capitalism has more relevance now than in past decades?  Karl Marx, housed in Trier, Germany, besieged by Chinese tourists.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “Karl Marx was born in 1818 in the Rhineland, which is the westernmost province of Prussia.  It was an interesting part of the greater Germany because it had been occupied by Napolean.  And, so, it had been initiated in the ideas of the French Enlightenment.  And that was a milieu in which he was raised.”

NARRATOR:  “I can feel no regret, wrote a young woman to her loved one.  I shut my eyes very tightly, once again I lay close to your heart, drunk with love and joy.  A romantic love letter, like so many others.  The innocence of the early 19th century in a provincial German town.  The only difference is that the man the letter is addressed to was Karl Marx.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “In Trier, he met Jenny von Westphalen.  She was quite a catch for Marx because he was the son of a Jewish lawyer and was, by such, a social outcast.  She was the daughter of a Prussian baron.”

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “So, he got educated in Trier.  And, then, he went to Berlin.  I guess the expectation was that he’d go to college and be a good boy and learn law or something like that.  He was, politically, very much engaged because there was always this kind of question of:  After the French Revolution, would there be a sort of liberal democracy?  What’s going to happen to the autocratic regimes in Germany?  And so on.  So, he was kind of mixed up in all of that.”

NARRATOR:  “More than a century later, the romantic student from Trier had been transformed into the menace of western governments and capitalist countries.

[Santa Claus/Marx cartoon omitted by scribe]

“Marx had become a bogeyman, the conspirator behind every social demand.

[Santa Claus/Marx cartoon omitted by scribe]

“The reason for this radical transformation from a promising young student into a dangerous revolutionary can be found in the basement of the Trier museum, kept in a safe.  [snip]

“In that year, Europe erupted in popular revolts.  It was the moment that Marx had been waiting for after years of agitating for radical political reforms.

A spectre is haunting Europe, opens The Communist Manifesto, the spectre of communism.  All the powers of Europe have entered into holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “Unfortunately for Marx, he was always late in all of his writing.  And he didn’t publish The Communist Manifesto until after the 1848 revolts had begun.  So, he couldn’t take credit for those.  And, in fact, The Communist Manifesto was sort of lost in the revolution.  And it was only rediscovered later.”

NARRATOR:  “The story behind The Communist Manifesto did not begin at the 1848 Revolution, but in Paris five years earlier when Marx met Friedrich Engels, the revolutionary son of a wealthy industrialist.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “They met at a Paris cafe, that was known worldwide as being a place where chess masters matched wits.  Marx and Engels spent ten days and ten nights talking.  And, at the end of that time, they came out feeling that they were completely in agreement on all things.  And a beautiful relationship was born.”

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “Marx meeting Engels was, I think, a crucial moment.  He met somebody who was actually engaged in, or working in, the factories of Manchester and, therefore, could talk to Marx about the labour process.”

NARRATOR:  “They are worse slaves than the negros in America, wrote Engels, for they are more sharply watched.  And, yet, it is demanded of them that they shall live like human beings, shall think and feel like men.  This they can do only under glowing hatred towards their oppressors, which degrades them as machines.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “Marx went to Manchester with Engels, for a little trip, in 1845.  He saw the people who were living in the most degraded conditions, who were building this industrial future by working in the factories.

“He saw the families that had been torn apart by the factory work, the mothers who had to give their infants opium in the morning, so they could go off to work and assume that the children were going to be drugged all day and they wouldn’t have to be cared for.  For a man like Marx, a social and political theorist, and an economic theorist, to go there would be to walk right into the laboratory of humanity, of industrial humanity.”

NARRATOR:  “While, in 1848, The Communist Manifesto was ignored, in 1917, it was the blueprint for the Bolshevik Revolution and its global ambition.”

VINTAGE USA PROPAGANDA FILM:  “You ever hear of Karl Marx?  In his mind, communism was born more than a hundred years ago.”

NARRATOR:  “Marx has now been transformed into a global threat.”

VINTAGE USA PROPAGANDA FILM:  “This is the Kremlin, a citadel of Russian communism.  Looking closer we see a public display of giant portraits of communist leaders.  Here was a new face.  But in the background was an old one—Karl Marx.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “The Marx, that people in the 20th century, and in the 21st century, ran away from was Marx of The Communist Manifesto.  That’s the person, that, I think, capitalist governments and democracies and western governments, held up as the person who was responsible for communism and its atrocities in the 20th century.”

NARRATOR:  “So, maybe, we got it all wrong.  We focused so much on the revolutionary message of The Communist Manifesto and ignored the bulk of the document, which analysed the real revolution, that Marx wrote about—capitalism.

DR. TRISTRAM HUNT:  “Ladies and gentlemen, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were the first to chart the uncompromising, unrelenting, compulsively iconoclastic nature of capitalism.  It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties, that bound man to his natural superiors and has left no other remaining nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous cash payments.

“And it was Marx who revealed how capitalism would crush languages, cultures, traditions, even nations in its wake.  In one word, it creates a world after its own image, he wrote. [snip?]

“I would like to suggest to you that Marx has rarely seemed more relevant.  ‘Marx’s Stock Resurges on A 150-Year Tip’ was how The New York Times, The New York Times, marked the 150th Anniversary of the publication of The Communist Manifesto, a text, which more than any other, as they put it, ‘recognized the unstoppable wealth-creating power of capitalism, predicted it would conquer the world, and warned that this inevitable globalization of national economies and cultures would have divisive and painful consequences’. ”

NARRATOR:  “After the publication of The Communist Manifesto, Marx was expelled from continental Europe.  He was once again a refugee, this time arriving in London in 1849.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “Imagine Dean Street in 1850, the year Karl Marx and his family moved into this Soho neighborhood.  The streets were teeming with refugees, people who had fled failed revolts on the Continent.  They arrived in this country, some with only the clothes on their backs, many not even speaking the language.

“Marx and his family were among the lucky.  But all they had—three adults and three children—were two rooms and an attic.  And, in those cramped quarters, Marx tried to make sense of what he had just experienced and what he saw in the streets around him.”

NARRATOR:  “And, next door, a brand new exhibition opened right at the time Marx began writing Das Kapital, an exhibition celebrating the achievements of the industrial revolution.”

MARY GABRIEL, M.A.:  “It was a triumph of industry.  Man’s greatest achievements were on display.  And, so, this was the dawn of a new era.  King Capitalism was on the throne.  And, yet, Marx, up in his garret, was busily scribbling why this system would never work.  Yes, it produced wonders.  But it would also produce great destruction.”

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “I teach Marx.  And a question I always ask is:  What can we learn from Marx?  And what do we have to do for ourselves?  And I think that that’s a very important question to ask because very frequently, in the past, people have read their Marx and then sort of, I don’t know, plunked reality into it and, then, said:  Ah! Here’s the answer!  I don’t think you can do that.  I think there’s only a limited set of things we can learn from Marx.

“Paradoxically, we can’t really learn that much about socialism or communism or the future from Marx.  We can learn a great deal about how capital works.”

NARRATOR:  “The wealth of societies, in which capital modes of production prevail, presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities.  Our investigation must, therefore, begin with the analysis of a commodity.  —Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Volume 1.

[Audio of 1950s-ish idyllic home life omitted by scribe]

“A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside of us, a thing, that by its properties, satisfies human wants.  —Das Kapital.

[Audio of 1950s-ish idyllic home life omitted by scribe]

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “Now, what Marx does in Volume 1 of Capital is have a little section called The Fetishization of Commodities.  And what it, basically, means is that our daily experience doesn’t actually give us all of the information we need to understand how the system is working.

“Our daily experience is we take some money and we buy a commodity.  We take it home.  That’s our daily experience.  But that doesn’t tell you anything about the labour, that went into the commodity.  It doesn’t tell you anything about why it is that this commodity costs twice as much as that commodity.  And Marx is kind of saying:  The market system disguises all of those social relations.”

NARRATOR:  “There are many different commodities with different use-values.  But they have only one common property left, that of labour itself.  —Das Kapital.

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “The Industrial Revolution, which we conventionally date from around 1780 was founded upon the creation of a factory system with large-scale machinery and, of course, a labour process, that was very different from that which artisans, in making there cabinets and so on, engaged in.

“This conversion and this rise of capitalism, from 1780 onwards, was for Marx a crucial transformation.”

NARRATOR:  “The worker is related to the product of labour, as to an alien object.  The more the worker spends himself, the more powerful becomes the alien world of objects, which he creates, the poorer he himself, his inner world, becomes.  —Karl Marx

“This iPad worker, who has asked for his identity to be hidden, has been given a camera to film his life outside the factory.  Once these workers were peasants, with a connection to the land and its products.  Now, they are part of an assembly line.  Alienation, argued Marx, is built into the manufacturing process of commodities.”

DR. DAVID HARVEY:  “To Marx, it’s the idea of living labour, which is so crucial, which distinguishes him very much from the classical political economists, who saw labour, as a fact of production.  They call it a factor of production.  It’s a thing.”

[This transcript will be expanded as time constraints, and/or demand or resources, allow.]

***

UPDATE [28 FEB 2016]—Gonzo:  Thanks to KPFA’s Kris Welch for mentioning Lumpenproletariat.org and reading from our website during the last nine minutes of her Saturday Morning Talkies broadcast for Saturday, 27 FEB 2016 (c. 1:51:55).  It was through KPFA that I found out about the University of Missouri-Kansas City and other radical, heterodox economics departments; so, to KPFA I am indebted.  And it is with KPFA/Pacifica Radio, first and foremost, that I endeavour to share what I have learned about heterodox economics, political economy, and life under the capitalist mode of production. [5]

Gonzonian regressions aside, here is a list of radio broadcasts featuring excerpts of Ilan Ziv‘s Capitalism: A Six-Part Series for those interested in listening and, thereby, learning more about the capitalist mode of production, but are unable to afford purchasing or getting a copy of the Six-Part Series as a thank-you gift for donating to KPFA. [6]

  • Fund Drive Special: Capitalism, 4 MAR 2016, 15:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast features two excerpts (c. 5:00; c. 21:00) from Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market.  (N.B.: KPFA usually removes audio archives of Fund Drive special programming, such as this one, two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • Special Programming: Capitalism Special, 4 MAR 2016, 11:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included four excerpts (c. 4:00; c. 22:00; c. 37:00; c. 47:00) from Episode 2: The Wealth of Nations: A New Gospel?  The four excerpts broadcast during this hour were based on the same selected, edited, excerpts, as broadcast on UpFront (for 3 MAR 2016, 07:00 PDT, see notes below).  (N.B.: KPFA usually removes audio archives of Fund Drive special programming, such as this one, two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • Hard Knock Radio, 3 MAR 2016, 16:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast was a re-run of the Hard Knock Radio broadcast for 22 FEB 2016.  (See notes below.  Excerpt start times have shifted because the News Headlines are new.)  The first two excerpts (c. 10:12; c. 24:48) from Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom? addressed the work of David Ricardo (1772 – 1823) and Thomas Robert Malthus (1766 – 1834) and the consequent implications for modern institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, and featured analyses from Dr. Michael Hudson, et al.  This radio broadcast also included an excerpt (c. 49:54) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?  (N.B.: Hard Knock Radio usually removes audio archives two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • UpFront, 3 MAR 2016, 07:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included four excerpts (c. 10:16; c. 26:16; c. 37:23; c. 48:05 ) from Episode 2: The Wealth of Nations: A New Gospel?, on the obfuscated aspects of Adam Smith‘s work (1723 – 1790), particularly his foundational text, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), which informs his more famous Wealth of Nations (1776).  For example, in the first excerpt (c. 10:16) Dr. Noam Chomsky reminded us that, rather than uncritically accepting the division of labour, Adam Smith “points out that division of labour is monstrous” because it “turns people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as a person can possibly be because a person just becomes a machine.  That’s a terrible attack on fundamental human rights.  And, therefore, [Adam Smith] says, in any civilised society, the government’s gonna have to intervene to prevent division of labour.”  Similarly, another distortion made by most economics textbooks, ascribes an Ayn Randian Virtue of Selfishness to Adam Smith’s moral philosophy, which is antithetical to Smith’s actual moral philosophy.  “Self-interest, his second most quoted principle, suffered a similar fate [as did Smith’s analysis of the division of labour].”  Adam Smith’s conception of self-interest was corrupted by historical revisionists to serve the aims of capital at the expense of the working classes and the general welfare.  In the second excerpt (c. 21:18), the complex aspects of Adam Smith’s notion of self-interest are parsed and expanded beyond the narrow Ayn Randian Virtue of Selfishness predicated upon illusory perceptions.  These false perceptions fail to see the interconnected and interdependent nature of human social relations.  Indeed, Ayn Rand is cited in the documentary film, as promoting a 21st century “philosophy of self-interest”, which helped fuel the Reagan and Thatcher political revolutions.  This right-wing backlash overturned the previously established social contracts in the USA and the UK, largely based on Keynesian state interventions and regulations, which recognised the reality of human interdependence.  Another distortion of Smith’s philosophy made by his misguided proponents regards the so-called invisible hand of the free market.  Indeed, your author, having read The Wealth of Nations several times, can assure readers that Smith uses the actual phrase “invisible hand” maybe two or three times in the entire tome.  When Smith’s proponents cite Smith’s concept of the invisible hand, it’s invariably taken out of context.  As Noam Chomsky points out:  “Adam Smith was concerned that, if there was free movement of capital and free import of goods, he said England will suffer because British capitalists will invest abroad, and they’ll import from abroad, and that’ll harm the English economy.  Adam Smith, then, gave an argument—and not a very good argument—but his argument was that English investors will prefer to invest in England because of what some called a home bias.  They’ll have a preference for investing close by.  And, therefore, as if by an invisible hand, England will be saved from the menace of free capital movement and the free imports.  That’s invisible hand.  What’s that gotta do with the Cato Institute or modern enthusiasm about free capital flow and having U.S. corporations invest in China, so they can send stuff back here to sell cheap, exploiting Chinese workers?  That’s not Adam Smith.”  In the third excerpt (c. 37:23), the distortions and obfuscations of Adam Smith’s work are shown to have contributed to the Global Financial Crisis (c. 2008).  During a 2009 Congressional hearing on the Global Financial Crisis, Ayn Rand disciple, Alan Greenspan (then-Chair of the Federal Reserve System, the USA’s central bank), had to answer for the failure of his neoclassical invisible hand assumptions, by which he promoted financial deregulation:  “I found a flaw in the model, that defines how the world works, so to speak.” (Cf. The Flaw (2011))  In the fourth excerpt (c. 48:05), the intellectual foundations of slavery are explored, which are also the intellectual foundations for neoclassical economics and the central assumptions justifying capitalist modes of production.  “One of the first to identify the intellectual foundations, on which slavery was built—the ability to separate economic logic from social and human reality [a central requirement for neoclassical economics, but not heterodox economics]—was a contemporary of Adam Smith, a former slave, and a philosopher, too.”  His name was Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1759).  Unfortunately, his ideas were, literally, burned and obfuscated, whilst a revisionist take on Adam Smith’s ideas were touted as gospel.
  • Special Programming: Capitalism, 2 MAR 2016, 11:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.  (N.B.: KPFA usually removes audio archives of Fund Drive special programming, such as this one, two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • Letters and Politics, “Capitalism: The Six-Part Series“, 2 MAR 2016, 10:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.
  • Flashpoints, 1 MAR 2016, 17:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included excerpts from Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market.  Notes pending.
  • Uprising, 1 MAR 2016, 08:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.
  • Against the Grain, 29 FEB 2016, 12:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.
  • Saturday Morning Talkies, 27 FEB 2016, 09:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.
  • Special Programming: Capitalism, 26 FEB 2016, 11:00 PDT.  Notes pending.  Hour-long broadcast.  (N.B.: KPFA usually removes audio archives of Fund Drive special programming, such as this one, two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • UpFront, 25 FEB 2016, 07:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included four excerpts (c. 8:12; c. 24:55; c. 36:25; c. 46:05) from Episode 6: Karl Polanyi, The Human Factor.  The first excerpt (c. 8:12) features Dr. Michael Hudson on Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation) and history of economic thought.  The second excerpt features Dr. Yanis Varoufakis and Dr. Michael Hudson (UMKC) on ancient economic history and ancient economic planning, such as land redistribution and debt annulment, the clean slateDr. Hudson.  The third excerpt features Dr. Yanis Varoufakis and Dr. Michael Hudson (UMKC) on ancient economic history, clean slate, land redistribution, and debt annulment.  Dr. Hudson emphasised that most ancient transactions were governed by the state or the church, which gave the issuers of the currency monetary sovereignty.  This is a central concept in MMT (or modern money theory or modern monetary theory), which is taught at the heterodox economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City:  The issuer of a given currency has monetary sovereignty.  This meant that debts of the poor could be forgiven periodically to correct societal imbalances, which may develop over time.  The trouble came when most debts in society were owed to private banks.  Private debt wasn’t as easily forgiven, as debt controlled by a church or a crown.  The narrator raises several fascinating questions.  When did debt become a purely economic issue?  Dr. Yanis Varoufakis reminded us that economic desperation could lead societies down a path like that of Nazi Germany, or other fascist outcomes.  The fourth excerpt features Dr. David Graeber on the traditional supremacy of debt.
  • Letters and Politics, 24 FEB 2016, 10:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included two extended excerpts (c. 7:19; c. 21:22) from Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market, featuring David Graeber, et al., on the myth of the barter economy, reciprocity, and more.  In this first extended clip (c. 7:19), Dr. David Graeber challenged the standard narrative about the origins of capitalism by placing them centuries before the industrial revolution, in the context of colonialism and slavery.  Dr. Graeber argues that Hernán Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition, which led to the demise of the Aztec Empire, drove his troops into debt via his company store.  Rather than offer debt forgiveness, Cortés gave indebted troops a “ten year moratorium” and sent them out to colonise and pillage the Americas in order to repay their debts.  So, their outrage, argued Dr. Graeber, combined with virtually “unlimited power turned them into monsters.”  In this process of Spaniard looting of natural resources, the extraction of silver from the Americas flooded into Spain, driving demand for English wool, “which made raising sheep more profitable.”  English peasants were, then, “displaced to make room for more sheep.  The process was called enclosure.” (c. 15:55)  In this narrative of early capitalist modes of production, we clearly see how wealth accumulation in one part of the world led to the displacement, poverty, and immiseration of working classes in another part of the world.  This riveting narrative emphasises the interconnectedness of global capital and the serious consequences resulting from the decisions of capitalists driven purely by profit motive commanding capital flows.  In the second extended excerpt (c. 21:22), the origins of capitalism were placed in the context of the slave trade and its importance in creating early global markets, which are “disembodied from society”.  Early private enterprises engaged in “triangular trade” “contributed to the emergence of a market economy”.  Triangular trade was “increasingly dependent on black slavery”, but Adam Smith’s canonical narrative chose to “turn a blind eye to slavery”.  Slave plantations were profit-driven enterprises and functioned in every way, as capitalist enterprises with the sole exception of utilising slave labour instead of wage labour.  Thus, “a strong case can be made that capitalism actually started in the 16th century with the colonisation of the Caribbean and Latin America.” (c. 30:00)  This radio broadcast also included two excerpts (c. 34:30; c. 45:21) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?  The first excerpt (c. 34:30) contextualised the life and times of Dr. Karl Marx and his pivotal friendship with Friedrich Engels.  The second excerpt (c. 45:21) fleshed out the concepts introduced earlier in the historical accounts of colonialism and slavery.  Dr. David Harvey explained that the accumulation of capital is always accompanied by the accumulation of debt.  The money form exists in tandem with the credit system, which leads to the fetish of commodities and a dialectical relationship between commodities and human behaviour.  Long-held values, morals, and ethics are obliterated by the fetish of commodities.  Actor Angelina Jolie and her publicised case of breast cancer is cited as an example.  Today, genes are patented, whereas in the past such notions would’ve seemed absurd to the prevailing norms of yore.  Such are the revolutionary forces unleashed by capitalist modes of production, as Dr. Karl Marx brilliantly observed long ago.
  • Uprising, 23 FEB 2016, 08:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included two excerpts (c. 10:04; c. 29:05) from Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?, featuring Dr. Michael Hudson (UMKC), Dr. David Graeber, et al., and addressing the IMF and the World Bank.  This radio broadcast also included an excerpt (c. 44:48) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?, featuring Dr. David Harvey (CUNY), et al., on the fetishism of commodities.
  • Hard Knock Radio, “Capitalism 101“, 22 FEB 2016, 16:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included two excerpts (c. 9:25; c. 24:00) from Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?, which addressed implications for modern institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank and featured clips from Dr. Michael Hudson (UMKC), et al.  This radio broadcast also included an excerpt (c. 49:21) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?  (N.B.: Hard Knock Radio usually removes audio archives two weeks after initial radio transmission.)
  • UpFront, 19 FEB 2016, 07:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included two excerpts (c. 8:40; c. 25:27) from Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?, featuring Dr. Michael Hudson (UMKC), Dr. David Graeber, et al., and addressing David Ricardo‘s notion of comparative advantage, the origins of free trade dogma, the Opium Wars, colonialism, imperialism, and consequent implications for contemporary working classes and institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank.  This broadcast also included two excerpts (c. 37:56; c. 45:18) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?, featuring Dr. David Harvey (CUNY).
  • Flashpoints, 18 FEB 2016, 17:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included an excerpt (c. 21:38) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?, featuring Dr. David Harvey (CUNY).
  • Letters and Politics, 18 FEB 2016, 10:00 PDT.  This hour-long radio broadcast included two excerpts (c. 18:45; c. 30:54) from Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?, featuring clips from Dr. David Harvey (CUNY) discussing fictitious capital. This broadcast also included an excerpt (c. 41:36) from Episode 5: Keynes vs Hayek: A Fake Debate?

Messina

***

[1] And, most impressively, it is very consistent with my university training as an economics major at one of the world’s finest, radical, heterodox economics departments, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Where is the best new economics now being done?  UMKC.”  —James K. Galbraith

[2]  Previously it had only been made available to educational institutions for $498.  Currently, it can be acquired at an extremely discounted price with a donation to KPFA/Pacifica Radio.

[3]  This particular audio excerpt was transcribed from the Flashpoints (94.1 FM, KPFA, Berkeley, CA) broadcast for Thursday, 18 FEB 2016, c. 21:38, hosted by Dennis Bernstein.

[4]  For an extended video clip of this soundbite, see “Tristram Hunt: Marx Was Clear About the Consequences of Capitalism”, by IQ Squared on YouTube:

Or for those with true grit, or an insatiable hunger for knowledge, consider the entire debate, entitled “Karl Marx Was Right“:

[5]  But it’s not easy.  Perhaps one is married with children, and still trying to persevere with a dignified measure of civic engagement, and not just shrivelling up under the pressure of putting food on the table and being there for loved ones uninterested in, or wary of, civic engagement.  But we keep on pushing in whatever capacity we can, hoping to build bridges with other people of conscience interested in truths, however brutal or emancipatory, rather than endless escapism and frivolity.

[6]  All others with means, please consider supporting free speech radio in all of its manifestations and permutations.  It cannot be understated that democracy cannot function without an informed electorate.  And there is truly nothing more informative in the public realm than honest listener-sponsored free speech radio and broadcast media.

***

[19 FEB 2016]

[Last modified 20:05 PDT  26 SEP 2016]

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