Thom Hartmann talks about his new book, THRESHOLD, and describes how he's concluded that it literally takes a sociopath to be a CEO of a major transnational company.
an excerpt from the transcript:
we, as a race, I mean the human race, are standing at a series of thresholds. We and what we refer to as Western Culture, although I would say that, broadly, that should also probably include what sometimes would be referred to as Eastern Culture.
But, just to say the "crisis of culture" would be, would have been confusing. I would include China, India, the whole, in this mix, that we're standing at the edge of a number of significant thresholds. There is the environmental crisis, which is a door we are going to pass through, for better or for worse, and are passing through, in fact, in much of the world. There is the population crisis. The population explosion that, arguably, is one of the major driving factors in all this. And there is the crisis of democracy and capitalism, or democracy and economics, would probably be a better way to put it. Because, although capitalism is the principle form of economics practiced on the planet, the more it becomes, as I refer to the "cancer stage" of capitalism, the more it becomes toxic, the more it becomes antithetical to democracy and we end up with kleptocracies or oligarchies ruled by the rich or ruled by those who are most creative at stealing and using the instruments of government to do so.
All of those, you know, we stand at the edge of all of these thresholds. And my argument in the book is that all of them are created, not as unique and separate and disparate things, but they all come from the same source. All of these problems, as it were, derive from the same source. And that source is the crisis of culture.
Culture is the collection of stories that we tell ourselves about who we are relative to the world and our place in the world. And I would suggest that our culture is dysfunctional. And we need to figure out a way to . . . well, actually, I suggest a few ways in the book, ways to fix and recalibrate our culture. If we don't, we're screwed. Which is the title of a previous book.
Rob Kall: You have an interesting discussion about the progress of what freedom means. And how the idea of freedom has evolved and morphed and changed and become perverted, really. You didn't use those words, but when you talk about how the neocons and their economists that they worship or idolize and that inspire them, it's sick. Can you talk about the freedom that Ayn Rand and Milton Freidman and the neocons and Bush and his whole administration base their idea of freedom on? What is freedom according to that group of people?
Thom Hartmann: Sure. They and, by and large the entire Republican Party and a small contingent of the Democratic Party that we refer to as "Blue Dogs," define freedom as economic freedom. As the ability to buy and sell anything you want, and make as much money as you want in this world. And that sounds nice. But, as Franklin Roosevelt said in 1936, a necessitous man is not a free man. In other words, if you're hungry, you're not free. If you're homeless, you're not free. If you don't know where your next meal is going to come from, you're not free. If you're sick and you can't get healing, you can't get healed, you're not free.
So, there is a soil in which freedom has to root itself and that soil has to do with the structural and cultural commons that is, largely, what we call government. We create government. We created government. The Founders put all this effort into the Constitution and into this awful, bloody war with England to create a country where people could be free, because there was a basic framework. There were the basic institutions, there was the basic foundational stuff that allowed people to not be necessitous. And out of not being necessitous, they could then be free. In other words, their basic below Maslow's threshold's needs, their basic needs for homeostasis and safety and security were pretty much solved. And then they were free to pursue all these other things.
The fundamentalists among us, the economic fundamentalists, the objectivists, and the Libertarians would have us forget all that, and would suggest that government is always the enemy of freedom, and that only economic freedom is of consequence. And, they're just terribly wrong. It's a destructive notion, ultimately. And it's also an inaccurate, or incorrect, notion.
Rob Kall: Well, it's interesting, I think that . . .
Thom Hartmann: If you want real total freedom, go to Somalia, you know?
Rob Kall: Go to Somalia?
Thom Hartmann: Yeah! You know, you can buy and sell anything you want in Somalia . . .
Rob Kall: Slaves . . . ?
Thom Hartmann: Yeah. And there's virtually no government. There's not a functional government. So, if you want a small government and a lot of economic freedom, if you want the perfect libertarian paradise, go to Somalia. Not a good idea, but . . .
Rob Kall: I think we both met a slave who is now in the States, who was a slave in Somalia.
Thom Hartmann: That was the Sudan. But, yeah.
Rob Kall: The Sudan . . .
Thom Hartmann: You're talking about the fellow with the markings across his forehead? I'm forgetting his name.
Rob Kall: Yeah, the tribal markings. Yeah.
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