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William I. Robinson and his book, Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity
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William I. Robinson is professor of sociology at US Santa Barbara and author of the book, Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity
Very, very rough, incomplete notes designed to pique your interest in listening. These notes should not be read as representing the exact words of the article.
Rob: what is your goal
we cannot change a system that we don't understand. So most of the book is about analyzing world capitalism, globalized capitalism" we cannot confront this system without getting
Rob: Can you give us an overview of the 500 year history of capitalism
1492-- conquest and genocide of America-- birth of a system that begins its outward expansion
periods of outward expansion through imperialism.
each brings system to a larger market
all of people have been brought violently into the system.
Rob: All of these conflicts? What are you referring to
wars, things like what happened in paris, slow motion genocides
We can link it to changes in world capitalism
There is this unbelievable wave of police violence towards blacks in America can be tied to global capitalism
Rob: what are some of the most important concepts you feel we need to understand.
We need to talk about a Transnational Capitalist Class TCC at the apex of the social structure
the group that owns the global corporations. That's really the enemy we face.
They meet in Davos Switzerland. They design, organize and impose wars on governments.
THey design TPP
Rob: and you refer to them as the TCC.
It's important in movements to use this vocabulary.
Behind the governments that kill blacks on the street are global corporations and the TCC, driven by
Rob: you use the following terms we should talk about:
TransNational State Apparatuses TNS
Globalized systems of accumulation
one of the problems of people resisting global capitalism is we have nationalist thinking
The TCC has transnational consciousness, and operates transnationally.
We think at the level of our local and national struggles. We need to develop transnational and global consciousness.
TNSs organizations and institons serve as institutional framework through which the TCC imposes its will.
IMF, World Bank, European Union
We're facing a transnational state.
TPP-- 1/3 govt 1/3 global corporations 1/3 these orgs like World Bank
The TCC carries its exploitation
Rob: Is there a cartography of this transnational state?
How many of these organizations are there and are there maps of how they are connected to each other?
in Greece IMF European Union Bank, World Bank, and giant global investors--
It's a dense network"
The key point is we have an evermore overlap and mutual integration of economic elites and political elites.
Rob: You said, "We need to develop transnational and global consciousness." I've been thinking about the need for connection consciousness" What's involved in developing transnational and global consciousness?
refers to protests in Chicago-- escalation of police violence is intimately related to globalized capitalism.
African Americans are " Lowest rungs of
lowest, most super-exploited workers.
By 1970s, 1980s were most radicalized. They were no longer good employees, leading the working class. So employers, capitalists, began to remove African American workers" began replacing them largely with immigrant Latino workers. This had the advantage that employers could deport immigrants who were undocumented-- they were vulnerable without the same civil rights.
Pushed from super-exploited to structurally marginalized while latinos are the new exploited.
How do you deal with people who have been structurally marginalized? create a prison industrial complex.
Global capitalism has dislocated latinos.
White workers have been more privileged because of the radicalized nature of capitalism"
so they saw more improvements and became "the labor aristocracy."
White workers experienced increased insecurity, uncertainty, lower wages, unemployed.
How do the white workers respond to this without class consciousness or transnational consciousness" so they appeal to the elite" and the anti immigrant movement has its roots in
Police have always killed black people and it's being filmed now. But there is also an unbelievable increase in racism
This generates heightened state repression.
Rob: So, how do we get this idea injected into the conversation?
Rob: Are there any signs or examples of it happening at all?
I study global capitalism from the top down because we need to understand our enemy.
There are many movements
I just got back from Palestine-- they are acutely aware of the struggle of African Americana and for that matter poor people in the United States. They were aware of what happened in Ferguson.
But they were also aware of the massacre in Ayotzinapa Mexico. 43 students brutally kidnapped and murdered in September 2014.
When they saw the people in Ferguson assaulted with rubber bullets and Pepper Spray, the Paelistinians gave advice to those in Ferguson on how to deal with
This kind of transnational consciousness is our only hope.
Rob: So let's talk more about that.
the global environmental movement. You have to talk about climate change at a global level. The most advanced movement on the planet, transnationally would be the environmental movement. And there's the environmental justice movement. That is, happily to say, that is a shining example. of one that is transnational and global
I just made a visit to ddddddd south of the border, where workers are repressed, there's genocide going on there.
Women are organizing independent trade unions in Juarez-- because the government unions"
They are talking about the need for cross border organizing.
We need transnational organization, transnational trade unionism, transnational struggle. Most workers think of their own nation state.
The workers in first world countries have better conditions-- this represents privilege workers have had because of colonialism and imperialism.
A significant portion of the trade union movement in Europe is coming out against opening up the doors in Europe to people fleeing Syria and Africa, because it will affect job".
Rob: You talk about crisis, holocaust-- the kind of stuff
Six dimensions of the global crisis-- could lead to the end of human civilization
Scientists say there are 9 planetary boundaries we can't go-- tipping points-- and three we've already passed. We are facing the sixth extinction. We have to talk about an ecological holocaust which is underway. It is linked to wars, social conflicts and crises--
Genocide in Africa-- six million dead in the Congo
Dessertification dries up water. People are struggling for resources. All of this has its structural roots in global capitalism.
As long as we've had record we've never seen such intense global inequalities.
January 2015 Oxfam released a report that the 1% controls 50% of the world's wealth
The top 80 billionaires control 50% and increases their wealth by 50% since 2010
80% of humanity have 5.5% of the world's wealth.
We are facing the crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher.
Rob: Paul Hawker, author of Blessed Unrest, says that there are over a million organizations working for social and environmental justice
Rob: Transnational mechanisms of coordination
I've posited that the web and digital distributed technologies have catalyzed the transition towards bottom-up. How do you see these technologies facilitating Transnational mechanisms of coordination
technology has allowed horizontal coordinating from below.
There is an effort to control and commodify the internet to make it more one dimensional top down to below.
Rob: Can you talk more about how the top-down Transnational elite are attempting to control and ratchet down bottom-up power?
there was effort to separate the internet into two levels-- quick speedy internet and then slow, more difficult access. That is a massive ongoing struggle.
This is part of the TPP so called intellectual property rights and services into completely commodified--
Rob: You've written in your book about the problem you have with the way liberals and progressives think about change.
Vanguardism: set up a revolutionary party, party struggles for state power, via revolution or electoral means and then the successful party will change things from the top down.
Then there's horizontalism. This view is that you do not need political organization and revolutionary parties. You simply need to struggle at the local level and don't need to challenge state power.
I reject both.
We can't ignore the state. The state is hovering over us as a repressive apparatus. We absolutely need to confront and overthrow the state. We need to think about taking state power. And or that we need to think about political organizations.
Some examples coming out of South America are very helpful-- Bolivia, Evo Morales
has done some good things but has also collaborated with TCCs.
You have to autonomous, powerful social movements pressuring from below.
Rob: One of my favor quotes "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." R. Buckminster Fuller
What's your take on that?
Absolutely and there's nothing wrong with dreaming about utopias.
Responding to people who say you have to be pragmatic
We have to struggle for the possible but we will never know what is possible if we don't struggle for the impossible Max Weber
Rob: we're coming near the end of the interview.
How is capitalism different in the 21st century-- is surplus humanity some 30-50% of humanity have been structurally marginalized-- half of humanity thrown into the margins, occupying megaslums. How do you struggle when you are not being exploited but rather marginalized?
The system imposes complex control systems on both.
If we are to contribute to movements for social justice". then we should seek to aid those directly organizing mass movements around the world to transform this system" Central to this undertaking is putting forward a cogent and system critique of global capitalism.
The challenge is how to reconstruct the social power of the popular classes worldwide in a new era in which such power is less mediated and organized through the nation state.
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