Transcribed from the audio podcast posted here.
Thanks to Eric Forat for transcript checking/editing.
R.K.: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey, sponsored by opednews.com. My guest tonight is Lawrence Wilkerson. He is retired United States Army soldier and and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making." Welcome to the show. Welcome back.
L.W.: Thanks for having me, good to be back.
R.K.: So, I just wanted to kind of catch up with you and what's been on your mind. I did a little research and you were recently on the Real News and you were talking about predatory capitalism and about predators. I'm interested in that. What is that about?
L.W.: Everything Marx wrote was not wrong, you know? It's kind of like paranoids are sometimes right, too. There are people that are after them. Capitalism has within it the seeds of its own destruction. We indeed have seen those seeds sown a number of times in our fertile soil in this country. Perhaps the most egregious time really not the 1930's though that was the most debilitating time but beginning in the 1890's when Robber Barons, as Teddy Roosevelt and others called them, began to show us the real dark side of capitalism and what is, in essence, icapitalism's goal-- monopoly.
Its secondary goal is the destruction of labor, or at least the minimization of labor and its tertiary and other goals underneath that monopoly and that destruction or minimalization of labor and the cost thereof is building shoddy products at a maximum price. We have reached that stage again in this country. We reached it with a new envelope around the stage.
When we reached it in the 30's, when we reached it in the late 19th century, mid century and before we had reached it many times as I said before, each time, either the depth of our republic, which is really our exceptionalism, if we have any, three thousand miles, two oceans on either side, benign neighbors north and south and so forth, that's how exceptional we are really, we've had this incredible continental spread of resources, arable land and so forth, but each time we reach it, some of that grasps us back and brings us back to some kind of equilibrium.
In the Great Depression years in the 30's, of course, it was Franklin Roosevelt and the government, and labor to a certain extent, and I have to admit, too, it was parties like the communist party that reached out, grabbed us and slung us back into a more balanced position. And the way that happens generally is that labor rises up and objects to capitalist exploitation and at the same time government steps in and brings some balance between labor's demands and capital's demands and so you get a regulatory system within the government framework that handles capitalism-- more or less manages it.
Well what we did after World War II was dismantle, slowly but surely, starting with Nixon in the 70's and moving through Reagan and on up to George W. Bush, that regulatory mechanism at the same we were destroying the labor movement. And anybody that tells me we have a labor movement left in America, I laugh at them, we don't. We've destroyed it. So there are no balancing mechanisms now.
There is no government regulation to speak of and there's no labor movement to speak of. And capitalism is off on its ultimate goal, monopoly, destruction and minimization of labor, cheap products and shoddy products. That is essentially what capitalism's goal is and it's predatory to the maximum because it produces for a select few enormous wealth while it produces, for the many, poverty and worse.
R.K.: You're a republican.
R.K.: That doesn't sound republican, that sounds socialist.
L.W.: I'm an Eisenhower republican. Eisenhower, who despite the frantic cries and pleads and demands even of his own party, for eight years kept the tax on the wealthiest people in America above 90%. He continued the war level tax on the richest people in America, saying again and again 'to those who much is given much is expected." And I am that kind of Republican. You don't convince me that trickle-down theory works. It doesn't work.