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Naomi Klein: Left Economist Says Take Action NOW

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Hat tip to TimeTurk.
I’ve transcribed only portions of this Charlie Rose interview from May 11, 2009, but can we hear it for the Grrl? Are any Leftists articulating so clearly our frustration with the corporate seizure of every aspect of our lives? Where profits are the ONLY freakin’ value being legislated? The solutions are not fundamentally Left or Right, as The Nation’s William Greider articulated.  
The solutions will be found in the decentralization of power, of wealth, of control over every aspect of our lives. That’s what will cure the problems facing the US, and indeed, the world.
The solutions must be bottom up – we neighbors, in our own communities, must create our own micro-societies that function outside the collapsing economic system by using local banks. Growing our own gardens and buying from local farms that don’t pollute the environment or genetically modify what’s raised or grown can help us sidestep hunger, rising food prices, and dangerous biotechnology.
And, though not discussed, our elections must also become decentralized – where each neighborhood counts its own votes and reports to the County and the State the official, final results. Whether used to count or cast the ballots, we cannot employ software because, by its nature, it is undetectably mutable. The studies have been published, ad nauseam. Electoral management bodies across the country are fully aware of this.  Software run elections must be euthanized, along with the current financial system, as Greider suggests.
Most of this excerpted transcript comes from the last half of the interview. I’ve bolded a few key points, and have removed the interjections like ‘and’ and ‘you know,’ etc.
NAOMI KLEIN: The love of Obama is so over the top.  And this thing that happens to us, particularly in times of crisis, where we become – we almost regress, and we wanna believe our leaders will take care of us.  I think that’s unhealthy….
It is time to put away the tee shirts and all the memorabilia. He is the president of the most powerful nation on Earth. The super-fan culture of the campaign has to be replaced with an engaged citizen culture that puts respectful pressure from below.
[Charlie Rose asks if the populist rage could devour the Obama presidency.]
Well, I worry because there is so much anger, and I think it’s deserved anger at corporate greed, at AIG bonuses, at double standards for the bailouts for the banks vs. the bailouts for Detroit.  
I think that kind of rage is an asset. If you look at what FDR did, he used that rage to get Glass-Stegall, to get the key pieces of regulation. He turned it into something constructive. I think it’s a resource – rage. I don’t just dismiss it and say, ‘oh, it’s populist and it’s ugly.’
But the issue with rage is that it’s gonna go somewhere. If it doesn’t get funneled into a project to build a more equitable society, to address these core issues that created the crisis, then it’s kind of free-floating and anyone can use it.
We’re already seeing a rise in some really ugly rhetoric directed at immigrants and even directing it at the president himself, as the first African American president…. We know from history that in times of crisis – particularly when people’s national ego is bruised – that very dangerous things can happen.
So, I feel, as somebody on the Left, that we have not just an opportunity but a moral responsibility to rise to this moment and make sure that that rage is used for a constructive project.
CHARLIE ROSE:  And do what?  Rise to the occasion and …?
KLEIN: And demand universal health care, and say we want a real green economy. We have a zero tolerance policy about the loss of manufacturing jobs. Say, we’re not gonna sit by and …
ROSE:  And also say, if the Administration doesn’t do this, and doesn’t hear us, then we will withhold our support in 2012?
KLEIN: Well, now we’re talking about the problems of the two-party system.
[So she laughs and tosses the ball to William Greider… but finally suggests strikes.]
GREIDER (author of Come Home, America): We will see a new politics. It will be a rejuvenation that is not anchored in the stale two-party rivalry, which – we’ve now got 39% of the country doesn’t want to be either a Democrat or a Republican! What’s that about?
[ROSE asks where Obama’s head and heart is. After some back-and-forth, Greider says]:
GREIDER: He is trying to restore what should be subjected to euthanasia – the old financial order.
KLEIN: It’s so crucial that Obama supporters who do want things like universal health care and want serious action on the environment make themselves a force to be reckoned with. He is a centrist. He finds the center. He finds the poles…
ROSE: And you’re okay with that?
KLEIN: I’m okay with that. I think that is who he is and that means that the task for progressives in this country is to move the center….  
FDR brought in the New Deal as a compromise because people were so mobilized and were moving so far to the Left in this country that he was able to sell the New Deal to corporate America as a necessary compromise because the alternative looked like revolution. [She smiles, as do I.]
Let the police protect the bankers from pitchforks and let the president protect the country from bankers.
ROSE: What would you like capitalism to look like? 
KLEIN: …. What we’ve been living through for the past thirty years is a revolution in which ‘market logic’ has taken over every aspect of life. I think that there is absolutely a role for markets, but I don’t think they should govern every aspect of life…. There are whole areas where other values should prevail and where profit is destructive….  Health care is one…. Water is another….
We’re seeing problems with the total corporate takeover of the food system
We need a mixed economy… some things are just too important to be left to the market.  Have markets but also have other elements like co-ops and other models to organize society.
GREIDER:  …. You’ve gotta disperse power.  Power is both concentrated in government – in Washington – and not just in the financial system but in the pyramid at the top of corporate America….   
That could be dispersed, not simply by law but by what people do…. People won’t get richer... but Americans will have larger lives – and I mean that in humble ways and in grand ways.  
That’s what is missing in the economic model that has prevailed in the last 25 years. It actually was confining and cramping to how people live.  We can change that….
It’ll take everybody … giving up on the State as a solution, giving up on Wall Street (laughs) as a solution… [let] small towns do their own inventions and innovations, small companies…  
This is a dispersal of power that this country’s always thrived on… and it’s not fundamentally Left or Right.
This is why OpEdNews needs the far Left… because that is the only natural and just response to the past 30 years, and particularly the past eight years, of the Far Right agenda. The only way we can all live with each other is if neither extreme prevails. Now is NOT the time for backing off from Left extremism… now we need such voices more than ever.  
The alternative, as FDR saw and as Naomi Klein warns, is revolution.
(Hat tip to Mystic Wizard for posting the quick link to this interview.)
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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

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