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Martin Hart-Landsberg

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The planning and politics of conversion: World War II lessons for a Green New Deal — Part 1

 

 

By Marty Hart-Landsberg

December 11, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from  Reports from the Economic Front — This is the first in a series of posts that aim to describe and evaluate the World War II mobilization experience in the United States in order to illuminate some of the economic and political challenges we can expect to face as we work for a Green New Deal.  

This post highlights the successful government directed wartime reorientation of the U.S. economy from civilian to military production, an achievement that both demonstrates the feasibility of a rapid Green New Deal transformation of the U.S. economy and points to the kinds of organizational capacities we will need to develop. The post also highlights some of the strategies employed by big business to successfully stamp the wartime transformation as a victory for “market freedom,” an outcome that strengthened capital’s ability to dominate the postwar U.S. political economy and suggests the kind of political struggles we can expect and will need to overcome as we work to achieve a just Green New Deal transformation.

Defunding police and challenging militarism, a necessary response to their “battle space”

 

 

By Marty Hart-Landsberg

July 21, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — The excessive use of force and killings of unarmed Black Americans by police has fueled a popular movement for slashing police budgets, reimagining policing, and directing freed funds to community-based programs that provide medical and mental health care, housing, and employment support to those in need.  This is a long overdue development.

United States: Racism, COVID-19 and the fight for economic justice

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

June 22, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — While the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the United States were triggered by recent police murders of unarmed African Americans, they are also helping to encourage popular recognition that racism has a long history with punishing consequences for black people that extend beyond policing.  Among the consequences are enormous disparities between black and white well-being and security.  This post seeks to draw attention to some of these disparities by highlighting black-white trends in unemployment, wages, income, wealth, and security. 

Climate change, the Green New Deal and the struggle for climate justice

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

February 6, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — Most calls for a Green New Deal correctly emphasize that it must include a meaningful commitment to climate justice.  That is because climate change—for reasons of racism and capitalist profit-making—disproportionately punishes frontline communities, especially communities of color and low-income.

What the New Deal can teach us about winning a Green New Deal: Part V—summing up the New Deal experience

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

 

October 20, 2019  — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — Growing awareness of our ever-worsening climate crisis has boosted the popularity of movements calling for a Green New Deal.  At present, the Green New Deal is a big tent idea, grounded to some extent by its identification with the original New Deal and emphasis on the need for strong state action to initiate social-system change on a massive scale.  Challenges abound for Green New Deal activists.  Among the many, how to:

 

  • create supportive working relationships between the different movements currently pushing for a Green New Deal
  • develop a sharper, shared vision of the aims of a Green New Deal
  • increase popular support for those aims as well as participation in those movements
  • build sufficient political power to force a change in state policy along lines favorable to the Green New Deal
  • ensure that the resulting trajectory of change strengthens the broader struggle to achieve a socially just and ecologically sustainable political-economy

 

What the New Deal can teach us about winning a Green New Deal: Part IV—Keeping the pressure on the state

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

 

September 22, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — Advocates for a Green New Deal, pointing to ever-worsening and interrelated environmental, economic, and social problems, seek adoption of a complex and multifaceted state-directed program of economic transformation.  Many point to the original New Deal–highlighting the federal government’s acceptance of responsibility for fighting the depression and introduction of new initiatives to stabilize markets, expand relief, create jobs producing public goods and services, and establish a system of social security–to make it easier for people to envision and support another transformative state effort to solve a major societal crisis.

 

What the New Deal can teach us about winning a Green New Deal: Part III—the First New Deal

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

 

September 22, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — In Part I and Part II of this series on lessons to be learned from the New Deal I argued that despite the severity of the Great Depression, sustained organizing was required to transform the national political environment and force the federal government to accept direct responsibility for financing relief and job creation programs. In this post, I begin an examination of the evolution and aims of New Deal programs in order to highlight the complex and conflictual nature of a state-directed reform process.

 

What the New Deal can teach us about winning a Green New Deal: Part II—Movement Building

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

 

August 17, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — In Part I in this series on lessons to be learned from the New Deal, I described the enormous economic and social costs of the first years of the Great Depression and the reluctance of business and government leaders to pursue policies likely to threaten the status quo.  I did so to demonstrate that we should not assume that simply establishing the seriousness of our current multifaceted crisis, especially one that has yet to directly threaten capitalist profitability, will be enough to win elite consideration of a transformative Green New Deal.

 

I also argued that it was the growth of an increasingly militant political movement openly challenging the legitimacy of the police, courts, and other state institutions that finally transformed the national political environment and pushed Roosevelt to change course and introduce his early New Deal employment and relief programs.  In this post, I examine the driving force of this movement, the movement of unemployed.

 

What the New Deal can teach us about winning a Green New Deal: Part I–Confronting Crisis

 

 

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

 

August 17, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — The New Deal has recently become a touchstone for many progressive efforts, illustrated by Bernie Sanders’ recent embrace of its aims and accomplishments and the popularity of calls for a Green New Deal.  The reasons are not hard to understand. Once again, growing numbers of people have come to the conclusion that our problems are too big to be solved by individual or local efforts alone, that they are structural and thus innovative and transformative state-led actions will be needed to solve them.

 

The New Deal was indeed a big deal and, given contemporary conditions, it is not surprising that people are looking back to that period for inspiration and hope that meaningful change is possible.  However, inspiration, while important, is not the same as seeking and drawing useful organizing and strategic lessons from a study of the dynamics of that period.

 

The need for a new US foreign policy towards North Korea

 

 

By Marty Hart-Landsberg

 

June 13, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — US-North Korean relations remain very tense, although the threat of a new Korean War has thankfully receded.  Still the US government remains determined to tighten economic sanctions on North Korea and continues to plan for a military strike aimed at destroying the country’s nuclear infrastructure.  And the North for its part has made it clear that it would respond to any attack with its own strikes against US bases in the region and even the US itself.

 

This is not good, but it is important to realize that what is happening is not new.  The US began conducting war games with South Korean forces in 1976 and it was not long before those included simulated nuclear attacks against the North, and that was before North Korea had nuclear weapons.  In 1994, President Bill Clinton was close to launching a military attack on North Korea with the aim of destroying its nuclear facilities.  In 2002, President Bush talked about seizing North Korean ships as part of a blockade of the country, which is an act of war.  In 2013, the US conducted war games which involved planning for preemptive attacks on North Korean military targets and “decapitation” of the North Korean leadership and even a first strike nuclear attack.

 

China's slowdown foreshadows global slowdown

shrinking chinese economy

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 14, 2015 -- Reports from the the economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China’s economy is dramatically slowing and this has significant consequences for world growth. The figure above provides a good visualisation of the slowdown and why official statistics likely overstate China’s current official growth rate of 7%.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Lessons from a defeat in Europe

For more analysis and discussion on Greece's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 13, 2015 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Troika are celebrating the end of negotiations with Greece, proclaiming that thanks to their tireless efforts the Eurozone remains whole. And why wouldn’t they celebrate. They have demonstrated their power to crush, at least for now, the Greek effort to end austerity and its associated devastating social consequences. Tragically, SYRIZA has not only surrendered, the nature of its defeat is likely to leave the country worse off, at least both economically and very likely politically as well.

China, Apple and the labour process

Demonstrators outside an Apple store in Hong Kong protest about the poor working conditions of employees of Taiwan's Foxconn which manufactures Apple products in China.

[More articles by Martin Hart-Landsberg; more on China]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 19, 2012 -- Reports From the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Contemporary capitalism, driven by the competitive pursuit of private profit, tends to produce a stream of innovative goods and services. Of course this drive for private profit generally ensures that these goods and services will be the ones that are most likely to satisfy the desires of those with the greatest purchasing power. Less appreciated is the fact that this pursuit of private profit also tends to promote production processes that are based on exploitative work conditions. A case in point: Apple products.

China: 'A sixteen-point proposal on China's reform'

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

March 2, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- China is widely celebrated as an economic success story. And it is as far as GDP, investment and export growth is concerned. However, as we know well from our experience in the United States, such economic indicators often reveal little about the reality of people’s lives. In China workers are subject to intense working conditions with a disproportionate share of the benefits of production going to a top few. For example, as Bloomberg News notes:

The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Globalisation, capitalism and China

Workers at the Foxconn (the Taiwanese multinational corporation owned) factory located in China in which many Apple products are assembled.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 24, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A January 22, 2012 New York Times story, "The iEconomy: How US Lost Out on iPhone Work", has been getting a lot of coverage. The article makes clear that Apple and other major multinational corporations have moved production to China not only to take advantage of low wages but also to exploit a labour environment that gives maximum flexibility.

The following quote gives a flavour for what attracts Apple to China:

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Yes, Virginia, there is a 1%

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

October 24-November 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeed in forcing the media to acknowledge the extent and seriousness of income inequality. In many ways wealth inequality is a bigger problem, since it is wealth that largely underpins income and power differences.

According to an Economic Policy Institute posting,

the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 per cent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.

It is worth dividing the top 5% into what has now become two familiar groups, the top 1% and the next 4%.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Troubling economic trends for US workers

inequality-2.jpg

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

September 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US Census Bureau just published new data revealing trends in living standards as of 2010. The trends are troubling to say the least.

Median household income (adjusted for inflation) fell to US$49,445 (see below). That means that the median household in the United States now earns less than it did a decade ago.This marks the first decade since the Great Depression without an increase in real median income. According to Lawrence Katz, a labour expert and Harvard economist,

This is truly a lost decade.We think of America as a place where every generation is dong better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Market 'outcomes' and political power

"Now imagine if we had a state that engaged in transparent planning and was committed to using our significant public resources to reshape our economy in the public interest. ... state planning and intervention in economic activity already goes on. Unfortunately, it happens behind closed doors and for the benefit of a small minority. It doesn’t have to be that way."

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 25, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US media likes to talk about markets as if they were just a force of nature. In fact, markets and their outcomes are largely shaped by political power. In a capitalist system like ours, that power is largely used to advance the interests of those who own and run our dominant corporations.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: The troubled US economy means a shaky world economy

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US economy is in trouble and that means trouble for the world economy. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Trade and Development Report, 2010, “Buoyant consumer demand in the United States was the main driver of global economic growth for many years in the run-up to the current global economic crisis.”

Before the crisis, US household consumption accounted for approximately 16 per cent of total global output, with imports comprising a significant share and playing a critical role in supporting growth in other countries. In fact, “as a result of global production sharing, United States consumer spending increas[ed] global economic activities in many indirect ways as well (e.g. business investments in countries such as Germany and Japan to produce machinery for export to China and its use there for the manufacture of exports to the United States)”.

United States: The deficit deal -- We got taken

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 2, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US Congress has finally agreed on a deficit reduction plan that President Barack Obama supports. As a result, the debt ceiling is being lifted, which means that the Treasury can once again borrow to meet its financial obligations.

Avoiding a debt default is a good thing. However, the agreement is bad and even more importantly the debate itself has reinforced understandings of the US economy that are destructive of majority interests.

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