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Is HVPCS Too Radical For The Democratic Party?? What About The Left?

Anthony_JKenn's picture

I've been following with great interest the debate here over High Value Platinum Coin Seignoirage (HVPCS), as well as Letsgetitdone's fantastic and tireless effort to promote HVPCS as an alternative to Democratic/Republican austerity. Heck, I've even done a blog post or two over at my blog on the issue. My question is not on the legitimacy of HVPCS or the process, but in the way it is being sold and the potential audience to sell it.

It appears to me from reading LGID's essays that he seems to believe that the Democrats and/or President Obama can be pressured to accept and enact HVPCS in the event of an economic or political crisis, in spite of the principled conservative positions of the Treasury Department and Obama's own history as a Third Way corporatist Democrat. As a long time Independent Leftist who left the Dems well over 20 years ago due to their "me too" economic philosophy (among other things), I'm not so sure that approach would be so fruitful.

I would ask for a different, more radical approach: What if HVPCS was integrated into a far more radical critique of capitalism as a whole, and a solution in which the goal was not simply reforming the economic system, but full scale redistribution and radical adjustments to the political and economic system? What if the $60T (or $100T, or even $1Q) platinum coin was incorporated into a broader Left policy agenda which included shifting of government resources and revenue from defense and social surveillance/prison/social engineering to social welfare and fair compensation, social infrastructure, and egalitaianism? Should the audience for promoting HVPCS be the same Wall Street denizens who are simply not going to accept it because they are too committed to the same old tired austerity agendas of the deficit hawk Center and supply-side/hard money Right? Maybe the real dialogue should be with people of the Left (like, for instance, Left Business Observer's Doug Henwood) or organizations of working class and poor people who have suffered the most from austerity policies, rather than the middle-class professionals?

Also...I wonder whether or not the fear of HVPCS getting under the power of the very people it was intended to protect us from could be muted by rooting it within a broader Left program of regulation (and even outright nationalization or decentralization) of Wall Street and corporations, the return of the concept of "ability to pay" tax reform, and the move towards "sustainable growth". I really don't think that the Democratic Party as a whole will be the place where MMT/HVPCS will break through; but a potential independent Left political structure could be the perfect vehicle for challenging traditional austerity memes.

Again, I'm not challenging the legitimacy of the HVPCS solution....indeed, I am enthusiastically for it. I just want to pose an alternative stategy on how to sell it to the American people.

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wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

I agree with you. Even if the existing power structure did adopt HVPCS, they would use it to merely further their own designs. The existing power structure is fundamentally broken and we must replace it. That's all there is to it.

In that sense, I think it is foolish to focus on HVCPS any longer. Pushing it has helped bring MMT into mainstream discussion. Beyond this, it simply looks stupid. Why waste time on trying to find cute exceptions within the system, when the people in charge simply won't do it. Legal or not. Let's focus on the system and end state we want, not on trying to convince a fundamentally corrupt and kleptocratic power structure.

Aaron Swartz's case should be the last nail in the coffin of privileged white liberalism. Frankly, he was foolish to think that the feds were not going to come after him. So were his friends. They should have realized that our system is corrupt, authoritarian and brooks no opposition, peaceful or not.

We're not going to implement an MMT understanding until the streets of the US look like Egypt first, and the power elite have to concede. And as Egypt has shown us, it's what happens after the concession that counts.

Larry Lessig blogged the other day about the statement from Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney who persecuted Aaron Swartz. After Swartz died, Ortiz put out a banal (in the Arendtian sense) defense of her actions. Lessig wrote in response that:

Ortiz’s statement is a template for all that is awful in what we as a political culture have become. And it pushes me — me, the most conventional, wanting-to-believe-in-all-things-patriotic, former teenage Republican from the home of Little League baseball — to a place far more radical than I ever want to be.

It is about time that Lessig be radicalized. It's about time the tech elite in the Bay Area, are radicalized. Because frankly, I have been SICK of listening to tech elite types temporize over the last 10 or 15 years, as the United States continued to march down the path of authoritarianism. All the nice people, with the professorships, the fellowships, the good jobs, the educations from the top schools, and the people who aspired to stand in their shoes one day, always looked askance at me when I commented on the irredeemability of the system.

Oh yeah. I was just paranoid. Well who's paranoid now, motherfuckers?

I remember in particular one young, earnest striver telling me how I "just didn't understand" how smart the people in charge were. Yeah, they were smart-- they were smart enough to pick all our pockets and turn the US into half a police state.

It was pretty clear 15 years ago that the drug war was a scam, that it wasn't stopping dope, and was just criminalizing black and brown people, as well as huge numbers of poor whites. But no, no, no we couldn't question it. And even if we did, it was always something that was going to take "more study." Unwinding the war on drugs was just unthinkable.

Nice white people didn't give a shit because they didn't ever have to go to jail unless they did something really epic like transport thousands of ecstasy pills from state to state. Delusional people of color in elite schools didn't care either because they knew if they played their cards right they could get a shot at the big leagues, the nice big law firms and the highly respectable, oh so very respectable federal prosecutor jobs, where hardnosed tough federal prosectors are held to high standards by deeply respected federal judges. Oh no, we'll reform the system from within. Right. Still waiting for that.

So yes, to answer the call of your question, HVPCS is too radical for the Democratic Party. MMT is too radical for the Democratic Party. Screw the Democratic Party, and the nice progressive leftists, because they're a bunch of walkovers. If they weren't, we wouldn't be in this awful situation now. At the top, the Democratic Party is made up of people who wholeheartedly embrace delusional economics because it gets them paid. At the bottom, it's made up of delusional, weak people who don't understand what it takes to make a revolution. Aaron Swartz was a man who did many things right; his real failure was his inability to understand the true risks of his actions. We have to be better than that; we have to do the things we have to do while knowing full well the risks, and do it anyway.

Whether people choose the path of violence or the path of nonviolence, they have to choose. We have to choose personal courage, a willingness to work with others, and a willingness to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. We have to face the harsh realities and risks of our actions, and act, despite our fears.

The movement needs warriors. If you are one step up. If you aren't one, become one. Everyone else? Get the fuck out.

Submitted by Hugh on

I agree with wuming. To think that the Democrats are somehow better than the Republicans, that they are more susceptible to pressure and can be reformed, or forced to embrace reform, is to misunderstand the nature of the game being played against us. The Democrats and Republicans are not opposing but complementary evils. They can not be separated because they function together. They ratchet the discourse not so much to the right as to what serves the interests of the rich and elites. In such a context, reform is a non-starter. This is perhaps the single most important lesson we need to learn and apply from here on out: change will never happen through the two parties, ever. If real change is to come, it must come from new structures, parties, movements that are completely independent of and opposed to the two parties and the interests they represent.

We really need to draw some bright red lines and respect them. It simply wastes our time and energy creating scenarios that depend on the powers that be doing the right thing when we know they have no intention, no matter what pressures are brought to bear, of doing the right thing, that, in fact, they are strongly committed to doing the wrong thing where we the people are concerned, that they always have been and have shown every sign of continuing to do so.

Hugh

Submitted by lambert on

Nothing wrong therefore (? with making a demand they can't meet. Use the coin to socialize the capital markets, for example.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Nice comments so far. I agree with them. On this:

It appears to me from reading LGID's essays that he seems to believe that the Democrats and/or President Obama can be pressured to accept and enact HVPCS in the event of an economic or political crisis, in spite of the principled conservative positions of the Treasury Department and Obama's own history as a Third Way corporatist Democrat. As a long time Independent Leftist who left the Dems well over 20 years ago due to their "me too" economic philosophy (among other things), I'm not so sure that approach would be so fruitful.

I don't really expect that this Administration will use HVPCS. But I'm a bit of a fatalist about this. I post at a number of blogs trying to circulate these ideas. Everyone is free to read my material. Democrats, serious lefties, marxists, anarchists. So, I don't think I'm just making the case to and for Democrats.

On the other hand, I can still hope, and always continue to hope that Obama will decide to end the BS and use HVPCS, and I also hope that writing about it will bring people to MMT.

Submitted by lambert on

... is a nicer person than I am! Yes, it's always nice to see a thoughtful post.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi