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The Redistribution Games

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/28/redistribution-games


If i recall my economic history, neither of the Roosevelts ever solved the problems of capitalist inequality, the trusts re-formed just differently and the New Deal failed and it took a global war to fix the Depression


That is the Republican misrepresentation of history that you are repeating, read the bio of Francis Perkins. The history of WWII might help as well. FDR added 1000’s of jobs within months of his election.

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I’m sorry but if you care to use the sources at the Marxist Internet Archive, a rich treasure trove of both contemporary and retrospective articles, you will find my criticism is not a Republican misrepresentation.


It was the coming of war that revived production demand and restored profits to business. Unemployment fell because America economy started to prepare for war. The national income per capita in 1938 was only 76 per cent of that in 1929. There was another economic crisis in 1937. The industrial index plunged downward. And in October of that year, FDR said “Steer toward the coming war and make all preparations accordingly.” The 1937 depression was halted and reversed, not by any normal upswing of the economic cycle, but by the speeding up of war preparations not only in this country but throughout the world. It was not until the US entered the Second World War four years later that the slump finally came to an end. That is a simple lesson from the FDR experience.

As for Teddy (Republican and Progressive Party) i leave Debs to describe him

Theodore Roosevelt is an aristocrat and an autocrat. His affected democracy is spurious and easily detected. He belongs to the “upper crust” and at the very best he can conceive of the working class only as contented wage-slaves. And no one knows better than he how easily these slaves are duped and how madly they will cheer and follow a cheap and showy “hero.”

But specifically on his antitrust busting, after 1912 the main form of monopoly practice had become that of trade associations. Instead of bringing the main productive plant of an industry openly into a single corporate monopoly, obviously violating the anti-trust laws, Big Business got virtually the same results by banding the main plants together in a trade association.

“The notion, therefore, that these immense business concerns should be or could be broken up by a decree of law, Roosevelt considered absurd… Accordingly, he proposed, not the destruction of the trusts, but their regulation by the government.” - History of the United States by Charles and Mary Beard

First, central bank money must be exclusively directed to support public investment in the green transition and other public goods. Second, corporations that monopolize large marketplaces of their own making – as, say, Amazon and Facebook have done – should be broken up. Lastly, a proportion of large corporations’ shares (perhaps 10%) should be deposited into a social equity fund to fund a universal basic dividend.

This combination of policies, drawing inspiration from anti-trust and New Deal legislation of yesteryear, could revive the economy, revitalize democracy, and save the planet. If political economy were an Olympic event, the gold-medal favorite would be clear.

  • Yanis


Solid proposals - doable.

I particularly like the 10% of corporate shares going into a “social equity fund to fund a universal basic dividend.”

But we need able politicians to do this - and an electorate to get behind it.

Everybody would benefit in truth -

No mention of universal healthcare ? Maybe that’s implied ??

Re-distribution is key - a not so new worldview ~ permanent re-distribution - as a way of life.

Rights for the Environment would help immensely I think ?

You would have a competitive environment for those so inclined - but along with it the realization that this type of game is inherently zero-sum - which is in no one’s interest.

Sounds like the outline of something the United Nations could work on as well as individual countries.

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Yes, Yanis, I keep trying and trying, but unfortunately, most Americans have been deluded, ‘propagandized’, and ‘infantilized’ to the point that they have no idea that they are nothing but a powerless lumpenproletariat — fully ignorant of this ‘ruling elite’ Disguised Global Crony Capitalist EMPIRE — but, HELL, I sure would like to see the progressive media ‘Wake TF’ up and help you and I to educate the propagandized people to their hidden condition of living in an EMPIRE they neither see nor can oppose!

I’ve been addressing what should be slightly better and partially ‘open’ media to jump in and help us:

Just wrote this as a comment to C-Span:

Greta, you were a bit disturbed with the caller ROBERT because he was talking about the overall ‘Strategic’ problem in America, instead of just talking about the topic of today’s show – which is the very narrow and mere ‘tactic’ of how the Democrats should confront, block, or otherwise stop Emperor Trump from AGAIN getting his own violent and destructive “baby’s way” in ruling America.

I have to say that ROBERT was trying to do exactly the correct and effective ‘Strategic’ thing – which is to overcome EMPIRE in America, and which is exactly, and the ‘only’ overall way to educate, enable, and engage ‘we the American people’ in curing this cancerous “disease of Republics”, democratic republics, social democracy, and even democratic socialism – any and all of which Anti-EMPIRE cures would achieve exactly what our founders, framers, and farmers did – after living under the oppressive and tyrannous control of the British EMPIRE.

EMPEROR TRUMP and the lemmings of the Republican Vichy Party have deluded, ‘propagandized’, and ‘infantilized’ the scared and more easily led American people (lumpenproletariat) into following the first EMPEROR to steal the office of President. Although Emperor Trump looks to many people like a ‘leader’ (‘Fuhrer’ in German) he is only a nasty ‘Chucky-doll’ puppet of the real underLYING EMPIRE.

The accurate diagnosis of America’s ‘turn to Empire’ occurred, quite naturally, within the more knowledgeable academic community after the fall of the ‘next to the last Empire in the world’ (the Soviet or “Evil Empire”, aren’t they all Ronnie?) and this intellectual ‘Exposure’ that America was on a path to Empire was documented by the 2000 and on, through American Empire Project, including Chalmers Johnson, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Andrew Bacevich, et. al.

This well camouflaged Disguised Global Crony Capitalist EMPIRE has now installed their faux-Emperor Trump with the resulting success of the Empire quickening it’s metastasis.

The only cure is a ‘Strategy’ of overcoming this meta-causal Cancer of the Empire — NOT any ineffective and mere ‘tactical’ efforts of the Democratic Vichy Party (which is also co-opted by the Empire). Bernie Sanders would have confronted the Empire – but was torpedoed twice by the DNC, just as FDR’s 1944 VP, the brilliant and socialist, Henry Wallace was torpedoed by the DNC (which existed, as a racist organization even then).

“The bottom line”, to put it in Crony Capitalist Empire language, can only be overcome by a Second American people’s peaceful “Political/economic, social, cultural, racial Revolution Against Empire” by ‘we the people’ firing a; loud, public, sustained, ‘in the streets’, but totally Non-violent “SHOUT (not shot) heard round the world” Strategically against EMPIRE.

“Can’t see the Forest for the Trees” translates politically now in 2020 into
“Can’t see the Empire for the Issues”

A varied popular street chant could be:

“Show me what democracy looks like”
“This ain’t what democracy looks like”
“This is what EMPIRE looks like”

“Our Revolution”


Best to C-Span, Greta, and all,

Alan MacDonald
Wells, Maine

What the Hell, folks may start waking up to the cancer of this EMPIRE

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I wish you could be Joe Biden’s financial adviser, Secretary of Treasury or …please contact him. Sounds so douable to me.

Although the regulations and programs have been largely dismantled during the past half century, the templates for TR’s anti-trust blitz still exist, as do the templates for FDR’s New Deal. Anti-trust regulation proved itself for nearly a century, the New Deal proved itself for more than half a century, so they could be dusted off and reactivated in a matter of weeks if the political will exist.

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Varoufakis is one of the greatest economic minds and should be listened to. That said, Amazon’s model is an accomplishment that serves a real need and should not be broken up. Instead it should be made a publicly owned, worker-managed market platform that allows small business an equal footing to big corporations.Bezos should be able to keep a million or two but the rest of his fortune should be nationalized and used to fund national healthcare, expanded Social Security, public education and climate adaptation.

That is a major Republican talking point? What channels do you find where it is not? Because a few Marxists agree with the point does not change the Republicans propaganda. Of course getting the economy on a war footing happened. FDR was swimming in a new lake and had lots of voices demanding an end to the New Deal, he had to threaten the Court to get Social Security passes. But to ignore the great policies of the WPA and CCC is more a zealous approach to an ideology that an objective view of history. Check out the number of jobs those programs created which stimulated demand. Tell that to your Marxists who have their own anti-FDR agenda.

And you neglect to mention the 1937 slump? From 1933 into 1937, the unemployment chart shows a fall in the number of unemployed, from 15 millions to under eight which you applaud as NRA’s great success. Then the 1937 slump happened. Despite at all governmental policies the new depression could not be prevented. Suddenly, the line of the chart rises steeply, straight up to eleven millions and over. Toward the middle of 1938 it drops a little only, at the end of the year, to go up to over 11.5 millions. And it remains around 11 millions until war breaks out in Europe. Even so it remains through most of 1940 above 10 millions. It does not drop below that point until production is underway on the United States’ own war production.

The New Deal was to be much more than putting unemployed labor on relief and into work camps. It was to salvage capitalism and create a recovery. It failed. Government spending on CCC, WPA were curtailed while budgets to Big Business was expanded.

I suggested you should read up on the Left’s understanding of the New Deal using Marxist Internet Archive. I do not think you have bothered. For sure the Left had issues with FDR. He was attempting to save capitalism and divert workers from a socialist revolution. He managed to convince labor union leaders to soften their demands with his sophistry.

You may decry Marxists but at the core of its ideas is that capitalism is inflicted with economic contradictions which mean recurring recessions. And regardless of whether the policies are Keynesian or Neo-Liberal, those are unavoidable. Temporary respite may be possible but in the end the capitalism’s instability prevails.

Learn from history. Don’t go repeating its mistakes because of the colored perspective of today’s bourgeois economists of both sections of academia.

FDR did save capitalism from the capitalists. It is known. You can’t fault him for being something he was not. He did ease up on the New Deal reforms with negative results and so then reversed course again. This does not mean he was waiting for the war to jump start the economy, it means he made a mistake. The WPA and the CCC were a great success and similar programs to put solar panels and windmills up all over the country would work, just so reconstituting all the lakes, marshes, swamps and rivers destroyed in CA to send water to LA, big Ag and ranchers. Yes people in LA would have to pay a tax for desalination. Most of them can afford it easily and the ones who can’t, can’t. Big Ag and ranchers need to give back what they took. Checks on capitalism are necessary. The socialist countries that work grew out of FDR style reforms not marxist revolutions. Cuba could use a boost from same.

I’m not faulting FDR for following his class interests, nor Theodore Roosevelt. I fully expect politicians of pro-capitalist political parties to represent their masters, even if they do couch it in conciliatory tones.

By praising the improvements to American infrastructure without understanding the reason and motives is simply suggesting that Hitler should be lauded for his autobahns.

But if you seriously wish to claim FDR was responsible for ‘social democratic’ countries, i think you if you wish to be intellectually honest, they emerged from Germany’s chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.

(btw,I don’t accept that there has been any Marxist revolution any where and at any time)

But to return to the original article, the author is positing updating policies from the past, judging them to be successful. I challenge that interpretation. They did not work.

Certainly, FDR did not plan for the European war to break out and America’s eventual entry, but it was those events that brought a halt to the then capitalist depression FDR’s policies had failed to end. And the consequent post-war economic boom of the re-construction of the destruction helped to prolong that period of economic prosperity - But once accomplished, eventually the series of capitalist recessions resumed.

I accept Marx and his understanding that economic periodic crises cannot be prevented only perhaps on some occasions temporarily postponed or shortened or exacerbated by some interventions.

I will declare my bias. I am a supporter of the World Socialist Party of the United States