Bhaskar Sunkara: The Case for Socialism | Lex Fridman Podcast #349

The following is a conversation with Bhaskar Sankara he's a Democratic Socialist a political writer founding Editor of Jacobin president of the Nation former Vice chair of the Democratic Socialist of America and the Author of the Socialist Manifesto the Case for radical politics and an era of Extreme inequality As a side note let me say that this Conversation with Bhaskar Sankara who's A brilliant socialist writer and Philosopher represents what I hope to do With this podcast I hope to talk to the Left and the right to the far left and The far right always with the goal of Presenting and understanding both the Strongest interpretation of their ideas And valuable thought-provoking arguments Against those ideas Also I hope to understand the human Being behind the ideas I trust in your intelligence as The Listener to use the ideas you hear to Help you learn to think to empathize and To make up your own mind I will often fall short in pushing back Too hard Or not pushing back enough Of not bringing up topics I should have Of talking too much of interrupting too Much or or maybe sometimes in the rare Case is not enough of being too silly on A serious topic or being too serious on

A silly topic I'm trying to do my best And I will keep working my ass off to Improve In this way I hope to talk to prominent Figures in the political space even Controversial ones on both the left and The right for example I hope to talk to Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-cortez Toronto Santos and Barack Obama and of Course many others across the political Spectrum I sometimes hear accusations about me Being controlled in some way by a Government or an intelligence agency Like CIA FSB Massad or perhaps that I'm Controlled in some way by the very human Desire for money Fame power access All I have is my silly little words But let me give them to you I'm not and will never be controlled by Anyone there's nothing in this world That can break me and force me to Sacrifice my integrity People call me naive I'm not naive I'm optimistic and Optimism isn't a passive state of being It's a constant battle against a world That wants to pull you into a downward Spiral of cynicism to me optimism is Freedom Freedom to think to act to build to help At times in the face of impossible odds As I often do please allow me to read a

Few lines from the poem If by Roger Kipling If you can keep your head when all about You are losing theirs and blaming it on You If you can trust yourself and all men Doubt you but make allowance for their Doubting too If you can wait and not be tired by Waiting or being lied about don't deal In lies or being hated don't give way to Hating and yet don't look too good don't Talk too wise Even this very poem is mocking my over Romantic Ridiculousness as I read it the Meta irony is not lost on me my friends I'm a silly little kid trying to do a Bit of good in this world Thank you for having my back through all Of it all of my mistakes Thank you for the love This is the Lex Friedman podcast Um To support it Please check out our sponsors in the Description and now dear friends Here's Bhaskar senkara Let's start with a big broad question What is socialism how do you like to Define it how do you like to think about It well there's so many socialists out There and we can't seem to agree about Anything so my definition I'm sure is You know really just my definition but I

Think at the minimum socialism is about Making sure that the core necessities of Life Food housing education and so on are Guaranteed to everyone just by virtue of Being born so that those people can Reach their potential and I think that's A that's a minimum requirement of Socialism beyond that I think socialism Especially Democratic socialism the type Of socialism that I believe in is about Taking democracy from just the political Democratic realm and extending it into Economic and social spheres as well so If we think that democracy is a good Thing why do we allow our workplaces to Be run in autocratic ways so economic Political social In all those Realms the the ideas the Philosophical ideas apply like what what Are if you can put words to it what are Some Philosophical ideas about human beings That are at the core of this I think at the core it's the idea that We have intrinsic value we are Individuals that have unequal talents of Course we're individuals that want Different things but this unique Individualness can only Truly Come to Light in a society in which there are Certain Collective or social guarantees So we could think just like Stephen J Gould the scientists and socialist used

To say about how many thousands of Potential Einsteins or Leonardo da Vinci's that died you know in sweatshops And on plantations and never got the Chance to cultivate what was unique and Human about themselves and also never Got a chance to have families and in Part what was special and important to Them to Future generations and to Posterity my own grandmother I was born in Trinidad and Tobago she Was illiterate till her dying days she'd Been in East Orange New Jersey she never Had the chance to write down her Memories of her life in Trinidad as a Young woman and what it meant um she of Course had lots of children she was able To impart some stories to her children And grandchildren but I often think About what someone with her with an Intelligence could have done with with a Little bit more support But if all human beings have intrinsic Value you don't have to be an Einstein For the application some of the ideas That you're talking about is there a Tension or a trade-off between Our human civilization our society Helping the Unlucky versus rewarding The skillful and the hard-working I Think you could do both there's always a Balance between the two I think you Could reward people who make Innovations And and and we would improve lives for

Everyone for their Innovations by giving Them let's say even more consumption Even that level of inequality while Still making sure that there's not People in in poverty and suffering and While making sure that hey we're gonna Give these people who want to work that Extra 10 hours or 20 hours or want to Apply their their hard work Um some some extra benefits but that These benefits would be not the extreme Disparities that you have today So at the core of socialism and maybe Democratic socialism is a maybe a Reallocation of wealth reallocation of Resources I think it's wealth and Resources yes but it's also power and I Guess one way to think about this is Some thinkers on the right like Hayek They would say in their most generous Moments talking about socialists and Socialism they would say socialists want To trade some of your freedom for Equality And that's them trying to just Accurately describe what socialism is Trying to do the way that I would put it Is a little bit different socialists are Proposing a trade-off but it's really a Trade-off between freedom and freedom And by that I mean let's say you set up A successful business And you set up a business right here in Austin Texas some sort of firm it's

Producing some widget or or whatever and It's producing A good that people really want and Demand but you have some competition Um you uh decide to hire 20 30 people to Help you you entered into a free Contract with these people Who under capitalism of course we're not Living in feudalism have the option to Join any other firm but they like you And they like this firm and they like Your offer and you're paying them let's Say twenty dollars an hour for Um 40 hours of work per week now if the Government comes along and says Okay there's now a new minimum wage the Minimum wage is 22 an hour and also There's a maximum work week 35 hour work Week and if you work someone over 35 Hours even if they agree you have to pay Them time and a half Now that of course is now an abridgement Of your freedom as an entrepreneur your Freedom to set certain terms of Employment to engage in a contract with Free people but now your workers and Other workers in the sector because if You did it unilaterally you just get Undercut by your competition now these People now have a few extra hours a week They can do whatever they want with you Know they could watch more NFL with it They could you know spend more time with Their friends or family or whatever else

And they're still getting paid the same If not better because because the wages Also went up so it's really a question Often of trade-offs between who whose Freedom and autonomy are you going to Prioritize the freedom and autonomy of The entrepreneur Um or the capitalist in this case or the Freedom of autonomy of ordinary workers Now you could create a society that Swings so far in the direction of Um prioritizing the freedom of one group Or one class or whatever else compared To another that you end up in some sort Of tyranny now if the state said You know you Lex you're you're a Capitalist so you don't get the right to Vote or we're going to take away your Private home or your ability to to do Um things that we think are intrinsic Human rights now this would be tyranny This would be an abridgement of of your Your rights but shaping your ability in The economic sphere to be in an economic Actor is I think within the realm and Scope of democratic politics Yeah so those are the extremes you're Referring to and uh One perspective I like to take on Socialism versus capitalism is Under each system the extremes of each Systems and the moderate versions of Each system How can people take advantage of it

So it seems like no matter what part of Human nature is whatever the rules Whatever the framework whatever the System somebody's going to take Advantage of it and That's the kind of pragmatic look at it In practice what actually happens also The incentives and the human behavior What actually happens in practice under These systems so if you have a higher And higher minimum wage and people watch More and more NFL how does that change Their actual Behavior as a productive Member of society and actually at the Individual level As somebody As somebody who could be an Einstein and Chooses not to because NFL is so awesome To watch so like it's both how do people Malicious people that want to take Advantage maybe not malicious but People that like me are lazy and want to Take advantage uh and people that Also I think like me like I I tend to Believe about myself that I have Potential And if I let my laziness naturally take Over which it often does I won't Materialize the potential So if you Um if you make life too easy for me I Feel like I will never get anything done Me personally of course there's a giant Set of circumstances of The Unlucky and

The overburdened and so on okay so how Can people take advantage of each system Socialism capitalism so for one thing People are going to take advantage of Systems they're going to find loopholes They're going to find ways around They're going to find ways to to at Times Dominate and chorus others even in Systems meant to get rid of domination And coercion that's why we need to Design our systems in our such a way That that it eliminates as many of these Things as possible and also that's why We need democracy we need Freedom so in A Soviet system for instance you have The rise of this authoritarian Bureaucracy that dominated of course Others in the name of socialism Now That system desperately could have used Some political democracy and some checks On what people were doing and some Ability to reverse the power right and As soon as of course little elements of Democracy was brought to that system Um the system you know collapsed uh Because there started to be outlets for For Dissent and for dissatisfaction so I Think we can't design our priori a Perfect system we need to be committed To certain principles that allow systems To be perfected and for me that's the Importance of democracy so even a few Years ago not to go on a pension but

Um people were allowing Chinese Authoritarianism and they're saying China is building this efficient system The state runs so well there's Technocratic Excellence plus there's Just productivity and they're just Working harder than Americans and and Whatever else but look at in practice What really happened with coven both the Initial the suppressing of information About what was happening and and Wuhan And the outbreak were many ordinary Chinese workers and doctors and others Were trying to get the word out and they Were suppressed Um by by Communist Party officials Locally and move on properly with the Collusion naturally nationally and now Now with zero covert policies and Whatever else so I think that that often We find that even though it seems like These are are weak systems and and Democracy makes us less uh competent Technocratically and otherwise I think It's kind of a necessity for systems to Grow and evolve to have that freedom in Civil Society but as for individuals now The first part of it is yeah I think People should be free to make their own Choices you might have tremendous Potential but you might choose to spend It in Leisure and Leisure doesn't only Mean doing you know sitting around at Home drinking a bunch of beers kind of

Wasting your life away that way Leisure Might mean spending more time with their Friends and family Building these sort of relationships That are gonna maybe not change the World and some some medicines but we'll Change the lives of the people around You and we'll change your community for The for the better I'm taking notes here Because I for me at least you're just About playing a lot of Skyrim this whole Family relationship then I'm gonna have To work on that I didn't realize that's Also including Leisure because I'm gonna Have to reconsider my whole life here Hey you know Leisure should mean Civic Activity too right I mean there's that Famous book The the Robert Putnam won Bowling alone or whatever we described It for now I mean I'm I was born in 1989 I like you know um video and computer Games you know Um so I definitely do that type of Leisure too but uh I found a lot more Richness in my life when in the last you Know decade a lot of my leisure has Returned to like going to the local bar For like the couple drinks I have a week Instead of doing it at home alone Watching TV or something you know Because you get that random conversation That sense of a place and and belonging But I guess what's the undercurrent maybe of

Your question was Now if you have a system with lots of Carrots but not the whip of hey you Might be destitute you might be Unemployed you you might not be able to Support yourself unless you're you're Working a certain amount would we still Be as productive would we still be able To generate enough value for society Um and I think that that's a question That that is is quite quite interesting I think that we're living in a society Now with enough abundance that we could Afford More people deciding to opt out of the System out of production And that the carrots of staying in you Know more money for consumption more Ability to do cool things more just Social rewards it comes from being Um successful or from from providing uh Would be enough but that's another thing That would have to be balanced in a System so if we're seeing mass Unemployment by choice in a Democratic Socialist system Then you might need to reconfigure the Incentives you might need to encourage People to go back into production but That's something that again you could do Through democracy and through good Governance Um you don't have to set the perfect Blueprint I'm in in motion

Um you know write up a Treatise now in 50 years from now you know try to follow It like it's scripture So by the way I do like how you said Whip instead of stick in the carrot and Stick that's putting a weight on the Scale of which is better but yes Um But I would actually argue to push back That the wealthier we get as a society As a world that the more comfortable the Social Nets become The so the less of a whip or stick they Become Because one of the negative consequences Even if you're on welfare is like well Life is not going to be that great But The the wealthier we become The better the social programs become The easier life becomes at the bottom And so you might not have this Motivation financially to get out from The bottom that said the push back and The pushback is that there's something About human nature in general money Aside that strives for greatness that uh Strives to provide Um a great life a great middle class Life for your family so that's the Motivator to get off from the bottom Well I think a lot of people who are Stuck at the bottom of the labor market Today

Um one these are people who are kind of Are are true philanthropists because a Lot of them are the ones who are working Two jobs and are working 60 plus hours And are providing Um in this country it's such a such a Bargain for their labor because they're So underpaid Um so many of the things that the rest Of us use uh to to enjoy life and Consumption or whatever else like I I Got here from downtown Um Austin and I think my lift you know I Did tip but I think my lift was like Eight bucks base or whatever whatever Else you know it's it's it's it's it's It's the Um I think that we are all indebted to People who are are working and we don't See it at various stages of the the Production process from you know the Workers in China and Taiwan producing Um you know technological things that We're recording this on to Um you know Growers and and and and and Workers and agriculture in the U.S so so I think that one Um Working Class People are already Working but as far as you know getting Out from under poverty and and Desperation we're in a society that Doesn't give people a lot of tools so if You uh don't have access to good Public Schools uh from you know age five until

You know 12 13. it's gonna be really Hard to move from generations of of your Your family being involved in manual Labor to doing other forms of of Labor You're going to be stuck at a certain Part of our of our labor market as a as A result Um if you don't have access to decent Healthcare you know throughout your life Uh you might be already preordained to An early grave by the time you that Something kicks in you really want to to Change something in your life and then The your your mid-20s obviously it's a Combination of agency and all these Other factors there's still something I Think innately human innately striving Than a lot of people have but we don't Really give people in our current Society the tools to really be full Participants in our society we just take For granted for example you know for the Northeast so I give like excessively Northeast examples we take for granted That that someone from you know Hartford Connecticut is going to have Um your average working-class person Hartford is going to have a very Different life outcome than someone born On the same day the same hour have in in Greenwich Connecticut you know we we Take for granted that accidents of Earth Are going to dictate outcomes so you Mean like depending on the conditions of

Where you grew up there's going to be Fundamentally different experience in Terms of Education in terms of the Resources available to you to allow Yourself to flourish yes if you do a Poor City in a rich city and Connecticut Is is great it's highly highly Underrated both New Yorkers and people From Boston kind of have a colonial Feeling about Connecticut where we make Fun of it and we try to carve it up you Know the West belongs to Newark the east Of Boston but you know I'm I'm here for You know Connecticut nationalism I think It's it's a great place okay Can we actually step back a little bit On definitions because you said that Some of the ideas practically that You're playing with is democratic Socialism We talked about the higher level the Higher kind of vision of socialism the Ideals the philosophical ideas But how does it all fit into the big Picture historically of ideas of Marxism Communism Uh and socialism as as it was defined And experienced and implemented in the 20th century so what's your key Differences maybe even just like Socialism communism yeah well I hate the No true Scotsman sort of response to This which is oh that socialism is bad So it wasn't really socialism and my

Socialism is good so it is socialism Um but I think that socialism and Communism share a common ancestor which Is they both emerged out of the turmoil And development of late 19th century Capitalism and the fact that there was All these workers parties that were Organizing across the capitalist World Um so in Europe for instance You had this Mass party called the German Social Democratic party Um in the uh that became probably the Most important the most vibrant party in Germany in the 1880s and 1890s but they Were locked out a power because Germany At the time was was still mostly a Target you know it had a parliamentary Democracy but it was a very undemocratic Democracy the Kaiser is still still Ruled these movements took Route across Uh the capitalist world but including in Russia and in conditions of illegality So it was assumed for many many years And the workers movement across Europe And among socialists of Europe they call Themselves social Democrats then That The revolution would first probably Happen in Germany and this developed Growing Hub of industrial uh capitalism And not in semi-futal Russia But then World War one came the workers Movement was split between parties that Decided to either keep their head down

Or to implicitly support the war Um and then you know support the war for Now or keep your heads down don't get Banned don't get arrested then we'll Just take power after the war is over And those like Russia and also in the United States for that matter they chose The path of resistance to the war And it was the Bolshevik faction of the The uh of the Russian movement Um but Landon's Bolshevik party that Took power in Russia after a period of Turmoil where it didn't seem well was it Going to go to the fascist right or was They going to go to the far left there Was a period of flux and turmoil in in Russia but definitely the old regime was Not able to to stand and these Russian Social Democrats these Bolsheviks Said social democracy has so betrayed The idea of internationalism and Brotherhood and progress it was supposed To stand for that we can't call Ourselves social Democrats anymore we're Going to go back to this old term that Marx used we're going to call ourselves Communists And that's where official kind of Communism out of Russia emerged in other Parts of Europe parties were actually Able to take power some in the interwar Period but most in the post-war period And they also came out of this old Social Democratic movement and these

Parties mostly just call themselves Socialists and a lot of them still on Paper wanted to go beyond capitalism but In practice they just manage capitalism Better in the interests of workers Um but they all had the same common Ancestor And in practice to me social democracy Means trying to insert doses of Socialism within capitalism but Maintaining capitalism communism meant This attempt to build a socialism Outside of capitalism and often Authoritarian ways in part because of The ideology of these Communists but in Part because of the conditions in which They inherited you know they were Inheriting a democracy they were Inhering a country that had been uh Ruled by the tsars for you know for Centuries Um and with very little condition like a Very weak working class you know very You know poor and devastated by War and So on where authoritarianism kind of Landed itself uh to those conditions Um and then there's me you know then There's Democratic socialists and the Way I would Define it is we like a lot Of what the social Democrats Accomplished but we still believe in Going Beyond capitalism and not just Building socialism within capitalism but We believe in this ultimate vision of a

World after capitalism What is that world look like and how is It different from communism actually Maybe we can linger before we talk about Your vision of democratic socialism What was wrong with Communism stalinism Implementation of Communism in the Soviet Union why did it go wrong So and in what ways did it not go wrong In what ways did it succeed let me start With the second part of that question And that's a very difficult one to Answer in part because I morally and ethically am opposed to Any form of authoritarianism or Dictatorship and often when you talk About the successes of a government or What it did developmentally that might Have been positive we have to abstract Ourselves from what we morally believe And just just kind of look at the record Right I would say that the Soviet experiment Started off by in Lenin's time as the Attempt to kind of just hold a holding Action Hey we don't really have the conditions To rule this country we have the support Of the working class or most of it but The working class is only you know three Percent of the the population you know The peasantry is really against us a lot Of this three percent of the population Has died in war and half of them

Supported the mensheviks and the more Moderate socialists anyway but The alternative in their minds was going To be a far-right reaction you know some Sort of General taking power in a coup Or whatever else or just them ending up Back in prison because a lot of them Were in prison on the Czar or just Killed so they figured All right we're gonna have a holding Action where we maintain as much of this Territory of the old Russian Empire as Possible we'll try to slowly Implement Changes restabilize the economy through Something called a new economic program Which was kind of a form of social Democracy if you if you will because it Allowed market exchange for the peasants Um combined with State ownership of Industries in the cities and For a while it seemed to be working the Revolution never came that they were Expecting in Western Europe but in Russia itself they were able to Restabilize things by the middle or end Of the the 1920s and they were able to Build more of a popular base for some of Their policies because people who had Seen the chaos of World War One and Revolution and then Civil War kind of Just wanted stability and after a decade Plus a war if you had a government that Was able to give you enough to eat and a Job you know that was good enough for

Them Then Stalin came into power and he Wanted to rapidly industrialize in his Logic was the revolution's not going to Come in the west we need to build Socialism in one country and we need to Catch up with the West we need to turn Ourselves into industrial Powerhouse as Quickly as possible And that's where you got forced Collectivization to try to increase the Productivity of Russian agriculture Through State ownership of previously Fragmented agricultural Holdings and Through the Implementation of mechanization so bring In more machines to make agriculture More productive all under State Ownership Plus more ambitious attempts to build Heavy industry through five-year plans Now I say this kind of coolly but we know in Practice what that meant you know forced Collectivization was a disaster I mean First of all I think was built on the Faulty premise that scale always equals More productivity when in fact Especially in agriculture but in any Field it's a little bit more complicated Than that and it led to millions of Deaths you know it led to famine it let A host of other problems Um industrialization uh in the way that

It happened under Stalin also kind of Unbalanced the Soviet economy to lean Too heavy towards heavy industry not Enough for medium or Light Industry Um but This did mean especially the um The Five-Year Plan in industrialization did Manage to put Russia on a different Developmental trajectory So By the time the post-war period came The one it might have gave them the Ability to survive the Nazi invasion to Begin with it was a complicated question And then by the time the post-war period Came uh Russia had kind of jumped ahead Of its developmental trajectory in a way That a lot of other countries didn't do There are a few examples like Japan is One to manage to if you kind of ran a Scenario where Japan would be in the 1870s 1880s and ran it 100 times the Japan of the post-war period is kind of One of the best outcomes right and I Think that that you could say that about Russian Economic Development its ability To catch up at a certain level to the West And then after that of course um Later on Um as economies got more complex as they Kind of moved Beyond uh regular heavy Industry and as as the main stable of The economy the Russian economy in its

Command system was unable to adapt and Cope and ended up falling back behind uh The West Again by the by the 1970s so All this is a very long story to say That a lot went wrong and Russia the Economic picture is actually a little Bit more complicated politically Um I I think it's just a small party Without much popular support but with Real popular sport in a couple cities But a lot without a lot of popular Support Empire wide Um took power and they felt they Couldn't give back power And they kept holding on to power and Eventually among their ranks in these Conditions uh one of History's great Tyrants took power and was able to Justify what he was doing Um in the context of the Russian nation And development but also all the threats That came from abroad through you know The Civil War wasn't just a civil war it Was really an invasion by by many um Imperial Powers all around the world Um as well so I think a lot of it was Conditions and Circumstance Um and I guess the the question really Is to what role ideology played is there Something within the Socialist tradition That might have lend itself to Authoritarianism and that's that's Something we should you know talk about And that's really complicated human

Question it does seem That the rhetoric the populism Of Workers Unite We've been [ __ ] over for way too long Let's Stand Together Somehow that message allows Um flawed or evil people to take power It seems like the rhetoric the idea is So good Maybe the utopian nature of the idea is So good that allows a great speaker to Take power Uh is it's almost like If the mission Um like come with me friends be on the Horizon a great land is waiting for us Uh that encourages sort of yeah Dictators authoritarians to take power Is there something within the ideology That allows for that for the sort of uh For lying to people essentially Well I might surprise you with my answer Because I would say yes maybe but I Think that it's not just socialism Any sort of ideology that appeals to The collective and appeals to our Long-term Destiny either as a species or as a Nation or as a class or whatever else Can lend itself to authoritarianism so You can see this in many of the Nationalisms of the 20th century now Some of these nationalisms used Incredibly lofty Collective rhetoric

Like in in Sweden the rhetoric up we're Going to create the people's home we're Going to make this a country with Dignity for all swedes we're going to Make this a country that's more Developed more free and so on if they Manage to build a pretty excellent Society in my estimation from that you Know in Countries like fascist Germany and Italy They managed to do horrendous things in Japan and horrendous things with that in The U.S with national popular appeals uh FDR was able to unite a nation Um to elevate Um ordinary Working Class People into a Position where they felt like they had a Real stake in the country and I think Did great things with the New Deal in Russia of course This language was used to trample upon Individual rights and to justify uh Hardship and abuses of ordinary Individual people in the name of a Collective Destiny a destiny of course That was just decided by the party in Power and during the the 30s and 40s by Just Stalin himself really Um No I think that that that's really the case For Making sure that we have a Bedrock of Civil rights and democracy and then on

Top of that we can debate we can debate Different Um Of national Destinies we could debate Different appeals different visions of The world but as long as people have a Say and what sacrifices they're being Asked to do and as long as those Sacrifices don't take away what's Fundamentally ours uh which is our life You know which is our Um you know our our basic rights And voice our voice so this this Complicated picture Because uh helped me understand You mentioned that Social democracy Is trying to have social policies within A capitalist system In part but your your vision your hope For a social democracy Is one that goes beyond that How do you give everybody a voice While not becoming the Soviet Union While not becoming where Um Basically people are silenced either Directly through violence or through the Implied threat of violence and therefore Fear So I think you need to limit the scope Of where the state is and what the state Can do and how the state functions first Of all

Um now for me a social democracy was Like the equivalent of Um I'll give a football analogy Um It was the equivalent of you know Getting to the Red Zone and then kicking A field goal you know you'll take the Three points but you would have rather Got a touchdown and for me socialism Would be the touchdown it's not a Separate different playing field some People would say socialism will be an Interception sure sure no and they would Have they would have the right to to Again Um to say that and to say we shouldn't Go go further and most coaches would Take would take the safer out right So you're going you're going against the Decision anyway yeah yeah but I Understand I understand so but so for You the goal is Full socialism but I'll take the three Points of you know it's it's a part of Well I just want to March down the field I want to get get within scoring Position the reason why um we should Really move from this analogy but the Reason why uh I call myself a socialist Is looking through Um history and these examples of social Democracy you saw that they were able to Give Working Class People lots of Rights And income and and Power in their

Society but at the end of the day Capitalists still have the ultimate Power which is the ability to withhold Investment So they could say in the late 1960s and Early 70s Listen I was fine with this Arrangement 10 years ago but now I feel like I'm gonna you know take my Money and I'm gonna go move to a Different country or I'm just gonna not Invest because my workers are paid too Much I'm still making money but I I feel Like I could be making more I need more Of an upper hand right so their economic Power Is then Challenging the Democratic Mandate of Swedish workers that were voting for the Social Democratic party and we're behind This this advance so to me what Socialism is in part is taking the means Of production right where there's Capital's Power is coming from and Making it socially owned so that Ordinary workers can control their Workplaces can make investment decisions And so on Um now does that mean total State Ownership of everything or a planned Economy I don't think that makes any Sense you know I think that we should Live in a society in which markets are Harnessed and regulated and and so on my

Main problem is capitalist ownership in Part on normative grounds just because I Think that it doesn't make sense that we Celebrate democracy and all these other Spheres but we have workplaces that are Just Treated like tyrannies Um and in part because I think that Ordinary workers would much prefer a System in which over time they you know Accrued shares in ownership where they Got in addition to a base kind of ways They got um dividends from their firm Being successful And that they figured out how to you Know large firms they're not going to be Making day-to-day Decisions by Democratic vote right but maybe you Would elect representatives of elected Managements Um once every year or two depending on Your operating agreement and so on That's kind of my my vision of a Socialist society and this sounds I hope Like agree or disagree like it would not Be a crazy leap into year zero right That this could be maybe a way in which We could take a lot of what's existing In society but then just add this on top But what it would mean is a society Without a capitalist class this class Hasn't been you know individually these People uh you know haven't been taken to Re-education camps or or or whatever

Else but they're just no longer in this Position and they're now part of the Economy in other ways like they'll Probably be the first set of Highly Competent uh technocrats and managers And and so on they'll probably be very Well compensated for their for their Time and expertise and whatever whatever Else but to me both the Practical end of Things like uh taking away this ability To withhold investment and I'm Increasing our ability to democratically And shape investment priorities and to Continue down the road of social Democracy and on normative grounds by Kind of egalitarian belief that that Ordinary People should have more stake In their in their lives in the workplace Um leads me Beyond social democracy to Socialism so there's a tricky thing here So in in uh Ukraine especially but in The Soviet Union there's the cool ox The possible trajectory of fighting for The beautiful message Of respecting workers rights Has this Dynamic of making an enemy of The capitalist class Too easily making an enemy of the Capitalist class with a central Leader populist leader that says The rich and the powerful they're taking Advantage of you We need to remove them we need to put Them in camps perhaps uh not said

Explicitly until it happens it can Happen overnight but just putting a Giant pressure on that capitalist class And again the Stalin type figure takes Hold so I'm trying to understand how the Mechanism can prevent that And perhaps I'll sort of reveal my bias Here as I've been reading a I was going to say too much maybe not Enough but a lot about you know books Like Stalin's war in Ukraine and just I've been reading a lot about the 30s And the 40s Um for for personal reasons related to My travels in Ukraine and all that kind Of stuff so I have a a little bit of a Focus on the historic implementations of Communism currently without kind of an Updated view of all the possible future Implementations so I just want to lay That out there but I worry about the Slippery slope into the authoritarian Figure that takes this sexy message Destroys everyone who's powerful in the Name of the working class and then [ __ ] The working class afterwards So first of all I think it's worth Remembering that the Socialist movement Had different outcomes across Western Europe and and Eastern Europe and in Some of these countries in Western Europe there wasn't actually democracy Before the workers move in and for the Socialist movement so

The battle in Sweden for instance was About establishing political democracy Establishing troop representation for Workers and that's how the parties Became popular same thing in Germany too Uh then it was the social Democrats who Were able to build political democracy Then on top of that add layers of Economic Um democracy Um social democracy The Swedish social Democrats are ruled Basically uninterrupted from the early 1930s until 1976. it's kind of crazy to think about But they were just in government they Were the leading member of government That a few different Coalition Partners Would shift sometimes they were with Their agrarians sometimes they were with Uh the the Communists briefly but they Ruled uninterrupted and they lost an Election in 1976 and they just left Power and then they got back into power In the 80s so so in other words like They created a democratic system of Course with mass support of Working Class People then they truly honored the System because when they lost power they Lost power they left left power there's Plenty of cases like that across Um Europe and the world and in other Countries like Korea and elsewhere where The workers movements the most militant

The most class Centric workers Um South Africa is the same way uh Created democratic systems Now Russia I think a lot of what Happened had to do with the fact that it Was never a democratic country it was Ruled by a party and the party itself Was very easy to shift from a somewhat Democratic party in London's day to an Authoritarian one in Russia and there Was no distinction then between the Party and the state so your Authoritarian party then became Authoritarian total control over the Entirety of the state now the fact that The Soviet system involved total State Ownership of production meant that the Authoritarianism of the party State Could go even deeper into the lives of Ordinary people compared to other Horrific Um dictatorships like pinochets Chile And so on when maybe you could find some Solace like just at home or whatever Else you didn't have the same sort of Totalitarian you know Um uh like control of people's lives Um but I would say that that that Socialism self has yield different Outcomes now in the question of Polarization I guess that implies that this Polarization this distinction Is a distinction that isn't real in

Society and that is kind of being Manufactured or generated so you mean The capitalist class and the working Class just to clarify yeah okay so in Certain populist distinctions The The division is basically arbitrary or Made up the US versus them polarization Depending who the US and who the them Are you know it's it's truly a a a Something that's manufactured but Capitalism itself as a system as a System based on class division whether You're supported or oppose it I think You should we should acknowledge it's Based on class division That is the thing creating that Polarization now I think what a lot of What socialists try to do is we try to Take bits of working class opposition to Capitalism to their lives to the way They're treated at work and so on and Yes we do try to organize on those bases To help workers take Collective action To help them organize and political Parties and someone to represent their Their interest economic and otherwise But the contradiction Exist to begin with and if anything this System which I'm proposing Democratic Socialism would be kind of a resolution Of this this this conflict this dilemma This thing that has always existed since You know Chieftain and follower and and

So on we've had class division since the Neolithic Revolution you know I think This is a democratic Road out of that That tension and that division of Humanity into people who own and people Have nothing to give but their ability To work so that sort of that idea is Grounded in uh is all going all the way Back to Marx that all of human history Can be told through the lens of class Struggle is there some sense can you Still man the case that this class Difference is over exaggerated That There's a difference But it's not the difference of the Abuser and the abused It's more of a difference of Uh people that were successful and People that were less successful so I'll Play Devil's Advocate which is a that Maybe One could argue that it's purest Earliest stage capitalism is based on a Stark Difference but then since then two Things have happened one a bunch of Socialists and workers have organized to Guarantee certain rights for Working Class People certain protections so then Our system now there are certain safety Nets Less in the U.S than in other Countries but in a lot of countries are Pretty extensive safety nets even like

40 Hour Work Week minimum wage Safety regulations all that kind of Stuff yeah and all those things are In my mind doses of socialism within Capitalism because what you're doing is You are taking the autonomy of Capitalists to do whatever they want With the people contracted to them And the only thing stopping them is you Know them potentially being able to go To another employer but even then it's Kind of a potentially a race to the Bottom if you know you you can't get More than uh two dollars an hour from Any employer in your in your Market You're gonna have to you know live with It so one factor is we have built in Those Productions so we've taken enough Socialism into capitalism that you could Say that at a certain point maybe it Makes a qualitative difference and not Just a quantitative difference in People's lives the other thing is over Time we've gotten wealthier and more Productive as a society So maybe at some point the quantitative Difference of just more and more wealth Means that even if in the abstract the Division between a worker and a Capitalist is real if that worker is Earning you know a quarter million Dollars a year and has a good life and Only has to clock in 35 hours a week 30 Hours a week

And has you know four weeks of vacation Then like isn't it just like an abstract Or philosophical Um difference so I think you could level Those two arguments what I would say is That one Um A lot of these rights that we have Fought for are constantly being eroded And they're under attacked in part Because the economic power the Capitalists have bleeds into our Political democracy as well there's Constant lobbying for all sorts of labor Market deregulations and and so on Um I fundamentally believe That If tomorrow all those regulations went Away capitalists would fight to pay People as little as possible and we'll Be back in 19th century capitalism and Not because they're bad people because If I'm running a firm and all of a Sudden my competition is paying is is Able to find a labor pool and is paying People less than me I'm going to be Undercut because they'll be able to take Some of that extra savings and invest Into new technology or whatever else and They'll gobble up my market share before Long Um and then also beyond that I do think There's a normative question here which Is

Now do we believe that ordinary people Have a capacity To be able to make certain decisions About their work do we believe they know More about their work than their bosses Um now I don't think that's not true at Every level but I think there's no doubt That in workplaces workers know how to Productively do their tasks in ways that Their manager might not know I think We've all been in workplaces where we've Had managers who kind of don't know what You do or what what whatever else Um and I think that collectively if Incentivized we could uh have them one Instead of hoarding or that information Um since they're getting a stake in in Production and and so on they'd be able To more freely share it and be able to Reshape how their day-to-day work Happens And also with with elect demanders you Kind of take it up the the chain I think You would have perfectly efficient uh Market-based firms Um that that could exist without Capitalists so there's a I mean there's A lot of uh things to say Maybe within just very very low level Question of if the workers are running The show There's a brutal truth to the fact that Some people are better and the workers Know this

That's the Steve Jobs a players you want To have all the a players in the room Because one B player can poison the pool Because then everybody gets demotivated By like uh By the nature of that Lack of excellence and competence this Is just to take sort of a crude Devil's Advocate perspective Are the workers going to be able to Remove the incompetent from the pool In the in the name in the goal of Towards the mission of succeeding as a Collective so I think that any Successful model of socialism that Involves the market you need two things One is the micro level you need the Ability to uh fire people and for them To exit firms which might be a slower Process in a Cooperative based firms Than it is in a capitalist firm without A union but if you're probably akin to The process that would happen in a Capitalist firm of which there are many With unions Um So you need that and then at the macro Level you need firm failure you need to Avoid a dilemma that happened in Soviet Style economies which was soft budget You know constraints and Um firms basically not being allowed to Fail because the government was Committed to Full Employment the firms

Employed people so even inefficient Firms were at the end of the day they Knew they were going to be propped up by The government and they would be given All the resources they would need no Matter how efficient inefficiently they Were using those resources to maintain Employment so I think you need you need Both do you worry about this idea of Firing people Man I'm uncomfortable with the idea I Hate it but I also know it's extremely Necessary So is there something about a collective A socialist system that makes firing you Said it might be slower might it become Extremely slow too much friction isn't There a tension between respecting the Rights of a human being and saying like You need to step up uh maybe sort of Deposit the carrot like you really like To really encourage fellow workers know When they're there's a person that's not Pulling their side of the do doing as Great of a job as they could be like They But isn't the person that's not doing a Great of a job going to start to Manipulate the system that slows the Firing in their self-interest Well I think there would be certain so Maybe another way to to put it is think About like if you're a partner at a law Firm right

Um I don't really know how law firms Work so I probably shouldn't use this Analogy but but correct me if I'm wrong But let's say your partner you kind of Have equity in your Law Firm or Something beyond your billable hours and Let's say you're um going to be fired From your Law Firm or they're laying off People or whatever else they'll they Could just get rid of you but they would Also have to figure out how to kind of Buy you out too after a certain point so I think that like in a in a Cooperative Firm you'd probably have a system where You after a certain point of working Productively you probably have a period Where you get fired really quickly uh no Matter what but once you do a job Security kicks in you would be able to Um you know it would be a process it Would probably be like you know a day or Two process to figure it out or maybe They would have a progressive discipline Process which is first you have to get At a verbal feedback and then maybe a Written performance review then you Could be fired I mean that's how it Works in a lot of workplaces with either Unions or with just basic job security Um in most countries that's how it works Because there's not at will employment In most countries so I think that that The real tension is If you fire someone if you're condemning

Them to destitution then morally you you Really feel something there as you Should as a human being concerned about Other other people but in a social System or even basic Social Democratic System there would be mechanisms to take Care of that person so one if a firm is Failing for any reason they're getting Out compete or whatever whatever else Those workers would then land in the Hands just for a little bit of the state Right and there could be active labor Market policies to retrain people to go Into expanding sectors or your sector is Now obsolete but here you have these Skills you're going to be trained and And here are some resources to kind of Help you along your training and then There's a bunch of firms hiring so go on Your way and then also just with an Expanded welfare state being destitute In certain countries being unemployed in Certain countries is easier than in Other countries or situations so you Know you still can fall back on on that Mechanism and also in my vision of of Um of Market socialism a democratic Socialism uh there would be an expanded State sector Um not not anything you can imagine but The way in which there's more of a state Sector in countries like Norway or Denmark than there is in the US so there Would be you know various forms of state

Employment and whatever whatever else Um so I mean I think that the real Question is should being bad at your job Or getting fired for any reason or Getting laid off should that be a cause To have you you know totally lose your Shirt or maybe should you just have to Rebound maybe you have less money for Consumption or whatever else and you'll Be on your way onto bigger and better Things you know in a in a few months so A strong social net In many ways make it uh more efficient To fire people who are not good at their Job because then they won't be Um that won't actually significantly Damage their quality of life they have a Chance to find a job at which they can Flourish sure right to step out into the Macro The There's a tension here as well so you Said that there's an equality between The classes The capitalist class in the working Class and sort of there's a lot of ways You can maybe correct me on the numbers But you could say that the top one Percent of Americans have more wealth Than the bottom 50 percent that's not Talking about perhaps capitalist class And um And the working class but it's a good Sort of estimate right

The flip side of that if you just look At countries that have more economic Freedom versus less economic freedom More capitalism versus less capitalism Their GDP seems to be significantly Higher And so at the local level you might say That the there's an inequality but if You look historically over decades it Seems like the more capitalism there is The higher the GDP grows and therefore The level of Uh the quality of life and the basic Income the basic wealth the average even Including the working class goes up over Time can you see like both sides of this So I could definitely accept some of That premise one uh within capitalism Right Um You want a bigger pie and then if you Divide up that pie you know you'll even If if the bottom 10 or the working class Share uh let's say is is Um is less as a percentage it's still More in in in raw terms so it's better For for everyone The part that I would dispute is More economic freedom versus less Economic freedom so there's obviously Some countries in which Capitalism doesn't work and maybe Economic freedom plays a role like if You're in a country like Egypt or India With a highly or previously highly

Bureaucratic system so you need to get Licenses to do anything and you need to Run things through the state or you need To bribe someone to get an incorporation Done or whatever else that's in case of Which I would accept the premise of okay Economic freedom to to take Entrepreneurial risk to start something New is limited Um there's all sorts of factors in which It's too Um you know too difficult uh to Um To start a firm and it benefits Um no one really except for whatever Bureaucracy might be might be um you Know taking their 15 cut Um but in general I think in advanced Economies it doesn't really work that Way so think about it this way If you're pretend like we're back I'm Sorry to go to Scandinavia again but This is you know a good a good example Let's say you're back in the 1970s in Scandinavia or whatever else you're in a Country with extremely Um Powerful unions so the unions have a lot Of Labor rights the state has certain High taxation certain guarantees on you Too but you're you're a capitalist there Um Now what would you do if your capitalist Competitors in the U.S were able to pay

Workers Um ten dollars an hour and you have to Pay them 20. Um You would probably and assuming you Can't just flee or shut down or whatever Else you'd probably find ways to use Labor-saving technology right that that Power of of the high wages might Encourage you to invest more in Technology and to utilize people's times Better so they're more productive at Work so they're not just like sitting Around or whatever else so This really happened in practice in the Scandinavian countries in part because It was combined with a certain type of Um a pattern rage bargaining so I'll Explain this really simply but let's Pretend that You're in a um A sector With three different companies I would Say on Automotive sector and I'll just Say One is GM one is forward one is Chrysler Now all these workers in your your Sector are all unionized they're all you Know Swedish UAW whatever the equivalent Is members and they're all paid Um the same and the union is setting Through marketing the union is setting The wages across the sector But the unions and let's say GM is the

Most productive uh of these companies Ford is number two Chrysler is number Three the Unions would intentionally set The wages Um set their Benchmark to forward in the Middle So what that would do is say to Ford Okay Ford will stay in business because They'll be able to meet the wage demands Chryslers probably might go out of Business uh because you know they won't Be able to meet the demand so they'll Have to really adapt really quickly they Might have to lay off people they might Have to restructure the union knows this In advance and all the Auto Workers know This But the most efficient manufacturer GM Now has excess profits because if they Were work negotiating with just the GM Workers the GM workers might even have Been able to demand more but instead These workers are are pegging their wage Demands to Ford's level and GM is in Theory able to expand and employ more People and adopt new production Techniques with their Surplus then Those Chrysler workers would be absorbed By the state by active labor market Policies are then put back to work for GM or for these expanding you know Sectors so in other words you're now in A situation where the state has a pretty Big role in your economy taking a lot of

Your money and taxes the unions are are Really shaping your your life as a Capitalist far more that would happen in A country like the United States and yet Still despite your more limited economic Freedom you're still creating a more Productive economy so it could work it Just has the system has to be designed Right and I think social democracies Were designed the right way I think any Future Democratic socialism after social Democracy would have to be designed the Right way could you just linger in that A little more the pattern wage Bargaining so GM is the most efficient Then Ford is the second most can you Explain to me how uh can you explain to Me again the wages sending the wages to The fourth level how that is good for GM So how that encourages more GM this is Just um uh sectoral or actually in this Case centralized wage Um uh bargaining so uh setting the wages At a level that Ford can afford but a Level that would probably be too Expensive for Chrysler in the automotive Sector would benefit GM because they're Drawing what we could call excess Profits Because GM if the GM itself could potentially Um have to deal with just the Enterprise Of GM workers bargaining for wages and If they saw that profitability was high

They would know their leveraged and they Would say pay us even more or else we're Going to go on strike But instead they're they're they're Accepting slightly lower wages than they Would have otherwise had in return for The company Having excess profits that There through both the state their Union And sometimes like there's there's Worker councils or whatever else they're Playing a role in saying okay we're Gonna make sure this excess profit is Actually invested productively Um in order to expand employment and you Know just the output Okay can we can we talk about unions in General then what are the pros and cons Of unions So the interest the Union Maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong I Have a lot to learn both about the Economics and The Human Experience of a Union The Union's interest is to um What to protect Worker rights and to maximize worker Happiness not the success and the Productivity and the efficiency of a Company right no I would disagree Um so I think a Union's interest is in What's collectively bargaining on behalf Of workers because in certain cases Um you know I am right now a manager at Uh the nation magazine right if I have a

Problem with my working conditions or I Need a raise or whatever else I could With my skill set my background my role In the company I could go to my boss the Owner of the nation and say okay I need To renegotiate my contract on these Terms I could bargain right now If I was a ordinary worker at like a CVS Or something if I didn't like my Conditions and I went to my boss and Said hey I need a two dollar raise and You know I need to like be home by 8 30 Because you know I I have I have Obligations at home uh the boss would Probably say I'm sorry that's not Possible right you know maybe try the Rite Aid down the street or the Walgreens down the street or whatever Um now if I went to the boss at a place Like CVS or even better if all the Pharmaceutical suitable workers Um you know at Rite Aid CVS Walgreens Went to our bosses and said listen Um you know we collectively need to uh Uh two dollars more and and you know Better hours shorter shifts or whatever Else then they would probably have no Choice but to concede you have to Bargain collectively at any level if if You're in a ordinary worker Um and there are some exceptions but That's for certain highly skilled Workers but even in in in those cases of Course all workers are skilled I mean

Just the technical definition Um given in those cases a lot of those Workers have to bargain collectively as Well in order to get more more wealth But but it's but they cannot make their Demands so excessive that their firm Gets out of business so to the workers Only uh are workers as long as they're Gained fully employed so often unions Will uh try to select their wage demands At such a level that it ensures that Their firm will stay in business yeah But the problem is the way firms go out Of business isn't by an explosion Uh like uh the way popcorn starts Getting cooked like you at a certain Moment it just is over You can it seems like the union can Through uh collective bargaining keep Increasing the wage keep increasing the Interest Of the worker until it suffocates the Company that it doesn't die immediately But it dies in like five years so that Might still serve the interest of the Worker But it doesn't serve the interest of Society as a whole that's creating cool Stuff and increasing so a market that's Operating and increasing cool stuff and Constantly innovating and so on and uh Creating more and more cool stuff and Increasing the quality of life in General I disagree with the premise

Because I think you're even taking your Example that would be better for society If a firm cannot pay its workers a Living wage but its competitors can then That firm should will either figure out A way to innovate develop new techniques New markets new ways to be productive or It should go out of business and it Would be better for it to go out of Business than to stay in business or to Be artificially kept in business in any Sort of way Um and yeah so let me that's so that's The Chrysler in my old Um centralized environment yeah right But but then there is you know Innovation costs money too so the flip Side of that I think to play Devil's Advocate is that It incentivizes automotive industry is It probably a good example of that it Incentivizes Uh cutting costs everywhere and sort of Whatever that's been making you money Currently figuring out how to do that Really well Without investing into the long-term Future of the company for like all the Different ways it can pivot all the Different interesting things it could do In terms of investing into r d whenever There's more and more and more pressure I'm paying a living wage for the workers It might not again it might suffocate

And die over the next 5 10 20 years Uh which might be A good destructive force from a Capitalist perspective but it might rob Us of the Einstein of a company right of The of the flourishing that the company And the workers within it Can do over a period of 5 10 20 years Well this is just a problem with a lot Of capitalism which is about Short-termism right because the same Thing could be said from you starting a Company you have a plan for it to make a Lot of money but your investors want you Want dividends right away so you have to Uh Take away from your long-term r d or Other plans and deliver short-term uh Dividends that's often why a lot of I Think r d is often rooted in state Institutions and research and whatever Else is being drawn on and and also I Think that that's a reason why You know the state has some sort of role In fostering firms in either a my Version of a socialist economy or a Capitalist economy or whatever else to Help with these time Horizon uh problems So I won't dispute that workers could Play a role or wage demands could play a Role in time Horizon problems but more Often than that it's coming from Investors it's coming from just a host Of other Market pressures that people

Might might have and I would say that in The real world a lot of investment funds Don't come from just retained earnings It comes from a lot of you know sources So I think this is a problem that could Be solved through public policy but Definitely exists today as well so you Mentioned living wage Is there is there a tension between a Living wage And maybe you could speak to what a Living wage means and the workers owning All of the profit of the company Sort of uh this kind of spectrum no I Guess the spectrum is from Like no no minimum wage the lowest Possible thing you could pay to a worker Than somewhere in that spectrum is a Living wage and then at the at the top Is like uh all of the profit from the Companies owned by the workers So split to the workers I mean I think that any society is going To have to make distributional Um choices Um you could have imagined a variety of Capitalism in which workers are paid Quite little but there's extremely high Taxation and there's redistribution After the fact you can imagine a system In which there's less taxation after the Fact but there's more guarantees and Regulations how much people are paid Before the fact

In my vision of a social Society there Would be some other way that unions work And in my exempt these centralized uh Bargaining Unions would work that Bargain at the sectoral level and not Just at the Enterprise level like our Unions do do today Um There could be benchmarks set for Different occupations or wages and the Reason why you would want to Benchmark At a worker controlled firm is that you Don't want workers self-exporting Themselves in order to gobble up market Share or because you don't want them Collectively deciding okay we're going To invest in this longer term time Horizon and out-compete other people That way so you might say okay if you do This sort of clerical work you have to Be paid the equivalent of fifteen Dollars an hour that's minimum but on Top of that you get Um you get uh you know dividends from From excess profits Um and I think it would also have to be Combined with Um public financing for expansions and For development which could be done in Quite a competitive way so you could Have a variety of of banks you know in My vision you know state-owned Banks but What how would they decide who to Um invest in and who to not and invest

In who to give a loan for expansion to And who not to because you don't want it To be like Oh I'm going to invest in my My nephew's firm and not this other firm Or I'm going to vote best and this guy's Firm because he's an Italian but not This guy's firm because he's Albanian or Whatever else just make it Rational at the level of their goal is Just like any other Um investment person at a bank today to Maintain a certain risk profile and to Have an interest yield And decide to invest on on that basis so If there's a huge Automotive firm that Has been on business for 50 years that Needs a little operating cash like yeah They could get their 50 million dollars Their three percent loan if you have Some crazy blue sky idea and you manage To get it to that that point like maybe You knew friends would get it at you Know 12 or something close to whatever VC would offer today so I only kind of Go into these details not because to say That A system doesn't have to in advance Map out all the different possibilities But I think it does have to be willing To accept a lot of things we know today You know I can't give you a version of Socialism that's everything's going to Be fine we're going to live harmoniously And we won't have these sort of tensions

And you know you could hunt in the Evening and you know fish in the you Know afternoon and write criticism you Know whatever else Um I do hope that there's Horizons Beyond this that we can aspire to I do Have those Visions but for now I think Our task as socialists is to imagine a You know five minutes after you know Midnight like what what can we do right Away within our lifetime Um Vision so that means Through some level of central planning Reallocating resources to the workers So I think the primary mechanism in this Private sector under socialism would be A market mechanism firms competing Against each other to expand uh Connected to a system of public Financing but even at that level the Individual Um bankers and and public Banks and so On would be operating based on their own Rationality and the state would Certainly shape investment decisions but Maybe no more than they do in a lot of Capitalist systems so the state might Already today and a lot of countries Decide You know we want to invest in Green Technology so it's going to be favorable Rates for people or tax credits for People investing in Green Technology so The state already shapes investment

Um I think what should be centrally Planned and this is where like I'm proud To sound like an old school socialist is Things like um Healthcare things like Um Transit things like our Um natural monopolies of lots of types Uh you know I think can be done very Well through Um through planning and we already have Plenty of examples but a lot of this Society I think would be would be the The private sphere of worker controlled Cooperatives uh competing against each Other weak firms failing uh successful Firms expanded and the banks you're Saying publicly or privately owned Publicly owned Let's just put it all on the table that It's almost guaranteed that every system Has corruption so I guess the bigger Question is which system has more Corruption uh The this this one with Central planning And worker cooperatives versus uh Unfettered capitalism or any flavor of Capitalism I think any system has Potential for corruption I think it it Depends on like how good your civil Service is how how much oversight do you Have to resolve a problem once it arises How does corruption happen in the social System so you have to again I I Apologize but the large-scale examples Of it so we can we can look at Soviet

Union China and Sweden Uh fundamentally different nations and Histories and peoples and economic Systems and political systems but all Could be called in part socialists And so what you know there there's a Ridiculous almost caricature of Corruption in the Soviet system the Gigantic bureaucracy that's built Um where somehow corruption seeps in Through kind of Dispersion of responsibility That nobody's really responsible for the Corruption I just had a conversation with Ed Calderon who fought the the cartels in Mexico and there's a huge amount of Corruption in my in Mexico but it's it's Not like even seen as corruption you're You understand when the cop pulls you Over you give this much money and so on And so that kind of seems to happen in Certain systems and it seems to have Happened in Social systems more than in Capital systems in the 20th century or Maybe I'm wrong on that no I mean I Think in a lot of countries it's seen as The cost of doing business right now in Particular countries built on a system Of central planning or just State Allocation resources for the state both Producers and and allocates and things Run through bureaucracies Then I think you're you're much more apt

To have corruption than in a system with Just a smaller Sphere for the state so For example if you're in a hypothetical Version of the U.S you might see a lot More corruption like the post office but You know you wouldn't have that Corruption in your workplace so you kind Of learned to go around that Um For one thing even in state sectors you Can have and as often is the case in Democratic countries you have Um a transparent Civil Service where People who are corrupt are prosecuted by Judges where it's frowned upon and it Just over time it goes away so you go From having political machines that were Tied to certain you know had friends With certain police precincts and Whatever else in the U.S in the the 19th Century and early 20th century to now Today that would be a huge Scandal and Unheard of right so I think over time Having a a Um Independent Court System having a a Truly meritocratic civil service can be Implemented anywhere I think though in The Soviet Union the extra Little bit that that happened was you Had a bureaucracy that just had so much Power because the bureaucracy was Producing and distributing everything And everyone was relying on the

Bureaucracy with jobs the way to social Advancement uh was through the Bureaucracies so you end up with people Like Khrushchev you know people going From peasants to Um you know Supreme leaders of of Countries just through like getting Hooked up in the bureaucracy and Advancing within it um and you know not All these were bad people I don't think Khrushchev was that bad of a person or Gorbachev you know they they but this is Their mechanism to advancement in Systems like this in the vision of Democratic socialism that I propose The state doesn't have that overriding Uh Power to begin with but I think in Either case you know Um corruption has arose in many Different systems and has been Successfully Um dealt with I think on the Developmental trajectory of even Countries today that we think of as Being very corrupt Um corruption will will Um you know fade away as well but you Definitely need A system in which Um individuals act Um individual are incentivized to act Rationally so if you're in a system in Which cops who are corrupt are Prosecuted and investigated and there's

Internal controls a civilian Board Review and kind of an internal Investigators within police departments Or whatever else there will be less Corruption over time if people are Punished if you're in a system in which If you're running a firm you're the Manager of a firm and elected manager And everyone at that firm is trying for More efficiency and trying for more Excess profits or whatever else at the End of the day you know dividends at the End of the day then if you try to hire Your nephew and he's not good at your Job you're not going to win re-election Right so you you shouldn't I think no system should rely on a Change in culture that come naturally or Some sort of individual altruism I think The systems have to be constructed in Such a way that it's not rational to Behave poorly in sort of from a Theoretical perspective Either socialist or capitalist system Can have Can have either culture But it seems like if you prior to Prioritize meritocracy If the people that are good whatever the Good means in terms of Integrity in Terms of performance in terms of Competence it's it seems like that leads To a less corrupt system and it seems Like capitalism there's all kinds of

Flavors of capitalism but capitalism Because it does prioritize meritocracy More often leads to less corruption so That's that's not a question of Political or economic systems the Question of what kind of stuff do you Talk about that leads to a culture of Less corruption First of all I think in Theory maybe Capitalism words meritocracy But I think in practice anyone watching This or you and me would think of some Of the people we know that were the Hardest and they're often you know Working Class People working the food Service industry or whatever else right Um I I think we we don't have Um in practice I don't think we actually Live in a society that rewards people For hard work I think we reward people For a combination of accidents of birth Plus hard work Let me push back because uh yes so I Agree with you but let me push back on On a subtle point because I like to draw The difference between hard work And meritocracy because as a person who Works really hard like I work crazy hard But I've also worked with a lot of People they're just much better than me It's a hard work does not equal skill Good productive I just want to kind of Draw that distinction but I agree with You

I don't think our society Rewards Uh directly hard work or even high skill There's many examples at least we can See that it does not do so so we have an Unequal distribution of talent of course So if we lived in society in which there Was some level of acceptable inequality And it's a normative kind of the Question of how much we would say is Acceptable right Um and that inequality was based on this Unequal distribution of talent then I Think that would be fine with me right That would actually be a meritocracy What I see in the U.S is often Okay so if you are a upper middle class Or rich kid and you get a good education You know K-12 Um Out of those people there will be some That work extra hard and go on to do Incredible things or very successful and There'll be other people that Um do not right and and decide for Whatever reason or go down a different Path and you could say maybe among that Group of the alpha middle class you know There is a meritocracy right Um but they're actually given those Opportunities to make their own Decisions and to to fail whereas many Many other people the vast majority of American society I would say 60 plus Percent don't really get those

Opportunities to make those choices to To begin with and I would aspire to the Type of world at least as a as a first Step in which Um our only inequalities are based on The our unequal um innate kind of Distributions of talent yeah I I guess a Lot of people worry that when you have a A socialist in any degree Central Planning or perhaps a collective of Workers that it won't result in that Kind of meritocracy that you're talking About but you're saying that no it's Possible to have that kind of Meritocracy think about it this way the Workers themselves are incentivized and Are shaped by market forces too right They're trying to to respond to Consumer Needs and preferences they're trying to Expand market share they're trying to Make make money so it requires no kind Of leap into these people are going to Be more altruistic or whatever else even On Purely Bourgeois terms the same way You would maybe justify you know Competitive capitalist firms I think you Could justify this this system as long As you think that that people elected Management can perform just as well I Think based on the experiences of Cooperatives we've seen that they they Can and then at the state level State Bureaucracies have their own sort of Sets of of of incentives but in most

Systems that already have extensive State bureaucracies of these people at High levels are are appointed or Electeds they're held to certain Standards at the national level a National government wants to maintain You know the tax revenue that they need To pay for school services so we already I think have incentive structures that You could say that some people might Just I think disagree with the normative Thing of like why would people have to Own their own means of production Control their workplaces or whatever Else uh why do we need this level of Equality Um can't we just get by with our Existing system but just like make Things a little bit easier for Capitalists to make money and then Everyone will benefit whatever else I Mean that's a normative question and my Vision of socialism there'll be plenty Of you know multiple parties with Different views and perspectives trying To either push us deeper into more Radical forms of Socialism or on the Other hand to kind of roll back to you Know more capitalist forms of of Government so I think that again you Can't try to make up a perfect system And try to implement it you have to you Know do it as a process democratically And and so on so just philosophically in

Your gut You're more concerned about the innate Equal value of human beings versus the Efficiency of this wonderful mechanism That we call human civilization are Producing cool stuff Just like a gut if we were sitting at a Bar that's where the gut feeling you Come with of course your mind is open But you you want to protect the equal Value of humans So I don't want to fight the Hypothetical so I'll say equality I am Concerned with with equality but I don't Think the two are necessarily always in Tension but but also when you think About all the great things that human Beings have produced Often I think people today just look at The end outcome like we go to the Pyramids and we'll Marvel at the Pyramids and and the human achievement That it took to make it happen but we Won't you know stop to think about all The suffering that went into the making Of that thing so I think we kind of lean In the opposite direction where we model At our achievements but we don't often Think about the suffering or Exploitation that went into certain Human achievements I would love a Society in which We could Marvel at things and not have To worry about the exportation that was

Involved because there was no Exploitation or oppression involved There was just human Ingenuity and Creativity and collaboration and to the Degree which you may disagree to the Degree there's a tension between the two At least give equal way to the Consideration of the suffering And don't just marvel at the beauty of The Creations to the degree there is a Tension between them what what Stalin Did actually too it's not just capitals But what Stalin did was he sacrificed Whole Generations because he thought That he was building something for the Future for future Russians to to enjoy And for future people of the world to to Enjoy and actually that analogy that I Just gave by the pyramids was Um was written by Carl kotsky the German Socialist anti-stalinist critic when he Was complaining about U.S journalists And others going to Russia in the 1930s And marveling at all the new Industries You know are these people blind to the Suffering you know Behind these things They're marveling about speaking of Which I think you mentioned in the Context of A social democracy that freedom of Speech and freedom of the press Or basically the freedom of people to Have a voice is an important component Which I think is something that caught

My ear a little bit because if you think About the Soviet Union one of the ways Uh that the authoritarian regime was Able to control It's almost part of the central planning Is you have to control the message and You have to limit the freedom of the Press so there's a kind of notion Especially in like Ideas or maybe caricatures of the ideas Of cultural Marxism Sometimes caricatured even furthers Wokeism that you want to be careful the Speech with speech you want the sense of Speech because some speech hurts people Uh so in some sense you want to respect The value the equality of human beings By being careful with the words you say So what is there attention there for you I think there's no tension and in part I Think that it is very condescending or Patronizing for to assume that people Can't take debate that people can't Um either a society or individuals Visually be Um engaged in the exchange of ideas Um without or even very vigorous debate Without Um you know being broken by it it's just Not the case I'm basically a free speech absolutist I Mean I would draw the line it obviously Um direct incitements of violence or Certain other

Um speech like that but in general you Think a lot of people would be surprised To hear that No I mean not not people who know my Work I mean more generally I think a lot Of people on the right Um even in the center I think might have The idea that a lot of the far left Wants to censor them I think some of the Center left won't censor them but I Think a lot on on the far left on the The Marxist or socialist left I think That Um you know free speech is Um more or less the the norm yeah where Is the the imperative descents are Coming from is this just some small Subset of the left on Twitter is there Some philosophical idea behind certain Groups that like if we're to steal me on The case and which group actually has uh The the interests of humanity in mind uh In wanting to censor speech I think we Might need to just take it Case by case For an example by example because Honestly I I I would have to think about a Particular case but let's just say Generally that a lot of American Liberalism Rightly sees the Um revolution around the Civil Rights And later the extension of this writes Revolution for gay rights and and so on

As being Um a very positive achievement of the Last half century and I completely agree Now for me Now that we've won those rights a lot of Our Battle For Change needs to go beyond The representational realm and needs to Really reground itself in the material Bread and butter struggles of ordinary People trying to survive uh the the Battle for uh good health care for all Americans and so on these are my Immediate demands I think there's a Segment of American liberalism that Doesn't want to go in that Confrontational economic Direction and Wants to skirt away from battles over Things like Universal Health Care and so On and really are just still caught at This battle over rights representation And it's devolved in such a way that They feel like they need to make change The way they make changes only through Interventions and culture because they Don't really have the same sense of Class and class struggle that agree or Disagree with it it's a very material Plane so instead you know they look at Committee Indians who said the wrong Thing or they look at Um you know all sorts of other ways to Make change it's not really making a Change it's just making them look bad And making our culture worse and

Um I think that's where a lot of it Comes from but I I think that a lot of Uh the left even the left that's much More into battles over Um you know race and lots of other stuff Like real serious anti-anti-racist on The left of course I'm an anti-racist But a lot of my my work is focused on The Primacy of class but even these People are very concerned about material Struggles and issues and they don't Really care about you know these issues They think are Um ephemeral kind of issues so when you Focus Exclusively on language that somehow Leads you astray like on being concerned About language without of Um like deeper economic inequalities and So on you you just become an [ __ ] That's on Twitter pointing out how Everything How how racist that woman is so the Anti-racism becomes a caricature of Anti-racism exactly because anti-racism Was really about the struggle of people For equal rights and voting it was about The struggle for people who were trapped Into you know bad neighborhoods because They were they couldn't get decent jobs In their neighborhoods or redlined or Whatever else it was really like a Struggle for survival and what was the Main uh demands like the language of

This one it was a the March for for jobs And freedom it was the slogan I am a man You know asserting the kind of universal Dignity of of people this is what the Civil Rights Movement was was about and It wasn't surprised there was a lot of Self-described socialists people like Baird Russian Bayard Rustin hey Phil Randolph uh Martin Luther King Jr I mean these were people who who were Ella Baker they were socialists you know And and Um I think a lot of Americans agree with Them with their immediate demands even Though they weren't themselves uh Socialist but it was a very Materialistic struggle and I think a lot Of this has been co-opted into just some Sort of vague and you know just Disconcerting complaints about language Or or culture and so on uh Martin Luther King was a socialist to a degree was he A socialist I I would love to learn About that Martin Luther King I think Broadly called himself at various points His life a Christian socialist or a Democratic Um socialist especially after his Um speech against the Vietnam war in the Riverside Church I think that was 67 the Last years of his life he became much More involved in struggles against the War and also struggles Um for workers rights you know he was

Assassin when he was at a rally at Workers ride so he thought the next Battle was going to be an economic Battle he had this famous line where he Said I don't just want to integrate the lunch Counter if it means that we can't afford To order a burger while we're there you Know that was the line along those lines And I think that got to his point where The Civil Rights struggle was part of a Of a step of building some sort of wider Movement so he and these other civil Rights leaders were very much interested In working with organized labor working With Um you know the left as it was Constructed then and building some sort Of mass space for not just rights but Redistribution It's fascinating it's fascinating which Figures self-identified and were in part Socialists Albert Einstein was one Albert Einstein Albert Einstein wrote an Article for the first issue of this Um left-wing Um magazines actually still publishing Today called monthly review and I think 1949 and his his article is called by Socialism I don't think it's paywalled So so people should should check it out But yeah Einstein was one huh Ah so probably the central idea is the Pacifist the anti-war idea for him

Or no honestly it's been so many years Since I since I read it I think it was More about Um I think it was actually more Economically focused but I I would need To go back and but is uh is war in General a part Of the fundamental ideas the Socialists Are again Democratic socialists are Against like what's the relation between Socialism and War So I think that traditionally in the Socialist movement war was associated With Um capitalist competition and International competition and you can Look at World War one is very much a Case where different nations were Competing with each other and developing Quite uh violent rivalries that was in Part based on competition and the Periphery over access to markets and Colonies and and whatever else so it was Very easy to draw a direct correlation Um I am opposed to To more um I'm opposed to imperialism The domination of strong Nations you Know dominating Um smaller Nations Um I wouldn't call myself a pacifist I Think most socialists wouldn't call Themselves pacifists because there are Some struggles that are worth fighting

For you know there's National Liberation Struggles and so on where if there's no Democratic Avenue for for change you Know positive change has been made Through through armed revolts around Colonialism and whatnot but we're living In an age where hopefully Um you know I know neither of us have Children are our children or children Children you know in the future won't Have to live through war and that is one Thing that as uh countries have gotten More developed Um as the world has changed we've Actually seen less and less war like I Won't dispute Pinker on on this I think It's true Um obviously Putin's invasion of Ukraine And you know the conflict in Ethiopia is Like kind of an exception but on the on The whole I think we're we're going in That in that uh Direction but I think It's always been you know a major Organizing plank of socialists uh Against a war and against just kind of This sense of Right-wing nationalism and national Identity that often leads to war and Obviously not everyone on the right has Embraced that a lot of Libertarians are Consistently anti-war as well but I Think the right ideologically has been Associated with war even if some Advocates of capitalism have not been

Then there's the military industrial Complex which is the financial machine Of the whole thing I I presume Well well since a lot of that is Government what's the relationship to Socialism and the military-industrial Complex Well a lot of it's government contracts But it's privately produced right by Companies like Lockheed Martin and Things like that Um you could draw a very crude Materialist connection between any of These things and to kind of prove an Ideological point but we could produce Just as many arms and then just bury Them or never fire them off or whatever Whatever else obviously there are Companies that have a vested interest in Um heightening up tensions or saying That we need to buy a new weapon system To be prepared for a conventional war With China Russia uh meanwhile I think We all know that if there's going to be Conventional war between these countries Like it's gonna You know it's going to lead to something Worse Um and and you know no amount of Advanced fighter jets is going to make a Make a difference Um but I try to avoid crude or causal Connections even though there are Relationships like it's kind of like

Um the old slogan which was quite an Effective slogan in the early 2000s at My my first anti-war marches when I was A teenager I definitely have shouted it But kind of no war for oil like both is Like correct in that it gets to what People's senses of like what's going on How it's bad but also like analytically It's kind of wanting to explain what Really happened or why we ended up in The you know in the Middle East which is Like a much more complex geopolitical Story Yeah and it is a story of geopolitics It's perhaps less a story of capitalism Or socialism it's a story Um yeah it's a it's a geopolitical story That I think actually operates outside Of the economic system of individual Nations it has to do more with Honestly in part egos of leaders Um and there's a international battle For resources But surely there's alternatives Yeah definitely and I think that part of What being a socialist is is about Dreaming in the long term about a Different sort of world without in my Mind needless divisions of people into Nations with standing armies you know I'm sure we'll still have pride about Where we're from and there's still be a Distinctive cultural features and so on About where we're from uh we definitely

Would at least for the foreseeable Future be divided into Um places as like administrative units But the idea that there should be a Mexican Army and an American Army and a Russian army and a Ukrainian Army is Just on the face of it I think in the Long run will be seen as ridiculous just Like we see it as ridiculous today Looking back at the idea that you know Um A um Lord from London would you know be Engaged in civil Strife with the Lord From like Liverpool and a bunch of Peasants will die would die you know Just kind of on the face of it just Seems kind of ridiculous these different Places would have their own banners and Lords and armies I think in the long run You might have to zoom out a thousand Years but in the long run people will Say the same about nation states and Standing armies and battles over you Know specks of of dirt that mean nothing In a cosmic sense Yeah I know for sure aliens would laugh At us or humans that go far beyond Earth And look at the history Hmm well most of the history will be Forgotten Because if humans successfully expand Onto the universe just the scale of Civilization will grow so fast that the The bickering of the first few thousand

Years of human history will be seem Insignificant there's a very markless Idea that I both appreciate in one way But on the other hand it's kind of scary Which is that you know um human history Is only now beginning before we're in Prehistory yeah but in the future like We'll be in kind of real history Um you know I think that that a lot of Really important history has already Happened and and um and I think Posterity will will remember and I think That it will be easier to sign Um you know certain people the role of Like villains the people Um you know not to engage in the Contentious topic off topic of Ukraine Or whatever else but the idea that you Know one government or man would launch A you know more to recover you know um Or to take you you know several hundred Square miles of territory and tens of Thousands of people die I think seems Absurd to us many people today luckily But it would not have seemed absurd 50 60 years ago it would have just been a Normal thing right this kind of Territorial disputes and so on and I Think you know projecting in the future I think within our lifetimes we'll live To see Um that kind of conflict be uh Eradicated and in part you could say That

Like why I think it's because of popular Pressure and organization so you could Say kind of the pro worker socialist Organizing part of it making it less Normal if you're a capitalist you could Say well markets are more interlinked so War is even more irrational Um I don't really have a firm answer or Whatever it is you know I think it's a Good thing You mentioned Marx's view of History It's kind of interesting to just briefly Talk about what do you think of it what Do you think of this um Marx's view of How the different systems evolve from The perspective of class struggle as we Were talking about Well I fundamentally I'm a Marxist I Fundamentally believe in in the broad Contours of of historical materialism But I think we should be clear of what Marxist theory tells us and what it Doesn't tell us you know I think Marxist Theory tells us pertinent things about How societies have evolved about how the Distributional resources work in any Given Society who owns who doesn't how Um the conflict distributional conflicts And so on I think Marxism can tell tell Us a lot because Surplus is distributed Exactly exactly What it can tell us is like Um as a friend put it like the a sex Appeal of blue jeans or whatever else

You know that that's that's beyond what Marxism is meant to do what economic System can tell us about the sex appeal Blue jeans no economic system but Socialism in the Soviet sense when it Was turned into you know the Soviet-style dialectical materialism was Meant to tell us everything from Um you know explain uh genetics and Agriculture and whatever else Um in a very disastrous way you know so I definitely don't believe in the Application of these these ideas in an Extremely wide uh way and also I'm a Marxist because it's a framework that Helps me understand pertinent facts About the world Um if at some point I no longer think so Think the framework is doing that I will Not be a Marxist but I'm a socialist on Normative grounds because I have certain Beliefs about the equality of people Because I I believe in it we should have A society with Liberty with equality With fraternity And that I hope I'll always be a Socialist until the day I die but it's Kind of a very un uh scientific or Unserious thing to say this is my Framework from beginning to end you know For the rest of my life but from a Perspective history you should say that So Mark says that you go through Societies go through different stages

It could be crudely summarizes uh Primitive communism Imperialism maybe slave Society Feudalism Uh defined by mercantilism And then capitalism and socialism and Finally uh stateless communism communism Is am I there I miss something there I Mean I think that was that was close Enough I mean I think that's definitely Uh true of of Marxist theory that the Contradictions of capitalism The fact that it has brought together All these workers uh all these materials And whatever else and it's now allowing It to socially create wealth on a mass Scale But that wealth is that process is being Privately uh directed and also the Surplus is being privately kind of Appropriated Um is a contradiction and that would Lead to uh some sort of rebellion or Revolution or change and we'll have and Eventually this contradiction would be Ephetter on production too so we would Have to move uh into socialist uh Society but actually just to backtrack So in terms of contradiction so it Starts when we're in a village Hunter-gatherers that's what you call Primitive communism where everyone's Kind of equal it's kind of a collective Right all right maybe you could just

Just let me hold on a second and then Inequalities form of different flavors So that's what imperialism is is one Dude Rises to the top and has some Control of different flavor that's what Feudalism with when you have one dude at The top and you have Merchants doing Some trading and so on and then that Leads to capitalism we have private Ownership of companies and they do some They they result in some kind of class Inequality and eventually That results in a revolution that says No that's this inequality is not okay It's not natural it doesn't respect the Value of human beings and therefore it Goes to socialism where there is Under Marx's View I guess some role for the state The state is doing some redistribution And then the pure communism at the end Is when it's uh uh you know like it's a Collective where there's no State Centralized power So is this what's part of that is wrong No I think and broadly the Marxist Theory of History Is about different types different modes Of of production that existed various Times Um based on material Um conditions so in the early times in This this Theory Um there was not much Surplus being

Generated right and there was generally Egalitarian societies And then Um as we became agricultural as Society Developed there was more Surplus being Produced Then there was a group of people the Ruling classes of their their age that Controlled and distributed that That controlled that division of labor And appropriated more of that Surplus For themselves and they weren't involved In productive labor in early print of Society everybody's involved in Productive labor later on you had casts Of priests who did nothing but kind of Pray and write and and kind of lecture People all day right and you had Um Kings and rulers and bureaucrats and Traitors and so on you have a more Complex division of labor but also more Inequity Um driving out of that Um Capitalism was a revolutionary system Because it took away one it made us Tremendously more productive right it Expanded production beyond our wildest Imaginations but it also no longer bound Uh workers to their lord or manner or Whatever else they were now free to move Free to engage in contracts with Employers and and and so on Um but even though workers are now

Producing all this tremendous wealth and Even though productive forces had been Matured in such a way They were ultimately taken away from all The wealth they were created they got Some of it back they were in wealthy Societies but they were all there Collectively together producing this Well and that was a potent Force so Marx Theorized that would lead to a Revolution or change in a in a socialist Direction I think in fact what we saw Was that Yes workers are dependent on On capitalists are depend on workers But the dependency is Um Obviously symmetrical in the sense that Workers are also dependent on Capitalists but in fact it's an Asymmetrical dependency and that Ordinary workers need their jobs more Than capitalists need the contribution Of individual workers So it became kind of a collective action Problem Where you would need the massive workers To get together decide to change things But also people be afraid because they'd Be dependent on their jobs for their Livelihood and so on so Revolution Became a lot harder than people thought Especially in Democratic countries where Workers had certain outlets and certain

Powers and rights and responsibility you Know it's no surprise that where you did Have socialist revolutions they were in Places like Um the third world postcolonial colonial States trying to emerge out of Colonialism they were in places like you Know China and Russia autocratic Countries and never in a advanced Capitalist country Now In Marx's theory of History even as Interpreted by a lot of smart marxists Like uh GA Cohen and others Um there is a certain inevitability to Socialism after capitalism the way that I would put it myself is I kind of have A more I guess you could say like Kantian view of it like I think Socialism is something that ought to Happen But it's not something that necessarily Will happen and we'll need to organize And persuade and also potentially again The key part of any social system that's Democratic is you have to allow for the Possibility of a democratic revision to A different sort of system so I'd be More than happy in my vision of Socialism for there to be capitalist Parties Um getting you know in my hopefully Three four five percent of the vote Maybe a lot more in the same way that in

The U.S or Republic we could right now Have a monarchist party no one's going To support a moniker Sparty in the in The U.S in serious Um numbers although that's gaining Popularity in Europe or else no in uh Isn't there in the anarchist tradition Isn't there aren't they saying that one Of the ways you could have a leaders in Monarchy because they're more directly Responsible to the citizens if you have A leader it's healthier to have a Monarch anyway I'm not yeah I've heard This stated the left-wing Anarchist Traditions like um anarchosynicalism or Whatever else like that their slogan is Kind of Um no Kings no Gods no Masters or Whatever so no bosses so they they Definitely would not agree with that but I'm you know not familiar enough Anarchism is runs a gamut from left to Right and interesting I'll I'll have to Ask about it I'll have to ask you about That but yeah okay so you're uh you're Not you don't believe Marx's theory of History in the sense that it everything Every stage is a natural consequence of Every other stage of course he would Predict that somebody like you must Exist in order for the for the those Stages to go from one to the next Because you might because you have to Believe ought

In order for Action to be taken to Inspire the populace to take actions so Two things one is I do broadly believe In Marxist theory of History because It's just explaining how uh productive Forces develop and the relations of Production in any uh given system I guess there's a theory of transition From capitalism to socialism that Marx Didn't really spell out but it was kind Of implied they it would naturally Happen and Marx was living in an era of Tremendous upheaval you know Marx Himself actually saw when he was living In in London in the 1870s uh the Paris Commune when workers took over for just A few months but they took over the Producers of Paris took over the city Basically created their own government Their own system Um and so on so he was living through an Era of upheaval and angles especially Over song was the mentor to all these Rising Um socialist parties so he was very Close closely collaborating with Socialists in places like Britain and Germany when they were drafting their First programs Um for the Social Democratic party so It felt like this was gonna happen and Felt like this Rising working class Would take power but I think the Stability of the system was

Underestimated it's easy to see the Contradictions in the system but can you See its mechanisms of stability Um the way in which Um Mass Collective action or revolution Is more of the exception or the the norm Could you imagine if your marks not only How much wealth the system would produce Over time uh which I think he could have Imagined but also developments like the Welfare state and mass democracy and Universal suffrage which might have Changed how workers um relate to the System or operate Um within it so I think it's just it's Just the transition part that I think Wasn't spelled out properly but I think In either case As socialists we can assume that history Is working in our favor we just need to Kind of hold out and wait for the Inevitable uh Revolution we have to Convince people of both one the struggle For day-to-day reforms and why it's Important to be politically organized Why it's important to be a member of a Union or to advocate for things like a Universal healthcare or whatever else to Try to kind of build the cohesion and Sense of self of the the class I then ultimately For the desirability once we accomplish It once we build social democracy of Going Beyond social democracy which is

Of course the challenge now I don't Think it requires leadership from the Outside I think there are plenty of Organic leaders that have emerged from The working class that have advocated For for socialism uh from the working Class and if you look at the class Composition during the Glory Days of the European socialist parties I mean this Was very much a working class Um parties and organizations it's only Been the last like 30 years it's been Taken over by professionals and you know Not On coincidentally you know they they Have um uh accomplished very little in Those those 30 years So that's the Practical in the program Can we actually jump to the To the at the horizon As you mentioned uh as a social Democratulate you focus on the policies Of today but you also have a vision and Dream of a future and so Marx did as Well so the perfect communism at the end Can you can you describe that world and Also is there elements that world that's That has elements of anarchism so again Like I said there's Michael Mouse next Door so uh like a narco communism I Don't even know if I'm using that term Correctly but basically no central Control can you describe what that world Looks like yeah I think the traditional

Socialist vision of kind of if you want To call it full communism would be very Similar to the anarchist Um vision of a world without uh coercion Mass abundance and so on I myself don't Share that Vision Um I believe that we will always need to Have a state in some form as a way to One um Even just mediate difference I think Traditionally a lot of marxists have Thought that after you remove the Primary contradiction quote unquote of Class That the other all other political Questions would be resolved and I think That's a lot behind a lot of the Thinking of we're gonna have a full Communism after politics I don't think there will be an after Politics I think for one thing let's say I'll give you another Northeast example Let's say me and you were trying to with Different groups of people we're trying To figure out how to build a crossing of The Hudson River and for various reasons You and the people around you want to Build a bridge me and the people around Me need uh want to build a tunnel That's a question that you will probably Need a mediation for right you'll need One it's a big project so there'll be a Very complex division of labor and so on

But even beyond that just politically Um you will need the state to mediate The difference you'll need to have a Vote have a vote that people trust have Institutions of people trust Um and and so on to make a decision Society is never going to go beyond that Decision making you don't think it's Possible outside of the state to create Stable voting mechanisms Or as human nature can always seep into That I just wonder why we would have to if The state is democratic and responsive The state is an authoritarian So it might not be called a state but it Would function as a state right but why Not just call it a state but in other Words like if you don't have something Like that then don't you have a greater Risk of tyranny or Tyrant emerging in The vacuum so I think people's fear of This state is what would happen if the State had too much power and I think That's legitimate Fair that's why we Have Democratic kind of checks on state Power and and certain guarantees and of Freedom and so on But Yeah I guess I just wonder I'm more Afraid of the vacuum and not having a Democratic responsive State and and what The world would turn into and also I'm Just not a utopian thinker if that makes

Sense like I I like to think that Dominique egalitarian thinker I'm a Socialist but My mind just goes to like you know I Could see a vision of the future that I Would like like 50 60 years from now Um maybe there's some sort of future of Super abundance and Automation and There's some sort of techno utopian Future we don't want some of those Things that that would exist in my Um you know five minutes from now vision Of socialism but I just don't see it and In general I'm kind of wary of visions Of change that seem like they're not Built off little thing pieces that we Have now and not built of history and Experience and whatever else like I Don't want a year or zero I don't even Like the term prehistory because I think There's a lot In history that I want you know I want I Want Shakespeare under socialism you Know I want I want a lot of things that That I think we should be grateful for Um there's a part of tradition that I Think that exists that's hierarchical And exploitative and whatever else but There's another part of tradition that's Our sense of place and belonging and our Connection with the past and hopefully The the future and I I want to keep that Yeah so you're worried about Revolution Or otherwise the vacuum being created

And you're worried about the The things that might fill that vacuum So the anarchists often worry About the The same mechanism of the state that Controls voting Or keeps voting robust and resilient and Stable the same mechanism also having a Monopoly on violence And so that's the tension so they're Very they get very nervous about a Central place having a monopoly on Violence whereas if there is going to be A place within Monopoly on violence Let's just say we temporarily take that For granted Should it not be a place with a skilled Elected accountable transparent civil Service with a democratic mandate and so On yeah yeah yeah yeah we'll put uh Speaking of AI just just to go on that Tangent do you think it's possible to Have a future world at least for 50 Years 50 100 years Where AI there's an AI sort of central Planning Sort of the we remove some of the human Elements that I think get us into a lot Of trouble like you could you can take a Perspective on the Soviet Union then the Flaws of the system there have less to Do with the different ideologies more to Do with the humans and the vacuums and How humans fill vacuums and the

Corrupting nature power and so on if we Have ai that it's it's more data driven And it's not susceptible to the human Elements is it possible to imagine such A world almost like a from a Sci-Fi Perspective maybe in the future you can Imagine certain calculation problems That Rose during Central planning solve Through advanced computing But I would say that there's another Whole set of problems with the system That were incentive problems and I'm not Sure how that advanced Computing would Solve the incentive problems of how do You get people to actually produce Things that other people want Um kind of that informational question And how do you communicate without Endless meetings or someone reading your Brain yeah what do you actually want Um so so there's there's that kind of Informational question but then there's The incentive of you know how do you get People to work efficiently at work and How do you get uh firms to Um to use their resources that they're Getting more more efficiently and I Think So solving the calculation problem Solves some of these questions but not All of them But you know that's kind of a who knows But if you're a vision of the future Requires some sort of

Leap into a technological unknown that's Very hard to advocate for it today it's Exciting to consider the possibility of Technology empowering uh a better Reallocation of resources if if you care About a kind of Uh the innate value of human beings and Think of the mechanism of reallocation Resources good way to empower that Equality that it's nice to remove the Human element from that like if you work Really hard And you're really good at your job it's Nice to be really data driven in Allocating more resources to you So Kind of like I kind of think that the Agency part requires Human beings and conscious human Activity so I think if you have a sort Of Planning system that works Um and let's say the technology is there For it to work I would want it to be Democratic Planning in such a way there is a human Element there is some debate and Deliberation Society and also even in my Vision of socialism with the state Sector and state Investments and so on I Want there to be more public discussion And debate about certain things so it's Not just left to technocrats because You'd want to live in society where

You're you just find out the next day That there's some massive infrastructure Project that you haven't you know had a Chance to Think about or debate or feel like You're participating In you know and and debate is not just Facts and logic that's that's why if if The whole universe was about facts and Logic computers could do a better job of That there's something about humans Debating each other that goes into the Difficult gray areas of Of what it means to be human or what it Means to have a life that's worth living Um That requires humanity and I'm also Worried about while I'm excited by the Possibility of AI controlling everything Half joking but the reason I'm really Terrified of that is because usually There's a possibility of a human taking Control of that system so you you now Start to get the same kind of Authoritarian thing well I am a human I'm smart enough to be able to uh Control this AI system and I will do Based on what this AI system says uh What's good for you it's kind of like Talking down to people and then use that AI system to now have the same kind of Thing as holiday more in 1930s and also Our preferences might change so an AI System might say the goal of humanity is

To just increase infinitely efficiency Or or increase output whereas we might Collectively decide that you know we we Have enough and we want to you know have A trade-off right and I think that you Know we need a system that allows for People to make Certain trade-offs And have more of this uh Leisure that I've been learning about from you this Is a very interesting concept Leisure I'm gonna have to how do you spell that All right so If we can step into the Practical we're Talking about historical and Philosophical into the Practical of Today What are some of the exciting policies That represent Democratic socialism Today modern socialism Uh I think you mentioned some of them You know Medicare for all or Universal Health Care Something you haven't mentioned is Tuition-free college Increasing minimum wage maybe stronger Unions like we talked about What are some ideas here what are some Ideas there's especially policy Especially exciting to you Well I think that hours reduction has Always been an important demand for Socialists Um so I mean it's been a reality in in

Certain countries like France and in Recent uh decades Where part of the logic is If you have a bunch of people working For 40 plus hours a week and you also Have some unemployed people who would Like more employment then it's not a Zero-sum game you could reduce hours to 35 hours and still maintain the same Output by employing more people to kind Of fill the the slack in in hours so one I think it's a solidaristic thing in Working class movements being unemployed And employed workers I also think that Um yeah it gives people more time so Marx was a big advocate in his day of um A 10 hour Um a bill in in in the UK that would Reduce the hours of working time And reduce child or eliminated or renews Child labor and and other things as well And part of it was This is a radical demand because it's Reducing the sphere as we saw of Exploitation so it's putting limits on On how much time the capitalist can take From ordinary workers and how much Freedom they would they would have Um with Healthcare one I just think it's A a government Health Care System you Know you could tell me that you don't Want it in the U.S but you can't tell me It doesn't work because we've seen it Work in every other major industrial

System in different forms so what does That usually involve what does Universal Health Care involve so there's different Varieties in the UK for instance they Have a National Health Service in which Medical personnels and hospitals are run Directly by the state it's almost like a Mini Soviet system to be honest but just For healthcare it works pretty well just For healthcare Um and I think it's one example of the Way in which you could actually take the Market so I give you a vision of Socialism that involves a lot of Market But I think there's certain spheres Where you could remove the market from And still have Um an efficient system Um in part because you know this is a Area in which we People don't have Obviously for cosmetic procedures Whatever they have preferences but for Most routine things that people do in Healthcare they just need to see a Doctor you know they need to get Diagnosed Um some of these systems have had Trouble with waitlist for Specialists or Whatever that's more of like an Allocation problem of if you want more Specialists you pay Specialists more Like this is just problems that could be Solved by like through the mechanisms of

Of planning and and government-run Healthcare so that's that's kind of the Most left-wing that he could get is what The system the United Kingdom Um beyond that you have a system like Medicare for all where you say all right Most of the doctors besides for public Hospitals that already exist Um are going to be privately employed by Hospitals now hospitals are going to be Private But Um instead of having all these different Insurance carriers we're just going to Have one national insurance carrier that We're all going to pay into that National insurance carrier is going to Negotiate Um the price of Health Care with doctors The price of Um of drugs with pharmaceutical Companies and so on to hopefully reduce Um uh prices and to implement a Different little bit of planning into Into the system because if there's only One you know uh big National Insurance Company Um that that company has a lot of weight And power but you know you could still Visit your same doctor and Um there's still some uh it's not as Radical of a of a shift in that Direction and that's a dominant demand Of Bernie Sanders and the left right now

Um there's 30 plus million people in the US would be insured that currently Aren't insured if we move to the system There's a lot of other people that are Underinsured or worried about how to pay Co-pays or or premiums involved I think Would be a net benefit for the vast Majority of the US population even if it Was offset with certain taxes because we Spend a lot of money out of pocket with With health insurance and it's demand Also that's like widely popular so for Me It's almost like if you're trying to Build support for Um something like socialism we were Talking this Loft division of socialism After capitalism or what worker Um ownership the means of production Would look like in practice and and so On and by the way you're one of the few Interviewers who ever asked Mandy the The details so it's good that I had a I've been thinking of a rough sketch in My head for the last you know Um whatever 16 years that I've been a Socialist But But we have to start in the Heron now And if you can't convince people that The state should play a bigger role in Their health insurance and you can Convince Americans and a whole host of Other sectors that they should be living

In something closer to social democracy How are you going to convince those People that there should be worker Ownership of the means of production It's kind of a ridiculous like leap Um if if you don't have the credibility As the group of people organizing for Universal healthcare organizing for a 15 Minimum wage and able to get the goods And also in practice as we fight for These reforms Ordinary people will have a better sense At least my hope is of what it means to Be involved with politics and what Politics can do for their lives it's Positive because right now when we talk About politics it often just seems that We're talking about Um like a very glib cultural conflict Removed from the things that are Important in our lives whereas in truth I think politics can be a tool for us to Make our lives better Yeah and there's like deep ideas here Where in some sense Universal Health Care and worker collectives are not so Radically different that there is just Uh there's philosophical ideas to Explore and accept and also from my Perspective at least Maybe I'm wrong on this but it seems Like with a lot of things At the core of Politics the right answer From an alien perspective is not clear

Like everybody's very certain of what's The right answer everyone's certain Universal Health Care is terrible or in The case of Universal Health Care Majority of people think it's a good Idea but I don't think anyone knows Because I think that depends on cultural History on the on the particular Dynamics of a country of a political System on the Dynamics of the economic System in this country of the changing World the 21st century is different than The 20th century maybe the failures of Communism in the 20th century will not Be repeated in the 21st century or the Flip side of that may be capitalism will Actually truly flourish Are with the help of Automation in the 21st century I don't think anyone knows So like you people like you are Basically saying like arguing for ideas And we'll have to explore those ideas Together Um Why do you think if Universal Health Care is popular Why don't we have Universal Health Care In the United States well Democracy is a great thing political Democracy is wonderful it came from the Struggles of ordinary people to expand Suffrage and and so on but the economic Sphere entrenched power and the economic Sphere bleeds into our political

Democracy so I think there's a lot of People with a vested interest in not Having Universal Health Care Um there's large Industries with the Best interest in not having Universal Health Care They pay for ads pay lobbyists they Influence government and they have made It very difficult so you can't get Universal Health Care Um done without the bill even if you Pass something you're trying to make a Change like Obamacare was supposed to Have a public option everybody's been Running on a public option in the Democratic party for 12 13 years why Don't we have a public option Um people know that if people have the Choice of buying into a government plan They might just keep that might be the Slow road to really having Universal Health Care so I think a lot of it's Opposition Do you like that idea the public option Maybe you can like because is there Complexities like pre-existing Conditions So isn't a public option Mean you can not have any insurance Until you get into trouble And then you can if it covers Pre-existing conditions just start Paying for insurance then therefore Young people don't pay for insurance

Isn't it better to go full in I don't Support a public option in part because I think if we allow politicians to just Say hey I support a public option well It's just kind of a way to Signal your Support for Universal Health Care would Give us nothing and I think that's what We saw under with Biden a lot of other Politicians that have supported uh Public option I think in practice if a Public option is defined in such a way That it just means You you Um you know by default can just opt in To a public plan and let's say Hypothetically you don't even have to Pay for it then it's just a back door to Universal healthcare really quickly Because I think the vast majority of People who aren't currently covered and Also a lot of employers to be honest Would probably drop their private Coverage if they knew their employees Can just get a public option and maybe Would only provide supplemental Insurance or or whatever else Um but I think the broad overarching Point of all these demands is to say That Socialists need to be really connected To the day-to-day struggles of people to Just improve their lives So if you're feeling like you're paying 400 500 on the Obamacare market for

Health insurance and that's hampering Your ability to do what you want to do In your life then maybe you would Support a candidate who's for Universal Health Care if you feel like you're Struggling to find work that you could Afford to pay your rent with or whatever Else maybe it'll support a candidate Committed to Um all sorts of mechanisms to reduce Housing prices or increase your power as A as a tenant Um and you know whatever else I think It's like these day-to-day concerns need To be connected to the more abstract and Lofty vision of change otherwise our Politics just becomes like this this Fantasy world thing that's that's you Know nice ideas to think about or debate But but really won't make much of a Difference in people's lives What do you think about free college Should College be free So I would say free college is not at The top of my list of priorities but it Definitely should be for you in my Vision of a just Um just Society what is it that you tell Just to clarify is the Universal Health Care up there yeah universal healthcare Is probably far higher in my priorities Than than free college I think right now The way our system is built When someone goes to college they're

Given credentials they're given decree They carry with them for the rest of Their life it gives them a chance to Join kind of a privileged part of the Labor market right it's not a zero-sum Game I don't want college-educated People to think that non-college Educated people are their enemies and Vice versa because a lot of them are Just ordinary Working Class People Trying to survive And they're in different areas or in Different sectors Um you know some of them are in nursing Sectors where they need a college degree And and so on But if you just make College tuition Free but you don't also make uh trades Skills and other things Um tuition free for someone to learn how To become an electrician or a plumber or Whatever else then to some degree you're Privileging one sector of the labor Market over another Um so I would Advocate just if you're Going to make something like that free You just have to make sure that you're Doing an egalitarian way and that one The options the routes to college are More more equal so Um you know there's more investment in K-12 education so that more kids in Rough neighborhoods have the chance to Go to college and for those that choose

The trade route from from any any part Of the country that they're given the Skills and resources for vocational Um you know trainings and that those are Also free and it just feels like in Terms of order of operation I would just Start with K-12 education improving it And and whatever else then College after but I'm not opposed to it So does that improving K-12 education Does that mean investing more into it is It as simple as just increasing the Amount of money that's invested in the In public education in general when it Comes to the public sector or any any Sphere that you're investing in uh Obviously it's not just as simple as Throwing money at a problem I do think We have a lot of schools that are um Underfunded but we have other schools That are adequately funded but the Conditions in which those schools are Like the neighborhoods they're in and What's going on in society Um the problems are so deep that it's Impossible for just education to solve Everything and I think especially a lot Of liberals think that education should Be the Panacea invest in education You'll help people if kids are living in Poverty if they go into school hungry or Whatever else like education's not gonna Give them Everything they need to to succeed so

Sometimes we I think put too much weight On on education And of course you can Define education More broadly which is like The care Of the flourishing of the young mind Whatever that is yeah whatever you call This early yeah a lot of it starts with So New York City at least we do have Um Universal Pre-K so from H3 onward you You have the option for that I mean it's Important for kids socialization you Know their parents are now able to you Know know that they could go to work or Do something else and have their you Know have their kids taken care of Um there's a lot of measures like that That we could do to to equalize things And again For Libertarians in the audience you Know some of this stuff is scary because It's obviously more State involved State Involved in pre-K State it's already very involved in K-12 More investment into State institutions Like um our our state universities and In college but for me it's not a Question of State versus non-state it's A question of Um you know good outcomes for for people And it just happens to be that for Working Class People Um Having the collective power to elect

Representatives that will build a Broader safety net is in their interest For upper middle class people for others They can afford to pay for their own Provisioning either directly or through Like Obamacare like schemes where you Just get a subsidy and you pay the rest Yourself and whatever this is for really The bottom 40 plus of the population They really don't have any options so They prioritize other things they end up With with some sort of injury or health Problem or whatever else and it's it's Bad for everyone in society but Especially bad for the people at the Bottom of the the labor market so I saw Various estimates for socialist programs Like Social Security expansion free College Uh Medicare for all will cost upwards of 40 trillion dollars over 10 years for Zero okay to give argue with those Numbers and so on but so there's a cost There's a taxpayer cost what are Given the weight of that cost Uh can you still make the case with These programs and then can you try to Make the case against them that the cost Is too high so I I will not argue with You on the numbers because you just Threat random numbers I do think Universal healthcare if Done Right can Be basically cost neutral I think it's An exception because we spend a

Tremendous amount of money on on Health Care a huge percentage of our GDP so I Think it could be done in a way that's Close to Um class neutral so especially can you Argue on the numbers without arguing on The numbers you're saying just your gut Says that there's a lot of depending on How these programs are done there's a Lot of variance in how much it will Actually cost there's a lot of Bureaucracy in Billing right now in our Healthcare sector for example that would Be Um eliminated Um there's a lot of costs that are Spiraling upward of Provider costs from Both Doctors Hospitals but also Pharmaceuticals of drug costs that Insurance companies shoulder because the Their market share is too fragmented to Really negotiate hard Um Medicare could sometimes negotiate Better rates but a Medicare for all Would negotiate even better rates so I Think there's a cost spiral that we can Adjust with more government Um involvement and there's a reason why We spend a bigger share of our GDP on Health care than other places but but Let me just accept the broad premise That social programs cost money Um Now

I think that that one for ordinary People most of them The trade-off of even hypothetically if If taxes on Um lower middle class and Working Class People in certain cases go up the Trade-off would still be in their Benefit because they're the ones who Currently who would be consuming more of Those goods and also our tax system and Whatnot is Progressive so the the rich Will pay pay more The majority will consume Um more of them also I think a lot of These programs are the Bedrock of a Healthy Society So one reason for example that we have Um so much crime and violence in the US There's lots of you know cultural and Other causes with our level of gun Ownership American history and and so on But one one really important factor is Just the level of poverty and inequality In the US compared to other other Countries that combined with guns and And other factors means we live in more Violent unequal societies if you know a European would be shocked by the fact That in even some of our our nicest Areas and our and cities and elsewhere Because there's a lot of rural violence Too it's just normal to have gun uh Violence it's normal to have uh Drug-related violence you know the we

Have what like four or 500 people some Years in like Baltimore like a city of Under a million getting getting killed Um These are all recipes for society in Which one the public sphere is is drunk Like crazy because you're not gonna go Wander out for an evening stroll in a Park if you live in a dangerous area or Whatever else like the the rot goes very Deep and a welfare state is one way to To live in a better Society for everyone Um there's been plenty of of studies uh There's one book called the spirit level On um on inequality that was quite Popular that just notes that inequality Is really terrible for the psyches Um of the rich too not just for for the Poor so I think uh spending some more Money living in more just Society is is Doable there's different ways to to Address certain costs Um spirals one reason why our welfare States are getting more and more Expensive is in part just because our Population is is aging but many of the Same people who say we can't afford Um more in our welfare states because Um you know we're already spending so Much on Social Security and all these Other entitlements are the same people Also for one you know closing borders so Immigrants can't come in uh to to help Build the economy and to fill gaps in

The economy and also who aren't for Things that'll make it easier to have Kids you know I'm uh 33 years old I have A lot of friends Um who have been putting them off having Kids until they save up x amount of Dollars even though they have someone They could you know uh raise raise Children with Um because they can't afford the cost of Child care they can't they can't you Know their job probably won't give them More than four or six weeks of of um Family leave or whatever else like this Is not the case in other other countries So I think there's all sorts of benefits From having a bigger uh welfare state But yes there are costs and there are Going to be certain trade-offs it's not A magical thing where you could just you Know have everything without trade-offs So in a progressive Tech system Is there To to push back on the costs here Is there a point at which taxing the Rich Uh is counterproductive in the long term So in the short term there might be a Net benefit of increasing taxes Um because the programs the middle class The lower middle class gets is more Beneficial Is there is there a negative side to Taxing the rich

In theory yes of course so one would be Um if you tax the rich so much They change their consumption patterns And that has negative impacts on the Economy as a whole that you like you Would have to kind of really model it Out but there would be a certain point In which the consumption changes might Have net detrimental effects Um I think that's more unlikely and the More likely scenario is you tax Corporations and and other Um uh wealthy you know people in society To the point that Um they have potentially less money for Productive investment because you're in A capital Society so you're relying on Capitalists to invest So you kind of don't want to be in the Worst of Both Worlds where you've gone Too far for capitalism but not far Enough for socialism Um and my vision of course of socialism That's one reason why we'd have to take The investment function away from Kaplers there has to be if you're gonna Make it so hard for them that they can't Invest or they can't employ labor the Way they're employing now you have to Create another mechanism for Supply to Be created and that's why that's a Transition Point yeah Um what about longer term De-incentivizing young people that are

Dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs and Realizing that there's this huge tax on Being wealthy so if you take these big Risks which is what's required to be an Entrepreneur And you are lucky enough to succeed and Good enough to succeed that the Government will take most of your money Away I think realistically that's not a Disincentive for most people Um first of all we already have Progressive taxation system uh the Government does take take a bunch of the Money away and people are still striving To become rich a lot of what people want When they dream of success is they want Accolades they want respect and of Course they want Some more wealth well to consume luxury Goods with or whatever else but at a Certain point it becomes better for the State to Um to tax and either redistribute Directly or through social programs or Redirect that money through tax credits And on other ways to shape investment Towards productive investment you know We don't want a society in which a bunch Of rich people fly around a helicopters Going from klepto Club while the Productive economy Um kind of does nothing right at that Point I think a lot of ordinary rich

People might prefer The government to come in to tax them And to try to Spur investment in certain Productive Um sectors so it really just just Depends but I honestly believe that that Most people Don't necessarily want to be rich for The sake of being rich they want to be Successful and there's many different Dynamics to that and accolades and Social respect is is an important one of Them it's also why people who just Become Filthy Rich often the first thing They do is start up philanthropic trust And try to give away their money because They want the social respect and Accolades and whatever else they don't Want just their money On that topic sort of a little bit of a Tangent there's a lot of folks in the in The in the left community Uh far left Community socialist Community that I think are at the source Of a kind of derision towards the b word The billionaires Does it bother you or do you think That's in part Justified a kind of uh Using the word billionaire as a dirty Word I think it's perfectly Justified And that it's a popular shorthand right Um so obviously when I talk about Inequality I often talk about power Dynamics right between workers and

Bosses and and so on Billionaire is just the 99 one percent Version of it it's just a popular Shorthand to just explain the fact that You know there's Um a lot of people who have accumulated Obscene Wealth Um these people aren't in my mind Parasites you know in the in the kind of Very very old school Um socialist rhetoric in that Of course Um capitalists Um provide employment take entrepreneur With come up with new ideas sometimes Themselves like sometimes directly Manage uh work and whatever whatever Else Um but they exert so much power over the Lives of not just their workers but Society as a whole taking away some of Their wealth and power is a way to just Empower others Um and again uh these things have policy Trade-offs if you if you just snap your Fingers and say Um Elon Musk you're now Um all your wealth is gone you're now You know on food stamps or whatever else And that kind of arbitrary way you'd be A total totally disincentivized people From trusting the rules of the game as They've been set up in a capital society

And I think that would have negative Consequences for workers but saying that Hey this person has too much power and Too much wealth and has too much ability To dictate things about the lives of of Others I think it's just simply a fact And Um I think it's true in the cases of People who are good people and and have Risen to this position and as true in The cases of people who are maybe not so Good people and who have risen to these These positions so I agree with you in Part but I have to push back here so one Of the problems I see is using Billionaires as shorthand to talk about Power inequality and wealth and Inequality Often dismisses the fact that some of These folks Are some of the best members of our Society so outside of the the in however The system has created inequalities A young person today Should dream to build cool stuff not for The wealth not for the power the fame But to be part of building cool stuff Now there's a lot of examples of Billionaires that have gotten there in Shady ways and so on And you can point that out but in the Same way we celebrate great artists and Great athletes and great uh literary Icons and sort of writers and Poets and

Musicians and uh engineers and Scientists we should celebrate we should Sort of separate the the human Creator From the wealth that the system has Given them that that that's what I worry About is like in our system some of the Greatest humans are the ones that have Become rich and so we sometimes mix up The if you want to criticize the wealth We sometimes criticize the human and the Creator while that should actually be The person we aspire to be So you know I would agree with that Um LeBron James if he's not already in His lifetime will be a billionaire Um and he got his money largely through Just being an incredible athlete Excelling in his field more than Anyone's you know besides for Michael Jordan I think he's my number two he Might be my number one Um yeah I'm willing to keep keep an open Mind about the Lebron vs Jordan Conversation but Um you know he got that through his Merit and he's been rewarded in a Party's getting rewarded because he's Created vast amounts of Wealth Beyond What he's getting this is just his share You know it's the salary cap League uh Whenever he's doing an endorsement Obviously that company is thinking that He's worth more than what they're paying Him for that that endorsement and so on

And to the extent with um Elon Musk People see Innovation and they see Someone who Will put himself out there with Sometimes crazy ideas because he's Trying to think about the future and Trying to just push things forward Instead of just sitting on whatever Money he has now and just investing it Earning you know six percent you know For the return for the rest of his life You know I think that that's that's a Positive thing uh but I think it it Doesn't get to the broader Policy question when people invoke Billionaires they're invoking the Specter of inequality and power Um it It's not normally the rhetoric that I Use because I propose pose and I use More traditional Um socialist rhetoric and and terms but I think it gets it something real so Often with these sorts of shorthands we Use in politics Um there are Um You know they're imperfect but they Speak to to a real a real thing and they They feed a little bit of fun that folks Like AOC and Elon have with each other Creates it feeds it inspires it serves As a catalyst for uh productive Discourse okay speaking of which you

Said you're a fan of Bernie Sanders Uh would you classify yourself as a Bernie bro what's the technical Definition of a burning is that a very It's a subset no no I'm sorry you're a Sophisticated philosopher uh writer uh Economic and political thinker of course You would not call yourself a burning Bro I'm probably calling myself a burner Crap because it was made up by liberal Journalists to smear Bernie and his Supporters oh that's hilarious during The 2016 Um campaign uh even though Disproportionately his supporters were Like young women in their 20s you know Um but whatever I ride for Bernie There's the worst things in the world Being called a bro so that's fine what Uh what do you like about Bernie Sanders And to what degree does he represent his Ideas of socialism to what degree does He uh represent The more traditional sort of liberal Ideas I love Bernie uh most of all I Like his Clarity he's by far the best Communicator we have on the left he Speaks with a moral force uh he's Relatable Um and he's taken a lot of socialist Rhetoric from Academia and brought it Down to its core in a way that's Comprehensible for ordinary people and Speaks to their daily lives

So when Bernie does a speech people can Finish his lines because they know what He's going to say you know they know What points he's going to hit because Socialism in my mind should not be a Complicated thing now when we get to More abstract discussions about what a Future system would look like when we Get to the policy trade-offs today I Think we need to put on a different hat We should embrace Um all sorts of nuance and contradiction And complication when it comes to the Core moral and ethical appeal I think Bernie grasped that and how to Communicate it now Bernie Sanders was politicized a very Long time ago I actually once told him I've only met him a few times but one Time I joked that Um in his in his book he mentioned that One politicizing moment in his life was When Um the Brooklyn Dodgers left town and he Was devastated because he was a Dodgers Fan you know from Brooklyn and I said This is like 2020 campaign this maybe 2019 I said Bernie running for president You did not need to keep reminding People of your age yeah but Um you know he He was politicized through the young People's socialist League which was an Old offshoot of the norm Thomas

Socialist Party of America so very old School socialist tradition then he was Engaged in labor struggles in the 60s Um he was engaged in the Civil Rights Movement so he came from this old left Generation that I think just had a more Plain spoken more rooted way of Understanding change and socialism it Wasn't in my mind polluted by Academia And by some of the the turn towards Issues of culture and and excessive Focus on representation or whatever else It was rooted it was really rooted in Something economic in a way I then obviously he had all his ideas And he was also a product to the left And that he went to Vermont he kind of Did the back to the land thing he was Basically like a not quite a hippie and And affect but he was out there trying To farm or whatever and you know cold as Hell Northern Vermont And then he decided to to do politics do Electoral politics and he failed for a Long time he did Third Party politics he Kept losing races uh eventually he Became by Savvy and luck and things he Learned the mayor of Burlington Vermont And he just kept with the same message And in my my book I talk about Um I quote I think a Bernie speech from The 1970s one of his early campaigns and I compared it to a Bernie speech Um during his 2016 campaign it was

Virtually identical millionaires were Swapped with Millionaires and Billionaires speaking of billionaires Which is which is beautiful you know It's it's it's I I think there's there's Something you know great to what he Offered American politics and also all Around the world there's a socialist Poll in politics whether you agree with It or not and all these countries in Europe and any any rich country Japan And so on and the us we really didn't Have that the furthest left you could go Was like you know Chris Hayes and MSNBC Or whatever Um I'm very glad that there's there's a Socialist poll and I think we have Bernie to to thank for it Um to the extent that a lot of you know Self-described socialists don't think Bernie is a real socialist it's Important because he stays grounded in People's day-to-day lives and struggles I don't think he thinks often the way That that I do and other people more Disconnected or step and move from day To day politics think about the future Um Contours of a social society and so On but I think he's morally committed to A egalitarian different sort of future And I don't think he at least haven't Heard him Talk about sort of this big broad

History and future so the Marxist Ideology and so on not that he's afraid Of or something it's just not how he Thinks about it yeah I think he's a Practical thinker and also yeah he is Running even if he he he he should be Afraid of it too because he is a uh you Know he is a major politician running For president I think what people want Is they want Um They want the left wing of the possible And I or at least the segment of the Party that was voting for him the Democratic party is voting for him they Wanted something that was a step or two Removed from what they had now it was Visionary but not so far removed that it Seemed like a scary leap and I think we We lost lost a chance in 2016 to elect Someone that I think would have beaten Trump or the very least would have you Know Been close do you think the Democrats Screwed him over Yes not in the way of deliberate or Direct vote working but They put their thumb on the scale uh for Sure I mean there's it's not even Conspiracy theory there's all this stuff In the debates about uh Clinton you know Being Clinton's people being fed Questions and and whatever else and just The tone of the media the media was

Extremely dismissive and hostile uh to Him uh I love that Bernie still does the Fox News town hall with his they're just Him speaking to the people and he's not Afraid of of going on you know any sort Of Um outlet and making his uh his case but I think a lot of the the liberal media In particular Um always had it out for Bernie Sanders What was the because that was really Annoying that was really annoying how Dismissive they were I I've seen that in Some other candidates like um they were Dismissive towards Andrew Yang in that Same way so forget the ideology Why are they so smug sometimes towards Certain candidates what is that because I think that's actually at the core to a Degree of Democrats or any party fails That it's that smugness because people See through that I think a lot of these People are friends even if they don't Know each other their friends because They went to the same uh schools they Know the same people they have the same Broad just ideology and worldview so They had a sense of what the Democratic Party should be and who it should be Running and who is going to win and also What was serious and unserious yeah so Bernie would say some things about the World that objectively to a lot of People seem correct or at least

Pretty close to correct and a journalist Would just look at him like he's from Outer space to some extent this also Happens on to people on the right you Know people on the right often say Things that I find uh repulsive or or Just wrong but There's parts of the media that would Describe their certain views as Illegitimate or outside this boundaries Of acceptable conversation I think there Should be a few things outside the Boundary of acceptable conversation you Know hate speech and and so on Um but like there's this attempt to say Their views are illegitimate and Therefore anyone who votes for them for Any reason is illegitimate too and That's one reason why I think it fueled A lot of resentment and it will Ultimately end up feeling Um the extremes of American politics and People feel like you know they're They're not being listened to Yeah and some of it is also style Speaking and personality Where if you're not willing to sort of Play kind of a game of Civility There's like a proper way of speaking if You're a Democrat if you're not doing That kind of proper way of speaking People dismiss you I think in certain Sense whatever you feel about him people Dismiss Donald Trump for the same reason

Where it's the style of speaking the Personality of the person that he's not Playing by the rules of of polite Society of polite politician society and So on And that that's really That troubles me because it feels like Solutions the great leaders Will not be polite In the they're not they're not going to Behave in their the way they're supposed To behave and I just wish the media was At least open-minded to that like Which I guess gives me hope about the New Media which is like more distributed Citizen media right that they're more Open mind to the Revolutionary To The Outsiders right I actually first Uh I really like Bernie Sanders Um I first heard him On uh in conversation with Thom Hartmann Uh he had these like uh like weekly Conversations and just the authenticity From the guy I didn't even know any Context I didn't even know honestly he Was a Democratic Socialist or anything The authenticity of the human being was Really refreshing and we I guess decided To run for president that was really Strange I was like surely this kind of This person has no chance Just like he seemed too authentic he Seemed to Like he's not going to be effective at

Playing the game of politics so it was Very inspiring to me to see that you Don't necessarily need to be good at Playing the game of politics you can Actually have a chance of winning yeah That was that was really inspiring to See Um What about some of the other Popular candidates what do you think About AOC I don't know if she self-identifies as a Socialist or not she does self-identify As a as a Democratic Socialist I think she was a very inspiring figure For for a lot of um people she was kind Of out of this Bernie wave of the first Set of Bernie candidates in 2018 that Identified with him instead of the Democratic party establishment I think that She's still developing as a politician It's very difficult when you're in a Deep blue District And When You don't often have to worry about Re-election or talk to but modulate your Rhetoric to win over swing Motors in Your District but then you're Immediately a national and cultural Figure So AOC basically goes from her views Which are compelling in my mind a lot of

Her programmatic views are compelling Wins her district and then has her on Rhetoric which to me compared to Bernie Owes itself more To the academic left in the way that a Lot of the left has learned to talk I Don't mean academic sense that she's Like a Marxist or whatever else but Academic and the way that She may be Using at times like confusing language To convey basic points when she gets Into like The like language of intersectionality And whatever else especially in the Context of cultural issues and stuff Like that exactly instead of just the Plain spoken burning like yeah Discrimination is is wrong if you ask Them about a cultural issue I'll come Down on the same side as AOC I'm sure You know nine plus tens out of uh times Out of ten but I'll try to root it into Just basic like yeah treat people with Respect you know and they'll treat you With respect and that's the way we Should govern our Civics fear you know And we don't need to talk about about Intersectionality to to I think get that But so there's that rhetoric But she's not just regular Congressperson and a deep blue District She's also a national and international Cultural and political figure so she's

Now a spokesperson because of larger Like a media event of her surprising Upset election and her being you know Young and like being really connected to This post-burny moment And I think amid these constant one Attacks on her from the right and also This media attention and this notoriety She hasn't really modulated or adjusted Her audience her rhetoric and how do you Win over someone who Really hates a lot of your ideas but Might actually believe in some of your Policies and Um I think she's been Um ineffective quite frankly in the last Year making that transition whereas I Think other politicians who are not so Far left Um who don't identify socialists but Let's say a John Federman has managed to Become more effective and I don't think It's a question of character or whatever Else and I like AOC so I don't want to Put it so harshly but I think a lot of It has to do with her being a congress Person in a deep blue district and Fetterman being running for Statewide Office in a you know quote-unquote Purple State Um but at her best at her best she does It but it's like glimmers you okay it's Kind of like um I don't know what's what Sport are you biggest fan of I'll give

You a sports analogy I like the end of I Mean uh NFL is up there if uh soccer is Up there but probably UFC okay well I Can't give you a good analogy for any of Those but it's like a raw Prospect like You know someone who who shows glimmers Of hope so they were drafted really high And then they Bounce from Team to team And you're like I'm clinging onto my see A stock but um but I think that That she needs to be self-critical Enough and her team needs to be Self-critical enough to know the goal is Not merely to be a national cultural Figure and win a re-election near deep Blue District the goal has to be to Become truly a national political figure Which will require changes A unifier an inspiring figure about the Ideas that she represents definitely and She has other things against her like I'm obviously class focused but there's No denying I think that some of the Hostility to her is like sexism you know It's rooted in I think people Um wanting to see or fail or whatever Else but that's only some of it you know I think some of it otherwise is her Struggling to relate to people who don't Have a lot of her her you know starting Points as far as moral and ethical Beliefs Yeah but she's actually great at Flourishing in all the all the attacks

She's getting she's she's doing a good Job with that and a lot of those attacks Will break me if I'm being honest yes That's that's the amount of fire she's Under Um but you don't want that to become a Drug to where you just get good at being A national figure that's constantly in The fights and are using that for Attention so on you still want to be the Unifier and that's the tricky tricky Switch do you think there's a chance There's a world in which she's able to Modulate it enough to be a unifier and Run for president And when I think she's very far away From being able to do that I think that Um Even other politicians that are also Polarizing within the squad in terms of What they say their ideas whatever else Are very effective communicators like Ilhan Omar and others Um I think I think AOC I mean that's my Hope right my hope is that someone like AOC Um could uh the last year plus have not Has not been extremely promising you Know in my in my mind in part because She's become or she's continued to Position herself as a lightning rod Cultural

Figure Whereas I think a national political Figure needs to pick their spots and Also pick their moment for changing Their their rhetoric and adjusting to Their audience and I think she does it In certain environments but that needs To be your National message when you're Out there Um you need to be speaking towards the Not already Converted and I think Bernie does that Bernie strips his politics down to the Basics So I agree with you spiritually but I Also we also have an example of Donald Trump winning the presidency Isn't some Isn't some of the game of politics That's separate from the policy Being able to engage in rhetoric that's That leads to outrage and then walking Through that fire with Grace First of all I think Trump was is kind Of a unique personality in American History so it's hard to to Compare anyone to to Trump but don't you Think AOC is comparable in terms of the Uniqueness In the political system we're in or no Much more much more of a Firebrand Anti-establishment Force Um In that and I mean this negatively for

What it's worth because I I don't Disagree with Trump but he was willing To set fire to the Republican Um uh establishment right uh he was able To self-fund you know largely his Campaign and he already was a media Figure without them uh AOC has been much More cautious for the Democratic party Establishment in part because she's not Trying to run a national political Campaign right now for the outside like A five percent chance to be president Let me set fire to everything she's Trying to help people and help her Constituents through the game of getting Committee appointments and you know Getting wins in the margins and I think That's understandable for what it's Worth but in the process I think What's the difference between AOC and a Progressive Democrat during 2016 it used To be pretty easy to say the difference Between the Bernie Kratz and a Progressive Democrat right because we Were establishing our own outside third Force in American politics Were you know you could knock on the Door of a lot of people who would end up Voting for Trump and they would say oh I Have a lot of respect for for Bernie or Whatever they're still going to not vote For him but he wasn't considered part of The democratic party milieu Um I think now with AOC there's a much

Closer Association of AOC in our Policies with ordinary Democrats where she needs to draw Stronger distinctions she does need to Do it like um Trump did with just man I Forgot all of them though I found some Of them amusing in the moment like all His nicknames about a lion Ted Cruz and Then the rest you know Um but I do feel like she needs to Um yeah differentiate herself a bit more But then also just keep her language Simple Trump Was more complex than Bernie Um in his his literal language but he Was repetitive and there was kind of a Rhythm and a Cadence to Trump's speech I Think AOC needs to like Bernie reduce Her rhetoric down to a couple key lines And signatures and focus her politics Not on 20 issues but on three or four Most important issues and have that Message this one Bernie will do an Interview with you and he'll write down Hope you do interview Bernie Um but me too he'll write down like five Things and I yeah I'm only gonna talk About these five things yeah ask me About this okay I'm talking about these Five things so that's a message Discipline that Bernie has been Exemplary on yeah yeah sure so but I Think that's learned that could be

Developed I think she could develop it Listen I hope I'm answering a question I Think not the way I should answer it Being someone you know broadcasting to Um to people on the on the left and and And and and and you know elsewhere Um I hope AOC goes in that direction I Just think that she has a lot going Against her just because she's already a National figure And choosing a deeper blue District but But we need to root our politics then in Working Class People and a lot of Districts that I don't know the the type Of kitchen table conversations are I Hate that cliche but I just used it but A lot of these these conversations are Just different in their tone and Cadence And it's not just a question of I you Know fetterman or Tim Ryan in Ohio and Kind of just white working class voters I mean working class voters of any race Um there's their day-to-day needs and The day-to-day things they want to talk About is just at a different plane than You know uh a Met Gala cultural Statement Yeah I mean it's clear that your respect And lover and and would like to see uh Different ways I mean she's young so the Different trajectories that she could Develop that would ultimately uh make Her a good candidate I'm just looking Odds here for and I disagree with them

I'm buying AOC stock here given these Odds so uh in terms of democratic who's Going to win the 2024 election so that Includes running and winning uh on the Democrat side is 18 chance for Biden Seven percent chance for Kamala Harris Gavin Newsom at six percent Michelle Obama at uh three percent Hillary Clinton at two percent and AOC at 1.5 Percent and then Bernie at one percent So uh I would not buy AOC at that Mark I Would buy Biden like crazy though I'm Not a Gambling Man but I would I would Totally toss a toss a g at Biden at that Amount I always say 1.5 chance I think It's I think it's I don't think she runs Um you don't think she runs yeah okay I Don't think Bernie will primary Biden Either I mean he Eddie Biden doesn't run Then obviously it's an open field but I Just feel like Do you think Brian runs Yes I think Biden probably runs Oh boy he's an incumbent president he's An incumbent president so it's just it's Very hard to imagine another Democrat Being able to do better than him all Right uh what about the competition I think Donald Trump is the best thing For the Democrats period just because it Would create this turnout mechanism this Excitement around where you have to stop Donald Trump he's attacking DeSantis I Mean already he's he's trying to you

Know the sanctimonious thing Um but yeah he's I I kind of like Trump's kind of like the Don King of American politics you know Yeah it's it's it's interesting what Kind of dynamic chaos he's created Um it probably led to more people being Interested In politics well almost guaranteed it Led to more people being interested in Politics but maybe not in a healthy way Maybe it created an unhealthy Relationship with politics where it's Created more partisanship For me I'm not I don't have a problem With partnership it's what kind of Partnership so I think Trump has Cultivated like a lot of right populists A relationship with his Supporters it's almost like a leader Follower relationship and a way that Doesn't actually enhance people's Knowledge of politics and the issues but Actually just fall leads them to follow The party line Um ideally I think socialist politics And politics in the lab should be Something different Eugene Debs the Great American and socialist leader of The late 19th and early 20th century Used to say Um you know I'm not your Moses I can't Promise to lead you to the Um Promised Land

Because if I can lead you there and you Just follow me there someone's just Going to lead you straight out as soon As I'm gone And I think there's something nice about That kind of anti Um you know blind following leader Follower kind of dynamic on the left at Its best That said in a way The at least the political race in the United States has turned out it seems Like it's turned into a bit of Entertainment And they're having Personalities and characters is really Important so in terms of policy and Actual leadership yes maybe having a Leader Um Like an authoritarian big leader is not Good but maybe for the race it is Uh for the drama of it you just want to Have drama and attention on people who Are actually going to turn out to be Good leaders that's a weird balance to Strike yeah earned media is what they Always talk about right in political Campaigns like you know the more you Could get on TV Um the better Um even like I I really like veteran he Just won his campaign but a good part of His early campaign he had pivoted from

Talking about issues to just talking About Dr Oz living in New Jersey and Kind of having the troll campaign Against him which I found amusing Um but also and it was effective Obviously one Um but it you know it's a bit depressing Because I would have rather a whole Campaign cycle about health care and Jobs and other other issues Yeah I'll yeah and this is the the hope Is that people just get better at that Kind of uh Social Media communication so I do actually think there's something About doing political speeches that Makes you sound less authentic Because you have to like Do so many of them It's it must be exhausting to like day After day after day make the speech You're going to start uh sort of Replaying the same stuff over and over As opposed to actually thinking about The words that are coming out of your Mouth and then the public will know that You're not really being that authentic Even though you believe those things you Just It's just tough I just wish we they Didn't have to do constantly do speeches So I think that the fact that Bernie's Speeches very clearly like came out of It's not directly his own pen but his Own rhetoric over the years and he kind Of wrote it seemed authentic yes even if

He was repeating it Um and then Trump is just wild Improvisation I think people found real You know in a certain way and I would Love for the left more generally to tap Into some of that anti-establishment Sentiment But obviously during a way that's Productive that doesn't blame immigrants Or whatever else for for problems but You know it is kind of built on a Different basis but people are fed up For good reason with a lot of Conventional politics and we need to Speak to that otherwise it'll only be The right that is taking advantage of Those people's anger well um I almost Forgot to ask you about China so both Historically we talked about the Soviet Union but what lessons do you draw from The implementation of socialism Communism in maoist China and modern China what is what's the good and the Bad well I think it's very similar Um to the Soviet case and that socialism Came to China Um Through not a base of organized workers And a capitalist country at a certain Level development and so on but it came Through the countryside and in Conditions of Civil War Strife your Japanese invasion and Whatever else and Mao built his base in

The peasantry then came down to the city To govern and try to build a base and Rule over uh workers so it was kind of An inversion of classic socialist Theory Now the same thing that I said before About Stalin and assessing the Soviet Union has to apply here because Obviously you know I oppose Authoritarianism and you know I Obviously do all sorts of moral con Condemnations I I I should do but to Look at what the Chinese Communist Party Actually accomplished I think we kind of need to take a step Backwards from our moral opposition to The means in which they accomplish it And just look at it developmentally China benefited greatly from the Communist party's implementation of Basic education and Healthcare So in a lot of China you had one of the Conditions of women were absolutely Terrible there was still foot binding And all sorts of like terrible backward Um practice You had a huge vast majority of the Population that was illiterate without Any access to basic education and you Had no Health Access especially in the Countryside so those are the three good Things that that China did improve the Status of women Um get everyone into primary education And improve the lot of Health Care

Besides for that Um their agricultural uh campaign was a Failure just like stones for many of the Same reasons I mentioned before Um the Great Leap Forward and uh crash Industrialization didn't really work Either Um in a way is trying to better than India or other Countries that that didn't have the Basic education and the strong State Authority and and Um the the health improvements and Whatever I think maybe but I think that's why we Need to sometimes go beyond just Economic measures of success Because if you told me tomorrow the US Will grow at three percent if we Maintain democracy but it'll grow at Eight nine percent everyone be wealthier If we move to some sort of authoritarian Government I think You're asking the wrong question if You're going to make your decision based On growth right because it has to be Based on some sort of you know principle But the same Dynamic of from the Beginning the Chinese Communist Party Ruling over people emerging from the Outside through armed conflicts and Ruling over Um ordinary Chinese people have Continued since then Xiaoping the

Policies have been better economically And often at times not always the Technocratic governance has been you Know quite good but that doesn't mean That the party has a democratic mandate Or or has the should have the right to Govern as they see as they see fit Because clearly you know it doesn't have That mandate and swans to the country or In places like Hong Kong or or elsewhere Um but to me Um Nothing the Chinese Communist Party does Has anything to do with socialism I Think even by their own definition today It really doesn't Um it's a sort of nationalist Authoritarian developmental state that Has done some good things to improve the Living standards of the Chinese people Other things that were counterproductive And Um you know as a Democratic Socialist You know I I certainly don't support That state but I also hope that the US And Biden will find a way to avoid Um you know intense rivalry and Competition economically spilling over Into something worse from a Democratic Socialist perspective What's one policy or one or two ways you Could fix if you could fix China if you Took over China what would you like to See change well the Democratic part

Comes before the Socialist part so I Would say there needs to be multi-party Elections in China and Um State censorship and control over the Press in other words needs to be be done With as far as their immediate economic Um policy I think the idea of Maintaining Um strong State control of certain you Know commanding Heights to the economy While liberalizing other spheres has Done quite well in China's case lifting People out of poverty Um but again you know there's something Really lost in a society even if it's Getting wealthier if you're a great You know if Ordinary People don't have The ability to Um participate in dissent Um freely and the Chinese authorities Have allowed some you know it's not North Korea it's not a totally Totalitarian state there's been Workplace protests have been all sorts Of anti-corruption local anti-corruption Protests and things like that but it's Up the government decides what's Permitted and what's not at what Particular moment and uh I think the Long run Um even if it can survive Um There's there's a better way to do Things which is quite simply a democracy

The thing is though the lessons of History that China is looking at this is Dark aspect Um so building on top of the fact that It seems like under Stalin and under Mao Under Stalin Soviet Union and under Mao China has seen a lot of economic growth And then one dark aspect of that While under the Great Leap Forward you Have you know upwards of 70 million People dead Today I think there's a large number of People who admire Stalin and admire Mao What they admire is the stability and The strong leadership so in this there's A lot of people who miss the Soviet Union right the reason why they miss it Is that it was a system they knew it Provided the basics of their livelihood Uh then afterwards like look at Russia In the 90s people were in chaos and the Communist party was had a huge amount of Support democratically Anti-democratic measures had to be taken Ironically against the Communist Party Um to keep it from regaining more of a Foothold in in Russia But We don't need that trade-off you know we Could have a form of Um imagine if Russia went to a system Closer to social democracy That maintained Um the stability that people wanted the

Welfare state that people wanted but Restructure the economy and not a shock Way but in a way that that made sense And that Ordinary People felt ownership Of instead of just oligarchs who were a Former Communist Party bureaucracy just Dividing up the country for themselves Um I think the same thing in China like First of all certainly from The West Um you know the US government and people In the U.S should have you know have no Say over what should happen in China Right the the Chinese Communist party Has more authentic authentic Authority Than any of us do in the country but You know I think that the fears and Stability that a lot of Chinese people Have why I would imagine that even in a Democratic election the uh Communist Party might have uh majority support Is because they fear the unknown they Fear collapse that was one of the big Lessons of the the Soviet collapse right Do you want trying to divide it into Five six States you know do you want um economic Turmoil do you want Mass immediate Privatization do you want whatever Welfare state you have Um destroyed and so on I think people are right to have those Fears But there's a different route towards

Democratization that maintains stability Right there's different routes that you Could that you could have Um you know democracy not not every Country had to go down the route of Yugoslavia and the USSR and and so on You are the founder of the magazine Jacobin of which I am a subscriber I Recommend everybody subscribe whether You're on the left or the right The magazine does tend to lean left does It officially say it's socialist we're a Socialist publication we try to be Interesting so we try to like you know Have articles that they kind of have Debates and contestation and whatever Else but we're definitely we're all Socialists well it's a a lot of really Interesting articles so I definitely Recommend that people subscribe support I I only Like the CR like uh the product of the 21st century only subscribed to the Digital version but I guess there's also Paper version yeah there's like 70 000 Subscribers and and Print in print yeah Does it come like on a scroll I don't Even know the paper do they even publish Paper Mages I'm gonna mail you a bunch Of copies uh no it's perfect bound you Know it's long issues RR um Jackman's Publisher uh remake F4 I've just Recently did a redesign of the of the Publication so it looks really good it's

You know it's up there in the design Award competition range it's nice it's Sexy I I can show it off to all my Friends look put in your coffee table You don't even have to read it first I Need to get a coffee table but yes I'll Get both that's what respectable does Listen I've upgraded my life I haven't Had a couch I don't think ever so I got A college recently because somebody told Me that serious adults have a couch and I also got a TV because serious adults Have a couch and a TV and as you see It's been here for many months and I Still haven't like unboxed it so This I'm trying to learn how to be an Adult looking up on YouTube how to be an Adult and learning slowly after that I'll look into this whole Leisure thing Anyway what's the origin of Jacob and What was the what was the idea what was The mission and what's the origin story So I started Jackman when I was Um between my sophomore and junior year Of college basically I was already a Socialist I was involved in the Democratic Socialist of America I was um In the youth section the young Democratic Socialist I was editing their Kind of Youth online magazine called the Activists back then And to be honest I had my ideology I had My views I had a group of people around Me that we would debate together and

Occasionally write for this other Publication the activist and and so on And Yeah just a product of creative Ignorance in the sense that I knew I had The capacity to maybe pull off an issue Or two I just had no idea how long I Would keep doing it you know and I just Eventually consumed my life slowly but Surely like I had I had different plans For my future I kind of you know but I Ended up Um just being a magazine publisher I Literally didn't know what a magazine Publisher was but uh it just kind of Happened what's the hardest part about Running a magazine Well the hardest part is obviously the Things just like any uh Enterprise right The things beyond your control like you Could put out something that you think Is great or interesting but then you Need the feedback of people actually Subscribing to it and you occasionally Encounter periods where you feel like You're doing your best work but you're Not getting the the audience response And I think you just need the kind of The self-confidence to just keep doing It and obviously if you're totally Obscure and crazy and Way Off the Mark You're never going to build that that Audience but I think a lot of Publications have tried to same thing I

Guess goes with YouTube shows whatever Else they try to adapt to what everyone Else is doing right away when they don't Achieve success Where whereas for me the early issues That Jackman got very little resonance And took a while for it to build into Something but a lot of it was just the Confidence to just keep going and keep Publishing what I would want to read and Just hope that I'm not so much of a Weirdo that I'm the only one Uh is there some pressure that you could Speak to of audience capture because it Is a socialist publication you have a Fan base a readership base Is there times you feel pressured not to Say a certain thing not to call out [ __ ] Um not to criticize certain candidates All that kind of stuff Yes definitely of course you know I um I Myself am looser on the self-censorship Than other people that's only because I've You know gotten this far Um just shooting for the hip or whatever And occasionally you know you'll come to A rash judgment right you'll speak too Soon or complain about something too Soon and you'll have to kind of either Apologize or kind of reconsider whatever Else Um but on a host of issues uh you know I

Have used that maybe not all of the left Has but I know that the core of my Politics is a politics against You know oppression against exploitation Against all the things that we we talked About and if you know that's at The Courier politics then you could maybe Say You know what I don't think the left Should Um should respond to the real racism is Still about in the world by adopting Like an excessively racialized rhetoric If that makes sense like I fundamentally Just am a Universalist and I believe That People no matter where their backgrounds Are and so on kind of want the same Things for themselves and for their for Their families And Um I feel like a lot of the left or some Of the left um not not even the far left More like the center left has adopted Kind of a stand saying oh we need to Talk about white privilege or you know White Cairns or white guys or old white Guys doing this or whatever else and to Me it's not only Ron in a moral sense But it's counterproductive because the Last thing I want is a young white Teenager who who Um you know feels unrepresented Politically and wants to be a part of

Maybe even the left to feel like Um like oh I should think more about my Identity no the whole point of Anti-racist politics is we want to live In a world where you know Um you know me and you can go around the Corner and get a beer and we're not you Know people of two different you know Races getting a bear we're just two you Know guys in America getting married you Know just we're trying to get have the Type of society in which there's less of That sort of communal or racialized Identity And that was the whole point of a whole Generation of anti-racist struggle but Now we seem to be Kind of reifying it in the media and in Culture and in politics and that's That's one issue where I've been kind of Banging the drum on this to the point That it's it's annoying in certain parts Of the left I don't think there's Um maybe extreme opposition among Socialists but it's more like a why do You keep focusing on this let's focus on Our Real Enemy the right instead of Criticizing you know this part of no I Think that's really uh I I'm really glad You exist I'm really glad you're beating That drum because I think that's one of The uh One of the reasons that the left has not Had broader impact or is not heard by

More people that could hear its message Is because the othering the other thing Of like as if there's there's a there's Uh two teams of as if it's black and White as opposed to having there's a Common Humanity in a common struggle Amongst all of us uh you you also wrote The book that we mentioned a few times The Socialist Manifesto The case for radical politics in an era Of extreme inequality what's the Framework what are the ideas of the book So a lot of it's a look at socialism's Past Um present and future basically so a lot Of it is historical Um the opening chapter uses a um pasta Sauce factory as a way to explain Certain Marxist Concepts but also a Theory of change like how we get From let's say pure capitalism to more Regulated you know unionized and Social Democratic systems and then beyond Social democracy into my vision of Socialism that's kind of the first Little bit it's a Visionary kind of like Look at the the future of socialism but Then I try to explain why some of past Social movements have gone wrong because I think we can take for granted I think A lot of people want to live in a Different or better Society but they Look at past examples and they're Skeptical and I think there's good

Reason for skepticism so Um I try to explain both the successes Of certain systems like social democracy But also what happened in Russia China Um and kind of more of historical Overview Are then Um the book kind of ends in the present It ends with looking at the Bernie Sanders campaign why it resonated Looking at some of the problems facing Um the U.S the UK other advanced Economies and why Um I think the Socialist message is Still relevant because for the longest Time Um I'm 33 I became a socialist as a Teenager and for the longest time it Seemed like I was just a member of the Historical Society you know keeping Alive an idea that nobody was interested In anymore and now you know it's Heartening to see more young people Interested in the idea what we actually Need to I think have a clearer sense of What we stand for and how we make our Movement like it used to be more rooted In the working class so if anyone Rewinds the tape may go to when we first Started talking about early socialism When I was talking about the German Social Democratic workers movement or Um all these different early parties I Think at various points I use the word

Worker and socialist movement Interchangeably because in fact at the Time it was pretty interchangeable Um socialism was the ideology that had The appeal of the working class movement You know Um you couldn't really separate between The two Um now obviously socialism is like a Fringe ideological current among a very Small minority of the working class Um which is fine but we need to get to The point I think ideally where when People talk about unions and people Protesting and social movements and Socialism they all kind of are one and The same as part of the same broad broad Movement how did you become a socialist What was what was the personal story Where the idea took hold in your mind so I'm the youngest of five I was the only One on my family born in the United States Um so it was very obvious to me that my Life outcomes were very different than Life outcomes of my siblings so my three Older siblings you know didn't go to College after After High School some of Them got their degrees Um you know much later on as adults Um but I was from a pretty young age had Access to a great Public School District And Um was put on the track that you're

Going to go to college you know this This is kind of the the outcome and like I said even my my grandmother was Illiterate Um my mom didn't have a lot of Educational opportunities early Um you know in in her in her life she Actually graduated from college the same Year I did so she she later got her kind Of degrees and and whatever else but Um But to me it was obvious that so much of My life outcomes weren't just a product Of hard work or my family sacrifices Because of course I had the same uh Family as my my siblings Um but the product of State institutions Helping out evening things out uh Public School District Public Library like all Sorts of after school programs all that Was the domain of the of the state and I Really benefited from it so in a Essence My core was a Social Democratic belief The state should we distribute a bit Build in public institutions be an Equalizer now how it became a Marxist And a socialist was much more random I Was just intellectually interested in it And eventually I kind of merged the two Together where I merged together my More pragmatic and practical Interest in day-to-day concerns and Reforms and so on with my loftier Intellectual interest in Marxism into

You know the politics I have today which I try to kind of balance and do both and I think a lot of socialists in the Organization that I joined as a teenager The Democratic socialists of America and Elsewhere uh try to do the two try to Maintain some sort of balanced dream Hair and you know our vision of the Future What do you think Marx would say if he Were to read your book uh socialist Manifest and do a review So I think Marx would say that Um my vision of a socialism after Capitalism Maintains key elements of what he would Uh uh the commodity form so a lot of What Marx was concerned about was Um What markets do to Human Relationships Um in a negative sense his early Writings especially focus a lot on the Alienation of Labor Um my vision of socialism at least in The air term a lot about it is about Decommodifying certain sectors so Reducing the market in certain sectors And reducing alienation But not eliminating it it is about Eliminating exploitation and oppression So knowing marks and knowing how Critical he was of certain other Socialist strands and tendencies and he Would often write very snarky notes and

Letters to people like Engels being like This guy Sally he's a total [ __ ] and Then he would send a separate note to LaSalle saying hey can I borrow five Grand this is actually true he did the Boat he did the both I think the same Like um the same month Um so he would be really good at Twitter Is what you're saying oh he'd be the Best at Twitter and also he used to be a He was a journalist before with his work For the New York Tribune Um he was very clever very snarky he Would be awesome at Twitter I think him And Elon would have a good back and Forth but yeah I think it would be Critical in some parts but I think the The strangest part for him would be Reading the historical sections and Seeing the way in which his ideas which Was fundamentally ideas about human Emancipation Um Were used for for evil for hardship you Know for in in ways that did the Opposite of of emancipated but in some Cases you know enslaved people and I Think he would have Definitely not want to be associated With them uh he probably would rather be Associated with me than them but even Then uh only begrudgingly Uh What uh advice would you give to Young

Folks In high school in college how to have a Career they can be proud of or how to Change the world I think be Intellectually curious Um you know read outside your current Beliefs and understand and read authors On their own terms So the worst thing in the world to do is To read anything especially work a Fiction but anything and try to deduce The authors You know backgrounds or politics Whatever else like read it on its own Terms first then you could reread it and Kind of do other examinations or or Whatever else and also read a lot of History so I started off reading books Like Eric hopis bombs Um uh four books on Um history going from the 1700s all the Way to 1994 the last book is age of Extremes But I think understanding history gives You a bird's eye view of everything uh Sociology Um economics everything so these big Sweeping historical books are really Useful to know like everybody should Know basically You know what your um or at least like What decade you know certain was Abolished with decades service slavery Is about abolished you know what century

Magna Carta was you know when the Roman Empire fell even though it's kind of Debated when the Roman Empire fell all These I think like being a person with a General knowledge and general sense of History and whatever else just makes you More eclectic and interesting and it's Way better than just like especially a Lot of my Indian friends you know the The obnoxious Indians but the hyper Focus on like uh you got to specialize And you have to like focus on on math or Engineering whatever you want to do you Just know your field really well but Nothing else like I think there's Something really too whether you're Getting at school or you're just going To do it by yourself giving yourself Kind of a liberal arts education I think there's a lot of power to sort Of having the facts of history in terms Of in time when stuff happen but also Really powerful is knowing spatially Like the geography the where there were A point in the map and there's Interesting dynamics that happen Throughout history of all the different Nations in Europe of all the different Military conflicts and the expansions And and the wars and the empires and all That kind of stuff it really puts into Context how How human history has led to the place We are today because all the different

Geopolitical conflicts we have today Even the politics of the day is grounded In history maybe less so for the United States because it has a very young History but that history even from the United States is still there right from The Civil War and understanding that Gives you context to when you tweet Random stuff about Uh this or that person or politician and So on uh yeah very true Very true one of the regrets I have Currently is I have perhaps been too Focused on the 20th century In terms of History The present in the 20th century A lot of people write to me that there's A lot of lessons to be learned in Ancient history as well so not just even American history but just looking Farther and farther and farther back Yeah that feels like It's another time it's another place It's totally has no lessons but then you Remind yourself that it's the same human Beings right yeah and also we're no Smarter than them we just have more Crude knowledge in part because of them Yeah but like you know they're just as They were just as clever as us you know Uh what do you think is the meaning of This whole experiment we have going on On Earth Now what's the meaning of life

Well I think there's no broad meaning of Life there's you know it was an accident But we ourselves need to make our own Meeting and for me a lot of it is about Um posterity trying to do something Worthwhile While on Earth but also leaving Something behind it could just be Relationships with friends or family in The future maybe having a family and Then kind of like leaving behind that Sort of Legacy Um the little bits of yourself but also You know but them being able to learn The same way I have little bits of my my Parents and my my grandparents Um and me and then also I think in a Social sense zooming out from just the Individual and the family Um leaving the World Behind a little Better you know uh I would love to be a Part of a movement that created a world With a little bit less suffering a Little bit less oppression or Exploitation or or whatever else Um that's really why I'm uh why I'm a Socialist you know it's not about Stopping your fingers and curing the World of everything in one in one go but It is about I think Putting our lives giving our lives some Sort of meaning and purpose and you Don't have to be a socialist to do that You could just do it at the you know at

The micro level in your own day-to-day Interactions but I just feel like life Has no good meaning without Um without thinking of posterity in the Future And I have to say thank you for doing so Thank you for caring about the struggle Of the people in the world through ideas That are bold and I think challenging For a lot of people in a time when Socialism Is something that can be attacked Aggressively by large numbers of people Still persevering and still exploring Those ideas and seeing what of those Ideas can make for a better world that's Beautiful to see Bhaskar thank you so Much for talking today thank you for all The work you do I can't wait to see what You do next I appreciate it and uh yeah Thanks for keeping an open mind with These conversations and to your audience Too you know it's it's nice to have a Space where you know people can debate And think at length and don't have to Worry about soundbite culture thank you Brother Thank you for listening to this Conversation with bhaskara Sankara to Support this podcast please check out Our sponsors in the description and now Let me leave you with some words from Karl Marx Democracy is the road to socialism

Thank you for listening and hope to see You next time

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