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<nettime> Henwood on American Elites, Obama's economic mindscape
Jan Frel on Thu, 23 Jul 2009 18:25:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Henwood on American Elites, Obama's economic mindscape

Sharp analysis from Nettimer Mr. Henwood in an interview with  
Christian Parenti for the Brooklyn Rail -- also quite funny too; it  
could be taken as thoughtful advice to a disorderly American elite on  
steps they should take to remain in control of the planet: "I think  
they need some sort of reconstruction, some sort of new coherence if  
they?re going to reinvent themselves for a new period of accumulation  
and world domination. It?s quite possible they could. The American  
ruling class has reinvented itself many, many, many times over the  
centuries, so that?s always possible, but right now it still seems  
like a very incoherent formation."

One more point he makes that I want to highlight, on Obama's mindscape  
on economic issues
Rail: Why do you think the bankers won?

Henwood: There are two parts to that. The longer term structural issue  
is that Wall Street, the financial system, is basically a mechanism  
for the creation and exercise of ruling class power. It is the heart  
of the capitalist economic and social system. So taking on Wall Street  
is very, very complicated.

But, there is also the sense in which these guys represent a social  
interest that has done very, very badly and they could have had their  
toes stepped on a bit?and they haven?t. If you go back and compare  
when Roosevelt gave that speech to the Democratic Convention in  
October 1936, he said: ?Never have the rich and powerful been so lined  
up in their hatred of a political candidate and I welcome their hatred.?

You cannot imagine Obama saying anything remotely similar. That?s  
partly because the bust has been less dramatic than it was in the  
1930s, but also because Roosevelt came from the aristocracy and thus  
had more personal confidence in stepping on their toes. Obama is a guy  
who has been created by the meritocracy and it has treated him very  
well. He?s kind of in awe of wealth and power and much less willing,  
for personal reasons, to challenge such interests.

The political environment is also totally different now. Going into  
the 1930s?there was a whole radical tradition: the populist tradition,  
the progressive tradition?there were people who had different ways of  
looking at an economy. The Soviet Union was looking pretty strong in  
1930. Now none of those things are true. If you put that combination  
of politics and personality together you get what we have now?a real  
unwillingness to challenge the existing financial order. Instead,  
there is a kind of enthusiasm about restoring it.

....a few questions and answers go by...

Henwood: ...Obama himself, in an interview in the Wall Street Journal,  
was saying that he is basically a markets kind of guy. They just need  
?rules of the road.? That?s one of his favorite expressions?they need  
guidance, regulation. If you provide that framework, markets tend  
towards stability, sanity and rationality.

 So there is this ideology that has not been shaken, the fundamental  
belief in the rationality of the market. It really took hold in the  
1970s among the ruling elites after a lot of uncertainty, and it has  
not been shaken. There?s nothing yet that?s challenged it, nothing yet  
that?s even begun to take its place.

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