Thom Hartmann talks with Tom Hayden and Frances Moore Lappé, 7 June 2007
Thom was at the Dubrovnik Conference: Transforming Culture: From Empire to Global Community Dubrovnik, Croatia, broadcasting live from the studios of Radio Dubrovnik, Croatian Radio, and interviewed fellow speakers Tom Hayden and Frances Moore Lappé.
Thom Hartmann talks with Tom Hayden and Frances Moore Lappé, 7 June 2007
Thom was at the Dubrovnik Conference: Transforming Culture: From Empire to Global Community Dubrovnik, Croatia, broadcasting live from the studios of Radio Dubrovnik, Croatian Radio
Bumper Music: What Are We Fighting For? "Live".
[Thom]: That's a very good question. Welcome back. Nine and a half minutes before the hour. Thom Hartmann here with you. The Thom Hartmann Program on Air America Radio. We're broadcasting live from Dubrovnik, Croatia. In fact, we're using the studios of Radio Dubrovnik whose transmitter, the tower, which we can see on the hill right across from us, was the first thing bombed in 1991 when they came. It really is a statement of the power of the media.
And here in the studio with me some of the attendees, or some of the speakers at the conference, the Praxis Peace conference: Tom Hayden, Frances Moore Lappé, David Korten, Swami Beyondananda's with us - Steve Bhaerman - and Steve is also in our chat room right at the moment and hanging out with folks and channeling Bullwinkle for the chat room. So, and Sue Nethercott who normally runs our chat room, Sue Nethercott, she is here with us as well, and waves and says hi. We have a limited number of microphones.
First of all we were having this conversation about what happens with movements and where they go and how they go and where they end, and Frances and David, you both had some thoughts on what Tom was saying, and I'd, let's just engage this conversation a little bit farther. Where, what is next?
[Frances]: Well, my worry is that people, by focusing on the Machiavellians, the bad guys.
[Thom]: The power structure.
[Frances]: The power structure, that we don't enable people to actually see the system that has created this perpetual war, so-called war on terror. That we don't enable people to see the concentrated, the systematic, the inevitable, inexorable concentration of wealth that leads to rule by private power so that we end up what FDR and many have warned us against in 1938 Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "the liberty of democracy is not safe if we tolerate the growth of private power to the point that it is stronger than the democratic state itself". That in it's essence is fascism. And so we have to help people, I think, see that this perpetual war, so called war on terror, is really an outgrowth, a symptom, of this deeper causal pattern; that it's inexorably concentrating wealth and leads to control of the public sphere by private wealth.
[Thom]: Apropos of that, I'm not sure if any of you saw the Democratic debate on Monday night, Sunday night, whenever it was. I stayed up until 3 o'clock in the morning to watch it here, local time. And one of the questions was of John Edwards. And they said, 'John Edwards, you have said that the war on terror is a bumper sticker, it's a bumper sticker slogan, it's not a real thing'. And several of the Democratic candidates went off after him, saying, 'no, it's not a bumper sticker slogan', but Tom Hayden, your thoughts on this.
[Tom]: Well, I don't disagree with Frances. I just have a more subjective view of it. I'm trying to tell a story. There's activists and there's Machiavellians. Machiavellians are the technicians of power and power is about corporations, government, religion, the military, the media. So, there are these activators and I think it's just a way of telling a story of social change, that's all. I don't disagree. The, there are some Machiavellians who are actually quite incredible, you know, like FDR who had a disability and who was in the midst of a depression and a lot of radical movements. He seemed to grow on the job and he accomplished some things in tandem with the movement, under the pressure of the movement.
[Thom]: Sure. He was originally elected
as a basically kind of Hillary Clinton conservative.
[Tom]: Yeah. John Kennedy, the change as he encountered the lies of the CIA, the rise of the civil rights movement, the dangers inherent in the Cuban Missile Crisis, as a Machiavellian, he grew, seeking, he began just before he was killed talking about an alternative to the Cold War. Lincoln, a very moderate politician, but in the interaction of war, in the cauldron of war and the pressure of Douglas and others, Lincoln went further than I think Lincoln expected himself to. So.
[Thom]: Let me toss. ...
[Tom]: We have those moments, but they're in America every few decades. I don't know if there is such a moment, a moment at hand. I would think if Bush were to go really mad and...
[Tom]: ... escalate into Iran, do something that's like way beyond the limits of his resources, I think the reaction would be so intense around the world that you would have a 60s moment or a 30s moment.
I don't know where it would go.
[Thom]: I'm curious, Tom, Tom Hayden, if in 1972 Nixon came back from negotiations with, it wasn't Khrushchev at the time, whoever was the leader of the Soviet Union, and in part, I mean, this was something that Kissinger engineered, but he came back and he said, "We have this Glasnost thing or Perestroika, or whatever it was, the phrase at the time, and he declared, a famous speech he gave in '72 where declared the end of fear. The end of terror. We no longer, America no longer needs to live in fear.
And within 6 months, the Committee for the Present Danger had been formed, or had been reformed, and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney became active in that and they started running television ads and all this sort of thing. And then within a year and a half Nixon's out on his butt and Gerry Ford is in there and he puts, you know, Rumsfeld and Cheney in as his Secretary of Defense and his Chief of Staff, and the Committee for the present danger, and Wolfowitz starts Plan B and they come out with this whole idea that the Soviets actually have submarines that are so secret we can't detect them, and the CIA says, 'no they're not there' and Rumsfeld says, 'See, I told you so'.
Was Nixon, was that one of those moments? Was he?
[Tom]: He's a pretty significant Machiavellian, but they have their moments, but the movements are never defeated. I mean, what happened to all those people lately, what's happened to Rumsfeld and what's happened to Wolfowitz and what's happened to Libby is what happens when they exceed any
[Thom]: Would you argue that they're a movement or that they're the Machiavellis or both? That they're a movement within the Machiavellis?
[Tom]: No, the Machiavellians are always debating what kind of power they want. They want white power, they want multiracial power, they want more equality for women. They divide. But I'd say, look at the G8 and these young people who are demonstrating right here in Europe and you have the Machiavellians trying to hold on to their version of the world order.
[Tom]: Which you guys were talking about earlier.
[Thom]: Well, let's get into that a little more.
[Tom]: But the movement is trying to stop it.
[Tom]: We're right in the middle of this.
[Thom]: We'll get into that more in the next hour, right after the news at the top of the hour.
[Thom]: Welcome back. Thom Hartmann here broadcasting live from Dubrovnik, Croatia, from the studios of Radio Dubrovnik. Boy, the power of the media here, as I mentioned before, this was the, their transmitter; one of the first things bombed in '91. This city under siege for about a year. No electricity, no water, no food for several months. The stories that we're hearing are pretty amazing.
Tom Hayden in the studio with me, and Frances Moore Lappé, David Korten, Swami Beyondananda is with us here, Steve Bhaerman, also Steve is hanging out in our chat room as well, channeling Bullwinkle right directly to you in the chat room, which you can get to by going to airmamerica.com or thomhartmann.com and click on the link to the live chat room.
We were just talking about the, Tom Hayden, your model of the Machiavellis, the existing power structure, and the Movement and how movements coalesce around single issues, and then when those issues are achieved, the movements disintegrate and counter movements form, and all this fascinating political theory. And at this moment, and this is what you brought it to, just at the end of the last segment, the last hour, is that we're seeing this played out right now in Europe; the G8 meeting. And I'd like to hear from each one of the three of you your take on what's going on with the G8. What is happening? What are we seeing? Tom, you
take the first shot at it, you open it.
[Tom]: I think there's a social movement that's participatory in nature that is challenging the whole post-cold-war system that's embodied by the Machiavellians of the G8. And where this breaks down into issues that people can do something about, I think there's two at least, maybe four, but one is "What's the United States really going to do about trade?" Is it going to impose and fail to impose a neoliberal agenda on the world? You know.
[Thom]: The so-called free trade agenda.
[Tom]: Ransack these economies, come into areas like Croatia and have the American rich buy up all the property, and so on? And the second one, of course, is global warming, or the environmental crisis including the crisis of the global south where you see, as Frances was saying at the break, there's strong majorities that want action. The movements have arrived and what compromises are being considered, and whether these compromises are even worthy of the name compromise - some are - is the next issue. And until these issues are settled, I don't think the movement will decline. I think after Iraq, if Iraq ends, the movement will really concentrate on these kinds of issues, and you're seeing no matter what they do; 20,000 police in Germany, helicopters, all the rest of it, we see here on the European CNN thousands of people with their back packs marching across the fields of Germany, blocking the roads, making
it impossible for the Machiavellians to have their party.
[Thom]: This is THE story here. When we were walking over here, David and Frances and I stopped at a news stand, and they didn't have any English language papers but they had a couple of German language papers, and my German is bad enough that I can more or less tell what's going on, and the lead story on the main German newspaper was about the blowback. It was about the protesters. It wasn't about what was going on at the G8. It was about what was going on against the G8. And what we've been seeing on BBC and CNN International in our hotel rooms has been about the blowback.
I'm curious, Frances Moore Lappé, what do you see emerging as the movement, as the, with or parallel to or different from the Iraq movement as that begins to fade and other things come to the fore?
[Frances]: Well, what I'm excited about here in watching what is happening in Europe, is I think that far from ideal of course, but there is less control by private wealth of the political system. The social movements are having more affect here as we see in the kind of legislation that is creating sustainable agriculture and introducing very, very powerfully renewable energy in a country like Germany. So, it's happening here, and I think that...
[Thom]: Here in Europe.
[Frances]: Here in Europe in a way that it is not in the United States despite the public opinion wanting it now in the United States.
[Frances]: And so I take great heart in this evidence that we can see what can happen when there is a greater opening for the voices of citizens as we see here. So, when I think of what I want to help manifest is not an issue movement but a democracy movement; what I call living democracy and David calls the Earth Community and others call "another world is possible", that we can imagine, and this is what we all have to be envisioning, a society that is really value-driven in which the market actually works because it is a context that is set within a values context and where wealth is continuingly redistributed so that we can all participate in the market. That's a living democracy. And that's, I think, beyond any particular issue.
[Thom]: In a way, it's reclaiming, now, my frame on that is it's reclaiming the original values of this country, even though they were poorly acted out and imperfectly executed. There were two periods of time in the history of the United States when we did not have family dynasties emerging; from the 1760s until the 1820s, there are no dynasties left from that period of time. There essentially were no truly rich people in the United States during that period of time. Dynasties began to emerge after the civil war and carried right up until the early 1930s. And then from the mid 1930s through the 1980s, or the early 1980s, again, we didn't have new family dynasties emerging. You could argue that there were some corporate dynasties emerging, but even that was under 90% marginal tax rates. So there were these two periods of time where America was essentially not dynastic, where it was going back to its roots and arguably, you could throw Teddy Roosevelt, you could throw, you know, 1901 to 1918 in there as well, although it was kind of frozen, it was static. You know, the the Rockefellers and the Morgans, they had all established their dynasties. You had the robber baron era. But first of all, does that make sense, and does it tie into the vision that you're talking about?
[Frances]: Absolutely, absolutely, and I love the way you've put it. And I sense the possibility now, and that's what I feel, that people can begin to see what it could mean to remove this illusion, what I call thin democracy, because it is so frail and so weak and so thin, this idea of simply democracy means elections plus
a one-rule economy. That is, highest return to money, as David puts it. So, we end up then with a system that is controlled not by the citizen, really, but by a handful of private interests, and that isn't going to work for us, and it cannot rescue the planet which I feel most people recognize today that the planet is against the ropes and they want to do something, and so we've got to transcend individual issues to this
fundamental question of reclaiming democracy itself.
[Thom]: So how do you see that in the interaction with what the G8, what's going on right now in Germany as we speak?
[Frances]: Well, I think, I'm hoping that Americans see the possibility that there are these now, these standards set in terms of a goal; that no longer is the rest of the world going to tolerate the United States contributing, you know, a quarter of all the emissions in the world, and this is not going to be tolerated any more. And I'm hoping that this gives courage to
people in the United States.
[Thom]: But Merkel, I mean, we just heard in the news at the top of the hour on the day Merkel is saying, "We're going to cut emissions by 2050 and I'm wondering to what extent is this real reform versus cosmetic. To what is this simply the Machiavellians, to use Tom's term...
[Tom]: 43 years.
[Thom]: Yeah. To what extent are they simply rearranging the deck chairs, you know, or whatever lousy metaphor you want to use, as opposed to actually
[Frances]: But isn't the real issue how do we remove that private control over the commons? And therefore that means getting money out of the political system, and that's why this new national effort of 'just six dollars', this is a national campaign now in the States. It's happening, we mentioned earlier Arizona, Maine, with clean elections. So I want to help us all see that we've got to get dollars out of control of our political system, so that we can express our values through our political system.
[Thom]: It always seems to come back to public financing of public elections. And this is...
[Frances]: And it clearly is a key part, absolutely, and now I think this is the best kept secret in America, that in a couple of states it's working. It's gonna start in 2008 in Connecticut; they passed a very important reform there as well. So this is what, you know, I think people have become so cynical because they don't hear the story of how this is working.
[Thom]: Yeah. But, and you see it, it is working in a few places in America.
[Frances]: And more people are voting in these states. Teachers are running for office, waitresses are running for office and winning.
[Thom]: Right. To what extent, then, the question, to take it back to Tom's model, and David I'd like to get your thoughts on this when we come back from the break, is to what extent is that movement then going to become co-opted by the Machiavellians, and then become a counter movement, you know. Where are we going with that?
And then we'll be taking your calls as well. 1-866 303 2270. 16 minutes past the hour Thom Hartmann with you on Air America Radio.
This was segments 08 & 09; the end of the second hour and the beginning of the third. You can hear an archive of the entire interview at KPOJ. The first 2 segments were with Steve Bhaerman. The 3rd and 4th segments were with David Korten and Frances Moore Lappé, and the 5th and 6th segments were with David Korten, Frances Moore Lappé and Steve Bhaerman. The 7th segment featured Tom Hayden. Remaining segments to follow.