Michael Hudson & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: Imagining An End to Poverty and Economic Dependence

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Yves here. We are delighted to feature another talk by Michael Hudson and Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove of the Poor People’s Campaign, hosted by Jim Vrettos of The Radical Imagination. Topics include an assessment of the Biden Administration and who really benefited from its relief to lower-wage workers. They also discuss the role of preachers in promoting economic justice, and how the business community enlisted some as early as the Great Depression to promote “free market” ideology.

Sadly I don’t have the video to embed. I will hopefully be able to remedy that soon. If you look on YouTube, there is a thumbnail for this talk, on April 21. But when you click on that link, it takes you to Part 2 of the talk, from May 3, with a different moderator and guests. I’ve alerted Michael to see if he can get the folks at The Radical Imagination to straighten the URLs out so we can include the recording for those who prefer to listen.

There may be some minor transcription errors; I caught what looks like one and corrected it.

Update: This appears to be the correct video. I was sidetracked because the talk with Hudson doesn’t begin till about 7:30:

By The Radical Imagination

Jim Vrettos:
So, Michael, Jonathan. Thank you so very, very much for being here. Jonathan, you’re from… We’re looking at you from North Carolina there and Michael is in Queens. You’ve both had tremendous influence in your respective fields. Spiritual economic activist and so on. What do you make of the contradictory statements in the news, particularly… particularly… Let’s start with the idea of the movement by the Biden administration given parameters of its neoliberal roots. Do you believe that they have the commitment and vision commensurate to Roosevelt’s build of economic rights in 1944 and the attempt to broaden the conception of social justice and democracy [inaudible 00:08:36] In other words, what do you make of the first 100 days or so? Let’s start with Jonathan. Are we moving in the right direction? Which narrative do you think is going to win out here in America? Economic-

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Jim, it’s good to be with you. Thanks for having us. I’m delighted for the chance to engage here with Michael. I come at the question you’re asking from the perspective of the Poor People’s Campaign. For the last three years, we’ve been organizing people across this country who were already in their communities doing grassroots work to raise an alarm about the way that the current economy isn’t working. You mentioned that 140 million people were living in poverty or were low wealth before the pandemic and the pandemic that we’ve experienced for the last year has, in many ways, exposed the fissures in the economy.

We had a huge package under the previous administration, where the vast majority of the investment from the government went to corporations and to banks. The result of that was that we saw the wealthiest people get much wealthier while unemployment on the bottom has stayed very high and the people who earn often less than a living wage are the people who have suffered the most. Incidentally, those are also the people who have been on the front lines and most vulnerable to this coronavirus. All the research that we have now says not only are African Americans three times as likely to get it as their white neighbors, but poor people are three times as likely to contract as their wealthier neighbors. And so, in many ways, I think this world altering experience that we’ve all lived through has exposed the lies of the neoliberal system and the way in which we’ve gone on believing for far too long. That if the economy is doing well, the people are doing well. Well, that’s just not true.

And so I think the Biden administration has successfully passed one piece of legislation that, at the very least, did put more of the investment in the hands of people at the bottom of the economy. And so I’ll give him credit for that. But that’s only temporary and it’s only confined to COVID relief. Frankly, we need to reimagine the whole economy. Because the Poor People’s Campaign has been saying and saying clearly, in the words of the people who experience it directly and with the support of evidence from economists and sociologists who we’ve worked closely with, that when we lift the bottom, that’s when everybody can rise. And so we need economic investment that is designed to lift from the bottom. I hope and pray we can push this administration towards more of that.

I would say, just in terms of your question about how it compares to FDR, that FDR was no radical, but there was a movement that pushed him. Part of that movement was very faith-based. Frances Perkins was a product of the Social Gospel movement. She came up in Chicago, when she was getting educated, watching the settlement houses and those great Black churches of the Black social gospel in Chicago that were committed to the message of Jesus. The good news to the poor. She was determined to implement that through the Roosevelt administration. Now, they didn’t get anywhere near everything they were trying to get, but nevertheless, we did hammer out some very real universal policies that guaranteed the basic necessities of life. Things like Social Security. That’s an, I think, incredibly important piece of our history that is widely accepted and appreciated now, but when it was proposed, it was called radical. It was called Marxist. It was called all the things that these ideas get called now. So, I think it’s important to remember that history as we push together for economic activity that lifts from the bottom.

Jim Vrettos:
Great. Michael, do you want to comment on what Jonathan just said there?

Michael Hudson:
I agree with everything Jonathan has said. I think he’s put it very clearly. One comment I had… He talks about the good thing that the Biden administration has done is provide relief for the poor, but this relief went right through their hands. The vast majority of the relief was not a stimulus. It was a relief, as he pointed out, and it’s temporary. Most of this money was simply paid to the banks and to the landlords. It was paid for the rent arrears, especially by people who were unemployed and it was paid to write down credit card debt. In many cases, the relief was paid directly into the bank accounts or the other accounts of the poor. The poorest people didn’t get any of the relief because they don’t have bank accounts and they don’t have addresses because they’re already joining the homeless. Here in New York. Of course, the problem is that there’s going to be a huge wave of homelessness when the freeze on evictions of families behind in their rent expires. Landlords have already begun to illegally evict many of people who’ve been unable to pay their rents. They don’t have enough money to draw on their bank accounts to do this. So, that is very unfortunate.

Jonathan mentioned Frances Perkins and the gospel. The word gospel meant, literally, the good news, but wherever it was used in the Bible, as Sharon Ringe, a Lutheran historian has pointed out, it always was used as a code word for the Jubilee year. For the clean slate. The only way that you can really liberate the people who’ve been pushed way behind the eight ball by the virus is to say, okay, the economy is taking a pause. You don’t have to pay the rents that have accrued when you’re unable to do that. You don’t have to pay the debts that have accrued when you’re unable to do this. Because, otherwise, there’s not going to be a recovery. How on earth can you recover if most of the people have to now, all of a sudden, pay up all the arrears that they’ve been accumulating during the pandemic and, not to mention that, long before? It can’t be done.

The other comment I have… Jonathan said the economy hasn’t been working. What has been a bonanza for the five percent! And even more of a bonanza for the one percent. The top one percent of the population has made more money since the pandemic began… as much money as than they made since 1980. Economic crises are always a bonanza for the wealthy because they get to profit from the distress of others. What you call distress is for them a wonderful marketing opportunity. Wall Street has been incorporating all sorts of private capital funds to make a killing once the arrears come due. They’re planning on residential property at a discount as they did after 2008. Buying commercial property at a discount. They’re looking to make a killing, which is what usually happens in the aftermath of a crisis. So, the Biden administration has given a palliative. The palliative has helped mainly the creditors and the landlords so far with not much being used by the people and the economic activity that’s picked up is mainly by people who can afford it, which is not the constituency that Jonathan and I are talking about.

Jim Vrettos:
Right. Jonathan. Jonathan, are you and Rev. Barber talking about the Jubilee? What is your position?

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
We are preachers, so we have to talk about it. It’s in our authoritative text. If you follow Jesus, of course, the first sermon Jesus preaches at Nazareth is straight from the prophet Isaiah. The spirit of the Lord is on me, he says, to proclaim that word gospel. But it’s gospel [inaudible 00:17:46] to the poor. Recovery of sight to the blind. Release to the captives. The year of Jubilee! That’s Luke 4. Jesus quoting the Jubilee passage from Isaiah. This is very much what we understand to be the good news that is needed over and against all the problems of the economy that Michael was just describing. So, yes, debt cancellation. Debt forgiveness, which is central to the Jubilee theme in scripture. I absolutely agree. It’s the way out and it is justice. Because canceling debts that were created by unjust systems is not giving someone a free pass after they goofed off. It’s simply doing justice where injustice has been done. That’s why Jesus said that it was necessary then and why it’s still necessary now.

Michael Hudson:
Even in a just system, people fall into debt. Often for no problem of their own. They would get sick. I’m so glad that you emphasized Jesus’ first sermon because I’ve had a number of presentations, and that’s what we’ve been emphasizing. That’s a path… You’d think that his first sermon would have been the center of a lot of the evangelist religions, but your group and my Harvard group are about the only people really emphasizing that that was the key. Of course, when Luke describes that passage, Luke comments that a lot of the people didn’t like it. They got very angry. Especially the Pharisees, who loved money. That’s really the problem that you’re doing. There’s a difference of approach today and the approach that you and I are taking is not really being backed by much of the middle class that says, well, we want to get rich off our savings and debt. There’s really a conflict there that goes much deeper than just what to do about the pandemic.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
You’re absolutely right. What I have been trying to teach in churches and wrote about in Revolution of Values is the way that this has been framed for Christians in a way that really isn’t designed to help people understand it. The distortion of the Christian message, in particular about the economy, is really some 80 years in the making and it has everything to do with the way in which corporations were scared to death by the activism of Christians in the Social Gospel movement. Kevin Kruse has written this history in his book One Nation Under God, which I would encourage people to read.

But if you go back and look closely, after the Great Depression, there wasn’t a lot of confidence in corporate leadership. So, the Chamber of Commerce got together and they literally hired a preacher. They had done a survey that said preachers were some of the most trusted people in the country. They hired a man named James Fifield and he started an organization called Spiritual Mobilization and he recruited tens of thousands of pastors across the United States to preach what Kevin Kruse calls Christian libertarianism. Essentially, that Jesus endorsed the free market economy and that to be Christian is to be a libertarian. That got pushed very hard over and against the social gospel, over and against what FDR’s administration had tried to implement, and was their strategy for how to push back against the New Deal. Not simply do it politically, but do it by tying it to people’s faith.

And then, of course, after the civil rights movement, that gets tied together with those people who came in and formed the religious right and said that the way to push back against the civil rights movement is not as the segregationists did in the South but rather to do it in the name of morality, in the name of traditional values, in the name of faith. All of that fuses together and creates avenues and a whole wraparound culture of radio shows, books, Christian television, para church organizations, political organizations, that reinforce a message over and over again that to be Christian is to be a reactionary right-wing libertarian. Believe that the economy has the final word. It says, “in God we trust,” on the money, which means for most people that we trust the money to be how God is working in the world. People have easily bought the lie that, if you have money, God has blessed you, if you don’t have money, it’s because you haven’t been true to God. It blames the poor. It uses these lies to justify a system that is set up to benefit the very elite and it’s produced what we are now talking about in the public square as Christian nationalism. But I think people don’t realize that this has been around for a long time and there’s a whole culture that supports it.

Michael Hudson:
A long time. What we’re doing is fighting the same fight today that Jesus fought against his opponents 2000 years ago. It’s exactly the same fight. The people who claim to be the Christian right were the people who were fighting Jesus and spent the next three centuries fighting him.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Yes indeed. You’ve studied your scriptures. That’s how I read it too, brother.

Jim Vrettos:
And you’re not doing the poor any good by having government helping through various programs, correct? Government becomes the enemy.

Michael Hudson:
But it tries to pose as the friend. What Biden wanted to do was use the poor as a vehicle to give money to his constituency, the campaign donors. The landlords and the financial interests and the neoliberals who Jonathan’s mentioned. That’s really his constituency. How can you expect them to do really much help when you look at where their constituency is? They mastered the rhetoric. They read 1984 and they know what double think is and double speak. That’s the problem that we’re in. That people are confused as to what is really the issue and what’s going to really get us out of the mess we’re in. And we really are in a mess. It’s not going to be an economic recovery except for the top layer. That’s what all the economists that I know are saying. How do you explain how the economies got down and down in the last year and the stock market has gone way, way up?

The government has created, I think, 10 trillion, 12 trillion dollars, but it’s all been to buy stocks and bonds. They could’ve paid off everybody’s mortgage. They could’ve made America a low-cost economy. But all the amount of money has been added to the stock and bond market. Not to the housing market. Not to the income of the poor. Not to raise the minimum wage. The Democrats were overjoyed when the Senate lady said, “If you raise the minimum wage that doesn’t have anything to do with taxation.” Well, of course, it does. Because, right now, one of the tax burdens on America is paying the wages of people who work at Walmart and paying the wages of people who work at other exploitative companies for low wage. Companies can afford to pay a very low wage and the workers get a subsidy from the government to the wage. Essentially, if you would raise the minimum wage, you’d cut the budget. You’d provide the government with more money after not having to bail out the worst exploiters that pay the low wage. Not a word from the Democrats on that. Not a word to push it.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Oh, this is what we’ve been trying to tell Brother Joe Manchin in West Virginia. We’ve met with him. The campaign is led by people in West Virginia… very adamant on this point. When anybody says they don’t believe in welfare, it’s just not true. They do believe in welfare. They’re paying welfare to these corporations. This is government-sponsored corporate support that’s allowing them to keep going by paying their people so much less than a living wage.

Jim Vrettos:
How does reparations figure into our discussion here?

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Well, the reparations conversation goes all the way back to the end of the Civil War. I think people are fairly familiar with the phrase 40 acres and a mule. That was the field directive that came out of the southern theater. When Sherman took the plantations on the east coast of Georgia, what the union troops said to the African Americans who had been enslaved on those lands is that you can have a plot, 40 acres and a mule. You can work this land. This land will be your economic base in order to survive as free people in the United States. And that was the plan. Until, of course, Lincoln was assassinated.

Andrew Johnson, his Southern vice president, his Democratic vice president, at the time in the way the parties were aligned, becomes in charge. He pardons the seditious leader. I think most people have forgotten this. Jefferson Davis led a rebellion against this country. They threw him in the jail cell at Fort Monroe and he only stayed a few months, until Johnson was president, and then he pardoned him and he went home to his plantation. I mean, we’re still talking about what we’re going to do with the insurrectionists from January 6th. Well, let’s remember. We didn’t do a very good job of having any real justice after there was an insurrection during the Civil War. But at any rate, when Johnson is then in charge of implementing the beginnings of Reconstruction, he does such a bad job that he completely obliterates the plan for reparations. That’s why, of course, Congress has to take over and we get congressional Reconstruction that did press forward some things like the 13th, 14th, and 25th Amendments, but nevertheless, never addresses this issue of reparations.

The basic question is… Anybody who’s played Monopoly at home knows that if you get eight rounds into the game and then somebody wants to come and play, they’re never going to catch up with everybody else. How do people who were enslaved and were considered property for 250 years all of a sudden become full citizens and part of a society and an economy without any resources? There has to be some reparation for that injustice. That has never happened and that is the root of the economic disparities… the racialized economic disparities… that continue to exist in this country. And so the conversation that we’re having now about reparations is simply a question about what can we do at this point to address that mistake that was made after the Civil War that has never been corrected for? And that we still playing out in disparities not just in… Now, it’s not only in the economic disparities, but it’s in the health disparities, the education disparities… I mean, you can go all down the list. It’s the result of that basic economic divide.

Jim Vrettos:
Michael, you’ve done a lot of writing about this. Tell us.

Michael Hudson:
Status starts really with land and with real estate. Because much of the discussion of reparations is described by anti-reparations people as, well, it’s all reparations for slavery, and slavery doesn’t exist anymore. What are you going to do? But you’re absolutely right. The reparations that are paid for has been excluding the blacks, really, from real estate. That’s gone right down to today. It was part of Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s providing government mortgage guarantees for the middle class didn’t extend to Black people. All of the growth of the white middle class wealth in this United States consists of homeowner that you can trace back to whole takeoff we’ve had since 1945. Most of the middle class wealth that’s handed down to their children has been a result of the fact that they could get real estate. They could get loans for real estate and all the benefits that have come from multiplying 100 times in value whereas the blacks don’t. That’s why all of the Federal Reserve statistics on net worth between blacks and the rest of the population. The blacks have almost nothing, because the net worth on the white side of the balance sheet is mainly real estate.

So, what would you do to make reparations? Well, you’re not going to just say, well, gee, the average house is $500000. Let’s give everyone $500000. In my mind, what you would do to make reparations equitable would be to give every Black family a home – and that requires every poor family, whites and Hispanics as well as Blacks. You can’t be racist and only give it to one group and not to another. Give every family the same offer that was made to the white middle class in 1945. I worked for the Savings Banks’ central bank for many years, doing statistics on home buying. When I came to New York and began working on Wall Street in the 1960s, any family could get a loan to buy a house. The limit was the mortgage could not take more than 25% of the income and the mortgage they were given, at the current interest rate, would be self-amortizing to pay off the entire mortgage and give them home ownership in 30 years. It would be self-amortizing mortgage as a result of one quarter of their income.

Well, suppose you were to give this today. I think the government should provide housing… not public housing, but real housing. A house of your own, which is the modern equivalent to 40 acres and a mule because people live in cities now. They’re not going to go back to the country. Suppose someone is making a minimum wage salary. Suppose they’re only making $20000 a year. Okay, you will take $20000 a year. They will give them a home. A nice two-story, three-story home with a yard and everything. They’ll have to pay for that over 30 years. What will they pay? They will pay $5000 per year and at the end… three and a half percent, four percent interest rate, which was what was charged back in the ’50s and ’60s. At the end of the 30 years, this $5000 will give them a home. It works out to about $168000 including the accumulated interest charge. The interest usually ends up amounting to more than the home purchase price.

But that would be… If you were to give the poor the same deal that the white middle class was offered in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, that would give them the same foundation that the middle class has. Because the characteristic of the middle class is home ownership. All of this has been reversed since 2008. President Obama’s eviction of 10 million families in order to support his donor class, the banks, has lowered owner occupancy rates in this country by about 10%. Home ownership is going to be plunging even more as a result of the pandemic and the foreclosures that are all being filed and waiting to be executed by the banks and the landlords. If you don’t have this reversal, if you don’t offer people the same guarantee of self support homes, then you’re going to have a wipe out.

Part of the Jubilee year was not only the canceling of debts. It was the return of the lands that they had lost. What you’re doing in this case is returning the lands to the people who had lost them by the frauds that occurred in the Democratic and Ku Klux Klan fight back against the settlement of the Civil War. And the frauds that are occurring right down to today. I had a home in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I’d bought it for one dollar down in 1967 and I wanted to finance it in 1980. I asked Chase to come out. They sent out an appraiser and he kept saying, “We’re not going to loan here. Only Black people live in this neighborhood.” He used another word for blacks. I made a complaint to the commission in New York. Nothing ever came of it. So, I lived in a redlined neighborhood. I ended up selling the house and moving down to Tribeca, but the redlining continued right into the ’80s, ’90s, right down to today. Without realizing that this stripping away of property and preventing the poor people from ever being able to work their way out of that to actually get decent loans, to get an affordable house that… If you don’t solve that problem, then the economy is going to polarize at an accelerating rate and you’re certainly not going to have a recovery.

Jim Vrettos:
What do you think, Jonathan?

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
All true. He’s absolutely right. The only thing I would add from a Southern perspective is that one of the things you know if you live in the South is that, through those years you were describing, when so many white families were building wealth and so many African Americans were excluded from that, there were nevertheless… despite the systemic barriers, there were Black folks who built wealth in Black communities across the South. In the 1970s, those communities were obliterated by urban renewal. The people who did invest and were able to build wealth to pass on to their families saw that wealth decimated by the building of highways and airports and everything else that white folks were in charge of planning. When they made the choices about where it was going to happen, they placed all of those infrastructure pieces in places where it didn’t hurt the value of their property but it hurt the value of property that Black folks did own. So, the injustice of the system has continued alongside the refusal to give reparations.

I think of the demands of the Poor People’s Campaign as very much a holistic set of demands addressed at reparations. Something along the lines of what you’re saying in terms of housing. Universal access to affordable housing is a demand of the campaign, but I think that has to go alongside a demand that people have access to healthcare. A demand that people have access to a fully-funded and diverse public education for their children so that there’s hope of a future generation that can also enjoy life here. And we keep insisting that living wages have to be a part of this. I mean, being able to afford your housing is one thing, but so many people can’t afford to eat. It’s incredibly important that people who work more than full-time in so many cases don’t have enough to pay their bills. And so we really do need a holistic approach to a policy agenda that says we’re going to lift from the bottom and we’re going to remake this economy in a way that it can work for most people. Because, like you said, it’s working for some people, but it ain’t working for most of us.

Michael Hudson:
What you described in the South is very much like the American treaties with the Native Americans. Sent them out west to where nobody wanted and then imagine what happened when all of a sudden they found oil under the land. Well, all of a sudden, they tried to kick them off and you had the Koch brothers’ fortunes come from working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to kick off the Indians, to strip away their rights, and to take the oil rights for the Koch brothers, basically. So, just like they were kicked off their lands, the Southerners found… Black people found their lands paved over for the airports and what you mentioned. They tried to do that in New York. Robert Moses tried to drive a highway right through [Rome 00:40:40] Street and Lower Manhattan and the Village and that was James Jacobs’ whole fight was. The white middle class was able to stop it. They were all for it in the South. That’s exactly the problem there.

Jim Vrettos:
What I hear you all saying is we’re up against a neoliberal philosophy that we’ll give to a certain extent, correct? But when we’re talking about the sorts of structural changes… economic, political, racial, and so on… will only go so far. Am I reading that wrong? Or the hope is with the Poor People’s Campaign somehow that can convince this… the Biden administration and neoliberal roots to go further than it wants… No. You’re shaking your head already.

Michael Hudson:
We’re talking about human rights. Not just poor people’s rights. We’re talking about human rights. Everyone has the right to medical care. They’re not giving that in America. I must say it’s largely because of Black leadership has fought against human rights for medical care. They’re on the right wing of the Democratic spectrum. Look at the presidential election when Clyburn threw all of the support against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Biden. I’m sorry to say that the Black leadership has not been progressive when it comes to either a living wage or education or public health or any of the things that we consider human rights.

Now, obviously, the reason that Jonathan is talking about the Poor People’s Campaign is they’re the most deprived of the human rights. But the only way of phrasing this in a way that is universal is to put them in human rights. Neoliberals are against it and the fact is the middle class… the politicians are not going to be leading in this. They’re going to try to jump in front of the parade when they see it’s successful, but they’re going to hold the parade back and say not now, wait, or compromise. Let’s do it in stages. Let’s stretch it out over 10 years so that the next incoming administration can roll back anything that [inaudible 00:43:12]. It has to be done [inaudible 00:43:14] with a principled position. Biden and the Democrats or whoever have a principled position for human rights because they’re against them.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
What we believe in the campaign is that the only alternative to that sort of neoliberal compromise is moral fusion organizing. We have to build a coalition of Black, White, Brown, Native, Asian together that does demand that these things be human rights and that whoever is in office has to face that demand and face real political consequences, which means in the present moment we have to… In order to pursue this agenda, we have to be equally committed to fighting for voting rights. Because it’s very clear that the organizations of the reactionary right are working in statehouses to push back against these growing coalitions. I mean, we did see some real progress in terms of turnout in the last year and a lot of that was because poor people across various racial groups came together and said we do want a new kind of leadership.

In Kentucky, they were saying, “We want it from the hood to the holler.” I think that’s a good call for the whole country. Often, we think about rural as white and urban as Black, but this was interracial infusion. From the hood to the holler, we have common interests. We need to come together. We need to vote together. The response to that has been an attempt to roll back voting rights and to abridge the right to vote. The very thing that is prohibited by the 15th Amendment. And so, as a campaign, as we continue to push this agenda and to push the current administration as far as we can, we’re also absolutely clear that, in terms of the next election cycle and pushing candidates who are willing to embrace more of this agenda, we’ve got to have voting rights and an expansion of federal voting rights protections. And so I think that’s a critical piece that we’re working on this year.

Michael Hudson:
Well, the fusion you’re talking about of course is why Martin Luther King was killed and why even Malcolm X after him was killed. The Democrats’ response to voting rights was, okay, we’ll give you a choice between yes please and yes thank you. If you have the Democratic Committee making sure that no leftie, no social Democrat, can qualify, and if they pull the tricks that they did for the last two elections against Bernie Sanders and against other left-wingers, if they give all the funding to the right-wingers, if they act, really, just like they did act in the Civil War, where are you going to get? That’s the whole problem. You want people to be able to vote for something besides a choice between right-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans and that’s not… Both political parties are organized in a way to prevent that.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
I agree. I think that’s true and that the kind of organizing that is bringing together a new and a broader voting coalition has strengthened the progressive caucus in the Congress and is creating the possibility for a political position that embraces these sort of ideas. That’s the direction we’re going to keep pushing in. And I think building power to do it is the work of our day.

Jim Vrettos:
I was going to ask. So, the progressive caucus. Give us some individuals that would be an example of what you’re talking about in terms of fusion politics.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Well, I think of somebody like Pramila Jayapal. She’s leading the caucus right now. She was from Seattle and worked to pass a living wage there in local politics and then was elected to the Congress and has really seen that caucus grow in her time in the Congress. But I think this can’t be about party. It’s got to be about transforming the system. That means it has to be a grassroots movement that really pushes whoever’s there towards these ideas and these policies.

Michael Hudson:
That’s exactly what the military theorist von Clausewitz said. He said don’t go to war without having an idea of what you want to accomplish. What’s the situation that you want to achieve? You begin from saying the end and then you work back how are we going to get there? Your group has defined the ends. Exactly what I would do is not merely having money in your pocket. It’s having the human rights. The education, the homes of their own, the real estate, the minimum wage. That really is the key. There’s no party as such that’s supporting that and to the extent that you succeed with the progressive caucus in getting your members elected, every reaction is going have an equal and opposite reaction and you’re going to face sabotage, as you know. You have to really throw down the gauntlet and let people know this is not a marginal talk we’re talking about. This is basic and goes right to the core.

Jim Vrettos:
This is serious stuff. Yeah. Well, listen. We only have a minute to go. Why don’t we… Why don’t both of you let our audience know how they can reach you? How they can contact you. Jonathan, you want to…?

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Well, if you want to get in touch with me, I write books and I have a website that’s just my name. Jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com. You can find me there. But I really want people to connect with the Poor People’s Campaign wherever they are. Please go to poorpeoplescampaign.org and learn about what the Poor People’s Campaign is doing and what organizations are already part of the coalition there where you are.

Michael Hudson:
My work is on the general economy and on economic history. Michael-hudsdon.com is where I have all of my lectures and my articles. I’m working mainly with the Chinese now on coping with their problems, especially real estate problems and I’m still working on my antiquity articles.

Jim Vrettos:
Thank you both so very, very much. This was really, really interesting and riveting. As we struggle still to create the Jubilee and the blessed community, social justice, and a moral economic system. Thank you again so very, very much. It’s really been great and enlightening. We’ll see you-

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove:
Thank you again. Good to be with you, Michael. Take care.

Michael Hudson:
Thank you.

Jim Vrettos:
All the best. Again, this is Jim Vrettos. Thank you so very, very much for watching us here on The Radical Imagination. We’ll see you again next week on The Radical Imagination.


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  1. Sound of the Suburbs

    How can a living wage not be a living wage?
    They specify it at an hourly rate that won’t pay a living wage in a part time job.
    Most of the new jobs are part time.

    Neoliberals don’t miss a trick.

  2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    What a fantastic talk by Mr. Wilson-Hartgrove and DOC HUDSON!

    Bring on the Jubilee Party!!!



  3. Sound of the Suburbs

    What do most people think would be fair?
    There is some inequality and so you will improve your lot by working harder and trying to get on.
    Those at the bottom of the scale would not struggle that much and live above the poverty line.

    This is a good video, which shows the ideal most would like, what they think it is and what it really is (prepare for a shock it is the US).
    The exponential curve continues into the 1%, a real picture would show how wealth has concentrated with a very few people.

  4. Mauisurfer

    “A federal judge in Washington, D.C., blocked a nationwide eviction moratorium the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established as the COVID-19 lockdowns put millions of renters out of work during the past year.”

    The eviction moratorium presents serious constitutional problems. Landlords are being deprived of their agreed rent.

    I agree with most of what Hudson says here and elsewhere. But as an attorney, I see a big constitutional problem which Hudson avoids analyzing.

    https://outline.com/zTUGgE (a reprint of a Bloomberg article)

  5. John Anthony La Pietra

    . . . [W]hat I would do is not merely having money in your pocket. It’s having the human rights. The education, the homes of their own, the real estate, the minimum wage. That really is the key. There’s no party as such that’s supporting that. . . .

    I can think of one “party as such” that’s pretty [family blogging] close. And if Michael Hudson, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, or our hosts and other commenters here can find gaps in that platform, I would heartily welcome their proposed suggestions. The process of preparing a new 2022 platform is beginning . . . and I, as a member of the national Platform Committee (and the one in my home state of Michigan), will gladly bring your proposals up for discussion.

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