Editor’s Note: This interview was originally heard on Radio Sputnik’s afternoon program, “By Any Means Necessary.”
James Early, Sean Blackmon, Jacqueline Luqman (Toward Freedom board member)
Sean Blackmon: We’re very happy to be joined for the hour today by Mr. James Early, former director of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution and board member of the Institute for Policy Studies. Mr. Early, thanks so much for joining us.
James Early: It’s good to be with you again.
Sean Blackmon: Absolutely. And Mr. Early. We’ve been seeing some mass protests happening inside Peru following the detention of President Pedro Castillo, which some are sort of pointing to as a kind of legislative coup carried out by the country’s right wing. And Castillo’s vice president, Dina Boluarte, is currently serving as the new president or sort of the interim president, if you will. And I’m just sort of wondering what you’re making of all this at this point. Mr. Early, I mean, you know, on the show, we’ve been sort of following Castillo’s presidency from his candidacy period up until this moment. And it seems that almost from the moment he got elected, that there were sort of issues that were really facing his administration. That seems like it’s maybe part of leading up to this point. And so what do you make of what we’re seeing inside to Peru at the moment? And what do you think it says about what’s happening inside the country?
James Early: Well, we’ve seen these kind of parliamentary maneuvers before I think. Fundamentally, what it says is that there is a deep, deep class divide in Peru, recognizing that it Pedro Castillo won the popular vote by only about 40,000 to 44,000 votes from a right-wing psycho Fujimori, whose father was also a right winger and can’t recall if he’s still in prison. We have these deep class divides. And we… it also says something about these bourgeois democratic elections, and which, not withstanding the fact that Pedro Castillo received the majority of the votes and was voted in, he was really unable to set up an apparatus to deliver the kinds of policies that he had promised. And he also faced tremendous racism and classism, and that fact that he was from a rural community… traditional were just a racist barrage against them. But the bigger question here is, how is it that the election of an individual then is overturned by a parliamentary coup? We saw it with [former Brazilian President] Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. After [Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio da Silva] Lula’s second term, she followed him. We saw it first in Paraguay some decades ago, now a decade or so ago now. We saw that attempt here in United States of America, just a few months ago, January, not quite a year ago. And so there’s some deeper questions here that we have got to analyze that it’s not enough to bring just an individual to power. What kind of cabinet is brought? Is that reflective of the direction of the vote for president? Or is it a reflection of the provincial elements of the country, and where, as in the case we will see soon in Brazil, with the inauguration of Lula coming up this January 2023, that he does not hold the majority in the parliament. And so that cross-class alliance has got to be set up. And while the ratings for Pedro Castillo was very low, those… the ratings of the Congress are even lower. So, this is a crisis of the democratic system itself. What do we take away from it? We take away from it that the voters who vote in particularly someone from another class, who is promising to speak to the welfare of the majority of the marginalized and oppressed citizens, particularly indigenous citizens in the case of Peru, that we’ve got to have a standing organized citizens’ movement 24/7 that reinforces people’s power, and not just what happens in government structures. So, these are just some very general kinds of propositions. I’m trying to… still trying to read more and learn more and the particular case of Peru, but we’ve seen a similar events in other arenas and I think we can anticipate that we will see more of these bourgeois corporate class-oriented try to overturn the popular vote and the popular will through these parliamentary procedures.
Jacqueline Luqman: You know, Mr. Early, what I think I find curious in this situation in Peru is that the left-wing parties seem to have abandoned Castillo also, after he decreed the temporary dissolution of Congress, which was kind of the thing that that prompted all of this, called for fresh parliamentarian elections in nine months, and installed an emergency government to rule the country until the legislative powers were renewed. He called for the reorganization of the judiciary, the public ministry, you know, because of the I suppose, because of the right wing elements within, but even in him doing those things, I guess, to recognize that the right wing would be a problem for him to be able to govern with them, which I’m not sure if that’s the right way to handle that. I think I’m just recognizing that may have been why he tried to do things the way he did. Even the left-wing Free Peru Party, which sponsored his presidential candidacy, rejected his actions and basically abandoned him. So, I’m not sure what to make of that. And I’m wondering what you think about that particular aspect of this issue.
James Early: Well, my my thoughts or reflections are purely speculative here, because I’ve not had time to do sufficient investigation to have a more solid working thesis on this. But it does appear to me that Pedro Castillo was focused on as an individual and got himself isolated as an individual, not having roots in a cabinet or a party that could reinforce his policies by being his bridge directly with the organized working-class people that voted him into the steward ship of governance. And so, once he stepped beyond the standard parliamentary procedures and collapsed Congress, that sort of, it seems to me to have intensified, his being isolated as as an individual. Having said that, and having said it in a very speculative way, still, the focus on an individual… this is one of the problems with progressive and left movement is our tendency to focus on the individual and not on the state structure apparatus that that individual is a part of. Individuals really cannot and do not make change by themselves. They need a governance structure to fall in place behind them and it’s clear that Pedro Castillo did not have that and the Left Party did not… do not seem to have sufficient influence, and did not seem to rally around him soon enough. This just didn’t come out as thin air, what has been percolating over the months and what has been the relationship of the left parties with Pedro Castillo and those around him are outstanding questions that I think we have to examine.
Sean Blackmon: Definitely. And you know, you’re right, Mr. Early, when you talk about how we’ve seen this sort of thing before, definitely within Latin America, I feel like we’ve seen it play out in Brazil, in Bolivia. And I feel like we’re seeing it play out in Argentina, as well as vice president and former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was recently sentenced to six years in prison and also disqualified from holding public office for life, on charges of corruption, and fraud. And so, I mean, it feels like a similar situation based on my understanding of it in terms of basically the right wing of the country, there will be elements of the country going after a progressive leader. And you know, I’m definitely curious Mr. Early, how you’re seeing the Argentina situation as well, particularly within the context, not just of what we know about Peru, but also with the backdrop of what some might consider a resurgent Pink Tide of progressive and left leaning governments in the Latin America region.
James Early: Well, in the case of Argentina, I was just there a few years ago, and actually, we were trying to meet with Christina de Kirchner, she had just come in from Cuba, where her daughter was being attended for a serious illness. And we were leaving, so later on… so we were unable to actually sit down with her. In the case of Argentina, and in the case of Peru one of the things that we see in the context of the powerful metaphor, the Pink Tide, but can be an obscuring metaphor at the same time, is that these are often alliances within government so that the President of Argentina does not share the same ideological grounding as Cristina and her former husband, I mean, her husband, who was also former president, and so this is not really a consolidated Progressive governance, or consolidated left balance of government, as in the case, let’s say, Cuba. Of course, that’s the single party state, or in many ways, as in the case of Peru. And I mean, in the case of Venezuela, where there are multiple parties, but that there seems to be a lot of coherency between the structures of governance in terms of the presidency, in terms of elected officials throughout the various provinces, within the parliamentary system, and within the military. And this is where we have to examine the metaphor of the Pink Tide, important as it is, in its struggle against neoliberalism for trying to achieve more democracy for many in the context of the capitalist system, and for few of them trying to not only achieve more democracy and material development within the system, but also looking to defeat and overthrow that system when they plant the pole of socialism. So that the Pink Tide is a broad alliance of ideological policies against the most brutal aspects of neoliberalism. But they don’t all share the ultimate goals or the ultimate immediate possibility of uprooting neoliberalism, as in the case of [Colombian President Gustavo] Petro, recently elected along with his Afro-Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez. Petro has stated that he is doing nothing that the U.S. is not aware of. Francia Marquez, when running for the vice presidency, came to United States and met with the State Department. We see that Lula da Silva, who will be inaugurated the first week of January 2023, will also come to Washington to sit down with [U.S. President Joe] Biden. That’s not to come and bow down to Biden. But it is to suggest that the Pink Tide is a really an interim step against the crudest aspects of neoliberal capitalism, and only in a few instances, building bridges towards a radical socialist transformation. But the significance of the Pink Tide also is that in that spread of ideologies and political policies, both domestic, regional and international, there is a lot of alliance of mutual benefits, as we see with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean nations. In Africa. None of them are small, neoliberal capitalist countries, but they line up in the inter capitalist rivalry against Western Europe and the United States while maintaining relations with them, but looking for regional integration, in which Cuba is a major participant, along with Nicaragua, along with Venezuela. So these are some of the complexities that we have to unravel in our analysis and our political education and our public engagement of what people are voting for such that they don’t get … they’re not deceived that somehow Pedro Castillo is going to be the total opposite of [former Peruvian President Alberto] Fujimori and the capitalist system, or that Lula who is a declared democratic socialist is going to be the total opposite of capital in a country like Brazil, which is around the eighth largest economy in the world or so, in which he had to build a broad alliance, including middle classes and some corporate interests, who stood against [outgoing Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro, because Bolsonaro, like [former U.S. President] Donald Trump, is unpredictable, and too intent to be the steward of governance, that they can actually make a stable projected plan. So, these are some of the complexities behind these terms and behind these individuals, which boils down to what is the correlation of forces that brings a particular stewardship in the name of a personality to state governance?
Sean Blackmon: Yeah, and Mr. Early, I’m also curious just from a standpoint of analysis, because you mentioned in passing about somehow about how sometimes the, this you know, this phrase or concept of the Pink Tide, as it’s often term can obscure certain dynamics as well. I was hoping you could say more about that, too.
James Early: Well, the Pink Tide is juxtaposed against the notion of a Red Tide. And a Red Tide would be a socialist, slash communist ideological outlook with an immediate intent to make a transformation of who owns the modes of production, to socialize the most important life-defining elements like food and shelter, education, health, to make sure that all people have full access to that, and limiting private enterprise. In some instances, people have tried to abandon it. But other instances, as we’ve seen in Vietnam, as we’re seeing, and Cuba to adjust, for there is a limited space for private initiative that does not gorge the public, does that takes away from the public well-being. And so that the Pink Tide is really sort of interim, social, democratic policies. And in a more formal ideological point would be Democratic Socialists. Now in the case of Cuba, in the context of Pink Tide in Latin America as a socialist society, socialist governance system, one party etc., they are part of that mix. But one has to be careful of looking for some [enmity?], they are not equal, they’re not the same. There’s a lot of different interplay. If you raise that to a larger level of the notion of multipolarity, in which the Pink Tide in South-South relations also plays a part, there is a tendency of a kind of bipolarism, to say, we juxtapose the Pink Tide against capitalism in its most rigid form. But then we failed to explain… the President of China was just in Saudi Arabia, with this bloody dictator, this little family clan that controls all this oil. How do we explain that contradiction? I think it’s explainable, it means it’s a complex world, in which the correlation of forces is all not ever really neatly aligned, or simply a and b. There’s always these little strings of attachment here and there. And one has to make a daily calibration on where you really set your main paths, and how you live with some of these contradictions. So, the Pink Tide is a very important development and representing a democratic…social democratic policies, the welfare state, trying to uplift the poor and the marginalized. But far too often, they think type governments are not rooted in organized social movements, staying agile, and engaged rather than waiting for the delivery from the state, that actually holding the state accountable, accountable, and participating in the policymaking and in the implementation of those policies. And therein increasing the whole notion of people’s power not as some abstract romantic principle, but as a day-to-day practical movement, where trade unions are really running factories and community. People are really involved with security and public safety with the police. Where they are involved in the military, not just as a professional force, but also as a citizen force. And so these again are some of the complexities that I observed in the context of the significance of the Pink Tide, but to make sure that we don’t over value where we are in the struggle against these really vulgar, deadly aspects of neoliberal capitalism one, by the NATO powers in Western Europe, which are expanding into Latin America and the Caribbean, on the continent of Africa, and of course, with the behemoth of the United States bipartisan backing and the military backing; or that bipartisanship is seldom questioned they might struggle with each other on other things or in the U.S. bipartisan system, Democrats and Republicans, but not so much as we’ve just seen, that they just passed a huge military budget adding 45 more billion dollars than was requested. So, these, again, are some of the complexities that I think we have got to be able to talk about, and to engage everyday citizens that they become active and making those same kinds of analysis and being able to negotiate these contradictions when they emerge.
Sean Blackmon: Definitely. we’re gonna move to our first break of the hour on that note here on “By No Means Necessary” on Radio Sputnik in Washington, D.C. We’ll be right back. So please stay with us by any means necessary. Myself and Jacquie Luqman continue to be joined by Mr. James Early. And you know, Mr. Early, I was thinking over the break, because, you know, I appreciate how you know, you’re always keen to remind us about how you know, democracy is this collective process and can only be sustained by a collective process and that we shouldn’t fall into the trap of celebrity rising individual leaders. And I was thinking about this in the U.S. context, particularly as the issue of Moore V. Harper. That case continues to be a relevant here in the U.S., as we on the show continue to hold that, you know, this is part of all far right attempt to basically go after people’s fundamental democratic rights in this case, basically, the issue of one person, one vote itself, seemingly at stake, at least to some extent, with not a lot of response or fight back from the Democrats or the liberal wing of the ruling class. And so we’re looking at a situation where, you know, if the far right gets its way, then we could be under threat of basically like a permanent, like right wing government here in the United States, if these different bodies have the ability to have that kind of power over the vote when they take place. And so I’m just wondering how you sort of conceive of that kind of democratic project in a place like the United States, which is fundamentally undemocratic by its very nature, and from the very root and you know, we put this out in the show all the time, is that, you know, from the very beginning, it was a very purposeful effort to ensure that, you know, real participatory democracy was not what governed the United States, and that instead, it was basically the whims of the wealthy minority, that would always rule. And so you know, this, this may also be a somewhat speculative, because it’s certainly not a moment that we’re in right now. But But how do you see those kinds of principles at the very least being useful or relevant as we begin to think seriously about a new kind of society, a new system here in the West.
James Early: But I think we have to start with where you concluded, and that is that we have to open up a broad and consistent public debate, again, public education discourse about the fact that democracy does not exist as it describes itself officially here in United States. There is not a one person one vote calculus that delivers stewardship either at local, state or federal level. There is the Electoral College, which is fundamentally a racist, historical and contemporary tool. And there are within the dominant duopoly that two-party system have Republicans and Democrats. They’re the special electorate who because of individuals’ status that they inhabit within the governance structure, their votes outweigh that of the popular will. We see this resulting in a paralyzed, dysfunctional federal system in particular, that fights as though it was a basketball or football game of which team will win. It is not a question of which policies will win, except for the right wing with the so-called … liberals, they are just holding the status quo. And this is what Joe Biden was very clear about in “return to normal order.” So if you turn on [MSNBC host] Joe Scarborough, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC or any of these stations, what do you see, you see your traditional liberal democratic pundit sitting next to moderate… the so called moderate Republicans who have left the party or who have been thrown out of the party, who now band together to really try to reestablish that duopoly dominance such that they will be the only two parties that will compete for the stewardship of government, perennially at local, state and federal level. And in effect, we have a dictatorship of the duopoly, it’s like a one party with two wings, if you will, who fight to oust democratic… social democratic policymakers and certainly fight against any valid democratic socialist. So, in the case of the Republican move, it is really your right to establish and effect a record of one-party governance mechanism with this regard, the more formally, the popular will. Right now, the Democrats will argue we can’t get anything done because the Republicans stand in the way. And the Republicans basic line is let’s get rid of these Democrats, they’re socialists or communists. And so, this is a tragedy comedy that goes on. And the popular will, is thought it’s not just that it’s not recognized, but life circumstances continue to deteriorate. We see the resurgence now COVID, and, of course, we know what it will reveal once again, is that the most vulnerable people will be Black and Brown women, working class, LGBTQ, running the class race line, through the LGBT category, the trade union line going… running the race and gender, the horizontal profile through the trade unions, and we will see the same thing. So that then this question of democracy, that the discourse that goes on is “We must protect the U.S. is democratic system.” It is important to protect the rights and freedom and facilitation of people to express their will, but let us not deceive ourselves or continue to deceive ourselves that that will is being responded to and the content of democracy. That is, what are the policy issues that peoplecan work with to improve their lives to protect their lives, to reach for legitimate dream? That’s where the content of democracy question is not being discussed. And what is being discussed that we’re being diverted into is this pro forma situation as though we’re
protecting something ultimately precious, and it is not ultimately precious in the sense that it does not deliver to the most to the historically most marginalized, oppressed and exploited people, including those class sectors of the white community, who for reasons of delusion of skin color, and some of it is just socialized, outright hatred, it is not biologically inbred, it is socialized its educated, or mis educated as we’re seeing what’s going on in the school systems really turned him away from any obvious underpinnings of history to really uphold this structure that continues to immiserate them with amphetamine addictions running across the country, a sign that people are un-rooted, people whose lives are unstable. So, we have to question the very nature of this democracy in addition to fighting against this new maneuver by Republicans, but not let Democrats become the stalwart for the protection of the philosophical abstraction that continued to be paralyzed in the practical elements of delivering. We can’t… look at the situation in California… [former U.S. Representative of California’s 37th District and now Los Angeles Mayor] Karen Bass is just declaring a state of emergency… I was out in Los Angeles recently. It is unbelievable. When you walk downtown and other areas of Los Angeles, to see the sort of human infestation if you will, of people living on the sidewalk in camps, and you know, just block after block after block. And then you got these monumental state buildings, glowing towers to so-called development. And that contrast is right there. That is not democracy, the public policies are not being delivered. And so, this is how I think we have to approach this, by really holding the Democrats accountable. That they are not the stalwarts to protect us from this Republican surge, that we have to have organized citizens demanding that democracy really be delivered and content. Let me stop on this point: That is that is not a petition to the Democratic Party; it is organized citizens, identifying, maturing, nurturing, and voting in the stewards of governance that are accountable to them, that they hold accountable. Right now, we have the professional politicians, and we, the people, we the demos, the ordinary people with our [unintelligible] with our power of ordinary people are sidelined for voting for the side show as though we were going to a boxing match or something.
Jacqueline Luqman: You know, Mr. Early, what do you say to people who would respond to everything you just said about, you know, needing to hold the Democrats accountable for what they don’t do legislatively? For the people who they keep telling, have to vote for them to save us from the evil Republicans? What do you say to people who respond to you by saying, “Well, look, there are people like [U.S. Representative of Georgia’s 14th District] Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress, who was saying things like, if they organized January 6, we would have won,” meaning, you know, the Trump errs would have won, and they would have gotten what they wanted. And they point to, you know, the Republican extremists, the extremists in the GOP, the Trump errs in the GOP, which that’s what the GOP is now, as as proof that the problem is not the Democrats, we need to not focus on the Democrats, we really need to do something about those other guys.
James Early: Here’s the issue. We’re talking about a question of power. When I say politics, I mean, power, the power to improve one’s lives, to protect one slice, to envision new possibilities, to allot public resources, in projects in collaboration with everyday citizens to do that. Neither one of these parties deliver to us, but in their tactical difference, which almost is raised to a level of strategy around their common upholding of this system, there, there are the spaces that we have to recognize. And that is, there are certain policies that people have been able to push for that its citizens have been able to push for, the way that it comes out and it’s propagated is that an individual Congresswoman, or Congressperson did it, but no organized citizens I often use the example of the Democratic Socialists most recently, [U.S. Senator representing Vermont who twice ran for U.S. president] Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders did not build a movement, he intersected organized movements. Those nurses, those trade unions, were already there. We’ve seen new developments, like the Working Families Party and the like, but there were existing organized citizens movements that have been fighting in sectoral areas, or areas for women’s rights, LGBT rights, anti-racism, right to health rights. How do we draw the horizontal line, the node of node, the network of network to build an integrated force, some of that may be reflected in a new party. But initially, it’s reflected and citizens looking to the right in their left and saying, “Yes, I share those same objectives, although I’m focused on this particular sector.” How do we identify people that we vote to be stewards of governance, because 340 some odd million people divided in half, when you look at half the voters are voting for right wing stuff for various reasons, and the other half for relatively progressive arenas. You cannot run the country as individuals, you do need an apparatus, the state apparatus, and you need capable stewards of governance to do that. And so, this is what I say to those folks is that we have to get in the fight, not just describe the fight. And yes, the Democratic Party is not our ally. But in its battle with the Republican Party, we have to find those spaces in the governance structure, where we can force onto the agenda the things that will help us improve our lives and strengthen our ability to at some point, “trump,” if you will, transition both of the duopoly parties which are not set up in the interests of the masses of ordinary citizens.
Sean Blackmon: Definitely, definitely. And you know, a sort of sticking with this idea that this building of radical popular democracy, this participatory democracy, and how we’ve seen that built… develop over the world, but specifically within parts of Latin America in different ways. Recently Venezuela marked, it’s a day of loyalty and love for a [former Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez. And of course, Chavez was, you know, a beloved and admired a leader, but he is also someone who would stress the collective nature of democracy within a specific context of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, and someone who often emphasized the importance of the communes. And so I’m wondering how do you see that sort of playing out within the Venezuelan context? And how do we situate someone like a Hugo Chavez, who is an individual but who really only existed in that way because of the efforts and support of the masses of his countrymen?
James Early: Well, as much as I have, in recent occasions on this program, and other programs have done, steered people towards emphasizing the importance of social movements, social organization, trade unions sector, specific groups, uniting with one another. I don’t want to dismiss the role of the individual because the role of the individual in history and certainly in current circumstances, and in different instances is very important. The role of the individual runs across the spectrum from the far right to the left, so that Mussolini and Hitler were extraordinarily powerful, compelling individuals in the public space to convince people to do some of the most horrendous things that we’ve seen in human history, the Holocaust being one of those issues, among others. And the case of a [former South African President Nelson] Mandela who is not to be confused with the case of [former Cuban President] Fidel Castro. We see… or [former Indian Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi… we see again, the role of strong individuals and relationship to organize movements. Therein, setting up the people power, governance kinds of situations in communes and others. I think it’s important principle, but here’s the problem that we’re wanting to do: how to get that to a level of scale. How to get government resources, and government expertise to really build that at some level of scale. And here are some of the objective contradictions to be faced, including that Hugo Chavez had to face. Venezuela sits on the largest oil resources as far as we know in the world. Under Hugo Chavez, who did some extraordinary things in building regional institutions like [Union of South American Nations] UNASUR, the Community of Latin American Caribbean nations, the production of massive numbers of doctors that he and Fidel Castro sent out through the Latin American medical school (ELAM) in [Santiago de] Los Banos and those outside of Havana in Cuba but could not get off oil! We see no evidence where when oil was being sold that was $100 a barrel or more, we see little evidence of where that surplus was being putting in large scale solar. So, we find ourselves still tethered to extractive industries. The case of [former Bolivian President] Evo Morales, and… help me here in in Bolivia, Bolivia, one of the countries, here’s the Native American president socialist, a socialist party, a governance structure that did survive … the individual did survive the coup, and did inherit the state. But one of the immediate contradictions that he ran into with the progressive indigenous population was maintaining these extractive industries. These are difficult questions, they’re easily ideologically to say, “Let’s just take over the mode of production and get and move to something else.” But in the practical arena, they are very complex and very difficult. So, I’ve heard a lot about you know, that local development foodstuff, communities, providing wholesome food in Detroit and Oakland and other areas. These are important developments that signal where the future must go. But we have to be able to get the collective resources which generally reside in the local, the state and the federal state budget. We have to get them out to levels of scale to involve many, many more people. And then the case of Venezuela. Now, there’s a big and interesting and I think important debate that goes on with the Communist Party of Venezuela in relationship to the [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro Socialist Party, which was really set up by the late President Hugo Chavez, of arguing about these issues about how workers are being treated, about how commands are being developed. So yes, that is a direction, but we have to get it to a level of scale that that people’s power is institutionalized it’s not just an aspect of the ideological, romantic kind of view but it has implementation.
Sean Blackmon: Definitely we’re gonna move to another quick break on that note here on “By Any Means Necessary” on Radio Sputnik, Washington, D.C., we’ll be right back, so please stay with us.
Sean Blackmon: Mr. Early. I was looking at a reports about some conversations that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been having with different governments, namely, the United States with President Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron of France and Recep Erdoğan of Turkey, of course. Now, they’ve been, you know, in contact before, but reportedly, these latest slew of conversations have taken place over a single day. And he was quoted saying “We are constantly working with our partners…” And he added that he expects some “important results in the coming week” around a number of events that have to do, of course, with the ongoing war in Ukraine. Now, it’s not clear on just what that means, or what the substance of these meetings really were. But, I mean, it does seem that we’ve reached a serious point in the Ukraine conflict as things continue to escalate. And it seems the more time goes on, the more dangerous the situation becomes not just for the countries involved, but for the whole world. I mean, I’m sure people remember a couple weeks ago when that those missiles struck up Poland killing two people. And it was asserted both in on platforms in the mainstream media and by Zelenskyy himself, that those were, in fact, Russian missiles, even though Ukrainian government officials and even Joe Biden himself basically pointed to how it wasn’t really clear what the origins of those missiles were just yet. And I’m just I’m wondering how you’re considering the conflict at this point, because I don’t think it can be overstated, the dangerous potential of an open conflict between the nuclear powers of the United States and Russia. I mean, it’s somewhat of a relief, at least for me to know that there are people within the Biden administration who are advocating for negotiations. Now what will ultimately happen, I think, remains to be seen, but just wondering how you’re considering it?
James Early: Well, I think what we are witnessing is that the Western Europe and the United States and Australia and Japan, have put a lot of their marbles on the table in Ukraine, and they would argue from this vantage point that they wouldn’t fight argue a stalemate, they all want to argue that Ukraine is winning. But let’s assume for sake of argument that Ukraine is winning, but at what cost? Of a totally destroyed country that will still be balkanized by Russian-speaking populations, that the only way that they would have to impose the governance over those populations rather than to recognize perhaps some element of national minority rights, and those countries are now aligned politically[?], whether one believes in what the referendum was or not they are tied to Russia, as is Crimea. And so that these are things that now we’re beginning to hear some people in the West say, well, there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement because this could bring us closer to a nuclear conflict. At the same time playing this game of chicken in Poland, for example, sitting right on the Russian border, and the military, the U.S. military bases going up so there’s still this game of chicken being played. But there’s a bigger circle of political global engagement that’s going on that they really want to give attention to dating back more formally…now in the Obama administration, of turning their eyes to the Pacific, which means China. And so that while they’re going down this rabbit hole, and you’re paying billions and billions of dollars exhausting their military hardware, both here in the United States and in Western Europe, putting that into Ukraine, seeing winter come about seeing this fluctuation in oil prices, we don’t know what’s going to happen with this cap on Russian oil. And as I was watching debate, the price of oil has dropped. But there are a lot of machinations that they put on the table. And they’ve concentrated into this one area of the world, including it’s the breadbasket of the world, so it’s having a waterbed wave effect negatively, particularly to southern countries, African countries, in particular. And so I think now they have to really figure out how to recalibrate that, that they can give some of this attention that they want to give to China. The Canadians have just put billions of dollars into setting up military operations in the Pacific on some of these islands. The Australians are going full bore on China. So, they’re they’re really concentrated right now in Ukraine in a way that is making a lot of Western Europe [unintelligible]. We see the Germans walking slightly sideways, as they watch the president China move around the globe, just in Saudi Arabia, you know, went to a very contradictory situation with Saudi Arabia, but in the real politic, this is one of these contradictions that you have to figure out how much value to give it versus the positive roles and China and self-determination and sovereignty and independence in Latin America is its largest, second largest trading partner, the flexibility that they’re dealing with African countries and building infrastructure, in contrast to the exploitive ways that the U.S. is moving. The rise of the Caribbean Mia Motley, [unintelligible] and Barbados taking on the Bretton Woods institutions again, which taking up the historical mantle of Fidel Castro who was talking about debt, you know, two decades or more before anybody started, and was talking about climate as well, Fidel Castro was. So this contradiction of being overly concentrated now, all of these powerful Western neoliberal capitalist forces are going down the rabbit hole of Ukraine. And I think some of them are getting to say,“Whoa, wait a minute, how are we going to deal with China, the alliance of China and India and Indonesia and all these countries in the Silk Road, and the south-south relation to the revitalization of the BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India, China.” So, I think this is a contradiction that they are facing and they’re trying to leverage … Zelensky that he’s got to come to the negotiating table. And what it means at the bottom line is that they’re going to have to give up some land. Is that right or wrong? I don’t think it’s an argument that when considered around the living room, and has been in terms of real power relationships, this is what it’s going to add up. It’s not going to be a simple either-or situation. Crimea is not going to be on the table, I think, from the vantage point of the Russians, and the Donetsk area where these Russian speaking populations are, they are going to have to be able to execute some form of autonomy, perhaps in the context of a Ukrainian state, or they will say appended to Russia. So that’s where I think we are. And I think that’s what we’re hearing these grumblings about. What has not been dealt with sufficiently, and here is where public education needs to be more, there is a fascist element in Ukraine. And what is the role of that element? Is it just a handful of people? Where do they really play? Because this is one part of the internal contradictions. And finally, I would say that this war is not in the interests of working-class people either in Ukraine are in Russia, and they are the ones who are dying on the battlefield it is not the political elite. I don’t have any book for Putin, the Russian government system, although I recognize the importance of Putin’s policies with Russia and supporting Cuba or, what they were, how they may be supporting sovereignty in Latin America. But these are the complexities of contradictions. And one has to sort out which contradictions can you live with and which ones are absolutely must be suppressed and defeated?
Sean Blackmon: Now we’re gonna squeeze in a caller here, Michael, tell us what’s on your mind.
Caller: Hi, yeah, I agree with much of what you say. But when we talk about the EU, being a democracy, I want to be clear that we are not we are a republic. Our founding fathers were very suspicious of democracies and mob rule. That’s why we have the bill have rights, which is very anti-democratic is to protect minorities from majorities. And so, I’d like to, you know, make that correction there. And the reason we have a Senate again, and think is because the small states were very suspicious of the large states, they didn’t want to be ruled, specifically by large states to go to that historical context. And so when people always say, Well, we are a democracy, we are not, and we were never intended to be a democracy. So I’m happy to, you know, hear your comments.
Sean Blackmon: Thanks a lot for calling I hope to hear from you again soon. But I mean, I gotta tell you, as a republic, the U.S. doesn’t really work either. Because I mean, my understanding of a republic is that a situation where power is held by people in their elected representatives, well, even if we look at how, you know, Congress plays out, I mean, the largest state in the country and the smallest states in the country, may have the same number of representatives and things like that. So it’s not actually representative, the representatives don’t actually represent the people of their state, or where it is that they’re from. And of course, we know, under capitalism, they don’t represent their economic interests either. So this is really the point that that we’re trying to make, we’re not necessarily just talking about electoral processes and things like that the whole of how this country operates, is fundamentally undemocratic, and unequal on purpose, to protect the interest of the capitalist class, and their property. And indeed, it’s to protect the capitalist system in itself. And so what is needed then, is a real kind of democracy, like we’ve been discussing the projects that happen in different parts of the Latin America region in different ways, a participatory kind of democracy, or real representative democracy, you know, this, if representatives really held the power in this country, then we should have the power to recall them and all of these sorts of things, which we don’t actually have the ability to do. So I just feel like in just about every way, and you know, people can quibble about democracy, republic and things like that. But the real relevant question is, for whom is this society actually designed to benefit and it isn’t the working class here. But it’s an important thing to consider Jacquie, when we talk about sort of a bourgeois democracy under a capitalist system, and what that looks like, under a socialist structure, and what that could look like here in the United States. I mean, it would have to be completely unlike how this country has operated over the last several centuries of its existence, in the sense of actually having a say in what happens in their communities in their lives, how they deal with issues like food and labor, and all of these very basic things that we don’t have control of. And I’m saying as of this moment here.
Jacqueline Luqman: I mean, exactly. And to, you know, the caller’s point about, you know, we have a bill of rights to protect the interests of minorities. Well, when you look at the people who wrote the Bill of Rights, and the people who wrote the Constitution, and the people who set up this republic, the minorities that they were protecting were not, you know, landless poor people. And it certainly wasn’t our ancestors. So, we see the legacy of the minority that those people were protecting, which were the small number of wealthy white, landowning mostly slaveholders in this country, these documents existed to protect their power. So, because if it if it were not true, if if this republic actually worked, then this this idea of minorities being protected under the law, well, we wouldn’t have to fight for the rights that we allegedly have under the Constitution. But we do. But this is why we are fighting for a system that allows for the true representation, one person, one vote and the actual representative democracy that will allow participation of all people in government and the influence that government has on our lives. And this is, I mean, to understand the difference between the two systems, I think goes very far, far deeper than, you know, quibbling between whether this country is a democracy or a republic, whatever it is, it doesn’t work, Mr. Early.
James Early: So, first of all, thank you caller and, tonight, I’m gonna go on my Google and and re-examine some of these questions. I think you have helped bring a very important question to the table and I hope perhaps the next time that I’m on this program that we can look at the question of democracy. I will leave you with a convolution I was just reading the other day that physicists now believe that there are no laws of physics. There are only mathematical models that help us to understand some things in life that we can do practical things. But the bigger answers are still out there. I think the question of democracy, even bourgeois democracy work this way. If you are a Jew, a Black person, a homosexual, let’s say, 1920s, 1930s, and you were being lynched, spit on, burned out, pogroms, lynched, etc., and you argued the case of the principles of bourgeois democracy, and you are able to push law enforcement push the public, not to stop hating you not to stop despising you, but to stop lynching you, at least at the level of the programs against Jews and so forth and so on, that is a sense of the People’s Power using those principles. And so, I think this is a complex matter. It is one, not one of absolutes. It’s a living proposition, but I do hope that we could revisit and that the caller, who has prompted us to examine these questions would come back on perhaps maybe be one of the participants. And we can look at this question of democracy under capitalism and socialism. Look at how it is historically evolved. And even under socialism and Cuba, the question of democracy is and question that is still being pushed forward and debated in concrete ways. Not the abstract principles are there, but the practical implications are not so easily elucidated, and they don’t just pop up automatically. So, I know we’re probably run out of time but thank you caller for waiting that with us and I think we should revisit this issue.
Sean Blackmon: Absolutely a worthwhile topic for sure. Well, we thank you so much, Mr. Early, for joining us today.