Radical Times in America

Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at Noon)

Susan interviews Peter Gray from Radical Times in the United States.

There is an uprising going on in the United States after police murdered George Floyd, an African American man living in Minneapolis. Some parallels exist with the rioting that went on after Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. Not because George Floyd was a public figure like Dr King but because of the frustration felt by the community for ongoing racism. No political party in the US has come out attacking the root causes that stem from capitalism’s inability to deal with poverty, lack of public housing, mass incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse. Wall Street surely must crash.

James Baldwin on ‘Black Lives Matter‘ in 1963, 100 years after the abolition of slavery in the South.

A Change is Gonna Come – Aretha Franklin (Sam Cook originall from Atlanta Records 1967)
Soldier we love you – Rita Martinson

Transcript @ workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2020/06/17/…-in-the-us/

Photo – James Baldwin with Marlon Brando and others

Uprising’ – interview with Peter Gray from Radical Times
This is an interview by Susan (Paradigm Shift 4zzz fm 102.1 Fridays at noon) with Peter from the Radical Times Archive about the uprising currently occurring in the US. [For technical reasons Peter is played by an actor].

Susan: Can you please introduce yourself.

Peter: I’m Peter Gray, the manager of the Radical Times Archive. I’m a filmmaker and an expat Auzzie now living under lockdown in California because of the risk Covid-19 infection. I lived in Brisbane during the early 1970s and made a record of the history of that period in a number of documentary films, including “The Battle For Bowen Hills“. Between 1984 and 1999, I lived in a number of different countries in Asia and Europe where I continued to make films. I eventually moved to California to work in the film industry before retiring about 10 years ago. I now manage a community FM radio station close to where I live in the mountains north of Los Angeles.

Susan: What is happening in the United States after the murder of George Floyd by police?

Peter: Protests have taken place in every state of the country and in at least 140 US cities. And the protests have spread to many other countries as well.

Susan: Accounts about the uprising dominate mainstream news bulletin’s here in Australia. What role is the media playing? Is the establishment fanning the flames of discontent to depose Trump?

Peter: The media is doing what it always does…..pushing their own thinly-disguised agendas. Fox News defends Trump almost unconditionally and blames everything on the Democrats. Counter to this, CNN and MSNBC are masters at relentlessly criticizing Trump around the clock. They do a great job at undermining everything Trump that you could say warms the soul by helping liberals feel all warm and fuzzie inside.

These popular news outlets are really part of the establishment reflecting the RNC’s (Democrats) and DNC’s (Republicans) corporatist view of the world. When it comes right down to it, these news organizations are really an enemy to the Left, especially the progressive Left. They use every dirty trick in the book to protect and promote the US-establishment view of the country and the world.

Susan: Here ABC commentators/news play on the ‘violence’ of the protests.

As usual, the media emphasizes the elements in their reporting that serves to sensationalizes their coverage for the sake of ratings. So-called “news” these days tends towards abstract “entertainment” mixed with subtle, or not so subtle, propaganda that pushes those agency’s political agendas. Of course, bias is unavoidable which I find acceptable as long as they are clear about whatever axe they have to grind and don’t try to hide it like most news outlets do.

Susan: CNN was under siege in Atlanta a few days ago. An Australian Channel 7 News crew was assaulted by police in Washington DC.

Peter: Yes, I saw live footage of that siege on the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. An interesting stand off between police and demonstrators.

Susan: Do you know what group(s) are behind the peaceful protests? How are they organised?

Peter: I’m not in a position to know much about levels of organization, or lack thereof, of the many groups involved. They appear to be operating more on a grass-roots, community-level without national coordination.

Susan: Some seem to be saying the looting is being organised by far right white groups?

Peter: I get a sense that some of the buildings that were vandalized or set on fire was orchestrated by far-right provocateurs, possibly agents for the police. As far as I know, there is no conclusive evidence proving this to be the case however. If such evidence exists, it has been successfully buried or suppressed.

It is easy to plant a few provocateurs among the protesters to harmlessly discharge a weapon. The cry of “shots fired!!!” is a good excuse for the cops to respond with a hail of bullets. Tragically, at least 17 people have been killed in violence connected to the protests along with numerous injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.

Susan: Does Antifa really exist as an organisation?

Antifa appears to exist as a network of local, independent cells with little, or no, coordination on a national level. Their modus operandi is something akin to guerilla tactics where they pop up out of nowhere to assist. They claim their role is not provocative but rather to help protect peaceful protesters from attacks by the police and the National Guard. We can be thankful for this type of support especially when the forces against the protesters have the overwhelming upper hand.

Antifa is clearly being used as a scapegoat by the eternal buck-passer in the White House. As an act of desperation, Trump is trying to blame Antifa for the unrest that he himself has partly provoked. However, it seems the blame game is not working out very well for Trump in deflecting responsibility. Trump usually gets away with this cowardly tactic but it does not appear to be working so well this time because the uprising has wide-spread popular support. It is as if the country is saying: “enough! we are not going to take it anymore”.

Susan: Democrat hopeful for the Presidential election in November, Joe Biden, told an African American audience that “if you don’t vote democrat you ain’t black” why is voting for Democrats a political norm among African Americans? Or has that finally been broken?

Peter: There is some history there … that is rapidly becoming ancient history. Simply put, they liked the idea of Obama being president i.e. a Black man. And Biden gets credit, deserved or not, for being the Black president’s right-hand man. This support for the DNC is primarily among older-generation Blacks and I think more in the southern states.

The situation is very different for younger Blacks however. I’d say on the whole, even race aside, the younger generations does not trust either party. There is nothing they are ever likely to get from a so-called two-party system because they realize it is really a one-party system, aka the establishment. Therefore, turn out is low among the biggest voting block in the country.

Susan: I’m thinking that it is poverty as much as race that’s driving what’s happening in the US?

Peter: Yes, in broad brush strokes I would agree systemic racism combined with the effects of poverty are major driving factors. I’d also say there are many layers to this including the political consequences from the collapse of democracy and democratic processes leaving the vast majority with an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. In other words, people have no real say or influence in things that directly and indirectly effect their lives.

Susan: 40 million people unemployed in the US is a lot of poverty.

Yes, an already bad situation has been made a lot worse in a relatively short space of time. The US economy is based on massive debt and endlessly printing money. Therefore it is not sustainable and subject to sudden collapse.

The stock exchange is starting to recover from the major crash from a few months ago. However, the stock exchange is not a good indicator of the overall health of the economy particularly from the worker’s point of view. I guess it might be some sort of indicator of the health of corporate America … who by the way have managed to turn the pandemic into a profitable enterprise to the tune of multi-billions of dollars. But as always, the workers and tax-paying public are basically footing the bill. Only American workers create real wealth while corporations manage to accumulate this wealth without creating any real wealth themselves. As greed undermines the ability of the American worker to create real wealth for the country, the economy is destined to crash or suffer an extended period in devastating decline, quite possibly a major, decade-long depression.

Susan: Trump has been threatening to bring in the army to “dominate” the protesters as he phrases it.

Peter: I think it is a hollow threat. Recently there has been a clear push back from current and former high-ranking military officials against Trump’s plan to unleash the U.S. military to “dominate” protesters. This suggests the U.S. military is warning Trump against trying to use military force for his own political ends. It also suggests they would oppose or not cooperate with an illegal or corrupt use of military force.

Normally, military troops are forbidden by law to be involved in domestic law enforcement activities inside the United States. You can’t use the army against your own people. However, the Insurrection Act of 1807 can allow a president to use the country’s military to suppress civil disorder, insurrection and rebellion. Usually, the law allows the president to do that only if he is asked to do so by a state governor or through legislature, which seems unlikely to me. Therefore a hollow threat.

Overreacting with simple brute force is not necessarily going to make things any better for Trump. On the contrary, forcefully suppressing the protests will drive down his approval rating in the polls even further.  Trump’s approval rating is at all-time low. This is another way of saying that the protesters appear to be winning the battle for hearts and minds.

Susan: What will this mean for Trump in the Presidential elections in November this year?

Peter: My guess is the current widespread revolt is a prelude to similar popular uprisings that are likely to occur closer to November, or between now and the November general election. There is a profound undercurrent of discontent in the general population that goes beyond this particular issue demanding reform of the police force. It is part of the story but not the whole story.

Although ruthless and dangerous, Trump is somewhat of an incompetent buffoon at the same time. He is inherently lazy and disinterested in planning and strategising beyond the moment. The way I see it, the reality-TV personality is way out of his depth and floundering. His response so far has been highly ineffective and has even attracted scorn from the establishment who would normally be on his side. Trump’s approval rating is dropping like a stone right now losing roughly 10 points in the last month. Trump is trailing Biden by around ten points in States that he won in 2016.

Susan: New York Police Chief Terence Monahan addressed a crowd protesting the death of George Floyd, then took a knee with them……one way to quell the protests???

Peter: There have been several instances of cops or mayors “taking a knee” to show support for the protesters or in acknowledgement of their concerns. As a result something amazing happened which I see as a tipping point. The police stopped attacking the protesters and everything changed virtually overnight. Protests across the country immediately became peaceful and respectful. Thus proving that it was the police doing all the rioting and causing all the violence, not the demonstraters. I guess it is possible that police nationwide took notice of this phenomenon and changed their tactics. It was easier (and much cheaper) to keep the peace by pulling back.

Susan: Is the uprising masking a worse crisis … with an even greater human cost?

Peter: If Trump manages to crash the American economy leading to something similar to the Great Depression in the 1930s, then the human cost will be immeasurable.

Looking at it in a more immediate sense, both sides are essentially leaderless and therefore are not unified in direction, tactics, and goals. Like the mishandling of the pandemic, the government is all over the place like a dog on lino. That can’t be a good thing. It is hard to imagine somebody more ill-equipped than Trump to deal with a delicate situation like soothing widespread social unrest across the country.

I don’t see the struggle in the US so clearly in classic Left / Centre / Right terms anymore. While that remains applicable, I see the struggle as more of an up down struggle with the establishment on top verses the rest underneath (the greater majority). I don’t see the Left or Centre playing much of a role in fundamentally changing anything in recent decades. There is no democracy in this country and has not been for a long time.

A third party is currently being established by disenfranchised progressive leaders from the Bernie Sanders failed “Our Revolution” movement. The idea is to have this new party in place so it can have influence in the 2022 mid-term elections. Part of the idea is to unite progressive elements from the Left with the more progressive elements from the Right to challenge the unbridled power of the establishment. It is a bold move that will upset the status quo. If the third party becomes popular, it will take votes away from both of the existing, main-stream parties. Although, if it just splits the Democratic vote this will help republicans to be elected.

Susan: Australians have medicare and free education, oppose the carrying of arms and expect the government to look after them when there are crises like the GFC & Covid-19. Yet Americans do not seem to expect even these basic rights?

Peter: The greater majority of Americans are calling for those basic rights and more. But the path to reform is blocked at every turn. Health care in this country is run by for-profit corporations. Hence the problem in a nut shell. The cost of health care is disproportionately more expensive than anywhere else in the world for a similar standard of care. This privatized system is good for the corporations but bad, even disastrous, for the rest of us. To put it bluntly, some people pay the price for corporate-run health care with their lives or by going bankrupt.

This applies to most institutions in the US, including education, the media, the legal system, the promotion of firearms and so on.

Bringing these issues to the forefront in people’s minds was spearheaded by the untiring work of Bernie Sanders and his supporters over the last four years. These reforms are now mainstream policies and extremely popular among most Americans. For this we can be thankful although the Sander’s campaign for actual reform failed miserably.

Even raising the minimum wage to a basic living wage is opposed by most of corporate America. Effectively shooting itself in the foot because the endless concentration of wealth in the hands of a few simply can not be sustained. Undermine the work force, the real lifeblood of the country and true creator of wealth, and the national economy will surly fail. We are on a path where this is almost certain to happen with a knock on effect detrimental to the health of the world economy. Ultimately, we’ll all pay the price for Trump’s folly.

Trump has made it clear that he plans to rewrite history and spread misinformation across the country in order to win re-election. The U.S. is still living in the middle of an accelerating Covid-19 pandemic, but Trump has already moved all of his attention to the campaign trail, leaving the American people stranded. He knows that the only way he can win re-election is if he divides and distracts us.

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