F-Word: Reimagining Our Systems of Power

Hi, I'm Laura Flanders of the Laura Flanders for the Progressive Voices channel on Tunein. Barack Obama spent the Dr. King holiday doing service. Donald Trump, let's just say, did not. While the one fed the homeless, the other attacked civil rights leader, Congressman John Lewis. The contrast between the two men could keep us entertained, or aghast, for weeks. But the longer we stay focused on the individuals, the later we'll focus on what's really going on. Namely, a long time incoming crisis in our institutions of government.

Who governs is important, but what we really need to be talking about is government itself. Let's remember that least discussed statistic, 49% of eligible voters, some 117 million Americans, didn't even cast a vote in a country where registering is pretty darn difficult. That level of nonparticipation reflects an alienation that should be setting off alarm bells. What is happening to our democracy? Take some distance from the every four or six year cycle that keeps our money media so obsessed and so well-funded, and we're looking at a historic crisis playing out on our watch. Let's remember, the only reason people of property ever agreed to share power in the first place was because they feared what would happen if they didn't. Parties of property extended the franchise to the landless and workers as a way to keep their system ticking over, and because they were forced to do it. Government persuaded the owners of corporations and capital to agree to share some goods and services with the public to even out a fairly uneven system. That was all well and good, while those owners were into sharing and the public were well-organized and united enough to keep them worried about disturbance.

For years now though, the owners of private capital and Wall Street have been hoarding, not sharing, and buying influence over our government. With Trump's election, energy company CEOs, bankers, and people who have become billionaires off things that used to be public services like education are literally taking over government. They're going into office. The compromised cobble together between private capital and the people is broken. Private capital, cruel and crude, without a conscience, has won. Trump is draining the swamp all right, of every last drop of public service juice. That's the downside. The upside is we get to reimagine government. Let's face it, the system I've just described was never meant for most of us. That's why strategies to resist oppression need to be coupled with those we talk about here to expand participation and community governance. Projects like the Southern Assemblies Movement, which grew out of the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina; Participatory budgeting, which is spreading across the country; or community develop and investment projects, like the Ujima Project in Boston. You can watch my interview with Aaron Tanaka about Ujima this week on the Laura Flanders Show on KCET, Link TV, Free Speech TV, and our own YouTube channel.

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Cooperative Economics for a POC-Led Future

Under the Trump regime, we’ll certainly have to be on the defense to protect the communities most likely to be attacked -- but we’ll also have to build powerful, alternative models where POC, Muslim, undocumented, disabled, and queer folks have leadership. In this week’s episode, Laura speaks with Aaron Tanaka, founder and director of the Center for Economic Democracy about his longtime advocacy and visionary work for the next system of solidarity economics.

Tanaka wants to know if Trump will make us think think or act differently about extractive capitalism. To change the circumstances of injustice, whether it’s mass incarceration or mass displacement, we have to build our communities’ governance power to take control of their economic resources -- so says Tanaka.

Tanaka and the Center for Economic Democracy are one of the many organizations behind the Boston Ujima Project, which is funneling the discourse of democratic economics into the practice we need. The Ujima project is helping communities of color direct their resources into the ideas they believe in, through a cooperative model of community budgeting.

All this, and an F-Word from Laura on why we’ve got to look beyond personality politics to understand the actual culture of white hetero capitalist supremacy that’s driving the nation’s voters.

For more, go to the New Economy Coalition; or the Fund for Democratic Communites. Follow Aaron on Titter at @tanakatalk.

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Capitalism, Raced & Gendered: Farah Tanis and Rick Wolf

Transcript:

Laura: Hi, I'm Laura Flanders. Capitalism's crisis deepens. To many people, it looks more ascendant than ever. The coming to power of a billionaire without even the façade of public service backed by hedge funders and war profiteers. To a lot of people, the rise of Donald Trump and Trump-ism represents the ascendancy galore of capitalism, not its crisis. Economics professor Richard Wolff respectfully disagrees. Wolff is the founder of Democracy at Work, and the host of Economic Update, a weekly podcast, as well as the author of many books, most recently, Capitalism's Crisis Deepens.

In this week's conversation, he's joining Farah Tanis who also believes in building authentic, alternative livelihoods. It's the only way that many communities, especially communities of color, have every survived periods of repression, and it's the way to build the world we want to live in in the future, regardless of who is in the White House. Farah is the co-founder and executive director of Black Women's Blueprint, which recently chaired the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission of black women and sexual assault in the United States. Welcome, both. I couldn't be happier than to be sharing the beginning of this challenging year with the two of you.


Richard Wolff:    Thank you.


Laura Flanders:    Let's start with some descriptions. Farah, how do you describe the situation that we're in? How do you see it?


Farah Tanis:   I can only speak with the hundreds and the thousands, if not the millions, of voices of people of African descent throughout this country who are fearful. Extremely fearful. Fearful about their own present, their economic security, fearful about whether or not their right to make a living, their right to have access to education, their right to not be burdened by debt, you know, even this dream or any vision that they had for themselves, there is this dissipation, there is this disappearing of this hope that we had before, that we could ever, ever get anywhere, even under the Obama presidency. The loss of jobs, it's become more real than ever. The student loan debt has become more real than ever. The lack of access to healthcare, even under Obamacare, has become more real than ever. Whatever little bits that we had, we now feel that we're going to lose. There is, I will be honest in saying this, sheer panic.

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Facing Race

The Facing Race conference, convened by Race Forward this November in Atlanta, brought together some of the most noteworthy names in progressive organizing just days after the 2016 election.
In this episode, Laura speaks with Tarso Luís Ramos, executive director of Political Research Associates about the ominous emergence of the far Right across the world; Kim Diehl of the National Employment Law Project, on strategy for progressive movements; Cara Shufelt and Jessica Campbell, of the Rural Organizing Project, on supporting rural mobilizations like theirs, which has been fighting Oregon’s Patriot militia movement for years, and Esha Pandit, from the Center for Advancing Innovative Policy, on the lessons for organizers that can be drawn from this year’s victories in Texas. To watch the excerpt with Judith LeBlanc, of the Native Organizers Alliance,  from the conference go here.
For more on these organizations, check out our website at www.lauraflanders.com.

@TarsoLuisRamos (@PRAEyesRight), @oregoneducation, @occupyportland, @CaraMShufelt, @EeshaP, @nelpaction, @nelpnews, @kim_diehl

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Independent Media Vs. Donald Trump: #GivingTuesday

"I'm not like other people. We're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before."

With words like those uttered in February this year, Donald Trump set fear into the hearts of the Fourth Estate. "We're in for the fight of our lives over press freedom," said the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation the day after election day. The threats are very real on the campaign. Trump bullied and blacklisted reporters he didn't like. From the stage, the candidate egged on his crowd to hiss the press corps, and a long list of untrustworthy reporters were famously barred from the scene. Not satisfied with blacklists and bully tactics, Trump threatened lawsuits. It's pretty clear he hasn't the slightest grasp of the constitution, which come January 20th next year, he'll be pledging to uphold. It's real. Donald Trump's disdain for the first amendment spurts from his lips, his eyes, his everywhere.

Still, while others profit off rumors of a press-White House war, I say bring it on. We need relations between the press and the powerful to be as cantankerous as possible. It's media coziness with power that brought us to this place. The Washington Post and The New York Times were suppressing pictures of dead and tortured Iraqis and holding back stories about illegal state spying long before Donald Trump came to power. More frightening to me than a new chill in press-presidential relations was the picture of Trump's secretary of state contender, Rudolph Giuliani, with Rupert Murdoch of News Corp recently. To get real, lawsuits cost money. If media corporations are to fight for their rights and defend their reportings, they're going to need real cash.

It is great that readers are stepping up to the plate signing up in droves for new subscriptions to The Times, The Post, and magazines. The New Yorker says it signed up 10,000 new subscribers in a matter of hours. Sign up. Subscribe. We need you more than ever, but put your money where the courage has been. Who has best had your back? The crony corporate press, or the independent media who've never held anything back and never had two pennies to rub together?

Donate Today!

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We Have Everything to Gain

We at the Laura Flanders Show are grieving. The results of this election confirmed our fears and dashed our hopes. Although we are afraid, we are not defeated.

We may not feel our bravest today, but we are gathering courage from our communities and holding our loved ones close. We're reaching out to them and offering words of protection, empowerment, and radical kindness. We are centering the voices and feelings of POC, femme,indigenous, immigrant, queer, undocumented people.

And as ever, we are preparing to continue our mission of bringing to you, our most important community, a progressive vision of the future. You may receive some solace from our episode this week, featuring this very same vision, as echoed by ten incredible activists. Today, we mourn. Tomorrow, we organize.

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Never Again

Knowing everything I know about Hillary Clinton and the Clintons and voting for her anyway feels like the nadir of my political life.

I never want to be here again.

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Chateau Hough and Hip Chick Farms

2016 is an exciting -- and precarious -- time to be an entrepreneur, particularly when you’re queer women. Serafina Palandech and her wife Jennifer Johnson, the founders of organic food startup, Hip Chick Farms, had to deal with a lot when they wanted to start their business.  Now they’ve been able to secure an investment from Whole Foods (and Johnson’s cooked at the White House). But it hasn’t been easy, more like a misogynist gauntlet, in fact.

Also in this episode: a visit with Mansfield Frazier, manager and founder of Chateau Hough, an award-winning vineyard in inner-city Cleveland. Chateau Hough employs local residents, formerly incarcerated workers, and youth as part of its project to invigorate the local community.  Then, an F Word from Laura on Political Animals, a film about the marriage equality act and the California Assemblywomen who made it happen -- why collaboration and toil get things done.

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Special Report: The Day After The Election

 

This week, American voters come to end of a long national "nightmare," as Laura has called it. This electoral seasons has left many of us battered and jaded, resigned to hit the polls for a less than satisfying ballot. And yet, this is the same election season that has seen the urgent rise of bombastic movements such as Fight for $15, #NoDAPL, and Movement4BlackLives. So what happens #AfterTheElection?

How will we resist post-election complacency and the four-year cycle of civic engagement? How should we continue to mobilize against empire, capitalism, racism, and oppression when it’s not just the presidency at stake?

Our guests this week might have a few answers. They explain why it’s necessary that people continue to raise their voices against injustice - especially at the point that most of us will clue out of politics.  Organizing communities on a range of issues, including gentrification and LGBTQI advocacy, our guests understand one thing well: the problems aren’t going to go away with a new president, no matter who it is.

Featuring words from a radical motley: Mab Segrest (Southerners on New Ground), Imani Henry (Equality for Flatbush), Cindy Weisner (Grassroots Global Justice), Pamela Brown (WBAI), Emma Yorra (Center for Family Life), William Brownotter Jr. (Intl Indigenous Youth Council), Agunda Okeyo, Brigid Flaherty (#GOPHandsOffMe), Jodeen Olguin(Movement Strategy Center), and Richard Seymour (Salvage Magazine).

 

Plus, an F-word from Laura on why she never wants to be faced with this kind of political choice again.

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LFExcerpt: Hip Chick Farms

From this week's episode with organic food entrepreneurs Serafina Palandech and Jennifer Johnson. Donors of $10 or more receive open access to our transcript archives.

Laura: I don't suppose it came up at that dinner because you were probably being very polite. But there are policy changes that would help businesses like yours. Can you talk about some of them? Because some of the people who might be watching might be people who are in government or who are in position to actually make some policy change. Rush Limbaugh wasn't right in saying there's money flowing to lesbian farmers.

Serafina: No.

Laura: But there could be.

Serafina: There could be, yes. Certainly. I think that our experience is limited. We've only been in the industry for 3 and a half years. I can't speak to it as an expert by any means.

Laura: But there are presumably things that could've been easier for you.

Serafina: Access to capital for rural businesses. That's where we actually did access our, the VC money came through a program that Secretary Vilsack created. We're very fortunate to have that access stream. There's a lot of people in rural communities, in agricultural communities that don't have access to those kinds of resources that's greatly needed.

Just even some of the regulations around the access to kill facilities and poultry processing and how that's ... Folks want to do things locally, and there's not an ability to do it. There's a huge need for changes and shifts for how people can create meat and poultry products on a local basis. It's kind of a globalized industry right now. It's very expensive to get into it.

When we started, we were like well how hard can it be, we'll make some chicken fingers. Then we learned about the USDA ...

Jen: We did a Kickstarter for $25,000. That's it. We're good. We're done.

Serafina: No. We needed millions.

Jen: That was less than a drop in the bucket.

Serafina: You need a huge access to capital to get into this particular industry.

Jen: Owning your own meat company is extremely expensive. We didn't know, and I'm shocked we're still here today.

Laura: Talk a little bit more about the sexism in the business. I think we all, clearly, if this election has taught us anything, need to talk more about the sexism that we're up against.

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