FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Progressive Agenda

We will never move forward as a true progressive movement if we insist on personalizing the struggle and defining our position as anti-Trump.  The man was elected because he channelled real frustrations, and insofar as Trump’s policies attempt to address these frustrations we shouldn’t dismiss them before developing a reasoned critique as well as an alternative position that deals with the underlying causes of the frustration.

Take the issue of people who enter the country illegally.  The anti-Trump view is that immigration is good and that immigrants perform many jobs that Americans aren’t willing to do while at the same time providing cheap goods and services.  If you already have a job that pays a living wage this is a compelling argument and there is certainly truth in it, but isn’t it also true that illegal immigration artificially lowers pay in certain sectors, and it’s this lower pay that shuts out job opportunities for Americans?

Trump’s policies may appear to his supporters to address the problem of jobs, but by kicking out immigrants and throwing a lower-tax bone to corporations who will have to pay workers more, the solution creates more problems than it solves.  It will result in further wealth inequality and a toxic, xenophobic atmosphere.

Trump’s election shows that the problem is seen by a significant portion of the population to be real enough.  As America’s real economy continues to be hollowed-out by militarization and financialization the number of economic losers will continue to grow, and the battle over the remaining low-skilled jobs will only become more fierce.  So by failing to address the consequences of illegal immigration, the anti-Trump position will result in the same anti-immigrant hatred that we malign Trump for creating.

There is no doubt that the root problem is systemic.  It is the result of corporations who are legally bound to increase profits and ignore externalities like the country falling apart, and of a compromised government where any move to prevent illegal immigration or offer a pathway to citizenship is lobbied out of existence.  The socialist response is to tax the piles of cash corporations are sitting on and redistribute the money to economic losers so that they are compensated for their loss.  But this Danegeld approach doesn’t address the underlying issues, and it results in a bloated government papering over a situation that is unsustainable in the long run.

To address the government side of the problem real steps must be taken to prevent illegal immigration – even including a wall if that’s proven to be effective.  But a humane path to citizenship must also be put in place for those already in the country.  Corporations will not be happy because they’ll lose cheap labor, immigrants who entered the country legally may be resentful, and many Trump supporters will object to the laxity afforded these ‘illegals’; but this solution responds to the immediate concerns Trump claims he speaks for in the only way that is morally acceptable.  It’s also an agenda that progressives could unite behind with some hope of success in the short- to medium-term by appealing to reasonable people on both sides of the fence.

Addressing the more fundamental corporate side of the problem is more difficult and requires us to commit a heresy that no current political party is willing to do.  As long as strategies and decisions in our corporations are formulated by a small clique of upper-management executives and enforced in a top-down manner, our work lives are destined to be spent as subjects in an authoritarian system where income inequality will always predominate no matter what temporary gains the government or unions might secure.

Worker-owned and managed companies are the only kind that can provide a democratic, bottom-up decision-making process to guarantee against wealth inequality.  And it is the rare worker-owned cooperative that will decide to replace themselves with illegal immigrants or export their jobs overseas.  Professor Richard Wolff has dedicated himself to getting the message out about the benefits of this system, and the time is right for progressives to start listening.

Just as Bernie Sanders opened the possibility of Socialism to Americans, we must now be prepared to consider this more radical solution to capitalism’s failings.  It’s an approach that responds to the frustrations Trump has managed to channel in a way that makes a clean break with the greedy, narcissistic assumptions underlying his prescriptions.  And it’s a winning concept with the potential to unite people under the flag of a new progressive party.

Steve Cooper is an American ex-pat living in France.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
Matt Smith
Amazon Retaliation: Workers Striking Back
Kenneth Surin
What The President Said (About The Plague)
Patrick Cockburn
The Chaotic Government Response to COVID-19 Resembles the Failures of 1914
Marshall Auerback
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Opened the Curtains on the World’s Next Economic Model
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Trump Sends Gun Boats to Venezuela While the World Partners to Fight a Deadly Pandemic
Jeremy Lent
Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?
Dean Baker
The Big Hit: COVID-19 and the Economy
Nino Pagliccia
A Simple Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela: End All “Sanctions”
Colin Todhunter
Locked Down and Locking in the New Global Order
Robert Fisk
Biden Says He ‘Doesn’t Have Enough Information’ on Iran to Have a Vew. How Odd, He Negotiated the Nuclear Deal
Wim Laven
GOP’s Achievement is Now on Display
Binoy Kampmark
Boastful Pay Cuts: the Coronavirus Incentive
Dave Lindorff
It’s Spring and I’ve Turned 71 in a Pandemic-Induced Recession
Steve Brown
FLASH! Trump Just Endorsed Bernie’s Medicare-For-All Health Plan
Marc Haggerty
Class and COVID-19: Those Who Can and Those Who Can’t
Manuel García, Jr.
A Reply to Jeffrey St. Clair’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day”
George Wuerthner
How Fuel Breaks Fuel Fires
Marshall Sahlins
Election 2020
April 06, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 and the Failures of Capitalism
W. T. Whitney
Donald Trump, Capitalism, and Letting Them Die
Cesar Chelala
Cuba’s Promising Approach to Cancer
David A. Schultz
Camus and Kübler-Ross in a Time of COVID-19 and Trump
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail