John Cusack, the actor and activist, has an excellent article on Huffington Post worth reading in its entirety. I'll provide a few excerpts of what I feel are the most important points, and I hope you'll follow the link and read the entire article.
I agree with much of what he writes and with his conclusion:
Their ideology will stay dead only if we remain vigilant and call things what they are. It's a battle for the idea of America and it's just beginning if Senator Obama becomes president.
We should worship God if we want to, not the markets.
More, after the fold.
Even Greenspan has admitted that there are mistakes in his theories. It's about time.
Alan Greenspan testified that he was shocked: business didn't regulate itself. The common good was not achieved by greed.
One of Cusak's core points is that the era of market fundamentalism is over.
The era of market idolatry is over.
This is the end of Milton Friedman, Reaganomics and supply-side theory. This ideology has never been about free markets but a fundamentalist vision that is a cover for naked aggression and a social contract based on fear and greed. The government's job is to create optimal conditions for corporate profit, to privatize everything in sight and to sell off its own body parts. To literally devour itself.
Barack Obama sees this. During the financial meltdown in September, Barack Obama saw the possibilities and pronounced his judgment, indeed, the judgment of history, on market fundamentalism:
"What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama
Obama has continued to explain this as a failure of a flawed system. Last week, he pounded on it:
Now, this didn't happen by accident. Our falling GDP is a direct result of eight years of the trickle down, Wall Street first/Main Street last policies that have driven our economy into a ditch.
Cusack sees the opportunity for a New, New Deal, and a Progressive Shock Doctrine:
As we help Obama try to implement another New Deal, I asked Naomi Klein about the parallels to The Shock Doctrine as it's polar opposite. She told me:
"I have been talking about the need for a progressive shock doctrine in speeches a lot. I call it disaster populism and the key difference is democracy. The right has been using shocks to suspend and sidestep democracy, declaring states of emergency and the progressive use of shock to enlarge and deepen the democratic space to bring more people into the political process. This is why it is important to remember that the New Deal did not come only from kindly elites handing it down from on high, but also because those elites were under massive popular pressure from below. We can all use shock and crisis to move the political direction of the country, but the progressive route is a democratic one, the right is an authoritarian one, even if it takes place within an electoral democracy."
Barack Obama today in the Wall Steet Journal recognizes the crisis and the need for a new direction:
This is a defining moment in our history. We face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression -- 760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families can't get credit. Home values are falling, and pensions are disappearing. Wages are lower than they've been in a decade, at a time when the costs of health care and college have never been higher.
At a moment like this, we can't afford four more years of spending increases, poorly designed tax cuts, or the complete lack of regulatory oversight that even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan now believes was a mistake. America needs a new direction. That's why I'm running for president of the United States.
We must be the pressure from below after the victory of Obama. Cusak correctly sees the battle in ideas we must still fight:
The real challenge is to erase the delusion that greed equals freedom and prosperity, let alone the hideous lie that it somehow spreads justice.
Many believe economies must serve humanity and not the other way around. Economies must make a moral connection to the republic.
He concludes that we can create a new social contract based on community and justice:
A new social contract could be coming based on a real currency my friend Kevin McCabe calls the currency of grace.
It is a currency of economic fairness and institutionalizing concepts of shared responsibility; a currency based on the gold standard that every human has value and should be awarded respect and opportunity, the dignity that comes from human beings protecting each other from the values and ideals of a Darwinist world.
Its spirit is in Keynesian economics, a mixed economy with regulated markets and social spending. In the new era, we must remove fundamentalist right wing economists as the high priests and kings. Their ideology will stay dead only if we remain vigilant and call things what they are. It's a battle for the idea of America and it's just beginning if Senator Obama becomes president.
We should worship God if we want to, not the markets.
I like that, the "currency of grace. We're all in this together. That is the key difference between the class oppression of Republican rule and the creation of a new social contract.
The possibility of which Cusak's speaks in inherent in Obama's philosophy. In accepting the Democratic nomination for Presdient in Denver, he talked of the Promise of America:
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
It's there, and we have to be ready to support bold action by Obama and Congress to implement real change.
Together, we can meet the Promise of America that both Barack Obama and John Cusack are talking about. We can create a new social contract, if we are bold and seize the opportunity we have.
Please read the entire Cusack article when you have a chance. It's excellent.