tv Panel Discussion on Thomas Paine CSPAN August 8, 2014 1:33am-2:57am EDT
thing i know, let's be sweden. finland this and saying i want to be a little more germanic. i love these countries but i don't want to live in germany. i don't want to live in finland. i wanted to live in america. why don't democrats? liberals act like it's a natural process and we are trying to hold back the oceans tides. no, no, no there's nothing natural about this. the immigration laws specifically designed to bring in immigrants from countries that had not supplied immigrants to this country for the first 300 years of its existence. consequently since the law passed we have been taking in 65 and starting around 1970, we have been taking legal immigrants a year 90% from the third world. of course that's going to change
a country. it's just a little matter of who gets to live here and vote. we are told as if it's good news that immigrants take welfare at only 15% above the native rate. only? that's like saying good news, only 15% of the food has rat in there. we want no immigrants on welfare paid if we are bringing in people who immediately need assistance from the taxpayers and that by definition immigrants we don't want? it's madness. we can't pay for our own poor people. whose money is going to pay for the poor of the world? i think we ought to be caring about our fellow americans more. the republicans have always been the party that defends black people particularly those in segregationist policies of the
democrats. we have not been getting a lot of love back recently but i don't think that's any reason not to do the right thing here. african-americans are hurt the most by low-wage labor pouring into the country because study after study, jesse jackson used to be on the border trying to block immigrants from coming in. barbara jordan the great civil civil rights hero wrote civil rights hero works the jordan report saying we have to limit immigration. blacks are hurt the most. we are not democrats or we should do the right thing. you know who else is hurt by labor coming into the country? hispanic immigrants who came in last year. democrats love to say republicans only care about the fetus until the baby is born. i say democrats only care about immigrants until they can vote. democrats don't care that last year's hispanics in the year before are saying i don't want my wages to go down anymore.
i promise you if immigrants voted for the democrats we would have chuck schumer on the border with the minutemen. they just want the votes. do you think there's anyplace they don't search the world over to try to get the best immigrants they can get? try to get other countries of amnesty. hello india. i don't speak the language and i don't have the skills that i would love to go live there. i hear the weather is nice and i love the food. say if i can't make it into the country would you guys mind handed me a check once a month? not so fast skippy. where is our immigration immigration policy as anyone who lives within walking distance. the greatest country in the world, this is how we decide who gets to live here and vote. the theory of anchor babies is if i successfully break into your house i get to own it and if i don't get to own it at least my kids do. it's not their fault. i told them we owned it.
not only do unskilled immigrants get to live here, they get to bring their brothers in law and third cousins. this is an family reification. it's a tribally reunification. we are getting entire villages from pakistan. this is how the guy who runs a donkey cart who is illiterate in his own language nevermind hours takes precedence over it danish search because i'm related to some guy who already slipped through. among the great success stories of our family reunification plan is off of mom. she got in through family reification. it has cost the california taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars with her mental problems. of course the boston marathon bombers family litigation. the new york city subway bombers. this weird idea has taken hold that it's unfair to get the best
immigrants we can get. it's unfair for that top model to date a good-looking wealthy guy. she should be forced to data bald loser. [laughter] and college basketball teams have a lottery system for their players. why should a blind midget lose out to the seven-foot tall stars? the democrats realize they would never get americans to vote for them so they have to win new voters. i can understand why republicans are helping them. just because the democrats need 30 million new voters is no reason for republicans to vote to wreck the country. that's my thought. i remember now, republican donors need lots of cheap labor. i always tell people if you are not sure what your position on legal immigration is so continued illegal immigration
asked do i have a nanny and made a show for a cook a gardener because if you don't have all those things who would want you? if you don't have all those things the illegal immigration in fact low-wage illegal immigration is a net loss to you as a taxpayer. we are being taxed to subsidize the slave wages these immigrants are being paid. so it's great for sheldon adelson and mark zuckerberg but we are subsidizing their low-wage labor that is taking jobs from american citizens. republican politicians have got to go to the donor class in the chamber of commerce and tell them look we are going to give you osha reform tax reform tort reform but you can't have everything. if we pass amnesty we will never be in a position to help you again and you can take your chances with nancy pelosi. yes i will and i'm almost done.
i just wanted to point out that for the next three years the entire country will be like california and i don't mean to be harsh but we will all be the kardashians. there will be no we super conferences like this, no reason to write books, no reason for conservative talk radio or "fox news." it will be over, over. it may be over now but if fantasy goes through there is no hope. any other bad law can be repealed. obamacare can be repealed. you cannot repeal a united states citizen. sensible americans have to get together and agree. two things matter obamacare and immigration and all republicans are against obamacare so that only leaves immigration. we have to tell our representatives that that's it, we will vote for you one more time but if you pass amnesty we are done and we are out. thank you, i will take your questions now. [applause]
>> all right, whose first? in the back row there. >> my name is hillary and i'm from mississippi. this is not regarding correctly what we were talking about what it has to do with the mississippi senate race. i recently saw your -- a couple of days ago. i would like to know what you say to mississipians who are still complaining about the election who claim they are going to vote for the democrat travis childers. >> please get their addresses for me so i can fly in and hold their pens under the water until their bubbles stop. [laughter] if they are so bad why don't they crush them -- cross the mississippi river in hope tom cotton beaded democrat like breyer. by the way understand the tea party patriots have pulled out on this. if you didn't see my column this
week what i wrote us this is killing chris mcdaniels even win an election has been outright stolen. he shouldn't contest it. he shouldn't contested. it says the law of politics. you end up looking like a sore loser. installment two is coming next week and i will give you a sneak preview. elections are dirty in a lot of ways. whatever they are complaining about the coffman team did daniels team pulled that nursing home incident. i'm not blaming mcdaniels for that. i'm not blaming cochran for what people said. it looks awful to have tea partiers challenging, claiming in a vote by a black person was ipso facto fraudulent. and by the way cochran is part of the republican generation i described in my book which is they were the republicans fighting against segregation, segregationist democrats. all segregationists were democrats.
cochran won his first election majority, black majority democrat. the fact that he got federal money for historically black college and for martin luther king memorial, you are complaining about that tea partiers? as for the only issues that i think really matter not only take cochran vote against obamacare, he not only voted against marco rubio's amnesty and despite some claims you may have read on line he did not vote for cloture and vote against it. you guys work on capitol hill so you probably know this but two boats are foreclosure. the boat to begin debate does not remain that. retrospect sort of wish they had that very few republicans voted against beginning debate on the schumer rubio bill. cochran did vote against cloture
to and debated. only this audience would understand what i just said. he voted against not only marco rubio's amnesty bill. this is the clincher. cochran voted against ronald reagan's 1986 amnesty bill. that's pretty impressive. if you vote that way i don't care how much you bring back to the state. republicans have got to stop this infighting. it's not like, one more point on cochran. it's not like he's arlen specter who's constantly against us. by and large cochran has been a solid conservative vote and has a great relationship with blacks. he does get a lot of blacks to vote for him. >> next question, over here. >> hi. i'm from northern virginia. to jump back to talk about immigration and a touchdown this
at the hands and i think you mentioned it before that if amnesty passes that's it for the republican party. that's game over. what if fantasy doesn't pass and the demographics have changed so much? what do you think for the future of the republican party and for that matter the democratic party as well? >> i'm glad you asked me that because i was a amnesty also to include our current immigration policies. that is amnesty on the installment plan. what we need is an immigration moratorium. 100% right now. wages are rock bottom. we can't pick up "the new york times" without hearing about income inequality. if you want to hear income inequality stop jump -- dumping low-wage workers. democrats claim they care. they care about their ethnic lobbies, their block voters and wall street. it's great for them that the republican party is the party of
hard-working americans, lower middle-class and as i say we always have been the party defending african-americans from the deprivations of the democrats. no continuing the status status quo gets to the same place, and of america just a little more slowly. >> my name is andrea and i'm from san diego california. ms. coulter you mentioned your hope is that the republican party went over the hispanic vote in the mentioned some ways that the democrats have tried to when their boat and successfully when their boat. i'm wondering what you will think it will take for the gop to do the same to reach out not only to the hispanic vote but also the asian vote which is really rising population. >> the main thing is going to take his time. there is no way to get around that. it isn't just whispering sweet
nothings in their ears. moses had to live out in the desert for two generations and the generation born in freedom. it's just going to take time in large part so we wouldn't -- shouldn't think there's a silver bullet here. right now the only way is to offer even more obamacare. these are people coming from places, they are used to living in freedom and being able to choose their own leaders. obviously we have some hispanics but it's striking the longer hispanics have been here the more likely they are to vote republican. one of my friends the other night reminded me our first year of law school there was a gal whose ethnicity was mexican. they were so horribly embarrassing moment where he said how long is your family been here and she said 100 years. how about you?
[laughter] she was a good republican. there are plenty of hispanics who have been here for generations and they certainly have them. we don't even have all the irish yet. i think we need to outreach to the irish. so the main thing is not to think there's a silver bullet. >> okay i think there's a question over there. >> my name is lindsay and i'm from missouri. he made a comment about todd akin. i think he's crazy so i was wondering if he could talk about what republicans and conservatives can do to keep people from like todd akin from running and running our stereotype? >> maybe i'm wrong but i don't think anyone saw it coming. he was endorsed by national right to life and wasn't endorsed by the sarah palin and it was a democratic person.
richard mourdock turns around and starts talking about a pregnancy in the case of rape being a gift of god after the akin thing and by the way is just a political commentator i argue both of those points. that is why you should never ever run for any office. one thing i think tea partiers and they say that generically about people who have not been involved in politics or are suddenly getting involved in politics. one thing that they have to learn is these are very different skills. being a politician running for office. he conceded. democrats have a lot of good politicians and i don't mean about their ideas. just in political skills and i would recommend to you and you will laugh but i'm right, joe biden, dick durbin, mcconnell
was very good politically and they know how to say things in a way that attracts the most voters while repelling the fewest number of voters. the job of a political commentator like me and you see on tv, we are trying to change people's minds. a politician has to take the voters like they are and when their votes. aiken just makes me angry because he could have lived on. it's just so narcissistic of him. he claims he cares about abortion. he has now made it harder perhaps impossible to overturn roe v. wade. we need to take the senate. the senate confirms supreme court nominees. after this huge, it's not like anyone did this to him. it wasn't like the republican party took a poll that said we think is other candidate would be stronger. would you mind with drying?
know that this was a self-inflicted wound. he should have said okay guys say no more, i'm out but no hx this campaign manager, his wife, his campaign publicist, his son and they pray together which also makes me want to strangle him and decides he's going to stay in the race. we lost an easy pickup. keep your eye on the ball republicans. republicans, tea parties whatever we have to win elections. we can't do anything on the don't win elections. you will notice there's one senator my second most hated senator. mccain is number one. is lindsay graham and i didn't say anything about that election because i didn't think we have strong candidate. if i lived there i might have worked for one or the other but it didn't seem like was worth expending one ounce of my energy and less we are going to win. that's how i look at races. if you are going to challenge a
republican, i would have column about this, number one i don't even want to hear about it unless he voted against amnesty. what matters, obama karen amnesty. all republicans are against obamacare so that only leaves amnesty. second we better have someone who can beat him in third make sure it's a race where we won't lose his seat altogether. >> well, thank you very much. >> one more thing if you don't mind my saying i'm going to be signing. we have some books out there and there is one crazy thing you wanted to see where the ann coulter dvds. we are down to less ones. some liberal friends of mine made them because they told me they were doing some boring liberal politician. they said he is born, we do you? it has won awards. i've been seeing it because i don't like watching myself. they are now on sale because i
don't want to carry them back on the plane with me. they were $30 there are now $20 or please buy them so i don't have to carry them back on the plane. [applause] a is next on booktv a panel from left form and left-wing progressive conference held annually in new york city. chris hedges cornel west and richard will talk about thomas paine and his most influential
work, and since the age of man and the age of reason. this is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> so these are times angela davis told the left form last night for deep thinking and anil alice is of the interlink which is that our issues. among those we live in a nation that locks 7 million of us behind bars that is engaged in its longest most costly war on terror even as 46 million face the terror of hunger and poverty at home. the terror that forces many to sign up to serve in those same words. we live in a nation where the richest 0.1%, those with $20 million or more, have doubled their share of our nation's wealth since the 1960s. under our system of great
prices, monopoly capitalism and financialization of every bit of this down to our very homes, that wealth of the top 1000 compounds and the two parties of property with there are borders and their drones in their detention camps keep it that w way. these are they times wrote thomas paine in 1776 speaking of life under british rule. in a special luncheon feature three men accustomed to deep thinking are going to apply themselves to the legacy of paine and considered the standards he identified for rebellion. as well today in the corporate material age of the koch brothers as they were then under the hereditary rule of george
iii and there were no eastern company. angela delayed -- angela davis called on us to consider our history. in order to do that briefly i would say is common sense rights of man and age of reason were the most widely read political essays of 18th century not only this country but at your command. common sense published in 1776 is credited with giving the war of independence its rhetorical fire in its vision of the nonhereditary state for the constitution pretty gave us us the terms united states and counterrevolution and he lived long enough to see and participate in this way i would say in both. he died in greenwich village, 1809. common sense, the idea came with him from the u.k. where he was born in 1737. his were rebellious times where the echoes of the levelers and
the dickers hung in the air. common people who fought privatization and the enclosure planned and found themselves executed and incarcerated en masse because they demanded their natural-born right to the comments. paying apprentice is a corset maker a profession that took off as women's lives not just our ways were being shrunk from robust vital things equal participants in life to child bearers who closed domestic objects. at least women of a certain class. in 1757 paine went to see aboard the king of prussia is egalitarian minded sailors and pirates protested forced labor, forced service. paine stood up against oppressing and the writing man.
paine would have served with people from all over the world including africans, irish and blacks from the caribbean. he would have participated or at least witnessed their grumbling or perhaps their rebellion on board ship. he certainly was aware of their rebellions against the british throughout the 1700's in which caribbean blacks, africans, irish and even some of the colonized americans too but certainly the hetero balto -- multi-general mobster rowdies carried with them the word into the streets about were to become the united states including new york's own streets. those slave revolts, jamaica 1760 bermuda 176162, 6378 and 72
british underscore data saint vincent tobago sainte-croix st. thomas st. kitts throughout the 1760s and the 70s. there were rebellions and they move to the south. alexandria virginia in 1767 perth amboy new jersey 1772 saint andrews parish south carolina and in a joint african and iris effort austin in 1774. thomas paine arrived in america that year and immediately wrote against slavery. we have within our powers to begin the world over again eroding commonsense. 20 years later in agrarian justice, eight knowledge that even after independence the world was in need of serious remaking. he wrote the present state of civilization is as odious as it is unjust. it is absolutely the opposite of what it should be and it is necessary that a revolution should be made of it. contrasting wretchedness
continually meeting meeting in offending desye is like dead and living bodies chained together. it wasn't just a u.s. problem come as a global problem he wrote. the great mass of the all countries have become a hereditary race and is next to impossible for them to get out of that state for themselves. for the sake of justice and humanity is at nine -- not in 76 with 1796 is necessary to make change specifically to make quote property protected national blessing extending to every individual, not just a few. the question we are going to address today. and we will recall angela davis who said we should not be afraid to ask for what we want. what kelly is calling our freedom dreams and need not bear the imprint of compromise.
to address all of this and more we have richard wolff, professor at the university of massachusetts amherst and author of many books including democracy at works and capitalism hits the fan. host the update on wbfim in new york. chris hedges spent 15 years with the new york times and was part of a team that won the pulitzer prize and he is the author of empire of the illusion and war is a force that gives us meeting and writes a weekly column for
the website truth day. [applause] >> cornel west is a blues man in the life of a mind. he is best known for race matters, democracy matters and his memoir brother west living and loving out loud. he is on many programs frequently when they let him. as well as on his dear brother's smilely pbs show and can be heard weekly on smilely and west. and i believe heard on wb as well. thank you, all. [applause] >> the format is as follows. we distributed cards and if you have questions you should write them down. we don't guarantee to answer of
them but we will sort through and discover themes and post questions to the speakers once they laid out their argument. for about 45 minutes i will get a chance to pose questions of my own and we will have you out of here in 90 minutes or fewer. enjoy! [applause] >> we collected -- -- louder! >> how is that? >> we selected thomas paine for a couple reasons. he is the only real revolutionary theorist that america has produced. we have some anarcist and
powerful prophetic voices from opressed communities whether that is fredrick douglas or malcolm-x or cornel west and others. but revolutionary we have almost none. he never tied himself to a political party. i thought i would open the discussion with rick and cornel by highlighting some of the major strengths. ones i think we can learn from. the first would be that paine understood the monarchy and bribri britibrit british power. part of his job in "common
sense, the rights of man, and the age of reason" was to explain the structure of powers for people that didn't them. even benjamin franklin up to the last minute wanted to build a relationship with the king and it was part of paine's job to say this isn't possible. i think there has been a misreading on the part of the american left and even among the progressive community of the structures of power and that rendered us impotent. we have been channelling our energy into a dead system. i wrote many of nader's speeches in 2008 and there were a lot of people on the left forum who had drank the cool aid for obama and i think that was because they
were diverted into a personal narrative of a candidate which is irrelevant in terms of und understanding the mechanisms of power. and just as paine understood the imperil power of the british blinded itself and was hubris made it impossible of listening. and that is why you had 350 ships descend on new york. i think we are in a similar moment as well. and maybe begin cornel west with you and talk about the idea of structure of power. >> yeah. did you want to say something brother wolff before i do? it isn't just a question of the structural power. it is true thomas paine comes at 37 years old to the new world and already has a critique of
not just good and bad kings but monarchy as a whole. he is talking about an analysis that most of the americans at the time had not moved toward. in 1776 there were ever 400 pamphlets published and one is what we read: common sense. this 37-year-old lays bear the critique of the power. but keep in mind who he was. his father was a quaker and he inherited a fundamental solidarity with those who were excluded. he was always cutting radically against the grain and his conception of himself at 37 was he was going to be willing to die if it would ensure he would
act honorablely, think critically and he would be willing to sacrifice his popularity for truth and justice and would always fuse what other folks on the ground and grass roots movement. even with the power he has the conception of himself that is quaker-li quaker-like. he was a diest and hated religious dogma and viewed himself as first and foremost a member of those people called every day people. he was a commoner to the core and engaged in a revolutionary act in how he wrote and not just what he wrote because how he wrote was a critique of the absecurity of the latin, greek
language of the edminburgs and others. he was going to speak a language that was so clear. he said i want to write as plain as the alphabet for the common folk because i come out of the common folk. it was a revolution in form and style and the first time folks could read it at all and read through and get through a language that was part of their style. it was part of how they communicated. he was an artson and he identified with the common folk. what we don't have today is intellectuals who haven't been seduced by the professional manager characters and the subculture of the university who are committed to the flight and
predicament of commoners, every day people and poor people and viewing their calling not their career as having an organic connection with their struggles. the are some that do that fewer and fewer. why? because he didn't have to do with the backdrop of possible nuclear cata nuclear catastrophic. the sipping teas in the cafes with the sharp analysis and the no willingness to cut radically against the grain. and of course he dealt with the consequences. he died right here in greenwhich
village. 72 years old. 6 people at this funeral. two people were black because of the critique of the slavery led to the first abolition in the new world. he critiqued white supremeacy which was rare. the list is so short we can call it off. i am not taking about making a symboling gesture. then you make the connection and that was the kind of brother thomas paine was and it is very difficult to build on his legacy even though we have to acknowledge how crucial the
challenge is. >> i want to pick up on something you all did when laura was speaking before he started. she asked how much change was needed or some words that affected that and it was a strong clear statement. yes! and she asked about revolution. much less strong. much more wobbly. thomas paine is exactly about that difference. just as the name of the conference, the name we chose for the conference is reform and revolution. faced with a situation that is becoming more and more unfair, unjust and intolerable -- what are we going to do? what makes thomas paine stand out is the care he takes to go after that question. and the way i hear it is this:
we now face, he says about his time, more than enough evidence, decade upon decade of accumulated outrages, injustice, attacks on our freedoms, our rights and our security. in this sense, we have tried to address this one and that one, to work out an accommodation and get a reform over there. we have been there. and we have done it. and it hasn't worked. and we got to face that. we can't make reforms most of the time because the power structure against us blocks us. but even worse, when occasionally we get a reform, that same power structure loosing the effort to block it goes to work to undo and reverse
and go back to where they were. therefore the conclusion he reaches and tries to teach the american people then is the same one i think many of us want to teach now. you have to change the system. not because it is an alternative to being achieving reforms but because changing this system is the only way to make a reform that is durable. revolution is the way you complete the reform process just as it is the condition for the reforms you get to last and mean what you wanted them to mean when you fought for them. that is why the word revolution rang and things work so powerfully. it is big change. but that we have to say in the king of england go home. you are out of here.
it is over. the british empire. hundreds of years of dominance. you are out of here. a powerful ending of the colonial relationship that gave this country its modern birth. its whole history. an amazing thing to say to the people to separate. and yet aren't we in the same? isn't that the legacy for us, too? to finally, and let me pick up on one theme here because i think many of you have encountered references to or if you had a lot of time you read the book by thomas spaghetti. it is 600 pages. he is a good economist but writing? not so much. his point is the same, isn't it?
he says he studies capitalism for 250 years. he and his colleagues in california at berkeley are the go-to statisticians to understand this. and he said capitalism anywhere and everywhere it is established reduces the growing inquality of health and income. periods have people getting freaked, pushing back and we are a reform and then the same capitalism undoes the reform and we know that. ...
and when chris said to me initially let's start with thomas paine, now i see what was in his mind. he is teaching us the you've got to have the courage to make a systemic change. you've been to the reform and you've tried it repeatably. you have to learn that lesson that we are at this stage of taking this major step. so we are a little bit nervous
as was indicated. but the logic now is something that we can understand thank you paine, thanks to him pushing through. >> i think that the thing about paine is that language. what a linguist called mutual knowledge and steven pinker has written about this that the language is a vehicle by which reality is filtered through this. part of his power, which is the power of all great revolutionary writers is that he has ended that language to the extent that he redefined the terms like democracy and republicanism was pejorative. so he reclaim those words and the other thing which he also mentioned which is important is
that spoke in the language what he wrote in the language of everyday people. as a writer, that is deceptive because it is extremely difficult and he once said that as a writer i want to be that clear windowpane by which people can see through and he did that. and so when he writes his response in the rights of man, he goes after his very florid style and i think that language is extremely important because we live in a society now we're those who have power and we have specialized vocabularies that shut the rest of us out. economists have been particularly good at this.
and we have a specialized vocabulary that those of us on the outside are not able to penetrate and that becomes a kind of barrier in terms of our ability to exercise our right as citizens and that is why his writings are so effective. common sense is arguably one of the greatest essays of english. when he writes the rights of man come it becomes extremely important. in the second part of "rights of man", he outlines the whole welfare state. and the pit government goes nuts and they pass this law which bans, just as we see large public gathering and makes it a lot easier to prosecute people
for treason and he has tried for sedition and have to flee to france and he ends up as one of two foreign delegates and a national convention and stands up and opposes this and ends up in prison. and it was in far worse economic state in the white working class in the united states and three out of four and that includes worker organizations and the pit government drives it underground and i bet they make this point that one of the reasons that they are actually better known is because they gave him the whole vocabulary to the time
untracked kind of working-class radical labor movement. and we are still in the process of searching for the language by which we can describe we have fundamentally working alongside and struggling alongside and socrates says that this was because of our own popularity and this is plain speech, unintimidated speech.
frank speech. speech that is unafraid. and it is cutting for specialized language and giving their but doesn't remain there and that is also lacking. and part of the problem is when we do have persons with those voices in his 11 months in prison in paris and he locally makes it out and he comes back here and he had a critique of evangelical religion in the midst of the first awakening.
and this includes this icon that one worships rather than using them as part of a movement. we go on and on and on and on in this. so the challenge is we are living in a much more interesting state than he was. and that is the lesson and those that have the national security state that is on your and the spies are operating on the inside and you thought you could rely on us, but not at all, they are cowardly and complacent and who do you rely upon there. and that is who he was wrestling with most of his life. and so the next thing you know, george wanted him out of the clinker in paris.
and this includes their critique of george washington is so unrelenting that he has pulled this on the demagogue and nobody talks about george. he chopped down the cherry tree. nobody talks about george, he sacrificed and waited a minute and let's tell a story about george washington and especially his view is not just people. and they were talking to and these are my brothers and yours and these indigenous people, that is a vanilla brother named thomas paine talking that way. we don't even have been talking that way with indigenous people with brown people and black people and we have some of those
as well because you grew up in such compartmentalized basics where you had very little situations with these nice little elites and so forth that are in any way connected to what these struggles have been. and thomas paine refused that when he was 12 and a half and i'm not recommending now. [laughter] >> and that is also a way in which he was not in agreement so easily. by the gentleman that he'd never accepted thomas paine or john adams even when he said good things about him, he was still a commoner. and still so unsophisticated and
dramatically that even though his coming down on the side of revolution which frightens so many people returns now to something we want to talk about and that we want you to return to read and learn from as we have about whether it is we face now. and we do in this country face an extraordinary structure that has done the things that were so upsetting. one example referred to by all of us, democracy in those days was a word that was akin to a chaotic, disorganized, messy, negative, negative, negative. we lived in a bizarre reversal.
now it is the holy of holies. we celebrated democracy the way we celebrate cowboys in the old days. a complete fantasy, a makeup so that we can indulge this desire as an economist i keep saying this and i know some of you have heard it from me before. we go to work. we spend five out of seven days a week and when we go to work we enter a place in a capitalist society that is the absolute opposite of democracy. a tiny group of people, major shareholders and boards of directors make all the decisions thousands of employees not to speak of the communities where they work have to live with them their participation in those decisions is completely excluded in principle, law, and fact.
so we spent most of our adult lives in an institution that is fundamentally undemocratic and pretend we live in a society where the fundamental commitment is to democracy. this is crazy. [laughter] but it is a craziness that has to be opened up by the genius kind of vision so that you kind of shock a population into recognizing that all along that is what has been bothering me. it is not just that i am poor, living in a polluted environment in an overcrowded city. i am not treated like a human being. this is revolutionary stuff. that moment of revolution, if you can help it along with the kind of writing that lights the fire, very, very powerful. i want to talk about the two weapons that were used most effectively.
the first was vilification. and when you stand up and speak a truth as powerfully and eloquently the state @booktv this was true in colonial america and the england of william pitt and even finally in the jacobin revolutionary france where they were terrified of his riding which is why he ends up on the luxembourg. he is slated for execution. and the only reason he is not executed is because there would mark the doors of the people to be guillotined, and the door to his cell was open. denmark to the inside of the door. and at night the guard closed it he sat in the room holding his breath, waiting as the guards past to pull those people out who would be guillotined. and they passed him by. that is the only reason he is alive. there is actually an amazing
scene where danton had been an ally is brought to the luxembourg and they embrace before the anton is executed. so vilification, he was followed the government, as they do here, funded all sorts of front organizations, letter-writing campaigns. and they destroyed him. the power of vilification should not be diminished. it works. and he was being burned in effigy by the very people that he was writing for. in france, of course, he almost dies because he opposes the reign of terror. he was a quaker. in that sense he was not a good quaker. but he opposed the death penalty. including the regicide of the king. he stood up in the national
convention and gave quite an eloquent and moving speech as to why you must even protect your enemies because once you begin this kind of rain of terror against those who oppose it come back to haunt you, very prescient as to the direction of the french revolution. that is the first thing. i know speaking the truth about the administration, suffered from this kind of vilification, but it is a perfect example of what a truth teller has to undergo. the second is historical amnesia. [applause] and let's think about it. thomas paine was one of the most important founders of our country. where are the monuments to thomas paine? he has been erased as a kind of visible figure. and this gets into the in frightening erasure of the
entire radical tradition which has been extremely effective in the united states. in a sense it is a way of in a kind of the stalinist way of rewriting our own history. the communist party in this country, and if you were a black person in the 1920's where were you -- it was integrated. all of the tactics that the king used came out of communist tactics that were being used in the 20's and 30's. you are aware of it. but thomas paine represents that radical tradition that the establishment has worked from the beginning to erase so that thomas paine even in his own lifetime as cornel west rightly pointed out becomes a pariah. he has pushed away. and maybe we can talk a little bit about the mechanism that the
state uses, vilification and historical amnesia and ordered to blunt and destroyed their radical prophetic voice. >> and that is so very important . the 100 year anniversary, they refuse to have a statute anywhere in the city in tribute to him. philadelphia, that is where he struggled. he walked on foot from trenton to philadelphia in support of the u.s. military working with the military under nathaniel greene and george washington. and that is the kind of gratitude. why? because he was so genuinely revolutionary that once the revolution and it was over in the united states we got to move toward the counter revolutionary status quo as the federalists set in, as the french revolution set in, john adams, but i do want to add, the greatest black
revolutionary socialist and the early part of the 20th-century was a brother named herbert harrison, founder of local five socialist party. the most popular in this city of new york. it was reading thomas paine that turned him into not simply a revolutionary but also an agnostic. thomas paine was not an agnostic, but when hubert harris said -- a genius -- came to vote, came to harlem. and when he died there was just seven folks there in an unmarked grave to this day. read the biography. that is just volume one, you see . hubert harrison, historical amnesia. everybody knows about booker t. washington. god bless the negro.
founded the black institution. old white money, old white elite money against the unions, precious immigrants coming in, deeply proud catholic. everyone knows pulchritude washington. what about cuba garrison in the legacy of thomas paine. we could go on. another powerful, magnificent voice. who knows about the great victoria garvin? we need to know more. historical amnesia again. we reached a point where the truth has to emerge. we're going to be so hungry for these voices because we will be need full of their insight and most importantly they're courageous example. they're courageous example. at that point you are either courageous or you go under. we are not at that point now. revolutionary times. i don't think we live in revolutionary times.
i wish it were. thomas paine arrived at the moment with a revolution already in place. he just drop sen. i wish we could just drop in. [laughter] help black folks and white and red and yellow already organized, already anti imperialists, anti homophobic, anti-catholic, anti against jewish hatred or hatred of muslims and so forth. we just drop in on that and then write a pamphlet. [applause] we are going to get together tonight and right that pamphlet. we work all night and write that pamphlet. these are counterrevolutionary* revolutionary awareness escalating given the defeat, the relative defeat of the left in the last 35 or 40 years. triumphing in the name of capital and white supremacist. even when you get black figures who are the public faces of the.
that is our moment, it seems to me. one of the reason folks are leery a little bit. we want to be honest about what we're up against. none of us are going to live through the revolution we are talking about at all. some of us will get crushed like cockroaches because the powers that be are powerful. if i believed that the people organize are always mightier than the gangsters who run things. but the gangsters are powerful. very powerful. no doubt about that. >> and vilification. >> well, i would not confirm my case. i mean, i just think that it is impossible to tell the truth, especially about the vicious legacy of white supremacy and
the connection to capitalist exploitation without knowing you are a candidate for character and literary assassination. that is just a fact. over 400 years there has never been a person from john brown on the vanilla side to nat turner. told the truth about white supremacy and its connection to capitalism who was not targeted chronically, systematically across the board. that is why you have to have your spirit intact. you can keep it intact in a secular way. i get it intact loving jesus. i have my mother for king live to lift. i have my integrity to preserve. how do you bear witness in the face of those kinds of lines and crimes? that is what they are, crimes against humanity. jim crow is a crime against humanity. the educational systems in our cities, crimes against humanity
the way those precious children are treated. a working class abuse. that is a crime against humanity the drones dropping bombs on innocent children. crimes against humanity in the name of the u.s. people. call it for what it is. using that kind of language will just get you in trouble. it can get you killed. one last thought of this. maybe there is product of tension. we don't know where we are in the revolutionary process. >> you only know that afterwards was it the right time? was it possible? where the conditions in place? you never know. part of what it means to be a critic in the spirit of thomas paine is that you have always cut to push.
you have got to push to see where and how far it could go. we are here. [applause] and you are here. [applause] and this is probably the biggest attendance that -- that is the whole three days here -- that the left forearm has ever enjoyed. very interesting bits of an affirmation. i think we have to always be willing both to be cautious and honest about what we are up against. absolutely right. but always with a little space left for that unknowable reality when the things begin to happen really quickly. a author i referred to earlier from another place and time made famous that question of what is to be done. famous for another remark made
about this question. he said, sometimes for decades nothing happens. and then in a few weeks decades happen. you have to be open. thomas paine was open. if you are not open you cannot write that way. it is not just the effect that his writing has on the revolutionary situation. it is also the fact that a revolutionary situation, even when not grasped consciously, plays its role in shaping what it -- when it was possible to write. we have to be in sync with that unknowable extra house that is their party to live in a time like this and partly to be able to be progressive and a time like this. >> alexander bergman in an essay
rights about precisely that point where he talks about a life in a revolutionary society being like a cattle that is boiling. you don't actually see anything. all of the traditional edifices of power and structures not only remain in place but appear monolithic and that when they collapse, when they go down it appears to be absolutely sudden and unpredictable. as a foreign correspondent that was something i experienced covering the revolution in eastern europe. including the east german stasi state. where intel our security and surveillance state was the most pervasive security apparatus in human history. we have, of course, done things that stasi did not even dream of. and what happened was you had in
leipzig mostly lutherans holding candle lit vigils, and they were not even very clear. the first demand was that they be legally recognized as a group. they hardly appeared revolutionary. yet they captured as kind of zeitgeist which i think is there within the american society the king for a language to express itself. and thomas paine gave revolutionary american that language. but i think in that sense we are rapidly losing faith in the institutions, the formal structures of power which have been -- become a wholly owned subsidiary at the corporate state. but language is key. he makes that point. as long as you continue to speak in the false language of american democracy, liberty, how can you use the word liberty. every single one of us in this
room has all of our electronic communications down loaded and is stored in perpetuity. you cannot use the word liberty for a population that has wholesale surveillance. you have to use the word slavery and any government that has the capacity to use that mechanism will use it. the purpose of wholesale surveillance in a totalitarian state is not defined crimes but to gather evidence so at the moment that you seek to criminalize an entire group of people you have the trivia. it is not evidence because at that point crimes and truth and all of this is a fiction. but you have the material. that is precisely what is happening to us. so when that stasi state fell,
it fell in a week and it fell when suddenly this handful of protesters in leipzig were joined by 70,000 people. and eric sent out an elite paratroop division to fire on the crowd. they would not do it. just in this same way the cossacks would not fire during the bread riots which forced those are to get into a railway carriage and abdicate before he got back. and so the same thing happened in east germany. gone within a week because the paratroopers would not shoot on the crowd. >> it complex to that question completely unrelated to what you just said. the anatomy of revolution and the counterrevolution and how if we are talking about a man who was an abolitionist and a great irritation of the revolution we end up with a republic. how it was that the u.s. -- not colonial, but u.s. forces did
fire on rebels in shays' rebellion and the uprisings. in that time between the declaration of independence and the writing of the constitution. thomas paine supported the banks being paid. he was against the mob. he said you get changed by the rule of law or the military or the mob. he was on the side of the law. our laws come out of that time. i would love you to address the anatomy of the counterrevolution >> the thing to remember was that in pennsylvania there was notified between way and tory. the pennsylvania elite were wholly on the side of the british monarchy. the pennsylvania assembly back to the property class. and so on like in the other colonies, the opposition to the king in the independence
movement was expressed. radical constitutional us who had no connection with pre revolutionary power. and so in pennsylvania after the revolution those who take power, and like every other colony, had not been in power before. now, this alliance was extremely uneasy because as you correctly point out with the slave holding class -- and let's not forget that we had at the beginning of the revolution african-american soldiers and tell george washington, a slaveholder, banned the conscription of blacks into the continental army the only reason that the southern slave holding class supported the republic and had a rebellion of land liz weiss in the 17th century. the only reason they supported it was the labeling class who were black and enslaved were
pushed out of the political system. so you have this kind of false narrative or false language that is used by figures like jefferson while ignoring huge percentages. so once the revolution is over -- and they knew this before the revolution -- they have to push thomas paine out as fast as they could. that egalitarian movement was even at the time of the revolution an alliance of convenience that made them uncomfortable. on the issue of the bank's -- and i will let rick deal with this more. i would just say that the conception of thomas paine of laissez-faire capitalism came out of adam smith. and adam smith had a very benign view -- i am about to embarrass myself. miami your understanding. there was a kind of naive few that capitalism was creating a
kind of equality. i think thomas paine was wrong on this, just as i think thomas paine was now used about human imperfection. an inability to understand san and human corruption. so when thomas paine is in support of the banks and against the paper currency which did cause hyperinflation it comes out of this minute believe that that was a democratizing force. >> well, i mean, a developing view about the economy. very different. common sense. what he says in "the rights of man." and the second volume which is basically a social democratic. the first person to call for a guaranteed minimum income. guaranteed minimum income. and the very front page, every citizen ought to receive a lump
of money when they are 15 and another major love when they are 45. no matter what. he breakdown the inheritance transmittance of wealth at the top then people get a chance to start their teenage years in new police and then right before the warrants give you x45 start and again with another injection . it is not systematic. go to the banks. thomas paine did not receive 1 penny from the money he got from "common sense" or from "the rights of man". the two best selling texts in the history and he did not receive a penny. every penny went to the movement the cause. when he called early on that was away of supporting and providing financial support for the war.
we had to have a national entity that would provide some resources to keep the war going in and an anti imperial way. >> he did have a suspicion. the mob can be run by gangsters. you have to be very critical. when you talk about the people you had a critical view. whether there was democratic sensibility and vision. now, i would argue he was still wrong. i am not defending him. but is larger vision and sensibility. >> i raise the question because of its relevance today as we try to decide where our allies are and define the basic composition of the community of the population we are in. my other question to you has to do with this question of the intellectual revolutionary today i think i disagree with you,
cornel west. attkisson and. [laughter] >> tv every week we are interviewing grass-roots intellectual revolutionaries. i am thinking of people. for i am thinking of the dreamers with no access to power, no access to the system changing our entire comfort in the congress. even occupy. they got a lot of help and heard from the media. but they raised the question of capitalism in no way that we can talk about it in no way we have not been able to for years. my suspicion of the mob makes me
uncomfortable. some of my favorite people are in the mob. it is hard to tell who is to. >> to you want to jump in? >> all right. let's be generous. he thought that many of the problems he saw accumulating in this society at the time of our colonial link could be overcome by cataclysmic act, a revolution cutting us off from this society and of which we have been a colony rejecting the monarchy, rejecting. unbelievable. he then had to face as many revolutionaries have what it was he thought was the problem
turned out to be only part of the problem. it was a necessary but not a sufficient step to take to achieve their goals he so brilliantly put forward for us, that he so brilliantly expressed so we learn in the aftermath of thomas paine either with him or after he dies that there is more to be done, that being an independent country cut off from their colonial master is necessary but not sufficient. how many nations have been discovering that in the last 200 years? particularly in the so-called third world. it is necessary, but it is not sufficient. what else has to be done. we have to understand that if we actually want to realize the goals of thomas paine