The Destiny of Civilization: An Interview with Michael Hudson on Economic Development, Rentierism, Debt, China

Naked Capitalism has published a transcript The Destiny of Civilization: An Interview with Michael Hudson on Economic Development, Rentierism, Debt, China.

There is an audio that only goes to about 1 hour and 17 minutes. The transcript goes way beyond that. Here are numerous excerpts worth noting.

The idea of the Biden Administration — really of both the Republican and Democratic Parties — is that since America has moved its industry and manufacturing to Asia in order to lower the wages here, how can Americans continue to get high-living standards, if it doesn’t produce raw materials or manufacturers? How can it be a post-industrial society, getting rich on economic rents and interest on and profits paid by foreign countries? How can America get rich by being a parasite? That was a problem that the Roman Empire had, and we know what happened to the Roman Empire. It was a problem that the British Empire had, and we know what happened to that: it can’t be done. This attempt to make America into a post-industrial society means a rent-seeking, neo-feudal society, treating the rest of the world as a colony under globalization. How can that work? Well, It’s not working. Biden’s war, the NATO war, against Russia in the Ukraine is the catalyst dividing the world into two. That’s why Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the Ukraine war is part of a process that will go on for at least two decades, because it takes time for the world to split away into a neo-feudal West and a productive, basically socialistic Asia, or industrial capitalist and socialist Asia, and Eurasia, along with much of the global South.


You can’t say, I’m a libertarian, I’m against strong government, and then hope that the landlords are going to end up being taxed. That’s an oxymoron.


You need a state to act as the agent of social planning, so that it’s not the banks and the rentier sector that does it, as occurred in the U.S. and Western Europe. China is doing what most of the world was doing before Western civilization took off and in an oligarchic form.


The U.S. now is in a state of political paralysis locking itself into the current status quo, which means that the U.S. cannot have any kind of an industrial recovery, because that requires a federal policy to check the overhead of the banking system, the real estate sector, and the insurance sector. You can’t have a Supreme Court that would prevent any kind of a public health system, a single-payer public health system, and yet 18% of America’s GDP is for medical care. America has priced its labor and its industry out of world markets by having to pay so much debt service, so much insurance for medical care, home insurance, and real estate rents. As long as this revenue is paid out in the form of rent, you’re not going to develop.


There’s no group in America, no political party, that is offering an alternative to the current political and economic system in America. The fact that you have two parties in America that are really the same party, means that there’s no room for a new party to come and, as it would in Europe, get represented in Congress. In Europe, you can have any number of parties, and they would be represented in Parliament in proportion to their votes. A third party would be kept off the ballots in the U.S., and that’s why Bernie Sanders and others decided not to run as a third party; there’s no way we can meet the court challenges by the Republicans and the Democrats together. Sanders had to pretend to run as a Democrat. But we’ve seen that the Democrats don’t want any part of anything progressive. There’s an illusion that somehow the Democrats can be progressive because they have people who can’t find any alternative, who are running as a Democrat. Whereas in Europe, they are running as nationalists, as third parties, e.g., Alternative für Deutschland.

Closing quote:

There cannot be any progress in America today led by the Democratic Party, which is today the ideologically Right-wing party that has turned what should be an economic problem into an ethnic and non-economic problem. It’s like the old industrial capitalist was supposed to have said, “if I can get half the working class fighting against the rest of the working class, then we have won.” That’s the Democratic Party. They asked, “how do we do it?” We divide the working class into ethnicities, ethnic identity, gender identity.

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