OnDemand
August 19th, 2016

Beyond the Battle of Seattle

Description

In November 1999, the city of Seattle was the site of massive protests against the World Trade Organization, during its meeting there, an event that became known as the "Battle of Seattle." More recently, Seattle has emerged as one of the nation's most dynamic cities, and one that is unusually progressive. The city's voters elected an avowed Socialist to its City Council and led the nation in the "Fight for 15," an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Panelists will reflect on the Battle of Seattle and its legacy, as well as on recent developments in the city.

Speakers

>> Good evening, everybody. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Ruth Milkman, the current president of American Sociological Association and I'm delighted to be the first to welcome you to Seattle
if you're not from here and to this exciting conference. I think most of you know that the conference theme is social movements, Rethinking Social Movements: Can changing the conversation change the
world? That idea emerged from Occupy Wall Street, which everyone said at the time changed the conversation, but inequality continues to grow, et cetera, so that is our dilemma. Seattle seems to me to
be the perfect city for exploring that set of questions. I'm thinking first of this city's legendary labor history from the 1919 general strike that I'm sure many of you know about, to, more
recently, its leading role in the Fight for 15, which you're going to be hearing about tonight. And of course, the protests against the World Trade Organization here in Seattle back in 1999 that
captured world headlines and which are our sort of kickoff for tonight's opening plenary.
We have three very special speakers here with you tonight who are going to reflect on this topic of Beyond the Battle of Seattle, what has happened here and in the world since 1999. So I'm going to
start by sharing a little background information on each of the three speakers. I'm going to introduce them all, in other words, now, and then we'll proceed -- you'll hear from each of them directly.
Before I get into this, can I make a request, which is that you silence your electronic devices, pretend you're on an airplane that's about to take off or something like that. You know, it's very
disturbing for speeches to be interrupted by those noises so if you want to keep them on vibrate or whatever, it's fine, but let's just consider the rest of the audience
Okay, so we're going to start tonight with Walden Bello. He, among many other distinctions, is one of the many people who were beaten up by the Seattle police here in town in 1999. That's not his only
claim to fame. Walden is a true scholar activist; he's a leading intellectual critic of neo liberal globalization, and has been for many years. And he's also a leading political figure in the
Philippines, where he was born and now lives. He's also a professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines. Walden was born in Manila in 1945, and some years later came to the United
States to study sociology at Princeton University, and he happened to be there in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos took power in his country. Walden very soon became a leader in international movement to
restore Democracy in the Philippines, and he was arrested repeatedly for his troubles and jailed in 1978 here on the West Coast in San Francisco for leading a non-violent takeover of the Philippine
Consulate there. He was teaching at Berkeley at the time. To expose the role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in propping up the Marcos regime, Walden broke into the World Bank
headquarters offices in Washington, D.C. and took out 3,000 pages of confidential documents. This was a pre -- yes, this was a long time ago. [CHEERING] Now you can be a hacktivist, but in those days
it required a more physical effort. Those documents provided the material for his book, "Development Debacle" -- Debacle I guess, I'm sorry for my bad pronunciation -- The World Bank in the
Philippines. That was published back in 1982, this was a while ago. That was one of Walden's 14 books he's written in his career. I think I've got the count right; I may not be up to date. He has
also published many, many articles on the political economy of globalization and the challenges facing the global South.
Two years after the fall of Marcos in 1988, Walden returned to the Philippines, and he has been a tireless activist in the anti-globalization movement -- well, before and since. Naomi Kline once
called him, "The world's leading no-nonsense revolutionary." Here in Seattle as I already mentioned, Walden was here in 1999 at WTO meeting and played a leading role in the teach-ins around the
protests, and, as I mentioned, was then abused by the local police force. Later, when he was back, settled back in the Philippines, he was elected as a Congress person there for six years
representing the Akbaya -- am I pronouncing it correctly -- Citizens Action Party. He actually resigned from that position in 2015 in a conflict with the Aquino regime. And then just recently, this
past spring, I was actually trying to get hold of him in the spring with some details about this conference, and I was worried because I wasn't getting any email, and it turned out he was running for
Senate, and doing that for 20 hours a day. So he didn't have time for me. But he resurfaced, after he lost that election, actually. Some people have compared it to the recent Bernie Sanders campaign,
but both of them did not win the elections but did accomplish a lot in other ways from those efforts. So I'm sure you'll learn a lot from Walden's remarks tonight. But before I turn the podium over
to him, I'm going to tell you a little bit about the other two speakers that will follow him, and then I will sit down.
So our second guest tonight is Amy Goodman, who I think is a household name in many of your households, if not all of them. Amy is the host, as you know, of "Democracy Now," the famous radio show, and
now it's also on TV and it's also available on the internet and various ways online. She's also published six books, which you may not be aware of. The most recent one is actually for sale at the
back of the room on your way out, if you want to pick one up. I notice they have a few other books of other plenary speakers available there as well. This new book that just came out is called
"Democracy Now!" -- exclamation point, which is the name of the show -- "Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America," so it's very much in line with our concerns at the conference. She
wrote that with David Goodman and Denis Moynihan. And like I said, you can pick one up, if you're interested, in the back of the room. And even if you don't do that tonight, check it out. It might be
something you'd want to use in your courses, and all that.
So Amy has a pretty interesting career arc. She graduated from Radcliffe with a degree in anthropology -- I'm afraid it wasn't sociology -- back in 1984, and soon after that launched her -- what
became a very illustrious journalism career. She was the news director of WBAI Pacific Radio in New York City for a decade before co-founding "Democracy Now!" in 1996. She's received many awards,
including most recently, and most impressively, at least to me, the I.F. Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. But there's a long list of other awards, as
well, which I won't take time to repeat. [APPLAUSE] Back when I was your age, I.F. Stone was one of my heroes when I was a young student, so I think this is a great honor.
Amy and her show have covered a huge variety of topics, much too numerous to list here, including pretty much all the social movements we'll be exploring at this conference. She did extensive
coverage, among many other things, of the 1999 Battle of Seattle, the protests here against the WTO. And to my knowledge, she was not -- I could be wrong about this, but I believe she was not among
the six hundred people arrested at those protests. But like our other two speakers, she, too, has an arrest record, for example, at the 2008 Republican Convention. So I don't want to give you the
impression that she's just a "parlor pink," or something. Okay.
Our third speaker tonight is a local hero. It's Kshama Sawant, who is a member of the Seattle City Council, for which she first ran as a candidate of Socialist Alternative, a group that she's part of,
in 2003. So she ran for city council as an open Socialist. She was just reelected last November. [APPLAUSE] And Kshama was the first Socialist to win a citywide election here in Seattle since Anna
Louise Strong, who exactly a century ago was elected to the school board in 1916, here in Seattle. She was born -- not Anna Louise Strong, but Kshama -- in India, where she studied Computer Science,
and then she emigrated to the U.S. in her 20s. She has a PhD in Economics from North Carolina State University. We were chatting about the differences between Sociology and Economics, so she's really
more one of us than one of them. But in any case, technically she's an Economist. She has lived in Seattle for 10 years, and she taught Economics at Seattle Central Community College and at Seattle
University. She doesn't have time for that these days, but she did that for a while when she first showed up in town. Her 2013 campaign for the city council received worldwide publicity, in part
because, you know, the sort of novelty of a Socialist running for office, but also its core issue was a successful campaign to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, the so-called "Fight
for 15," which has since spread all over the United States. [APPLAUSE]
She also fought, less successfully, for a millionaire's tax and for rent control. She's a vocal advocate on many other issues, including racial and gender equality, LBGTQ issues, public
transportation, labor issues and the list goes on. Prior to her entrance into electoral politics here in Seattle, Kshama attracted attention as an activist in an Occupy movement here in Seattle and
anti-foreclosure movement that followed. I have to mention everybody's arrests. I don't know why I feel compelled to do that. But in mid-2012, those efforts led to her arrest for trying to block an
eviction, and she was arrested once again. There probably are more that I don't know about, but these are the two I can mention to you. In 2014 at a minimum wage demonstration near the airport, some
of you probably remember that Sea-Tac Airport, Seattle-Tacoma Airport was the first place where $15 an hour was actually won for certain workers in that area. And I'll just close by saying Kshama was
called by Chris Hedges once, "The most dangerous woman in America." So I don't know if that's true, we've got some competition for that. [APPLAUSE] But in any case -- okay, so that's enough from me.
We're going to start with Walden. They'll each speak for 30 minutes, and I believe we'll have some time at the end for questions and answers or comments, and there are microphones available for that
later on. Without further ado, Walden Bello. [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you very much, Ruth, and thank you for inviting me to be part of the panel today. And I'm very happy to be sharing this panel with you, with Amy Goodman and Kshama Sawant, both of whom I have
followed with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Well, the title of my talk is, "Revisiting the Lessons of the Battle of Seattle in Its Aftermath." I have many lessons from the Battle of Seattle, and one of them is that policewomen can deal it out
as good as any policemen. I got beaten up badly, but obviously not fatally, by one of Seattle's best. Yesterday I decided to go down memory lane and visit the scene of the crime. I remember seeing
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink being treated fairly roughly, and I rushed forward to try to get the police to stop it. At that point, a policewoman rushed me and started beating me up with her baton,
while dragging me and dumping me on the street with a coup de grace being a well-planted kick to my derriere. But that was not the biggest blow of all. The biggest was to be beaten up, kicked, but
not fit to be arrested.
I will divide my talk into three parts. First, some reflections on the meaning of Seattle for changing knowledge systems; second, a discussion of how, despite the deep crisis of neoliberalism, finance
capital has managed to retain tremendous power; and third, an appeal for new comprehensive vision of the desirable society. We're all familiar with Thomas Kuhne's theory of how change takes place in
the physical sciences. This data can no longer be accommodated in the old paradigm until someone comes out with a new one, where they can be explained. Social scientists have appropriated Kuhne in
their efforts to explain the displacement and replacement of hegemonic thinking in politics, economics and sociology. I think that while, as in the case of the displacement of Keynesianism in the
1970's, the rational choice in efficient market hypothesis during the recent financial crisis, the role of this data has been adequately studied, explanations of change in knowledge systems have
failed to adequately take into account the role of collective action. The Battle of Seattle underlines, in my view, the very critical, if not decisive, role of collective mass action in displacing
knowledge systems.
Let me explain. It is now generally accepted that globalization has been a failure in terms of delivering on the triple promise of lifting countries from stagnation, eliminating poverty and reducing
inequality. The ongoing global economic crisis, which is rooted in corporate-driven globalization and financial liberalization, has driven the last nail into the ideology of neoliberalism. But things
were different over two decades ago. I still remember the note of triumphalism surrounding the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Singapore in November, 1996. There, we were
told by representatives of the U.S. and other developed countries that corporate-driven globalization was inevitable, that it was the wave of the future, and that the sole remaining task was to make
the policies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization more, quote/unquote, "coherent," in order to more swiftly to get to the neoliberal utopia of an
integrated global economy. Indeed, the momentum of globalization seemed to sweep everything in front of it, including the truth.
In the decade prior to Seattle, there were a lot of studies, including United Nations reports that questioned the claim that globalization and free market policies were leading to sustained growth and
prosperity. Indeed, the data showed that globalization and pro-market policies were promoting more inequality and more poverty, and consolidating economic stagnation especially in the global South.
However, these figures remained factoids rather than facts in the eyes of academics, the press and policymakers, who dutifully repeated neoliberal mantra that economic liberalization promoted growth
and prosperity. The orthodox view repeated [INAUDIBLE] in the classroom, the media and policy circles was that the critics of globalization were modern-day incarnations of Luddites, or as Thomas
Friedman [INAUDIBLE] branded as, "believers in a flat earth." Then came Seattle in 1999. After those tumultuous days in the city, the press began to talk about, quote, "the dark side of
globalization," unquote, about inequalities and poverty being created by globalization. After that, we had the spectacular defections from the camp of neoliberal globalization, such as those of the
financier George Soros, the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and the star Economist, Jeffrey Sachs. The intellectual retreat from globalization probably reached its high point of sorts in 2007, in a
comprehensive report by a panel of neoclassical economists headed by Princeton's Angus Deaton, and former IMF chief, Ken Rogoff, chief Economist Ken Rogoff, which sternly asserted that the World Bank
research department, the source of most assertions that globalization and trade liberalization were leading to lower rates of poverty, sustained growth and less inequality, had been deliberately
distorting the data and/or making unwarranted claims. True, neoliberalism continues to be the default discourse among many economists and technocrats, but even before the recent global financial
crisis collapse, it had already lost much of its credibility and legitimacy. What made a difference? Not so much research or debate, but action. It took the anti-globalization actions of masses of
people in the streets of Seattle, which interacted in synergistic fashion with the resistance of developing country representatives here in the Sheraton, and the police riot, to bring about the
spectacular collapse of a World Trade Organization ministerial meeting and translate those factoids into facts, into truth. And the intellectual debacle inflicted on globalization by Seattle had very
real consequences. Today, the Economist, the prime avatar of neoliberal globalization, admits that, quote, "Integration of the world economies in retreat on almost every front," end quote, and a
process of, quote, "deglobalization," unquote, that it once considered unthinkable is actually unfolding. Seattle was what [Hagel?] called a world historic event. Its enduring lesson is that truth is
not just out there, existing objectively and eternally, truth is completed, made real and ratified by action. In Seattle, ordinary men and women made truth real with collective action that
discredited an intellectual paradigm that then served as the ideological warden of corporate control.
I would not say neoliberalism was defeated in Seattle, but to use a metaphor, Seattle was certainly the Stalingrad of neoliberalism. It would take another decade before it could be definitively rolled
back, and it took the global financial crisis to do this with its sweeping away of the irrational choice theory and efficient markets hypothesis that had been the cutting edge of the globalization of
finance. But the rollback of neoliberal paradigm is only half the story. Even with its ideational crisis, the forces of global capital have faced a fierce rearguard battle. As an example of this, let
me just state the case of finance capital's successful effort to resist any change in the face of the naked necessity and social consensus for comprehensive reform. When the ground from under Wall
Street opened up in the autumn of 2008, there was much talk of letting the banks get their just desserts, jading the banksters and imposing Draconian regulation.
The newly-elected Barack Obama came to power, promising banking reform, warning Wall Street, and I quote, "My administration is the only thing that stands between you and the pitch forks," end quote.
Yet nearly eight years after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, it is evident that those who are responsible for bringing it about have managed to go completely Scott free. Not only that,
they have been able to get governments to stick the cause of the crisis and the burden of the recovery on their victims. How did they succeed? The first line of defense for the banks was to get the
government to rescue the banks from the financial mess they created. The banks flatly refused Washington's pressure on them to mount a collective defense with their own resources. Using the massive
collapse of stock prices triggered by Lehman brothers going under, finance capital's representatives were able to blackmail both liberals in the far right in Congress to approve the U.S. $700 billion
troubled asset relief program. Nationalization of the banks was dismissed as being inconsistent with American values. Then, by engaging in the defensive anti-regulatory war that they had mastered in
Congress over decades, the banks were able in 2009 and 2010 to gut the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of three key items that were seen as necessary for genuine reform,
downsizing the banks, institutionally separating commercial from investment banking, and effectively regulating the so-called "shadow banking system" that brought on the crisis. They did this by
using what [Cornelia Wall?] termed, "Finance capital's structural power." When they mention of this power was the $344 million that the industry, lobbying the U.S. Congress in the first six months,
nine months of 2009 when legislators were taking up financial reform.
Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee alone, received $2.8 million in contributions from Wall Street in 2007 and 2008. But perhaps equally as powerful as Wall Street's
entrenched congressional lobby were powerful voices in the new Obama administration who were sympathetic to the bankers, notably treasury secretary Tim Geithner and Council of Economic Advisors head,
Larry Summers, both of whom serve as close associates of Robert Rubin, who had success at incarnations as co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, Bill Clinton's treasury chief, and chairman and senior
counselor of Citigroup. Finally, the financial sector succeeding by hitching the defense of its interest, the one of the few remaining resonant assumptions of an otherwise crumbling neoliberal
ideology, that the state is the source of all things bad that happen in the economy. While benefitting from the government bailout, Wall Street was able to change the narrative about the causes of
the financial crisis, trying to blame entirely on the state. This is best illustrated in the case of Europe.
As in the United States, the financial crisis was a supply-driven crisis as the big European banks sought high-profit, quick return substitutes for the low returns on investment in industry and
agriculture, such as real estate mending and speculation in financial derivatives, or place their surplus funds in high yield bonds sold by governments. Indeed in their drive to raise more and more
profits from lending to the government, local banks and property developers, Europe's banks poured $2.5 billion into Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The result was that Greece's debt to GDP
ratio rose 148 percent in 2010, bringing the country to the brink of a sovereign debt crisis. Focused on protecting the banks, the European authorities' approach to stabilizing finances was not to
penalize creditors for irresponsible lending, but to get citizens to shoulder all the costs of adjustment. This change narrative focused on the profitably-glade state rather than on regulated private
finances; the cause of the financial crisis quickly made its way to the United States where it was used not only to derail banking reform, but also prevent the enactment of an effective stimulus
program in 2010.
Christina Romer, the former head of Barack Obama's council of economic advisors, estimated that it would take $1.8 trillion to reverse the recession. Obama approved only less than half, or $787
billion, placating the Republican opposition, but preventing an early recovery. Thus, the cost of the follies of Wall Street turn not on banks, but on ordinary Americans with the unemployed reaching
10% of the work force in 2011 and youth unemployment reaching over 20 percent. The triumph of Wall Street in reversing that popular surge against it following the outbreak of the crisis is evident in
the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections. The [INAUDIBLE] statistics are clear, 95 percent of income gains from 2009 to 2010 went to the top one percent. Median income was $4000 lower in 2014
than in 2000, and concentration of financial assets increased after 2009 with the four largest banks owning assets that came to nearly 50 percent of gross domestic product. Yes, regulating Wall
Street has not been an issue in the Republican primary debates, while in the Democratic debates, it has been a side issue, despite the valiant efforts of candidate Bernie Sanders to make it the
centerpiece issue. The political institutions of one of the world's most advanced liberal Democracies were no match for the stretch of power of the financial establishment. As Cornelia Woll writes,
and I quote, "For the administration and Congress, the main lesson from the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 was that they had only very limited means to pressure the financial industry into
behavior that appeared urgently necessary for the survival of the entire sector and the economy as a whole," end quote.
In Greece, the austerity policies provoked a popular revolt expressed in the June, 2015 referendum on the bailout, in which over 60% of the Greek people rejected the deal. But in the end, their will
was trampled on as the German government forced the Greek prime minister, Tsipras, into a humiliating surrender. It is clear that the key motives were to save the European financial elite from the
consequences of their irresponsible policies, and forcing the iron principle of full debt repayment and crucifying Greece, to dissuade others, such as the Spaniards, Irish and the Portuguese, from
revolting against debt slavery. As Karl Otto Pohl, a former head of Germany's Bundesbank admitted sometime back, the Draconian exercise increase was about, quote, "protecting German banks, but
especially the French banks, from debt write-offs," unquote. But taming the profligate state has been the articulated rationale. Yet the victory of the banks is likely to, in the end, to be
[INAUDIBLE] -- the combination of deep austerity and recession or stagnation that grips much of Europe and the United States, and the absence of financial reform is deadly.
The question, then, is not if another bubble will burst, but when. And for us here, the key lesson is that in spite of the ideological discrediting of neoliberalism and popular anger at the
depredation of the banks, the structural power of capital remains immense, and has prevented any significant financial figure from being jailed, much less allowed significant reform. My sense is that
the persistence of capital structure of power is related to the fact that while the combination of objective developments, intellectual critique and collective action eroded the legitimacy of
neoliberalism, we have had a signal failure to articulate the bold alternative that can match the depths of the crisis of capitalism that we are in. There is great seething discontent at the multiple
crises triggered by capitalism. I wish, however, one could say, as Mao did, and I quote, "There is great tumult under heaven, the situation is excellent," end quote. Unfortunately, the situation is
not excellent, since many of those who have been run over by corporate-driven globalization are turning to demagogues and ideologues of the right, such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen in France, and
in my own country, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has managed to convince a large section of the citizenry that crime and drugs are the root of the country's problems, and the main cure for the ills
of the country is to kill them all; butchers and users alike. In this regard, let me say that the United States and Europe have no monopoly on dangerous right wing demagogues with a heated,
angry-mass base, a great many of them resentful people from the lower and middle classes, who want simple solutions, and are willing, and many of whom, are willing to countenance violence to bring
about the leaders' version of heaven on earth. The key difference at this point is that your demagogues are still on the sidelines chomping at the bit to grab power, while ours, unfortunately, has
already come to power by electoral means. Undoubtedly, part of the problem is the failure of the traditional forces of the left to educate their core basis of support, such as the white working
class. Another part has been the inability to integrate minority populations into the ranks of the left, which has traditionally been the home of the disenfranchised and marginalized, forcing some to
turn to radical fundamentalist groups such as ISIS. Thus, the very real hurt in post in so many sectors by corporate-driven globalization have been successfully joined to myths about displacement and
crime by immigrants on one hand, and to the very real failures of immigration integration on the other. Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and ISIS have been very astute in taking advantage of the openings
that were made by the left, by those who brought about the Seattle debacle of neoliberalism, by those who have been on the forefront of the anti-globalization and Occupy movement. These people have
been eating our lunch.
I will not go further into the sociological reasons for their success and our failure so far, since many others have done that. But I do want to raise one question. And that is whether it is not
overdue for us to take on the super ambitious task of creating that overarching vision language and program to spell out the alternative and flush it out. Bernie Sanders started this brave task by
calling for Democratic Socialism, something that has resonated in the Philippines and the global self. I think it's urgent that we flush it out since the other side is already flushing out their
alternative in the form of Trumpism or National Frontism or Brexitism, a task which marries some of our intellectual critique of capitalism with the highly-charged, emotional appeal to return to an
idealist [INAUDIBLE] of white homogeneity, cultural purity or religious uniformity. I think it's urgent that we overcome our fears of articulating grand narratives, and lay out a vision that lays out
the overcoming of the present world blighted by capital through common struggle, with the end being the construction societies that harness men and women's deepest instinct. To use a loaded word,
that is, cooperation. Needless to say, such an endeavor must also be one that acknowledges the limitations, failures and distortions of past efforts at building post-capitalist societies, especially
when it came to dealing with issues of gender, Democracy and the environment.
I'm not usually a bible-quoting speaker, but there's definitely something profound in the passage in Proverbs 29:18, quote, "Where there is no vision, the people perish," end quote. It would be tragic
if people were left with the [INAUDIBLE] alternatives posed by the historically bypassed Social Democrats in Europe, the tiresome Clintons in the United States, and uninspiring elite-run reform
movements in the global South. Such political alternatives are no match for the Counter-revolutionary movements that are on the march. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
>> All right, our next speaker is Amy Goodman, "Democracy Now!" [APPLAUSE]
>> It's a great honor to be with all of you, and I find it funny that I'm speaking before the American Sociological Association because, well, many years ago, when I was in college, I did my thesis in
anthropology and majored in anthropology. And I had taken five years off in the middle because I thought going to college was an awfully expensive way to protest, since that's how I was spending most
of my time. My mother would call me at night and she would say, "Amy, why are you right now?" And I would say, "Mom, I just came back from the library," and I said, "Where else would I be?" And she
said, "Why did I see this picture go out of you yesterday, like, closing down the administration building?" At the time, it was activism around challenging our universities to stop doing business
with companies that did business with apartheid South Africa. I said, "Oh, come on, that was yesterday. This is today."
So I went away for five years. And then I came back, and I was doing my thesis in medical anthropology, and a drug called -- investigating a drug called "Depo-Provera," which is an injectable
progesterone that a woman is injected with in the arm every three months; it wasn't approved by the U.S. government by the FDA, but it was sent abroad to over 70 countries. And because I couldn't
afford to do my research in any of those countries, particularly in places like Chiang Mai, Thailand, and other places, I looked at a hospital, the Grady Charity Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where
they injected 10,000 black women with Depo-Provera, who did not know that it wasn't approved. It was just one of the options for birth control in their book. It was called, "the shot." And that was
the beginning, though, of Byllye Avery's starting the Black Women's Health Project, because so many young women were getting sick at the most -- what should be the most healthy time of their lives.
Anyway, after doing this thesis, and at my university, I felt -- well, I always felt that anthropology made you an activist; you're looking at cultures that are being challenged, that are being
threatened. And so at my university, you either had to look at them 3000 years ago, or 3000 miles away, and that would prevent you from becoming too much of an activist. So I wanted to look at what
was happening in my country.
And so I had to rely on a professor from outside of our university. And I asked if I could work with Dr. Laura Nader, who's an anthropologist at University of California, Berkeley, who had come to the
East Coast for a year, and they agreed. So when I then came to defend my thesis, this was -- I'd take five years off, all of my relatives were coming for graduation. We rented out all the motels.
Everything was bought and everything, all that was standing in the way was my thesis.
So I went before the board, the leading archaeologist, cultural anthropologist and biological anthropologist, the three different disciplines of anthropology at our university. And they looked at me.
And I think it was the head of archaeology looked at me and said -- he had a British accent -- "Miss Goodman," and he smoked a pipe at the time, "Do you even know what anthropology is?" I thought, oh
my God, whatever he defines as anthropology I am going to accept, because I didn't think my parents would get their money back for those motel rooms. So I said, "Well, professor..." He said, "At
best, this is a thesis in sociology." [APPLAUSE] And I knew I was in trouble. I have not, I'm so sorry to say, taken one course in sociology, so I knew then I wouldn't be graduating. So I said,
"Well, what's your definition of anthropology?" He said, "Well, you shouldn't be asking me this question after four years at this august institution." I said, "But you know, I'm very curious." And he
said, "Well, anthropology is you or a participant observer in someone else's culture. And sociology you could do it anywhere," he said, "But a participant observer in someone else's culture. And that
gives you the objectivity -- the distance -- to be able to evaluate it." I said, "Oh, but I completely agree with you." And he said, "How could you say that? I mean, look at what you did. You stayed
right here in the United States." I said, "No, I was looking at the institution of science and medicine in our country. But I see science and medicine, the way it's practiced here, as a white male
corporate culture. I was looking at you." "Carry on," he said. [APPLAUSE]
And so, I graduated. And I do wish I had taken more courses in sociology. But that background of looking at cultures, at movements is something that we do at Democracy Now; the reason we founded it is
that recognizing that it's movements that make history, that make progress. Now I was here, when, 1999, for the Battle of Seattle; it was the first time we were doing a TV-radio broadcast. Democracy
Now started in 1996 as the only daily election show in Public Broadcasting. We started on nine community radio stations; Pacifica radio stations at the core and a few other stations. Chaos in Olympia
was one of the first stations that we were on here in Washington State. The next year, we went down to aid stations because we dared the commentaries of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was on Death Row at the
time in Pennsylvania. And so the network of community radio stations that were run by Temple University in Philadelphia that started with Democracy Now at the beginning dropped us in the middle of
the show, where we had the society of professional journalists commenting, had invited on the fraternal order of police, when we were airing for the first time. And it wasn't even our idea, actually,
NPR took up the idea first to go and record the commentaries. They said they were some of the finest commentaries they had ever heard of any commentator. But the fraternal order of police put so much
pressure in NPR, that they locked the tapes in a vault. So we felt it was our responsibility to continue and actually broadcast those commentaries. And the day we started was the day that Jazz FM,
the statewide network in Pennsylvania dropped Democracy Now, saying that their listeners wanted more jazz, suddenly, in the middle of the show. They had a little problem, because their folio had
already gone out for the next season. And it hailed Democracy Now as their model program, and what they were modeling the rest of their programs on.
But we just continued, because we felt it was our job to go to where the silence was, and to go to where the silence is. You know, just as we look at movements, independent media is a movement. And
it's so critical we have a media that broadcasts the voices of people on the ground, to see the media as a huge kitchen table that stretches across the globe that we all sit around, and debate and
discuss the most important issues of the day. War and peace, life and death, and anything less than that is a disservice to the service men and women of this country. They can't have these debates on
military bases, they rely on us in civilian society to have the discussions that lead to the decisions about whether they live or die, whether they're sent to kill or be killed. Anything less than
that is a disservice to a Democratic society. [APPLAUSE]
And so, but more and more stations started to pick us up, and we were on radio. Nineteen ninety-nine when we came to Seattle to cover the Battle of Seattle, we decided to do an experiment with TV and
radio, and we broadcast under the basement of a church. And though we weren't arrested that time, we were certainly heavily teargassed. More than 600 people were arrested. You had the
environmentalists, you had the high school students, you had the Teamsters. You had a broad cross-section of society, not only in Washington. I mean, Walden Bello -- he was there. People from all
over the world challenging the super national organization, the World Trade Organization, that could overturn the laws of Democratically-elected legislatures, if they were considered WTO-illegal, if
they challenged corporations, ultimately, if they were seen as barriers to trade. And it was just amazing to see farmers from France, doctors from Africa, nurses from right here in Washington --
everyone joining together. We have interviewed one man, Norm Stamper, many times since then. At the time, he was the police chief. Within a few days they ran out of teargas and had to go out of state
to import more teargas to deal with the protesters. He says it was the worst mistake of his life, that he treated citizens and non-citizens who had come to Seattle to, he now feels, to save the
planet. They treated them, the Seattle police, as the enemy. And he says it was a terrible error that he has regretted for the rest of his life. He was forced out soon after the Battle of Seattle.
But I remember when we decided to come here, you know, covering the movements, we saw them, they were going to converge in Seattle. So Democracy -- now, I can't talk about the show without talking
about Juan Gonzalez, one of the great journalists of our time [APPLAUSE] who began 20 years ago with us, and was a columnist for the New York Daily News. He asked them if they would send him, and
they said, "To what?" And so he said, "Well, to Seattle," because he would be covering the WTO. They had a few more researchers than we did. And they said, "The what?" And he said, "The WTO." They
said, "Of course not, we never even heard of it." So Democracy Now, the little David to their Goliath, took him, and we all came to Seattle. Within a day, it was the New York Daily News that was
calling Juan nonstop for updates, touting the fact that they had a journalist on the front lines of this battle, that they knew, in advance, what was going to take place. Meanwhile, to ask him on the
phone, "How did you know this was going to happen? How could you possibly have known?"
I remember President Clinton, because of the teargas and the mass protest, was delayed in coming here. Madeleine Albright and the trade representative were holed up at -- it might have even been this
hotel with the teargas seeping under their doors. Astounding when people rose up, what a difference movements make. And I really see the anti-TPP movement today; I believe there's a big concert
tonight here in Seattle. The anti-TPP trade the TPP which would govern 40 percent of the world's economy as the reincarnation of that movement in 1999. But speaking about Juan, and talking about
independent journalism, in our book, Democracy Now, looking at the 20 years covering the movements that have changed America, in the introduction we quote Juan, because, you know, Juan is a
remarkable figure. And he just retired from 29 years, writing columns and articles for the New York Daily News. And there were so many parties, for one, in New York. I mean, I was on this 100-city
book tour, and I would be getting posts, "Okay, Governor Cuomo is here. Mayor de Blasio has just left -- they had to coordinate that they wouldn't be there at the same time, because they hate each
other, even being a part of the same party, though they might disagree that they're in the same party doesn't help in that situation. Senator Schumer -- every politician. I was convinced that three
quarters of them were there just to guarantee with their own eyes that this person who had dogged them for so long was actually retiring, and leaving the New York Daily News. But all of us at
Democracy Now went up to mid-town Manhattan a few months ago, when Juan was the first Latino journalist inducted into the New York Journalism Hall of Fame. And when he stood up to give his speech, he
put all the other journalists who were being inducted to shame, like, oh, it was Charlie Rose and Lesley Stahl and Max Frankel of The Times, and Wall Street Journal -- but there was Juan when he
stood up, and as he stood up, we all stood up from Democracy Now and shouted, "Juan Gonzalez presenting!" [APPLAUSE] And he reflected on his quarter of a century as a columnist. He said, "I figured
my modest contribution would be not writing about outcast neighborhoods, but from them, not simply to entertain, but to change; not after the fact, but before it, when coverage could still make a
difference." He said, "I've tried to use as many of my columns as possible to probe the injustices visited upon the powerless. Yes, the rich and famous are also victims on occasion, but they have so
many politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, gossip columnists and even editorial writers ready to jump to their defense. They'll always do fine without my help." He said, "I prefer the desperate unknown
reader who comes to me because he or she has gone everywhere else, and no one will listen. More often than not, I come across unexpected gems, human beings whose tragedies illuminate the landscape,
and whose courage hopefully inspires the reader to believe that there is, indeed, some greater good served by a free press than just chronicling or influencing the ouster of one group of politicians
by another."
Talking about what it means to cover movements, from the Battle of Seattle in 1999 to the movements that have shaped this country and the world, I wanted to look at one year. And I know that Kshama
will be talking about where people should focus in the future. And one of the people we profile in Democracy Now is the Socialist city council member from right here in Seattle, so it's an honor to
be with her today. [APPLAUSE]
But I wanted to look at one year, 2011, the year that really rocked the planet. And I wanted to start back in December of 2010, the
Arab Spring, to a young man named Mohammad Bouazizi in Tunisia who, when he came out of university, saw there was no opportunity in his dictator-run country of Tunisia. All he could do was sell fruits
and vegetables in the marketplace, and he was harassed by authorities. They took his scales. He couldn't take it anymore, and he set himself on fire. And that was the spark of the Tunisian
revolution. I mean, there were other sparks; for example, WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks released the documents, cables of more than 40 years, State Department cables. It's not as if the Tunisians didn't know
their dictator was corrupt. But they knew here that the U.S. government knew it as well, and continued to shore him up to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. Tunisia erupted, threw out
their dictator, and that sparked Egypt and the Egyptian Revolution, which was astounding. In 18 days, the entire country rose up and threw out their dictator of decades, Mubarak. Now, where that
revolution goes today is still not clear. So many of the people who fomented that revolution are in jail today. And I hope those of you who listen to or watch Democracy Now got a chance to experience
it through the most remarkable reporting of Sharif Abdel Kouddous, our reporter Egyptian-American on the ground, with our videographer, also Egyptian-American, Hany Massoud, who stayed there in
Takreer, bringing you the anatomy of a revolution by the people who fomented it. I mean, Sharif basically flew back from the United States to his country, Egypt, and lived in Takreer. And you met so
many of the activists, from Ahdaf Soueif, the great Egyptian writer who wrote "Map of Love," to Nawal Saadawi, at the time 79 years old, who had been arrested and exiled under Mubarak, and Nasser,
had run for president, was a psychiatrist, had written many books, had been encouraging young people before the Egyptian revolution, telling them in salons, "We will win, we will win!" And then
meeting the young high student, who now is in prison, who was standing in front of the state media building handing out a broadsheet, interviewing people of Takreer, in front of the state media
building that had spewed lies for so long. These were the people who had fomented this remarkable revolution. And I think the Arab Spring inspired Wisconsin in the winter of 2011, partly. I mean,
Governor Scott Walker did also. But, I mean, here you had this unprecedented uprising in Wisconsin, 150,000 people in the dead of winter, in the freezing cold, marching. We raced to Wisconsin. People
had taken over the capitol building.
Now, Governor Walker said he was going to go after the public unions. He was going to bust them. Well, the teachers and the nurses; he assured the police and the firefighters that they would remain
untouched. Walker's problem was that firefighters and the police were married to the teachers and the nurses. And so all of them were occupying. I mean, I saw some of the most amazing scenes in front
of Governor Walker's office in the state capitol; you know, they would sleep there, they would live there, they would eat there. There were young people with dreads down their backs, drumming on
anything they could find, and next to them were the police rocking out. I'm from New York, and I don't see that kind of thing! And when we first got there, I saw some of the biggest guys I'd ever
seen, the Oshkosh prison guards. And I went up to them, and I said, "Well, who did you vote for?" And they said, "Governor Walker, of course." So I said, "So, why are you here?" And they said,
"Protesting Governor Walker, of course." On the outside, with 150,000 people, older gentlemen, white hair, glasses, marching, IRS auditors against Walker. And they said, "Are you a Republican or a
Democrat?" "A Republican." So I said, "So why are you protesting?" He said, "Because Governor Walker didn't say he was going to do this. He didn't say he was going to go after our neighbors."
As I looked out on this vista of protests, vast area around the state capitol building, I saw across the way the State Labor History Museum. All the different groups coming together; labor, racial
justice, economic justice -- all the different groups challenging the powers that be. You know, Wisconsin's interesting, it's the home of the John Birch Society, that was cofounded by Fred Koch, the
father of Charles and David Koch. John Birch Society, that racist, segregationist organization that had opposed King, had opposed the Civil Rights Movement. But it's also the home of AFSCME, the
American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, founded in 1932 in Wisconsin. And as I looked out on the protests, I thought about, well, 1968, April 4th, when Dr. King was assassinated in
Memphis, Tennessee, what was he doing there? He was simply there to march with sanitation workers who were trying to organize a local of AFSCME. Yes, these times are historic. And you go back a year
to the day before he was killed, and he was speaking at Riverside Church, giving that speech against the war in Vietnam. Even his inner circle said, "Martin, do not do this. You have got the most
powerful person on earth wrapped around your finger, the president of the United States, President Johnson. You got him to sign the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. This is not your war. Do
you alienate him." And he said, "No." And it's often much harder to take on your friends than those that you oppose. But he saw it all as a seamless web, and he gave that speech where he said that he
saw his country, the country he loved, as the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. He was excoriated by the mainstream, the corporate press; I mean, Washington Post, Time, Life Magazine said he
had done -- that his speech sounded like a script out of Radio Hanoi, that he had done a disservice to his cause, his country and his people. And he just doubled down, kept on speaking against the
war in Vietnam, and he would be dead a year later.
But back to 2011 to the summer, and what happened then. Around the White House, thousands of people gathered to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. Among those arrested, Naomi Klein, the great writer.
Bill McKibben, cofounder of 350.org, and 1200 other people, demanding that President Obama say "no" to the Keystone XL, and much broader than that as the kayaktivists taught us here in Seattle, but
taking on the fossil fuel economy. Here, they were taking on Shell going to drill in the Arctic. And there, well, it's particularly stunning now in 2016, when you see the person that Hillary Clinton
has chosen as her transition leader, the former Interior Secretary of the United States, the former Colorado Senator, Ken Salazar, who is very strongly, very proudly pro-Keystone XL, pro-TPP and
pro-fracking. Very interesting, but then you have these movements that have forced Hillary Clinton to take a different stand, at least as she runs for president. I mean, yes, Bernie Sanders did this,
but Bernie Sanders did not invent the movement. He rode a movement, a movement that really started even before the Battle of Seattle, but manifest in Occupy. And he saw the power of this, believed in
what they stood for. And Hillary Clinton clearly goes back and forth, oscillates back and forth, between these movements and what she has represented for so long. And where she comes out in the end
really doesn't depend, I think, on her. I think it depends on the power of these movements. [APPLAUSE]
But the Keystone XL protest, 1200 marching, three weeks later, September 17th, 2011, a thousand people march in Zuccotti Park in New York, and that's Occupy Wall Street. You see how one movement
builds on another, and they're carrying every sign as they march in. The corporate media did not touch these protests for over a week, even though it's in the media metropolis of the world, you know,
the media moguls are riding by in their limousines, the elite press are passing it all the time. But they don't cover it. And then when they do, they ridicule it. I remember Erin Burnett started her
show then on CNN, Out Front. And her first piece was called, "Seriously?" And you know, she simply took the approach that all of the corporate media did when they covered it, is, you know, who are
these people? They can't even figure out what they actually want to fight for. You know, they're against the death penalty, they're against war, they're concerned about climate change, and for
economic equality. Why can't they choose one issue? They saw it as their weakness, and of course, so many of us saw it as their strength. You know, they can't even choose their spokespeople. But it's
a leaderful movement, not a leaderless movement. And yes, the police eviscerated the encampments all over the country. But if you think for a moment that Occupy was destroyed, I mean, look at what
happened with Bernie Sanders this year, the significance and the power of this movement. I mean, back in 2011, you think what Occupy did. They occupied the language. They changed the conversation.
You say the words, "99 percent and one percent" -- everyone knows what you mean. You change the language, you change the world. [APPLAUSE]
Then among the signs that everyone carried on every different issue was, I am Troy Davis, and too much doubt. And so we went from Occupy September 17th and the building movement there flew immediately
down to Georgia, because it was on September 21st, 2011 that Troy Anthony Davis was scheduled to die. We decided to report live from the grounds outside Georgia's Death Row in the town of Jackson,
awaiting news about whether the Supreme Court would spare his life. "I am Troy Davis" had become the rallying cry of a growing international movement to stop his execution. The effort had grown to be
on the traditional anti-death penalty activities, who have accomplished so much. But also now, prosecutors, prison wardens, a former U.S. president and the pope -- this is a story of a struggle
against death that refuses to die. Troy Anthony Davis grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia. He lived in the same ranch house all his life with is parents and his three sisters
and his brother. On the night of August 18th, 1989, 18-year-old Troy, African American, went to the Charlie Brown Pool Hall with a friend. In the parking lot outside, a guy named Sylvester "Redd"
Coles, a neighborhood tough, was arguing loudly with a homeless man named Larry Young. Several witnesses testified that Coles pistol-whipped Young. Pool hall patrons streamed outside and other
bystanders joined to see what was going on. Troy stopped to intervene in the fight, but fled when Coles threatened him with a gun. At a quarter after one in the morning, Mark MacPhail, a white
off-duty Savannah police officer who was working as a security guard at a Greyhound bus station next door came outside to break up the fight. Gunshots pierced the summer night. Moments later MacPhail
lay dying with a bullet wound to the head and another to the heart. He never drew his gun.
Mark MacPhail was a hero cop. He went out to try to help a homeless man, and he was murdered. The question was, who killed him? Redd Coles immediately went to the police station with a lawyer in tow,
and identified Troy Anthony Davis as the shooter. But the day after the shooting, Davis was four hours away in Atlanta, job hunting with his cousin. When he was there, the police launched a
high-profile manhunt, splashed Troy Davis' picture across newspapers and TV. His family panicked, tried to reach Troy. His sister, Martina Correia, was a remarkable woman. I interviewed her so many
times. She was a Persian Gulf Army nurse, came back to this country, was diagnosed with breast cancer, but not only went to save her own life, but her face then adorned all the Savannah mammogram
vans to encourage poor and black women to get mammograms. She was honored as a leading light in Washington with Nancy Pelosi, and suddenly she had to take on the fight for her brother's life. She
went to Atlanta, she got him. He came back, this 18-year-old teenager turns himself in to the Chatham county Sheriff's office. He thought it was a case of mistaken identity, he would just clear up
the confusion. Instead, Troy Anthony Davis was charged with murder, held in jail for two years, tried in August of '91. A jury deliberated for two hours, returned a guilty verdict. On August 30th,
'91, Troy Davis, age 20, was scheduled -- was sentenced to die.
Davis would spend the next 20 years on Death Row. During that time, seven of the nine non-police witnesses in the trial recanted their testimony, saying that they had been intimidated by police for
their original false statements. One who didn't recant, yes, was none other than those who many had identified as the real killer, Redd Coles. No physical evidence linked Davis to the shooting.
So we go down to cover what would happen on August 21st. We didn't know if he would be executed. There were three other death warrants that had been issued against him; each time they were vacated,
one close to two hours before he was scheduled to die. There was such a movement that had grown up, not only in Georgia or in this country, but around the world. We just thought we would cover the
night, whatever happened. And we -- just to give you a sort of inside perspective on how the media worked, we knew if we were going to cover this, we had to do it like the big boys do. We rented a
satellite truck that came in from Atlanta, you know, CNN rents it, and Fox would use it the next day, perhaps. We were using it that day. And all the satellite trucks were lined up. I was wondering
why far to the end of the prison grounds, it was because the guards had told them they couldn't come near the protest pen they had set up for 150 protesters, Martina Correia in the middle in a
wheelchair, she would die weeks later. And heads of NAACP and Amnesty International, all -- there were so many students from Morehouse and Spellman had come from Atlanta, and they were holding
candles outside the grounds. Why were the trucks far away from the protesters? Because the guards didn't want them there.
I was annoyed. Our truck had come late. Finally it pulled up on the prison grounds, and they rolled down the window and they said, "Where do you want the truck?" I said, "Well, the guards are saying
you have to put it --" And they said, "No, where do YOU want the truck?" I said, "Oh, well, I was just thinking right over by the protest pen." And I was starting to warm up to these guys. And they
just barreled that truck over to the pen. And the prison guards ran over to say, "You can't be here." And they got up, and they were bigger than the Oshkosh prison guards. They got out of the truck,
they held their video cameras, and they said, "Where do you want to stand?" I said, "Well, if I could stand right up against the rope, I'd be able to reach the protesters." They handed me the mic and
said, "Start the broadcast." And they formed the kind of protective semicircle around us, and we began.
Now, we had a press packet, very thin, that the Department of Corrections had given the press. And it mainly focused on Troy's schedule that day; he could see his family from 9:00 to 3:00, then they
would have to leave so that he could undergo a routine physical. Routine physical? Like, they were going to kill him in a few hours, and they were concerned about his cholesterol level? Routine
physical. They also, the next page, talked about what he would be given for dinner. He had refused the "dinner of his choice," so he would be given the standard fare. And it went into it in detail.
It said he would be offered, quote, "grilled cheeseburgers, oven browned potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, cookies, and a grape beverage." The next page was just four lines. It listed lethal cocktail
that would follow; Pentobarbital, Pancuronium bromide, Potassium chloride and Ativan, in parenthesis, "(a sedative)." The Pentobarbital anesthetizes, the Pancuronium bromide paralyses and the
Potassium chloride stops the heart. Davis refused the sedative and the last supper. By 7:00 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court was reportedly reviewing Davis' plea for a stay. The case was referred to
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who hails from Pin Point, Georgia, a community founded by freed slaves that's near Savannah, where Davis had grown up.
Needless to say, the Supreme Court denied the plea. Davis' execution began at 10:53 p.m. The prison spokesperson delivered the news to the reporters outside, time of death, 11:08 p.m. The eyewitnesses
to the execution stepped out. According to an Associated Press reporter who was there, these were Troy Davis' final words -- you know how an execution works in this country; the prisoner is laid out,
strapped down to a sort of cross, a Christ-like cross, and then curtains are pulled back in a window where the audience sits. If we could have broadcast from the death chamber, we would have. I
really do think if people could only see what's done in their name... But the audience is the family members of the murder victim, friends or lawyers of the prisoner, if the prison approves, and
reporters. So it was the AP reporter who was there, and shared Troy Davis' final words. He said Troy said, "I'd like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know I'm not the one who killed your son,
your father, your brother, I'm innocent. I did not have a gun. All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth." He said, "I ask my family and
friends to continue to fight the fight." And then he looked at his executioners and said, "For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls, and may God bless your souls."
The State of Georgia took Davis' body to Atlanta for an autopsy, charging his family for the transportation. On Troy Davis' death certificate, the cause of death is listed simply as "homicide." As we
stood on the grounds of the prison, just after Troy Davis was executed, the Georgia Department of Corrections threatened to pull the plug on our broadcast; the show was over. And I was reminded of
what Mahatma Gandhi reportedly answered when asked what he thought of Western civilization. He said, "I think it would be a good idea."
That was September of 2011, and I know that I've overstayed my time here, but I just want to end with December, the U.N. Climate Summit. I mean, we are living under a heat dome now. What is remarkably
astounding is that during the Republican convention in Cleveland, I mean, they didn't even talk about climate change. And when Donald Trump talks about it, he refers to it as a "hoax perpetrated by
the Chinese." The next week, yes, Democrats did talk about the issue of climate change, but then most recently, as I just pointed out, Hillary Clinton chose as her transition team leader the person
who would decide the people in her administration, someone who very much is embedded in the fossil fuel economy in this country. But what you're experiencing here in Seattle, where today is something
like it came up to 95 degrees, but in New York and Philadelphia and Cleveland experiencing levels and intensities of heat, not to mention what's happening in Baton Rouge right now -- they haven't
seen something like this in years. To the fires in California -- we are all connected through this horror that we are a part of creating. But we can be a part of the solution. And so I wanted to end
with the U.N. Climate Summit -- Democracy Now has been to all the climate summits, from Copenhagen to Cancun, to Cochabamba, which is outside the U.N. framework, it was the people's summit in
Bolivia. We went to Durban and Doha, the next year to Peru and to Poland and to Paris this past year. This next year it'll be in Morocco. Now, you might wonder why waste the fuel? These U.N.
conferences, what do they accomplish? What they accomplish is, they are gathering places for thousands of people on the frontlines of climate change. People come from the Maldives like a 15-year-old
boy who said, "You are drowning my country," or the people in Sub-Sahara in Africa who say, "You're cooking our continent." And so much of what's important is to hear the people outside. When we were
in Durban, South Africa, something remarkable happened. The outside was invited in for a moment at the end of the conference, young people to address the U.N. body. And I wanted to end with what
happened, and who spoke.
Anjali Appadurai, she was a student at the time of College of The Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, where you get a degree in Human Ecology. I was a visiting student there for a time, and know it well.
But Anjali was chosen by the young people to be their spokesperson. She stood up and the young people ringed the room of a thousand diplomats and scientists and bureaucrats and government leaders.
And she looked around the room and said, "I speak for more than half the world's population. We are the silent majority. You've given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not on the table.
What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money? You've been negotiating all of my life. You failed to meet pledges, you've missed targets, you've broken
promises. But you've heard this all before." She said, "We're in Africa, home to communities on the frontline of climate change. The science tells us we have five years, max, you're saying, 'Give us
10.'" She said, "The starkest betrayal of your generation's responsibility to ours is that you call this 'ambition.' Where is the courage in these rooms? Now is not the time for incremental action.
In the long run, these will be seen as the defining moments of an era in which narrow self-interest prevailed over science, reason and common compassion." She said, "There is real ambition in this
room, but it's been dismissed as radical, deemed not politically possible. Stand with Africa. Long-term thinking is not radical; what's radical is to completely alter the planet's climate to betray
the future of my generation and to condemn millions to death by climate change. What's radical is to write off the fact that change is within our reach. Two thousand eleven was the year in which the
silent majority found their voice, the year when the bottom shook the top. Two thousand eleven was the year when the radical became reality." And then she quoted Nelson Mandela, who said, "It always
seems impossible until it's done." And she ended by saying, "So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world, deep cuts now, get it done." And the
whole room applauded, and the president of the conference of parties, the "cop" as it's known, the U.N. Climate Summit said, "On a purely personal note, I wonder why we let not speak half the world's
population first in this conference, but only last." So she certainly had an impact. And the next year I saw her in Doha, and I asked her, you know, if she'd come in for an interview. And she said,
"I can't. I've been banned."
But it does make a difference, what people do. The pressure that is mounting right now we see in this presidential election. We see the challenging in every way of the status quo of business as usual.
And instead of looking forward, which I'll leave to Kshama, I'll go back. I'll go back and end with World War II, with a small collective in Germany called the White Rose Collective, that was started
by a brother and sister named Hans and Sophie Scholl and their professor. And they thought, what can we do in the face of the Nazi atrocity? They weren't Jewish, they were German Christians. And
they, together with their professor and other students and workers decided they would put out a series of pamphlets, six in all. And on one of them would written the words, "We will not be silent."
And they had these distributed everywhere they could, under cover of darkness, in the middle of the night, in a schoolyard, in an alleyway, in a marketplace. Hans and Sophie and their professor were
captured. They were charged, they were tried, they were convicted and they were beheaded. But that motto, that philosophy, should be the Hippocratic oath of all journalists today, should be the
Hippocratic oath of us all today. We will not be silent. Democracy Now! [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you so much, Amy. Our third and final speaker for this evening session is Kshama Sawant, from here in Seattle, the Socialist member of the Seattle City Council. [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you, sisters and brothers, for having me. Thanks to the American Sociological Association, and particularly to Ruth, and also to my fellow panelists, Amy and Walden. It's such an honor to
share the platform with them. I've long been an admirer of all three people on this podium.
I think the theme of this conference is really appropriate, and Amy touched on this -- these are interesting times we live in. And I want to reference this in very particular ways, because it's so
critical for us to recognize what this moment means for us in terms of social change. But as Amy correctly said, you know, 2011 was, in many ways, a watershed year that heralded the changing times we
were stepping into; the Egyptian revolution, the Arabs praying, which was a harbinger for the events that were going to happen in the United States. Amy appropriately focused on the public sector
uprising in Wisconsin, because it is a very critical example of how the success or failure of campaigns or protest actions or movements cannot simply be decided on whether they achieve the target of
that movement, but by the fact that movements are, especially in times like the times that we live in, are a continuum. And movements build on previous movements, so from that point of view,
everything that happened in 2011 was so critical.
And one of the main things that happened to the Occupy movement, but also Occupied South was inspired by Wisconsin and by the events in Africa in the Middle East was, as this conference says, the
conversation was changed. The idea that this system is failing us because we are not all on the same side, and we are not all facing the same realities, that idea, that critical idea of a cost
analysis, in many ways, was captured by the metaphor of the 99 percent versus the one percent. Such a thing had not been uttered in the public space for decades. And for many generations, including
my generation, this was the first time that there was a real public conversation around class, around racial and sex discrimination, around the massive inequality that seems to not only persist, but
get more entrenched by the day, at the same time the United States is amassing more wealth than ever. That changing of conversation was so critical, not only because of the way it has led to bigger
even since then, but also because of the impact it had on consciousness. I was there in Occupy Seattle from day one, and Socialist Alternative, or my nationwide organization, was there in many of the
cities, including in Zuccotti Park where Occupy held its bases. And one of the things that I remember really remarkably, that stands out in my memory, is being there.
You know, this was at Westlake Park initially before we moved the encampment to my campus, Seattle Central Community College, where my union, the teacher's union, the American Federation of Teachers
Local 1789, played a key role in battling the administration to bring the occupation to campus. But in those initial days, one of the phrases that I kept hearing was, oh my God, I thought I was the
only person who felt this way; I thought I was alone in being not only deeply dissatisfied, but extremely angry at the status quo. Occupy gave a real opening for that, feeling that people held as
individuals. And bringing that feeling into a public space is such an important moment, because without that you can't build moments. As long as people feel [atomized?], feel alone, they are
powerless to fight a system that is so determined to defeat these ideas of change. And I agree with the speaker who was quoted earlier, that the idea of change should not be radical. Change is
inevitable. The question for us should be, what kind of change should we be fighting for? And this continuum of movements plays a huge role.
I mean, look at where we are today. You know, we came from the Occupy movement, and we are at a time when we got women -- we were elected in 2013, and I use the plural for a particular reason; you
know, sometimes reporters have asked me, you know, are you confused about English? Why do you say "we" as opposed to "I"? I say "we," because it is important that we do not encourage an idea of a
(INAUDIBLE) personality, but really empower people by recognizing that any kind of change, including getting a Socialist elected to office is a collective effort. And when we won our election, people
were saying, maybe there's something unique about Seattle, you know, maybe it's because we have a hippie culture. Well, we do have a hippie culture, and I have valued many aspects of that. But that
was not what was unique about Seattle. What was unique was that we actually had a movement that decided to take advantage of that opening that Occupy had proven exists.
But look how far we've come. When we won our election, the corporate media had to recognize that, you know, they were forced to recognize that yes, a Socialist had been elected. But they dismissed
that as something that could happen only in Seattle, and something that could happen only in very specific circumstances. But what Bernie Sanders' run for president has shown, that in the belly of
the capitalist beast, in the heartland of America, there is a hunger for a real change. And there is an anger against corporate politics. And a 75-year-old man who calls himself a Democratic
Socialist can gain an echo from tens of millions of people, and rock an entire generation's thinking. Those are the moments we live in. And this change is not just America, this is happening
globally. If those of you who are paying attention to what's happening in the U.K. right now, the Labor part is in massive crisis. There is literally a civil war going on inside the British Labor
party, because working people, trade unions, ordinary activists are starting to have a voice through the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and are starting to reject the Blairite agenda. And this is not
only just United States and Europe, but even in my home country, India, in South Africa, in Nigeria -- you have massive student movements happening. Right here in the United States, we've had one of
the most important indicators of the times we live in, which is the Black Lives Matter movement. And many of you who live in Seattle -- [APPLAUSE] many of you who live in Seattle will know, and many
of you may have been there. Just this past Monday, hundreds of people were in city hall because they are angry at the idea that the city, the city-elected politicians, would have the temerity to
spend $160 million on a new police precinct that includes a shooting range, and a multi-level parking garage -- at a time when the city has never been more impacted by the homelessness crisis, the
utter lack of affordable housing, by the fact that most of the younger generation has low-wage jobs. And all of this, I think, we should draw inspiration from. But it is not enough to be inspired,
sisters and brothers. Being inspired is, indeed, the first step, and it's a necessary component of struggle. But in order to actually wage a struggle against the system that is so systematically
[INAUDIBLE] against us, our movements need to understand, how do we win? How have movements in the past won, and what should we be fighting for?
And I wanted to share with you some of the lessons, I think, we have learned from our example in Seattle, and then see how that translates into broader lessons. Some of the events that have happened
in Seattle, obviously, getting a Socialist elected, winning the historic Fight for 15 -- but there is much more to it than that. We have been successful in completely, you know, as the theme goes,
changing the conversation around affordable housing. We haven't won rent control yet, but we have come farther than any movement for rent control has ever come in Seattle. And we have fought against
the midst around what would be needed to win affordable housing. And we've had -- we've won many other victories. And one of the key lessons that I think we should be learning from our experience in
Seattle is that movements need to organize around specific, concrete demands. And those demands may be multi-faceted, but they have to be concrete demands because people need to know what they're
fighting for. Movements cannot be organized successfully if there are a few tens or even a few hundreds of people who will agree with us on an abstraction of what society should be. When we want
working people who are working so hard, many of them two or three jobs -- I was just talking to the guy who does the valet parking here at the Sheraton, and he was saying how thrilled he was about
the changes we are bringing about in Seattle, and how many of the people he knows work two or three jobs. If we expect, and indeed movements need to expect and demand that working people who are
already burdened have to come out in the struggle, because they are going to be the agents of change -- but for them to come out, we need to know that the movements are the most strategically
equipped with concrete demands. And a lot of times when we were Fighting for 15, people would ask us, but is 15 enough? Or should we be fighting for 15? Don't we need to fight for other things? And
our response was always yes, absolutely. You know, we're socialists. We don't think $15 an hour is going to be the end of our struggle, by no means. And speaking as an Economist, if I might say, $15
a hour is not a living wage in Seattle, we should be very clear about that. [APPLAUSE]
But -- but the reason we fought for 15, and the reason, as Ruth said, we made that the most prominent demand on our election campaign in 2013 was because $15 an hour was in the air. Part of the
success of movements rests on the leadership of movements understanding consciousness, broader consciousness. And if we have a sense that a broad mass of working people are going to be willing to
come out and fight for something concrete, then that is critical to do, even though we recognize that is going to be a far cry from the wide access to social justice that we need for every human
being. It is important to build that fight. And that is why we build that fight around $15 an hour, because we could see that tens of thousands of people are going to rally around this demand. And
look at how right our movement has been proven. The 15 now a grassroots that we launched, that I, a Socialist Alternative, launched in Seattle a few weeks after taking office in 2014, has now gone
nationwide. [APPLAUSE] And I'm not -- I'm smiling not because this is funny, but because it's incredible, the humors of the ruling class, that in the New York debate between Sanders and Clinton,
Clinton bold-facedly said, you know, "I always supported 15. I supported 15 in Seattle." I was watching that debate, and I was, like, wait a minute, I was right there. If she had so much as tweeted
in support of our struggle for 15, that would have helped us enormously. But not only did the Democratic Party leadership not support 15, in Seattle, the Democratic Party establishment was hand in
glove with big business, and openly and covertly opposing the struggle for 15. And the only reason, at the end of less than six months since we started the campaign, we got a unanimous vote on the
city council, because the city council members, many of whom -- not all, but many of whom are corporate politicians, saw the writing on the wall. And they could not -- they knew for their own careers
they could not vote against 15 and get away with it without a massive price tag to their own careers. And that movement made it happen, the movement of tens of thousands of working people in Seattle
who said, enough is enough. We want a real addressing of the massive income and wealth inequality.
And the success of such campaigns, movements is a very important component of struggle, because what is lacking in our society is not a desire for change. As a matter of fact, you know, talking about
reporting, if you go to fair.org, you know, fairness and accuracy in reporting, you will see a compilation of polls going all the way back to the Truman era which will show you -- and I'm proudly
saying this as an immigrant -- that Americans, ordinary working class Americans, are well to the left of any option that has been on offer for more than five decades. So what we are lacking in this
country, or in any other country, is not a desire for social change. Our compassion, our sense of compassion, our sense of society, our sense that everybody's basic needs need to be satisfied -- that
has not been what has been lacking. What has been lacking is a clear strategy to building movements, and what has been lacking is a sense of victory, a sense that we can all come together, get
organized and win. We have won in the past. You know, there was a mention of Martin Luther King and civil rights -- but that is so long ago that for most generations that are alive today, this is the
first experience, this Fight for 15 and the victory around it, has been the first real experience of victory. And that experience of victory is absolutely central to building movements, because it
instills a sense of empowerment like nothing else can. And that is why it is important for movements to get organized around specific demands, even if we are fully aware, and indeed it's important
that we're fully aware that this is not going to be the end of the struggle.
It's also important for us to strategize in other ways. And here is where I wanted to connect what we won, in terms of our election and reelection. I wanted to connect it to Sanders. So as I said
before, you know, Sanders has shown that it is not just Seattle, all of America is actually ready for a real change away, you know, a real shift away from the status quo. There is deep anger against
corporations and the politicians that represent the interests of corporations, and the billionaires. So the things that were common to our campaigns, to Socialist Alternatives campaigns in Seattle,
and to Sanders' run in the primary election, were, one, that there's a huge opening for the left to build our efforts in Seattle, and the echo that Sanders got have proven in shovelfuls that there is
such a huge opening for the left to build itself in the United States. The other thing that was common is that most of the -- you know, obviously, most of the people who voted for Sanders in the
primaries and people who supported him in the caucuses, obviously they are Democrats, because it's registered Democrats who go and participate in these primary elections. But that has been true about
our victories in Seattle as well. Who do you think is the majority of people who voted for a Socialist Alterative candidate? It's people who otherwise vote for Democratic Party. In fact, Democrats
who have spent years organizing the party in the grassroots, and who have been frustrated at how their efforts have been fruitless for decades organized a whole campaign around our electoral campaign
called Democrats for [INAUDIBLE], where they held press conferences and said, very clearly, we are Democrats and we are supporting this campaign because we are sick and tired of the Democratic Party
in this city being the political leadership, there is no Republican stronghold to speak of in Seattle. And it is this Democratic Party that has -- I'm not wishing for a Republican stronghold, just
making that clear [LAUGHTER] -- but it is this Democratic Party establishment that has presided over the conditions that we all live in. I mean, if you only have to look at the statistics to know
that Seattle is a growing, booming city. You can't walk two blocks without seeing one of those massive yellow construction cranes. But if you look at the way inequality has skyrocketed, if you look
at the disparity between median household income overall and the median household income of black people, it is incredible the racial and economic divide. And people have been fed up. So that has
been common also, to the Sanders campaign and to our campaign, so two things in common.
The other thing in common to Sanders' primary run and our experience in Seattle is that a Democratic Party establishment was dead against our campaigns. At every step of the way, the Democratic Party
has tried to undermine Bernie's campaign. At first, there was a media blackout -- you know, the media is an organ of the ruling class, the corporate media, not Democracy Now, obviously. The media
first carried out a blackout of Sanders, and then they went on vicious attacks against him, especially leading into the New York primary. There was massive voter disenfranchisement of voters who
wanted to vote for Sanders. In Seattle, we had the entire Democratic Party establishment hand in hand with big business, taking every step that they could take to try and defeat our reelection. The
first time, they didn't fight that much, because they didn't think we could amount to much. But after we won, and after we won 15, they realized what they were up against. And they really mobilized
their forces last year. Every business that fall against $15 an hour donated to my opponent, who was, who is an African American corporate Democrat. And so that's also what's in common to our runs
here, and Bernie's primary campaign.
Do you know what's different between what we did and what Sanders did? Is that I ran as a candidate off a party that actually supported me and was fighting for my victory. But as Sanders ran in the
primary in a party that is deeply hostile to his call for a political revolution against the billionaire class. And as Jill Stein has so eloquently put it, you cannot fight for a revolution within a
counter-revolutionary party. [APPLAUSE]
Just to give you another concrete example, the 15 Now campaign that has gone nationwide is right now carrying out a valiant effort in Minneapolis, 15 Now in Minnesota is fighting to pass $15 an hour
in Minneapolis. Who do you think is, again, that said against that campaign? It's the Democratic Party politicians. It's the Democratic Party mayor, it's the Democratic Party city council members,
and the Democratic Party city attorney. So you can see that examples abound everywhere, and the role of the Democratic Party establishment. And it should help us draw a distinction between the
drivers of the agenda of the Democratic Party, and ordinary people around us who say they're Democrats. There's a difference; there's a fundamental difference between these two. Ordinary people like
you and me do not control the agenda of the Democratic Party. When was the last time anybody in this room was invited to an agenda-setting meeting of the Democratic Party where you had a vote, but
you had a vote on who is going to run, what that campaign platform should be? Did you have a say in the fact that it is absolutely horrendous that the Democratic Party is looking to pass TPP? When
was the last time we had a say on what should be done about student debt? About the fact that there's regressive taxation?
And so for all of these reasons, I think it is critical, again, if we are to think seriously about what could make movements successful, it is incredibly important that we recognize the political
obstacles to fighting for our movements. I think it's very important, first of all, to understand and agree that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are not the same, obviously not. We know
that there are really important distinctions between the two parties. However, they agree, fundamentally a very important thing, which is that they primarily are geared, the establishment of both
parties, is primarily geared to defend the interests of Wall Street and billionaires. That is a very important recognition for us to make, sisters and brothers, because without that, we will not be
able to come out of the stranglehold of whether it's either Democrats or Republicans, and you can take your pick. And of course, Democrats are a lesser evil, we recognize that, and so we're going to
stay with that. Yes, Donald Trump is a horrifying prospect for all of us. There is no question about that. [APPLAUSE] Well, we have been saying that all along. But the question is, look, if we are
horrified about Trump, then it is incumbent upon us to ask the question, why is it that this person is getting any traction in the consciousness of a mass of working people? If we don't think
seriously about this, then we are left with an absurd explanation that suddenly a significant proportion of Americans woke up and they became right wing and racist and bigoted. Of course, those
trends exist in people's thinking. You know, we shouldn't romanticize what overall consciousness is, but the reality is that the reason, the primary reason Trump is getting any kind of echo is
because people are looking for a way to lash out against the corporate establishment, the political establishment. And one of the main reasons people are voting for Trump, or say they are going to
vote for Trump, is because the corporate establishment so much. And Trump has been able, so far, I mean he's not really succeeding entirely, and he is shooting himself in the foot, which I am glad
about, but again, being serious about this -- to the extent that he gets any echo, it's because there hasn't been a left to challenge corporate politics. There is no other major challenge to left
politics. So then he says, you know, don't vote for Clinton, she supported trade deals like NAFTA, she has a whole campaign that is going to fight for TPP -- is that a lie? No, it's not a lie. What
is a lie, and what is disingenuous, is him projecting himself, selling himself as an alternative to that establishment. He is very much a part of that establishment, we know that. But the reason he
is making any ascendancy to the extent that he is making it, it's because there has been an absence of the left in American politics, in American social movements, for many decades. Certainly, like I
said, for most of our generations.
So it is very clear that the Democratic Party wants to defeat Trump. I have no doubt in my mind that the Democratic Party establishment really wants to defeat Trump. But do you know what they want
even more than that? What they want even more than that is to defeat any idea that we could have an alternative to the power of Wall Street that has been the purveyor of inequality, climate change
and war. Their interest, the interest of the Democratic Party establishment in defeating that idea that we could have any hope of real change predominates over their desire to defeat Trump. And that
is why we are left with this conundrum where of course we don't want Trump to win, but then we are left with one of the most prominent spokespeople for American capitalism, and one of the most
prominent spokespeople for Wall Street. This is not a real choice.
And so we have to think about that seriously and strategically. Again, talking about movements, and secrets for success. Strategy is so critical. One of the most strategically important things we need
to recognize is that neither of these parties, despite their differences, is working for our movements, for our interests. We need an independent part of the 99 percent. [APPLAUSE] But then, this is
the presidential year, right? It's even more urgently staring us in the face. And the question that we need to think seriously about -- you know, a lot of people will say, and legitimately I am
completely compassionate to people who feel, well look, I agree with everything you're saying, at some time in the future, next year, let's start building an Independent party for the 99 percent. But
this year, let's just hold our noses and work for Clinton, agree with everything you're saying, but seriously, let's just do this.
Now, this is a legitimate question, and we need to think about this seriously. Here is what I would say. I mean, we could engage in longer conversations, but here is what I would say quickly: That
movements, if we are to have movements succeed in this process of social change, if we all agree that the system isn't working for us and has failed in delivering even the basic necessities of life
for most people, even here in the wealthiest country in the history of humanity, then movements have an obligation to speak the truth. And movements have an obligation to never duck the most pressing
questions of our times. So it is not good enough, my sisters and brothers, I will put this to you, it is not good enough for our movements to say yes, sometimes in the future we will build our
movements independent of the Democrat, we will fight for a party. But this year, let's just do it, because by that logic, you know, that logic of lesser evilism is ad infinitum. There will always be
a year where you can't do it. And we could not, since we have an obligation to speak the truth, we cannot pretend that advocating for a vote for Clinton -- I know most people will be voting for
Clinton -- but for us, if we are to provide leadership to movements, advocating for a vote for Clinton, we cannot pretend that that is a step forward for our movement. It's actually a regressive step
for our movement to take this year. [APPLAUSE] And in terms of the obligation of our movement, it is absolutely important that we put forward, that the left in the United States put forward the
strongest possible left alternative to both Clinton and Trump. And as you know, Socialist Alternative and I had launched a movement for Bernie to support Bernie's campaign, and I've spoken at his
rallies -- we urged him, even before he launched his campaign, to run as an Independent. He chose to run as a Democrat. We had predicted something like that, which is that the Democratic Party
establishment would not support his agenda. And even when he was losing the primary, we said, okay, now run as an Independent through November, but he has decided to endorse Clinton. We disagree with
him. And we feel it's our obligation to openly say that. We don't agree that endorsing Clinton is a way forward for our movement. And failing Bernie running as an Independent, it is still important
for us to advocate for the strongest possible left vote in defiance of the Democrats and Republicans. And that is why, my sisters and brothers, myself and Socialist Alternative, we are supporting
Jill Stein's campaign for president. [APPLAUSE]
And I can tell you, I was in Philly twice, because I didn't want to miss the city council meetings. I flew to Philly, Philadelphia twice, during the DNC week, and it was incredible to witness the
goings on there, Democracy Now was there as well. The kind of arrogance with which the Democratic establishment, the Democratic National Committee treated its Sanders delegates was breathtaking to
watch. And I don't know how much the -- I don't think the corporate media did justice, not surprisingly, did justice to what happened there. But if you were on the ground there, you would know that
the first, when the first walkout of the delegates happened, 700 to 1000 delegates of Bernie Sanders walked out of the National Convention in protest at what was happening inside. They went back in,
and then they walked out again on the final day, on Thursday. And as a welcome to those protesting and courageous delegates, we had organized a Dem Exit Protest that night it happened, around 1:00
that morning. And it was incredible to see the energy and the sense of urgency that people feel to really get organized. And I think that it is really -- it's important that we don't lose momentum,
and we build on the hunger that people feel in order to do something different than corporate politics.
 
I cannot possibly end this sharing of ideas with you without also talking about the elephant in the room, which is the system itself. And I think that for those of you who are sociology students, but
you don't have to be a PhD student to recognize that this system that is global capitalism has been an abject failure in addressing even some of the basic needs of society. There is no question that
capitalism when it first was evolving was many steps ahead of what was on offer before them; aristocracy, feudalism and so on. And capitalism as a system harnessed the industrial revolutions to
actually, in many ways, revolutionize life. And that was important. But I think again, we would be doing ourselves and our planet a disservice if we pretended, one, that the change was not urgent,
change away from capitalism was not urgent, and also if we pretended that somehow if we stick with capitalism for another hundred years, it is going to finally work -- no. What has happened under
capitalism, especially in the last six to seven decades, but even before that, is that it is a system that has seen increasing productivity, increasing wealth, increasing scope of resources, better
technology, more evolved ways of running society. And at the same time, this same high-evolved society has overseen greater levels of hunger and malnutrition, war, civil strife, debt due to lack of
access to basic healthcare, lack of access to decent education, lack of access to jobs for hundreds of millions of people around this world. And not to mention the most urgent crisis, which is that
of climate change. And climate change, in many ways, is a good example of why capitalism is such a nonstarter for any real shift for this planet, because again, what we are lacking at this point is
not a consensus that climate change is destroying our planet, we now have that consensus. We don't lack a mass of people recognizing that climate change is a grave danger, we have that too, we don't
need a PhD in climate science to recognize that. We have technologies that could allow us to power our economies as they are today with renewable energies. We have all of that. What is the obstacle?
The obstacle is the system itself that has ensured -- it's in the DNA of capitalism -- that will ensure that all the resources, all the massive oil resources and all the wealth is going to be in the
hands of a very tiny group of corporate executives and multi-billionaires at the top. And they are never going to have an incentive to move towards renewable energy on the scale that we are going to
need.
Just to give you an example, you know, one of the themes of tonight's discussion has been the WTO protest and the historic struggle in Seattle -- in India, the Indian government, which is also
capitalist, but is trying to do something around climate change -- recently declared that they are going to institute a program of subsidies for local solar power generators, like local small
businesses, they are profit-making businesses. But they would be given subsidies so that India itself as a country can make a significant shift towards solar power and away from fossil fuels. Guess
what happened? And this totally encapsulates the nature of global capitalism -- the WTO, you know, the powers that be of Western capitalism, came to India and said, oh, you can't do that. That
violates our charter. Do you know why they said that? Because they don't want the small businesses in India to make any profit from or shift to solar power. They want to be the sellers of solar
power. But that is a nonstarter again for India, because India can't afford those prices, which is why it came up with the idea of subsidy for local programs.
So if you look at every individual example, like that it tells you, that what we are lacking is not intelligence, talent, creativity, knowledge or technology. What we are lacking is a say in what to
do with those resources. And as long as the massive resources of humanity and of our planet are in the hands of that tiny minority, we are not going to be able to move away from this system that is
not only killing us, but our planet. And that is why, my sisters and brothers, I am a Socialist, because I want to move towards an economy where we all, the 99 percent, have a say in what should we
do about our resources, where we have a say that Seattle needs massive investments in mass transit, instead of being choked every day in traffic. That we have a say in ensuring that food is not
rotting in the [INAUDIBLE], but instead is used to permanently eliminate hunger and malnutrition. That we have a say that insurance companies should not be benefitted at the expense of lack of access
to healthcare to the mass of humanity. For all these reasons, I am a Socialist. And I would appeal to you all that if these ideas make sense to you, please check out SocialistAlternative.org. Try to
have a conversation with me or others. Let's really, really build this movement. And our particular message is for the academics in this room; I speak to you as a fellow academic. It is incredibly
important that we do carry out our professional achievements. But none of that professional achievement will be of any use, unless we get active. So we need to see graduate students, professors,
everybody out on the streets protesting, and having their voices heard, and standing shoulder to shoulder with all workers, so that we can actually achieve the changes we dream of -- solidarity.
[APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you so much! That was a very inspiring speech. It reminds me of an old poster that I used to have that was a quote from Eugene Debs, that said, "I am for Socialism because I am for humanity."
But anyway, we have, I'm sorry to say, used up the time that we had allocated for Q and A because some of our speakers ran overtime. But I know that they're all going to be around for a while, and
there is a reception with food and drink just outside. So if you want to discuss this stuff further with one another, obviously you can do that, and also you can seek them out and talk more at the
reception. And also, there are books for sale in the back. So thank you all very much for being here, and please stick around. [APPLAUSE] Thanks!