Nationalizing the banks is a popular demand, so let’s demand it


“Everybody knows that the bankers are criminal, and everybody hates the banks.”

The following is an edited version of remarks Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford delivered to a panel on “Imagining an Authentic U.S. Left for the 21st Century ,” at the Left Forum, in New York City, this past weekend.

Power to the People!

I’m honored to be among the folks that Paul Street invited to think with him about what an “authentic” left would look like in the United States. It’s something that many of us think about all the time.

The left would look very much as it does right now — you start from where you are– but it would begin behaving quite differently. I think that what we are actually talking about is: How do we make a movement — a ruling class-destroying movement — in the United States?

That’s a simple proposition, and I think certain things flow from that proposition. Of course, we’d be talking about setting in motion several mass-based movements that are linked in their shared enemy: the ruling class and its organs of coercion and control, the organs that people come up against every time they move — and even when they don’t move.

These mechanisms of coercion and control are more than just the police and the mass incarceration Gulag, more than the vast national security state. We also confront the awesome power of the corporate media which, as we have witnessed dramatically in the last two years, works hand-in-glove with U.S. domestic and international spy agencies. That is obviously what is going down with the anti-Russia hysteria.

“How do we make a ruling class-destroying movement in the United States?

The unity of the oligarchy, the corporate media, and the national security state is perfectly personified in Jeff Bezos, the Amazon owner and owner of the Washington Post, whose company also has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Bezos is the richest man in the world. He and two other oligarchs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, own more wealth than the entire poorest half of the American population. And that is the kind of oligarchic fact that is becoming commonly known out there in this vast, 300-plus million person country.

These are monopolists. They are masters of what they call “creative destruction” — which is a very grotesque way of them bragging about the huge disruptions that hyper-active capital is causing in U.S. society, and much greater destruction in the Global South.

The concentration of capital in the U.S. and the global capitalist world has reached a point that the individuals at the top of the oligarchy — the men, and a few white women named Walton — can be counted on our fingers. We know most of their names, and much of the public knows most of their names — that is the state of concentration that we have reached.

The heads of the big banks that are the queen ants of finance capital — the enemy of all mankind — can be listed on the fingers of one hand.

The crisis of late stage capitalism is all around us. The people know that overlapping crises are in motion. They see it all around them, even if they are among those who still have good jobs. They see the crisis in motion; they talk about it, even if it has not devastated them personally, yet. There is fear everywhere in the United States, even among those people who, on paper, seem to be looking good — the upper income folks in two-“good job” households.

“The heads of the big banks can be listed on the fingers of one hand.”

The people know the names of the oligarchs at the top of the list. Most importantly, everybody knows that the bankers are criminal. And everybody hates the banks.

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