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Where Do We Go From Here? Naomi Klein, Astra Taylor & Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

On Friday, November 6th, Naomi KleinAstra Taylor and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor joined Haymarket's Anthony Arnove for a conversation about next steps for the struggle in the aftermath of the 2020 election and the ongoing crisis. Below, we present a transcript of their discussion.

Thanks to Mike Rowell for this transcript.

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ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Greetings, everyone.  Thank you so much for joining us.  My name is Anthony  Arnove.  I'm with Haymarket Books.  We are really excited to be hosting this evening's  program.  We are so thrilled to have you all joining in from around the country and around the world.  Just a couple of quick things.  We are really grateful to Mike who is doing the captioning, and I want to thank our speakers.  We are really grateful for their time in this moment, where, as one observer commented, "all we can do is take each minute one day at a time."  So, I want to start by throwing it for some opening comments from each of our speakers, beginning with you, Keeanga, in Philadelphia.

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Great, thanks, Anthony.  I'm glad to be here.  There's a lot to say.  I won't say all of it.  So, I will take a few minutes just to talk about some of the things that are most immediate on my mind.  The 2020 election has been described as a contest to save American democracy, but it really has been an exposition on the crisis in American democracy and the deep wells of American hypocrisy.  This election has been many things, but mostly, it has not been fair or free.  For months, the Republican Party has openly conspired to steal votes, discredit votes, prevent votes from being tallied, dissuade and intimidate voters, an effort led by the highest ranking members of the Republican Party, including, of course, the president, Donald Trump.  
 

This has been treatment that has been meted out particularly to Black voters, especially when the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts, led the way in 2013 in undoing key provisions of the voting rights Act of 1965.  Doing so immediately unshackled the Republican Party's efforts to engage in disenfranchising efforts.  In this election, we have seen this treatment generalized to the entire body politic in a fevered effort to steal the election.  The Republican Party has tried to undermine tens of millions of voters by suggesting, for example, that Pennsylvania simply redo the election because of the returns that the Republican Party does not like.  Or the suggestion that the votes tallied in the cities of Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta should simply be disallowed.  
 

We should all remember that these are the shameful tactics of this disgraced political party, when they use the fig leaf of democracy in the United States as a weapon with which to intrude into the affairs of other countries. No one ever wants to hear another word from the mouths of these dime store dictators about what happens in Cuba, Venezuela, China, Iran, or any other state caught in the crosshairs of US imperialism.  There are debates to be had and discussions to engage in about the situations and contexts within each of those states, but not with any of these elementary despots. That African-Americans continue to vote, enduring long lines, harassments, and other kinds of assaults on this basic democratic right, is not a vindication of the system.  It is a testament to the resilience and defiance of Black people.  In this way, we have to understand the outpouring of support, the willingness to stand, as having precious little to do with Joe Biden's muddled messaging.  
 

Instead, we can see it as the defiant continuation of protests that have been spilling out into the streets since last June.  The long hot summer has turned into a temperate fall, where organizing, protesting, and even revolt has continued.  It has been scarcely two weeks since the Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized here in Philadelphia to put down protests in west Philly against the police murder of Walter Wallace, who was killed just blocks from where, in 1985, police dropped an incendiary device, a bomb, in that Black neighborhood, murdering eleven members of the Black radical organization MOVE, including five children.  
 

More than 250 Black residents of west Philadelphia were displaced.  A Black Democrat was mayor of the city when this assault happened.  I raise this to say that Donald Trump stumbled on to some truth when he said that, "bad things happen in Philadelphia."  Decades of racist police violence, decades of institutional neglect and abandonment, decades of disinvestment in neighborhoods and peoples, and decades of robust police funding, and decades of Democratic Party complicity in marshalling our votes and providing next to nothing in return.  
 

I voted for Joe Biden out of fear of what four more years of Donald Trump would do to our immigrant brothers and sisters, for fear of the ways that it would further embolden the police in their continued assaults on Black communities, for fear of what it would mean for our devolving climate disaster.  I am one of the 67% of Americans who were not voting for Joe Biden but voting against Donald Trump.  
 

But we have a problem, and we are seeing all of the ways that it is playing out now.  Before the dust has even settled, the leadership of the Democratic Party is blaming the left for its dismal showing in what they euphemistically called "underperforming" last Tuesday.  
 

Instead of taking the Senate, by some miracle from the electoral gods, Republicans remain in control.  The Democrats lost seven seats in the House of Representatives, and Joe Biden is squeaking into the presidency.  The blame the movement slogans of "defund the police." Claire McCaskill, the former senator of Missouri, complains that Democrats spent too much time talking about, quote "transsexuals," and former CIA agent and current Representative Abigail Spanberger rages about never wanting to hear the word "socialism" again.  They all look to the activists and the social movements and organizing to place blame for the dismal turnout for the Democratic Party.  
 

What they wanted to say but did not dare was that Black Lives Matter ruined their election, and that is our dilemma in a nutshell.  The Democratic Party loved to chant "Black lives matter" every day in June, as they were trying to curry favor with Black voters.  The Democratic Party wants all of the votes from Black people, but they want none of the obligation or responsibility that that should entail.  They will say "Black lives matter" but then recoil when Black people demand policy to make it so.  
 

Of course, it's not just Black voters in this dilemma.  It's the entirety of the Democratic Party's base.  Imagine the arrogance it takes to have led an administration, as Joe Biden did in 2008 -- from 2008 to 2016, that deported more Latino people than at any other point in American history, while simultaneously expecting Latino voters to simply flock to your campaign.
 

The list of transgressions is endless.  This election not only reveals the crisis of Trumpism, but it also has exposed political failures of the Democratic Party.  This race should not have been this close, but while the GOP offered its base red meat racism to go along with its voter mobilization, Joe Biden tried to tread the middle with vague calls for unity on his endless quest: the search for "the soul of America."  Platitudes are much easier than providing an alternative at a time when the desperation and need and deprivation dwarfs what the Democratic Party has ever been willing to fight for.
 

But we are stuck, because as long as we only have this winner-take-all, two-party system, the leadership of the Democratic Party will always use the threat of Republican rule to discipline activists or its left wing into complicity with its centrist agenda.  The threat of Trump compelled the best of the activists and those around and in the party to muffle their disagreements, to close ranks and back a candidate that none of us wants, in a party that doesn't really want any of us.  
 

While the right wing uses the GOP as a vessel to express its ideas, mold public opinion and influence political debate, the left has no such thing.  The Democratic Party doesn't function in this way.  Instead, the party is roiled by political differences and produces muddled messages that try to avert confrontation between the different factions.  It means that we need our own party, that reflects our political aspirations while also giving us a political home and the political tools to effectively express our ideas, mold public opinion, and influence political debates on our own terms.
 

These tensions within the party are only going to deepen.  Biden may in fact win, but on terms that will make it nearly impossible for him to govern.  Meanwhile, the pace of the pandemic means that desperate need in this country is only going to grow.  While Biden preaches bipartisanship, he awaits a radical Republican Party that rushed to stack the Supreme Court with a reactionary judge while continuing to ignore a population growing in hunger, threatened with homelessness, facing eviction, experiencing joblessness, all while the planet is literally on fire.  And so this is the dilemma that we are continuing to be faced with, growing need, growing deprivation, and a government -- not just a party but a government -- that is incapable of producing the things that people actually need, which means that the protests won't end.  They will continue, and this question of what do we do, where do we go will continue to be at the center of our political debates.
 

That's it for now.  Thank you.  

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Thank you, Keeanga.  That was really a terrific way to start this conversation.  I would love to turn to Naomi Klein next.  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Sure.  Hi, everyone.  It is great to see you, and it has been a harrowing few days. Keeanga, thank you, as always, for your clarity and leadership in these moments.  These days have been more harrowing than they should have been, as we all know.  Biden won the primary based on the claim that he was the safest bet to beat Trump, that even if the Democratic Party base was much more politically aligned with Bernie or Warren in their support for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and racial justice, the party was sure that Bernie was too risky, and so, as we all remember, they banded together and gave us Biden.  
 

But I think that after four days of gnawing our fingers down to the quick, it's fair to say that Biden was not safe at all, as we always knew; not safe for the planet, not safe for the people on the front lines of police violence, not safe for the millions upon millions of people who are seeking asylum, but also not even safe as a candidate.  But if there's one solace I suppose we should take in this moment, it is that the closeness of this election is creating more misery for Trump.  So, I think we should take a moment to at least savor that silver lining in a moment such as this. 
 

I do want to say that defeating Trump is a really important popular victory.  As Keeanga said, a great many people did not vote for Joe Biden.  They voted against Trump, because they recognize the tremendous threat that he represents, and the fact that the movements that are behind so much of that political victory, if it is indeed confirmed, and it certainly looks like it will be, are not able to even just take a moment and feel that victory, because they are already -- we are already -- under attack by the Democratic establishment as it seeks once again to abdicate all responsibility for getting us out of the mess that we are in, is really -- you know, it's its own kind of a crime.  People should not have to be fighting off these attacks.  AOC should not have to be on Twitter all day, making the point that it is not the fault of democratic socialists that the Democratic Party has underperformed in the way that it has.  In fact, she and so many others should be taking a bow for the incredible organizing and leadership that they have shown in this period.
 

Biden was a risky candidate for the same reasons Hillary Clinton was a risky candidate.  He was risky because of his swampy record, because he had so little to offer so many people in such deep crisis.  It seems he has secured an electoral victory by the skin of his teeth, but it was a high risk gamble from the start, and not only is the left not to blame, we are largely responsible for the success that has taken place, not the Lincoln Project, which, you know, as David Sirota said, lit fire to $67 million.  We are the levies holding back the tsunami of fascism. That storm is still gaining force.  This is why this is such a difficult moment to celebrate in.
 

We need to shore up those levies, and we also need to drain energy away from their storm. So, how do we do that?  This is what we have to be strategizing about.  We need to recognize, first of all, that though we may be dealing with the same kind of corporate Democrats as we were in 2008, the "we" is not the same.  We have changed. Our movements have grown.  They grew during the Obama years, and they grew during the Trump years.  They have grown in size, but they have also grown in vision, in the vision of defund the police, move the resources from the infrastructure of incarceration, of policing, of militarism, and move that to the infrastructure of care.  That kind of vision work has happened, the vision work behind the Green New Deal has happened, and, of course, the movement supporting Medicare for All.  So I think even as we approach this juncture with so much fatigue --knowing who they are, and what they are going to do -- we have to remind ourselves that we have changed, that the presence of the "Squad" is a difference from the Obama-Biden years.  Obama and Biden did not have to contend with AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, now Cori Bush.  Where we go from here, I think we need more coordination in all of this rising power.  We need to be building inside/outside power.  I think about that moment in 2018 when the Democrats took back the House, when they were expecting their victory parade, and instead had their offices occupied by Sunrise and AOC greeting them and pledging to introduce Green New Deal legislation.
 

That sort of inside/outside pincer is what we need to be replicating again and again and again.  But that is not enough.  That is a glimpse of the kind of dynamic that we will need if we are going to win the policies that are actually enough to begin to keep us safe.  So, this is what I have been thinking about.  Obviously, I have been thinking a lot about the problem of liberals.  Between what we have seen with the Labour Party ejecting Jeremy Corbyn and what we have seen with the failure of the Democratic Party to do the one thing that we expect from a political party, which is be good at winning elections, right -- the fact that they won a victory against an incumbent, you know, they are going to tell us that this is so hard to do.
 

Look, I don't need to outline all of the things we had going in our favor, but this should have been Hoover in 1933.  We are in the grips of a pandemic, a desperate economic depression, and Trump has done absolutely everything wrong.  This should have been a sweep.  It should have been the sweep that we were promised, and the fact is the Democratic leadership bungled it on every single front, and it wasn't just a mistake.  They did not want to offer people what they needed, and that is because they are much more interested in appeasing the donor class than they are in meeting the needs of their constituents, who need them now more than ever.
 

So, what they are really good at, and this is true on both sides of the Atlantic, is knifing the left.  You know, when we think about what happened to Bernie and that incredibly choreographed moment before Super Tuesday, they are damn good at that in the same way that the power brokers of the Labour Party, even after Corbyn won the leadership, continued to sabotage him at every turn, even when it clearly meant handing the country over to Boris Johnson.  Their true passion is attacking the left, getting rid of the left, and the true strategy is saved for that endeavor.
 

Now, there's lots of people who will say, well, this means that we just have to vacate the Democratic Party -- short of proportional representation, which there is not in the United States, the two-party system seems to me to be a bit of a prison.  So, what I would like to explore with my friends here is whether it really is possible to double down on this course of aggressively primarying establishment democrats, recognizing the leadership of the DSA, of Justice Democrats, and really building on that, and potentially seeing some major changes a couple of years from now.  

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Thanks, Naomi.  So insightful and clear, and now I want to bring in Astra Taylor.  

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Hey, everyone.  Hi, friends.  I want to underscore what you've both said, which is the left delivered this election, and, while absolutely being fully aware of all of Biden's flaws as a candidate -- he was not on the top of our list -- we know that in these crucial victories, because we have this crazy system where it comes down to these battleground or swing states, that the left was there.  And these are community groups, organizations that we know and love.  Mijente in Arizona, LUCHA, Stand Up Pennsylvania, Reclaim Philadelphia, Dream Defenders in Florida, trying to close the gap there, all sorts of groups.  And I was personally shocked that we heard even before the election was settled that the left was the problem.  It's amazingly quick, but I think we have to really put it front and center that this wasn't the classic race where the president brings all of the down ballot races.  It was the opposite.  Down-ballot progressives were pulling the candidate over the line, so I think that's key. 
 

Building on what Keeanga said, you can think of voting in different ways.  One is access to the ballot box; are you able to vote?  Then, is your vote counted?  We are seeing that a party doesn't want votes counted.  The chant "stop the vote" or "stop the count" is an astonishing chant in a country that likes to call itself a democracy.
 

And then, there's does your vote lead to the ability to govern, which is where we are now, right?  So even if our votes are counted and Biden seals the deal, then we are being told that it's impossible for him to govern under these conditions, and I think we have to challenge that as much as we can.  Obviously, having a divided government and the Democrats not sweeping the House in Congress is bad, but there's actually a lot that a president can do, if they are bold and if they will stand up for their principles.  So I think one thing that we have to do is try to force the Biden Administration to use all of the power that they have got.  So that means actually using some of the tactics that Trump used, right?
 

He filled a lot of vacancies in a lot of high-power positions without having them confirmed, using the Vacancies Act, so there are already people who are in these bureaucracies who can be appointed to lead them, and so it's like have some fucking courage, you know?  But I think saying oh, now this election is such a bust that it's impossible for him to govern, I think we have to say, well, you have to govern to the full extent that you can, and you have to do that, and you have to make people's lives materially better, because it's going to be a blood bath in 2022 or 2024, and we know that the fascist threat of Trumpism is not going away.  It's there.  We did learn that it's very popular.
 

Mitch McConnell is not the fucking president, and he needs to be diminished as much as he can be, and so that means that Biden has to do something that's just absolutely not in his nature, which is fight Republicans, and this is part of why he was such a risky candidate.  He's not a boat-rocker like that.
 

The importance of movements to push back on that is so absolutely critical.  You know, a treasury secretary can do a lot.  There's money in the CARES Act that's still there that could be spent.  This is also a part of the problem of him being half of the Obama Administration, who handled the 2008 financial crisis, and, as we know, that that didn't turn out well for homeowners.  We know that Black and Latino families lost more than half of their wealth in that crisis.  So, this guy doesn't have an exactly comforting track record of dealing with economic crises.
 

A random thought though on the two-party system: it is a huge problem.  We have two ruling class parties.  That's why it's such a muddle and it's noncoherent, with two ruling class parties. I still hold out hope that the Democratic Party is a weak party in some ways.  That's why Bernie was able to come close to taking over the party.  The Republicans, the structure of the party there is also weak.  That's why Trump was able to capture the Republican Party.  So I think there's something to that, and what Justice Democrats have done, by primarying safe seat Congress members is really incredible.  The experts said that basically there's no way to challenge incumbents.  Right?  Incumbents tend to win.  So, they have done something that was said to be pretty much impossible, and they have chalked up a remarkable number of victories.  So I think that is a strategy, absolutely, to double down on moving forward.
 

But we also need to thank the Libertarian Party, so we don't hate all third-party spoilers, actually.  In an election where the margin of victory comes down to what the Libertarian party did in a handful of states, that's a bonkers system, but they seem to have taken an outsized chunk of the vote in Michigan and other places.
 

The last thing -- a silver lining: after 2019, the discourse was populism is the threat, which is a code word for "the people are the problem."  I think the conversation has shifted to a recognition that the institutions of our political system are a problem.  I have seen a lot more people, liberals, not on the left, talking about the malapportionment of the Senate, also having to recognize what an archaic institution the Supreme Court is, now that it's totally lost.  To me, that is a breakthrough.  The problem of the American political system is deep.  It's foundational. There's a reason that the famous abolitionist William Garrison called the Constitution an agreement with hell, or something like that.  It is.
 

And so I think pushing on that and further delegitimizing these foundations and pointing out the way that things we have taken for granted are actually sort of added on, actually -- the filibuster isn't a part of the Constitution.  The Constitution has been amended.  Challenging the kind of sacred mythos around it that even liberals hold onto is an important thing in this moment, so I see this as one sort of critical evolution of the discourse: the problem is not the people.  We do have a problem, I think, as organizers of the left in terms of reaching out to people and organizing and building power, but we are in a really challenging space, in terms of the rules of the game, and all eyes should be on that, and that's a part of what makes the road ahead so fucking tough, and I think it's better not to be sanctimonious and romantic about the norms.  The norms are the problem, and if we are going to have anything approaching justice moving ahead, we have to bust a lot of them.

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Thank you, Astra, for those really insightful comments.  We are going to have plenty of time for audience questions.  Folks have already been posting some great questions in the chat that I'll bring into the conversation in a bit.  I just want to quickly mention that we have some events, really important events that will continue this dialogue.  On Monday, Keeanga is going to be back with us with Marc Lamont Hill.  We are launching this really terrific new book, We Still Here by Marc Lamont Hill that Keeanga wrote the forward to.  I think a number of these things will be taken up there.
 

We also next week have David Harvey and a terrific panel that Robin Kelley is moderating, so there will be details on those events in the chat as well.  I hope you can sign up for those and come back and join us.
 

I want to ask all of you about -- 


 

NAOMI KLEIN:  I just want to throw in, you know, that Trump has been very good for socialist publishing, and I hope that people continue to support Haymarket, which has done such amazing education during this period.  I want to bow down to the whole Haymarket team for the pandemic school they put us all through.  It's just been phenomenal.  

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Here, here.  Two cheers.
 
 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Thank you.  You started our school.  It all began with you.  We'll be here still as well.  We have got some really exciting programming coming up.
 

There's a good reason to focus on Trump and the presidency and Congress, but also I'm curious about your take on some of the ballot initiatives and, in particular, Naomi, you could start us off with understanding what happened in California and Proposition 22 and its impact for workers in the gig economy. 

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Well, I think Astra might be able to explain it a little bit better than me.  Do you want to have a go, Astra? 

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  I mean, as far as I know, it basically just mandates that people will continue to be considered independent contractors, right, not employees of these digital platforms, whether it's Uber or Lyft, DoorDash, etc, and this initiative was a direct response to gig worker organizing in collaboration with sort of progressive legislators who basically said this is ridiculous; we are not independent contractors; we don't have control over our work.  There should be a minimum wage threshold.  There should be benefits.  There should be all of these things that come with being considered a traditional employee.  So, legislation was passed, AB 5, and Silicon Valley freaked out.

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: What was the proportion on the vote?  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  They won it by a decent margin.  The spending was insane, which brings us to another structural crisis.  There was a lot of confusion about it, but just like even the use of drivers, right, like they turned drivers into campaigners for the measure, and while there have been some good, progressive legislators in California who have been pushing, there has also been silence from the Democratic leadership, and a runway between the Obama Administration and Lyft and Uber, and so I think it's part of why people are -- you know, I feel like one of the biggest mistakes of this election campaign was the failure to answer Trump's closing argument, one of his most persistent messages, which is: I am the guy who stands for jobs, stands for a good economy, whatever that means, and the Democrats are the party of lockdown.  
 

And the messaging on that from Democrats was very, very weak, and there was a failure to understand that not everybody who is against the lockdown was just like a reactionary jerk, that a lot of people were Uber and Lyft drivers, whose jobs are so, so precarious.  They had lost 90% of their revenue in the midst of the earlier lockdowns.  Some of them lost 100% of their revenue.  There was absolutely no safety net for them.  And they have no reason to believe the Democrats have their back, right?
 

Keeanga can speak to this as well, but one of the most disturbing stats on the exit polls was that when voters were asked what their top issue was, the number one issue was the economy, not for a majority, but I think something like 30%, more than any other issue, more than the pandemic, and of the people who said the economy was their biggest issue, 82% of them said they voted for Trump, right? 
 

Boris Johnson is shutting down the British economy as of today, and he is able to do that without there being rioting in the street because the UK government is covering 80% of people's salaries, and that has not happened, you know, from the Democratic Party leadership, which is why we do need to talk about Pelosi, and we need to talk about Schumer, and the perception, people's rightful perception that the Democratic Party is not fighting for them and that they had to choose.  And I know this doesn't explain all of the Trump votes, but I think it does explain a lot of the Democratic Party's failure in this electoral cycle.

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Yeah.  I just want to add a key detail on the Prop 22 fight.  So, I think it was the second most expensive election this season, so it was like $200 million poured into this thing, it's essentially corporations making the law, completely being deceptive in their marketing, using drivers.  But, you know, it's got very close ties -- Lyft has close ties to the Obama Administration, but also Uber.  It's Kamala Harris's brother-in-law, Tony West, who is the public-facing resistance to the bill, and also Mina Harris.  
 

This is coming out of Pelosi's district.  This is what is so painful about this moment.  We had to pray for Biden to win, and essentially what you have is this is their worker revolution.  Yeah, you'll be an independent contractor with no minimum wage, and the plan is to bring this model national in some ways.

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  And Valerie Jarrett is now on the board of Lyft as well, the former advisor of Barack Obama.  So, I'll just say I think that the initiatives and the referenda were very mixed, right?  There was some drug decriminalization that was very important, lots of $15 minimum wage, which is very important, but then you have what happened in California, also in Illinois, a fair tax initiative, which is basically to increase the taxes on people, individuals making over $250,000 a year, lost, and so I think that it paints a mixed picture of this kind of polarization, which, for me, gets back to what happens when you don't have a vehicle to intervene, to shape public discussions, to try to influence public debate.  Instead, you're constantly at war with a party that is deliberately trying to muddle your message so as to not offend these other groups of voters that they are trying to attract, on the one hand. 
 

And then on the other, there's the effort to make the economic argument, which is an important one in the midst of a pandemic that has destroyed the economy, but it's also overlaid with this naked disgusting racism that was also at the core of Trump's final push and the solicitation of, you know, the stuff about the suburbs, and literally the claim that the Democrats are going to build projects in the suburbs next to you.
 

One of the things that was really interesting about this is that the Democrats were under some spell from the Lincoln Project that Biden was going to be able to pull off Republicans as a result of this kind of harsh, open race-baiting, and, in fact, 97% of Republicans voted for Trump.  I think also the majority of Trump supporters, once again, just as in 2016, were people making over $100,000 a year, which is far and above the median income in the United States.  I think that there's an effort to combine both economic crisis and anxiety, which people for some reason like to deny, even when we are in the midst of an economic depression, but that is combined with racism as a way to both divide people but also appeal to people's desperation.  
 

But the one last thing I'll say about this is I do think that we have to think more dynamically about what Trumpism is, that it's not just white supremacy, because that alone can't explain how Trump was able to attract 18% of Black men voters or how his totals among Black women increased by 3-4% over 2016, and so this is not just about understanding and unpacking what Trumpism is, but also what the Democratic Party is not offering people that, of course, the vast majority of workers and Black people remain as part of the base here, but the Republican Party isn't trying to become the party of Black America.  It's trying to peel off some voters and then demoralize the left, and I think it's significant enough that it can't just be ignored, and we can't just pretend that this isn't happening so that we can talk about something else.  So, I think that that has to be taken up in our unpacking of what this phenomenon is.  

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  That brings me to a question that I want to pose to all three of you, which is assuming that, indeed, Biden ekes out an electoral win and it's respected, and he somehow does become the president, where do you see Trumpism going without Trump in the White House, but obviously still very much being a political figure, and somebody who is not about to retreat from the stage of public life in any regard, and who has an apparatus around him that still very much does have institutional footholds? What would be the implications for a right wing that has a narrative of having an election that it's been deprived of, that's been stolen, that's been corruptly taken from it?  What does it look like to fight the right with Trumpism in that configuration?  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  We are all really excited to answer this question, clearly.  Well, I think it's important to remember that the whole reason Trump is president is because a significant portion of the base thought Obama was illegitimately the president and had a conspiracy theory that he was not an American and should never have been president.  So, this predates the Trump presidency in many ways.  You know, it's the reason it exists.  He was born of a conspiracy theory based on an illegitimate democratic presidency.
 

So, this is what I was saying before about how we are the levy holding back this wave, and we need to simultaneously shore up the levy and drain energy from the wave, right? And I think that that process of draining energy is not singular.  I think there are multiple fronts, and one of them is a clear plan attacking white supremacist logics, in the school system, and another is actually being a political force that takes people's needs seriously, especially in the context of a pandemic.  I mean, the Biden Administration should be on emergency footing from day one on multiple fronts.  I mean, the one thing that I can say that Biden did pretty well at the DNC was he named the four crises, but what he didn't do was actually lay out a path out of really any of those crises, let alone a holistic vision that connected the dots between those crises, but the movements have those plans.  I mean, that is what the calls to move resources from policing to the care economy -- to the infrastructures of care -- are about.  That's what the Green New Deal is about.  That is what the environmental justice movement is about.
 

So, we actually have our plans, and we need to be putting forward those visions, and we need to be demanding that emergency footing and simultaneously putting forward the solutions, because they are really not going to come from the leadership of the Democratic Party.  
 

But we also need real solutions to the pollution of our information ecology, and I don't think that they are in any way clear, because I think that any solutions that involve giving more power to two or three companies to determine what is true and what is false are unbelievably corrosive and anti-democratic, and I am worried about the narrative of applauding Facebook and Twitter for the way in which they have been fact checking and labeling and censoring.  We don't want to give them that power.
 

I think there's so many things we need to do to drain energy from that wave, but I don't think we are going to win the wars in the information sphere.  I think a lot of this is just like we really have to do the work, like we actually have to give people lived experiences that are different, that are kind of drawing people away from screens, and maybe that seems impossible in an age like this, but I think about FDR being really deliberate about situating New Deal projects in the parts of the country that didn't vote for him in an explicit effort to flip those areas so that people had a lived experience of the job creation, and it wasn't an abstract debate about whether this is communism or not, but it's like, is this bringing jobs to your community?
 

I don't think that that is instead of having, you know, the frontal assaults on white supremacists' behavior and logics, but I do think that we need to do both.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  I'll say I think this is going to be really volatile.  I think that we are, in some ways, in uncharted territory in modern American history.  You have this deposed president, who, you know, it looks like he's going to lose.  We actually don't know.  There's like hundreds of lawyers involved.  He's stacked the Supreme Court for this exact moment.  So, we think he's going to lose, but even if he does, then he has two months in the White House with the full authority of the President of the United States, $400 million in debt -- I mean, who the hell know what is this guy is going to do?
 

I think one of the things with the polling and with the predictions over the last several months is that I think that part of the reason why we assumed that Trump would lose is because he couldn't expand beyond his base, right?  This was the tunnel vision of his focus.  This was the red meat.  He's not trying to appeal to anyone else, and then he just spent the last month doing these insane COVID tour rallies, and pulled out the vote.  He did his own personal get out the vote for the Republicans and brought out all of these other people and made this into a race that was much closer than I think most people, and certainly the polls, indicated.  Not all of those people are AR-15 carrying white supremacists, but a lot of them are, and with his dog whistling, winking, footsies with Nazis and white supremacists -- I don't know what their reaction will be to losing their president and feeling further like their country is being taken away from them, and so I think that it's a dangerous time. 
 

It's a dangerous time for the left.  It's a dangerous time in this country, where there is so much political instability, there's economic instability.  The whole thing feels extremely fragile, and so, to me, this is part of the urgency of figuring out what the left project is, because while I understand the pragmatism of primarying reactionary democrats and taking the party over piece by piece, I don't know if we have time for that, because I don't think Bernie did almost take over the party.  I think they allowed this game to go on to gin up the base, and when they wanted to flex, they flexed, and it was over.  It was over overnight, and so I feel like this puts an enormous amount of pressure on our side to begin to respond to this fragmentation, because I still think that there is extreme polarization, but that on our side, because of the lack of organization, not the proliferation of small groups -- we have plenty of those -- but the big organizations that allow us as a left to cohere, to be around each other, to influence each other, to then influence a wider public, does not yet exist.
 

And so we still suffer from fragmentation and being overly dispersed and out of touch with each other, which makes it difficult to act collectively.  It makes it difficult for us to flex, and so I think that is part of thinking of short-term goals, long-term goals, you know, long-term with the Earth on fire goals; who knows what that is?  We need more cohesion, coherence, the consolidation not just of one big group or a couple of big groups, but we need more horizontal collaboration coming together so that we get a sense of ourselves and are able to reflect what I think is a much more general sentiment.  
 

There were polls that were produced by the New York Times in some college a couple of weeks ago that show huge majorities for universal health care, huge majorities for child care, for all of the things that we know are wildly popular but that have no political home from which to fight for, and so that to me seems like part of the urgency, of not just reacting to the right and trying to fend off the efforts of the right, which, of course, we have to do, but what is our project for going on the political offensive?  That has to be a part of the immediate discussion on the left and trying to pull together a coherent left project.

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Do you want to come in on this question, Astra?  

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Yeah, building on that, the Bernie question is interesting, because I think the establishment was surprised by Biden in some way and thought he was flailing, but then, yes, got in line immediately and exerted their power.  I guess, it's funny, everybody is sharing these polls, right, we are all reading the polls and the math and the polls, and we know the polls are bad, but we keep reading them.  Lately, this phrase came to mind.  Survey results aren't solidarity.  Yes, a survey says 70% of people want Medicare for All, but we have to build the solidarity so that people can believe it's possible.  I think that was part of Bernie and Corbyn's problem; these are great in theory, but I don't think you can really deliver.  That to me was actually one of the major obstacles facing those campaigns -- people haven't seen the government deliver much. 
 

And so, there's a kind of skepticism there, but that solidarity is something that the left has to build, and there are lots of ways that solidarity is squelched in this country, lots of ways that it is actually criminalized and suppressed.  So, I think that's the ultimate challenge facing us.
 

As far as the rise of the right: we know austerity is not good if you want to stop fascism, and we are heading into a major phase of austerity.  That's what is on the table, and that's pretty fucking terrifying.

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  It's not a fait accompli. 

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  I agree.  That's why we do need the establishment to face pressure from people.  As much as we need to take people out of the mode of Trumpism, you need to keep people in a mode of political engagement, and you do that by giving some sense that your lives will get better.  
 

There's vacuums.  There's the vacuum that the left isn't filling, so people look for other explanations, other ways of understanding the world.  There's the vacuum of local news, so then people go to Facebook, and then there's the vacuum of loneliness.  We have seen that part of what's driving people into this, you know, reactionary political collision is that they are isolated and lonely and disconnected, and I think that is part of what solidarity also helps with, right?  It gives you a sense of community and belonging and purpose, and so people need that as well.  We need to meet people's material needs and their emotional needs.  
 

But austerity can go both ways.  I think you're right.  But it's a tough thing for people to live through. 

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Do you want to comment on that, Naomi?  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Well, yeah.  Because I think it's interesting to think about 2008, because it was another moment of deep crisis, and I think if there's one thing we have going for us, it is the blandness and emptiness that is Joe Biden.  The absolute absence of charisma, and the fact that he is not beloved.  I think it's unbelievably corrosive for our social movements when the corporate wing of the Democratic Party is led by a very charismatic and charming figure, which was the case with Bill Clinton and which was the case with Barack Obama, and when you add to that the identity power of being the first African-American president or being potentially the first woman president in the case of Hillary Clinton, it has its own set of challenges.
 

Joe Biden is the political equivalent of mayonnaise.  He is the 45th white man to be president of the United States, and it's like he got the job done, stuck the sandwich together, but nobody is excited about it, and that is awesome for social movements. First of all, because we have them.  We have been building them.  Let's give ourselves a little credit here, over more than a decade.  And I don't believe we are headed for first-term Obama, give the guy a chance, maybe he's playing chess, maybe he's -- 

 

ASTRA TAYLOR: Oh, no, we are not. 

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  No!  We are headed for that Sunrise moment of occupying Pelosi's office and being greeted by AOC.  So, as discouraging as this moment is, I just think we have to give credit to all of the years of organizing that you have both been a part of in Occupy and Black Lives Matter and Sunrise, and the fact that there is this inside game that is something different, that the most compelling political figures right now are on the left. 
 

So, look, I don't know if Bernie was a fool's errand.  I didn't feel that, Keeanga, on the campaign trail.  I think Bernie got really close, and I think that when you talk about flexing, what haunts me, and people have heard me say this, and lots of people would like me to drop it, but what haunts me is not the way the Democratic establishment rallied behind Biden.  It's that the candidates that were a part of claiming that they were standing for transformation, like Elizabeth Warren, didn't stand with us, right?  And so that means that we are not demanding enough of our candidates.  It means that we are not coordinating enough.  If you think about Working Families Party and Justice Democrats and DSA, and if there was a split, and there was, between Bernie and Warren, why wasn't there clear coordination and sort of extracting of demands?  Like, yeah, we'll support you, but when it comes down to it, you have to move over to Bernie if you're losing so that we don't end up in a situation like this.
 

I mean, is that unrealistic?  There's so much more coordination that could be happening at the movement level in terms of making demands of politicians, instead of just kind of a blank-check support.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Yeah, to be clear, I don't think Sanders' campaign in 2016 or 2020 was a fool's errand.  I think that it was critically important.  I just don't know if we were as close as we think that we were, because the Democratic Party, the leadership, as soon as they said no, it was done, and to me that's part of how we understand what happened with Warren, not that we didn't have enough meetings or we didn't have enough coordination, it's that that was a reflection of their power compared to ours, and whatever it was that was enticing enough to say, "Screw you, Bernie, I'm going with the establishment," to me, that's part of the obstacle.  That's part of the power.  That's part of the legacy that is not going to simply be undone, and so, this isn't to say that those challenges shouldn't happen. 
 

The question is do we have time.  Do we have time, one by one, person by person, you know, four years?  Two years?  Six years?  I don't know if we have time for that. I think sometimes we get an outsized vision of the "Squad."  The Squad is great.  I love them.  But they are reviled in the party.  They are reviled, and so they are not wagging that dog.  This is not the tail wagging the dog.  This is the dog allowing them to exist because of what they do.  They get people fired up. They bring people in, you know, but they are not running the show, and so I don't know if we have time.
 

You know, AOC said it herself.  If we were somewhere else, we wouldn't be in the same fucking party [as Joe Biden], but here we are.  So, I don't know exactly what that means, but it's something that we are going to have to figure out.  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Okay.  Astra, do you know what we should do?  You know, the democracy expert over there knows what we should do to -- 

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Read her book.  

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  The two-party system is the problem.  They think that we shouldn't offer what we have to offer because of who it's beholden to.  We have to do a lot of things, but none of us can do them all, and I'm so grateful that people are intelligently engaging with the Democratic Party from the left.  That's not my destiny.  I'm building the Debt Collective with my comrades, and we think there needs to be a New Debt jubilee out of the gate.  That's one thing that Biden can do, and we are not going to let him to tell us that we can't do it because people need their debts and rent cancelled, and we need labor organizing.
 

I agree that we are out of time, but I don't know what the rapid strategy is.  I think we have to keep doing it all, and we have to do a lot of myth busting too, right?  Lindsey Graham was back today talking about how the deficit is getting bad.  There's going to be all of these old zombies popping up, and we have to slay them.  You didn't worry about that nine months ago.

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Luckily, we feel refreshed and ready for a fight.

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  They ate my brains  -- 

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Also, Republicans don't care about being hypocrites, if we have learned nothing else.  They do not care about what they did last year and you asking them about it this year.  "Clearly, we are full of crap."  

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE: I would love to bring in some audience questions for you all.  There's some really good ones, but I want to combine two real quick for you.  One is from Miriam Thompson.  "How do we turn current vibrant networks into a growing left progressive force?  We are still too siloed, except for the explosion of Black Lives Matter in the streets." Coupling that with a comment from Melanie Joseph, from the Foundry Theater, a Haymarket author.  "How might we apply more clarity to our movements and intersectionality so people become less intimidated?" 
 

So, some questions about strategy, obviously coming off of a period of powerful and intense organizing.  So some thoughts about how where that might go from here?  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  I'll just say one thing that I have been thinking about and am totally clueless as to what to do about it -- I seem to have a lot of insights like that, "Here's the problem:  You figure it out."  
 

But one of the things that I think is missing is, you know, left publications, and not -- of course, there's Haymarket Books and publishers, but I mean like rapid response, not quite a newspaper, because we are not in the age of newspapers, but if that's a website or whatever it is so that not only can people know what is happening -- there's so many campaigns and struggles that have been happening on a local basis that people just don't know about.  I know I'm in touch with people from different aspects of the housing movement, and, like KC Tenants, organizers in Kansas City, once again shut down an eviction court with an electronic docket, where they are trying to evict people with these illegal remote hearings -- the organizers have been able to figure out how to disrupt these hearings. 
 

So, there are different kinds of campaigns that people, organizations, groups are involved in around the country that we could learn from, generalize from, and begin to get a more comprehensive, coherent picture of what's happening if we had some kind of clearinghouse of information, as well as places to analyze and think about things and politically intervene in ways that many of us do for the various publications that we write for but not necessarily done in the spirit of being a part of a left that is trying to cohere itself, and so that is one of the ways we talk about how do these movements intersect or overlap with each other, how do we connect the dots.  That would be an important way to do so.

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Yeah, and the only thing that I would add to that is just the importance of internationalism in that.  I think that we have lost a lot of ground, actually, in sharing ideas across borders, and everything that we are talking about now is -- these are transnational forces, and there are great teachings and learnings that we can share with each other, particularly in the context of pandemic response, and I think it's really, really empowering in the US, which has done among the least for its people in the midst of this crisis to have lots of case studies of people's popular victories in other countries that have worked, right, so that people aren't faced with this false choice of just like lockdown, lose everything economically or go back to work amidst mass death.  These are the two choices before you, right?  

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  In addition to publications, I think we need more organizations where the members fund them and own them, and that's one of the reasons I'm so grateful for DSA, for the rise of DSA.  People pay their dues.  It's one of the reasons the right hates unions, right?  And so I think more groups based on that model of breaking away from philanthropy and all of the problems associated with it and actually being accountable to the people you're in movement with and building power that way.  We see there's a huge appetite for small dollar donations for political campaigns, but we should be putting it into organizations that stick around as well.  So, that's something to me that's just so critical, and I think there's a shift in that direction.  People see that it's important to own the organizations you're a part of, because otherwise, you're just a prop. 

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  And are there demands that each of you feel could be galvanizing in this moment?  What are some demands that we should be making in this moment?

 

ASTRA TAYLOR: Cancel the fucking rent.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Cancel the student debt.  Do it.  I was appalled to find out -- you know, I don't know why I didn't know this, but that Congress controls the interest rate on federal student loan debt. 

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Oh yeah, oh yeah.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  That is outrageous. 

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  There should be no interest. 

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Even if they weren't going to cancel it, they could drop the interest rate to 0%, which these people have never done.  But they should cancel federal student loan debt, and they need to figure out how to cancel all of this rent debt that no one can pay.  It's coming due in January, when all of this moratoria ends.  No one can pay it, and so we are talking about American caseloads with COVID crossing the threshold of 100,000 a day, moving into winter, moving into the heart of the flu season with the prospect of millions of people -- and it's not hyperbole.  It is millions of people on the cusp of eviction.  This is psychotic, and so that is the first thing they need to do is deal with this voter insanity in this country, and then they need to figure out a way to get this rent debt off of the books, and they need to also cancel student loan debt.

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Yeah.  So The Debt Collective will be launching a jubilee debt campaign.  We were on calls all day talking about it, partly because the executive branch can cancel all federal student loans with a signature.  Congress has already given the Department of Education authority to do that.  It makes incredible sense in an economic crisis, because it's a big economic stimulus, because all of the money that people would be spending on their student loans will go into the community.  It would help close the racial wealth gap, because Black women are the most burdened by student loans, in part because they are paid less on the job, and have less intergenerational family wealth, so that just compounds.  
 

So, I think cancelling the debt could be a huge victory in the new year and is a really important one to fight for, and coupling that demand with exactly that, cancel the rent, cancel the debt, cancel incarceration debt.  People shouldn't be in debt for having been stuck in the criminal justice system.  
 

So, I think that's something that's pivotal, and it's not because it's the end goal, but because I think showing people we can win something is also really critical to bringing people into these movements and building that lasting movement and conviction that, together, we can change the public conversation, and we can make our lives better.

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  And we don't stop talking about Medicare for All in the middle of a pandemic when millions of people are losing their health care, because it's tied to their jobs.  
 

And we need a Green New Deal.  I think that people know that we are in a moment of intersecting and escalating emergencies, that they can't be pried apart.  Every disaster has every other disaster within it, whether it's COVID, whether it's climate, and people are living that now in a way that I think makes an abstract idea, like intersectionality, feel very, very real, right?  So, we have to build on that. 
 

And, I think the Poor People's Campaign has the right idea for a lot of this.  I think that we really need to listen to people who are out on the campaign trail, who have talked to many, many thousands of people and really learn as much as we can as quickly as we can.  I heard a really interesting kind of debrief with Mike Siegel in Texas, who lost his congressional campaign, but he turned out more voters than anybody ever had in his district.  It's just that the Republicans turned out more than they ever had, right?  And one of the things that he was saying is in the context of gerrymandering, we cannot write off rural areas.  We really need to have an offer, and so he was saying, "we can win, but we have to talk about farm policy; we have to talk about water policy."  This is the sort of thing that we need to like really, really focus on right now. 
 

And we need to think really big.  We are facing at least four crises.  We need to find solutions that connect the dots between all of them. It's not going to come from Joe Biden.  It's going to have to come from below, but I believe that we are readier for that than we have ever been in my lifetime, which is not to say that we are ready, but we are readier than we have ever been.  And, yeah, I would love to see a real beginning, which can happen with executive authority.  Joe Biden has already said he's in favor of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a rebooted Climate Conservation Corps, and that's a really interesting opportunity to bridge an urban-rural divide, to have a climate and jobs response, and to create millions of jobs for young people who right now are just being offered endless Zoom calls.  
 

And I think that you can do it in a way that's COVID safe, so I think we need a few immediate, on the ground, the way FDR did it, just out of the gate, make it happen immediately.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  What do you focus on?  Probably the first thing has to be some multitrillion dollar rescue that is not focused on corporations and businesses but that is actually focused on rescuing the public.  That is the money that can cancel debt and that can cancel rent and that can provide some cushion for people.  People have been without public aid since July.  I mean, this is insane.  
 

So I think there are many things, but the movements have to put these demands out, and then put on the pressure to move beyond this nonsense about bipartisanship, use the executive order and do whatever you have to do to be able to immediately respond to these intersecting crises right now.  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Yeah, people's rescue out the gate. That need for breathing room is so intense. With the toll of this thing, right, we are hearing these numbers, which could be 150,000 cases in a single day, right?  We don't know the half of what is happening behind closed doors.  The toll this is taking on women and children who are being beaten by over-stressed men in this moment is absolutely terrifying, and we do not know a fraction of it.  It is so urgent that people get a rescue right now, and then we'll figure out what to do.

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  I have one last question.  This actually comes from Masha Gessen, and I just want to put a quick plug in here.  We did a terrific event with Masha and Anand Giridharadas. If folks didn't get a chance to see that, I really urge you to watch that.  I think somebody can probably put a link into the chat.  It's also at the Haymarket YouTube.  You can follow us and see other conversations with Naomi, Keeanga and Astra.  
 

Also just a quick reminder before I ask this last question about Marc Lamont Hill and Keeanga on Monday, but Masha asked it, actually directed to Naomi, but I am sure all of you might have something to say on this, and it touches on what you were just raising, Naomi, about the pandemic.  
 

"What are some examples of successful, no false-choice responses to the pandemic?"  They're asking if you can comment on that.  

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  I mentioned examples of governments in Europe that are paying 80% of people's salaries and still are, so you're not shaming people for making a decision about doing what it takes to be able to earn a living or what's left of a living.  You're saying we are going to take care of the basics, and we are going to keep people safe, and we are going to get this under control.  We are going to invest massively in contact tracing, which is not about having an app downloaded on your phone, although there can be a role played by apps.  It's about huge investments in public health, in real humans checking in and saying, okay, you've come into contact; you need to quarantine; we will provide the housing if you do not have the housing; we will take care of your kids; we will take care of your dog.  We will actually have a functioning public infrastructure that allows for people to do what is necessary to protect their own health and to protect their community's health. 
 

We have seen that in New Zealand.  We have seen some of that in Australia.  We have seen some of that in Canada, in places like British Columbia.  One of the things that we really need to do, and maybe this is a benefit to Biden being someone that people don't want to put in front of microphones too much -- in Canada, where the COVID response has been patchy, but it's been a hell of a lot better than the United States, in British Columbia, for instance, there's a daily COVID briefing, and the person who you hear from is not a politician.  It is a doctor.  Her name is Bonnie Henry.  She isn't associated with one political party or another.  It isn't a politician using the pandemic as a platform to further their own presidential aspirations, as governor of the state -- I won't name any names -- but this really does need to be depoliticized.  And so the public health officials have to be out front.  The politicians have to step back.  People need to be very clear about what it takes to stay safe, and they need to have the support in order to be safe.  
 

Personally, I'm obsessed with education and what this could mean, because what we need to do to have safe schools, once the pandemic is under control, is also what we need to have better schools, to have a better education, smaller classrooms, more outdoor education.  All of the research tells us that what it would take to revolutionize schools for the better is also what it would take to have smaller pods and less contagion and so on.  So, a couple of examples of win-wins.  I love New Zealand's idea around having a four-day workweek so that people have more -- first, you have to get the pandemic under control, but once you have the pandemic under control, then you can pay people the same salary to work less and have more time to travel in their own communities, right?  So, you're reducing air travel, which is a contagion vector, and you're improving quality of life.  We need to think of those types of win-wins.

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Keeanga, Astra, any final thoughts?

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  The only thing that I would say about that is that Donald Trump's strategy has been to withhold all funding to force people to go back out and go to work but to also starve local governments.  Unlike the federal government, local governments, state governments can't just produce money.  They don't have a treasury department like the federal government does, and so part of the effect of this has been local governments now easing back on restrictions to try to drive some kind of local economy, because their money comes from sales tax, and so it's very insidious.  It's basically taking the methods that were used in the meat packing industry and applying them to the nation as a whole, which is no money, no PPE, and we are going to let the virus rip, and those who don't make it don't make it, and those who do will have herd immunity by the end of this.  It is completely barbaric, and so that is what the rescue is about.  It's about focusing a portion of that funding on individuals so that people can get help immediately, but it's also about providing the hundreds of millions of dollars that local governments need in order to be able to function without requiring that everyone go back out into the public.
 

But there has to be a combination.  There have to be some measures put in so that if people shelter in place, whatever modified version of that is, that you're not going to fall off of a financial cliff, and that is the devil's bargain that we have been given here.  We have been told that even though we live in a country that gives the military almost $1 trillion a year that somehow there's not enough for this public health emergency. "We are not funding corrupt Democrat-led cities" is really about "we are going to starve people to force them to go to work to recover my economy, which is my ticket to the presidency."  It's disgusting, and that is what's happening. The funds have to be released to stop this very destructive dynamic.

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  To weigh in a little bit, we'll have to start talking about things that seem like they are in the distant past because of these minutes that actually last days or whatever they are that you started with.  But, the municipal lending facility has made two loans to municipalities, and it has bought tons of corporate debt and given corporate entities far better terms, and so there is money to help the communities that Keeanga is talking about.
 

I'm thinking back to the early days of the pandemic and some of the demands that need to be made forcefully, which is let people out of prisons.  That's a no-fault pandemic response.  We need to keep pushing for that.  There's a whole lot of people still locked away in cages where they are likely to catch COVID.  So, I think reviving some of those things that were happening back when we did our first webinar feels pretty critical.  And the Defense Production Act, Biden is going to have that.  Trump used it to keep meat packing plans open.  You can use it for PPE or vaccine production or whatever creative thing, so I think engaging our memory, whatever it's been, for the last eight or nine months, whatever things were started or halted or we need to revive.

 

ANTHONY ARNOVE:  Thank you so much, Astra, Naomi, Keeanga.  That was a great conversation.  Thank you so much for your time and your great contributions.  Follow them all on social media, if you are so inclined.  Get their books, and join us all again on Monday with Keeanga and hopefully for conversation soon with Naomi and Astra that we'll share with everyone, and in the meantime, solidarity to you all.

 

NAOMI KLEIN:  Thank you, Anthony.  

 

KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR:  Thank you, Anthony.

 

ASTRA TAYLOR:  Thanks, Anthony.  Thanks, Haymarket.

 

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