with Graeber's widow discusses Pirate Democracy and other works
NC Ed Herman, who passed away recently, was the prime author of that. He was a specialist in finance and taught at the Wharton School. He was interested in the institutional structure of the media and how basic institutional factors lead to the shaping of the information system that’s created. We slightly differed on that, I should say. My own feeling is that while all of that is important, I don’t think it’s very different from the general intellectual culture. My own work has mostly been, actually, on elite intellectual culture, which doesn’t have those same institutional pressures, but nevertheless leads to a version of reality that’s not very different from what comes out of the media system.
‘they feared democracy, and they devised all kinds of techniques to prevent it effectively. If you look back at the Constitutional Convention, the only participant who objected to this was Benjamin Franklin. He went along, but he didn’t like it.
NC Actually, that has very interesting, very current implications. The Roe v. Wade case, if you read [Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito’s actual opinion, his decision, is quite interesting. What he says is that there’s nothing in history and tradition that supports the idea that women have rights, which is quite true. If you look back at the constitution, the framers – for them women weren’t even persons. They were property. That’s Blackstone [Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765–69, by William Blackstone], English common law. Women are property owned by the father and handed over to the husband.
NC Yeah. That’s again a very timely issue. As you know, the NATO Summit [in Madrid at the end of June] received lots of attention, very positive attention. One crucial element of it, which hasn’t received much discussion, bears exactly on what you’re talking about. If you look at the NATO strategic statement, I think it’s Article 41, the basic thrust is we cannot have discussions and negotiations about Ukraine. It must be settled by violence. Those aren’t the words that are used, but that’s the meaning of the words.
What they say is that the question of admission of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine into NATO is not up for discussion. No third party can have any voice in it. We will decide as we wish. That’s a way of saying, ‘There cannot be any negotiations’. It’s been understood for 30 years, long before Putin, that no Russian leader will ever accept having Georgia and Ukraine in a hostile military alliance. That would be lunacy from Russia’s strategic point of view
The phrase ‘rules-based international order’ occurs repeatedly, over and over again. We have to preserve ‘the rules-based international order’. The phrase ‘UN-based international order’ never appears, not once. There is a UN-based international order, like the UN charter, but the US doesn’t accept it. It bars all the activities that the US carries out.
The big struggle with China, ideologically, is that China is insisting on the UN-based international order. The United States wants a rules-based order. The hidden assumption is the US makes the rules.
ake Corbyn. Very significant. I mean, if Corbyn had become prime minister, as it seemed in 2017 that he might very well do, it could be a very different England. Instead of being just a vassal of the United States, which it is, it could have been an independent element in world affairs.
He could have joined with Europe to lead an independent Europe, which could have made accommodations with Russia prior to the invasion, when it was a possibility. Instead of just falling into the lap of the United States and becoming a total dependency, which is what happened.
The British establishment knew what it was doing. The establishment all the way over to The Guardian, the so-called left. It’s very dangerous to allow a person to gain power who’s trying to create a popular-based political party that will reflect the interests of its constituents instead of concentrated private power. He was succeeding in that, and that’s much too dangerous to allow.
So the whole establishment, from what’s called the left over to the right, just launched an incredible campaign to discredit him, very successfully. Totally fraudulent grounds, but a very interesting illustration of the manufacture of consent, which is much broader than just the institutional structures involved.