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Occupy Economics, Part 5: Corporate Personhood, Democracy, and Occupy

Summary: Corporations are the Frankensteins of contemporary capitalism, acting as vehicles of capitalist class power. They are the modern Trojan horse that smuggles market logic and the private power of capital into democratic spaces and practices. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) did not establish corporate personhood, but it did lift almost all limitations on corporate cash into electoral politics. This teach-in discusses the specifics of Citizens United, the history of the corporation and of corporate personhood, as well as the perverted logic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which ruled that money is political speech. It also takes up the radical individualism and rights-centric nature of political liberalism to demonstrate how liberalism’s abstract understanding of politics leads to corporate personhood. Finally, we see why Occupy is a democratic alternative to this form of politics.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.

Occupy Economics, Part 4: The Occupy Movement as Ideology Critique

Summary: Like class, ideology is a term that has many uses and, as with class, having a solid analysis of ideology is necessary for good social critique and successful movement building. This teach-in defines ideology, looks at how Occupy is (in practice) a critique of dominant ideologies, and, lastly, takes up two case studies in ideology: The state’s response to the foreclosure crisis, and more locally, Denver’s “urban camping” ban, which criminalizes homelessness. The crisis in Alan Greenspan’s ideology (derived from the teaching of Ayn Rand) is here used a window onto the relation of ideology, power, and class today. [For a moment it appears as if the Gods are angry at this critique of Greenspan, interrupting the teach-in with lightning and a thunderclap so powerful it shakes the building (and camera) at 16:40]. Žižek, zombies, the role of ideology in the construction of our own identities, as well as the legitimation crises of the state and capitalism are also discussed.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.

Occupy Economics, Part 3: Class and Class Conflict

Summary: Having a good class analysis is necessary to not only understand our political, social, and economic world, but to determine how best to change our world for the better. People often talk about class in general terms, which have more to do with social status and lifestyle than our role in economic production. When we do talk of class in terms of economic production, we often talk about blue collar and white collar, skilled and unskilled workers, rather than in terms of ownership and power. By avoiding the question of ownership, of property, we don’t see how classes are essentially related and how they come into conflict. In this teach-in we discuss class in terms of ownership or control over production and the distribution of goods and ask how it might relate to the 99% versus the 1% motif of the Occupy movement. The differences between wealth, income, and capital; the sites of class struggle (domestic and abroad); and the relation between class and political parties are also discussed.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.

Occupy Economics, Part 2: Capitalism, Foreclosures, and Responsibility

Summary: At the center of the U.S. financial crisis is the collapse of the housing market, the plummeting of home values, and the millions of foreclosures and evictions that followed (and disproportionately affected the black community). This is not an accident; it’s a crime, which means someone is responsible. In addition to an analysis of the mortgage industry, Wall Street influence, and the rise of mortgage securitization, this teach-in discusses the larger forces in capitalism that made the mortgage market such a tinderbox. To this end, we discuss what is called the financialization of capitalism, globalization of production, and neoliberalism. These are all responses to a crisis in capitalism that came to a head in the 1970s. Against this background we find the logic of the disastrous rise of the unregulated derivatives market and those who benefited from it, i.e. those responsible for the greatest financial crime of our time. Asking if Washington or Wall Street is to blame is a false choice (and an intentional distraction): It’s about class and class interests.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.

Occupy Economics, Part 1: Capitalism, Crisis, and (Occupy) Economics

Summary: Mainstream economic methods and models failed to predict the crisis, but this shouldn’t be surprising, since their purpose is to give ideological support to capitalism and the material interests it serves. An alternative, occupy (or people’s) economics takes a different approach: It is radical, interdisciplinary, and dialectical in method and emancipatory in its intent. This teach-in explains this alternative view, discusses the fundamental principles of capitalism, class, and neoliberalism, as well as analyzes the nature of the financial crisis that began in 2007/8 and the economic recession that followed. All of this is done from the perspective of the Occupy movement. The purpose of this teach-in is to provide the groundwork for subsequent teach-ins that take up several of the topics discussed here only in brief.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.