Michael Parenti Speaks @ TESC 10-19-12

“A man who steals a goose  from the commons is punished, while a man who steals the commons itself is rewarded.” -unknown-

Michael Parenti is a renown Italian professor from New Jersey who has authored such books as:

God and His Demons; The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome; The Face of Imperialism; Dirty Truths; Blackshirts & REDS; Super Patriotism.

Parenti has a perverse sense of humor. He’s also an unreconstructed old school anti-capitalist and liberal socialist. His presentation did not provide any new analysis of the issues he addressed or suggest any new (or otherwise) solutions other than eulogizing the ‘socialist democracies’ of northern European nations.

Michael Parenti speaks @ TESC 10-19-12 on the 1% Pathology (1/3)

Michael Parenti speaks @ TESC 10-19-12 on the 1% Pathology (2/3)

Michael Parenti speaks @ TESC 10-19-12 on the 1% Pathology (3/3)

Parenti is well known as an American political writer, historian, and culture critic who writes on scholarly and popular subjects. He has taught at American and international universities and has been a guest lecturer before campus and community audiences. He has played an activist role in political struggles, and in various anti-war movements. He also admits having been imprisoned for his views and activism. Whether that’s a badge of honor or a stigma depends, largely, on one’s own biases.

After his lecture, the question of how it made sense to invest more money and power for ever larger government programs given the current mess catalyzed by corrosive corrupting corporate influences on its functions was asked. Mr. Parenti’s reply compared government to a neutral tool for good or evil depending on who was wielding it.

A post session question (which Parenti graciously answered) lead to challenging the notion our Bill of Rights was intended for the common people any more than was the Magna Carta. Mr. Parenti parried the horns of this dilemma by arguing he had studied the issue, read James Madison’s letters/notes, and concluded the Amendments had been inserted well after the body of our Constitution had been drafted to insure ratification by at least 3/4ths of the States, intended to mollify the concern the document would attenuate their sovereign powers. Still, the professor’s answer avoided the issue of white male landed citizens being granted the vote to the exclusion of all others when the drafters had completed their work. Mr. Parenti alleged those guarantees embodied in our Bill of Rights were of little/no genuine concern to the drafters. How this response blunted the point of the question whose premise was those Amendments were intended to protect the moneyed class from the unpredictable vagaries of a new, untested form of government (democracy) wasn’t clear.

What made this follow up question to the earlier one asked material was the tone of antipathy toward capitalism as an economic system and why the wealthiest among us should be divested of their holdings or ‘privilege’. i.e. Should Constitutional guarantees to all, even the wealthy, listed in our Bill of Rights be suspended to redress economic inequity? If so, what impact would this have on our notions of freedom, liberty, and private property?

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