Recorded on July 5th, 2019, interviewed by Jeff Epstein
Keith Errol Benson is a historian and the author of the book “The POWER and the Glory: The racial history of America and how to fix it.” He is also an accomplished drummer who can be heard playing on the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” which was the official song of the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
Below are only a few of my thoughts and conclusions, after reading Keith’s book, and after a fascinating and insightful conversation about black history, music, religion, politics, economics, and more. The audio of this interview can be found above.
The United States was, and still is, built on the back of blacks and fertilized with the blood of Native Americans.
Nearly every major conflict the United States has been involved in has been rooted in two things: greed (that is, the personal profit of the elite and the accumulation of the resources of others) and the continued enslavement of large swaths of the population enslaved. The Revolutionary and Civil Wars were explicitly fought for the preservation of the brutal institution of black slavery. Even the current (and endless) “War on Terror” is used as an excuse to strip away the rights of all citizens in the name of a bogeyman called “terrorism.” This is exemplified by the passage of laws such as the Patriot Act and the revocation of habeas corpus rights by President Obama. Yet, in the height of irony, both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, fought for our freedom – to enslave an entire race of people – were won only after enslaved people, blacks, joined the fight.
This reality is especially relevant today in the grip of climate change which without exaggeration threatens the very existence of the human species in the mid-to-near term. The only way we can survive this challenge is to tackle it with a vastly greater mobilization then we did during World War II. As proposed by United States representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and designed by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) economists, the Green New Deal contains many programs that are not directly related to lowering carbon emissions (such as ending forever-wars, prison reform, free childcare, a dignified wage, Medicare For All, free college, student debt relief, and a job guarantee).
Yet these programs are critical if we are to win this fight, because unless everyone works together toward this common goal, the consequences will be immeasurable. These progressive programs give people the services and compensation they need to properly incentivize this critical work and sacrifice – and to know their children are well cared for while they do it. Finally, as clearly outlined in the Green New Deal design document, it can done without causing unmanageable (that is, out of control) inflation.
For me, a primary lesson of Keith‘s book is that, unless popular uprising happens at an extraordinarily fast and broad scale, that uprising is viciously crushed. It is my strong (urgent and anxious) belief that the combination of both electing Bernie Sanders president and educating the masses on the reality of how our economy works (which is what MMT is) has the potential to create an uprising of such speed and scale that the elite would not be able to keep up. This is exactly why there are currently so many hit pieces on both Sanders and MMT.