Obama Calls for Justice in Iran
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
According to Helene Cooper’s article, entitled “Obama says ‘Justice’ Is Needed for Iranians,” in the New York Times of June 21, 2009, President Obama has won a week-long debate in the White House over whether the Administration should dare to use the word “justice.” The opposition wants to use such words as “freedom” and “democracy.”
Specifically, President Obama said in reference to the coup and counter-coup in Iran in mid-June, 2009: “Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”
In this way, President Obama invoked both the “I have a dream” address that Martin Luther King delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington Mall almost half a century ago on August 28, 1963, and his follow-up speech four years later on August 16, 1967, entitled “Where do we go from here?” made to the Tenth Anniversary Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C), where he spoke of the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.
This led, in turn, to the Reverend King’s Poor People’s March in Atlanta on June 19, 1968, “known as Solidarity Day,” which called for social justice as an act of organizing to restructure defective social institutions in order to empower economic justice.
Martin Luther King believed that freedom and democracy must always be understood as the source and product of justice, because freedom and democracy in the pursuit of themselves can result in nightmares. These two terms, usually linked together as a codeword, have been grossly debased by the Neocons, who have insisted that America can impose freedom and democracy by its superior material power. Barack Obama understands that freedom and democracy are the product of justice, not a substitute for it, and therefore should be recognized as the ultimate aim of American policy toward and for anybody and any community in the world.
The debate between justice and freedom now may become the heart of the paradigmatic debate between the Democrats and the Republicans, which would reverse the traditional approaches. The Founders of America, as well as the Lincoln Republicans, always focused on justice and equity as the ultimate aim of all governance and all public policy, because justice is merely the manifestation of ultimate truth, which is essentially religious in concept. The Democrats, on the other hand, have focused on equality, not in opportunity but in result, which is inherently unjust.
The next step in the pursuit of justice led by the Democrats and by any Republicans who want to recapture their party must be to reverse the wealth gap, because whoever owns the sources and substance of wealth in society controls its politics. Poverty, both relative in America and absolute in much of the rest of the world, have been growing exponentially because the wealthy have created a financial system that poses barriers to equal opportunities in access to capital.
The underlying paradigm that justifies such barriers is rooted in the Keynesian dogma that capital must come from past savings and that the resources of the world are limited, regardless of human ingenuity in using and developing them wisely. In his General Theory, Baron John Maynard Keynes postulated that maldistribution of ownership is a given and that concentrated ownership is actually needed to finance the growth of the capitalist system. This led, in turn, as a political sop, to John Kenneth Galbraith’s guaranteed annual income approach, which is simply redistribution and not restructuring of the underlying system to meet the demands of participative and distributive justice.
The second step would be for President Obama to understand that to promote economic justice he must first put limits on the creation of money, so that it is available solely to expand investment in real wealth. This would mean that money should never be created as a commodity to be sold at interest, but should serve as a means of exchange for real goods and to intermediate between the providers of capital and the entrepreneurs who use it to produce real goods, in accordance with the Real Goods doctrine. Unfortunately, leveraging money creation by selling it at interest creates money without any real assets behind it. Such artificial wealth is inherently worthless. This vicious cycle also deprives the real economy of needed investment funds for growth.
The third step is to broaden access to real wealth by facilitating universal access to capital ownership in the form of shares of stock in productive enterprises. This can be accomplished in many ways, such as ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) and Community Investment Corporations (whereby all residents of a community have personal shares of ownership in land, infrastructure, and the resulting productive firms).
The wealth gap over the long run is the principal cause of extremism, conflict, and terrorism in the world. The most effective and fastest way to reverse the wealth gap is not to rely on past savings or on redistribution of wealth after it is produced, but to provide it through the government’s power to create money at no cost. In order to accomplish this, America’s central bank, perhaps a reformed Federal Reserve Bank, should copy Abraham Lincoln’s concept of homesteading, this time, however, not by giving free land but by its more modern equivalent in the form of capital homesteading appropriate for the modern era of capital intensive growth.
According to this revolutionary concept, every citizen in America would receive $7,000 a year from birth to death for deposit in inalienable accounts designed for investment in real wealth-production, so that the resulting profits would be used to boost consumption. Investment could be in the enterprises where people work, or in community investment corporations, or in direct investment, as well as in the stock market, and would be subject to all the regulation necessary for soundness and transparency.
This would avoid the otherwise inevitable booms and busts of a financial system where production sometimes exceeds consumption and sometimes lags behind it, thus creating business cycles. Entire books have been written and either reproduced or referenced at http://www.cesj.org and other sites on how to implement such a means to universalize capital ownership in order to maintain balance in the economy, which is one key aspect of harmonic justice.
Once the genie of justice escapes the confines of the Keynesian cage, America could become the most revolutionary country in global history. So could Iran if it would recognize the wisdom of Mehdi Karroubi, former speaker of the Iranian Parliament, who came in third in the recent elections and has called for the privatization of Iranian oil and gas in equal shares of stock to Iranians.
If Barack Obama really wants to become a global leader, he should call not merely for justice in Iran but for freedom for people like Karroubi. He is calling not for another internal coup in a deadlocked system in which the wealthy people who control Iran now, as well as the radical populist, Ahmadinejad, are battling against the multi-millionnaire, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is one of the existing system’s richest beneficiaries. Mehdi Karroubi is advocating real revolution by calling for both economic and political justice, because they depend holistically on each other.