The Urgent Need for Climate Reparations

Patrick Bond, sociology professor at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, discusses the urgent need for climate reparations for Africa, in light of the COP26 climate summit, and why market solutions will not work to address the problems Africa is currently facing. Part 2 of 2.

Part 1 of this interview can be found here: Naïve Market Solutions for Climate Change Will Intensify the Looting of Africa

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Rob Johnson:

Welcome to Economics and Beyond. I’m Rob Johnson, President of the Institute For New Economic Thinking.

Today we feature part two of my interview with Dr. Patrick Bond.

Shifting gears just a bit, we’ve been talking about your insights, your formative years, move that towards climate change. But there’s another dimension, and it bridges to climate change, which is, it doesn’t feel like we have what I’ll call a harmonious world system at this point. Whether it’s the Belt and Road Initiative, or concerns about day danger in the Taiwan straits, the seeming increasing polarization between the United States and China, or at a deeper, I’d call a more philosophical level, how the cherishing of individual freedom that underpins American ideology is not necessarily shared in the countries that are born into thousands of years of Eastern philosophy. And as I look now, I think there are dangers related to climate collaboration and potential war, and possibly nuclear weapons being used.

But I see you’ve done a lot of work on what you call de-globalization, we’ve talked about that a bit here, and about the nature of the BRICS. INET in December 2018, along with Justin Lin at Beijing University, did a conference on China and the development of Africa. Many of the times when I visited Africa, I hear people saying, being simplistic, “You’re building forts, and they’re building ports and highways and schools and hospitals.” But I see tension, particularly related to the kind of frighteningly authoritarian dimensions of China. I see this world system as in turmoil itself. And I’ve had the good fortune of watching a video that you had on Vimeo recently, which was a presentation related to the BRICS, and particularly a zoom lens that in the last third of it about the relationship between China and India. So I’m painting a big picture here, but how do you see the evolution of the world system? How do you see the potential for what you might call re-harmonization or collaboration? What are the necessary ingredients in your mind? And where are the dangers?

Patrick Bond:

Well, it’s just great to be able to think at the biggest possible scale, and I’ve been inspired by the late Immanuel Wallerstein to think, are the semi-peripheral countries going to be assimilated upwards, or will they sink back into degradation, as some would predict for South Africa. And I think in our case here, the hope that South Africa could play a humane role, certainly Nelson Mandela articulated this, Thabo Mbeki in his own way did, a humane role in changing global geopolitics. That hope faded quickly and much of that was because a durable problem, which I think is really coming from the factories of East Asia, called overproduction. So it means vast overcapacity, which in turn, very logically, all of our colleagues in the Chinese Academy of Marxism and other reputable sites for looking at overproduction, are pretty clear that this over capacity now is creating this Belt and Road, this drive outwards.

That’s not that different, if we go back to, say, Rosa Luxemburg’s argument in 1913, about the drive of imperial forces, colonial forces, to take over productive capital, export capital, and push it into colonies to find some rates of return. If that’s the core problem, an over-accumulation, overproduction, that has to be displaced. Then the geopolitical tensions are logically following. I just wish it weren’t that China and the US, particularly, I think, driven by Washington, like the potential for Washington-Moscow, again in conflict. That these are, I think, driven by the most notoriously militant and aggressive force in world history, the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department and defensive values of freedom and genuine liberty, but these pressures come from below.

Oh, you see it all over. In China, you see it from people wanting their sovereignty or their rights of some degree of self-determination from Mongolian to and in of course the Uighur people, Hong Kong Democrats, workers, march as students, even. So they’re fighting back against that repression is often inspiring. Sometimes they win. I mean, if you can find a way to a VPN to get around the great wall of China, full respect. What I’d see then as China and it moves out, especially it moves into Kashmir right in the India, Pakistan border, where they’re trying to go to a new port. Qatar, it’s actually an old port and trying to revitalize it, or they may use, Karachi, they definitely want a route from the Arabian sea directly to west China, which means they wouldn’t be so vulnerable on those, long straits and complicated aspects of the south China sea and of south Asia, where I think us military is a threat to them.

And likewise, their attempt to build all these sort of islands and other people’s, Filipino and Vietnamese waters represents, against some of that awful defensiveness that you see from China. So maybe if they do cut this pipeline road and rail through Kashmir, very dangerous area, very contested by Kashmirs who want self-determination, maybe that would go some way to limiting these tensions as you’ve seen them, China and India on that border have led to dozens of deaths just last year and fisticuffs where soldiers were throwing each other, over the Himalayan mountain ranges into freezing water. They’re not allowed to use guns in that area. And those kinds of tragic, let me call them the breaking of the bricks or construction workers know there’s a term spalling in which bricks that seem like nice solid wall are actually crumbling or falling apart.

There are other ways that the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, with so much hope economically, Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs writing in 2001 about these being the building bricks of the 21st century. They peaked when they offered some new initiatives, a BRICS new development bank, a contingent reserve arrangement, alternative to the international monetary fund. There were lots of prospects for setting up a BRICS vaccine center here in Johannesburg that could have when announced in 2018 by possibly suggested a way to deal with the COVID vaccine apartheid of the west never happened. Contingent reserve arrangement never happened. The BRICS got more power in the IMF by buying voting rights. The 2015 recapitalization of the IMF saw China going up 37% and Brazil 23%, India 11%, even Russia 8%. But what did they do with that? You kind of get potential new heads of the IMF, but the BRICS are never there.

It’s always some European. I think they took the European only signs from the apartheid era, right? Rob, and they just put them on the managing director door of the IMF and to have a David Malpas or even Jim Yong Kim coming out of nowhere really to run the world bank just because they have an American citizenship just makes no sense. And when the big BRICS try some of that, they’re quickly co-opted also, I’ve never seen the BRICS really raise any objection to IMF structural adjustment. These two moments of Keynesianism under [inaudible 00:56:16] recently were under Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2009, the expansion of special drawing rights in both cases, the potential to relax on that fiscal conservatism to get us all over this, that seems to be just whimsical short term. And certainly we’re under a rigid austerity.

The worst I’ve ever seen here. And the IMF has a $4.3 billion loan to enforce that they made last year. It was a loan full of corruption, as well as you’d expect. These are the kinds of things that make me think these BRICS are not really changing. They’re not really offering an alternative. I’ve studied each of the BRICS, new development bank loans here in detail. They’re just as bad as anything from 18th and H street in Washington. And instead, I think these can be described as amplifiers. We rely on a Brazilian dependency theorist, a great theorist from the left of the tradition, not like Cardoso from the right, but his name was Ruy Mauro Marini and his term for this let’s say deputy sheriff or local ally of imperialism, his term sub imperialism. A layer Wallerstein called it the semi periphery, but you have to actually look at geopolitically, which way are they lining up.

Sometimes they talk left and they certainly have anti-imperial rhetoric, but it’s actually when they’re fitting in rather destructive ways to the rest of world economy or the UNFCCC, their climate talks where Barack Obama in 2009, very successfully co-opted Wen Jiabao from China and Manmohan Singh from India and Jacob Zuma from South Africa, and even Lula da Silva from Brazil to basically destroy the idea of binding commitments in the conference of the parties in Copenhagen. These make me reflect upon not a potential alternative through the existing power structure, but rather one that assimilates and amplifies.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah, I’m always drawn to the book that Orville Schell and John Delury wrote called Wealth in Power, because what they essentially said was, there’s thousands of years of Chinese history. And then there’s the Opium War and the Japanese invasion and a woundedness. And then there’s the United States, which received the Baton from great Britain as the world leader. And these two tectonic plates are going to clash with different philosophical systems, the desire to maintain control and the woundedness of those historic episodes in China. And as I’m watching that process unfold, some Chinese scholars who I greatly admire at Tsinghua University, academy of social science places will say to me, “Rob, why does your country preach that we should become like you, have you ever looked at the public opinion polls, not just in the United States, but in Germany, in Sweden and England, and look at how few people are happy with what you’re doing, why would we want to emulate that?” And I sense there’s a yearning within China to regain its sense of national dignity to me, which you might call accepted as a leading partner.

And I think the Americans make that into a wound of America being displaced. At one very simple level, they’re worried about scale, a place that’s four times as large as ours. Once they do economic development can do a whole lot more to influence the world in national defense and everything with a lower tax rate than we would have, because they have four times the population. So you see all of the suspicion and I guess what I’m trying to say is what’s fulminating the discord is in part because the BRICS have assimilated in part because the west isn’t thriving, nobody knows where to turn.

Patrick Bond:

Yes, I think we’re in that period. It could be prior to a really serious great depression. If the Chinese real estate market takes down parts of the financial system and there’s interlocks and over exposure from Western investors, yes. It could be just like, again, a 29 to 33 precursor to a long, terrible depression. We’ve learned lessons of course, quantitative easing to print money. But how long can that be done? I think those are the right big questions, but to get to the specific one, how does it feel in a place like Johannesburg where Chinese investors, they’re all over our biggest rail investment, was massive locomotive purchases for exporting of coal. Now going to China more and more, but massive corruption. Those really were write-offs or a huge special economic zone in the north of the country.

Also full of corruption or Chinese loans to our big coal fired power plants rife with corruption. In fact, I credit the foreign corrupt practices act in the US for identifying Hitachi, bribing our ruling party, the ANC and actually paying a fine for that. So let’s say that if you’re in a place like South Africa, it’s much worse if you’re in Eastern Zimbabwe with the biggest diamond find well as even Robert Mugabe said on his birthday a couple of years before he died, “we have $15 billion of diamonds. And because we have these deals with the Chinese, we can only find $2 billion worth.” The rest is vanished or new coal fired power plants in Zimbabwe, from China. The Kenyans have just resisted one. What I see though, if there’s a pattern rub, it’s not really that different. It’s not about building schools and maybe a stadium here or there for symbolic purposes, but as following the tracks of what Western companies have done really in this country since 1652, they settled, but they used the resources here and they built ports.

Yes, they built railroads. Yes, but they were often to go inland to the mines and the plantations. Those roads and railroads took the resources of the continent out under the Western first Imperial and colonial system. And then the Bretton Wood system and all of the global trading systems, which have so severely disadvantaged Africa with our, let me call it again, unequal ecological exchange far more in wealth is being extracted with the compensation or the investment infrastructure, the hard currency revenues, some royalties and taxes, some jobs very much below the outflow of the natural wealth, a real net negative. It’s the only region of the world. If you look at the world, bank’s natural capital accounts that show Africa being systematically looted. So China does a lot of that because it’s producing things for Western consumption. And to me, then it doesn’t really look that much different except for a little bit of rhetoric about we’re not going to be as interventionist in your politics.

Sometimes they are. I mean, just as a trivial example, they wouldn’t let the Dalai Lama come to South Africa three times his visa was denied because of Beijing pressure, even to visit Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his 80th birthday, 11 years ago. That’s the kind of, let’s say control freakery that maybe in that psychological sense, you have a point, but really I think the big story is still the search for profit. Rosa Luxenberg, in her book, Accumulation of Capital, she put it so well that capital runs into crisis. Then it needs to spatially expand, a spatial fix, a globalization process. That’s different than the way [inaudible] and Hilferding and others described inter Imperial rivalry for Luxemburg it was capital reaching deeper into the non-capitalist reach into matriarchal systems, reaching into ethnic communities, reaching into nature, reaching into whatever forms of states. We’re beginning to come up and just taking an accumulation by dispossession. I think that’s still what Western companies do. And now what Chinese companies have done and hard to tell the difference sometimes except for the language and the culture.

Rob Johnson:

Coming back to Africa for a moment, somebody put a puzzle before me recently, they said the capital markets allow Norway at 1% above inflation to borrow money, to put in place solar panels. In Africa, they charge them 9% to borrow, to put in the solar panel, but Norway’s dark three months of a year. And the place to put solar panels to get the most bang for the buck or whatever should be in the equatorial regions. And then it was presented to me that this isn’t just about development of Africa. This is about climate and survival for all of us. How do we create a collective institution? Which, which in my call takes the risk premium out or shares the burden of the risk premium with the African countries. When we will benefit from the transition they make, how do we inspire that collective energy? And you’ve alluded to the presence of corruptions and other things. How do we overcome some of what colonialism has developed within the African continent and emerging countries all over the world?

Patrick Bond:

Well, I’ve been looking for ways that you could do a climate reparations payment. Your version of climate finance you’ve nailed it because you’ve said the logic of lending to an African sovereign, 9% is reasonable that’s what South Africa pays, but you pay much higher further up the continent. And then the next question is, well, obviously that makes doing the solar, doing the wind extremely expensive. You’re paying such a high rate and the premium it’s risk, there’s a currency depreciation. So if we’re looking at the actual, real effective interest rate in our local currency terms it’s impossible to finance. So we just have very little of it, don’t we? So the market isn’t working to achieve public and merit good objectives to end for example, the terrible searches like in Mozambique, as I mentioned, the fourth largest gas field, the coal fields in this country, which continue and continue there’s natural gas and fracking going on in Namibian, Botswana in one of the most beautiful, pristine areas of Africa.

We’ve go on and on about offshore drilling for oil and for gas all over and in Uganda, very sensitive places and people are being disrupted. So could we substitute, could we pay countries? Now there’s an Ecuador example that inspires me. You might have heard of Yasuni, it’s on the Eastern side, it’s a national park bordering Peru, and what their then president Rafael Correa authorized some of his economists, Carlos Larrea maybe most prominently to do was to negotiate with Europe, especially Norway and Germany and Italy to get a down payment on the climate debt. So that if there was a $3.6 billion grant, no a loan, but a grant to Ecuador, they would then forego the oil revenues and they’d leave the oil under the soil. They’d leave this Yasuni park, which happens to be the single most biodiverse hotspot in the world, untapped.

And because a German liberal wanted to instead play with the carbon markets. His name is unimportant, but he was the German federal minister of development aid. His name was Dirk Niebel, and he just wanted to play the carbon markets. And he insisted that the money would go through there and it would have a return. It would be an offset for German companies. And that’s the logic that’ll get this kind of profiteering mentality of the west to the point where we just give up, because if we can keep oil under the soil, gas under the fields of Rovuma in Mozambique, because the north pays a down payment, or instead of me paying my tax money to send south African national defense force, boys and bullets and bombs and body bags, which is what’s happening now, we’re spending…

… And bullets, and bombs, and body bags, which is what’s happening now. We’re spending about $70 million in sending 1500 troops to defend ExxonMobil, and Total, and China National Petroleum. If we can arrange, the more rational approach is not to. It’s to pay Mozambique not to extract.

Now you’ve asked about very difficult places like Saudi Arabia and Russia, who have huge climate debts to the rest of us, as South Africa does. It does seem to me for a Mozambique, or a Uganda, or a Kenya, which is also doing oil exploration all over the continent, oil and gas is being drilled. We really should pay governments. Now you’re right, corruption means if you can’t pay a government in good faith, Mozambique’s classic, can we find a way to pay people? What kind of a basic income grant might go to the ordinary people in a place, [Kava Delgado], the province where all this gas is, so that the Islamic threat there would be reduced because an income stream would come in.

Could one do that without the state? What kind of pilots have we seen? The one that’s exciting, Rob, is in Namibia. A place called [Achevero]. Germans, Lutherans, knowing that a hundred years before their descend, their ancestors had committed genocide on the Herrero and the Na people. They’ve just recognized that this year in the government. They began to make these 10 Euro a month gifts to every person in this village.

They really got, like many basic income grant pilot projects show, terrific results on socioeconomic, on cultural, on unemployment, on crime. All of these major indicators prove very, very positive. I think that might be a future for taking a climate finance payment in areas especially suffering from the droughts, the floods, the new malaria threats, the extreme storms, the devastation of locusts, all of these things that have been attacking Africa as climate effects.

While we in the global north here, me in Johannesburg too, we really do owe a climate debt that could be turned into something, where the multiplier effect of a dollar being spent in a local area. The last point on this, because you’ve raised the question very appropriately, should foreign investors, should foreign lenders, try to take those high rates of return when as your currency crashes, they become utterly unpayable.

Well, instead, what about producing our solar panels and our wind turbines internally? What can we do to up the manufacturing base? We can quite easily do it in this country, but right now we’re being undercut. Of course, if anybody tries to do solar panels, import it from China much cheaper. I think that would be one of the other dilemmas. How can we start something that’s not necessarily economic? It might have to be state run, a massive Escom.

This is our major parastatal, switching from coal and switching into the grid and microgrids and particularly the electricity storage, pump storage, where you pump water up the hill during the daytime and let it come down at night. When it’s a cloudy day or when the wind isn’t blowing, then you’ve got storage, or molten salt where you have concentrated solar, so we aren’t so reliant on lithium. The rare earth minerals that are being dug up for the green economy are quite frightening because of all the damage being done and the social resistance.

I think those would be some of the ways we’d want to frame the challenges in the coming decade of getting Africa off that western track of high carbon industrialization, of digging for oil and gas and even coal still. Instead, demanding the climate debt be paid, the reparations, but properly. Not in the form that would boost some dictatorship. Does that make sense to you?

Rob Johnson:

Now, I remember in preparing for this, you shared with me a very powerful document from the South African, was it Federation of Trade Unions?

Patrick Bond:

Yes, that’s right.

Rob Johnson:

They talked about something called Nationally Determined Contributions, NDC, that came from the United Nations Framework Convention. Is this national contributions related to what I’ll call cumulative carbon burning? In other words, the debt we owe is reparations for how much we’ve toxified the atmosphere? Tell me a little bit and my audience a little bit more about what the NDC is, and why they were very critical.

Patrick Bond:

Well, I wish your premise was correct, that our nationally determined contributions would have a memory as well as projections and ambitions, because you’re right. If we could say that South Africa industrialized, and frankly, it wasn’t everybody who industrialized. In fact, electricity only came here into the Johannesburg townships like Soweto around 1980, because when the world bank made their loans and the [white offer Connors] set up Escom, they just didn’t want to provide electricity to black people who weren’t paid enough to be able to afford it.

Finally, General Electric and reform tendencies say, “Okay, we’re going to sell you some appliances, so you now need electricity in the 1980s.” That industrialization we had, a minerals energy complex as we call it, that was very racist, right? It was very white biased. People like me had enormous benefits under this system.

We would want to make sure that our nationally determined contributions are sensitive to the internal disparities that have been so extreme and still are. Let’s say that the NDCs, Nationally Determined Contributions, are what the Paris Climate Agreement insists that countries file, but it’s voluntary. There’s no real policing. There’s an attempt to raise the ambition. It’s an aspirational target. In our case, the aspirational target was set this year at 440 million tons by 2030. Then there was a little revision down to 420, 5% cut, pathetic, really tokenistic.

Our activists, and you’ve mentioned one of the most powerful networks potentially, which is the second largest Federation. It’s not the AFL CIO. It would be sort of a change to win. It would be a second movement around 700,000 members. The biggest union is the metal workers, a UAW type, with about 350,000. Very powerful union, in some ways, in the private sector.

The other bigger Federation, the traditional one, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, is more aligned with the African National Congress and has more public sector workers. This one broke away, because the metal workers had a very tough clash over whether to support this African National Congress after all the betrayals and failures. As a result with quite visionary people in that metal workers union, demanding just transitions and eco socialists.

Then in the South African Federation, the bigger network, that’s the second biggest federation, the very charismatic leader, [Zwela Zimovabe], they are moving. In fact, they had a big conference last week towards just transition demands. Sometimes we call these million climate jobs. That’s one of the campaigns at one of the allied institutes, the Alternative Information and Development Center. Sometimes it’s a climate justice charter presented to parliament, demanding an emergency be declared. Sometimes it’s in a climate justice coalition where this group SAFTU meets 350.org and does regular protests at the end of September, protests all over the country against the energy minister.

We’re seeing quite a good variety, but that labor is still very involved in saying, if we cut emissions from coal fired power plants, we’ve closed down coal mines, we rethink these carbon intensive smelters that chew up most of the electricity, about 35 companies chew 40% of the electricity in this country. If we can do that, it may require taking this big parastatal and turning it, like a ship, huge rapid U-turn and move to renewables. Doing so without losing jobs, without losing community wealth in some of the areas where they become dependent.

I think, Rob, that’s one of the beauties of living in a country with these extreme contradictions on class and race and gender and ecology, is that quite visionary people are coming out and you find them in major trade unions. I think SAFTU along with the network called Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, headquartered at CUNY in New York, they’re really beginning to make their arguments. Even if we don’t have much effect on NDCs, this kind of eco socialist kind of green and feminist politics is moving. I hope it moves ever faster here.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah. Well, in our conversation over these last 75 minutes, I think you’ve illustrated for a young scholar the kind of curiosity, seeking out social challenges, exploring, and building and integrating lots of you might call different historic episodes and great works in the history of social thought.

As we come down the stretch here, I want to talk specifically about education. I want to make you a meta mentor electronically to our whole audience. What would you encourage a 20 year old individual to do now to study, to build themselves, to be of value to society over the next 50 years?

Patrick Bond:

Well, Rob, you’re more of a model and me at really getting in and making an impact and using ideas at the commanding heights of power. I have full respect for what you’ve done in your career. For me, it’s been an alliance I’ve always sought with activists who I believe are producing knowledge. I think for, especially if you’re a young economic student, and you’re fed the … let’s be quite frank, Rob.

After the 2008 crash, which only about three or four, Nouriel Rubini or Dean Baker, maybe Jamie Galbraith really saw it coming. The economics profession just hasn’t changed yet. I think we have to acknowledge it may be you, like me, after graduating from a very good economics department at Swarthmore, have to become recovering economists pretty quick. For me, it was partly understanding that the financial markets, which when I went to the Wharton School, were celebrated as the most omniscient, fast clearing, and capable of moving big amounts of money.

Whether it was redlining in Philadelphia or third world debt crisis, I could see this wasn’t a very effective way to allocate resources. I turned myself to a version of Marxian political economy, where I was lucky to have probably the finest teacher, David Harvey. When I think about that, so much of the engagement that I was lucky to be involved in: anti-apartheid work, third world debt advocacy, community movements, labor, corporate campaigning with some of the greats of the 1980s, or hanging around with Bill Greider learning about the fed in a financial democracy campaign.

Those were formative experiences that then gave me more respect, I think, and it’s continued in a place like this, for activists creating friction. Just as an epistemological argument, I think Rob, I conclude by saying, when you see these conflicts in society, if you’re a middle class intellectual as I was, and I am. Usually, you want to run the other way. You’re scared. You don’t want to see the conflict. We’re conflict avoiders in some of these ways.

When you hear this terrible conflict, what you don’t see, what I don’t see mostly from our academic armchairs, is that there are little rays of light that let the activists who are right at the site where they’re either being, one day they’re being crushed by a repressive regime. Maybe they’re being co-opted at the next day. Maybe they’re getting concessions the next day. I think the production of knowledge, I’ve tried to encourage activists who are PhD students to think of this practice epistemology. Its production of knowledge in conflict where that heat generates light as well.

I think it’s that respect that I’ve learned, partly from making mistakes like predicting we’d never get free AIDS medicines because big pharma corps were too powerful, and having to eat my words literally weeks later when the policies changed, when Trips had this new exemption, and the balance of forces locally changed. Things changed rapidly all of a sudden. I think a good young scholar with a flexible mind will recognize that, and maybe get out of the ISLM and supply/demand and all of those sort of more rigid ways of thinking about markets prices, and find more inspiration in struggles for social justice and environmental justice.

Rob Johnson:

Well, in my own way of seeing, there’s a gentleman I recently read about named Geremie Barme, he’s a China scholar based in Australia. He created a website with some other on Chinese heritage and US China relations. He created something which he called Specters and Souls, which was I think like an annual report for 2020, 2021. In it, he described something that he called the Invisible Republic of the Spirit.

He cited various people, [Lu Jung] from China, and people who understood that they can’t be intimidated and have a deep appreciation of life or satisfaction in their own life. He talked about Leonard Cohen, and he talked about various poets. He talked about the Reverend William Barber in the United States and so forth. As I was listening to you to you today, I felt like I wanted to nominate you for a chapter in that Invisible Republic of the Spirit, because there is a courageousness that you bring to your curiosity. There is an example that you’re setting that is quite unusual.

As is my pension, because I grew up in a family of people that lived and worked in music, I always ask myself to let some part of that Invisible Republic tell me, what am I thinking about this experience? The song that came to my head is by a writer named Tom Petty. When I think of you …

Patrick Bond:

The Heartbreakers.

Rob Johnson:

Yeah, the song is I Won’t Back Down. The lyrics, I’ll paraphrase here. “Well, I won’t back down. No I won’t back down. You can stand me up to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down. No, I’ll stand my ground. Won’t be turned around, and I’ll keep this world from dragging me down. I’m going to stand my ground, and I won’t back down. Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out. I won’t back down because I know what’s right. I just got one life, in a world that keeps to push me around, but I’ll stand my ground.”

Patrick, you are an extraordinary scholar, both in the depth and the range and the independence and the courage that you bring to bear. It’s been my pleasure to learn from you in preparation, and learn more from you in our meeting today. I hope in a few months’ time, we can do some other things together, or at least come back and make another episode, because I think the way you’re illuminating the world at its core is encouraging.

Some people avoid dilemmas, crises, dreadful. They look the other way. Everybody can feel it around them now, particularly since the pandemic started. They can feel it in the distribution of in income and wealth. They can feel it in the gender and race discrimination. They can feel it in the fear of climate change. If we’re going to get out of this in these many dimensions, it’s going to be people who I would say should model themselves the spirit like you.

Patrick Bond:

Well, you’re very kind, and I do appreciate so much this time with you, but I do want to correct you that I’m simply surfing the privilege that I’ve had: race, nation, class, good education. It’s really the people who need that Tom Petty tribute, who are the grassroots, and shop floor, and environmental, and youth, and feminist, and gay/lesbian activists here. They’re very strong and they’re very repressed. Like across this continent, those …

Rob Johnson:

I agree with you, but you took your gifts, and your good fortune, and your will power, and you’re giving to them. They will in turn be more confident, more inspired, more unrelenting when they’re assisted by people like you that share your gifts. I think it’s a two way street between …

Patrick Bond:

Yeah, they certainly give me much more than the other way around. I can promise you that. It’s great to be with you. Thank you so much, Rob.

Rob Johnson:

You too. Thank you. I hope we can meet again. I certainly want to introduce you as both analyst and example to my young scholars in the days ahead. Thanks.

Patrick Bond:

Well, I’m very flattered. Thanks again.

Rob Johnson:

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