Below the Radar Transcript

Episode 13: Keynesian economics and the hope for climate X — with Geoff Mann

Speakers: Melissa Roach, Maria Cecilia Saba, Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, Am Johal, Geoff Mann

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Melissa Roach  0:06 
You're listening to Below the Radar, a knowledge mobilization project recorded out of 312 Main. This podcast is produced by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. 

Maria Cecilia Saba  0:17  
Below the Radar brings forward ideas to encourage meaningful exchanges across communities. 

Jamie-Leigh Gonzales  0:21  
Each episode, we interview guests on topics ranging from environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community building and urban issues. This podcast is recorded on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

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Melissa Roach  0:41 
Hi, I'm Melissa Roach and I work at SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, along with your host, Am Johal. And this week, I'm introducing an episode featuring political economist and SFU Professor of Geography, Geoff Mann. Geoff is the director of the Centre for Global Political Economy at SFU. And he's recently authored two books dealing with Keynesian economics, capitalism and questions of climate and sovereignty, and what he describes as our current state of permanent emergency.

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Am Johal  1:15 
Welcome to… [laughs] I forgot the title of our podcast. What is it?

Melissa Roach  1:26  
Below the Radar.

Geoff Mann  1:27 
Oh, thank you. Maybe you should do it.


Am Johal  1:33 
Welcome to Below the Radar. This is Am Johal. And we're really excited to have Geoff Mann with us today. He's a professor in the geography department at SFU, where he's also the director of the Centre for Global Political Economy. Welcome, Geoff.

Geoff Mann  1:49 
Thanks a lot for having me.

Am Johal  1:50 
Yeah. Geoff, you've been teaching at SFU for a while, and you've been writing a lot of interesting books over the years from AK Press to Verso and other work. I wanted to begin by talking a little bit about how you came up with the idea to start working on the book on Keynes that you did, In the Long Run, We're All Dead.

Geoff Mann  2:13 
Sure, actually, I mean, at least to me, it is a sort of interesting origin story. Well, as you know, in late 2007, early 2008, the whole financial world started to fall apart. And then in September and October, it really did apparently fall apart. And in that process, the name of John Maynard Keynes and economist from the 20s and 30s. And eventually, he died in 1946. In that process, his name started to be circulating really widely again in mainstream circles. And that was really, really unusual. And it's sort of a nerdy little fact that those of us obsessed with this kind of stuff would probably be more familiar with than others. But Keynes had been very influential in the way that macroeconomic policy was conducted for most of the post-war world, post-World War Two world until about the mid 1970s, when his ideas were considered the reason that stagnation and stagflation, inflation, all this other stuff came part came upon us, sorry. And his ideas were discredited, widely discredited. You heard lots of Keynes is dead. You know, Keynesianism is a disaster. It was in many ways the flip that switched neoliberalism on.

Am Johal  3:28 
I know in BC, it was like in grade 12 history, you would study, Keynes would be brought up in terms of that context. And so it was in the high school system, but in a very, in that very particular way that you're talking about.

Geoff Mann  3:40 
Absolutely. And in the university system. I mean, I'm trained in political economy, and it was taken as a given that his ideas were no longer appropriate to the world. And many, of course, felt that they never had been, and that they'd caused the problems. But in any event, so around comes, you know, late fall 2008. And Keynes is on the cover of Time Magazine. He's being celebrated by the Wall Street Journal. Financial Times is calling for his return. These are people who would have been laughed out of the room with their colleagues if they'd said that even a year before. And so, I, as someone who considers himself quite far to the left of Keynes was worried that the reaction to the financial crisis would be the resuscitation of basically a capitalist, an attempt on the part of capital to resuscitate itself so that the whole system could get going again, which seemed to be the purpose that Keynes would serve for them.

Geoff Mann  4:33 
So I decided I wanted to write a book that said, Keynes is back, and that's a bad thing. And this is why. And so I started to dig into it. And he has, for those of you who aren't familiar, and there's probably lots who are, he wrote a book in 1936, called the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. And it's about as exciting, if you're not an economist, to read as it sounds. But for some of us, it's pretty interesting. And it was a really influential book that kind of founded Keynesianism as we understand it today. So I thought I was gonna write a rewrite of that book, from a sort of Marxian, Gramscian perspective that said, these are the ideas he was trying to come up with. This is why this would be a disaster today, we'll just get a retuning of neoliberalism. And so I started to write that book. And in the process, the more I read Keynes, and the more I read the people who were responding to Keynes in the 1930s when he wrote it, when the world was falling apart around him, I started to see myself more and more in Keynes. And in those conversations. I started to see more and more of what I understood to be the kind of intellectual left, that understood itself as anti-Keynesian, but actually was very Keynesian. And so then it became, the book turned into, and I know that you've read it, so you know, but the book turned into a, just in some extent, a diagnosis of kind of elite liberalism, both its radical variety, but also its mainstream variety. And I, in the end, the book is really, to some extent, a reflection on what I see as the links between modern left political economy, and in some ways politics, and its roots in a kind of bourgeois fear of popular sovereignty and the masses, which I think persists even amongst people who, who are very convinced that they're pro-masses and pro-democracy. I think there's a lot of people out there who want revolution without revolutionaries, and change without transformation.

Am Johal  4:09 
If you were to take a look at like that 1930s moment in which he was writing, and there was state intervention, in particular places, be it the New Deal in the US or, in some other places, when you see the 2008 collapse kind of carry out in being in this level of trajectory. 10 years out, and you see the Donald Trump tax cuts, you see, the Federal Liberals in Canada who ran on a kind of middle class policy analysis, and then when the mini budget comes out, they start talking about competitiveness, and they need to lower taxes to keep up with the US. And of course, it's like deja vu all over again, in terms of early 80s kind of policymaking. So in some sense, the kinds of reasons that Keynes maybe got brought up to the surface post-2008, in fact, wasn't implemented in a way that in the 30s, or 40s, might have been. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about how the policy frames have kind of shaken out post-2008 in terms of how it relates back to your book too.

Geoff Mann  7:29 
That's really... those are interesting connections to make. I think that, I mean, one of the things that comes up whenever I'm having a conversation about Keynes, which happens more often than it probably does for a lot of people. People who are familiar with the debates commonly point out that his name basically disappeared from conversation quite quickly. Probably by 2011, the same folks who'd been calling for his return, were no longer calling for his return. I would argue that's partly a function of the fact that the Keynesian emergency measures that were put into place worked fairly well. And so there was no need to call for many more, because it seemed like neoliberal capital was resuscitating itself quite fine now, which actually, and arguably, was very much Keynes's hope, in some people's minds.

Geoff Mann  8:31 
At any rate, the policy trajectory since that time, has been, I think, in many ways to walk a tightrope around the need for constant emergency vigilance, which we might associate with Keynesianism, and not just at the economic scale, but also at the political scale. So the kinds of responses that we see right now from Macron to the gilets jaunes, are very much in line with the kind of panic stricken worry about mob rule that terrified Keynes. And one might defend Keynes's extremely Victorian bourgeois kind of attitude, by pointing out the fact that he saw fascisms emerging all around him in England as well, and in many ways more organized fascism than our own. And so, for him, mob rule, or popular rule meant fascism, which was his most deepest concern. And I think that that fear, obviously, is a very big deal today amongst elites, maybe not amongst some of the folks who, you know, proudly trumpet Trump or, or the various other kind of minor or major authoritarianisms that are emerging, but certainly amongst the kind of liberal elite that has circled around the Democratic Party in the US or the Liberal Party here in Canada.

Geoff Mann  9:51 
I think that fear of popular voice, however it be voiced, is enormous. So weirdly enough, the post-financial crisis trajectory has had to kind of combine a very emergency oriented, quasi-Keynesian palliative measures, alongside an attempt to completely reinstitute and reconstitute the power of neoliberal capital and the state, which go together, obviously, to bring those two things together, and they don't marry very well. And I think that's partly why we see these kinds of constant crisscrossing of crises, and moments of calm, and then another panic, because the fear of disruption can emerge now, it seems to the state and capital, I think, from anywhere. And so how do you keep those two balls in the air? Well, you can't. But that's the attempt. 

Am Johal  8:30 
This type of methodology that Keynes lays out around the role that the state can place in maintaining order through infusions of capital in particular ways, in particular, things to maintain the centrality of the state, in a lot of ways. And when we talk about populism today, what, be it the Steve Bannon, right wing authority or the Brexit pieces in Europe, and the way that they're playing out in each kind of localized condition. Is Keynes still relevant to read the present political moment, in that sense? In terms of the the place that we are in the economic crisis that's still continuing to unfold, like be it with the low artificially-low interest rates, the kind of infusion of that kind of liquidity into the system for that period of time, because in a way, Keynesianism wasn't implemented or utilized in quite the way it has been in previous iterations of the crisis.

Geoff Mann  11:53 
It's true. I mean, at one point in the book I describe it as a neoliberal Keynesianism. And I do think you're right. It has changed a lot. I think that the relevance of Keynes from a purely economic perspective, or an economic policy perspective, you could maybe say, Keynes continues to be extraordinarily relevant. If we look at the spectrum of what we might call mainstream economics. And I don't mean neoclassical, you know, the kind of caricature of economics that actually most economists would laugh at as well, you know, the discussion of the kind of hardcore laissez faire, so called neoclassical economist is a hard person to actually find.  It’s an influential way of thinking, but it's not most economists are very aware of the real world, even if they try to simplify it for their own work. And if we include Keynes in a kind of spectrum of mainstream economics, then we might say, it's extraordinarily relevant, if only because it is used so much as the knowledge through which the world is understood by the powers that be, you know. Like the, the main economic models at the Bank of Canada uses to understand the macro economy are called New Keynesian models, like there's a reason for these, this intellectual influence.

Geoff Mann  13:11 
But I would say that even more and this is, I guess, mostly what the book is about. Keynes is relevant today, because a diagnosis of our current conjuncture, I think, leads many of us, even those who understand ourselves as more or less radical, many of us who understand ourselves as more or less radical, a diagnosis of the current conjuncture produces a kind of knee-jerk Keynesianism, I would argue. A kind of anxious Keynesianism. A situation in which the current situation seems dire. But for it to disintegrate, we make the assumption that that will produce chaos. And so those of us who've been critics of the status quo for so long, come to defend it in the interests of avoiding what we see as a much worse fate. I think that insofar as that's an accurate description of Keynesianism, and certainly that's my argument in the book, then Keynesianism is alive and well. And one of the greatest barriers to more significant transformation, precisely because it is a significant effort to avoid significant transformation.

Am Johal  14:26 
Right, yeah. There's former UK Labour MP, Stuart Holland, who I met this summer in Hungary at a Summer Institute. And he's a big critic of Keynes, and I was telling him about your book. And he asked me what the title was, and he just burst out laughing. Because he's, I think, has a very similar line on Keynes that you do, but I wonder if you can talk a little bit about why you decided to go with the title that you did.

Geoff Mann  14:52  
Right. Well, it's a good question. I didn't come up with it. I, like, you know, when this is the first time I've ever worked with a press that sort of, I wouldn't say Verso is at all oriented around making money. Clearly they're, they have a political motivation. It's a, you know, they call themselves the most prominent left press in the English language. And I think that's fair to say. But they are interested in marketing in a way that other presses I've worked with are not. I've worked with four other presses and they are less savvy, but Verso wants to get your book out there. And they, you know, they make an effort to get it read and get it seen. And so, when we were coming up with the title, when we're coming up with virtually everything, actually, the cover everything, there's a, it's unlike working with a University Press where they say, what do you want to call it? And you say, I want to call it a boring study of political economy. And the University Press goes, “Okay, great.” You know, they just go with it. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but with Verso, you go, I want to call it this. And they're like, nope, you're calling it this. 

Am Johal  15:58 

Geoff Mann  15:58 
So, I mean, I'm only exaggerating a little bit. So I had originally suggested, and I don't think it's near as good as the one we came up with, “The Communism of Capital”, which is a phrase that Antonio Negri attributes to Marx in an article about Keynes. It's a kind of convoluted story. But anyway, Marx never actually said that phrase, but Keynes attributes it to him. I mean, sorry, but Negri attributes it to him in a very powerful and influential critique of Keynes. And so I thought that was a good title. They thought it sucked. And they came up with this as an alternative. And I immediately saw that it was a much better title.

Am Johal  16:36 
In the long run, we're all dead.

Geoff Mann  16:37 
Oh, but I should say, for those who don't know, that Keynes was a really sharp speaker and writer. And he has many phrases that are now kind of common quotations that people know. And this is this is a phrase that he said in 1924, in a book called “A Tract on Monetary Reform”, which was a critique of the attempt to return to the gold standard after World War One, which he saw is disastrous, and which proved to be disastrous, he was absolutely right about that. In fact, Winston Churchill, who made a lot of mistakes, always said that the biggest one he ever made was going back on the gold standard. Now, I mean, when that's Winston Churchill, forgetting about his genocidal practices in the colonies, and things like that. But regardless, so in this book, Keynes says, "In the long run, we are all dead." And if economists tell us that in the future after the storm passes, the ocean will be flat. Again, that doesn't do any good, effectively, because we all have died in the storm. So we need to focus on the short term.

Am Johal  17:40 
Yeah, so this is actually a great way to segue into a more recent project that you've been writing with Joel Wainwright, Climate Leviathan, that came out a little while ago. And yeah, wondering if you can talk a little bit about where some of the conversations with you and Joel started out. I read an earlier version of an article and it eventually turned into a book project. But maybe if you could talk a little bit about sort of where the conversation started before even getting to the article stage, let alone the book. 

Geoff Mann  18:16 
Yeah, for sure. 

Am Johal  18:17 
In a way, what ties these books together in some way is a kind of thinking through of the state, right? The role of the state, how does it function, be it around economic crises, but in this case, one of climate change and the challenges to sovereignty that emerge?

Geoff Mann  18:35  
Absolutely. And in fact, I think I would say that everything I've done over the last 10 years, which isn't a ton, but what I have done has been unintentionally or unwittingly focused on the anxiety of our current moment. Which is, of course, from my perspective, as a privileged, white male, academic in the global north, you know, sometimes I say we, when I really probably should be much more wary of who ‘we’ includes. But nonetheless, I do think it's not unreasonable to describe the world as feeling quite constantly at a precipice and many people feel this way that there seems to be something substantial at risk, all the time. And we're sort of in a permanent state of emergency so that it's so permanent, the word crisis doesn't seem to have much of a grip anymore, because if everything's a crisis, then the word itself doesn't describe something specific.

Geoff Mann  19:31 
At any rate, so, just around the same time that I was starting to project on Keynes, 2008-2009. I was at a climate justice meeting here. And there was a lot of discussion, as you can imagine about how we might organize politically around climate change in a way that pointed not just toward avoiding more stopping climate change or, you know, adapting, all the things that we normally talk about. But of course, as many people have pointed out over the years, but how we might use that as an opportunity to sort of increase the justice of the world to confront climate change in a way that improved the lives of many, and definitely avoided making them, the poor, have to deal with the implications of climate change. And there was a lot of talk in the room that I was in that day about the need to get local communities involved, to have kind of democratic popular discussion at the local level to make that happen. And at that point, I would disagree with my position then. Today, I would see things differently. But at that point, I was panicked enough about climate change to feel like I was unsure of the role democracy could play in any attempt to confront it, if that makes any sense. I'm now convinced that climate change is just as big a deal or bigger than I ever thought it was. But I am now convinced that democracy is essential to this, to our attempts to address it. But at the time, I had a much more like holy shit, the world is falling apart, if we all get together and chat, it's gonna burn around us while we're chatting. And so I started to think about democracy on those grounds, because I had always understood myself to be very pro-democracy. And all of a sudden here I am feeling like I maybe was less sure of its purpose at that moment. And at some point during the conversation, I said to somebody, you know, I think the way this is headed, we're going to get either a climate Leviathan, referring to the Hobbesian work from the 17th century, or we're going to get a climate Lenin, one of the two. And climate Lenin is infinitely preferable. So we should organize for that. It was kind of an off the cuff thing. I thought it sounded sort of cool. But that's about it.

Geoff Mann  21:53 
At any rate, I was talking to Joel, later that day, or that week, and I mentioned this conversation, and he was like, that's a great idea. We got to write about that. And he's a, you don't know him probably very well if you know him at all. But he's a very energetic and extremely intelligent guy. And he whipped down a few notes, like a paragraph and sent them to me the next day, and then it just went from there. We wrote a paper that took forever to get published. No one wanted to publish it. And probably for good reason, in some ways. And then eventually, it got published, and it got a fair bit of circulation. And then when we approached Verso to write the book, they they agreed very quickly,

Am Johal  22:33 
Yeah, in looking at a whole bunch of literature around climate change, these questions of sovereignty, and the decision come forward in so many different ways. You see Carl Schmitt's name evoked in a number of ways. And I'm wondering if you can talk just a little bit about the different formations or the possibilities of sovereignty that you write about in the book in terms of laying out what these possible scenarios might be.

Geoff Mann  23:02 
We did in the paper, and then we followed it through in the book, which as I said, just came out this February. And there we are, we look at what we think are two of the most important, say, variables, which is to make them sound much more discreet than they actually are. But for the purposes of thinking, we identify what we saw as two of the most important variables in the kind of global political or geopolitical structure as it’s emerging to confront climate change. And the first of those was the question of national sovereignty or not, do we see forces pushing to reinforce sovereignty at the level of the nation state or the state itself? Or do we see that disintegrating and seeing a kind of push toward a more planetary sovereignty? And the second was the question of whether or not that formation, whatever it was, would take a capitalist form or not, or would embrace capitalist modes of organization. And as you can imagine, that sets out a two by two table capitalist, planetary sovereignty, anti-capitalist planetary sovereignty, national sovereignty, that's capitalist and national sovereignty, and anti-national sovereignty, that's also anti-capitalist. And that two by two grid as sort of clunky as it is, and certainly it's, Joel and I intended solely as a heuristic. We don't actually think that there's like really strict lines there, but as a way of thinking. And we named them Climate Leviathan for the planetary capitalists sovereign or form of sovereignty, which might not necessarily mean only one nation state that covers the whole planet, but rather a coordinated set of existing nations. We named the planetary sovereign form that would be anti-capitalist Climate Mao. We named the anti-planetary pro-capitalist form of sovereignty Climate Behemoth to oppose Leviathan as sort of traditionally has. And the last one, the one we hope for, is Climate X, which would be anti-sovereignty, but also anti-capitalist. And those are, as I said, heuristic tools. And then we think through them. We think that Climate Leviathan is the direction in which the planet is headed. And we think, in particular, that the collective desperation, every time there's a meeting in Copenhagen or Paris, for some sort of rule, to save us from ourselves, is a sign that people are kind of desperate for a Climate Leviathan to make that decision for them or …

Am Johal  25:38 
That's happening in Poland right now.

Geoff Mann  25:39 
Or in Poland now. Yes, exactly right. Though the level of desperation seems to be less because people have lost faith in these agreements, which I think is justifiable, because so far, they've been meaningless. And I don't think there's good reason to assume they will become meaningless.

Am Johal  25:54 
If we were to jump into Climate X then as a site of political possibility, or a site of resistance to the direction and the flow of things as they are. What are the kinds of features or things that are happening on the ground right now that you see kind of showing a way to some different type of future than the ones being evoked by the state or these other forms of sovereignty?

Geoff Mann  26:21 
That's a really good question. In fact, as you can imagine, it's the question that we always get asked, What's Climate X? What's it look like? There's a part of me that I think, justifiably, wants to duck the question. And because I obviously can't know, neither can Joel. That's part of the reason that it's X. Because it's a variable, and we don't know. But I do think that's a bit cheap. So I'll try to tell you a little bit of what I think of it.

Geoff Mann  26:45
Basically, I'll say, what gives me hope. And what gives me hope, would fall under that category to me. The first is the increasing overlap in the climate justice community with a critique of capitalism, that's explicit. There have a long time when people, I think, very concerned about environmental issues, climate change, in particular, one might say, where people have criticized the general way we organize our lives. The kind of production-oriented, consumer-oriented, materialist in that colloquial sense. You know, a lot of criticisms of that kind of thinking, or not just thinking, acting. But increasingly, we see people questioning the order of capital, as part of the problem. That gives me a great deal of hope even just the fact that that is something that people can say, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can say that, and be heard and not only be heard, but be affirmed by hundreds of thousands of people. That's not the whole world. But that's a lot more than would have called themselves anti-capitalist, I think, even a decade ago, in the heart of the world of capital. So that, I think is an extraordinary development, not necessarily her, but just that kind of movement.

Geoff Mann  28:01 
I would also say that there is increasingly proof that people see the answer outside the state, because the state has failed, and continues to fail. So Joel and I, think, would both argue, and in fact, we've just written up a piece for Public Books, a website in the States that argues this, that that's that the state will not save us, and that the efforts have to happen outside the state. Now, that might be occasionally at the level of, say, the local state. So cities are doing fantastic things. And cities can keep doing more and more things. But at the level of the national state, I don't think there's any evidence that it's the way to go. Certainly not in the timelines that we've been handed. And so, you know, one can always point in, like a lot of lefty people in Canada. I do point to them quite, quite often. But one can always point to the work of First Nations. And their, in many ways, historic refusal, not just of the Canadian state, but of the state as a social formation, and be enormously encouraged by that, and the achievements that, you know, against all odds, the First Nations communities have been able to achieve here in BC and elsewhere. And we can look to that as a model of a refusal of the state. But nonetheless, an achievement. Without, at the same time, I'm always wary of the fact that, you know, so much of, least Western Canadian, left politics, rides on the backs of the work and activism and punishment of Indigenous peoples, to take the risks for us. To spend 20 years in court. To fight the fights for us. And then, you know, to walk around like we won, which is a really troubling dynamic, but nonetheless, the achievements of First Nations peoples, on the grounds of something like Climate X are to be not only celebrated, of course, but to be admired, enormously admired. And that gives me extraordinary hope. And I think we see the same things happening around the world. People refusing to work within the institutions they've been handed because those institutional mechanisms have utterly failed to address the problem. So while a lot of the times, I don't feel very hopeful, there's a lot that gives me hope, and most of it would fall in that final quadrant of Climate X.

Am Johal  30:14 
Now, you've finished these two really important books very recently. And so I feel a bit sheepish asking this question, which is, what are you working on right now in terms of writing? Or what are the kind of questions that have come up that you feel like jumping into that build on these two projects in some way? Or are you going in a completely different direction? You need a little timeout?

Geoff Mann  30:38 
Yeah, yeah. No, actually, it has taken me a long time to kind of decide what I want to try and write about now. Partly, I think, because I wasn't so sure I had a whole lot more to say about these questions, even though, whether I talk about them or not in the future. I still think that the stuff that I'm writing about is really important. Whether or not my writing is important is a different question. But those questions are enormously important. But I've actually just begun the work on a book proposal to look at the problem of sovereignty in a moment when the emergency feels permanent. And so I said, I guess I said that earlier on in our discussion today. But I'm increasingly concerned with the kind of looming mechanisms of violence that enable the state to maintain power in what feels like a permanent emergency. And so how do we organize to resist that? So I guess what I'm, now that I'm saying it out loud to you, I guess, in some ways, what I'm thinking about is, so if I have a knee-jerk, anxiety-induced Keynesianism inside me, how do I fight that? What kind of political mechanisms? What kind of political economic arrangements can face that? In the Keynes book, I think, I conclude by basically saying this is a really big deal. But I don't know what to do. And so now, I want to think about what, not just me of course, but what might be the possibilities in this moment? Which means, which means actually asking what's really going on.

Am Johal  32:29 
Geoff, I know you've been involved with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in BC for a number of years on their board and involved in research projects. But wondering if you can talk a little bit about that work that you're doing a little bit closer to the ground here.

Geoff Mann  32:43 
Sure. I should preface anything I say with the fact that I can take no credit for this. This is the fantastic folks at CCPA, who do the work, who do the research, who talk to the people, who get the word out. So you know, I'm there on the board and occasionally involved in some research, but it's really, I am, in some ways parasitical on the work of the people who are there. And right now, the big thing at the CCPA is this absolutely fantastic project being coordinated by the director there, Shannon Daub and Bill Carroll at the University of Victoria, called the Corporate Mapping Project, again, which I am only very peripherally involved in, but which is trying to map out the networks of capital that control the fossil fuel industry in Canada, largely in Western Canada. And the conclusions are not only, of course, ongoing, because it's a five year project and only halfway through. But the conclusions are, are not only that it's an extraordinarily profitable operation, even in the era of low prices and all the rest of it, especially for the big majors. You know, there are lots of small contractors who are barely getting by. But the big boys are reaping in profits hand over fist, even when things are bad. So that's like the simple message. But the other message that is emerging is that the networks of corporate power are, of course, not just in the fossil fuel industry, but are deeply entangled with the entire, we might say, ruling regime of political Canadian political economy, including, especially the banks. So that work is mostly happening not only but mostly happening out of the BC office in UVic. But it's obviously of national and international significance. The work that is being done is extremely rigorous. These people are professional researchers, they know what they're doing. 

Am Johal  34:42 
It's amazing seeing the exposure of the chartered banks, along with sort of the long term liabilities of cleanup that are oftentimes left off of the books that's been really really important work to look at.

Geoff Mann  34:54 
Absolutely. And the other thing the CCPA has recently concluded, along with, you know, ongoing work on Vancouver real estate, on welfare rates, on child care, on poverty, education, seniors care, they're really working on a whole variety of crucial issues. But Marc Lee there, the senior economist there, has recently concluded a project called the Climate Justice Project, which probably all of you have heard of here in the room, but again, just made essential contributions to the discussion of how to think about climate change, how to think about how we address it, especially the sort of mainstream mechanisms like cap and trade, carbon taxes, and to look at the distribution of the distributive impacts of these kinds of shifts and, and whether or not they were not not only not addressing the problem, but just in trenching inequalities, which I would argue that they absolutely are. So, the office is a remarkable place filled with people who are so committed that you can do nothing but admire them. It's a wonderful place.

Am Johal  35:59 
Geoff, I just want to say thank you so much for joining us on Below the Radar.

Geoff Mann  36:04 
Thanks a lot for having me. It was really great.

Am Johal  36:06 
Yeah. Thanks, everyone.

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Melissa Roach  36:14 
Thank you, Geoff, for chatting with us. Thank you, Davis Steele for the beautiful music you hear in all of our episodes. Thank you to our production team, including our colleagues Maria Cecilia Saba and Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, and thanks to you for listening. We'll be back with another episode in two weeks.

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Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
March 24, 2019

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