[The 90’s raw: Charles Paul Freund, Erika Becker, Rebuild America]

Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Interviews with Charles Paul Freund and Fred Branfman, and footage of videomaker Eddie Becker's daughter Erika.

00:00Copy video clip URL Charles Paul Freund, writer of The Zeitgeist Checklist (a column) for The New Republic, talks about life in the ’90s. Tape opens in the middle of Freund discussing recent articles he has written. They appear to be sitting in a cafe. He is now writing a piece about the ’90s himself. He discusses national identity and pop culture in terms of Soviet relations. “In the ’90s we have to reinvent ourselves in terms of who we are as a proponent.” He says ideological threats are more powerful than economic threats.

04:23Copy video clip URL The tape cuts. Freund talks about his piece on the ’90s for the Washington Post, and the impact of what the media chooses to emphasize. He says that the ’60s began in ’63 when Kennedy was shot, and says that the ’90s began at the 1987 summit with Reagan and Gorbachev, representing a change from antagonism. He says this change has had a ripple effect into other spheres, for instance the way in which we focus on racial issues. “We see each other differently… we see ourselves as a group differently.” He then talks about “demonizing” the Japanese culture.

10:01Copy video clip URL Becker asks about personal values, but Freund hasn’t really written about this. “Our idealism tends to kick in when we identify a crisis as going on.” Freund says the same thing may be happening with the environment. Becker asks what he meant by “playing roles, making choices,” and Freund responds by discussing changes in the perception of the trajectory of life. That is, people can make choices and changes when they want, and this has changed social roles. “The rules by which we’ve always played those roles are being challenged.”

13:12Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Freund collects his thoughts and repeats many of the same things about ideology and the environment more concisely. They make an analogy of the ’90s to a board game, which apparently Freund has invented to examine the roles of people in the ’90s.

18:36Copy video clip URL Becker asks about Freund’s future, and Freund dodges the question, saying that perhaps the ’90s board will not even be relevant. Becker zooms in on the Washington Post building across the street, and Freund describes his role there.

21:15Copy video clip URL Shots of pages from The Washington Post, of Freund’s article, and this board game he has created.

25:56Copy video clip URL Erika Becker plays at the park and interviews her father on camera.

37:33Copy video clip URL Tape cuts to a man on a phone, and then cuts again to an office where a man from Rebuild America, Fred Branfman, is interviewed. Apparently Becker interviewed him once before, in 1971.

39:59Copy video clip URL The interview officially begins, and Branfman explains the Rebuild America’s goal, which is to develop an agenda to revitalize America and move it into the new global economy.

41:02Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Becker asks about their current projects, and Branfman advocates technology for ’90s. He thinks that the basis for power will not be oil, etc, but rather on the quality of leadership and people. “Without a dramatic change in national leadership, America faces a very long period of economic, political and social decline.” The tape cuts, and as they prepare to do another take, Becker looks around his office.

45:03Copy video clip URL Branfman resumes:”The key issue for America in the ’90s is that we’re entering the early stages of a global knowledge revolution more profound than the Industrial Revolution… Is our society going to remain on the cutting edge of that [knowledge] revolution? Because of the policies of the last 20 years, it appears that America is falling behind.” He talks about the problems of the ’90s as being global problems–global environmental problems, global economies, global interest in third world countries, etc: “Global cooperation is a new imperative.” He brings up the example of how the British started the Industrial Revolution, but the United States moved ahead with it and eventually dominated. He said that the United States might have started the knowledge revolution, but it appears that Japan could be the one who gains from it. “Without a major national push…we think that his country can face decades of decline, under present policies.” “I think the question facing America in the nineties is two-fold”; Branfman talks about internal reform and then reforming our international leadership. He goes on to discuss the role of the U.S. as a power abroad.

54:31Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Branfman talks about the domestic situation. According to him, we need to think about future generations. He says that people are paying attention to domestic issues, but there are huge costs for correcting each of these problems. “The first thing every American needs to do is stop denying that we have these issues… We act like we can continue to consume more than we produce.” The second thing that the man wished to emphasize is the revitalization of the home economy, instead of work abroad. He uses the example of the New Deal, which was tested at the state level before being used nationally. “We need a new generation of leaders… to do at the national level what governors have done at the state level.”

01:01:44Copy video clip URL Branfman talks about Rebuild America, and lists economists and people involved in the organization to demonstrate that they have done work across sectors. Branfman sees the problem as translating their initiatives into political power. He says that he does not see Japan as an enemy, and “we need to pay the price of economic strength.” Japan, here, is an example of high rates of investment per person. Branfman criticizes Bush’s policy of “no new taxes” as merely a move to gain popularity. Again, he says that it is wrong to leave the next generation so many problems.

01:08:57Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Branfman says, “As we look to the nineties, we need a fundamental shift in our values, in our economics, in our social policy, in our foreign policy,” and says the most important value is what we are leaving our children. The tape cuts, and Branfman paces the room. He sits and does another take of his segment about a fundamental shift in values. He talks about previous declines of large world powers, citing Great Britain for example. “First of all, and most importantly, we need to shift from short- to long-term thinking… we need to shift from an individual level… some people call the eighties a decade of greed… to investment.” He also talks about national debt. “America cannot prosper anymore unless the globe prospers.”

01:15:40Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Branfman is still talking about necessary shifts. “America is moving into an important phase in which interdependence [is crucial].” He says that some social groups will no longer be able to be sacrificed. That is, the minority work force will become much more highly valued. Minorities are no longer merely a “moral imperative,” but are now becoming an “economic imperative.”

01:21:30Copy video clip URL Branfman talks about his personal background. He lived in Laos from 1967-1971 during the secret air war there. He was upset by the bombings, and began to question the political and economic systems. After working with many programs and grassroots movements, he feels that the core of the problem is economic, not military. He found problems rooted in the economy in several sectors. He has been working in Washington to try to fix these problems. He then goes back to say that the problem is political because the leaders aren’t implementing these solutions. He wants America to be a leader, not to dominate. He pushes for a global “new world order.”

01:32:18Copy video clip URL The tape cuts, and Branfman talks about the Vietnam War, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Branfman wants to work with the whole political spectrum. He does not think that the terms “liberal” and “conservative” apply anymore, as they did in the Industrial Revolution. “Now as we approach the ’90s… we’re finding these old categories really don’t tell us much anymore, they really don’t describe reality.” Rebuild America fuses positions from both sides, neither sides, or one side. Branfman goes on to talk about Japan also embracing a “new way of organizing economic activity.” He says that we need to come up with a new ideology entirely. Instead of looking backwards (as we did in the ’80s), we need to focus on the future.

01:43:12Copy video clip URL Branfman says the most important thing this society must do in the nineties is to produce a “transformation of the way we learn.” America does the best when it defines the cutting edge, and that we must do this with the human mind. Instead of learning being a passive experience, we have to use new technology to make learning an active experience. “We’re in the early stages of a global knowledge revolution.” He says that interactive resources could help students become interested in learning, mentioning the role of television. He thinks learning and technology, rather than manufacturing, is the opportunity and the “new frontier” for America in the future.

01:52:46Copy video clip URL Becker asks about similarities in the Soviet Union’s idea of the future, but Branfman is more focused on Japan than the Soviet Union. The tape cuts, and Branfman talks about his interest in Japan, and its idea of the future. He talks about high definition television, and the Japanese pursuit of this kind of technology. Branfman holds up the Japanese “HDTV Mandala,” which visually demonstrates the system Japan plans based on HDTV. Branfman wants the same kind of collective vision and ambition in the US.

02:02:14Copy video clip URL Tape cuts to Branfman at a television set, playing the ’90s.

02:03:54Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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