Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MUST READ: economic democracy crushed by tanks & coups again and again but keeps coming back stronger and stronger

This is simply breath-taking in tying together what has happened to us her in the US since the Reagan Revolution, what neoliberalism and resource wars like Iraq have done to the rest of the world, and most importantly, how people fought back again and again and could only be deterred by economic or military force.

This is partly why Hugo Chavez is so terrifying to the corporate world: not that he is so far left but because their usual tools failed to remove him or bring him to heel. When they called their bought off generals for a coup enough of the Venezuelan people and even enough of the military saw Chavez was looking out for their interests and the economic elite were not.

Whether the Democrats will really put the people before their corporate donors remains to be seen, but this is the direction we MUST push them in if we in the middle and working class don't want to end up living in a cardboard box in a Third World slum in the middle of North America.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Naomi Klein: From Think Tanks to Battle Tanks, "The Quest to Impose a Single World Market Has Casualties Now in the Millions"

This idea of our intellectual and ideological failure is the dominant narrative of our time. It’s embedded in all the catchphrases that we’ve been referring to. “There is no alternative,” said Thatcher. “History has ended,” said Fukuyama. The Washington Consensus: the thinking has already been done, the consensus is there. Now, the premise of all these proclamations was that capitalism, extreme capitalism, was conquering every corner of the globe because all other ideas had proven themselves disastrous. The only thing worse than capitalism, we were told, was the alternative.

Now, it’s worth remembering when these pronouncements were being made that what was failing was not Scandinavian social democracy, which was thriving, or a Canadian-style welfare state, which has produced the highest standard of living by UN measures in the world, or at least it did before my government started embracing some of these ideas.
It wasn't the so-called Asian miracle that had been discredited, which in the ’80s and ’90s built the Asian “tiger” economies in South Korea and Malaysia using a combination of trade protections to nurture and develop national industry, even when that meant keeping American products out and preventing foreign ownership, as well as maintaining government control over key assets, like water and electricity. These policies did not create explosive growth concentrated at the very top, as we see today. But record levels of profit and a rapidly expanding middle class, that is what has been attacked in these past thirty years.

Now, I want to use the rest of my time just to say that this was not the first time, that this -- if we look back at the past thirty-five years, we see this slamming of the door on alternatives just as they are emerging repeating again and again. Many of you were here for the opening address from Ricardo Lagos, the former president of Chile, who talked about another September 11th, which was another one of those moments, a far more significant one, when a very important democratic alternative, the real third way, not Tony Blair's third way, but the real third way between totalitarian communism and extreme capitalism was being forged in Chile. And that was the great threat.

And we know that now through all of the declassified documents. There’s a really revealing one: a correspondence between Henry Kissinger and Nixon, in which Kissinger says very bluntly that the problem with Allende’s election is not what they were saying publicly, which was that he was aligned with the Soviets, that he was only pretending to be democratic, but that he was really going to impose a totalitarian system in Chile. That was the spin at the time. What he actually wrote was, “The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on -- and even precedent value for -- other parts of the world…The imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it.” So that alternative, that other world, had to be blasted out of the way, and extreme violence was used in order to accomplish that.


We who say we believe in this other world need to know that we are not losers. We did not lose the battle of ideas. We were not outsmarted, and we were not out-argued. We lost because we were crushed. Sometimes we were crushed by army tanks, and sometimes we were crushed by think tanks. And by think tanks, I mean the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks. Now, most effective we have seen is when the army tanks and the think tanks team up. The quest to impose a single world market has casualties now in the millions, from Chile then to Iraq today. These blueprints for another world were crushed and disappeared because they are popular and because, when tried, they work. They're popular because they have the power to give millions of people lives with dignity, with the basics guaranteed. They are dangerous because they put real limits on the rich, who respond accordingly. Understanding this history, understanding that we never lost the battle of ideas, that we only lost a series of dirty wars, is key to building the confidence that we lack, to igniting the passionate intensity that we need.


A good brief summary of neoliberalism

How "economic hit men" set it up and enforce it

How Bush is plundering Iraq's OIL

Klein on the plunder of Iraq

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