One project of the 1976-1983 Argentine juntas was to serve the neoliberal mindset and institute it not only as policy but as ‘common sense’. One project of the Subcomandante Marcos (Delegate Zero) is to counter neoliberal ideology and practices.The September 18, 2006 issue of The Nation, dedicated to analyses of the Katrina disaster, contains an article by Adolph Reed entitled Undone by Neoliberalism. The piece ends thus:
Brown was in over his head. But the larger point is that he and his bosses – Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and President Bush – have so little regard for government that they couldn’t conceive of the agency’s functions, even to go through the motions. They could connect only to do public relations damage control, punish enemies and outsource plunder to cronies. When the chief executive officers of the parishes hardest hit by Katrina and then Rita participated in a discussion on local public television in late October 2005, each of them was trenchantly critical of FEMA’s shoddy performance (and the Red Cross’s, by the way). They also complained bitterly about Halliburton and the other private contractors hired to do cleanup. The main charge was that the firms refused to coordinate with others and demanded additional pay for every action. Such is the practical truth of “market efficiency.”
There are groups and individuals struggling mightily to provide services and advocate for the interests of poor and displaced New Orleanians, renters and others likely to be simply cast aside by the market imperative. But they lack resources to be effective in the current political environment. On the national scale neither the labor movement (in either institutional variety), nor women’s, civil rights or environmentalist groups, nor, least of all, the Democratic Party seems prepared to advance and fight for a clear alternative vision.
As time goes on, fewer and fewer Americans will recall that government can do anything but make war and suppress dissent. Unless current patterns change, the struggle for New Orleans’s future may be a more extreme, condensed version of the future of many, many more people as the bipartisan neoliberal consensus reduces government to a tool of corporations and the investor class alone.
I have said before that my most brilliant research insight (which I had in 1981) was that the United States had started down a path of internal colonialism which would convert it into what Latin America had been, with our help, in the seventies. I was not wrong.