|Progressive Calendar 11.12.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 07:06:25 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.12.07 1. AAUW/equity 11.12 9:30am 2. Gitmo 11.12 6pm 3. Smart energy 11.12 6pm 4. Peace church 11.12 6:30pm 5. MN labor v war 11.12 7pm 6. Peace culture 11.12 7pm 7. New Orleans 11.13 12noon 8. Art/public 11.13 4pm 9. Palestine/CTV 11.13 5pm 10. MAP/peace 11.13 6pm 11. Single payer 11.13 7pm Owatonna MN 12. Nonprofit 11.13 13. Ernest Partridge - American people to the free world: HELP! 14. Naomi Klein - Latin America's shock resistance 15. ed - Shrinking Democrats (poem) --------1 of 15-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: AAUW/equity 11.12 9:30am Monday, November 12: American Association of University Women Minneapolis Branch. 9:30-10:30AM: Equity in Public Office with Dr. Shirley Nelson, Women Candidate Development Coalition. 1:15-2:15PM: Business Meeting, 2115 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis. --------2 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Gitmo 11.12 6pm Monday, 11/12, 5:30 registration, 6 to 7:30 pm program, James Dorsey and Nicole Moen, attorneys for an Algerian detainee at Guantanamo, speak on "The Guantanamo Bay Challenge: Finding the Balance between Security and Our Nation's Ideals," Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute, 301 - 19th Ave S, Mpls. $15. http://www.micglobe.org/ --------3 of 15-------- From: Margaret Levin <Margaret.Levin [at] sierraclub.org> Subject: Smart energy 11.12 6pm Flip the Switch - Global Warming Volunteer Action Night With Congress getting ready to vote on a raising gas mileage standards (sometimes called CAFÉ) and creating a renewable electricity standard (RES), the Sierra Club is working to flood our Representatives and Senators with phone calls supporting these important steps toward smart energy solutions. We need to let our members know these votes are coming up and get letters to the editor into local papers, so come to a Global Warming Action night next week to write a letter and call Sierra Club members about taking action. Help cool the earth while enjoying warm pizza and refreshments! Flip the Switch - Global Warming Volunteer Action Night Monday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 14 6 PM to 9 PM Sierra Club office, 2327 E Franklin St, Suite 1, Minneapolis, MN RSVP: margaret.levin [at] sierraclub.org or 612-659-9124 x306 --------4 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace church 11.12 6:30pm Monday, 11/12, 6:30 pm, Every Church a Peace Church potluck with United Theological Seminary prof Christine M Smith talking about "Global Immersion Trips: Indulging the Privileged or Radicalizing Religious Consciousness?" MN Valley Unitarian University Fellowship, 10715 Zenith Ave S, Bloomington. rolsen6376 [at] visi.com --------5 of 15-------- From: Teddy <tyimenu2005 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: MN labor v war 11.12 7pm BUILD LABOR'S OPPOSITION TO WAR! MN Labor Against War Meetings 2nd Monday of Each Month 7pm Merriam Park Library in St.Paul - Basement At the Corner of Marshall and Fairview Contacts: Teddy Shibabaw 612-807-3196 - tyimenu2005 [at] yahoo.com Corey Mattson - 612-298-0920 - correymattson [at] maydaybookstore.org --------6 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace culture 11.12 7pm Monday, 11/12, 7 to 9 pm, Continuing the Dialogue: Creating a Culture of Peace, with Joan Haan and Katherine Wojtan, concluding the series Peace and Violence in Our Religious Traditions, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 S Snelling Ave, St Paul. www.interfaithings.org or 651-789-3840. --------7 of 15-------- From: Caroline Palmer <sealinesadie [at] mac.com> Subject: NewOrleans 1.13 12noon NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST November 13, 2007 Stop Demolition of New Orleans Public Housing Call to Action in Minneapolis at the Stone Arch Bridge on November 13, 2007 at 12 noon The New Orleans Public Housing and Right of Return Movement and the United Front for Affordable Housing has called on supporters around the city, country and world to demonstrate their solidarity on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 to show their opposition to the Bush administration's criminal plans to enrich a few by demolishing 5,000 viable and badly needed public housing apartments. MINNESOTA RESPONDS! Housing is a human right! The New Orleans Solidarity Rally Organizing Committee (Twin Cities Branch) will hold a rally in the middle of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis over the Mississippi River, which unites embattled tenants and housing in distress from Minnesota to New Orleans. The rally will be at 12 noon on Tuesday, November 13. For further information about the housing situation in New Orleans visit: www.JusticeforNewOrleans.org --------8 of 15-------- From: Jeff Hartman <hartm152 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Art/public 11.13 4pm "Art in the Public Interest: New Artistic Strategies" - a presentation by Suzanne Lacy Tuesday, November 13, 4:00-5:30 p.m. Institute for Advanced Study, 125 Nolte Center 315 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis Join the IAS and the Space and Place collaborative for a presentation by Suzanne Lacy, Chair of the new MFA: Public Practices at Otis College of Art and Design and internationally known artist. One of her best-known works to date is The Crystal Quilt (Minneapolis, 1987) a performance with 430 older women, broadcast live on Public Television. During the nineties she worked with teams of artists and youth to create an ambitious series of performances, workshops, and installations on youth and public policy, documented by videos, local and national news broadcasts, and an NBC program. Her work has been funded through numerous local and national foundations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and The Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Surdna, and Nathan Cummings Foundations. --------9 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine/CTV 11.13 5pm St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings. All households with basic cable can watch! 11/13 5pm and midnight and 11/14 10am "Ali Abunimah: Where Next for Palestine-Israel: Peace, Apartheid or Democratic Inclusion?" Palestinian American talks at the U of M on 10/9. --------10 of 15-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: MAP/peace 11.13 6pm Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) 12th Annual Peace Celebration Tuesday, November 13, 6:00 p.m. (Doors) 7:20 to 9:00 p.m. (Program) Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland at Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis. Free parking. Keynote Speaker: Matthew Rothschild, editor of "the Progressive" magazine and author of "You Have No Rights." Music by the Gay Men's Chorus. Tickets: $5.00 (general admission), Free (students). FFI: Visit <www.mapm.org>. --------11 of 15-------- From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at] usinternet.com> Subject: Single payer 11.13 7pm Owatonna MN On Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 pm, Kip Sullivan will speak at a forum on the health care crisis at the Owatonna Arts Center in Owatonna. The event will be hosted by the American Association of University Women. The public is invited. --------12 of 15-------- From: Tim Erickson <tim [at] e-democracy.org> Subject: Nonprofit stuff 11.13 PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! I just heard about a series of free workshops in nonprofit leadership offered by Hamline University and the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. Registration is required but there's no fee. Word following the first on Tuesday is that it was excellent. More info: http://gmcc.org/Compassionworkshops.htm Here are some of the sessions coming up: Nov 13 - Strategic planning for board & management Nov 20 - Conflict resolution Nov 27 - Nonprofit fundraising: research methods Dec 4 - Grant writing --------13 of 15-------- TO: The Free World - FROM: The American People -RE: HELP! By Ernest Partridge Online Journal Guest Writer Oct 26, 2007, 00:16 In the two world wars of the past century, the United States came to the rescue of free nations abroad (in addition to few nations that were not free). It is time now for "The Free World" to return the favors. For the simple and sad fact is that the government of the United States no longer rules "with the consent of the governed," as stipulated in its founding document, the Declaration of Independence. The White House is occupied by a usurper, installed by a seditious Supreme Court in 2000 and retained in office in 2004 through election fraud. The federal judiciary, once the protector of citizen rights and the rule of law, has become an instrument of oppression, as political opponents of the administration are selectively indicted, while political allies avoid indictment and conviction. Habeas Corpus has been suspended and most of the protections of the Bill of Rights have been set aside by a president who regards the Constitution of the United States as "just a goddamn piece of paper". After six years of congressional subservience to the president that a Soviet dictator would envy, in 2006 the American public voted to put the "opposition party" in control of the Congress, with a public demand that this party end the Iraq war, restore the rights of the citizens and the rule of law, and hold the ruling junta accountable for its crimes. After almost a year in power, the Congress has done none of these; the "opposition party" has simply refused to oppose. This country's mass media, most of which is owned by six conglomerates, serves the administration and the corporate elites -- elites that finance both political parties and which benefit from the tax breaks, deregulation, and war contracts obediently facilitated by the Congress. This media serves up the public with an endless diet of trivia and drivel. Opposition candidates and dissenters, if they are given any attention at all, are slandered, while detrimental facts and commentary about the president and his supporters are rarely reported. To be sure, the embargo on criticism of the regime is not complete. A few occasional critics are heard in the mainstream, and a few independent small-circulation magazines publish sharp dissents without hindrance. Nonetheless, the delinquency of the mainstream media is proven by the significant stories that never see print or air time: among them, the Downing Street Memos which prove that the president lied when he told the nation that he did not seek war in Iraq; irrefutable proof that the president walked away from his military obligation; compelling evidence that the past presidential elections were stolen; dissent by serving military officers and enlisted personnel; photographs and TV footage of dead and gravely injured soldiers in Iraq. The list is long. To their great credit, most of the American people have at last seen through and dismissed the establishment propaganda in the mainstream media. While a majority of the public believed at first the administration lies that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the attacks of 9/11, today only a minority still believe this. Immediately after 9/11, more than 90 percent of the public approved of the president's performance in office. Now that approval is at an unprecedented low of 24 percent, and a mere 11 percent approve of the Congress. Small wonder: while nearly three-quarters of the population wishes to see an end to the Iraq war and occupation, the Congress, contrary to the wishes of the public, continues to fund it. Failing to find reliable information in the mainstream media, more and more Americans are turning to the Internet, the remaining source of unfiltered information and unconstrained political commentary. Discerning "surfers" are well aware that the vast majority of Internet sites are worthless: pornography, hucksters, undisciplined and uninformed rants, etc. However, a small minority of websites are invaluable -- the last refuge of dissent. While they last. (The foregoing is merely a sketch of the crisis facing the American people, and thus is grossly oversimplified. I have written several essays and The Crisis Papers has listed numerous articles detailing these abuses by the Bush administration and the current political crisis in the United States. My purpose is simply to reiterate this crisis rather than to make the case anew. The primary task of this essay, an appeal for help from the international community, follows). And so today there are, in effect, two Americas: first, the "official" United States comprising the Bush/Cheney administration, the mainstream media, both political parties, and the corporate elites that both support and benefit from this political establishment. Add to these the quarter of the population that persists in the belief that this political/corporate establishment is legitimate and serves the public interest. The second America, consisting of as much as two-thirds of the population includes the dissenting "subjects" of the political establishment. This public is acted upon, but is powerless to act. It demands an end to the Iraq disaster. It demands health care reform. This public demands fiscal responsibility and a fair tax burden. All to no avail. The public also demands fair and verifiable elections. Majorities go to the polls and vote to "throw the rascals out". Nonetheless, "black-box" paperless voting machines reverse the public will and keep the rascals in. In short, as I said at the outset, the government of the United States no longer rules "with the consent of the governed". For all practical purposes, the Constitution of the United States, which every federal official and every member of Congress takes an oath "to protect and defend," is no longer the supreme law of the land. "The unitary executive" rules supreme. Acts of Congress that the president doesn't like are nullified with "signing statements". Subpoenas from Congress demanding accountability of administration officials are ignored as the Congress meekly submits to this unlawful abuse of executive power. The illegal Iraq occupation continues. Congress's ultimate retaliation, impeachment, remains permanently "off the table". And Congress is deaf to the protests of the public. If we the people of the United States are to take back our government, we will need all the help that we can get. And this might include help from abroad. Most emphatically, I don't mean military help. God forbid! If a foreign army approaches our shores, like the Iraqi "insurgents" I will ally myself with our hated regime to throw off the invaders. Military intervention invites slaughter, and must be avoided at all costs. The message that there are "two Americas" -- the "official" usurping oligarchy and the majority public "yearning to breath free" - must be repeated, loud and clear, before the entire world. Four years ago, millions filled the streets throughout the world to protest the pending Iraq war. And time and again we hear from abroad, "we don't hate Americans, we hate your government". This international sentiment must be directed toward governments abroad so that they might, in turn, act in defiance of the American government and in support of the disenfranchised American public. That's how we treated the so-called "captive peoples" behind the "iron curtain" during the Cold War. It worked then, and it can work again. Here are a few suggestions: Provide political asylum. The Congress has authorized the administration to proclaim martial law, virtually at the president's own say-so. So if some undefined "national emergency takes place, any and all conspicuous dissenters are in immediate peril. The internment camps are reported to be in place and empty, awaiting their unfortunate residents. Dissenters will be emboldened if they know that, in the worst case, they will not be trapped in their own country, and that there will be refuge beyond the borders. Are you listening, Canada? Mexico? Costa Rica? Radio Free America. (Or, "The Voice TO America"). The Cold War supplies a precedent. If the corporate mass media will not provide the American public with accurate and unbiased national and world news, then perhaps the foreign media might serve this purpose. The Guardian of the United Kingdom is doing so splendidly with its American edition. The BBC news, which is available on TV cable and satellite, and the CBC, which can be accessed close to the Canadian border, understandably broadcast news about their own respective countries. Expanded coverage of news of special interest to American audiences would be much appreciated. The US government might protest. But official Soviet protests did not silence Radio Free Europe or The Voice of America. It remains to be seen how well the Brits and Canadians would serve the American "liberation movement". The Free Internet. Clearly the Internet -- "the American Samizdat" --is the primary holdout against the Bushevik "Ministry of Truth". Indeed, given its significance as a source of dissent, it is a mystery why the free Internet has not yet been shut down or at least severely curtailed by the establishment. And, in fact, there are increasing indications that this curtailment is imminent. If the corporations that provide the Internet servers are afforded the "right' to select Internet content, then that will surely cripple the dissenting Internet. But it need not kill it. As the Chinese and Soviet governments discovered in the eighties, the international communication networks have become too vast and indispensable for even totalitarian governments to control. The Tiananmen protests, the Polish Solidarity movement were coordinated by FAX and international telecommunications. In the Russian counter-revolution of 1991, the Internet emerged as a significant instrument of dissent. Today, the international communications network is too indispensable to both the US and the global economies to be set aside simply to accommodate the political needs of the ruling American elites. The domestic American Internet, crushed to earth will rise again. Economic Levers. The whole world knows what the Bushevik elites refuse to acknowledge: those American corporate elites, in their unconstrained greed, have sold off the American industrial economy, which is now "owned" by our creditors and by the suppliers (primarily Asian) of our manufactured goods. True, the United States expenditure on its military is equal to that of all other nations combined. But the result is that multi-billion dollar aircraft, carriers, submarines, and missiles, are useless against "insurgents" with improvised weapons in Iraq. And we have the absurdity of missiles aimed at China, with guidance systems containing microprocessors made in China. Bottom line: the US military budget contributes not to our strength, but to our weakness. For all this military hardware is totally irrelevant to the fact that the American economy is at the mercy of our creditors and the suppliers of our essential resources -- our foreign creditors and suppliers. As Bush and Cheney continue their brutal repression of Iraq, as they rattle their swords at Iran, and as they flagrantly violate international laws against torture and aggressive war, they are increasingly perceived as threats against global peace and security. The "coalition of the willing" is fast becoming the "coalition of the fed-up". And "the coalition of the fed-up" is not helpless against the threat of this emerging, self-proclaimed "benevolent global hegemony," and its "new world order" -- this "new American Century". If, as is becoming increasingly likely, the United States is perceived abroad at the primary threat to global peace and security, the international community can, by threatening to devalue the dollar, call in the US debts, and curtail imports of essential resources, exert enormous pressure on the American government. As William Greider wisely observers, "any profligate debtor who insults his banker is unwise, to put it mildly." The "coalition of the fed-up" has, as its natural ally, the disenfranchised "second America". Both desire the dissolution of the American corporatocracy, the end of the neocon "Project for the New American Century, - and the return of a restored American democracy to the community of nations. Surely this is an incomplete list of how the disenfranchised and powerless American majority might, with the assistance of free peoples abroad, bring about a restoration of a government, of, by, and for the people, to the United States. What are your thoughts? Your suggestions? The agenda is open. [We could always grow bananas, as befits our republic. -ed] Copyright 2007 Ernest Partridge Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, The Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website, The Crisis Papers. To see his book in progress, "Conscience of a Progressive," click here. Copyright 1998-2007 Online Journal Email Online Journal Editor --------14 of 15-------- Latin America's Shock Resistance by Naomi Klein Published on Saturday, November 10, 2007 by The Nation In less than two years, the lease on the largest and most important US military base in Latin America will run out. The base is in Manta, Ecuador, and Rafael Correa, the country's leftist president, has pronounced that he will renew the lease - on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami - an Ecuadorean base. If there is no problem having foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely they'll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.. Since an Ecuadorean military outpost in South Beach is a long shot, it is very likely that the Manta base, which serves as a staging area for the "war on drugs," will soon shut down. Correa's defiant stand is not, as some have claimed, about anti-Americanism. Rather, it is part of a broad range of measures being taken by Latin American governments to make the continent less vulnerable to externally provoked crises and shocks. This is a crucial development because for the past thirty-five years in Latin America, such shocks from outside have served to create the political conditions required to justify the imposition of "shock therapy" - the constellation of corporate-friendly "emergency" economic measures like large-scale privatizations and deep cuts to social spending that debilitate the state in the name of free markets. In one of his most influential essays, the late economist Milton Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism's core tactical nostrum, what I call the shock doctrine. He observed that "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying aroundd".. Latin America has always been the prime laboratory for this doctrine. Friedman first learned how to exploit a large-scale crisis in the mid-1970s, when he advised Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Not only were Chileans in a state of shock following Pinochet's violent overthrow of Socialist President Salvador Allende; the country was also reeling from severe hyperinflation. Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy - tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation. It was the most extreme capitalist makeover ever attempted, and it became known as a Chicago School revolution, since so many of Pinochet's top aides and ministers had studied under Friedman at the University of Chicago. A similar process was under way in Uruguay and Brazil, also with the help of University of Chicago graduates and professors, and a few years later, in Argentina. These economic shock therapy programs were facilitated by far less metaphorical shocks - performed in the region's many torture cells, often by US-trained soldiers and police, and directed against those activists who were deemed most likely to stand in the way of the economic revolution. In the 1980s and '90s, as dictatorships gave way to fragile democracies, Latin America did not escape the shock doctrine. Instead, new shocks prepared the ground for another round of shock therapy - the "debt shock" of the early '80s, followed by a wave of hyperinflation as well as sudden drops in the prices of commodities on which economies depended. In Latin America today, however, new crises are being repelled and old shocks are wearing off - a combination of trends that is making the continent not only more resilient in the face of change but also a model for a future far more resistant to the shock doctrine. When Milton Friedman died last year, the global quest for unfettered capitalism he helped launch in Chile three decades earlier found itself in disarray. The obituaries heaped praise on him, but many were imbued with a sense of fear that Friedman's death marked the end of an era. In Canada's National Post, Terence Corcoran, one of Friedman's most devoted disciples, wondered whether the global movement the economist had inspired could carry on. "As the last great lion of free market economics, Friedman leaves a void.. There is no one alive today of equal stature. Will the principles Friedman fought for and articulated survive over the long term without a new generation of solid, charismatic and able intellectual leadership? Hard to say". It certainly seemed unlikely. Friedman's intellectual heirs in the United States - the think-tank neocons who used the crisis of September 11 to launch a booming economy in privatized warfare and "homeland security" - were at the lowest point in their history. The movement's political pinnacle had been the Republicans' takeover of the US Congress in 1994; just nine days before Friedman's death, they lost it again to a Democratic majority. The three key issues that contributed to the Republican defeat in the 2006 midterm elections were political corruption, the mismanagement of the Iraq War and the perception, best articulated by Jim Webb, a winning Democratic candidate for the US Senate, that the country had drifted "toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the nineteenth century". Nowhere, however, was the economic project in deeper crisis than where it had started: Latin America. Washington has always regarded democratic socialism as a greater challenge than totalitarian Communism, which was easy to vilify and made for a handy enemy. In the 1960s and '70s, the favored tactic for dealing with the inconvenient popularity of economic nationalism and democratic socialism was to try to equate them with Stalinism, deliberately blurring the clear differences between the worldviews. A stark example of this strategy comes from the early days of the Chicago crusade, deep inside the declassified Chile documents. Despite the CIA-funded propaganda campaign painting Allende as a Soviet-style dictator, Washington's real concerns about the Allende victory were relayed by Henry Kissinger in a 1970 memo to Nixon: "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, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it". In other words, Allende needed to be taken out before his democratic third way spread. But the dream Allende represented was never defeated. It was temporarily silenced, pushed under the surface by fear. Which is why, as Latin America now emerges from its decades of shock, the old ideas are bubbling back up - along with the "imitative spread" Kissinger so feared. By 2001 the shift had become impossible to ignore. In the mid-'70s, Argentina's legendary investigative journalist Rodolfo Walsh had regarded the ascendancy of Chicago School economics under junta rule as a setback, not a lasting defeat, for the left. The terror tactics used by the military had put his country into a state of shock, but Walsh knew that shock, by its very nature, is a temporary state. Before he was gunned down by Argentine security agents on the streets of Buenos Aires in 1977, Walsh estimated that it would take twenty to thirty years until the effects of the terror receded and Argentines regained their footing, courage and confidence, ready once again to fight for economic and social equality. It was in 2001, twenty-four years later, that Argentina erupted in protest against IMF-prescribed austerity measures and then proceeded to force out five presidents in only three weeks. "The dictatorship just ended!" people declared at the time. They meant that it had taken seventeen years of democracy for the legacy of terror to fade - just as Walsh had predicted. In the years since, that renewed courage has spread to other former shock labs in the region. And as people shed the collective fear that was first instilled with tanks and cattle prods, with sudden flights of capital and brutal cutbacks, many are demanding more democracy and more control over markets. These demands represent the greatest threat to Friedman's legacy because they challenge his central claim: that capitalism and freedom are part of the same indivisible project. The staunchest opponents of neoliberal economics in Latin America have been winning election after election. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, running on a platform of "Twenty-First-Century Socialism," was re-elected in 2006 for a third term with 63 percent of the vote. Despite attempts by the Bush Administration to paint Venezuela as a pseudo-democracy, a poll that year found 57 percent of Venezuelans happy with the state of their democracy, an approval rating on the continent second only to Uruguay's, where the left-wing coalition party Frente Amplio had been elected to government and where a series of referendums had blocked major privatizations. In other words, in the two Latin American states where voting had resulted in real challenges to the Washington Consensus, citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives. Ever since the Argentine collapse in 2001, opposition to privatization has become the defining issue of the continent, able to make governments and break them; by late 2006, it was practically creating a domino effect. Luiz Incio Lula da Silva was re-elected as president of Brazil largely because he turned the vote into a referendum on privatization. His opponent, from the party responsible for Brazil's major sell-offs in the '90s, resorted to dressing up like a socialist NASCAR driver, wearing a jacket and baseball hat covered in logos from the public companies that had not yet been sold. Voters weren't persuaded, and Lula got 61 percent of the vote. Shortly afterward in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, former head of the Sandinistas, made the country's frequent blackouts the center of his winning campaign; the sale of the national electricity company to the Spanish firm Unin Fenosa after Hurricane Mitch, he asserted, was the source of the problem. "Who brought Unin Fenosa to this country?" he bellowed. "The government of the rich did, those who are in the service of barbarian capitalism". In November 2006, Ecuador's presidential elections turned into a similar ideological battleground. Rafael Correa, a 43-year-old left-wing economist, won the vote against lvaro Noboa, a banana tycoon and one of the richest men in the country. With Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" as his official campaign song, Correa called for the country "to overcome all the fallacies of neoliberalism". When he won, the new president of Ecuador declared himself "no fan of Milton Friedman". By then, Bolivian President Evo Morales was already approaching the end of his first year in office. After sending in the army to take back the gas fields from "plunder" by multinationals, he moved on to nationalize parts of the mining sector. That year in Chile, under the leadership of President Michelle Bachelet - who had been a prisoner under Pinochet - high school students staged a wave of militant protests against the two-tiered educational system introduced by the Chicago Boys. The country's copper miners soon followed with strikes of their own. In December 2006, a month after Friedman's death, Latin America's leaders gathered for a historic summit in Bolivia, held in the city of Cochabamba, where a popular uprising against water privatization had forced Bechtel out of the country several years earlier. Morales began the proceedings with a vow to close "the open veins of Latin America". It was a reference to Eduardo Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, a lyrical accounting of the violent plunder that had turned a rich continent into a poor one. The book was published in 1971, two years before Allende was overthrown for daring to try to close those open veins by nationalizing his country's copper mines. That event ushered in a new era of furious pillage, during which the structures built by the continent's developmentalist movements were sacked, stripped and sold off. Today Latin Americans are picking up the project that was so brutally interrupted all those years ago. Many of the policies cropping up are familiar: nationalization of key sectors of the economy, land reform, major investments in education, literacy and healthcare. These are not revolutionary ideas, but in their unapologetic vision of a government that helps reach for equality, they are certainly a rebuke to Friedman's 1975 assertion in a letter to Pinochet that "the major error, in my opinion, was to believe that it is possible to do good with other people's money". Though clearly drawing on a long rebellious history, Latin America's contemporary movements are not direct replicas of their predecessors. Of all the differences, the most striking is an acute awareness of the need for protection from the shocks that worked in the past - the coups, the foreign shock therapists, the US-trained torturers, as well as the debt shocks and currency collapses. Latin America's mass movements, which have powered the wave of election victories for left-wing candidates, are learning how to build shock absorbers into their organizing models. They are, for example, less centralized than in the '60s, making it harder to demobilize whole movements by eliminating a few leaders. Despite the overwhelming cult of personality surrounding Chavez, and his controversial moves to centralize power at the state level, the progressive networks in Venezuela are at the same time highly decentralized, with power dispersed at the grassroots and community levels, through thousands of neighborhood councils and co-ops. In Bolivia, the indigenous people's movements that put Morales in office function similarly and have made it clear that Morales does not have their unconditional support: the barrios will back him as long as he stays true to his democratic mandate, and not a moment longer. This kind of network approach is what allowed Chavez to survive the 2002 coup attempt: when their revolution was threatened, his supporters poured down from the shantytowns surrounding Caracas to demand his reinstatement, a kind of popular mobilization that did not happen during the coups of the '70s. Latin America's new leaders are also taking bold measures to block any future US-backed coups that could attempt to undermine their democratic victories. Chavez has let it be known that if an extremist right-wing element in Bolivia's Santa Cruz province makes good on its threats against Morales's government, Venezuelan troops will help defend Bolivia's democracy. Meanwhile, the governments of Venezuela, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia have all announced that they will no longer send students to the School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) - the infamous police and military training center in Fort Benning, Georgia, where so many of the continent's notorious killers learned the latest in "counterterrorism" techniques, then promptly directed them against farmers in El Salvador and auto workers in Argentina. Ecuador, in addition to closing the US military base, also looks set to cut its ties with the school. It's hard to overstate the importance of these developments. If the US military loses its bases and training programs, its power to inflict shocks on the continent will be greatly eroded. The new leaders in Latin America are also becoming better prepared for the kinds of shocks produced by volatile markets. One of the most destabilizing forces of recent decades has been the speed with which capital can pick up and move, or how a sudden drop in commodity prices can devastate an entire agricultural sector. But in much of Latin America these shocks have already happened, leaving behind ghostly industrial suburbs and huge stretches of fallow farmland. The task of the region's new left, therefore, has become a matter of taking the detritus of globalization and putting it back to work. In Brazil, the phenomenon is best seen in the million and a half farmers of the Landless Peoples Movement (MST), who have formed hundreds of cooperatives to reclaim unused land. In Argentina, it is clearest in the movement of "recovered companies," 200 bankrupt businesses that have been resuscitated by their workers, who have turned them into democratically run cooperatives. For the cooperatives, there is no fear of facing an economic shock of investors leaving, because the investors have already left. Chavez has made the cooperatives in Venezuela a top political priority, giving them first refusal on government contracts and offering them economic incentives to trade with one another. By 2006 there were roughly 100,000 cooperatives in the country, employing more than 700,000 workers. Many are pieces of state infrastructure - toll booths, highway maintenance, health clinics - handed over to the communities to run. It's a reverse of the logic of government outsourcing: rather than auctioning off pieces of the state to large corporations and losing democratic control, the people who use the resources are given the power to manage them, creating, at least in theory, both jobs and more responsive public services. Chavez's many critics have derided these initiatives as handouts and unfair subsidies, of course. Yet in an era when Halliburton treats the US government as its personal ATM for six years, withdraws upward of $20 billion in Iraq contracts alone, refuses to hire local workers either on the Gulf Coast or in Iraq, then expresses its gratitude to US taxpayers by moving its corporate headquarters to Dubai (with all the attendant tax and legal benefits), Chavez's direct subsidies to regular people look significantly less radical. Latin America's most significant protection from future shocks (and therefore from the shock doctrine) flows from the continent's emerging independence from Washington's financial institutions, the result of greater integration among regional governments. The Bolivian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is the continent's retort to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the now-buried corporatist dream of a free-trade zone stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Though ALBA is still in its early stages, Emir Sader, a Brazil-based sociologist, describes its promise as "a perfect example of genuinely fair trade: each country provides what it is best placed to produce, in return for what it most needs, independent of global market prices". So Bolivia provides gas at stable discounted prices; Venezuela offers heavily subsidized oil to poorer countries and shares expertise in developing reserves; and Cuba sends thousands of doctors to deliver free healthcare all over the continent, while training students from other countries at its medical schools. This is a very different model from the kind of academic exchange that began at the University of Chicago in the mid-'50s, when hundreds of Latin American students learned a single rigid ideology and were sent home to impose it with uniformity across the continent. The major benefit is that ALBA is essentially a barter system in which countries decide for themselves what any given commodity or service is worth rather than letting traders in New York, Chicago or London set the prices for them. That makes trade less vulnerable to the kind of sudden price fluctuations that have hurt Latin American economies before. Surrounded by turbulent financial waters, Latin America is creating a zone of relative economic calm and predictability, a feat presumed impossible in the globalization era. When one country does face a financial shortfall, this increased integration means that it does not necessarily need to turn to the IMF or the US Treasury for a bailout. That's fortunate because the 2006 US National Security Strategy makes it clear that for Washington, the shock doctrine is still very much alive: "If crises occur, the IMF's response must reinforce each country's responsibility for its own economic choices," the document states. "A refocused IMF will strengthen market institutions and market discipline over financial decisions". This kind of "market discipline" can only be enforced if governments actually go to Washington for help. As former IMF deputy managing director Stanley Fischer explained during the Asian financial crisis, the lender can help only if it is asked, "but when [a country is] out of money, it hasn't got many places to turn". That is no longer the case. Thanks to high oil prices, Venezuela has emerged as a major lender to other developing countries, allowing them to do an end run around Washington. Even more significant, this December will mark the launch of a regional alternative to the Washington financial institutions, a "Bank of the South" that will make loans to member countries and promote economic integration among them. Now that they can turn elsewhere for help, governments throughout the region are shunning the IMF, with dramatic consequences. Brazil, so long shackled to Washington by its enormous debt, is refusing to enter into a new agreement with the fund. Venezuela is considering withdrawing from the IMF and the World Bank, and even Argentina, Washington's former "model pupil," has been part of the trend. In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Nestor Kirchner (since succeeded by his wife, Christina) said that the country's foreign creditors had told him, "'You must have an agreement with the International Fund to be able to pay the debt'. We say to them, 'Sirs, we are sovereign. We want to pay the debt, but no way in hell are we going to make an agreement again with the IMF'". As a result, the IMF, supremely powerful in the 1980s and '90s, is no longer a force on the continent. In 2005 Latin America made up 80 percent of the IMF's total lending portfolio; the continent now represents just 1 percent - a sea change in only two years. The transformation reaches beyond Latin America. In just three years, the IMF's worldwide lending portfolio had shrunk from $81 billion to $11.8 billion, with almost all of that going to Turkey. The IMF, a pariah in countries where it has treated crises as profit-making opportunities, is withering away. The World Bank faces an equally precarious future. In April Correa revealed that he had suspended all loans from the Bank and declared the institution's representative in Ecuador persona non grata - an extraordinary step. Two years earlier, Correa explained, the World Bank had used a $100 million loan to defeat economic legislation that would have redistributed oil revenues to the country's poor. "Ecuador is a sovereign country, and we will not stand for extortion from this international bureaucracy," he said. Meanwhile, Evo Morales announced that Bolivia would quit the World Bank's arbitration court, the body that allows multinational corporations to sue national governments for measures that cost them profits. "The governments of Latin America, and I think the world, never win the cases. The multinationals always win," Morales said. When Paul Wolfowitz was forced to resign as president of the World Bank in May, it was clear that the institution needed to take desperate measures to rescue itself from its profound crisis of credibility. In the midst of the Wolfowitz affair, the Financial Times reported that when World Bank managers dispensed advice in the developing world, "they were now laughed at". Add the collapse of the World Trade Organization talks in 2006 (prompting declarations that "globalization is dead"), and it appears that the three main institutions responsible for imposing the Chicago School ideology under the guise of economic inevitability are at risk of extinction. It stands to reason that the revolt against neoliberalism would be in its most advanced stage in Latin America. As inhabitants of the first shock lab, Latin Americans have had the most time to recover their bearings, to understand how shock politics work. This understanding is crucial for a new politics adapted to our shocking times. Any strategy based on exploiting the window of opportunity opened by a traumatic shock - the central tenet of the shock doctrine - relies heavily on the element of surprise. A state of shock is, by definition, a moment when there is a gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them. Yet as soon as we have a new narrative that offers a perspective on the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make sense again. Once the mechanics of the shock doctrine are deeply and collectively understood, whole communities become harder to take by surprise, more difficult to confuse - shock-resistant. Naomi Klein is the author of many books, including her most recent, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Visit Naomi's website at nologo.org. 2007 The Nation --------15 of 15-------- Honey I shrunk the Democrats. Now they all fit in my back pocket. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney impeach bush & cheney
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