The Shock Doctrine and the privatized shadow state
The following is by Steve Miller
It has been a decade since the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, ignoring worldwide protests – the largest public demand for peace in world history. The war in Afghanistan, begun in 2001, continues to this day. The military budget tops out at a trillion dollars a year, equal to what the entire rest of the world spends on war. The US has lost both wars.
A major result has been the rise of the Department of Homeland Security – the largest increase in the US state apparatus since World War II. (The state is different than the government. The government administers policy. The state is armed bodies of men that enforce the policy.) The Shock Doctrine details how this step has lead to the rise of a privatized shadow state, organized by DHS, where police functions are turned over to corporations. This is a modern reflection of Mussolini’s famous dictum that fascism is the merger of corporations and the state.
The United States has now made torture legal, permits the secret and indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil, and is implementing drones across the country.
New Orleans, Detroit and New York have all been devastated by a combination of natural disasters, economic disasters and the refusal of the government to aid the poor. The government systematically abrogates its responsibility, not to mention the law, to help real people, even as it funnels trillions in public money to the newly-declared “corporate people”.
The economic Melt-Down in 2008 has devastated the 99%across the country as the 1% reap greater profits in an escalating polarization of wealth unheard of in any country in history. The response of the major capitalist countries was to decree Austerity in Toronto in 2010 as tens of thousands of people protested and were attacked by police.
As a result of Austerity policies, millions have lost their jobs, millions of homes have been foreclosed, millions of students have been driven out of higher education, college students find themselves as debt slaves for life and regular jobs are turning into temp jobs in every branch of the economy. Corporate profits have returned to pre-2008 levels because corporations replace humans with computers and robots.
Dispossession is an increasing phenomenon as the government “partners” with corporations to eliminate public rights by privatizing water, public education (both K12 and higher education) and other rights we thought we had. Massive corporate attacks continue to sweep the Midwest and the Rust Belt to eliminate union rights, public worker rights, pensions and reduce wages. Almost every state and municipal form of government is either bankrupt of heavily in debt to the banks. The old social contract is in tatters. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties closely collaborate to insure that this trajectory continues.
The President has proposed to cut Social Security and Medi-Care, fundamental mainstays of the old, the sick and the unemployed. The global climate is in massive crisis, threatening the very existence of human society and most species, and the best answer we get is to allow oil companies to engage in fracking, which further destroys both water and the atmosphere.
The list could go on and on.
Faced with this unprecedented corporate onslaught on every social front, many people want to respond with the same old tired tactics of the last 50 years, tactics that were enshrined as “legitimate” long before 2003 and championed by the Democratic Party and the leaders of organized labor. This is understandable; this is what people know.
These are the same old tactics of incrementalism, of desperately engaging in defensive actions that always concede a lot to save a little, of somehow believing that we can change the intentions of the corporate powers with reason and persuasion, of striving to reform a system that is already under massive corporate alteration. This is like throwing rocks at helicopters, tanks and Humvees.
These are tactics that ignore that political power is always class power – the power of a class to impose its agenda. Instead of beginning with the agenda of the 99%, the class of people who must work or suffer, the popular response is sliced and diced into interest groups, identity politics, an endless agenda of tiny reforms that we must somehow fight for separately.
These are the politics of losing. Whatever happened to the recognition that now it has to be all of us or it will be none of us? We can fight and win, but it means taking up the struggle of an entire class of people, the 99% if you will, for political power in order to control the transformation of society that is already on the way.