In her book Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein explains how crises are used by governments to distract and frighten people so that unpopular and exploitative policies can be pushed through
It seems that now there is a different reaction disaster capitalism. Rather than disasters providing cover for the implementation of dangerous capitalist policies that lower wages and increase the wealth divide, the disasters being caused by these dangerous policies have woken the public and are leading to a more active and empowered people.
We face a triple threat of the “e”crises – in the economy, environment and energy – which are all connected, says journalist and academic Nafeez Ahmed, but rather than allowing them to overwhelm and weaken us, people are rising to the challenge of solving these crises through direct confrontation with the forces that created them and by building alternative solutions. People are taking initiative rather than waiting for leaders.
Ahmed states, “People are really hungry actually for answers, hungry for solutions, hungry for alternatives, so really this is actually an unprecedented opportunity. It’s an unprecedented crisis but it’s also an opportunity to dream-weave and say ‘well actually everything is going to go to pot over the next 20-30 years if we don’t change, so here’s an opportunity to think outside the box.’”
Enough people appear to recognize that the political system is dysfunctional and does not serve the public’s needs or interests. We saw this recently with the President’s call for an attack on Syria. Instead of falling for the media propaganda telling us that we must intervene to save Syrians from more chemical attacks, the public demanded that the President go to Congress, that there be an investigation into the facts and that the rule of law be followed. The attack was averted.
US foreign policy is rarely attacked but stopping the war on Syria shows that something may be changing. There were numerous critical reviews of President Obama’s speech to the United Nations. One of the most important was Jeremy Scahill’s analysis of a portion of the president’s speech where he openly talked about the US using military force to protect our “core interests,” a virtual admission of imperialism. Another was David Swanson’s review of the speech were he listed the top 45 lies in Obama’s speech at the UN.
But the article that was most relevant to the building of the resistance movement was by David Lindorff who focused on the president telling the world that the US opposes violence to suppress dissent. Lindroff pointed to the coordinated attack on the Occupy Movement, where Homeland Security and other federal agencies worked with local police to arrest more than 8,000 protesters, use pepper spray, flashbangs, clubs and fists as well as infiltration and creating internal dissension in an attempt to destroy the movement. The hypocrisy of President Obama in making this statement to the world was astounding.
Speaking of extreme reactions to protest, we continue to see examples in the US. Last week a Modesto Junior College student was prevented from handing out free copies of the Constitution. And in Maryland a parent who tried to ask a question about the Common Core curriculum was arrested. He tried to speak because the authorities were only taking questions from index cards and had not asked any questions about the curriculum that many parents were concerned about. These types of actions show the power structure is very insecure about Americans speaking up and taking action.
General David Petraeus has been a target of people opposed to war. On the way to his first class the retired General and former CIA director was chased down the street by people calling him a war criminal and threatening to protest at every class he taught at CUNY. Then he was protested at a fundraiser. The protests keep growing. This week, when veterans announced they would protest a luncheon in Los Angeles, Petraeus cancelled his appearance. This is a major change as it is rare to see a former general called a war criminal in the United States.