Down the Drain?

“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” –Malcolm X

For some reason, disaster capitalism has gotten a pretty ugly reputation lately. (I tend to think they’ve earned it!) But one thing you can say for it, it’s dismally consistent. It is always profitable for the capitalists, and always disastrous for everybody else. So all’s right with this best-of-all possible worlds. I guess.


Published on Black Agenda Report
Freedom Rider: Detroit and Iraq
Wed, 06/25/2014 – 00:44 — Margaret Kimberley
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The Race to the Bottom under global, militarized capitalism creates communities of shared misery. Increasingly, it is almost as dangerous to be inside U.S. borders as on the outside. “Iraq was invaded with soldiers, guns and bombs. Detroit was invaded by the corporate ‘suits’ who made a fast buck for themselves.” Both are plundered by the same bandits.
“All of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s incompetence could not have created the ongoing occupation of Detroit by the thieves in high places.”
The ugly face of empire and disaster capitalism is visible all over the world. Detroit, Michigan, was once a thriving city but was sent into a tailspin by the deindustrialization of the United States, white flight, and institutional racism which blamed black people who were in fact the victims of catastrophe. The coup de grace was delivered by big banks like UBS, Bank of America and Barclays, which sold risky derivatives schemes to corrupt Detroit politicians. When the financial deal inevitably headed south, the banks were the creditors first in line for a payout.
Far back in that line were the workers and people of Detroit. The emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, whose very position they had voted against establishing, rules the city. The new mayor is a figurehead and the people have no representation as the Republican governor and emergency manager remake the city for capital and the gentrifying settler class.
A world away in Iraq, a nation is crumbling under the weight of eleven years of violent occupation by the United States. The once developing nation is now a ruin, with all of its infrastructure and systems from health care to education destroyed by western avarice. The prime minister who was chosen with America’s blessing, Nouri al-Maliki, has now become an inconvenience and faces a bleak fate.
“In the United States, residents of a major city must plead to the international community for the right to access water.”
The Bush administration and now the Obama team determined that promoting one side in sectarian political disputes would make for a smooth running and profitable occupation. Instead they brought war between Sunni and Shia, and with the goal of knocking down more dominoes, continued to fund jihadists who always upset their plans. Now Maliki is being told to get out of office if he wants help in crushing the enemies that America made for his country.
Just as Iraq’s infrastructure has been destroyed, Detroit residents now live without basic services which ought to be regarded as the right of every human being. In the United States, a country which boasts of its high level of advancement, residents of a major city must plead to the international community for the right to access water.
In a city already on the brink, the powers that be chose to pressure struggling people to pay increased fees for water. They have also used harsh and sometimes improper methods to deprive even those who have paid their bills. No one can survive at all without water to drink, and one cannot survive very well without water for cooking, cleaning and sanitation. Very powerful people in boardrooms and government offices made decisions that turned Detroit into an Iraq in America’s midst and now sneer at pleas for mercy.
Desperate Detroiters represented by the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Food & Water Watch and the Detroit People’s Water Board, have made their case to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water. They issued a report which outlines the latest scheme to destroy Detroit as a city and as a home to poor and working people. The plan will ultimately privatize the water system and make Detroit another location for prime real estate and riches for the few.
“Very powerful people in boardrooms and government offices made decisions that turned Detroit into an Iraq in America’s midst and now sneer at pleas for mercy.”
President Obama and his cohorts in the Democratic and Republican parties will go to any lengths to prop up the empire, but do little to help people in need. American allies in Ukraine or Iraq and other countries receive astronomical sums of money in order to help maintain Manifest Destiny. Poor people in Detroit and the rest of the country are not so lucky. They are seen only as obstacles to putting the rule of capital firmly in place.
Iraq was invaded with soldiers, guns and bombs. Detroit was invaded by the corporate “suits” who made a fast buck for themselves. The end result is the same for Michiganders and Iraqis alike. They end up suffering in a plundered society while other people make out like the bandits that they really are.
The organizations which reached out to the U.N. took an important step in changing the Detroit narrative. Politicians and the corporate media dismiss the city’s troubles as the fault of incompetent black people. All of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s incompetence could not have created the ongoing occupation of Detroit by the thieves in high places. The outreach to the United Nations is important for another reason. It points out that millions of Americans live an existence far from the myth of the great country. They are struggling to survive just like millions in the so-called third world. It is the gangsters who run the show in Baghdad and in Michigan too.
Copyright © 2003-2014 .

About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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13 Responses to Down the Drain?

  1. That is so damn true, it ain’t even funny. Many people all over the world think that we’ve got it so good here in America. They still believe that America is a beacon for the homeless, the downtrodden, the wretched refuse of other nations and countries and that may indeed be true for some, but when they look over at Detroit, it tells a different story. When they look over at what happened in New Orleans when Katrina hit, it tells a different story. When they look over at Compton, CA, it tells a different story. And so it is in the Black neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side, Newark, NJ, the Black neighborhoods in Philadelphia, PA. But if they go into the suburbs and the gated communities, there they will find that the American Dream is still alive and well and if you have the education, skills and money, “Welcome to Amerikkka!”

    Thank you for posting this Linda!

    • Shelby, We all find the myth of America appealing — liberty and justice for all, all people created equal, and all the rest. This country’s been living on that unearned rep. for its whole existence. The world has given us the benefit of the doubt, but you’d think that must be about over by now. Seems like we’re not even pretending to be civilized any more. Maybe we never did, we’ve always evinced more than our share of hypocrisy. But our power elites now flaunt rather than try to conceal their naked greed, brutality and arrogance. Of course, we certainly should know better than to buy the big lies anyway. But we sure hate to face facts we don’t like. Maybe having our noses constantly rubbed in utter contempt and hatred will finally get through to the American people. Thanks for still caring, and for your comment. – Linda

  2. Jeff Nguyen says:

    Great quote by Malcolm X and article from BAR. I was just reading this morning about Florida’s plan to privatize Medicaid and funnel people into the loving arms of for-profit health care providers. How much will it take to get mainstream American angry and outraged? The elite are continuously calibrating the levels and intensity of repression, the American people will tolerate.

    Per Frederick Douglass, “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Apparently, the American people are willing to submit to quite a bit in order to preserve their social status and material comforts.

    “ Jeff, You’re right as usual. Too many of us trade our lives and futures for … not very damn much. We’re clearly extremely skilled at fooling ourselves. And of course, we have lots of help with that. I hate this quote, but I’m not always sure it’s an overstatement.

    “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell, or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” –Adolf Hitler

    Let’s hope that the sustained pressure of truth can penetrate even people’s armor of self-deception, fear and despair. Thanks for your good comment. – Linda

    • Jeff, that quote by Frederick Douglass is so very true!

      And yes, it is all about ‘social status and material comforts’ but those who don’t have much of that or none of that are sadly lacking in any type of get up and go. They simply have a defeatist attitude. They won’t even attempt to help themselves. I’ve seen this time and time again. The American people have been effectively rendered mute, for the most part. They don’t even whimper at each new indignity that is heaped on them. And what do they have to lose? For the most part, not a damn thing and yet, they keep taking it and taking it and expecting someone else to come along and get it done for them.

      Americans take the cake when it comes to apathy and complacency. I am ashamed to call myself, an American.

      • Jeff Nguyen says:

        I think that’s where Malcolm X’s words come in concerning penalizing the oppressed “for not being able to stand up under the weight.” Most of my outrage is aimed at those who have not only directly benefited from the privileges afforded to them based on solely on their class and color but also consciously turned their back on those who do not have such the luxury of such privilege. I have a harder time being critical of those whose every waking moment is spent providing for their families and trying to get out from under the crushing debts that are burying them alive. I do agree that a defeatist attitude is the unfortunate byproduct of decades and even centuries of systemic oppression and must be countered with every fiber of one’s being. I admire you, Shelby, for your generous heart and spirit.

        • Jeff, you are not saying that I have a ‘generous heart and spirit,’ when on the other hand, you state that I am in fact, ‘penalizing the oppressed for not being able to stand under the weight’. Whatever! And yes, I could cite instances where alone, I have stood up for people, fought for them and made headway, but I don’t feel as though I have to toot my own horn.

          I know that people are working hard. I know that many people are working two jobs but there are times when it is necessary to stand up for ones self despite the burden of overwork and yet those same people somehow find the time to trample one another every year on Black Friday. Those same people who spend ‘every waking moment providing for their families’ somehow find the time to stand in long lines that snake around a mall or snake around an Apple store after having gone to a payday loan store. We put ourselves in debt because we want everything that is ‘all the rage’. No one is forcing us to spend, spend, spend. That is on us. We must take some responsibility for our actions. We’re not children.

          Yes, we are oppressed but we are also aiding and abetting our oppressors in oppressing us. People all over the world are oppressed and they are working hard, but they find the time to show their support for one another, en mass. We don’t do that because we are too busy hating one another and chasing Hollywood mess and buying up stuff that we can’t afford. You know this, you’re not blind.

          What you have is the most defeatist attitude of all if a person only has to say, “I’m overworked and oppressed and thus, there is nothing that I can do.” If that’s the case,
          then what’s the point since I can do nothing about my plight. I am certainly glad that I did not have that attitude when I was in an abusive marriage because I was overworked and oppressed too but I didn’t let that stop me from getting out of it and leaving for parts unknown, instead of just staying and taking it. At some point, people need to stop being a victim and like I stated, stand up for themselves.

          • Jeff Nguyen says:

            The comment about not “penalizing” people was a general statement and not directed specifically at you. I have to remind myself not to blame those who are in the same boat as I am even when I’m frustrated by their seeming apathy. Another thinker once said, “If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” We all bear some responsibility for the state of this country but keeping us divided and conquered diverts focus from the ones who caused the darkness.

            What I then said was…”I do agree that a defeatist attitude is the unfortunate byproduct of decades and even centuries of systemic oppression and must be countered with every fiber of one’s being.” I, too, have battled depression, abandonment, addiction and an abusive spouse among other things. I’ve had to fight with every fiber of my being to come back from the dead and fight for the things I believe in and the real struggle started with fighting for my own self because for a long time I didn’t think I was worth fighting for much less anyone else. Because of this I’m not interested in blaming people who are on the same side of the struggle as I am…the difference is you and I know we’re all on the same side, even if they don’t realize it yet.

            When I said I admire you I meant it because I know some of the things you’ve shared at your blog that you’ve done to back up your words. Not everyone is as strong as you are in their spirit or conscience but people can change, Shelby. I’m proof of that. Through blogging and in my personal life, I’ve met an amazing community of caring people who are each in their own way trying to make this world a little better place than they found it.

            My apologies to you, Shelby, if I’ve offended you. That was not my intent.

            • “Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.” –Emily Kimbrough

              I’d say it’s not merely ‘a comfort’ — it’s an absolute necessity!

              Shelby and Jeff, I will only add that no one of us is strong enough to defeat the system, not on our own. Our efforts must be collective. A single wire is pretty puny, but twist enough strands into cables, and they can hold up a massive suspension bridge. We know this, and the power elites know it too. They use every means available to keep us from joining together to upset their pernicious plans. Sure, we’re supposed to be smart enough to see through lies and distortions, to ignore bright shiny distractions, to understand who our real enemies are so we don’t fear and despise our fellow victims. But it’s not always so easy, not when we’re exhausted and afraid and see no hope for anything better except winning the lottery. All very useful for controlling and exploiting us. And all done deliberately, systematically. For a little more money and power and status.

              Those are the bastards I have no mercy or compassion for! Those who constantly tell us our misery must be our own fault. Those who cynically offer us easy scapegoats to blame for all our problems. Those who exhort us that all we need to do is lose weight, find jesus, get a face lift, go in debt for more education, or buy a magical new matress and we too can enjoy the good life. If we really deserve it. This bunch use what I think of as social Calvinism rather than social Darwinism, persuading us (and themselves?) that it’s the manifest will of the benevolent omnipotent market that the elect are entitled to everything. And who are they, far less we, to question the will of corporate capitalism?

              Sorry, I’m off on yet another rant, which was not my intent. Thank you both for giving me the encouragement and solidarity I so often need, and let us struggle on, together, arm in arm, hand in hand. Who knows how much trouble we can cause? – Linda

  3. No question about it. Detroit has been transformed into a third world city.

    • Not the first, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last. Typical predators, they go for the easiest targets, with the victims blamed for their own calamities. Feels like all of us are being fracked, pressured and poisoned to squeeze the last drop of profit out of us. Thanks for commenting. – Linda

  4. tcg4mom says:

    Hey, Hey…glad you found me!!!!

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