Sunday, September 04, 2005

Michael Parenti on New Orleans -- must read

Michael Parenti -- certainly the most dynamic and engaging speaker I've ever seen -- offers this vision of Bush's response to the disaster in New Orleans, and the role that free market capitalism has played in it.

The contrast with Cuba is interesting, because the benefits that he mentions result from rescuees being drilled like soldiers -- which seems more the result of totalitarian control of the populus than the result of enlightened economic behaviour. Military drills can be seen as a facet of education; in many statist societies they are; perhaps there is value to them. One can't help but note, however, that many of us would have to lose many of our freedoms, in such a world. I'm glad I'm not drilled on a regular basis, anyhow.

Interesting how leaders who arise from the people like this -- I think of Parenti as a sort of populist leader -- often have profound effects on society -- but not always for the better. There is a certain will to power, even in Christ, even in Gandhi; and certainly in Hitler and Stalin. George Carlin has said that "if you think you're part of the solution, you're part of the problem," and it is possible he is right, though wrong not to include himself in his own equation.

In any event: much of what Parenti says seems true, but one feels afraid of embracing the same alternatives he might. Faced with a choice between Bush or Castro, one does a cost/benefit analysis and decides that perhaps one is better off. Still, perhaps many people, perhaps less comfortable than myself, will agree with him that the Cuban model is not so bad. Certainly the free market has failed the city of New Orleans. Or is it mostly the Bush administration to blame?

A less ideologically driven, but no less passionate, account of the failings of the federal government to respond to New Orleans can be found here. Some elements in the Christian community, meanwhile, are likening the hurricane to a biblical punishment, akin to the destruction of Sodom.

I wonder... if from all this chaos in America, a "man of the people" were to arise, what would he do to the country, exactly? It's odd that so few people have taken up guns yet. America is starting to read like a thriller.

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