Friday, February 25, 2011

Paul Krugman on the Wisconsin Situation: The Pertinence of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine"

I like Paul Krugman's analysis in today's New York Times of some of the parallels between what's happening in Wisconsin now and what has been happening in the Middle East.  After I blogged glancingly about that topic recently, I saw a segment of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" in which Stewart did a take-down of the idea that the Wisconsin demonstrations in any way parallel what has been happening in Egypt, Libya, and Iran.

And, of course, he's right in some ways.  People aren't dying in Wisconsin.  Even so, as Krugman points out, there are some clear parallels, and they deserve attention--particularly if we want to understand the underlying causes of the Wisconsin situation.

As Krugman notes, the conditions for much of the upheaval in the Middle East were actually created by Bush-generation right-wing American ideologues who were determined to impose right-wing ideological political and economic ideas and structures on nations in the Middle East (and elsewhere), no matter how badly the ideology being imposed fit the situations on which the ideology was imposed.  Krugman notes that Naomi Klein explored this pattern brilliantly in her book The Shock Doctrine.

And in Krugman's view, Klein's analysis of how the conditions that have ultimately resulted in democratic revolution in the Middle East were created, ironically, by rigid right-wing ideologues definitely does fit the situation in Wisconsin in key respects.  As we all know by now, we're being lied to when we're told that breaking the unions in that state (or anywhere else) is a necessary precondition to balancing the state budget.

Here's Krugman's take: 

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

A power grab.  Deliberately exploiting a fiscal crisis created by the political right in order to ram through an economic and political agenda of the political right that is at the very base of the economic crisis this ploy is purportedly designed to resolve.  As I keep insisting, we really need to educate ourselves as much as possible about what's going on right now in our country, vis-a-vis the democratic structures of our society, or it may soon be too late.

What's going on in Wisconsin is, I think, a hopeful sign that when more and more Americans become aware of how a filthy rich elite is trying to buy our democracy lock, stock, and barrel, we citizens will begin to push back--as citizens of the Middle East are doing, as well.  Against forces that in some respects are not entirely different from those eliciting the pushback now in Wisconsin.

No comments: