Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Naomi Klein on Riots as Response to Global Saqueo, "A Time of Great Taking"

Naomi Klein on London riots as a response of an underclass being permanently cut off from the social mainstream to the grand Saqueo (i.e., sacking) in which wealthy elites are plundering the limited resources of nations everywhere, and making the most vulnerable pay the price:

But England is not Latin America, and its riots are not political, or so we keep hearing. They are just about lawless kids taking advantage of a situation to take what isn’t theirs. And British society, Cameron tells us, abhors that kind of behavior.

This is said in all seriousness. As if the massive bank bailouts never happened, followed by the defiant record bonuses. Followed by the emergency G-8 and G-20 meetings, when the leaders decided, collectively, not to do anything to punish the bankers for any of this, nor to do anything serious to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Instead they would all go home to their respective countries and force sacrifices on the most vulnerable. They would do this by firing public sector workers, scapegoating teachers, closing libraries, upping tuitions, rolling back union contracts, creating rush privatizations of public assets and decreasing pensions—mix the cocktail for where you live. And who is on television lecturing about the need to give up these “entitlements”? The bankers and hedge-fund managers, of course.

This is the global Saqueo, a time of great taking. Fueled by a pathological sense of entitlement, this looting has all been done with the lights left on, as if there was nothing at all to hide. There are some nagging fears, however. In early July, the Wall Street Journal, citing a new poll, reported that 94 percent of millionaires were afraid of "violence in the streets.” This, it turns out, was a reasonable fear.

As I have done in my previous commentary about the events in Britain, Klein notes the distinct oddness of much mainstream media reporting about the British riots, which finds their causes murky, difficult to identify, and decidedly apolitical, when those same media commentators don't hesitate to attribute similar events in the Middle East to political causes.  Our mainstream media commentators have lost their moral compasses, when it comes to reporting on the economic rapacity of powerful monied elites, and we're all paying a huge price for that moral obtuseness and the lack of sound reporting that flows from it.

This is what happens when the media sell themselves to the rich, rather than serving the common good by seeking to give a voice to those shut out of social structures.  And that process of selling themselves has been going on with a vengeance in the mainstream media ever since the right began to reassert itself in the final decades of the 20th century, with media complicity.  

The ultimate effect of this abdication of moral responsibility on the part of the media?  The demise of democracy and the rise of right-wing dictatorships answering overtly to the wealthy elites who already control everything behind the scenes, through their economic dictatorship.

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