Wed, Aug

9/11 Bookends

RANDOM LENGTHS - The date September 11 is significant in two particular ways: the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the 1973 coup d’état in Santiago, Chile. The two events act as bookends separated by 28 years and the distance of 5,125 miles. Oddly enough, the United States and Chile are connected in other interesting ways as well.

The overthrow of democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military junta was followed by a brutal dictatorship—a reign of terror, torture and violence that murdered several thousands of political leftists, labor unionists and nearly anyone opposed to Pinochet’s rightwing dictatorship for the next 17 years.

This was a watershed moment of the Cold War and for the U.S. backed policy of President Richard Nixon, who covertly supported Allende’s overthrow with $8 million secretly donated by U.S. corporations.

The CIA, through the Copley News service, worked to destabilize the Chilean economy by feeding disinformation to the Chilean news media and disrupting Chile’s transportation system with the help of the corrupt Chilean Teamsters Union.

The torture and murder of thousands of dissidents in the soccer stadium in Santiago is well documented, as are the “disappearances,” as well as the acts of torture and political imprisonments that followed. Only recently have a few of these perpetrators been brought to justice and Pinochet haunted by this history died of natural causes before he could be prosecuted.

Milton Friedman died at almost the same time—heralded as the “visionary” of the free market and never connected to the brutal consequences of his theory.

What is not understood so well by those of us living in North America is that this was the first test in a real economy of Friedman’s laissez-faire theories and free market capitalism could triumph against the spread of socialist doctrine––doctrines often confused with communism.

In Chile, this was predicated on Allende’s nationalization of Chile’s copper mines, and telephone system along with a land redistribution policy, which is still a popular, yet polarizing idea, in most of Latin America where the vast majority of the poor live in a kind of indentured servitude on land belonging to wealthy elites. Is it any wonder that so many Latinos sneak across our southern border looking for a life with a future that they can own?

In the intervening years between that Sept. 11 and our own, there have been a string of economic triumphs of capitalism over socialism— each well chronicled in Naomi Klein’s masterpiece, The Shock Doctrine—The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, in which she reveals the process and end results of this shift from state ownership to private enterprise in the free market, and the steps Milton Friedman and his devotees of the Chicago School of Economics took to accomplish it.

Friedman’s philosophy, which can almost be translated verbatim into the contemporary politics of the American Tea Party, can best be explained in his work Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago press, 1962), and is the philosophical basis for the Republican positions on deficit reduction, school vouchers, deregulation, floating monetary exchange rates and that there is a “natural rate of unemployment” that offsets inflation. (There is embedded in his work the idea that full employment is bad for our economy.)

Essential to the rise of these policies and their dominance in the “world economy” is their adoption by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, both of which have used “monetization” to influence countries such as Poland and Russia emerging from strict communist economics, but also used in the political convergence of key Middle Eastern oil producing countries that must trade solely in the American dollar.

The march toward political freedom almost universally carries with it the use of the U.S. dollar as the world currency and the attachment to U.S. economic policies not disconnected to our political agendas.

It is this expanding free market “monetization” of other countries’ natural resources, the economic dominance that comes with it, and the consequential support for corrupt leaders that has fueled much of the animosity against our country. It is not our liberties and our “civil society” that draws so much contempt from the insurgents and terrorists, but our foreign economic policies that often shackle these countries to an economic system not of their own choosing.

Under our current policies we can support Saudi royal control without suggesting any form of democratic change as long as they continue to trade their oil in American dollars. And Libya, where the Arab Spring has brought revolution to the people, will gain their political freedoms at the cost of their ownership of their most precious national resource––oil.

So when we look back on our very own tragic Sept. 11 and wonder what would motivate some Muslim fanatics to use airplanes to execute suicide attacks against two buildings in the financial capital of the United States and the Pentagon, killing some 2,800 innocent people, we have to put this in a larger perspective than just this one act of retaliation.

This is an ideological war, not against Christians or necessarily against democratic freedoms, but against our imperial financial domination that has not served most Americans well these past few years.

It is a war we need not fight if we are wise enough to realize that we don’t need to win the world over to our free trade system based upon the “all-mighty-U.S. dollar” ––that there are indeed many economic strategies that work better than one based solely on unregulated capitalism.

As our nation reflects this week on the tragedy and heroes of a decade ago, it would do all of us well to do some soul searching regarding the truth of these events, and how our own foreign economic policies have come home to divide our nation along ideological lines, cloaked in religious, racial or party disguise.

But more fundamentally, divided by beliefs in economic theories now seen as terribly flawed.

(James Preston Allen is the Publisher of Random Lengths News. More of Allen and other views and news at  randomlengthsnews.com where this column was first posted) –cw

Tags: Twin Towers, New York Chile, United States, President Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet, Richard Nixon, CIA, North America, socialism, communism, Shock Doctrine, Milton Friedman, American Tea Party, employment, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Poland, Russia, Pentagon, Christians, Libya

Vol 9 Issue 74
Pub: Sept 16, 2011