Progressive Calendar 11.12.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 07:06:25 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   11.12.07

1. AAUW/equity    11.12 9:30am
2. Gitmo          11.12 6pm
3. Smart energy   11.12 6pm
4. Peace church   11.12 6:30pm
5. MN labor v war 11.12 7pm
6. Peace culture  11.12 7pm

7. New Orleans    11.13 12noon
8. Art/public     11.13 4pm
9. Palestine/CTV  11.13 5pm
10. MAP/peace     11.13 6pm
11. Single payer  11.13 7pm Owatonna MN
12. Nonprofit     11.13

13. Ernest Partridge - American people to the free world: HELP!
14. Naomi Klein      - Latin America's shock resistance
15. ed               - Shrinking Democrats  (poem)

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: AAUW/equity 11.12 9:30am

Monday, November 12: American Association of University Women Minneapolis
Branch. 9:30-10:30AM: Equity in Public Office with Dr. Shirley Nelson,
Women Candidate Development Coalition. 1:15-2:15PM: Business Meeting,
2115 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis.

--------2 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Gitmo 11.12 6pm

Monday, 11/12, 5:30 registration, 6 to 7:30 pm program, James Dorsey and
Nicole Moen, attorneys for an Algerian detainee at Guantanamo, speak on
"The Guantanamo Bay Challenge: Finding the Balance between Security and
Our Nation's Ideals," Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute, 301 - 19th
Ave S, Mpls.  $15.

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From: Margaret Levin <Margaret.Levin [at]>
Subject: Smart energy 11.12 6pm

Flip the Switch - Global Warming Volunteer Action Night

With Congress getting ready to vote on a raising gas mileage standards
(sometimes called CAFÉ) and creating a renewable electricity standard
(RES), the Sierra Club is working to flood our Representatives and
Senators with phone calls supporting these important steps toward smart
energy solutions. We need to let our members know these votes are coming
up and get letters to the editor into local papers, so come to a Global
Warming Action night next week to write a letter and call Sierra Club
members about taking action.

Help cool the earth while enjoying warm pizza and refreshments!
Flip the Switch - Global Warming Volunteer Action Night

Monday, November 12 and
Wednesday, November 14
6 PM to 9 PM
Sierra Club office, 2327 E Franklin St, Suite 1, Minneapolis, MN
RSVP:  margaret.levin [at] or 612-659-9124 x306

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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace church 11.12 6:30pm

Monday, 11/12, 6:30 pm, Every Church a Peace Church potluck with United
Theological Seminary prof Christine M Smith talking about "Global
Immersion Trips: Indulging the Privileged or Radicalizing Religious
Consciousness?" MN Valley Unitarian University Fellowship, 10715 Zenith
Ave S, Bloomington.  rolsen6376 [at]

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From: Teddy <tyimenu2005 [at]>
Subject: MN labor v war 11.12 7pm

MN Labor Against War Meetings
2nd Monday of Each Month 7pm
Merriam Park Library in St.Paul - Basement
At the Corner of Marshall and Fairview

Teddy Shibabaw 612-807-3196 - tyimenu2005 [at]
Corey Mattson - 612-298-0920 - correymattson [at]

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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace culture 11.12 7pm

Monday, 11/12, 7 to 9 pm, Continuing the Dialogue: Creating a Culture of
Peace, with Joan Haan and Katherine Wojtan, concluding the series Peace
and Violence in Our Religious Traditions, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700
S Snelling Ave, St Paul. or 651-789-3840.

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From: Caroline Palmer <sealinesadie [at]>
Subject: NewOrleans 1.13 12noon

November 13, 2007

Stop Demolition of New Orleans Public Housing
Call to Action in Minneapolis at the Stone Arch Bridge on November
13, 2007 at 12 noon

The New Orleans Public Housing and Right of Return Movement and the United
Front for Affordable Housing has called on supporters around the city,
country and world to demonstrate their solidarity on Tuesday, November 13,
2007 to show their opposition to the Bush administration's criminal plans
to enrich a few by demolishing 5,000 viable and badly needed public
housing apartments.

MINNESOTA RESPONDS! Housing is a human right!
The New Orleans Solidarity Rally Organizing Committee (Twin Cities Branch)
will hold a rally in the middle of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
over the Mississippi River, which unites embattled tenants and housing in
distress from Minnesota to New Orleans. The rally will be at 12 noon on
Tuesday, November 13.

For further information about the housing situation in New Orleans

--------8 of 15--------

From: Jeff Hartman <hartm152 [at]>
Subject: Art/public 11.13 4pm

"Art in the Public Interest: New Artistic Strategies" - a presentation
by Suzanne Lacy
Tuesday, November 13, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Institute for Advanced Study, 125 Nolte Center
315 Pillsbury Dr. SE, Minneapolis

Join the IAS and the Space and Place collaborative for a presentation by
Suzanne Lacy, Chair of the new MFA: Public Practices at Otis College of
Art and Design and internationally known artist. One of her best-known
works to date is The Crystal Quilt (Minneapolis, 1987) a performance with
430 older women, broadcast live on Public Television. During the nineties
she worked with teams of artists and youth to create an ambitious series
of performances, workshops, and installations on youth and public policy,
documented by videos, local and national news broadcasts, and an NBC
program. Her work has been funded through numerous local and national
foundations, including the National Endowment for the Arts and The
Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Surdna, and Nathan Cummings Foundations.

--------9 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine/CTV 11.13 5pm

St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings and
Wednesday mornings.  All households with basic cable can watch!

11/13 5pm and midnight and 11/14 10am "Ali Abunimah: Where Next for
Palestine-Israel: Peace, Apartheid or Democratic Inclusion?"  Palestinian
American talks at the U of M on 10/9.

--------10 of 15--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: MAP/peace 11.13 6pm

Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) 12th Annual Peace Celebration

Tuesday, November 13, 6:00 p.m. (Doors) 7:20 to 9:00 p.m. (Program)
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland at Lyndale Avenue,
Minneapolis. Free parking. Keynote Speaker: Matthew Rothschild, editor of
"the Progressive" magazine and author of "You Have No Rights." Music by
the Gay Men's Chorus. Tickets: $5.00 (general admission), Free (students).
FFI: Visit <>.

--------11 of 15--------

From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: Single payer 11.13 7pm Owatonna MN

On Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 pm, Kip Sullivan will speak at a forum on
the health care crisis at the Owatonna Arts Center in Owatonna. The event
will be hosted by the American Association of University Women. The public
is invited.

--------12 of 15--------

From: Tim Erickson <tim [at]>
Subject: Nonprofit stuff 11.13


I just heard about a series of free workshops in nonprofit leadership
offered by Hamline University and the Greater Minneapolis Council of
Churches. Registration is required but there's no fee. Word following the
first on Tuesday is that it was excellent.

More info:
Here are some of the sessions coming up:
   Nov 13 - Strategic planning for board & management
   Nov 20 - Conflict resolution
   Nov 27 - Nonprofit fundraising: research methods
   Dec 4  - Grant writing

--------13 of 15--------

TO: The Free World - FROM: The American People -RE: HELP!
By Ernest Partridge
Online Journal Guest Writer
Oct 26, 2007, 00:16

In the two world wars of the past century, the United States came to the
rescue of free nations abroad (in addition to few nations that were not
free). It is time now for "The Free World" to return the favors.

For the simple and sad fact is that the government of the United States no
longer rules "with the consent of the governed," as stipulated in its
founding document, the Declaration of Independence. The White House is
occupied by a usurper, installed by a seditious Supreme Court in 2000 and
retained in office in 2004 through election fraud. The federal judiciary,
once the protector of citizen rights and the rule of law, has become an
instrument of oppression, as political opponents of the administration are
selectively indicted, while political allies avoid indictment and
conviction. Habeas Corpus has been suspended and most of the protections
of the Bill of Rights have been set aside by a president who regards the
Constitution of the United States as "just a goddamn piece of paper".

After six years of congressional subservience to the president that a
Soviet dictator would envy, in 2006 the American public voted to put the
"opposition party" in control of the Congress, with a public demand that
this party end the Iraq war, restore the rights of the citizens and the
rule of law, and hold the ruling junta accountable for its crimes. After
almost a year in power, the Congress has done none of these; the
"opposition party" has simply refused to oppose.

This country's mass media, most of which is owned by six conglomerates,
serves the administration and the corporate elites -- elites that finance
both political parties and which benefit from the tax breaks,
deregulation, and war contracts obediently facilitated by the Congress.
This media serves up the public with an endless diet of trivia and drivel.
Opposition candidates and dissenters, if they are given any attention at
all, are slandered, while detrimental facts and commentary about the
president and his supporters are rarely reported. To be sure, the embargo
on criticism of the regime is not complete. A few occasional critics are
heard in the mainstream, and a few independent small-circulation magazines
publish sharp dissents without hindrance. Nonetheless, the delinquency of
the mainstream media is proven by the significant stories that never see
print or air time: among them, the Downing Street Memos which prove that
the president lied when he told the nation that he did not seek war in
Iraq; irrefutable proof that the president walked away from his military
obligation; compelling evidence that the past presidential elections were
stolen; dissent by serving military officers and enlisted personnel;
photographs and TV footage of dead and gravely injured soldiers in Iraq.
The list is long.

To their great credit, most of the American people have at last seen
through and dismissed the establishment propaganda in the mainstream
media. While a majority of the public believed at first the administration
lies that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was involved
in the attacks of 9/11, today only a minority still believe this.
Immediately after 9/11, more than 90 percent of the public approved of the
president's performance in office. Now that approval is at an
unprecedented low of 24 percent, and a mere 11 percent approve of the
Congress. Small wonder: while nearly three-quarters of the population
wishes to see an end to the Iraq war and occupation, the Congress,
contrary to the wishes of the public, continues to fund it.

Failing to find reliable information in the mainstream media, more and
more Americans are turning to the Internet, the remaining source of
unfiltered information and unconstrained political commentary. Discerning
"surfers" are well aware that the vast majority of Internet sites are
worthless: pornography, hucksters, undisciplined and uninformed rants,
etc. However, a small minority of websites are invaluable -- the last
refuge of dissent. While they last.

(The foregoing is merely a sketch of the crisis facing the American
people, and thus is grossly oversimplified. I have written several essays
and The Crisis Papers has listed numerous articles detailing these abuses
by the Bush administration and the current political crisis in the United
States. My purpose is simply to reiterate this crisis rather than to make
the case anew. The primary task of this essay, an appeal for help from the
international community, follows).

And so today there are, in effect, two Americas: first, the "official"
United States comprising the Bush/Cheney administration, the mainstream
media, both political parties, and the corporate elites that both support
and benefit from this political establishment. Add to these the quarter of
the population that persists in the belief that this political/corporate
establishment is legitimate and serves the public interest.

The second America, consisting of as much as two-thirds of the population
includes the dissenting "subjects" of the political establishment. This
public is acted upon, but is powerless to act. It demands an end to the
Iraq disaster. It demands health care reform. This public demands fiscal
responsibility and a fair tax burden. All to no avail. The public also
demands fair and verifiable elections. Majorities go to the polls and vote
to "throw the rascals out". Nonetheless, "black-box" paperless voting
machines reverse the public will and keep the rascals in.

In short, as I said at the outset, the government of the United States no
longer rules "with the consent of the governed". For all practical
purposes, the Constitution of the United States, which every federal
official and every member of Congress takes an oath "to protect and
defend," is no longer the supreme law of the land. "The unitary executive"
rules supreme. Acts of Congress that the president doesn't like are
nullified with "signing statements". Subpoenas from Congress demanding
accountability of administration officials are ignored as the Congress
meekly submits to this unlawful abuse of executive power. The illegal Iraq
occupation continues. Congress's ultimate retaliation, impeachment,
remains permanently "off the table". And Congress is deaf to the protests
of the public.

If we the people of the United States are to take back our government, we
will need all the help that we can get. And this might include help from

Most emphatically, I don't mean military help. God forbid! If a foreign
army approaches our shores, like the Iraqi "insurgents" I will ally myself
with our hated regime to throw off the invaders. Military intervention
invites slaughter, and must be avoided at all costs.

The message that there are "two Americas" -- the "official" usurping
oligarchy and the majority public "yearning to breath free" - must be
repeated, loud and clear, before the entire world. Four years ago,
millions filled the streets throughout the world to protest the pending
Iraq war. And time and again we hear from abroad, "we don't hate
Americans, we hate your government". This international sentiment must be
directed toward governments abroad so that they might, in turn, act in
defiance of the American government and in support of the disenfranchised
American public. That's how we treated the so-called "captive peoples"
behind the "iron curtain" during the Cold War. It worked then, and it can
work again.

Here are a few suggestions:

Provide political asylum. The Congress has authorized the administration
to proclaim martial law, virtually at the president's own say-so. So if
some undefined "national emergency takes place, any and all conspicuous
dissenters are in immediate peril. The internment camps are reported to be
in place and empty, awaiting their unfortunate residents. Dissenters will
be emboldened if they know that, in the worst case, they will not be
trapped in their own country, and that there will be refuge beyond the
borders. Are you listening, Canada? Mexico? Costa Rica?

Radio Free America. (Or, "The Voice TO America"). The Cold War supplies a
precedent. If the corporate mass media will not provide the American
public with accurate and unbiased national and world news, then perhaps
the foreign media might serve this purpose. The Guardian of the United
Kingdom is doing so splendidly with its American edition. The BBC news,
which is available on TV cable and satellite, and the CBC, which can be
accessed close to the Canadian border, understandably broadcast news about
their own respective countries. Expanded coverage of news of special
interest to American audiences would be much appreciated. The US
government might protest. But official Soviet protests did not silence
Radio Free Europe or The Voice of America. It remains to be seen how well
the Brits and Canadians would serve the American "liberation movement".

The Free Internet. Clearly the Internet -- "the American Samizdat" --is
the primary holdout against the Bushevik "Ministry of Truth". Indeed,
given its significance as a source of dissent, it is a mystery why the
free Internet has not yet been shut down or at least severely curtailed by
the establishment. And, in fact, there are increasing indications that
this curtailment is imminent. If the corporations that provide the
Internet servers are afforded the "right' to select Internet content, then
that will surely cripple the dissenting Internet. But it need not kill it.
As the Chinese and Soviet governments discovered in the eighties, the
international communication networks have become too vast and
indispensable for even totalitarian governments to control. The Tiananmen
protests, the Polish Solidarity movement were coordinated by FAX and
international telecommunications. In the Russian counter-revolution of
1991, the Internet emerged as a significant instrument of dissent. Today,
the international communications network is too indispensable to both the
US and the global economies to be set aside simply to accommodate the
political needs of the ruling American elites. The domestic American
Internet, crushed to earth will rise again.

Economic Levers. The whole world knows what the Bushevik elites refuse to
acknowledge: those American corporate elites, in their unconstrained
greed, have sold off the American industrial economy, which is now "owned"
by our creditors and by the suppliers (primarily Asian) of our
manufactured goods. True, the United States expenditure on its military is
equal to that of all other nations combined. But the result is that
multi-billion dollar aircraft, carriers, submarines, and missiles, are
useless against "insurgents" with improvised weapons in Iraq. And we have
the absurdity of missiles aimed at China, with guidance systems containing
microprocessors made in China. Bottom line: the US military budget
contributes not to our strength, but to our weakness. For all this
military hardware is totally irrelevant to the fact that the American
economy is at the mercy of our creditors and the suppliers of our
essential resources -- our foreign creditors and suppliers.

As Bush and Cheney continue their brutal repression of Iraq, as they
rattle their swords at Iran, and as they flagrantly violate international
laws against torture and aggressive war, they are increasingly perceived
as threats against global peace and security. The "coalition of the
willing" is fast becoming the "coalition of the fed-up".

And "the coalition of the fed-up" is not helpless against the threat of
this emerging, self-proclaimed "benevolent global hegemony," and its "new
world order" -- this "new American Century".

If, as is becoming increasingly likely, the United States is perceived
abroad at the primary threat to global peace and security, the
international community can, by threatening to devalue the dollar, call in
the US debts, and curtail imports of essential resources, exert enormous
pressure on the American government. As William Greider wisely observers,
"any profligate debtor who insults his banker is unwise, to put it

The "coalition of the fed-up" has, as its natural ally, the
disenfranchised "second America". Both desire the dissolution of the
American corporatocracy, the end of the neocon "Project for the New
American Century, - and the return of a restored American democracy to the
community of nations.

Surely this is an incomplete list of how the disenfranchised and powerless
American majority might, with the assistance of free peoples abroad, bring
about a restoration of a government, of, by, and for the people, to the
United States. What are your thoughts? Your suggestions? The agenda is

[We could always grow bananas, as befits our republic. -ed]

Copyright  2007 Ernest Partridge

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of
Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the
University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, The Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive
website, The Crisis Papers. To see his book in progress, "Conscience of a
Progressive," click here.

Copyright  1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

--------14 of 15--------

Latin America's Shock Resistance
by Naomi Klein
Published on Saturday, November 10, 2007 by The Nation

In less than two years, the lease on the largest and most important US
military base in Latin America will run out. The base is in Manta,
Ecuador, and Rafael Correa, the country's leftist president, has
pronounced that he will renew the lease - on one condition: that they let
us put a base in Miami - an Ecuadorean base. If there is no problem having
foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely they'll let us have an
Ecuadorean base in the United States..

Since an Ecuadorean military outpost in South Beach is a long shot, it is
very likely that the Manta base, which serves as a staging area for the
"war on drugs," will soon shut down. Correa's defiant stand is not, as
some have claimed, about anti-Americanism. Rather, it is part of a broad
range of measures being taken by Latin American governments to make the
continent less vulnerable to externally provoked crises and shocks.

This is a crucial development because for the past thirty-five years in
Latin America, such shocks from outside have served to create the
political conditions required to justify the imposition of "shock
therapy" - the constellation of corporate-friendly "emergency" economic
measures like large-scale privatizations and deep cuts to social spending
that debilitate the state in the name of free markets. In one of his most
influential essays, the late economist Milton Friedman articulated
contemporary capitalism's core tactical nostrum, what I call the shock
doctrine. He observed that "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces
real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on
the ideas that are lying aroundd"..

Latin America has always been the prime laboratory for this doctrine.
Friedman first learned how to exploit a large-scale crisis in the
mid-1970s, when he advised Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Not
only were Chileans in a state of shock following Pinochet's violent
overthrow of Socialist President Salvador Allende; the country was also
reeling from severe hyperinflation. Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a
rapid-fire transformation of the economy - tax cuts, free trade,
privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation. It was the
most extreme capitalist makeover ever attempted, and it became known as a
Chicago School revolution, since so many of Pinochet's top aides and
ministers had studied under Friedman at the University of Chicago. A
similar process was under way in Uruguay and Brazil, also with the help of
University of Chicago graduates and professors, and a few years later, in
Argentina. These economic shock therapy programs were facilitated by far
less metaphorical shocks - performed in the region's many torture cells,
often by US-trained soldiers and police, and directed against those
activists who were deemed most likely to stand in the way of the economic

In the 1980s and '90s, as dictatorships gave way to fragile democracies,
Latin America did not escape the shock doctrine. Instead, new shocks
prepared the ground for another round of shock therapy - the "debt shock"
of the early '80s, followed by a wave of hyperinflation as well as sudden
drops in the prices of commodities on which economies depended.

In Latin America today, however, new crises are being repelled and old
shocks are wearing off - a combination of trends that is making the
continent not only more resilient in the face of change but also a model
for a future far more resistant to the shock doctrine.

When Milton Friedman died last year, the global quest for unfettered
capitalism he helped launch in Chile three decades earlier found itself in
disarray. The obituaries heaped praise on him, but many were imbued with a
sense of fear that Friedman's death marked the end of an era. In Canada's
National Post, Terence Corcoran, one of Friedman's most devoted disciples,
wondered whether the global movement the economist had inspired could
carry on. "As the last great lion of free market economics, Friedman
leaves a void.. There is no one alive today of equal stature. Will the
principles Friedman fought for and articulated survive over the long term
without a new generation of solid, charismatic and able intellectual
leadership? Hard to say".

It certainly seemed unlikely. Friedman's intellectual heirs in the United
States - the think-tank neocons who used the crisis of September 11 to
launch a booming economy in privatized warfare and "homeland
security"  - were at the lowest point in their history. The movement's
political pinnacle had been the Republicans' takeover of the US Congress
in 1994; just nine days before Friedman's death, they lost it again to a
Democratic majority. The three key issues that contributed to the
Republican defeat in the 2006 midterm elections were political corruption,
the mismanagement of the Iraq War and the perception, best articulated by
Jim Webb, a winning Democratic candidate for the US Senate, that the
country had drifted "toward a class-based system, the likes of which we
have not seen since the nineteenth century".

Nowhere, however, was the economic project in deeper crisis than where it
had started: Latin America. Washington has always regarded democratic
socialism as a greater challenge than totalitarian Communism, which was
easy to vilify and made for a handy enemy. In the 1960s and '70s, the
favored tactic for dealing with the inconvenient popularity of economic
nationalism and democratic socialism was to try to equate them with
Stalinism, deliberately blurring the clear differences between the
worldviews. A stark example of this strategy comes from the early days of
the Chicago crusade, deep inside the declassified Chile documents. Despite
the CIA-funded propaganda campaign painting Allende as a Soviet-style
dictator, Washington's real concerns about the Allende victory were
relayed by Henry Kissinger in a 1970 memo to Nixon: "The example of a
successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact
on - and even precedent value for - other parts of the world, especially
in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in
turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it".
In other words, Allende needed to be taken out before his democratic third
way spread.

But the dream Allende represented was never defeated. It was temporarily
silenced, pushed under the surface by fear. Which is why, as Latin America
now emerges from its decades of shock, the old ideas are bubbling back
up - along with the "imitative spread" Kissinger so feared.

By 2001 the shift had become impossible to ignore. In the mid-'70s,
Argentina's legendary investigative journalist Rodolfo Walsh had regarded
the ascendancy of Chicago School economics under junta rule as a setback,
not a lasting defeat, for the left. The terror tactics used by the
military had put his country into a state of shock, but Walsh knew that
shock, by its very nature, is a temporary state. Before he was gunned down
by Argentine security agents on the streets of Buenos Aires in 1977, Walsh
estimated that it would take twenty to thirty years until the effects of
the terror receded and Argentines regained their footing, courage and
confidence, ready once again to fight for economic and social equality. It
was in 2001, twenty-four years later, that Argentina erupted in protest
against IMF-prescribed austerity measures and then proceeded to force out
five presidents in only three weeks.

"The dictatorship just ended!" people declared at the time. They meant
that it had taken seventeen years of democracy for the legacy of terror to
fade - just as Walsh had predicted.

In the years since, that renewed courage has spread to other former shock
labs in the region. And as people shed the collective fear that was first
instilled with tanks and cattle prods, with sudden flights of capital and
brutal cutbacks, many are demanding more democracy and more control over
markets. These demands represent the greatest threat to Friedman's legacy
because they challenge his central claim: that capitalism and freedom are
part of the same indivisible project.

The staunchest opponents of neoliberal economics in Latin America have
been winning election after election. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez,
running on a platform of "Twenty-First-Century Socialism," was re-elected
in 2006 for a third term with 63 percent of the vote. Despite attempts by
the Bush Administration to paint Venezuela as a pseudo-democracy, a poll
that year found 57 percent of Venezuelans happy with the state of their
democracy, an approval rating on the continent second only to Uruguay's,
where the left-wing coalition party Frente Amplio had been elected to
government and where a series of referendums had blocked major
privatizations. In other words, in the two Latin American states where
voting had resulted in real challenges to the Washington Consensus,
citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve
their lives.

Ever since the Argentine collapse in 2001, opposition to privatization has
become the defining issue of the continent, able to make governments and
break them; by late 2006, it was practically creating a domino effect.
Luiz Incio Lula da Silva was re-elected as president of Brazil largely
because he turned the vote into a referendum on privatization. His
opponent, from the party responsible for Brazil's major sell-offs in the
'90s, resorted to dressing up like a socialist NASCAR driver, wearing a
jacket and baseball hat covered in logos from the public companies that
had not yet been sold. Voters weren't persuaded, and Lula got 61 percent
of the vote. Shortly afterward in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, former head of
the Sandinistas, made the country's frequent blackouts the center of his
winning campaign; the sale of the national electricity company to the
Spanish firm Unin Fenosa after Hurricane Mitch, he asserted, was the
source of the problem. "Who brought Unin Fenosa to this country?" he
bellowed. "The government of the rich did, those who are in the service of
barbarian capitalism".

In November 2006, Ecuador's presidential elections turned into a similar
ideological battleground. Rafael Correa, a 43-year-old left-wing
economist, won the vote against lvaro Noboa, a banana tycoon and one of
the richest men in the country. With Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna
Take It" as his official campaign song, Correa called for the country "to
overcome all the fallacies of neoliberalism". When he won, the new
president of Ecuador declared himself "no fan of Milton Friedman". By
then, Bolivian President Evo Morales was already approaching the end of
his first year in office. After sending in the army to take back the gas
fields from "plunder" by multinationals, he moved on to nationalize parts
of the mining sector. That year in Chile, under the leadership of
President Michelle Bachelet - who had been a prisoner under Pinochet -
high school students staged a wave of militant protests against the
two-tiered educational system introduced by the Chicago Boys. The
country's copper miners soon followed with strikes of their own.

In December 2006, a month after Friedman's death, Latin America's leaders
gathered for a historic summit in Bolivia, held in the city of Cochabamba,
where a popular uprising against water privatization had forced Bechtel
out of the country several years earlier. Morales began the proceedings
with a vow to close "the open veins of Latin America". It was a reference
to Eduardo Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of
the Pillage of a Continent, a lyrical accounting of the violent plunder
that had turned a rich continent into a poor one. The book was published
in 1971, two years before Allende was overthrown for daring to try to
close those open veins by nationalizing his country's copper mines. That
event ushered in a new era of furious pillage, during which the structures
built by the continent's developmentalist movements were sacked, stripped
and sold off.

Today Latin Americans are picking up the project that was so brutally
interrupted all those years ago. Many of the policies cropping up are
familiar: nationalization of key sectors of the economy, land reform,
major investments in education, literacy and healthcare. These are not
revolutionary ideas, but in their unapologetic vision of a government that
helps reach for equality, they are certainly a rebuke to Friedman's 1975
assertion in a letter to Pinochet that "the major error, in my opinion,
was to believe that it is possible to do good with other people's money".

Though clearly drawing on a long rebellious history, Latin America's
contemporary movements are not direct replicas of their predecessors. Of
all the differences, the most striking is an acute awareness of the need
for protection from the shocks that worked in the past - the coups, the
foreign shock therapists, the US-trained torturers, as well as the debt
shocks and currency collapses. Latin America's mass movements, which have
powered the wave of election victories for left-wing candidates, are
learning how to build shock absorbers into their organizing models. They
are, for example, less centralized than in the '60s, making it harder to
demobilize whole movements by eliminating a few leaders. Despite the
overwhelming cult of personality surrounding Chavez, and his controversial
moves to centralize power at the state level, the progressive networks in
Venezuela are at the same time highly decentralized, with power dispersed
at the grassroots and community levels, through thousands of neighborhood
councils and co-ops. In Bolivia, the indigenous people's movements that
put Morales in office function similarly and have made it clear that
Morales does not have their unconditional support: the barrios will back
him as long as he stays true to his democratic mandate, and not a moment
longer. This kind of network approach is what allowed Chavez to survive
the 2002 coup attempt: when their revolution was threatened, his
supporters poured down from the shantytowns surrounding Caracas to demand
his reinstatement, a kind of popular mobilization that did not happen
during the coups of the '70s.

Latin America's new leaders are also taking bold measures to block any
future US-backed coups that could attempt to undermine their democratic
victories. Chavez has let it be known that if an extremist right-wing
element in Bolivia's Santa Cruz province makes good on its threats against
Morales's government, Venezuelan troops will help defend Bolivia's
democracy. Meanwhile, the governments of Venezuela, Costa Rica, Argentina,
Uruguay and Bolivia have all announced that they will no longer send
students to the School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere
Institute for Security Cooperation) - the infamous police and military
training center in Fort Benning, Georgia, where so many of the continent's
notorious killers learned the latest in "counterterrorism" techniques,
then promptly directed them against farmers in El Salvador and auto
workers in Argentina. Ecuador, in addition to closing the US military
base, also looks set to cut its ties with the school. It's hard to
overstate the importance of these developments. If the US military loses
its bases and training programs, its power to inflict shocks on the
continent will be greatly eroded.

The new leaders in Latin America are also becoming better prepared for the
kinds of shocks produced by volatile markets. One of the most
destabilizing forces of recent decades has been the speed with which
capital can pick up and move, or how a sudden drop in commodity prices can
devastate an entire agricultural sector. But in much of Latin America
these shocks have already happened, leaving behind ghostly industrial
suburbs and huge stretches of fallow farmland. The task of the region's
new left, therefore, has become a matter of taking the detritus of
globalization and putting it back to work. In Brazil, the phenomenon is
best seen in the million and a half farmers of the Landless Peoples
Movement (MST), who have formed hundreds of cooperatives to reclaim unused
land. In Argentina, it is clearest in the movement of "recovered
companies," 200 bankrupt businesses that have been resuscitated by their
workers, who have turned them into democratically run cooperatives. For
the cooperatives, there is no fear of facing an economic shock of
investors leaving, because the investors have already left.

Chavez has made the cooperatives in Venezuela a top political priority,
giving them first refusal on government contracts and offering them
economic incentives to trade with one another. By 2006 there were roughly
100,000 cooperatives in the country, employing more than 700,000 workers.
Many are pieces of state infrastructure - toll booths, highway
maintenance, health clinics - handed over to the communities to run. It's
a reverse of the logic of government outsourcing: rather than auctioning
off pieces of the state to large corporations and losing democratic
control, the people who use the resources are given the power to manage
them, creating, at least in theory, both jobs and more responsive public
services. Chavez's many critics have derided these initiatives as handouts
and unfair subsidies, of course. Yet in an era when Halliburton treats the
US government as its personal ATM for six years, withdraws upward of $20
billion in Iraq contracts alone, refuses to hire local workers either on
the Gulf Coast or in Iraq, then expresses its gratitude to US taxpayers by
moving its corporate headquarters to Dubai (with all the attendant tax and
legal benefits), Chavez's direct subsidies to regular people look
significantly less radical.

Latin America's most significant protection from future shocks (and
therefore from the shock doctrine) flows from the continent's emerging
independence from Washington's financial institutions, the result of
greater integration among regional governments. The Bolivian Alternative
for the Americas (ALBA) is the continent's retort to the Free Trade Area
of the Americas, the now-buried corporatist dream of a free-trade zone
stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Though ALBA is still in its
early stages, Emir Sader, a Brazil-based sociologist, describes its
promise as "a perfect example of genuinely fair trade: each country
provides what it is best placed to produce, in return for what it most
needs, independent of global market prices". So Bolivia provides gas at
stable discounted prices; Venezuela offers heavily subsidized oil to
poorer countries and shares expertise in developing reserves; and Cuba
sends thousands of doctors to deliver free healthcare all over the
continent, while training students from other countries at its medical

This is a very different model from the kind of academic exchange that
began at the University of Chicago in the mid-'50s, when hundreds of Latin
American students learned a single rigid ideology and were sent home to
impose it with uniformity across the continent. The major benefit is that
ALBA is essentially a barter system in which countries decide for
themselves what any given commodity or service is worth rather than
letting traders in New York, Chicago or London set the prices for them.
That makes trade less vulnerable to the kind of sudden price fluctuations
that have hurt Latin American economies before. Surrounded by turbulent
financial waters, Latin America is creating a zone of relative economic
calm and predictability, a feat presumed impossible in the globalization

When one country does face a financial shortfall, this increased
integration means that it does not necessarily need to turn to the IMF or
the US Treasury for a bailout. That's fortunate because the 2006 US
National Security Strategy makes it clear that for Washington, the shock
doctrine is still very much alive: "If crises occur, the IMF's response
must reinforce each country's responsibility for its own economic
choices," the document states. "A refocused IMF will strengthen market
institutions and market discipline over financial decisions". This kind of
"market discipline" can only be enforced if governments actually go to
Washington for help. As former IMF deputy managing director Stanley
Fischer explained during the Asian financial crisis, the lender can help
only if it is asked, "but when [a country is] out of money, it hasn't got
many places to turn". That is no longer the case. Thanks to high oil
prices, Venezuela has emerged as a major lender to other developing
countries, allowing them to do an end run around Washington. Even more
significant, this December will mark the launch of a regional alternative
to the Washington financial institutions, a "Bank of the South" that will
make loans to member countries and promote economic integration among

Now that they can turn elsewhere for help, governments throughout the
region are shunning the IMF, with dramatic consequences. Brazil, so long
shackled to Washington by its enormous debt, is refusing to enter into a
new agreement with the fund. Venezuela is considering withdrawing from the
IMF and the World Bank, and even Argentina, Washington's former "model
pupil," has been part of the trend. In his 2007 State of the Union
address, President Nestor Kirchner (since succeeded by his wife,
said that the country's foreign creditors had told him, "'You must have an
agreement with the International Fund to be able to pay the debt'. We say
to them, 'Sirs, we are sovereign. We want to pay the debt, but no way in
hell are we going to make an agreement again with the IMF'". As a result,
the IMF, supremely powerful in the 1980s and '90s, is no longer a force on
the continent. In 2005 Latin America made up 80 percent of the IMF's total
lending portfolio; the continent now represents just 1 percent - a sea
change in only two years.

The transformation reaches beyond Latin America. In just three years, the
IMF's worldwide lending portfolio had shrunk from $81 billion to $11.8
billion, with almost all of that going to Turkey. The IMF, a pariah in
countries where it has treated crises as profit-making opportunities, is
withering away.

The World Bank faces an equally precarious future. In April Correa
revealed that he had suspended all loans from the Bank and declared the
institution's representative in Ecuador persona non grata - an
extraordinary step. Two years earlier, Correa explained, the World Bank
had used a $100 million loan to defeat economic legislation that would
have redistributed oil revenues to the country's poor. "Ecuador is a
sovereign country, and we will not stand for extortion from this
international bureaucracy," he said. Meanwhile, Evo Morales announced that
Bolivia would quit the World Bank's arbitration court, the body that
allows multinational corporations to sue national governments for measures
that cost them profits. "The governments of Latin America, and I think the
world, never win the cases.  The multinationals always win," Morales said.

When Paul Wolfowitz was forced to resign as president of the World Bank in
May, it was clear that the institution needed to take desperate measures
to rescue itself from its profound crisis of credibility. In the midst of
the Wolfowitz affair, the Financial Times reported that when World Bank
managers dispensed advice in the developing world, "they were now laughed
at". Add the collapse of the World Trade Organization talks in 2006
(prompting declarations that "globalization is dead"), and it appears that
the three main institutions responsible for imposing the Chicago School
ideology under the guise of economic inevitability are at risk of

It stands to reason that the revolt against neoliberalism would be in its
most advanced stage in Latin America. As inhabitants of the first shock
lab, Latin Americans have had the most time to recover their bearings, to
understand how shock politics work. This understanding is crucial for a
new politics adapted to our shocking times. Any strategy based on
exploiting the window of opportunity opened by a traumatic shock - the
central tenet of the shock doctrine - relies heavily on the element of
surprise. A state of shock is, by definition, a moment when there is a gap
between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain
them. Yet as soon as we have a new narrative that offers a perspective on
the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make
sense again.

Once the mechanics of the shock doctrine are deeply and collectively
understood, whole communities become harder to take by surprise, more
difficult to confuse - shock-resistant.

Naomi Klein is the author of many books, including her most recent, The
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Visit Naomi's website at

 2007 The Nation

--------15 of 15--------

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 in my back pocket.


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   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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