The New World Order, the New Iraq, New Orleans and New Afrika: Death Throes of an Empire in Decay
Michael Novick Turning The Tide, Fall 2005
Here’s a quick pop quiz on meteorology, cosmology and sociology: The destruction of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta by Hurricane Katrina, and the unrelieved suffering and deaths of tens of thousands, was caused by: a) the vengeance on a Satanic/sinful/hypocritical America by Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah, for whom the last straw was Pat Robertson’s call to assassinate Hugo Chavez b) an unavoidable, horrific natural disaster that will give America a chance to show it can still roll up its sleeves and rebuild things better than they were before c) the result of 500 years of racism, colonialism and industrialism, compounded by a decade of heedless profit-oriented neo-liberal and neo-conservative militarism The answer is obvious even to those most blinded by religion or flag-waving. The heart-rending devastation and the terrible cost in human lives and destroyed homes are driving home to people throughout the U.S. what the people in the region are experiencing directly. The U.S. social, political and economic system – the Empire – is not only incapable of meeting the most fundamental human needs – it is the immediate cause of irreversible calamity and destruction of the natural and social environment. The evidence is clear. Scientific debate notwithstanding, the force of the hurricane was indisputably a result of the global warming caused by industrial pollution and its effects on atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. The inability of the New Orleans levee system to withstand the ocean surges and the rain was directly a result of decades of destruction of the surrounding wetlands, compounded by the diversion of needed funding to Iraq and “Homeland Security.” The total lack of preparedness and evacuation measures, or of effective rescue operations, was a manifestation of deep-seated racism and class prejudice. It exposed a political economy and society based on individualism and privatization, compounded by the assignment of the bulk of the Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard and their equipment to military duty in Iraq. The racism of the media that showed white survivors “finding” bread and soda in stores, while Black survivors “looted” supplies from the same stores in the same flood waters was matched only by the state’s diversion of police and Guard troops from search and rescue operations to property protection under martial law. Bringing the National Guard troops home immediately from Iraq is all well and good, but what will it gain us if they are dispatched to wage war on the poor, Black and homeless residents of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta? Reality has smacked us all upside the head with a tragic wake-up call. But where do we go with this new awareness? What do you do when you wake up and discover that the long national nightmare is just beginning? We need to understand that total social, political and economic transformation – revolution – is on the agenda, now. The “American Way of Life” has demonstrated its unsustainability for all to see. Forget “The Day After Tomorrow” – Hollywood films cannot come close to the actual devastation we are facing today. Is Los Angeles more capable of dealing with the inevitable 9.0 earthquake? The Empire does not only stand in the way of human and planetary survival; every day of its continued existence makes matters worse. We must begin immediately the process of de-colonization, democratization, decentralization and demilitarization that is our only hope. For the people of African descent in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Carolina, along with their white and Mexicano/Caribbean neighbors, that means that the rebuilding process must be based in creating a new social order of liberation, collective responsibility and harmony – New Africa, not Dixieland. For the rest of us, it means beginning a similar process of dismantling and opposing the Empire by every means at our disposal. That means turning out massively to the border on September 17-18 to denounce the vigilantes, the coyotes and the Border Patrol. That means mobilizing massively on September 24-25 to demand immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and to stop the war machine. But even more, it means living each day to build unbreakable ties of human solidarity and community while reversing the damage caused by profligate waste of energy and poisoning of the water, air, and soil.
This is the lead editorial in the new issue of “Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist Action, Research & Education,” published by ARA-LA/PART. A free sample copy in the US is available by writing to ARA-LA/PART, PO Box 1055, Culver City CA 90232, calling 310-495-0299, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org A one-year, six-issue subscription is $16 ($26US outside the US or to institutions) payable to Michael Novick at the above address.