Naomi Klein is refreshingly clear and incredibly persuasive in her analysis of what is at stake in Wisconsin. According to her, the antidote to the “Shock Doctrine” tactic, or the right’s signature tactic: is to “name it while it’s happening.” This disrupts the narrative of “oh my god we’re all gonna die if we don’t act now,” exposes it to be a contrived farce and a power play, and opens up a space not only for refuting the false narrative (“we have to do this or the sky will fall”) but allows us to articulate an alternate narrative (like looking deeper into the true causes of the actual crisis).
The essential debate is about who will pay for the crisis created by the Wall Street: will it be on the backs of the working middle class, or will the super rich have to shoulder the greater part of the burden? The Republican response rings loud and clear: tax cuts for the rich, “austerity measures” for the middle class. In other words, the middle class will pay for the crisis, while the superrich can keep making payments on their second yacht.
Exhibits A and B are, at both the federal and state levels, the recent tax cuts for the rich and the superrich. The Bush-era tax cuts had chopped out 700 billion dollars of tax revenue by offering exemptions to the rich – and this was just extended for another four years. At the state level, to take Wisconsin as a prime example, Gov. Walker’s initial move as he came into office was to offer a new set of tax cuts to the rich, effectively creating the very crisis he then used as a proxy for trying to cut down labor union rights.
Naomi Klein is clear about the broader stakes of this fight: the unions are essentially the last bastion of defense between the right and total privatization of everything (think water, gas, electric, schools…and then the list gets *really* scary). So this is a chess game, where the minor pieces are fighting in the foreground, and the deeper game is about what legislation will be possible after the next round or two of elections. Unions are a major fighting force in elections. If they can be removed, if their power can be crippled, then the right is in position to take some serious terrain in these elections.
As Klein points out, many states have their eyes on the Wisconsin fight, because they (those dominated by the political right) would like to do the same thing. This is why the Koch bros. were strategically cunning in their (massive) financial support of state governorships. These are the battlegrounds for the conditions under which laws will be made in the next twenty years. There are untold fortunes to be made.
Finally, we should realize that the Republican firepower has quintupled; in Klein’s words “they have nuclear bombs now.” That is, with the recent Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to finance elections, the funding available to saturate mainstream media with right-aligned ideological messages is virtually limitless. With union power cut down by state laws (16 states are ready to attempt this), the right is poised to swarm into the next elections cycles with enormous campaign advantages.
Here is Naomi Klein’s excellent (and essential) analysis:Vodpod videos no longer available.