I recently read a shocking report about a country presumably trying to combat criminality, especially narco-trafficking, and to do so are using brutish and restrictive means to kettle the general population. One such means is greater surveillance and repression, both on line, on phone and in the streets. The article noted that country has passed and embraced a national law that allows for wiretapping of its citizens with few restrictions; they have passed another law permitting fiscal investigations by authorities of nonprofits, such a seizing their books. I even read that the country is launching a full out assault on women, making it illegal to take the “morning after pill”, even if a woman is a rape victim.
At the end for March, the country passed an ordinance allowing for the military to patrol civilian streets, thus blurring the line between civilian and military control to fight the ‘Drug War’. Evidently this was the first time in a long time the country has done this and is testimony to the constant tightening and restriction of civil rights.
Also, my reading led me to discover that the military in the subject country was not only politically and economically corrupt, but that everything from drug trafficking to the sale of rounds of guns and ammunition are all being conducted from a military warehouse on a military base.
Perhaps most disturbing is that media and journalist members have been shot or killed in brutal police demonstrations or simply hunted down by death squads to make sure they can’t talk. Trade unionists too have been targeted for attack, as have leading intellectuals and activists. Militarization of the entire country is now the norm and on the rise and is palpable in every aspect of life.
Labor rights have been under intense assault for some time now in this country. Hundreds of workers were fired for advocating or organizing unions and employers fail to pay minimum wages or any wages at all; why should they, for there is no regulatory body forcing them to? The national labor laws are ineffective hardly enforced and have been hijacked by the corporate state and simply shelved or shredded. Collective bargaining? Forget it; it is more like collective carnage.
The commentary also mentioned the Economic Free Enterprise Zones where corporations pay no taxes under an ideological canopy of trickle down economics, which the people were told would create jobs when what they really created are unregulated militarized outposts, much like military bases the US has throughout the globe.
In fact, as the article reported, these “tax free zones” for corporations are lawless swaths of testosterone soaked territory where corporations remain outside civilian law and operate freely in a veritable wild west. The “company store” is now the company town and the company morgue.
With all this in mind, this particular nation’s laws are moving quickly and hurriedly forward to give free reign to the country’s paid politicians to privatize all the electrical, water and sewage systems, to name just a few basic utlities and public services. The corporate efforts also include the privatization of the country’s sea ports.
Moreover, the entire nation’s public school system is up for auction to the capitalists for financialization as private education and private vouchers occupies the top of the list of priorities aimed at breaking teacher unions and assuring little, if any authentic education. Warehousing disposable children for the school to prison pipeline is the norm.
The US Banana Republic and the election of Scott Walker
It would be comforting to think that what is described above is being carried out in some far-away humid and sweltering banana republic where democracy has been squelched by the hands of repression and the forces of dictatorship, which have taken control and are slowly being institutionalized. If you have followed the Greek tragedy you might see parallels there but this is not about Greece. If you have ever traveled to any of the Latin American dictatorships you will recognize the scenario very well.
Yet this is not a story simply about a far-away Banana Republic. Sure, I admit that the country I am referring to and which I read about in an article in in the Nation Magazine was about the country of Honduras (Frank, Dana, “Honduras: which side are we on?, June 11, 2012 ). As grim as the situation is in Honduras, this is really not the point. the point is that the policies your read above can and most likely will apply to the US if there is no countermovement large enough to stop it. America is a banana republic.
What the Scott Walker recall failure could mean
The failure to re-call Scott Walker, even amidst the fanfare of citizens pouring out into the streets in record numbers, should cause US citizens anxiety and alarm for what is described above in Honduras is agendized and in fact much is already in place in the US, with Wisconsin just a petri dish and bell weather for the locusts sweeping the nation.
The Walker victory was bought and paid for by the oligarchic Koch Brothers and their horizontal millionaire interests — no doubt. But the fact that people power could not mobilize enough voters to the polls is troubling.
Sure, there were voting laws designed to intimidate and even discourage voting; sure, there was paid propaganda on TV, radio and throughout the state minute by minute, most of it misinformation of disinformation that worked to manage people’s perceptions and get them to identify with the class interests of the elites in a surge of false consciousness. All of this is true. But at the end of the day Walker won by 7%.
Something at work is even more disturbing. The American public simply does not understand that the country that they live in is a rubber room, a Banana Republic not much different than Honduras, where Alice in Wonderland thinking prevails.
America is a country of “non-sense” or “no sense” at all where corrosive irrationality is eating away at the ethical and moral fabric of society, a society where the low but rising temperature of despair can be seen in the brutal cyber wars and citizen surveillance ramped up daily. This and increasing militarization and violence by police in the streets.
Now that Walker has prevailed in the recall election in Wisconsin, this will not only allow him to institute America’s own gussied up Banana Republic politics of militarized and drug-trafficking Honduras, but it will also embolden his racist, sexist, classist and homophobic counterparts to emulate the ‘new Governor Walker’ as a hero and begin to put into place the same reactionary policies that Walker got away with nation wide.
This is managed democracy, the soft-underbelly of a brutish inverted totalitarianism, hardly anything resembling anything your Grandpa’s democracy ever saw. But then you can’t have democracy in politics with such inequality in economics and concentration of wealth and certainly you can’t have a democracy where electronic devices spread content fueled by moneyed interests and spew propaganda that tells people what to think, how to think and why to think.
Look to the libertarian paradise of narco-trafficking Honduras for the model America might emulate and create right here – in the land of the free and the home of the knave. This is where we are barreling, towards a neo-feudalism right here in America where ‘black is white’ and ‘up is down’.