Wednesday, September 18, 2019

US IMPERIALISM IN LATIN AMERICA CONTINUES: From Undermining Governments to Causing Migrations of People

Harry Targ

The world again enters an economic, political, and military crisis in the Western Hemisphere. It remains important to think historically about last January’s call by the United States and 10 hemisphere countries for President Nicholas Maduro to step down as President of Venezuela, increases in the blockade of Cuba, the undermining of economy and political institutions in Puerto Rico, and the desperate migration of Central Americans fleeing repression. For many who are learning about US imperialism for the first time, it is important to revisit the history of the Western Hemisphere and to contextualize regional crises, including the sordid treatment of those fleeing violence and poverty and the borders of the United States.
A Brief History

As Greg Grandin argues in “Empire’s Workshop,” the rise of the United States as a global empire began in the Western Hemisphere. For example, the United States took one-quarter of Mexico’s land as a result of the Mexican War of the 1840s. Later in the nineteenth century, the United States interfered in the Cuban Revolution defeating Spain in the Spanish/Cuban/American War of 1898. And, at the same time, the United States attacked the Spanish outpost in the Philippines (while colonizing Puerto Rico and Hawaii) thus becoming a global power. Latin American interventionism throughout the Western Hemisphere, sending troops into Central American and Caribbean countries thirty times between the 1890s and 1933, “tested” what would become after World War II a pattern of covert interventions and wars in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Western Hemisphere was first colonized by Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and France from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. The main source of accumulated wealth funding the rise of capitalism as a world system came from raw material and slave labor in the Western Hemisphere: gold, silver, sugar, coffee, tea, cocoa, indigo, and later oil. What Marx called the stage of “primitive accumulation,” was a period in world history governed by land grabs, mass slaughter of indigenous peoples, expropriation of natural resources, and the capture, transport, and enslavement of millions of African people. Conquest, land occupation, and dispossession was coupled with the institutionalization of a Church that would convince the survivors of this stage of capitalism’s development that all was “God’s plan.”

Imperial expansion generated resistance throughout this history.  In the nineteenth century countries and peoples achieved their formal independence from colonial rule. Simon Bolivar, the nineteenth century leader of resistance, spoke for national sovereignty in Latin America.
But from 1898 until the present, the Western Hemisphere has been shaped by US efforts to replace the traditional colonial powers with neo-colonial regimes. Economic institutions, class systems, militaries, and religious institutions were influenced by United States domination of the region.

In the period of the Cold War, 1945-1991, the United States played the leading role in overthrowing the reformist government of Jacob Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), and gave support to brutal military dictatorships in the 1970s in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. The Reagan administration engaged in a decade-long war on Central America in the 1980s.  In 1989 the United States sent 23,000 marines to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega in Panama. (This was a prelude to Gulf War I against Iraq).
From 1959 until today the United States has sought through attempted military intervention, economic blockade, cultural intrusion, and international pressures to undermine, weaken, and destroy the Cuban Revolution.

Often during this dark history US policymakers have sought to mask interventionism in the warm glow of economic development. President Kennedy called for an economic development program in Latin America, called the Alliance for Progress and Operation Bootstrap for Puerto Rico. Even the harsh “shock therapy” of neoliberalism imposed on Bolivia in the 1980s was based upon the promise of rapid economic development in that country.
The Bolivarian Revolution

The 21st century has witnessed a variety of forms of resistance to the drive for global hegemony and the perpetuation of neoliberal globalization. First, the two largest economies in the world, China and India, have experienced economic growth rates well in excess of the industrial capitalist countries. China has developed a global export and investment program in Latin America and Africa that exceeds that of the United States and Europe.

On the Latin American continent, under the leadership and inspiration of former President Hugo Chavez Venezuela launched the latest round of state resistance to the colossus of the north, with his Bolivarian Revolution. He planted the seeds of socialism at home and encouraged Latin Americans to participate in the construction of financial institutions and economic assistance programs to challenge the traditional hegemony of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

The Bolivarian Revolution stimulated political change based on varying degrees of grassroots democratization, the construction of workers’ cooperatives, and a shift from neoliberal economic policies to economic populism. A Bolivarian Revolution was being constructed with a growing web of participants: Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and, of course, Cuba.

It was hoped that even after the premature death of Chavez in 2013, the Bolivarian Revolution would continue in Venezuela and throughout the region. But the economic ties and political solidarity of progressive regimes, hemisphere regional institutions, and grassroots movements have been challenged by declining oil prices and economic errors; increasing covert intervention in Venezuelan affairs by the United States; a US-encouraged shift to the right by “soft coups” in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador; and a more aggressive United States foreign policy toward Latin America. Governments supportive of Latin American solidarity with Venezuela have been undermined and/or defeated in elections in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and now attacks have escalated against what former National Security Advisor John Bolton calls “the troika of tyranny;” Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.  As Vijay Prashad puts it: “Far right leaders in the hemisphere (Bolsonaro, Márquez, and Trump) salivate at the prospect of regime change in each of these countries. They want to eviscerate the “pink tide” from the region” (Vijay Prashad, thetricontinental.org, January 20, 2019).

Special Dilemmas Latin Americans Face

Historically all Western Hemisphere countries have been shaped and distorted in their economies, polities, and cultures by colonialism and neo-colonialism. They have also been shaped by their long histories of resistance to outside forces seeking to develop imperial hegemony. Latin American history is both a history of oppression, exploitation, and violence, and confrontation with mass movements of various kinds. Also, it is important to emphasize that the imperial system has created complicit and repressive regimes in Latin and Central America and have generated extremes of wealth and poverty. Military repression and extreme poverty within countries have forced migrations of people seeking some physical and economic security. Armed with this understanding several historical realities bear on the current crises in the region, including the emigration of people from their countries.
First, every country, with the exception of Cuba, experiences deep class divisions. Workers, peasants, the new precariat, people of color, youth, and women face off against very wealthy financiers, entrepreneurs, and industrialists, often with family ties, as well as corporate ties, with the United States. Whether one is trying to understand the soft coup in Brazil, the instability in Nicaragua, or the deep divisions in Venezuela, class struggle is a central feature of whatever conflicts are occurring.

Second, United States policy in the administrations of both political parties is fundamentally driven by opposition to the full independence of Latin America. US policy throughout the new century has been inalterably opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution. Consequently, a centerpiece of United States policy is to support by whatever means the wealthy classes in each country.
Third, as a byproduct of the colonial and neo-colonial stages in the region, local ruling classes and their North American allies have supported the creation of sizable militaries. Consequently, in political and economic life, the military remains a key actor in each country in the region. Most often, the military serves the interests of the wealthy class (or is part of it), and works overtly or covertly to resist democracy, majority rule, and the grassroots. Consequently, each progressive government in the region has had to figure out how to relate to the military. In the case of Chile, President Allende assumed the military would stay neutral in growing political disputes among competing class forces. But the Nixon Administration was able to identify and work with generals who ultimately carried out a military coup against the popular elected socialist government of Chile. So far in the Venezuelan case, the military seems to be siding with the government. Chavez himself was a military officer.

Fourth, given the rise of grassroots movements, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela began to support “dual power,” particularly at the local level. Along with political institutions that traditionally were controlled by the rich and powerful, new local institutions of popular power were created. The establishment of popular power has been a key feature of many governments ever since the Cuban Revolution. Popular power, to varying degrees, is replicated in economic institutions, in culture, and in community life such that in Venezuela and elsewhere workers and peasants see their own empowerment as tied to the survival of revolutionary governments. In short, defense of the Maduro government, depends on the continuing support of the grassroots and the military.
Fifth, the governments of the Bolivarian Revolution face many obstacles. Small but powerful capitalist classes is one. Persistent United States covert operations and military bases throughout the region is another. And, perhaps most importantly, given the hundreds of years of colonial and neo-colonial rule, Latin American economies remain distorted by over-reliance on small numbers of raw materials and, as a result of pressure from international financial institutions, on export of selected products such as agricultural crops. In other words, historically Latin American economies have been distorted by the pressure on them to create one-crop economies to serve the interests of powerful capitalist countries, not diversified economies to serve the people.

Sixth, United States policy toward the region from time to time is affected by the exigencies of domestic politics. For example, the Trump Administration verbal threats against Venezuela are being articulated as the president’s domestic fortunes are being challenged by the threat of impeachment and confrontations with the new Congressional leadership. War often masks domestic troubles.
Finally, the long history of colonialism, neo-colonialism, “land grabs” such as taking one third of Mexico, and the establishment of repressive regimes in the Western Hemisphere coupled with the establishment of draconian neo-liberal economic policies set in motion desperate migrations of people fleeing repression, violence, and abject poverty. The migration crisis today, the creation of virtual concentration camps of people at the United States border, is a direct result of over one hundred years of United States foreign policy.

Where do Progressives Stand
First, and foremost, progressives should prioritize an understanding of imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and the role of Latin American as the “laboratory” for testing United States interventionist foreign policies. This means that critics of US imperialism can be most effective by avoiding “purity tests” when contemplating political activism around US foreign policy. One cannot forget the connections between current patterns of policy toward Venezuela, with the rhetoric, the threats, the claims, and US policies toward Guatemala, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and in the new century, Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

Second, progressives need to show solidarity with grassroots movements in the region, support human rights, oppose military interventions, and demand the closure of the myriad of United States military bases in the region and end training military personnel from the region. 
Third, progressives should realize that as tensions rise again in the hemisphere there are growing dangers of violence spreading throughout Latin America. By attacking “the troika of tyranny,” the United States is increasing the likelihood of class war throughout the region. And, given growing Chinese and Russian economic and political involvement in the Western Hemisphere, it is not inconceivable for regional war to escalate to global war.
Finally, progressives must stand and fight against brutal and inhuman United States border policies and the establishment of concentration camps that violate every element of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The migrations and the oftentimes brutal responses at the border are inextricably connected to the historic role of the United States in the Western hemisphere.

In short, the time has come to stand up against United States imperialism.
(A useful history of United States interventionism can be found in Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Henry Holt, 2006).




Monday, September 16, 2019

CONSERVATIVES DEFEND ACADEMIC FREEDOM FOR THEIR OWN

The Unhappy Marriage of Political Control and Academic Freedom in Higher Education

Harry Targ

December 1, 2015


And at college after college in recent years, students have rallied to block appearances by speakers whose views don't jibe with current campus orthodoxy. Most of those speakers are conservatives. (Rem Rieder, "Campuses Need First Amendment Training," USA Today-Journal and Courier, November 29, 2015, 8B).

(An update on conservative campaigns in defense of “free speech.”)


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Stories about academic freedom and free speech have been appearing in newspapers more frequently over the last few weeks. And curiously enough political actors on and off campus who traditionally have been least likely to be concerned about these subjects are becoming its major advocates. 

Historically, universities, like most institutions in society, have been designed by and served the interests of the dominant powers. Higher education in the United States from the seventeenth century until the civil war educated theologians and lawyers to take leading positions in the political and economic system. As the nation was transformed by the industrial revolution, universities became training grounds and research tools for the rise of modern capitalism. Young people, to advance the needs of a modern economic system, were educated to be scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and managers. Economists were produced to develop theories that justified the essential features of capitalism. 

After the rise of the United States as a world power in the 1890s, higher education increasingly included studies of international relations, weapons systems, and the particular mission of powerful nations in the world. In sum, the historical function of the American university since the 1860s has been to mobilize knowledge and trained personnel to service a modern economy and a global political power.

The conception of the university articulated by intellectuals through the centuries, however, also implied an intellectual space where ideas about scientific truths, engineering possibilities, ethical systems, the products of culture, and societal ideals would be discussed and debated. During various periods in United States history, during and after the Spanish-American War, the Progressive era, World War I and its aftermath, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War era, for example, the university became the site for intellectual contestation. But during most periods of United States history unpopular ideas introduced in the academy by faculty or students were subject to repression, firings of faculty, and expulsion of students. This was particularly true during World War I and the depths of the Cold War. 

It was out of the many forms of repression that faculty and student associations advocated for the idea of academic freedom. Articulated by philosopher John Dewey early in the twentieth century and formalized by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the principle, not the practice, was enshrined in official statements by both university administrators and faculty.

Despite the broadly endorsed tradition faculty were purged from universities during the 1940s and 1950s, not primarily because of their teaching and research activities, but because of alleged political associations off campus. Others were fired or did not have contracts renewed because their teaching and research challenged reigning orthodoxies about economics, politics, and war and peace. In the 1960s, universities sought to restrict the free speech rights of students as well. 

For a time as a result of the tumult of the 1960s, universities began to provide more space for competing ideas, theories, approaches to education, and allowed for some discussion of fundamental societal problems including class exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia, and long-term environmental devastation. 

But by the 1990s, reaction against the expanded meaning of academic freedom set in. The National Association of Scholars was created by political conservatives to challenge the new openness in scholarship and debate on campus. Right-wing foundations funded David Horowitz to launch a systematic attack on faculty deemed "dangerous." Horowitz unsuccessfully tried to organize students to lobby state legislators to establish rules impinging on university prerogatives as to hiring of faculty and curricula. Politicians targeted scholars deemed most threatening including such noted researchers and teachers as Howard Zinn, William Ayres, Ward Churchill, and Judith Butler. The attacks of the last decade were based more on the ideas which "dangerous" professors articulated than their associations.

Since the upsurge in police violence against African Americans and terrorist attacks on Planned Parenthood, and rising Islamophobia and homophobia, a new generation of student activists has emerged challenging violence, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Students have protested against police shootings everywhere and they have linked the general increase in violence and racism to the indignities they suffer on their own campuses. 

In response to the events at the University of Missouri, student activists around the country have brought demands to administrators challenging the many manifestations of racism and other indignities experienced at their schools. The response at almost all colleges and universities has not been to address the demands raised by students but instead to change the discourse from the original issues to the protection of academic freedom and free speech. In other words, university administrators and media pundits, as the quote above suggests, have swept student complaints under the rug and have used the time-honored defense of academic freedom and free speech to ignore the reality of racism, sexism, and homophobia. The defense of free speech has become a smokescreen. 

Academic freedom and free speech must be defended. But it must be understood that today those who most loudly defend them are doing so to avoid addressing the critical issues around class, race, gender, homophobia, and violence that grip the nation and the world. 

(For a more detailed rendition of political repression in higher education see Harry Targ, "Red Scares in Higher Education: Reinventing the Narrative of Academic Freedom," Diary of a Heartland Radical, May 21, 2015.)

[Harry Targ taught foreign policy,US/Latin American relations, international political economy, and topics on labor studies in a Department of Political Science and a program in Peace Studies. He sees connections between theory/education and political practice. Targ is a member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), the Northwest Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO),and the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition (LAPC). His book, Diary of a Heartland Radical, can be ordered at http://stores.lulu.com/changemaker 






Monday, September 2, 2019

MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM: FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS AND THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO THE KOCH BROTHERS: The Struggle for Worker Rights Continue

Harry Targ

What we are seeing today is a new iteration of that very old impulse in America: the quest of some of the propertied (always, it bears noting, a particularly ideologically extreme-and some would say greedy-subsection of the propertied) to restrict the promise of democracy for the many, acting in the knowledge that the majority would choose other policies if it could. (Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, New York, Random House, 2017).
Less obvious…was the struggle led by national business leaders…to reshape the ideas, images, and attitudes through which Americans understood their world, specifically their understanding of their relationship to the corporation and the state. … The struggle to undercut organized labor’s and the state’s ideological hold over the working class and to protect this vision took place within a variety of contexts (Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf, Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism 1945-60, 1995).

The Threat to Democracy
Despite the recent death of one of the Koch brothers, the idea of market fundamentalism, unless confronted, will remain a constant feature of American political life. And, as Nancy MacLean suggests, this idea has institutionalized a fundamental contradiction between democracy and capitalism.


To explain the contradiction, Nancy MacLean analyzes central premises of the so-called Austrian school of economics. Nineteenth and twentieth century luminaries from this tradition, particularly Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, articulated the view that the main priority of any society, but particularly democracies, is to allow markets to flourish unencumbered by government.

According to this view in a truly free society markets remain supreme. In fact, “liberty” exists in a society to the extent economic actors can act freely in the marketplace. Virtually all limitations on economic liberty, market fundamentalists say, constitute a threat to “real” democracy. Governments exist only to maintain domestic order (the police power) and to defend the nation from external aggression (defense of national security): thus providing police protection and armies. And that should be all. Otherwise, as President Ronald Reagan expressed the market vision: “Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.”

As an example, MacLean describes the brutal dictatorship that overthrew the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Allende, a socialist, was elected by a plurality in the 1970 presidential election in that country and in the spring, 1973 in municipal elections held across the country, Allende’s coalition of parties drew even more votes for their candidates than did Allende in 1970. The United States, based on directives from President Nixon, had already moved to make the Chilean economy “scream” and had initiated contacts with Chilean generals who would be prepared to carry out a military coup against the popular government.  The military coup, ousting Allende from power, was launched, ironically on September 11, 1973.

As MacLean points out, in the aftermath of the coup, General Augusto Pinochet rounded up and killed thousands of Allende supporters, destroyed the long tradition of electoral politics, abolished trade unions, and began the process of ending government involvement in the economy and public institutions. Social security and education were privatized. Policies of nationalization of key industries were reversed. All of the shifts to what the Austrian school called economic liberty were imposed on the Chilean people with the advice of University of Chicago economists, such as Milton Friedman, and later, George Mason University economist, James Buchanan, who was instrumental in recommending “reforms” to the Chilean constitution making return to democracy more difficult. Subsequently only a few other dictatorships in Latin America showed any sympathy for the Pinochet regime with most of the world condemning its domestic brutality. But as MacLean reports, Milton Friedman and his colleagues never condemned the Chilean regime and Buchanan regarded it as a paradigmatic case of economic liberty, a model which the world should emulate.

Although the Chilean case represents an extreme example of dictatorship and free market capitalism, she uses it to illustrate a central point. In most societies, and the United States is no exception, majorities of people endorse government policies that can and often do serve the people. As a rule, citizens support public transportation, schools, highways, libraries, retirement guarantees, some publicly provided health care, rules and regulations to protect the environment, guarantees for the right of workers to form unions, as well as police and military protection. The problem for Buchanan and his colleagues is that each one of these government programs, except for the police and military, constrain the “liberty” of entrepreneurs to pursue profit.

To put it simply, if citizens of the United States were asked if they support public programs, majorities would say “yes.” Although there have been extraordinary constraints on majority rule, even enshrined in the US constitution, the history of the United States can be seen as a history of struggle to improve and achieve majoritarian democracy. Demands for voting rights for women, African/Americans, non-propertied and low-income workers and others have been basic to the American experience. The great anti-colonial struggles of the twentieth century across the globe were premised on the vision of individual and collective sovereignty of the people. If economic liberty is conceptualized as inversely related to majoritarian democracy, then capitalism and democracy are incompatible.

Nancy MacLean, based on this fundamental contradiction, develops a narrative of efforts by celebrants of economic liberty, the Koch brothers and their allies, to build campaigns in virtually every state and locale to disenfranchise people. ALEC affiliates in state legislatures over the last decade have promoted legislation to suppress the right to vote, eliminate the rights of workers to unionize, disempower city councils, eliminate the right of local governments to make fiscal decisions, and to enshrine in curricula in K to 12 education systems and the universities ideologies about the virtues of economic freedom. There are powerful political pressures to privatize every existing public institution. Again, the best government is no government (except for the maintenance of police force to squelch demands for change and military power to protect the nation at home and abroad). In sum, Nancy MacLean is warning us that there is a powerful drive, based on wealth and power, in the United States to destroy democracy. This democracy, while flawed, has been fought for since the founding of the United States. Its continuation, leaving aside its need for improvement, is under fundamental threat.

“Selling Free Enterprise”

While the drive for market fundamentalism has become particularly intense in the twenty-first century, the fundamental “battle of ideas” that shape the ways in which working people understand their connections to government, unions, community, and the economic system go back many years. In two brilliant books, Selling Free Enterprise (1994) and Waves of Opposition (2006), Fones-Wolf describes the public sphere, media, education, religious institutions, and political assemblies as sites for critical debate about the kind of society that can best serve workers. The histories she presents cover the 1930s through the 1950s, but the lessons of her history bear upon the ideological struggles perpetuated by the Koch brothers and their allies today.

In the first book, Selling Free Enterprise,  the author describes the open-ended possibilities for political change, it was hoped, which could have been crafted as World War II ended. The war began at a time when workers, through their own mass action, had created the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), a militant federation of four million factory workers in electronics, steel, auto, meat packing, mining and smelting, and other industrial and white-collar unions. To help the war effort, CIO unions pledged to avoid strikes in the name of national security. But, when the war ended, workers expected to play a significant role in constructing public policy and shaping the kind of political and economic system that would serve their needs.

Fones-Wolf documents the worldview that guided workers and their unions after the war. They believed in the right of workers to form unions that would represent their interests at the point of production. They believed that government must play a basic role in promoting an improved quality of life for all. They believed that workers derive their freedom and happiness from active participation in communities at the local and national levels. And the character of “free enterprise” was to be circumscribed by the common good. The public good was more important than private property.

The capitalist class, Fones-Wolf argues, had a diametrically opposed view of the political, economic, and even cultural world that needed to be created after the war. Unions represented tyranny, not the interests of workers. Government was a hindrance to human well-being. The more government insinuated itself into the lives of people the worse off they would be. Community, unless it was organized by human relations offices of big corporations, restricted freedom. Individualism, not community, was the bulwark of a free society. And basic to individualism, the capitalists argued, was the “free market,” “free enterprise,” and private property.

Selling Free Enterprise describes the battles over these two fundamentally different worldviews, community versus individualism, in factories, in schools, in churches, in local elections. Such capitalist arms as the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce employed factory owners, clergymen, educators and think tanks, the press, radio and television to promote their vision of post-war America using millions of dollars and penetrating every city and town across the United States.

Although the labor movement, peace and justice activists, moderate church people and others challenged the “free enterprise” model of society from 1945 until 1960, they were no match for the money and power of big capital. The free marketeers also utilized the Cold War and the specter of “worldwide communism” to purge those forces that sought to create an egalitarian and communitarian America. While the different ideologies were contested in the 1940s and 1950s, by the early 1960s the capitalist class had achieved ideological hegemony.

Fones-Wolf wrote Waves of Opposition, (University of Illinois Press, 2006) to describe the efforts of labor and progressive groups to have their voices heard on radio, the dominant medium for news and culture from the 1930s until the late 1950s. Corporate elites, CEOs of the major radio networks, and government agents limited the rights of trade unionists to have access to the air waves. Exceptions were noted in the post-war period when AFL and CIO paid programs appeared on national radio and a few union locals were able to buy air- time in their communities to run programs describing the activities of their locals. In a few instances, local labor owned or operated radio stations. One of the longest running efforts was WCFL, out of Chicago. It was a “voice of labor” station operating from the 1920s to the 1970s. But, Fones-Wolf points out, it took major struggles for labor to gain recognition and access to the air waves. With corporate media concentration, the modest foothold labor had in radio, and even less in television, was lost.

The struggles, so graphically described by Fones-Wolf, are being played out today. The age of “neo-liberalism,” ushered in by the Reagan administration and sustained by politicians of both mainstream parties was sold to the American people in ideological terms. A worldview based on individualism, free enterprise, private property, limited government, and the magic of the marketplace was slickly packaged and sold while state/corporate power was used to crush the labor movement. Even the modest “welfare state” model of public/private sector collaboration was challenged by neo-liberal spokespersons.

With increasing media concentration, approximately ten media conglomerates control about fifty percent of all we read, see, and hear, neo-liberalism crushed any alternative visions that stepped in its path. Even when policies are discussed, neo-liberalism reflected in talk radio and rightwing television dominates what and how issues are debated.

Fones-Wolf’s story is about the defeat of workers; Nancy MacLean’s about the threat to democracy. These narratives about the early period of post-war America and the politics of the twenty-first century suggest that struggles for a better future must be fought on the ideological as well as the policy levels. Fundamental concepts such as community versus individualism, government versus free enterprise, and worker rights versus corporate control must be debated. The case should be made that the communitarian, participatory, egalitarian vision of a just society deeply embedded in United States history are constantly challenged by “the propertied” and “national business leaders.” The vision of community once again needs to be brought to union halls, churches, public libraries, schools and universities, and all other social institutions and open spaces where people must decide on their collective future.