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November/December, 2005

Vision and the Fight for a New World:
Envision a Society Where Every Human Being is Valued

by Cynthia Cuza

Hurricane Katrina blew away the myth of American moral superiority, exposing the government’s callous and cruel indifference to the needs of people who are poor and predominately African-American.

The poor one-third of New Orleans and the 134,000 without vehicles were stranded when Hurricane Katrina hit. As the floods rose, some were left to drown or wait on rooftops, others were transported to the Superdome and Convention Center where they were held without food, water or sanitary facilities for days. Armed soldiers prevented them from leaving these fetid inhumane conditions.

Compare this with Cuba. When Hurricane Ivan hit Cuba last year, Cuba moved nearly 1.9 million people out of harm’s way and no one died. The New Orleans death toll is unknown, certainly thousands, some estimate 10,000.

When the storm subsided, Louisiana National Guard troops entered New Orleans with orders to establish a police state to protect private property. “They have M-16s and they’re locked and loaded,” Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. “These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.”

Compare this with Cuba where the National Guard and volunteers organized the evacuation, going door to door, kept lists of each evacuee’s location, and took personal possessions, including TV’s, along with them.

The U.S. media served no public function in keeping people informed about the hurricane and what to do. Instead, the corporate media vilified the victims, pouring salt on wounds by repeatedly reporting non-existent “riots,” looting and violence.

Compare this with Cuba where TV and radio kept the Cuban people informed 24 hours a day. Civil defense officals announced preparations and meteorologists gave hurricane instructions. The media served the people.

Why could Cuba, a small poor country, accomplish what the wealthiest country in the world found “impossible”? Because Cuba, a communist country, cares for its people. Why did the U.S. bring guns not medicine to the people of New Orleans? Because the U.S, a capitalist country, protects and serves the interests of capital and private property. Katrina blew away the pretense that capitalism cares about people.

As the flood waters cleared, the government belatedly started transporting people out of New Orleans, dispersing them without consideration for family or preference to cities all over the country. With New Orleans purged of poor people, the speculators, contractors, investors and developers have moved in, preparing a massive “gentrification” of the Gulf Coast.

Last year, when the tsunami killed over 200,000 people, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described this destruction and death as a “wonderful opportunity” that “has paid great dividends for us,” by clearing the land for development of casinos, resorts and the shrimp industry. Now the vultures are salivating over New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with unlimited aid and support from the government that was “unable” to evacuate people to safety.

Congress authorized $62 billion of “no bid” contracts to Halliburton and others that have reaped obscene profits from the Iraq war. The President suspended Davis Bacon, the prevailing wage law, and has called for a Gulf Opportunity Zone a “flat tax-free enterprise zone” with unlimited tax breaks for corporations. This corporate give-away will be paid for by radical cuts to the social safety net, suspending Medicaid’s prescription coverage, and denying insurance and aid to the poor victims of Katrina. This is a huge transfer of wealth from the public realm into private hands.

Imagine reversing this flow. Envision a society where all wealth is in public hands. Envision a society where every human being is cherished and cared for, where all people live comfortably in harmony with each other and with nature.

This world is possible. The resources, human skills and technology already create the abundance necessary to make this society possible. What stands in the way is the corporate/investor class and the US government which use this wealth for their own private benefit.

Change is happening. People are in motion. Committed and hardworking people of New Orleans and volunteers from all over the country are doing what the government failed to do, working together to provide shelter, food, clothing, and health care. Now many are preparing to fight for the future of New Orleans, and the right of the poor, mostly African-American, population to return and rebuild.

Imagine if people throughout the country took up this cause and inspired a powerful rebirth of the freedom movement. Imagine that this powerful movement is infused with a vision of society where every human being is valued without exception, where all wealth is in the hands of the people, and the government really is of, by and for the people. Imagine living in that world.