Some may have noticed the Community Action for Justice in the Americas link on this blog. I was a board member for three years at least? but we fizzled and died last Spring when energy dropped and ideological splits could not be reconciled. I was part of a faction that insisted on an open anti-capitalist stance while others were satisfied staying within the capitalist/ parlimentary paradigm. From trade agreements, to Plan Colombia, to Coca Cola, School of the Americas, to critiques of "neoliberalism", writing letters to Congressmen is mental masturbation and unsatisfying.
Now some of the "old gaurd" wishes to pick up where we left off, using the same "progressive non-profit" model. I went to their "kick-off" and, hoping to be helpful by being honest, gave my critique of liberal "struggle". The word anti-capitalist sucked a lot of air out of the mostly empty room (seven attendees) One of the new board hopefuls described his work with the World Bank as a case in point, how giving title to indigenous peoples allowed them to " save their land from loggers". This is straight out of the Hernando De Soto/ Thomas "flat earth' Friedman, Thatcher ,Milton Friedman play book, "ownership will open access to credit markets and end poverty". Ask the 1.2 million Peruvians who were given title if it helped "end poverty". Ask those in the slums and favelas of the world what McNamaras World Bank program of "titles" did for them. ( or read Mike Davis' Planet of Slums). Market discipline and valuations along with private property as the neoliberal guarantor of liberty and freedom is a capitalist conceit and when it is imposed on indigenous cultures it is always about exploitation and profit. As another example of liberal largess, most (not all) of these "micro-credit" programs are usurious and create what J.Elyachar calls a "market of dispossession".
I wished them good luck and picked up my copy of the Missoula Independent which has a feature on Celebrating Conservatism, a local (Hamilton) group which has grown to 500. The organizer stands in front of a huge banner of the US flag witha cross in the middle ( In God We Trust , in Jesus We're Saved) and packs a sidearm. Those attending are dressed in camo and NRA jackets and lots of them are packing as well as they listen to John Mc Manus, Pres. of the John Birch Society on one night or ex-Arizona sheriff Richard Mack the next week. The all-white group wants their liberty back, they want their constitution and their country back, states rights and above all else, property rights.
This is where the CAJA guy finds common ground with von Hayeck, von Mises, Ayn Rand, the Freidmans and Celebrating Conservatism. Only through private property and the competitive market can individual rights ,democracy and development exist. "...without the diffused power and initiative associated with these institutions it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." "Diffused power"? Freedom to slave your life away?
Here is a quote from a conservative in attendence: " I've had to come out of retirement to get a little part-time job. My husband is sick; our income is down.It's all on the backs of ordinary working people ..." She blames her woes on the government, on the gays, on the immigrants, on the athiests, anyone or anything other than the market system. I'll be attending the meeting next Tuesday.