Now that we have a torturer in charge of our premier intelligence agency it’s appropriate to make the connection between the economic and foreign policies of the US empire.
Neoliberalism and torture are connected. Contrary to the cover-story about Laissez-faire, neoliberals absolutely require a strong state to implement their market-centric economic policies. However, as we’ve seen with the recent populist backlash, these economic policies are opposed by the captive populaces who’ve seen their standard of living plummet, while inequality soars.
Hence the need for force. Despite their paeans to “freedom,” neoliberals are down with wielding an authoritarian state in order to subdue an unruly proletariat. The proof is in the history, where the first test case of neoliberalism was Chile.
On September 11, 1973, Chile’s government was overthrown in a bloody, CIA-backed coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet. Neoliberal policies, incubated in the University of Chicago economics department under the tutelage of Milton Friedman, were introduced in Chile after the violent coup. Friedman and his “Chicago Boys” advised Pinochet to impose his free market wish list on the country–tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, deregulation and cuts to social spending.
As Naomi Klein makes clear in The Shock Doctrine—although Chile was described in glowing term as an economic miracle, the reality was that these neoliberal economic policies were imposed by force, including torture. “Pinochet also facilitated the adjustment with his own shock treatments; these were performed in the regimes many torture cells, inflicted on the writhing bodies of those most likely to stand in the way of the capitalist transformation. Many in Latin America saw a direct connection between the the economic shocks that impoverished millions and the epidemic of torture that punished hundreds of thousands of people who believed in a different kind of society. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano asked, ‘How can this inequality be maintained if not through jolts of electric shock?'”
The US has always practiced torture, they just kept it on the down-low, using surrogates or cut-outs to maintain plausible deniability. What’s been different since 9/11 is that the US has openly embraced torture.
Both political parties are complicit. Even though the “gloves came off,” under the Bush administration, Obama failed to prosecute the torturers and “looked forward,” allowing Trump the opportunity to nominate Haspel to be head of the CIA. In a touching show of bi-partisanship, the Democrats played a critical role in supplying the votes necessary to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director earlier this week.
In my opinion, both major parties are beholden to a deep state, dominated by a vast military/intelligence complex, for surveillance, repression and control. Going further, this deep state is allied to the same financial oligarchy that advocates neoliberalism.
It’s not a coincidence that we have a torturer as the head of the CIA. More and more people are recognizing neoliberalism for what it is and protesting this vile economic agenda that has impoverished them and destroyed their communities. Even the happy, chirpy corporate media cannot entirely hide the grim reality.
There have already been warnings. What they’ve done to Greece was akin to a mob boss having his capos kneecap a client who couldn’t pay his vig. And don’t forget Libya. Muammar Gaddafi real crime appears to have been his attempt to create a African currency based on gold that was free from western banks. Can’t have that can we? For his troubles, Gaddafi was tortured to death to the sadistic cackles of Hillary Clinton.
Domestically, we have whole sections of the US that have been impoverished and abandoned. Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. How’s that for torture?
As the disparity between the 1% and the rest of us grows watch the political climate. The neoliberals have seized the state and will use force to protect their ill-gotten gains. Remember, savage policies carried out on the periphery of empire always return to the center.
Expect the corporate media to obscure these crimes. Time and time again, we’re fed false and deceitful narratives to manufacture support for the agendas of the plutocrats who control the US empire. And, then when we notice that once again we’ve been lied to it’s too late. The news churn moves on and we’re distracted by something else as the old narrative is stuffed down the memory hole.
We must continue to make the connection between torture and neoliberalism obvious.
Spread the word.