'Shock doctrine' to a Motown beat: A lefty take on the consent agreement

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In a sort of fever-dream burlesque with a radical chorus chiming in, Detroit attorney Thomas Stephens channels, among others, Crazy Horse, Emma  Goldman, Harriet Tubman and Coleman A. Young to provide a distinctly lefty take on Detroit’s “consent agreement” and, as he describes it, the corporate power-structure’s plans to keep sucking blood from the people of the city. For good measure, Stephens, who works for the City Council’s Research & Analysis Division, adds snippets of lyrics from the likes of Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan to layers of astute economic and political analysis.

Here’s a small taste from the bitter-fruit buffet he’s serving up in his lengthy piece, "A Ghost Story: Restructuring Detroit," on the CounterPunch website:

Detroit’s reality is already the neoliberal nightmare; relentless cutbacks in education, health, and other social services. What seems inevitable is that ‘restructuring Detroit’ (unless resistance can prevent it — as I have previously argued elsewhere) will look an awful lot like the now-notorious ‘structural adjustment’ programs imposed on the developing world by the major multilateral financial institutions — the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank — throughout the neoliberal era. Systematic privatization of common pubic resources; deregulation of corporate power; savage attacks on social services, working standards and basic quality of life for ordinary People; all as a way to even further enrich and empower elites. The infamous "Shock Doctrine," in Motown rhythm. This is the noxious, authoritarian political reality of "restructuring." No wonder they hide the term behind comforting lies like ‘"consent" and "fiscal stability."

 

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