Leaders urged to embrace pluralism

[The Jakarta Post 23/07/08] Political and religious leaders must embrace pluralism, which has become part of Indonesian society and protected by the Constitution, a seminar concluded Tuesday.

Harmony and unity in Indonesia will be ruined if leaders fail to adopt pluralist values, implement them in the protection of minorities and uphold the Constitution by protecting human rights, speakers of the one-day seminar said.

The seminar panel included members of various religious and nongovernmental organizations, as well as activists and political leaders.

“We are a pluralist nation. That’s why, from the very beginning, our founding fathers declared Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) as one of our nation’s pillars. Our constitution clearly guarantees pluralism,” Constitutional Court chief Jimly Asshiddiqie said in the keynote address.

Jakarta Archbishop Julius Darmaatmadja and Indonesian Communion of Churches chairman Andreas Yewangoe said pluralism was a given and must be accepted by all citizens.

“I always tell my congregation to be inclusive instead of exclusive in forging harmony and peace in society,” Julius said at the seminar organized by the International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP), which will celebrate its fifth anniversary this year.

By accepting Pancasila as the state ideology, all religions must embrace pluralist values, Andreas added.

Embracing democracy in Indonesia means upholding the right of anybody — including those from minority groups — to disagree with the majority on any issue, even those related to religion and politics, Jimly added.

“The problem is most leaders don’t really understand the consequences of accepting pluralism. There’s a huge gap between the idea of pluralism and its implementation. Often, pluralist values are sacrificed for political gain,” Jimly said.

He cited as an example of the state’s failure to guarantee pluralism the recent attack by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) against pro-pluralism activists staging a rally at the National Monument (Monas). The rally was held in support of the Islamic minority sect Ahmadiyah.

Noted lawyer and rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis, another seminar speaker, said the government’s decision to issue a decree banning Ahmadiyah was a constitutional violation.

“Our law enforcement is too weak to punish those violating laws and the Constitution. The ban showed majority rule has prevailed over the rule of law,” he said.

Many activists slammed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who had said violent groups would not be allowed to hijack the country, because his decree came on the same day thousands of hard-liners gathered in front of the State Palace to demand the ban of Ahmadiyah.

Earlier this year, ICIP and the Swiss Embassy launched a book titled Islam and Universal Values: Islam’s Contribution to the Construction of a Pluralistic World, to push for a more pluralist society in Indonesia.

Commenting on the book during the seminar, Muslim scholar Bachtiar Effendy, of Jakarta Islamic State University, said there was no reason for a confrontation between Islam and pluralism, as they are compatible with one another. (the jakarta post)

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Are 400,000 Terrorists Trying to Attack the United States? by Ivan Eland

http://www.antiwar. com/eland/ ?articleid= 13162

July 19, 2008

After having begun a series of investigative stories criticizing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in May 2008, CNN reporter Drew Griffin reports being placed with more than a million other names on TSA’s swollen terrorism watch list. Although TSA insists Griffin’s name is not on the list and pooh-poohs any possibility of retaliation for Griffin’s negative reporting, the reporter has been hassled by various airlines on 11 flights since May. The airlines insist that Griffin’s name is on the list. Congress has asked TSA to look into the tribulations of this prominent passenger.

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, probably responding to the controversy over Griffin, Leonard Boyle, the director of the Terrorist Screening Center, defended the watch list, claiming that because terrorists have multiple aliases, the names on the list boiled down to only about 400,000 actual people. If there are 400,000 terrorists lying in wait to attack the United States, we are all in trouble.

But wait a minute. There has been no major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 – almost seven years ago. Where are all these nefarious evildoers?

Boyle says 95 percent of these people are not American citizens or legal residents and the vast majority aren’t even in the United States. He rather sheepishly defends the size of the list by writing, “Its size corresponds to the threat. It’s a big world.”

That brings up a very important issue. The U.S. government regularly tries to police the world and combat threats to other nations – in the process, usually generating more enemies. Examining the forty-four organizations on the State Department’s highly politicized list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), one finds that only a very few currently focus their efforts on U.S. targets. And the U.S. government has even flirted with one anti-Iranian group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which was put on the FTO list long ago.

Similarly, the State Department’s list of five state sponsors of terrorism has included Cuba and North Korea – neither of which has actively participated in terrorist attacks in decades. These two countries continued to be on the list for other reasons – namely U.S. government aversion to them. On its website, the State Department even admits that, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987.” The website also contains an implicit admission that keeping selected countries on the state sponsors list can reap ulterior political benefits for the United States. The website notes that under the umbrella of the Six-Party Talks, the United States intends to remove North Korea from the list as that nation takes actions toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons program. Even the remaining three nations on the list that do sponsor terrorism – Syria, Iran, and Sudan – don’t support groups that focus their attacks on the U.S.

Thus, the humongous terrorist watch list for airline travel and the excessively large FTO and state sponsors lists are a few more examples of the United States taking on other nations’ security burdens. Trying to be the “big man on (the world) campus,” however, comes at a horrendous cost to American freedom at home.

The terrorist watch list is downright unconstitutional. Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, no warrants shall be issued unless there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. If the government has such probable cause that a passenger is conspiring to commit a terrorist act on an airplane, it should not hassle that person at the airport when trying to fly or ban him or her from flying; it should arrest them. But of course the government does not have the evidence to do that for the vast majority of the 400,000 people on the watch list.

And it’s apparently not easy to get yourself off the list once you are on it. Although Boyle claims that the TSA constantly scrubs the list for possible mistaken identities of people who have frequent “encounters” with the list, even if they don’t file a complaint, Griffin uncovered an innocent passenger with a common name – James Robinson – who has complained endlessly and has received no resolution of his case. Senator Edward Kennedy – also with a common name – experienced endless hassles and red tape trying to get his name off the list. If such a well-known figure has such problems, the average misidentified traveler is in big trouble.

And as the economists would say, what about opportunity cost to real security? The U.S. government should spend the time it devotes to scrutinizing 400,000 people on the watch list, and the vast majority of the 44 FTOs and all of the 5 countries who don’t sponsor anti-U.S. terrorism, on the again rising principal threat from Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and their tens of hard core al-Qaeda followers operating out of Pakistan. The American public would be much safer. As the famous Prussian military ruler Fredrick the Great (and closet economist) said, “To defend everything is to defend nothing.” Moreover, under current government policy, we have neither liberty nor security.

One Million Terrorists? — by Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.antiwar. com/roberts/ ?articleid= 13153

July 18, 2008

The Bush Regime’s “terrorist” protection schemes have reached the height of total incompetence and utter absurdity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a private organization that defends the US Constitution that inattentive Americans neglect, there are now one million names on the “terrorist” watch list.

One of them is that of former Assistant US Attorney General Jim Robinson, whose top security clearances are current. Every time Mr. Robinson flies away on business, he is delayed by a totally incompetent “terrorist” protection racket that cannot tell a person named Jim Robinson, who served in the highest echelons of the US government, from a Muslim terrorist.

What confidence can we have in a regime that is incapable of differentiating an Assistant US Attorney General from a terrorist?

Mr. Robinson said: “If I were convinced that America is a safer place because I get hassled at the airport, I might put up with it, but I doubt it. I expect my story is similar to hundreds of thousands of people who are on this list and find themselves inconvenienced. ”

“Hundreds of thousands of people” on a watch list that they have no business being on?

Yes. “Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other ‘suspicious characters,’ with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

And this is America, not Nazi Germany?

How can Airport “Security” possibly protect anyone when the idiots cannot differentiate a high level American government official from a terrorist?

Do you really believe there are one million terrorists and nothing has blown up in the US since September 11, 2001 (assuming you believe the government’s account of that episode)?

How can there possibly be 1,000,000 terrorists and America still be in one piece? If there were 1,000,000 terrorists, America would be in ruins. According to the Bush Regime’s line, it only took a handful of terrorists to destroy America’s tallest skyscrapers and a section of the Pentagon and to send the President of the United States scurrying to a hiding place.

One million terrorists could bring America to its knees, and they wouldn’t need to fly on airplanes to accomplish this.

What we are witnessing with the one million person “watch list” is bureaucracy run amok. One Million Terrorists makes the danger seem overwhelming. Such overwhelming danger rationalizes the aggressive behavior of the bullies and thugs attracted by the power of confiscating your toothpaste and bottled water and riffling your belongings in your luggage.

Show your ID.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your belt.
Take off your jacket.
Empty your pockets.

Don’t complain about being searched without a warrant or you will miss your flight. You might be arrested, handcuffed, kicked and otherwise abused – the fate of many American citizens.

The morons who comprise the US government call the “watch list” one of the government’s “most effective tools in the fight against terrorism.”

What an effective tool it is! It cannot tell the difference between Jim Robinson and a Muslim terrorist.

The “watch list” has not apprehended a single terrorist, but thousands of American citizens have been inconvenienced and arrested.

The ACLU says that “putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning. ”

It is worse than that. What the “watch list” or “no-fly list” is doing is training Americans to submit to warrantless searches, to abandon their constitutional rights, and to submit to humiliation by thugs and bullies. A Gestapo is being trained to have no qualms about searching and intimidating fellow citizens, using any excuse to delay or arrest them. Americans are being taught to use arbitrary power and to submit to arbitrary power. In the false name of “safety from terrorists,” Americans are being made the least safe people on earth.

RELIGION FOR HUMANITY

By  Pormadi Simbolon

 

Witnessing many religious cases in Indonesia, we can see that some people of certain religion has used physical force to defend their interest in the name of religion. Their way to reach their purpose had made people of other religion intimidated. In this point, it is necessary to question, what is the function of religion? Why do a religion destruct humanity?

 

As the feeling of  reverence which men entertain towards a Supreme Being, religion  is should be  reject the way of cruelty. Religion is the way to recognize of God as an object of worship, love, obedience and piety. Logically, if a religion is a way to respect God (Supreme Being), it means the people of religion should respect God’s creatures, include human being.

 

Destruction of religion

 

Abd A’la, an expert from Religious Reform Project (RePro) said, physical force is contrary to every single of religion, included Islamic values. Harshness which showed by some people of Islamic radicalism is opposed to Islamic teachings (Suara Pembaruan Daily, July 4, 2008). The physical force to other people can not be tolerated.

 

The main question is, why some people of religion should do cruelty to others who having different faith?  I think that most of people of every single religion do not internalized yet the main substance of a religion.  In fact, the main substance of every religion is LOVE. The people of religion should be teached to love God and to love neighbours.

 

It is clearly, substance of loving God also mean accepting any differences of other people in ethnic groups, religion, race, ideology and so on. The destruction of humanity also be the destruction of the face of religion.

 

Duty of religious leaders

 

We used to hear that there are some religious leaders who teach their people hatred to other religions. Its results are conflicts in togetherness. The people of this religion are not ready to live together with other people of different religions. Basically, this hatred is opposed to universal values e.g. human rights as United Nation Organisation declared 1948.

 

It is the main duty of every single leader of religion to build this country as a place for people of different religion can live together. It is the time for religious leaders to realize it in this globalization spirit.

 

One of the main way is making the substance of religious teachings to be internalised  by  people of religions. What are the religious values, they should be showed first to the people. According to our positive thinking, any system of faith must be a respect to God and so it should be a respect also to humanity.

 

The other way is spreading the universal values of every single religion. Religion is not a system of worship only, but also a system of behaviors to other people in daily life as the result of them.  I mean, the love to God is not celebrated in a church or in a masjid, and other religious place only, but it should be manifested in  daily life’s attitude to others. Hurting other people is also hurting his/her creator.

 

Besides, the existential principle of Republic Indonesia is Pancasila, the five principles. Pancasila teaches how to live together between people from any cultural background in Indonesia. The values of Pancasila has verified by the founding fathers to be the principles of life for Indonesian people. Pancasila should be the supreme direction to live in peace and tolerance.

 

And finally, it is a task for religious leaders and for all of religious people to build a pluralistic world civilization where different religious traditions can co-exist and mutually reinforce the cause of peace and human dignity. It is a challenging task for people of religion.

 

It is the time for people of religions to realize that religion is not for God only, but it is also for humanity too. Destruction of humanity is the destruction of religion too. Franz Magnis Suseno, a philosopher of Dryarkara in Jakarta said, “Do not make faith (religion) to be a cause of harshness!” We hope that people of different religions can live together in peace and tolerance.

 

The writes is a former student STFT Widyasasana Malang.

He can be reached at: pormadi.simbolon@gmail.com   

An Inconvenient Display of Democracy

July 14, 2008
An Inconvenient Display of Democracy
by Alan Bock

If the dominant themes that have been used to justify the Iraq war recently were sincerely held, the administration and the neocons should be doing backflips of joy this week. Building an independent and sovereign Iraq, preferably with a government responsive to the people? Check. When the Iraqis stand up we will stand down? They’re standing up. You could even make an argument that the “surge” has helped to induce the kind of stability that should strengthen the political structures to the point that Iraq’s leaders feel more secure and self-confident, which should allow them to act on behalf of the whole country rather than for strictly sectarian goals.

Apparently, however, this isn’t quite the kind of Iraqi democracy the Bush administration had in mind. Last Monday Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki let it be known that the Iraqi government would be reluctant to sign an agreement formalizing the status of U.S. troops in Iraq, unless it included a timetable for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. A new agreement is needed because the UN resolution authorizing the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops in Iraq is due to expire at the end of the year.

Speaking to Arab ambassadors at a meeting last Monday in the United Arab Emirates, Maliki said: “The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or a memorandum of understanding to put a timetable on their withdrawal.” Making it clear that this was not just an off-the-cuff or unguarded comment, Maliki and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reiterated the position in more forceful terms later in the week.

Despite the fact that the Bush administration has consistently opposed the idea of a timetable for withdrawal when suggested by critics of the war, one might have thought that the administration would have been pleased by such a statement. It indicates that the Iraqi government is feeling strong enough and independent enough that it doesn’t believe it needs the crutch of U.S. troops much longer. That has been the ostensible goal of U.S. policy for a long time.

And truth to tell, the words with which White House spokesman Tony Fratto greeted this news were carefully measured. “The prime minister is reflecting a shared goal that we have,” he said, “which is that as the Iraqi forces become a more self-reliant force, we’ll see reductions in U.S. forces.” Not exactly dancing with joy, but the statement gives the impression of being modestly supportive, even though it carefully avoids addressing what Maliki actually said. It’s a bit like two ships passing in the night and each recognizing the other’s presence by blowing horns and flashing lights, but not engaging one another on a more detailed basis, as one might expect of close allies.

Then there was the cheerleader for staying 50 or 100 years – to be fair, without violence and with only occasional outbursts of mutual resentment, as in Germany. His past statements should have suggested unbounded joy, but Mr. Straight Talk couldn’t seem to get it straight.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2004, Sen. John McCain said that if an elected Iraqi government asked us to leave, “I think it’s obvious that we would have to leave. I don’t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.” When informed that Maliki had suggested a withdrawal should come sooner rather than later, however, McCain at first suggested the statement must have been mistranslated. Informed that the translation was accurate, McCain surrogates suggested that Maliki wasn’t really serious, that he had been forced by political exigencies – Iraq has elections scheduled for October – to, in effect, pander to public opinion.

But if the Iraqi prime minister feels pressured by public opinion or political expediency to talk about a timetable, it suggests that not only Iraqi public opinion, as measured by polls of the entire population, but nearly all factions in Iraq are eager to see an end to the U.S. occupation and a return to full Iraqi sovereignty. It is possible that some of the dire consequences predicted by advocates of a longer-term U.S. occupation – civil strife, rejuvenation of al-Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps even a civil war – could happen in the wake of a U.S. withdrawal. In effect, the Iraqis are telling us that they don’t think the consequences will be so dire, but in any event they are prepared to face them.

Then there was a prediction by Lt. Gen. James Dubik, who has been in charge of building Iraqi security forces, that Iraq’s army and police will be fully manned and operational by mid-2009. You would think that this should be a signal for the United States to begin preparing as soon as possible for an orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

To be sure, Dubik’s relatively optimistic estimate was challenged at least in part by Philip Carter, who served in Iraq and now writes the “Intel Dump” blog for the Washington Post. Carter noted that Dubik spoke of the Iraqi army, but not “the local Iraqi police, the Iraqi national police, and all of the Iraqi government institutions responsible for supporting the security forces. Those are still in dreadful condition … and it is these forces, and not the Iraqi army, who will patrol the streets of Iraq and keep its people secure.”

I would go further and note that almost all the commentators stress the official, top-down kinds of institutions that use force or the threat of force to ensure a semblance of order. The implicit assumption is that government institutions with guns and training are the key to a good society. Almost nobody talks about the kinds of bottom-up kind of order that Westerners mean by the term “civil society.” But it is precisely such institutions, which in Iraq would include tribal and clan ties, the links among merchants and suppliers and customers, the voluntary associations among people with shared interests, whether in archeology, chess, or abstractions such as freedom and human rights, that lead to genuinely stable societies that don’t require a whole lot of attention from the coercive institutions of government to operate reasonably peaceably and productively.

Of course it is difficult to see where these kinds of associations and institutions will come from in Iraq. Largely as a result of the U.S. invasion, around 25 percent of the population has left the country or is “displaced” within Iraq, away from the places they lived in before and would probably prefer to inhabit again. And this diaspora largely consists of the educated and relatively successful people who in a “normal” society would constitute a middle class, generally the bringers of stability and orderliness to a society. Some of those people may be coming back, but some probably never will, ending up contributing to and enriching the countries in which they are exiled (voluntarily or not), such as Jordan, Syria, and Finland – maybe even the United States, if U.S. officials ever get around to streamlining procedures, which may not be possible, given our sclerotic and overextended imperial bureaucracy.

Some factors that have led skeptics of the surge to argue that the surge has played only a small role in the increasing (if fragile) stability and self-confidence on display in Iraq today could be taken as hopeful signs, however. As Fred Kaplan noted in Slate this week, and as I and others have noted repeatedly along the way, the surge was “combined with Petraeus’ strategy, Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire, the paying of many insurgents to stop shooting at us, and, most importantly, the alliance initiated by the Sunnis before the surge began.” But the fact that all these factors arose relatively independently of what the U.S. was doing (though it must be admitted that Petraeus has been reasonably skillful at exploiting them) suggests that there are forces and trends in Iraq militating in the direction of stability. Few people enjoy living in conditions of chaos and unpredictable violence, and it may be the case that this kind of war-weariness, more than fundamental resolutions of conflicts within a society (which seldom come about through violence, anyway), leads to periods of relative peace and calmness in any country that has been beset by war or insurgency. If these signs of readiness for an end to war and violence are bubbling up naturally among Iraqis, it could bode well for their ability to move forward without the kind of civil war or renewed sectarian violence that many fear if the United States leaves.

I would argue that the best way to facilitate indigenous Iraqi desires for a relatively stable society in which the preferences of the people are at least taken into account – a Jeffersonian democracy imbued with respect for individual rights might develop over time, but it seems unrealistic to expect it overnight in a country that is still a neophyte in the ways of democratic government with limited and predictably applied powers – is for the United States to begin withdrawing troops immediately. Whether further withdrawal proceeds on a timetable or is calibrated to conditions on the ground seems less important than beginning the process of turning Iraq over to the Iraqis, who are expressing a strong desire to regain genuine sovereignty.

An orderly withdrawal would not happen overnight; considering the amount of U.S. equipment in Iraq, that would be logistically impossible. It might take as long as the 16 months presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama predicts it will take if he is elected. But it should begin quickly. Tomorrow would not be too soon.

 

http://www.antiwar. com/bock/ ?articleid= 13128

Crude Oil Rises to Record on Speculation Israel May Attack Iran

Crude Oil Rises to Record on Speculation Israel May Attack Iran
By Alexander Kwiatkowski

July 11 (Bloomberg) — Crude oil rose more than $5 to a record on concerns that Israel may be preparing to attack Iran, while a strike in Brazil and renewed militant activity in Nigeria threaten to cut supplies.

Oil rallied to a record high of $146.90 a barrel in New York after the Jerusalem Post said Israeli war planes practiced over Iraq, adding to speculation the country is preparing to attack Iran. A Brazilian union said it plans a five-day strike on platforms that pump 80 percent of the country’s crude and Nigerian militants pledged to renew attacks on oil facilities.

“We are now in uncharted territory here with the Iranian situation,” Tom James, head of commodities trading at Liquid Capital Markets Ltd., said in a phone interview “People are just too scared to sell.”

Crude oil for August delivery rose as much as $5.25, or 3.7 percent, to an all-time high of $146.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was trading at $146.59 at 1:46 p.m. in London.

Israeli war planes are conducting maneuvers in Iraqi airspace and using U.S. airbases in the country, possibly practicing for a strike against Iran, the newspaper reported, citing comments by Iraqi officials in local media. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev denied the report.

Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, this week tested missiles capable of reaching Israel.

Brent crude oil for August settlement rose as much as $5.22 a barrel, or 3.7 percent, to $147.25 a barrel and was trading at $146.94 at 1:46 p.m. local time on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Falling Stockpiles

Yesterday, the contract gained $5.45, or 4 percent, to $142.03 a barrel. Prices climbed to a record $146.69 on July 3.

Oil may rise next week because of threats to supply from Iran and Nigeria and falling stockpiles in the U.S., the biggest energy-consuming country, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose to a record. Futures for August delivery rose as much as 10.46 cents, or 3 percent, to $3.6155 a gallon on Nymex.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump in the U.S was $4.11 on July 8, according to AAA, 38 percent higher than a year earlier.

About 4,500 employees of state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA will take part in a protest on platforms in the offshore Campos basin to get full pay for the day they return to the mainland after a 14-day shift at sea, a union official said yesterday.

Iran’s Exports

The standoff has led to concern that Iran may come under attack from the U.S. or Israel, disrupting exports from OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

“You could survive with one of these factors, but if they come all at the same time it will drive prices up,” said Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Oslo. “As soon as violent attacks increase in Nigeria it is a threat to production.’ ‘

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said attacks will resume on oil facilities. The Nigerian militant group said it will call off its unilateral cease-fire beginning midnight on July 12.

MEND’s attacks on pipelines and other installations have cut more than 20 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports since 2006. MEND says it is fighting for a greater share of oil wealth for the impoverished inhabitants of the Niger Delta.

The group declared a cease-fire after a June 19 attack on Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Bonga deep-water oilfield, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) offshore that cut 190,000 barrels a day of oil output.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski in London at akwiatkowsk2@ bloomberg. netNesa Subrahmaniyan in Singapore at nesas@bloomberg. net.

Last Updated: July 11, 2008 08:50 EDT

What is “Neo-Liberalism” ?

(http://www.geocitie s.com/CapitolHil l/Lobby/8731/ neolib.html)

“Neo-liberalism” is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is  rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of  neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious  ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to  prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people  as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic  liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate
“liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with  economic liberalism, including neo- liberalism.

“Neo” means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an English economist, published a book in
1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s  economy to develop. Such ideas were “liberal” in the sense of no
controls. This application of individualism encouraged “free”  enterprise,” “free” competition — which came to mean, free for the  capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged
liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence,  that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can  be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to  increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President  Roosevelt’s New Deal — which did improve life for many people. The  belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking  profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic  liberalism. That’s what makes it “neo” or new. Now, with the rapid  globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism  on a global scale.

A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos  at the Zapatista-sponsored
<http://spin. com.mx/%7Ehvelar de/Mexico/ EZLN/encuentro- neoliberalism. html>Encuentro  Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo  (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism)  of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: “what the Right offers is to
turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here,  women there ….” and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico.”

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1) THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no  matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to
international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by  de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been  won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all,
total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To  convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is  the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit
everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

2) CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and  health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even  maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of
reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

3) DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that  could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

4) PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to  private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads,  toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water.
Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of  concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

5) ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility. ” Pressuring the poorest  people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care,
education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them,  if they fail, as “lazy.”

Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF),  the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at  work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist  Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the  first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000  small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state- owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar  said, “Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and  cutbacking social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is
pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny  protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will “get government off  my back.” The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last  60 years, suffering without end.  <http://www.latino. com/opinion/ spec0324. html>

Elizabeth Martinez is a  longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including “500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs. ”

Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and  against Neoliberalism, held July 27 -August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.