THE New Orleans disaster stands as a testament – with its over 10,000 dead and over 200,000 refugees – to the bankruptcy of the capitalist system.
It also proves the unpostponable necessity of overthrowing that system, by the revolutionary action of the US working class, in a second American revolution, this time a proletarian revolution, to replace bankrupt capitalism with a socialist reorganisation of society.
The over-ripeness of American society for socialist reorganisation can be seen from the indisputable fact that the US productive forces have long developed beyond the point where it was possible to have avoided the huge scale of this latest disaster.
However, no bourgeois clique, such as the Bush family, would have made a financial killing out of the construction of Dutch-style sea defences to safeguard the city of New Orleans from flooding, so the job was not done.
Instead, the Bush administration handed billions to the rich in massive tax cuts, while Bush continued where Clinton left off, in handing welfare duties over to bourgeois charities such as the Salvation Army, and many voluntary groups, a path that the Blair government and the Tories want to follow here.
The £200 billion spent on the imperialist war in Iraq by the US ruling class was accompanied by vicious attacks on the working class, cutting its health care provision, driving up productivity, cutting wages, cutting out overtime pay, exporting jobs and planning to cut what is left of US social security.
The appearance was that while the rich were better off than ever before, the working class and the poor were being made to suffer.
The essence was that US capitalism was gearing up to leave the working class and the poor to its fate.
There was ample warning that Katrina was coming, but nothing was done, because no number of voluntary groups and charities could deal with the emergency. The local and national administrations trusted in the roll of the dice, luck.
When the main force of the hurricane veered east of New Orleans the city bosses breathed a sigh of relief, their luck had held once again.
However, the greatly weakened flood barriers – the levees – collapsed, and whole sections of one of the greatest US cities were plunged over the edge of the abyss, into a state of barbarism.
Not only Louisiana but the surrounding states, especially Texas, are now beginning to break under the strain of the crisis that the US bourgeoisie created.
Texas, the adopted home of the Bush gang, the capital of ‘small government’ and tax cutting, and welfare carried out by charities and volunteers, has been overrun by up to 100,000 refugees from New Orleans.
Officials have stated that shelters, hospitals and schools in Texas, which has some of the lowest levels of social spending in the United States, are being overwhelmed.
Governor Perry, who succeeded Bush in 2000, appealed to the president on Thursday: ‘We will do all we can as a state and a people to help our neighbours to the east who have lost so much.
‘Hurricane Katrina, a disaster for our neighbouring states, has created emergency conditions in Texas that will require all available resources of both federal and state governments.’
Meanwhile, units have been withdrawn from Iraq to deal with the struggle against the poor at home. Military forces such as the 82nd Airborne Division have entered the city of New Orleans.
The message could not be clearer. It is capitalism that is the disaster. There is no doubt that as its crisis develops over the war in Iraq and the developing world slump it will lash out in an even more frenzied fashion against the working class and the poor.
The time is more than overdue for the building of a section of the Fourth International in the US, to organise the US workers to lead the urban and rural poor to carry out the American socialist revolution, an action that will seal the fate of capitalism on a world scale.