National Guard ‘armed, locked and loaded’ in New Orleans

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LOUISIANA State Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin have deployed 300 heavily-armed National Guard troops and 60 state police on the streets of New Orleans.

This is in response to ‘lawlessness’ resulting from the social breakdown in the city, 10 months after Hurricane Katrina struck. There were hundreds of deaths and a million made homeless by the floods after the hurricane on August 29, 2005.

Today many districts of the city are still largely deserted, with homes destroyed and vital services, like water, electricity, telephones and shops, still non-existent. Of the original one million inhabitants, a mere 500,000 have returned to New Orleans.

Only this week an £18m contract was finally signed between the authorities and a private company to remove the 20,000 wrecked cars which are still strewn across the city’s streets and gardens.

There has been a breakdown in normal living conditions. It is the poor who are forced to live like this, because they cannot buy their way out.

The situation is so desperate that there have been 52 murders this year, despite the fact that the population is half what it was before the hurricane. Recently five teenagers were shot to death in a car, the worst mass killing for many years.

The response of the US capitalist state to this situation, at a City, State and Federal level, is not to rebuild the city and its infrastructure, and provide work for the people.

No! It is to dispatch troops to deal with ‘disorder’. As Governor Blanco said, in justifying the deployment of troops: ‘Things like this should never happen, and I am going to do all I can to stop it.’

Police Superintendent Warren Riley made clear what the troops would do when he said: ‘They will be armed, locked and loaded and prepared.’ They will patrol storm-damaged areas and, when they consider it appropriate, they will shoot people!

US imperialism and its administration, headed by President George Bush, are subjecting the working class and poor of New Orleans to the ‘Iraq regime’.

There are no funds to rebuild homes, roads, water and electricity supplies. If people poke their heads out of the door they will be looking down the barrel of a gun.

This is Bush’s ‘war on two fronts’. As far as the US ruling class is concerned, in its desperate crisis and drive to make profits, the US working class is expendable and is the enemy.

When US workers look at what is happening in New Orleans, they are looking at their own future under capitalism in America.

Already Bush and the ruling class have made clear that they want to destroy well-paid jobs in manufacturing, tear up union contracts protecting healthcare, and drive American workers’ living standards down to the level of those in Mexico and Latin America, where the US banks and corporations are engaged in super-exploitation.

Huge productive forces have been developed in the US and there are billions of dollars for tax cuts for the rich and for wars. However, when Katrina struck, the people of New Orleans had to rely on charities like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the churches for help, because emergency services have been slashed and privatised under the Bush regime.

It is clear to more and more American workers that Bush is not just ruining Iraq, he is ruining the US too. It is time for his regime and the capitalist order to go.

If the future of the US working class is not to be what is taking place in New Orleans, then it must mobilise through its trade unions to build a Labor Party to represent its interests, in a fight against the bosses’ parties, the Republicans and Democrats.

The trade unions must organise united strike actions and mobilise working-class communities to bring down the Bush regime and prepare the overthrow of US capitalism and its replacement with a government that will implement socialist policies.

In order to do this US workers and youth must build a new revolutionary leadership in the workers’ movement, a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, to organise the working class to carry out an American Socialist Revolution. This will be a fatal blow to capitalism worldwide.