New Orleans and Baghdad, twin cities destroyed by US capitalism

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NEW ORLEANS was allowed to be destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

US capitalism and its Bush administration had on the top of their agendas massive tax cuts for the rich, the privatisation of all remaining US state services, and the diversion of all US resources to the conquest of Iraq and the theft of its oil wealth. Consequently all warnings that the city faced disaster were ignored.

Now, one year on from Katrina, the city has not been rebuilt, its flood defences remain shaky, hundreds of thousands of its former residents remain refugees in a large number of US states. Big business has happily pocketed the billions that have allegedly been provided by the Bush administration to the private sector for ‘reconstruction’, with nothing to show for it on the ground.

The city itself is still in the grip of the National Guard and US troops whose duty is to crack down on the poor, particularly those residents who have returned to the city and their ruined homes.

Baghdad, a citadel of Arab civilisation, was overrun in April 2003. Its museums with their historic exhibits were sacked and plundered, its inhabitants have been starved of drinkable water, food, electricity and jobs. Three years after ‘liberation’ they are unable to freely leave their homes because of the operations of government-backed death squads and militias.

Three years after the ‘imperialist victory’ the US administration now controls only its fortress Green Zone, in the centre of Baghdad, while US big business has banked the billions that were handed to it for ‘reconstruction projects’ that have also never seen the light of day.

The twin fate of New Orleans and Baghdad at the hands of the US capitalists is the living proof that imperialism does not differentiate between US and Arab workers, and treats them equally with a deadly hostility.

US capitalism remains solely concerned with making super profits out of the exploitation of the workers of the world, with the issue of nationality and race irrelevant.

The leader of the Canadian CAW motor workers union, Buzz Hargrove, visited New Orleans last Tuesday.

Hargrove declared that Canadian relief efforts must continue if the city is to be rebuilt. ‘All levels of American governments have failed at salvaging the city’, added Hargrove.

He went to see the devastation first-hand, joining CAW skilled trades members who are in New Orleans helping to rebuild houses one-by-one in the poor, hard-hit Ninth Ward.

Currently, 30 skilled trades workers are scheduled to work in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward over a five-week period, in groups of six each week.

The CAW president says he wants to extend the CAW project in which skilled trades workers donate their own time and money to rebuild homes.

This is a thoroughly laudable effort, but in reality it is the equivalent of seeking to drain an ocean of capitalist anarchy with a teaspoon.

The only answer to the crisis that workers face from New Orleans to Baghdad is the world socialist revolution, to overthrow and smash capitalism and imperialism to go forward to socialism.

In this worldwide struggle the US working class has an enormous role to play.

It is now under full-scale attack by the US employers and the Bush administration, which is seeking to slash wages, reduce healthcare and retirement benefits, and export millions of jobs, closing down swathes of US industry.

It is becoming an army on the march. The time is overdue for a section of the Fourth International to be built in the US to lead the struggle for the victory of the US and world socialist revolutions.