I initially wrote this as a comment to the post below but, having finally realised (with help from Mr Swiss) that it is crazy to bury long rants in comments and later plead blogger’s block, I am posting it here instead.

Pat commented that the article quoted in the post below is very harsh.

Well yes, it is harsh. I agree. As I said, I doubt I would’ve put it quite like that.

Nonetheless, I share the sentiment behind it.

The idea that a shoot-to-kill policy was put in force in New Orleans to stop looting – to protect property over human life, in other words – is just staggering.

I know there are some fairly effective attempts by officials to excuse this, such as the “We’re just protecting law-abiding citizens from rapists and crack addicts” excuse, but the bottom line is exactly what that article says: “one item of our property is worth more than your life”. Initially, it was admitted in the international media that the shoot-to-kill approach was intended to protect property, presumably to reassure those who have some. That cry seems to have turned to a whisper, in the face of international disapproval, but it doesn’t change the motive.

This is capitalism at its rawest, without the usual sweeteners which make it palatable.

In modern life, money rules. You will be killed if you attempt to come between capital and the rich. That’s true for everyone, everywhere. The police protect those with property; those who have power, influence, things. The life of a poor person is worth less than a single dollar to the rich. You need only look at the local droughts around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants, or the sweatshop labour of Asia, to see that. It’s not news to any of us. We know what makes the world go round.

Again, it doesn’t really shock any of us that poor, disenfranchised people are not considered worthy of much official effort when it comes to saving lives. They do not constitute an important market, and they are not sufficiently shackled to the labour market, for various reasons, to affect the economy. So what use are they? (See also: most of Africa.)

So what’s most chilling of all about the New Orleans situation is that it is not an anomaly. It is merely the hideous face of modern capitalism without its make-up on.