NEO-LIBERAL UTOPIAS–AND NIGHTMARES

[col. writ. 5/7/17] ©’17 Mumia Abu-Jamal

 Acclaimed science fiction writer, Ursula Le Guin, in her book, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, crafts a tale that crackles with the electricity of life.

This is not a book review, nor really a review of her sci-fi novel, for, in truth, I’ve not read it.

But I have read the introduction of scholar/ philosopher, Elizabeth Pivonelli’s work, Economies of Abandonment, the title of which is telling. It is „The Child in the Broom Closet.“

There is a child living in a dark, fetid broom closet, in the city of Omelas. She is covered in sores, filth and waste, and everyone in Omelas knows this; and all of Omelas is happy.

They go about their lives, their work, and their play, with the silent knowledge of this child’s intense and unremitting suffering. Indeed, Pivonelli suggests that Omelas‘ happiness rests upon the suffering of this tortured, miserable, lonely child. She is naked and beaten and unloved, for when some sensitive soul feels this rank injustice, their hot tears cool, and dry under the simple, icy reality that this is just the way things are in Omelas.

Some quietly leave this city of happiness, burdened by the weight of this bitter knowledge.

Povinelli uses Le Guin’s fictional creation to examine our present reality under what she terms „late liberalism“–or neo-liberalism.

By this she means the sociopolitical project of almost unchecked capital accumulation, while raiding the public commons for private gain, such as the state’s elevation of private schools during its concomitant abandonment of public schools. In a nutshell, neo-liberalism means the triumph of the market over all other social values.

What does this mean when we think of the battered and bruised child in the broom closet?

The neoliberal Clinton era, that began with executions and ended with the consolidation of mass incarceration, also featured the unprecedented prosecutorial-judicial-philosophical attack on children, NEO-LIBERAL…dubbed „vicious super-predators“ by Hillary Clinton, who (her words!) „needed to be brought to heel!.“

It is noteworthy, therefore, that Pennsylvania, the site of the greatest number of juvenile lifers on Earth, reflected the loss of votes for Clinton in two discrete populations: about 1% less than Obama received; and an overwhelming number of prison guards who voted for (Donald) Trump, despite the fact that Pres. Clinton was most responsible for their [generational] prison jobs, by sending billions to states to build new prisons in his notorious 1994 Crime Bill.

Like the tortured child in the broom closet, children were cast into the hells of adult prisons, while the newly-rich neo-liberal class drank champagne and enjoyed the good life.

©’17 Mumia Abu-Jamal