Short ‘n’ Stubby: Ms. Manx swats DSK and the IMF around some more

You know how crazy some kitties are when it comes to tinfoil balls? They become obsessed with batting them around, and will chase them all over the house? Well, that’s how Ms. Manx is with this whole Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. She’s found some more linkage, and she wants us to follow that bouncing, ricocheting, spherical shiny metallic object wherever she chases it. So, let’s do it:

First up, at Truthout, Mark Weisbrot (who is one of the Stumpy Cat’s favorite global-affairs analysts) takes a look at precisely what, if anything, has changed at the IMF during DSK’s tenure in that not-so-august loansharkery. He notes that DSK came to the IMF just as its influence was waning in the very parts of the world where it stood to make the biggest killing just a few short years before. (Latin America, in particular, comes to Ms. Manx’s mind, as does Chavecito, who helped Argentina get the IMF off her neck. Venezuela is a special target of Washington’s ire this week, and you can be sure that the bogus charges of having sold uranium to Iran aren’t the real reason for this at all.) Weisbrot also notes that the IMF’s policies were poison to the economic growth of all countries where they were implemented (big surprise there, says the Manx!), and that the countries who’ve shed the IMF’s influence have not rushed back to the fold during the global recession of 2007 onwards, mainly because they were busy implementing their own, successful homegrown solutions (eg. Bolivia renationalizing its natural-gas reserves, etc.). It’s no surprise that the countries that got out from under Bretton Woods are the ones who’ve emerged first and fastest from the recession; some, like Venezuela (there’s that evil Chavecito again!) were barely touched by it at all. (Ms. Manx would like to let you know that the Venezuelan economy grew by 4.5% in the first trimester of this year alone, and that even the rabid oppo newspapers were reporting the fact, albeit below the fold and in small headers, on their front pages. A fact which makes the Manx smirk.) Oh yeah, and as for those radical, humanizing changes to IMF policy DSK supposedly made? Weisbrot says they’re not all that. Surprise!

Next, on to another of Ms. Manx’s favorite economic analysts: Greg Palast! The Stumpy Cat loves him for saying that “the grandee of the IMF has molested Africans for years” . What? says the Manx. You mean that Guinean widow whom he jumped at the Sofitel wasn’t the only one? Nope. Not by a long shot, she wasn’t. Just the one he most literally tried to screw. And in fact, the reason that poor woman was working as a chambermaid — a job where rape is a constant occupational hazard — in New York is because the IMF has repeatedly raped her resource-rich, cash-poor homeland. Talk about your vicious cycles!

Yes, let’s talk about vicious cycles, says the Manx. Dean Baker, writing at the UK Guardian, certainly does. He makes the point that without a strong hotel workers’ union backing her, that unlucky woman would most likely have done what so many other powerless women have done: declined to press charges against her assailant. This is a vicious cycle of another kind, but certainly parallel to the economic one of Guinea’s ruin. Silence, after all, enables the privileged and the powerful to perpetuate their abuses. And whether that abuse is literal and physical, or metaphorical and economic in nature, it all boils down to the same things: poverty, suffering, oppression and misery, in an endless self-perpetuating cycle that it’s almost impossible to break out of on one’s own. (Ms. Manx bids me add that she loves the use of the Woody Guthrie song, “Union Maid”, performed by Woody’s son Arlo and the great Pete Seeger. Wonderful illustration of why unions matter, and how they can help.)

Meanwhile, on the subject of physical rape, Naomi Wolf weighs in, and notes that this case is being handled in a way very uncharacteristic of rape cases on the whole. For once, it appears that the system is working well, and this is strange, considering that most New York rape cases are not handled with nearly so much panache. Wolf writes: “In 23 years of covering sex crime — and in a city where domestic workers are raped by the score every month, often by powerful men — I have never seen the New York Police Department snap into action like this on any victim’s behalf.” She then goes on to say: “We now live in a world in which men like former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was investigating financial wrongdoing by the insurance giant AIG, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Strauss-Kahn — whose efforts to reform the IMF gained him powerful opponents — can be, and are, kept under constant surveillance. Indeed, Strauss-Kahn, who had been the odds-on favorite to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s French presidential election, probably interested more than one intelligence service. This does not mean that Strauss-Kahn is innocent or that he is guilty. It means that policy outcomes can be advanced nowadays, in a surveillance society, by exploiting or manipulating sex-crime charges, whether real or inflated.” An angle worth considering, although as noted earlier, DSK did very little to change the way the IMF was working, and indeed, according to Mark Weisbrot and Greg Palast both, he made it more profitable than ever. And this during a recession. If this really was a “surveillance society” attempt to return the IMF to its previous (and disastrous) hard-line stance, we will probably see the charges against DSK dropped eventually, even with a preponderance of evidence pointing to his guilt (unlike, say, Julian Assange, against whom there is only hearsay evidence at best. BTW, the Manx is certain that Julian Assange will never go to trial; not for rape, anyway. She’s sure that the real charges they’re dying to lay against him will be of espionage, and they will be laid not in Sweden, but in the United States. The flimsy rape charge is a cynical holding strategy, and one that will ultimately benefit women not at all.)

Meanwhile, at Michael Moore’s website, Rebecca Solnit recapitulates the rape/rape analogy. Ms. Manx is haunted by this passage in particular:

Two days before Strauss-Kahn allegedly emerged from that hotel bathroom naked, there was a big demonstration in New York City. “Make Wall Street Pay” was the theme and union workers, radicals, the unemployed, and more — 20,000 people — gathered to protest the economic assault in this country that is creating such suffering and deprivation for the many — and obscene wealth for the few.

I attended. On the crowded subway car back to Brooklyn afterwards, the youngest of my three female companions had her bottom groped by a man about Strauss-Kahn’s age. At first, she thought he had simply bumped into her. That was before she felt her buttock being cupped and said something to me, as young women often do, tentatively, quietly, as though it were perhaps not happening or perhaps not quite a problem.

Finally, she glared at him and told him to stop. I was reminded of a moment when I was an impoverished seventeen-year-old living in Paris and some geezer grabbed my ass. It was perhaps my most American moment in France, then the land of a thousand disdainful gropers; American because I was carrying three grapefruits, a precious purchase from my small collection of funds, and I threw those grapefruits, one after another, like baseballs at the creep and had the satisfaction of watching him scuttle into the night.

His action, like so much sexual violence against women, was undoubtedly meant to be a reminder that this world was not mine, that my rights — my liberté, egalité, sororité, if you will — didn’t matter. Except that I had sent him running in a barrage of fruit. And Dominique Strauss-Kahn got pulled off a plane to answer to justice. Still, that a friend of mine got groped on her way back from a march about justice makes it clear how much there still is to be done.

And on a similar note, at Information Clearing House, James Petras examines the colonial legacy of the global south, with its “social psychology of rape”. Ms. Manx senses a theme developing: “The absolute power of the colonial administrators allows them to secure total submission from those who are powerless – the single African women isolated from family, friends – before the Courts of Justice and denied equality. The latter is subject to firing, blacklisting, unemployment, intimidation, humiliation and insults for daring to denounce their colonial superiors.” This is right in line with the theme of Ms. Manx’s last post, in which she batted about the servility of the French press and clawed open its propensity, much like the laws of the state, to protect the propertied and powerful while leaving the rest with little recourse. And this, mark you, is just in France; in the lands France used to colonize, it’s even worse. Which stands to reason, since it’s not just France holding the reins at the IMF, but a consortium of the most powerful people of the most powerful countries in the world. Given these conditions, it’s remarkable that one humble chambermaid from Guinea dared to stand up at all — and a testament to the need for solidarity and strong unions to help the powerless and unpropertied people of the world do just that, again and again and again.

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