Wednesday, December 04, 2019

From public to private: the relentless and ruthless capitalist privatization of everything

Immigrant detention 2
This article from ProPublica, “How McKinsey [a consulting firm] Helped the Trump Administration Detain and Deport Immigrants,” co-published at HuffPost and The New York Times, is but one illustration of the insidious, relentless, and ruthless capitalist privatization of everything, the effects of which amount to an utter subversion of both the common and public good: 

“McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an ‘organizational transformation’ in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully. ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration.

But the money-saving recommendations the consultants came up with made some career ICE staff uncomfortable. They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees [!], according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. 

McKinsey’s team also looked for ways to accelerate the deportation process, provoking worries among some ICE staff members that the recommendations risked short-circuiting due process protections for migrants fighting removal from the United States. The consultants, three people who worked on the project said, seemed focused solely on cutting costs and speeding up deportations — activities whose success could be measured in numbers — with little acknowledgment that these policies affected thousands of human beings.” [….]
Immigrant detention
Comment: We have here yet another instance of the corrupt, corrosive and, yes, often criminal capitalist privatization of our democratic government’s institutions, agencies, functions, and so forth (this privatization is taking place in both literal* and figurative senses, just one example of the second sense being Trump’s use of his executive power to direct his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to insert the former’s personal political and electoral interests into illegal back channel ‘diplomacy’ or shadow ‘foreign policy’ conduct (including a bribery attempt) in a manner that subverted official governmental diplomacy and foreign policy objectives, including the withholding of Congressionally-mandated security and defense funding for Ukraine; this being a more figurative meaning of ‘private’ interests and ‘privatization,’ although these private interests appear to be also connected to the economic interests of the principal parties). Our Liberal democratic constitutional government has demonstrated its chronic and structural vulnerability to such insidious forces. 

Thus, in conjunction with (i) implementation of a strong conception of the unitary executive branch theory of presidential powers, (ii) the cumulative effects of what Garry Wills memorably identified as the “bomb power” of the presidency that emerged with the National Security State, and (iii) the kleptocratic, plutocratic, authoritarian and pathologically narcissistic presidency of Donald Trump, we have arrived at a point in which unilateral or effectively unchecked and frequently lawless presidential power (at home and abroad) has become routine.

What may be even more unsettling if not frightening, is that almost half of the country appears to be perfectly happy with this state of affairs, suggesting the widespread presence of authoritarian “character structures” liable to the seductions of the “cult of [pathological] personality” and unusually prone to a cognitive dissonance exacerbated by the dispositional taste for denial, self-deception, and wishful thinking or willful ignorance. Our fragile constitutional democracy is imploding from within (unlike Party-State Communism, which was subject to forces of dissolution and decadence from without and within), a stark reminder of the mythic ideological bullshit incarnate in the notion(s) of absolute “American exceptionalism” (as opposed to historically and comparatively contingent examples of same at specific times in history) often invoked by persons and parties across the mainstream political spectrum. 

* A literal example on the foreign policy front is the privatization of war: in 2016, one in four U.S. personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan was a private contractor. And from the domestic front: “a web of [immigration detention] companies … [make up a] multibillion-dollar industry that runs … facilities housing tens of thousands of migrants around the country.”


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