The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Gangster's Paradise - Carpetbagging in Baghdad

Gangster's Paradise
Carpetbagging in Baghdad

by Michael Gilson De Lemos

Pseudo-privatization from the pseudo-President who won in the
pseudo-election? You be the judge.
The ridiculous claim ( here) of the Bush administration that it will bring
an "assisted free market" and "privatization" to Iraq is as likely as
Republican claims they are the union's friend. It is another in a long train
of lies about Iraq documented by people such as former (here) Libertarian US
presidential candidate Harry Browne, who chides people newer to the movement
for falling for discredited government propaganda that keeps re-appearing
like (here) undead Dracula: from claims of WMDs to evidence that turned out
to be some college kid's term paper to stories of atrocities contradicted by
Bush's own CIA.

Do not be fooled: unless it is Iraqi Libertarians (here) doing the
privatization through peaceful persuasion, it isn't Privatization-it is soft
fascism in drag. In fact it is threatening to become a massive expropriation
of Iraq for US old-party political cronies, with a few bones thrown in for
Iraqi collaborators. The only private thing about it is the "Keep Out" sign
to the Iraqi people. A free market by definition needs no government
assistance, not that Iraqis should hold their breath with "Promises of $8
million in assistance to Iraqi small business." Wow! This is ten bucks per
Iraqi business-and pales besides revelations that US Soldiers were caught
looting $13 million dollars from the selfsame businesses' banks-those are
the soldiers, mind you, those are only the ones who were caught.

Gangster's Paradise

One lawyer with a briefcase is doing more damage than 100,000 soldiers in
the new three-piece Gangster's Paradise (here). Bush spoke of a new charter
that would encourage trade and freedom. One reacts as Gandhi did when asked
what he thought of Western Civilization after a British led massacre of
protesters-he replied he thought it would be a good idea.
Some privatization-it envisions:

--- Millions to consulting firms with no experience in Libertarian-oriented
privatization, the same kind of accounting-company based political firm that
brought us monstrosities like Enron-and justly derided as "report writers"
by real, smaller, in the trenches, management productivity and operations
(here) or management-enginering (here) consulting firms that, far from
sucking up unscrutinized millions, create wealth using sustainable
operational improvements at no net cost to their clients, and often
returning several times their fee. Unsuprisingly, lest reality, competition
or even privatization creep in, it is already decided this will be a
"limited" pool of unelected consultants.
Tax rises on a blasted country

--- A Master US Government plan (hint: if the US Government must plan it, it
ain't privatization)

--- The same coerced monopoly-money "ownership vouchers" that messed up
Russian privatization and allowed business built by workers to be seized by
crooked officials and organized crime

--- A consumption tax on the poor

--- Slow "government run" privatization so there will be plenty of red tape
to mystify average people while foreign vultures pick the bones

--- Higher tariffs designed to kill off import dependent start-ups and
create dependency on the US

--- IMF involvement as in the pseudo-globalization that has harmed Argentina
with insane budgetary demands and cruel regulations

--- "Asset transfer" to US companies. And from there, the major US parties
and from there, who knows?
This is called a test case for "American style free-market capitalism" in
the article, in case you're wondering if any of this might return to US
shores. Who are the geniuses who wrote this? The same US Treasury that
admitted it has lost track of $7.3 Trillion (here) in recent years-the
equivalent of several US militaries.
They and their business and military cronies stand by, humbly, ready to
bring order to Iraq.

It's Kelly's Heroes-the dark (here) comedy of soldier's plundering Nazi
Gold-turned into official policy. Understandably, leftist commentators are
having trouble distinguishing between what is meant by privatization and
what is meant by expropriation by MBA'd goons.The truth is, any such plan is
a White Collar Gangster's Paradise, and not far behind, as we may have
already seen with the Museums, real organized crime that long ago
infiltrated the Army and may find this even more lucrative, as happened in
some of Russia, instead.
This isn't the first US War begun where they said it's the principle, not
the political power and money-and ended where it was the political power and

These aren't privatizers but carpetbaggers. Quite simply, if you want a
textbook lesson on how not to privatize, Libertarianize, decentralize-follow
what Bush is doing in Iraq. Bush touches on almost every theme like Midas-in

Real Privatization Ideas

When Libertarians tried to organize in Iraq in the mid-'80's, their biggest
problem was CIA support for Hussein spy squads who looked at anything that
might bring a little more openness as destabilizing US plans-not to mention
having overt US blessing, as in this photo of (here) Rumsfeld and Hussein
yukking it up. And, despite pious claims, it continues: the recent mass
seizure by the US government of Iraqi assets has had the under-reported
effect of making it impossible for dissident groups to use normal banking
channels. Libertarians weren't alone: Many other groups attempting to open
the regime reported similar problems.

The concept of re-privatization, sometimes called privatization, was
re-introduced by management consultants such as Peter Drucker and
Libertarian Robert Poole. It means getting government and public services
away from governing people and enforced monopolies run by corporate fatcats
and instead having them governed by people and creative voluntary groups. As
employed by Libertarianis these may be corporations and businesses-but also
include co-ops, mutual aid societies, voluntary trusts, neighborhood
associations, traditional methods and intentional or non-governmental
communities. Under no circumstances does it mean handing a coerced
government monopoly over to a private monopoly enforced by government-or
with sweetheart regulatory rules as is being contemplated, such as eminent
domain or phony "voucher" programs where worthless 'shares' are distributed
to citizens who nonetheless have little control over operations.
An example of what Libertarians say works can be seen in utility
deregulation. This would include things like removing restrictions on (
here) home-based energy generation, selling excess to utilities, and limits
on the number or nature of utility companies. One favorite example of a near
privatization is the electricity co-operatives such as at Pine Island, the
(here) LCEC. While having a quasi-monopoly, it has nothing to fear from
competition: it is owned and managed by users who see there are no Enrons
there, and so efficient that the lower rates have brought down rates across
Florida. Indeed, the main component of electricity costs there is taxes and
regulation. Libertarians ask: shouldn't energy be essentially free by now?
Why are there laws that tax capital accumulations by firms and non-profits
that could provide sufficient revenue to make the service free? Why not let
people not only have business options, such as competing public services as
in electricity (for text, but also
facilitate direct local non-profit ownership and management of utilities,
libraries, and dare one say, oil?

The opposite is the notorious Energy deregulation in California-a
pseudo-privatization where behind every law was a crony, and which
accomplished the amazing feat of in a few years causing black-outs in an
energy-abundant State. These privatizations are socialism under another
name-without at least the benefit of actual socialism: equal shares and
control by those directly involved.

Is that is what is in store for Iraq? Energy shortage, bread shortage and
who knows what else?
When Libertarians discuss privatizing prisons and justice, they don't mean
at best familiarization measures like hiring private prison guards-but bold
thinking like restitution, private arbitration and harm reduction,
restorative ( here) justice, even more open prison communities as exist in
Palawan in the (here) Philippinnes, and moving (here) towards a non-punitive
and non-prison model entirely. But Bush is already planning enforcing his
privatizations with "privatized" democracy and CIA-trained police for
dissenters who protest against having their land, cultural artifacts and oil
seized. Under cover of ending a perverted government that mouthed equality
and nationalism, people will find one more perverted as it mouths the
phrases of freedom and progress.

Sure, property seized by Hussein must be devolved-but not to American
mega-firms like Bechtel, unless they can show they were being tortured in a
dungeon instead of financing the very US political figures who kept Hussein
in power. True, the issue becomes more delicate when you have national
patrimonies run by the government such as oil or museums, which may have had
a repugnant component of seizure of people's lands and goods by the Hussein
government. A Libertarian approach might be seeing to restoration to
original owners, and getting the remainder out of the hands of the
government into a true National Trust not run by the government but by the
users, and in local sections at each level-along with removing restrictive
legislation on market alternatives.

An example of how well such a trust can work is the (here) Alaska Permanent
Fund. When Alaska attempted to impose an income tax to raise bureacrat's
salaries and sell off public lands to political contributors, the
Libertarian legislator, Dick Randolph, building on ideas from various
Libertarian thinkers including this author, proposed not only no income tax,
but placing the land in a Trust owned by the people and managed by them. The
result is after 2 decades it has assets of about $500,000 per Alaskan and
gives a reverse "Untax" of $7,500-$10,000 provided per family of 5 based on
revenues-and growing, all neatly solving issues of poverty, unemployment
stipend, and living wage.

Perfect? No, it depends in part on not only government efficiencies being
captured but also questionable government properties. But it demonstrates
the Libertarian concept that public services should be in the hands of the
public-not the government; and taxes are not needed. This is the sort of
idea people can and are developing on a non-partisan basis. Now that's a
Libertarian privatization. You don't need big consulting firms getting
millions to get these ideas out to the people. And Republicans help manage
the Fund, so it is hardly a Libertarian secret. Is that what the Treasury
report has in mind for Iraq?

No. Politicians hate the Fund. Things like that make them useless. They are
horrified by Libertarian ideas of more personal control by the people. In
fact, Libertarians in Alaska had to get it passed with a people's
initiative, and now ( here) fight to keep it from being looted by government
to raise salaries and pay off debt to . . . political contributors.

Arrest Those Privatizing Anarchists

Is Bush talking about utility co-ops owned by Iraqi users? Restoring stolen
oil lands while putting the rest in a National trust of the People? Heaven
forbid, non-profit privatization owned by consumers? No. Will Iraqis enjoy
what Alaskans enjoy in 30 years thanks to Republicans? No. While talking tax
cut in the US-Bush is devising a plan for tax rises in Iraq to fund this
expropriation. While praising the wonders of his twisted version of private
action in Iraq, he has passed the draconian Patriot Act at home that so far
has been used to harass Administration critics such as the pro-Libertarian
creator of PayPal, (here) Peter Thiel.

Bush can't even privatize the US. How about some political competition? But
his party is working overtime in Alabama, Colorado, and elsewhere where
people are staring to vote for Libertarians and other alternative parties
with sneaky restrictive legislation to bump Libertarians, Greens, and anyone
else not humming along off the ballot. His legislation is one interference
on personal and private initiative and local autonomy after another. So why
expect any different in Iraq? Libertarians favor consensus neighborhood
mini-governments. When local Iraqis in Bagdhad formed an interim government,
it wasn't entirely what Libertarians mean, but it suggested what a real
government privatization could do. Local people formed 22 problem solving
groups, got the consent of community leaders over several days, set up
neighborhood councils, and were well on their way to restoring services,
rounding up thugs, and forming community arbitration groups and other
neighborhood action. Bush should have cheered: but he knew he didn't mean
that sort of privatization. It was promptly denounced as anarchy, which is
also what Republicans (here) call Libertarians, clearly with little idea of
what classical anarchy-and self-government- (here) means: "a society . . .
by free agreements concluded between the various groups . . . (and where)
voluntary associations . . . substitute for the state in all its functions."

Local people having meaningful, non-"democratic" discussions and actually
deciding for themselves? Why, that's anarchy. And thus the supporters being
"accidentally" shot, children massacred, the leaders arrested and stooges
put in by the US? Why, that's order.

And the arrested mayor? He was a leader of the Iraqi National Congress on
whose interim government in exile plea for help much of the justification
for intervention substantially rested. At least FDR didn't arrest De Gaulle
when he insisted on entering Paris first.

At this moment, privatization and local participation is do what the US
government says -or else.
The worst is Bush can't even follow his own "small-government" ideology. The
international association of conservative groups, the International Democrat
Union (here) , praises non-intervention, gradualism, and thus most of his
fellow parties don't go along with the US Republican adventure. Why? Here is
what the man who wants to seize the property of Iraq and dismisses innocent
civilians killed by troops as "collateral damage" said to IDU dignitaries
two years ago:

"We believe targeting innocent civilians for murder is ( here) always and
everywhere wrong; and political, social and economic freedoms are always and
everywhere right . . . we fight for limits on the power of the state . . .
for private property."
No wonder even old allies like Chirac, who helped co-found IDU with Bush's
father, have kept a distance.

Dear President

Dear President Bush:

The fact that you're in business for yourself and giving everyone else the
business doesn't mean you're a friend of business.

You want to help business? Ask the Iraqi farmer whose family was incinerated
and whose land will be seized by your oil buddies and the small Iraqi vendor
who gets ten bucks from Uncle Sam to replace his bombed out shop what they
want you to do.

But please- do not Shanghai words so they mean the opposite of what is
Leave re-privatization to Libertarians, Iraq to Iraqis, and privatization in
Iraq to Iraqi Libertarians who are ready and willing over years to gradually
demonstrate the idea until they have earned the respect and trust of their
fellow people the hard way-and the only real way.

And who knows?

Given a chance, Iraqis might someday bring real low-cost energy
co-operatives to Texas.

[1] Britannica 1910 in effect correctly wonders if American Libertarian
Anarchism could lead to a form of "contractual government" even worse than
before by corporate gangsters, a claim sometimes repeated by Chomsky.
However, for decades now modern Libertarians agree that Proudhon, Bakunin
and Tucker erred in believing contracts binding and Jefferson's view that
they weren't was a correct reading of the evolution of law. They instead
recognize such contracts might create an oppressive quasi-state or even
feudalism. They have revived the Anglo and Roman common-law doctrine that
all that is bound in a contract is a bonded exchange of existent property, a
contract cannot compromise fundamental rights or be unfairly negotiated, and
that otherwise agreements are voidable at will or reasonable notice.
Contractual covenants that attempt to circumvent real agreement through
'privatized' phantom exchanges of considerations and thus create runaway
mini-governments without rights, as has happened in some homeowner
associations and being fought by Libertarian homowners (here), are also

As a result of this discourse, even as government attempts to bind people
more with theories of social contract and national duty, jurists influenced
by Libertarians have aggressively struck down adultery laws, invidious
covenants, refuse to enforce specific performance or executory clauses, and
other provisons.See e.g. Rothbard, Murray: (here) Libertarian Manifesto and
preliminary discussion of history contract and agreement mechanisms in
Ethics of Liberty and comments on consent, neural shock, social expectations
and habit in Leary, Timothy Neuropolitique. The claim by Nozick, Robert
Anarchy, State and Utopia that such agreements were binding creating a
minimal state was thus immediately derided by Libertarians such as Childs,
Roy The Invisible Hand Strikes Back (here) which issue also contains an
illuminating precis of contract law problems in Evers; and later modified by
Nozick himself as unconsciously statist. One thing is certain: this
"freedom-restoring" pseudo-privatization of Bush's will occur without
signatures from a single one of the looted Iraqis as politicians and the new
carpetbaggers wax increasingly rhapsodic on "committments" and "contracts"
with the Iraqi people.

Michael Gilson-de Lemos co-founded the Libertarian International
Organization ( and is on the National Committeee of
the US Libertarian Party. For more of his contrarian and informative
commentary see his site,


from The Laissez Faire Electronic Times, Vol 2, No 20, May 19, 2003
Editor: Emile Zola     Publisher: Digital Monetary Trust

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]