Neo-Feudalism and Katrina

The newly released footage of officials briefing George Bush before Hurricane Katrina shows Michael Brown sitting at a laptop computer. Given the caricature of Incapability Brown, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the ex-FEMA director was playing solitaire: “Mr. President, I just can’t find a place for this king of hearts.” Instead, Brown is clear about the hurricane threat. He even anticipates the chaos that would later hit at the Superdome. “I’m concerned about … their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe,” Brown told his bosses.

From John Dickerson at Slate

Why is anyone surprised that Bush sat there totally indifferent to the calls to action? GOPers have a fundamental belief that Government is the problem. They have expressed the desire drown it in the bathtub. Why would this decisive inaction be any different?

It comes down to the real Bush world view, Neo-Feudalism.

There is nothing conservative about what BushCo are trying to pull off–he’s trying to radically alter the structure of our government and society, in the process cynically capitalizing on conservative moral values while violating those values himself. And BushCo doesn’t aspire to anything so impermanent as a movement. (Though I do wonder whether they cling to the word “movement” in deference to Michael Ledeen’s belief that the Italian fascist movement was all good, it was just the regime that went bad.) We on the left would do well to avoid accepting this frame for their efforts. And the true conservatives really deserve to have their word “conservative” back, without the taint that it has acquired from its Movement and Neo appendages.

And in search for a term that more accurately describes their plan, I’m settling on Neo-Feudalist.

The Next Hurrah: Neo-Feudalists

I’ve been referring to Bushism as Feudalism for a while now. Under this view, Government should be modified to do the following.

  • Replace loyalty to values, ethics and rule of law with loyalty to party and party leadership.
  • Strengthen the executive, reduce or eliminate any accountability or transparency and replace career positions with political appointments.
  • Privatize the commons via subsidies and exclusive contracts to remove them from democratic process and into the hands of corporate Vassals loyal only to the executive.
  • Eliminate social insurance and social goods with targeted private ownership programs under the stewardship of appointed Corporate Vassals.
  • Weaken bottom-up social institutions such as Labor Unions while strengthening top-down social institutions such as Churches.
  • Reduce the role of the State to Police and Military with the goal of keeping property in its place, and people in theirs.

So I am not shocked that Bush didn’t care to ask questions. Under that world view, doing nothing is exactly what he should have done. What was done in the weeks following Katrina was also in keeping with his Neo-Feudalist world view. Riot police were sent out to prevent looting in the wealthy areas. Grand plans to bull-doze the homes of the poor were discussed. Money was handed out to corporate Vassals. Exemptions for Labor laws were passed. Churches were reimbursed for their expenses even when city and state governments were not. This is exactly what you would expect.