The imposition of emergency manager dictators in Michigan and beyond is an expression of how far the corporate ruling class has already moved to suppress whatever limited democracy people have in the U.S. This is especially true in the Rust Belt, once the booming heart of industrial production, now with cities virtually abandoned and shut-down, as industry moves its factories to lower-wage areas of the globe and automates, replacing workers with robots, which don’t have to eat, be housed or be paid.
As millions are thrown out of jobs forever by technology, people are beginning to demand what they need to survive, whether they have jobs and money to pay or not. This is dangerous for the corporate class and its rule. It must use its governmental power to restructure the economy and society to enhance their profits and protect their power under these new conditions. This demands they strip any methods of recourse from the people by getting rid of our already-limited democracy— the ability to elect our leaders and participate in the political process. Fascism is not a choice for the corporations but a necessity.
The emergency manager (EM) system in Michigan is a fascist political model for the whole country.
Michigan’s EM Law was put in place years ago in anticipation of the abandonment of industry and the social unrest the rulers expected as peoples’ lives were destroyed. EMs in Michigan replace local elected officials. Their dictatorial powers allow them to privatize and abandon public education, break union contracts, take over pension, transportation and water systems, and change laws to directly benefit the billionaire class and the corporations they control. This puts government more tightly into corporate hands and further strips away any democracy people once had.
In Michigan, where the workers who once created the great industrial engine of prosperity are now dispossessed and abandoned, 17 cities or school districts have had EMs. EMs forced the city of Detroit into bankruptcy to “restructure” it on behalf of the corporations, ushered in the shutoffs of water to tens of thousands, while in the process, also destroying the Detroit public schools. Another example is Flint, Mich., its water poisoned by the EM’s action, while Gov. Rick Snyder, looked away and fresh water nearby was sold to bottling companies. In Benton Harbor, one of the first cities to fall under an EM, Rev. Edward Pinkney was railroaded into prison on no evidence for standing up to the EM dictatorship and organizing a recall campaign challenging illegalities such as the give-away of public lands to the Whirlpool Corporation. The persecution meted out to Rev. Pinkney is now spreading to water activists throughout Michigan.
Fascism consolidates by gaining victory after small victory in local situations until it has the base to dominate the entire country. Michigan expresses this very process. It is a testing ground for what will be done to the rest of the country. EM laws are now in place in 19 states. If we want to halt the destruction of democracy, and have a government that serves the people’s needs, we must confront fascist, corporate power at every turn, in Michigan and across the country.