by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Disaster capitalism is the manufacture of phony “crises” to divert government revenue directly to banksters and sell government assets off to privatizing looters. City government in Detroit, and the school system in suburban Atlanta’s Dekalb County, population 700,000 each have been nullifie, while black political elites in both these majority African American constituencies are impotent or complicit.

Originally published at Black Agenda Report on April 20, 2013

Vampire Capitalism Comes to Detroit, Michigan and Dekalb County, Georgia

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

What do Detroit MI and Dekalb County GA in suburban Atlanta have in common? Each has about 700,000 people, and both are majority black, Dekalb at 55%, and Detroit over 80%. Both elect local officials to manage local affairs, like city government in Detroit, and the school system in Dekalb County GA. In both cases, phony fiscal and educational crises have been manufactured in accordance with state law to allow state governors to sideline or fire outright local elected officials — City Hall in Detroit, and the elected school board in Dekalb GA, to impose programs of vicious fiscal austerity and privatization.

The crises exist because corporate media, and our bipartisan political elites, including the black political class, tell us they do. And although the laws in Michigan and Georgia which enable governors to sweep aside elected officials in these “crises” were passed by Republican legislators and and the triggers are being pulled by Republican governors, the virtually all-Democrat black political class has rallied no resistance, its pundits and intellectuals have proposed no alternatives. At most, some like MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry have offered the standard neoliberal justifications for austerity and privatization as if they were explaining some impersonal, automatic phenomenon like gravity — “there’s no money…. budgets have to be balanced” and invite us to fruitlessly wonder whether the whole thing was “racist” or not. Really, who cares?

In the first place, the “crises” are fabrications of corporate media, and the wealthy banksters, bondholders and privatizers whose “solutions” are inevitably pushed upon us. In Detroit, bondholders and banksters declared they feared the city would miss or default on the interest payments for previous loans, and that was just about all the governor needed to sweep aside Detroit City Hall and appoint what amounted to a dictator over every aspect of local government. In Georgia, the private organization which accredits public school systems is a captive of the US Chamber of Commerce and right wing pro-charter and privatization foundations, so it threatened to revoke the accreditation of a county school system serving 100,000 children based upon spurious, insubstantial, and in some cases anonymous charges against elected school board members, so the governor could fire and replace them with his own appointees. In both locations, the gubernatorial appointees will impose massive job, wage and service cuts, and are expected to privatize everything that’s not nailed down.

This is the hollow soul of vampire capitalism — the conversion of local government from an engine which collects local tax revenue, user fees and dollars from state and federal levels to pay living wages, health care and pensions to its service-providing employees, into an engine that diverts tax revenue straight into the pockets of banksters for debt repayment, and sells off public assets like city and school district real estate for a song to well-connected looters and privatizers. On the economic level bloodsucking fiscal austerity is just about as rational a the brain deciding to strip mine the liver and kidneys for minerals.

The black political class of politicians, preachers and business people from whom the ranks of establishment black leaders are drawn doesn’t just lack a vision of how to do things better. They lack even the soul that believes a better world, a more just society, with high quality education for everybody’s children, jobs at living wages, decent housing, a clean environment, justice and an end to war are even possible. Our black political class has been entirely captured. They are held hostage by their own perks and job prospects. While local governments in the heavily black constituencies that made their rise to prominence possible are being nullified by “crisis” and “emergency management” laws, they toast and roast and coast on the victories of the sixties, instead of leading campaigns of mass action and defiance that might enable African Americans and all Americans to dream a new world and begin to build it. All that our black misleadership class knows how to do any more is get paid.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site’s contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)