Demanding a New Deal for Detroit
The threatened bankruptcy of Detroit has been widely viewed as a major moment in the decline of American capitalism. Logically, it should also be a turning point in the fight back against a rapacious, inhumane, irrational system that is decimating the most vulnerable sectors of the American working class and menacing those relatively better off. Among other things, Detroit’s bankruptcy would mean the abrogation of union contracts between the city and the public-sector workers’ unions. It means the replacement of a duly elected, multiracial, Democratic Party administration with plenipotentiaries of the corporations duly appointed by an unusually right-wing Republican governor. The impending coup d’etat in Detroit models the mechanisms for the elimination of public-service unions and democratic elections elsewhere.
We must demand that the Obama administration inaugurate in Detroit an urban Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA, a comprehensive economic and social program, transformed a vast area that embraced parts of eight of the poorest states of the United States. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in 1933 signed the authorization for TVA, declared, “It is time to extend planning to a wider field.” TVA is a high point of American progressive history that demonstrates a way to prevent the collapse of what remains of a once-great city’s dignity and its people’s hopes.
In addition to political actions, which are urgent and crucial, there are other ways that people can help Detroit. One is to become a member of the Detroit Institute of Arts or the Friends of the Detroit Library; the latter also accepts donations of books.
Hostos Community College