The New York Times has a decent (though it strangely focuses a bit too muich on her appearance and clothing) article on Naomi Klein. One of the things that caught my attention was her interpretation of the genesis of the New Deal:
The New Deal is usually told as a history of F.D.R., she said, but we don’t talk enough about the pressure from below. Neighborhoods organized, and when their evicted neighbors’ furniture was put on the streets they moved it back into their homes. It was that kind of direct action that won victories like rent control, public housing, and the creation of Fannie Mae. The other thing that’s important to remember, she said, is that the organizers were a threat—of socialist revolution—and it was that which allowed F.D.R. to say to Wall Street, “We have to compromise, or else we’ve got a revolution on our hands.” Now, these market shocks are opportunities for the same reason that the crash was in the thirties, because we are seeing the failures of laissez-faire before our eyes. “It’s time to say, ‘Your model failed,’ ” she said. “This is a progressive moment: it’s ours to lose.”
As Slavoj Zizek says, events do not impose their own interpretation. It is up to the left to ensure that the financial crisis is seen for what it is: a significant blow to laissez-faire ideology. Unfortunately, the situation is, as far as I can tell, entirely lacking the sort of roiling, potentially revolutionary zeal that is, both A) an appropriate response to the grossly criminal acts of speculation, fraud and exploitation that have been perpetrated (largely) upon the American population at the hands of the right-wing elite; and B), if Klein is on to something, a prerequisite for the causes of this crisis to be taken seriously.
The Government Accounting Office report that came out in late 2008 has already found, sadly but unsurprisingly, that the bailout is being handled with insufficient oversight.