FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

On Detroit’s “CAVE People”

“There are CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), but you have to challenge the way things have always been done.”

– Detroit (i.e., Kresge Foundation) Future City pamphlet “Creating a vibrant Detroit for all”

Calling People derogatory names in order to disregard our opinions and interests is exactly the way things have pretty much always been done in and around Detroit.  And it should be challenged.

Creating false binaries like a fake choice between a) being “against virtually everything”, or b) failing to “challenge the way things have always been done”, as if those were our (only) 2 options, or even remotely accurate ways of describing our choices, is manipulative and dishonest.  It should be challenged.

Kresge Future City’s narcissistic, repeatedly failed and continuously rebranded elitist, top-down process for asserting class, racial and corporate power to reshape our city should be challenged.[i]  Authentic engagement, democracy, equity, and accountable, transparent policy making (the opposite of Kresge Foundation’s “Detroit Future City” follies), will be necessary to expose and end this abusive and racist scam.  We should be able to debate and fight it without being labeled “CAVE People”.  But that’s the low level of intellectual and moral corruption on offer from Kresge’s philanthropocrats.

So what’s the alternative?

I respectfully suggest that answering this key question – if not implementing it – is simpler than it may at first seem.  In essence, it requires reversing the corporate domination and stranglehold on our resources, lives, communities, imaginations and future.  More easily said than done, sure.  But it’s not that “There is no alternative”, as Margaret Thatcher so famously asserted long ago, and as Kresge and their enablers seem to believe today.

Rather, it’s not accidental that the particular policy shaping our current civic development agenda in the throes of planetary disaster, compared to available alternatives, is (thanks to Kresge) the one getting all the resources and powerful support.  Moreover, it’s no accident that class and racial power dynamics underlie and structure the investment and policy decisions hidden behind both their faux-progressive rhetoric and “CAVE people” slurs.  This is a system that definitely needs to be changed.  Who is really changing it, foundation-dependent political tools, or Detroit’s independent, grassroots racial justice and anti-imperialist cadre?

Consider the developments over the last four years in the regionalization and monetization of southeastern Michigan’s water systems.  A lot of attention has recently, and righteously been focused on Flint and Governor Snyder’s ‘emergency management’ policy of forcing the People there to drink water contaminated with lead and who-knows-what-other carcinogenic poisons.  In essence, Snyder’s Genesee County cronies wanted to build a new, lucrative water system they can use to direct, control and profit from development in and around Flint; public health be damned, doesn’t really enter into the conversation.  A similar, parallel process of public-private partnership for Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. (DWSD) was initiated in Detroit’s federal court in 2011, and given powerful new impetus by Snyder’s emergency managed Detroit bankruptcy grifters.

This creation of the new Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) to take over DWSD’s assets is ultimately inseparable from the parallel “bottom line” mentality that led to the water crimes in Flint.  Like the lead-poisoned water, the refusal for over a decade to even meaningfully consider a water affordability plan using income-based rates to protect human rights and public health, arises from the same specious economic analysis that relocates the corporate “bottom line” below community health and life

Detroit’s People of good will and community benefits (not “CAVE People”) welcome support.  When the allies and enablers of Kresge’s Future City visions confront and work creatively and sustainably against present and very significant realities for Detroit, like the water shut offs, foreclosures and destruction of public education, then we will be working together for actual transformation.  The absence of such issues and work from current and past Detroit Future City-brand activities is, again, not accidental.

Note the little-noted admission by Kresge Foundation Chairman Rip Rapson about the true scope of ‘reform’ in Detroit, published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle newspaper in April 2013:

“The Emergency Financial Manager’s appointment is a single component in a larger suite of activities through which the city is accelerating its transformation. The manager’s efforts will stand alongside a robust and multifaceted machinery of investment and engagement that is expanding opportunities and supporting the continued emergency of a vibrant and essential Detroit unimaginable to some outside observers.”  

That explicit connection between emergency management and foundation-funded development programs is rarely so openly stated by their proponents, presumably for political reasons.  The reasons aren’t hard to understand.

In recent years a lot of young People of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds have come to Detroit to be a part of our current and future city.  Understanding the dynamics and realities of things like gentrification, regional inequalities, public-private partnerships in an era of militant corporate capitalism, and community engagement across race and class lines have all become significant cottage industries, but far too often mired in self-interested investment and neocolonial development schemes.  Kresge’s multi-year, tens-of-millions-of-dollars “Detroit Future City” intervention has attempted, with much success in elite circles, to set and drive the agenda.  The challenge of responding to this well-funded project of class domination has been immense, and continues to confront us with cunning, stupid statements like “There are CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), but you have to challenge the way things have always been done.”  Still we rise, and seek a better, truer and more effective basis for community economic development, human rights and equity.

So don’t settle for such false choices concealing domination, divide-and-conquer campaigns, and empty promises of a better future, if we simply discard essential values in the present.  Rather, join together with People you and trust and work for real challenges & changes to the way things have always been done that go beyond rhetoric.

Detroit sick of moneyed liars!  Detroit smash white supremacy!  Detroit control own future!  Ugh!!!

Notes.

[i] This particular problem is now more than 5 years old, and if my tone is unkind, that’s because I am frankly sick and tired of it.  See, e.g., The Structural Readjustment of Detroit from September 2010.

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail