Reflections on the Occupy Movement and the Repression it has Sparked – Published on Zcommunications.org, by Paul Street, November 22, 2011.
An Iron Law:
The wealthy masters’ governmental agents and servants reserve the right to brutally attack popular protest when and where Democrats claim nominal authority no less than where and when Republicans hold top elected offices.[]. An iron unstated law holds across the much-bemoaned “polarization” of the American one-and-a-half party system. It is fine, this law holds, to call for more freedom and democracy in officially designated enemy and non-allied states like the former Soviet Union, China, Venezuela, and Iran (today) … //
The most recent police attacks have shared some key characteristics. They have been launched in each case on the false pretext that the occupiers present a public safety risk relating to health, fire, and/or crime. City officials “dug up…obscure and constitutionally questionable statutes, for example laws outlawing the homeless” to “justify” their efforts. “Then the police come in,” David Lindorff notes, “usually in dead of night, dressed in riot gear and heavily armed with mace weapons, batons, plastic cuffs and tear gas, or even assault rifles in some cases and so-called flash-bang stun grenades–all weapons to be used against peaceful demonstrators…” []
Shared methods and pretexts suggest coordination across jurisdictions. So does the fact that, as Jean Quan told BBC, Quan spoke to 18 other mayors on how to deal with local occupation movements in a conference call just prior to the latest attacks. Mother Jones’s Web site reported that the US Conference of Mayors organized two conference calls between various cities facing occupation movements. And the Associated Press reported that a shadowy body called the Police Executive Research Forum facilitated two additional calls to discuss raid tactics. []
What about the feds? Just because you’re paranoid, the old aphorism goes, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. Siegel told a San Francisco radio station (KALW) that the original conference call took place while Quan was in Washington D.C., indicating the possibility that the mostly Democratic mayors worked with the Obama administration in synchronizing and planning repression. On his aptly named blog This Can’t Be Happening Lindorff voiced suspicions that the crackdown was ordered and orchestrated from the seat of imperial power: … //
… Rather than cowering in fear before the myth of the elite’s hyper-potent, dark, and conspiratorial repressive capacities, we should congratulate occupiers and ourselves for putting some deserved and overdue fear in the hearts of system managers, sparking them to strike out in self-de-legitimizing dread. The amoral profits system’s rulers and coordinators smell a newly awakened spirit of defiance on the part of the supposedly irrelevant citizenry and it scares them. It should. There are limits to the extent to which ordinary people are willing to see their lives and world crucified on a cross of greed. The masters may live to regret their eviction orders, which can help speed the spread of the populist and egalitarian occupation contagion across a broader range of contested societal terrains at home and abroad. That contagion reflects a significant increase in grassroots workers’ and citizens’ anger, activism, and militancy- an upsurge that predated the Occupy Movement and will survive it if it collapses. This isn’t business as usual. Interesting times have arrived. (full long text and Endnotes 1 – 17).
(Paul Street is the author of many books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm, 2004), The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010), and (co-authored with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011). He can be reached here).