Dr. Dawg

#Occupy takedowns: capital lashes back

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Oakland takedown.jpg

There are (at least) two sides in class warfare, and over the past few hours the servants of the “1%”—what we used to call the “ruling class”—have savagely retaliated against people camped out in cities across the US. And they may be about to do it here at home.

Coordinated raids have been carried out in several American centres, with much destruction of personal property and the usual storm-trooper brutality of the mindless thugs in uniform dispatched to smash the camps. The cops are wising up, though: too many videos of their fascistic acts have been cropping up on YouTube and in the regular on-line media, so they’ve begun to rough up journalists to prevent them from recording what’s going on.

Paul Krugman has it right. The ostensible reason for the violent clearances was health and safety, although the camps were in far better shape than the slum areas of those cities, ignored by those same administrations: out of sight, out of mind. The excuses for this mass clamp-down simply don’t hold water.

The comparison with Martin Luther King’s Resurrection City has been made by quite a few observers at this point. The right-wing media were in lock-step then, too. Plus ├ža change

The real purpose, of course, is to try to nip the #Occupy movement in the bud. It poses a clear and present danger to capital, admittedly only a potential one at this juncture, but from seed-crystals like the camps, mass movements can form and make their own structural adjustments.

Some will object to my personification of capital. They would be right, and also wrong. “Money talks” is a metaphor, for example, but it has a readily accessible concrete meaning. The interweaving of the state and capital is uncontroversial. The lockstep behaviour that we are now observing—city administrations, police, right-wing commentators, all speaking as with one voice—didn’t take place by coincidence or out of some ephemeral sense of solidarity. It’s structural. The 1%—itself a metaphor—has armies of goons, assorted house-servants and shambling zombies to defend its interests. “Law and order” is a phrase worth examining more closely: Whose law? Whose order? Indeed, what is meant by “order?”

Democracy in both Canada and the US is but a thin facade. When the chips are down—or, rather, when capital is aggrieved, even a little bit—rights go out the window, heads get broken, due process is abandoned, and all those precious “freedoms” we allegedly possess simply disappear.

There have been no violent takedowns in Canada yet, but as noted it is likely only a matter of time. In the meanwhile, if the enormity of the Toronto G20 is still too much for some people to digest, let us consider the case of Byron Sonne.

Sonne is yet another victim of that “police gone wild” debacle, but it’s not clear that he was even a protester. He was falsely arrested, however, and kept in jail without trial for nearly a year. He lost everything—his job, his spouse, his savings. And now he’s on trial on manifestly bogus charges. Even the Toronto Sun is twitching uncomfortably.

To paraphrase an ancient TV show, there were thousands of stories of the G20 protest, and this has been one of them. Here’s another for good measure, covered in the early stages by my co-blogger Alison.

If folks want us to stop talking about class warfare, they should ask capital to stop the bloody war. At this point, the #Occupy movement is regrouping and still growing, and in the face of escalating violence may have to take the necessary self-defence measures to which every citizen is entitled. That won’t improve the corporate media coverage in the short term, of course, but we know the revolution won’t be televised anyway. Expect it, however, to be texted, Twittered and Facebooked.

We live in interesting times, and I, for one, don’t consider that a curse. The struggle continues.

UPDATE: (November 17) John Moore weighs in eloquently from his National Post beachhead.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 16, 2011 10:19 AM.

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