by Don Washington on 2012/02/14
The Tutorial has been silent for the past three weeks because I have been watching our political system at “work” and whenever I tried to sit down to write anything I was either consumed by incoherent rage or nearly bottomless sadness. These are the sorts of emotions that lead to cataloguing the End Times not writing thought provoking and occasionally funny things that build a better reality. And I think we can all agree that we need a better reality. I say this is because this one is either a mass performance art project or a compact with demonic entities. You choose which one it is but it bears no resemblance to the democratic society in which we want to live. Which brings you and me to the G8/NATO meetings; coming to Chicago and on display to the entire world this Spring.
What all of us need to be contemplating is why is it that the police response to any kind of protest has already been calibrated to produce disorder, violence and chaos? That’s right the Mayor of Chicago has set in motion a plan that guarantees that there will be conflict. The new ordinances will bar protestors from being in the very places and expressing their outrage in the very ways that non-violent dissent is best expressed. So when they attempt to utilize their “freedoms” of speech and assembly the police will apply force to them. Marching down a street, singing a song is going to become a defacto act of civil disobedience. The bottom line here is that the police are going to be violent toward the protestors, count on it. The only question is how violent the police are going to be. Why in the name of the Democratic Convention of 1968 would Mayor Rahm Emanuel, nominal Democrat and tangential friend of Barack Obama opt on a recipe for tear gas, tasers, kettle nets and beatings? Because it’s all about democracy and the need to not have it function.
Remember what happened and is still happening in Wisconsin and Ohio. People got very upset about an agenda that gave billions of dollars to corporations and the financial sector and imposed severe austerity on the general public to pay for it by cutting up public unions, defunding schools and raising taxes on ordinary citizens. So they gathered in the hundreds of thousands, talked to each other about how the above agenda was hurting them, held teach-ins, broke down barriers and took concrete political action. That action recalled two sitting state senators, stopped a statewide union-busting referendum is on the verge of recalling a Governor and has people in two states fully engaged in aggressively undoing a set of rightwing agenda items that has corporations nervous as hell at what that might mean on a wider scale.
The lesson you should be absorbing is the one that the corporate powers that express their wants through the G8 and enforce that will on non-member nations through NATO have learned. They do not want masses of citizens gathering together in some kind of public square sharing ideas, building community, accurately accessing what the hell is happening to them and using their limited capacity to interfere with the extra-national entities by impacting the politics of their own country. What Mayor Emanuel and the powers he represents do not want is what happened and is still happening in Ohio and Wisconsin. The very concept of families, teachers, retirees, students, blue collar farmers, office workers, artists, bartenders, union workers and even children singing songs and learning things in a space where they plan effective political action terrifies them. What they have in mind is more along the lines of Seattle and Greece. Once you have people and the media focused on riot gear, tear gas, police beatings, kettle nets and “active denial” systems the real issues disappear. For example, the discussion becomes about abstractions like the “diversity of tactics” instead of about the concentration of corporate wealth and power that is devouring the democratic societies that the protestors are trying to reform and save.
Nothing more exemplifies who Mayor Emanuel actually works for more than his preparations for the G8/NATO conferences. His agenda for the city, austerity and cuts combined with aggressive policing powers and the wholesale liquidation of public assets into private acquisitions is the G8 model in miniature. So the questions I leave you with are the ones that keep me up at night.
Does the Occupy Movement understand that conflict and mayhem await them as part of the plan to discredit them not as a reaction to anything they may or may not have planned? Will anyone in the media be thinking about the wider context of what it means in a democracy when it is illegal to carry a sign, gather together or say certain things within earshot or visual range of the people you are trying to impact? Since the opponents of democracy, the G8/NATO are international corporate entities will anyone express that the only way to effectively oppose them is drastically depower corporations here in America and break the back of the financial sector in a way that once and for all consigns them to where they belong… servants not masters? Is anybody planning a series of events that replicate Madison and Ohio or is everyone going to let nasty push come to ugly shove because that’s what simply marching and chanting is going to do.
I only ask because we should all know. Get off the bench people. Democracy needs us, tear gas, pepper spray and police beatings be damned.