Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Occupy' blows up in Italy; can it happen here?

The establishment press, regardless of how sympathetic it may be to the plight of working people -- is still stuck in its role of trying to characterize the "Occupy" movement in a way that doesn't challenge the status quo in any meaningful way. People may be angry, and a certain amount of anger is understood and tolerated, but things still must stay within bounds -- and never undermine the fundamental assumptions undergirding the US' economic system.

Today, the protests went global, which is to say that protesters in other cities in Europe, in particular, held demonstrations in solidarity with the people in New York and other US locations. Our protests have been remarkably well behaved, with a heavy hand coming down from somewhere to keep a certain orderliness and decorum in the proceedings. In effect, the movement seems to be required to prove that it has good manners in order to be taken seriously -- as if there's a snowball's chance in hell that the powers that be actually give a flying fuck about Occupy's critique of the US class system.

The dark flip side is described in this dispatch from CBS, but its source is completely incidental: the same sort of report seems to blanket the media, where the organizers of Occupy are being judged on their ability to keep the protests like unto a genteel tea party:
"Occupy" protests go global, turn violent - CBS News: "(CBS/AP) ROME - Italian police fired tear gas and water cannons Saturday in Rome as violent protesters turned a demonstration against corporate greed into a riot, smashing shop and bank windows, torching cars and hurling bottles.
The protest in the Italian capital, which left dozens injured, was part of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations against capitalism and austerity measures that went global Saturday.

Tens of thousands nicknamed "the indignant" marched in major cities across Europe, as protests that began in New York linked up with long-running demonstrations against government cost-cutting and failed financial policies in Europe."
In the US the authorities will use the threat of force, or actual force, at will to suppress the anger and frustration that is boiling just under the surface here on the streets. And this is not limited to a white-shirt NYPD slugging a woman protester as has happened recently. Violence in places like Italy is the specter that our media projects about the protests in order to preemptively create a justification for the more extreme forms of response that are likely to follow as the protests gather force and the true sharp pain of the austerity knife starts to slice through flesh and to the bone.

One only need remember how the government ultimately dealt with the anti-war protests of the 1960s, and what finally brought the movement to a screeching halt: the government murders of protesters at Kent State and Jackson State in 1970. That was no joke, and no accident, and there's an atmosphere and an infrastructure created since 9-11 that will allow the hammer of repression to come down without hesitation on those who willfully interfere with the orderly transfer of wealth from the working class to the oligarchs.

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