The Last, Lost Empire: 3rd Edition 2012
by Ted Becker
Protests, Demonstrations and Occupations Do NOT Change the American Political System
Alright already!! I think I’ve heard just about every “Occupy” idea there is: Occupy Wall Street,” “Occupy the Banks,” “Occupy Congress,” “Occupy Foreclosed Homes,” “Occupy College Campuses,” “Occupy Factories,” “Occupy Your Conscience,”—yes—even “Occupy Mordor.” From Barcelona to Bahrain to Berkeley: Occupy was the key word…for a while.
But no, “The American Occupy Movement” is not dead. If you want to read an excellent analysis of that, here’s Chris Hedge’s article: “Occupy Will Be Back” in the Daily Kos of June 18, 2012.
While there is no doubt that the concept of “occupying” various public and private spaces is a pure, non-violent, democratic way of challenging the pervasive social injustices perpetrated by various instruments of America’s and all the other oligarchies (autocracies, dictatorships and representative democracies), such tactics have limitations. Obviously, police brutality has put fear into the minds of Occupiers.
America has a long list of insurrections…some violent, some peaceful. The Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s; Coxie’s Army in the 1890s; The Bonus Army encampment in Virginia in the 1930s. They all ended up with brute force trumping popular discontent in the form of massive protests and “occupations” of public space.
In case you forgot what happened from coast to coast in the Fall of 2011, here’s a video of the brutish force used on a peaceful Occupy Movement in Oakland, California and the University of California at Davis campus:
Hey, you wouldn’t find me in that front row holding the signs. No way. Those front liners are VERY brave people. But how about those American militarized “police forces”? They sure aren’t like the local cops I remember in my America….particularly the Kampus Kops. They seem as kin to Darth Vader’s star soldiers.
P.S.: You may not realize that the video you have just clicked on is by Russia TV which is found on YouTube all the time. “RT” puts a very scary face about America online that is very well produced and pretty accurate in terms of what they want to say about America to America. They wouldn’t be so bold about Russian President Putin though. In return from him and his former KGB cronies, they wouldn’t get tear gas, rubber bullets and truncheons. They’d get radioactive isotopes subtly injected into them on their way home or a bullet in the back of the head as they tried to open the door of their apartment.
So “permanent” or long term “Occupations” ultimately play into the hands of the ruling 1% and their police and other “public security” henchpersons, i.e., Tahrir Square, Barcelona’s Place of the Sun, Bahrain’s Pearl Circle; Tiananmen Square in Beijing; “Liberty Park” in Manhattan and on. As we’ve seen, not even a steadfast “passive resistance” and non-violent protest deters the armed forces of the oligarchs from trying to “exterminate” the resisters….as though they were a swarm of annoying bugs.
But Hey!! THAT was child’s play in the U.S. Remember Kent State where the Ohio National Guard gunned down 4 students on that campus during a demonstration against the Vietnam War? And take a look at this short video of a protest in Bahrain last year where peaceful demonstrators are shot dead by the oligarchy’s “security” force (or maybe by Saudi Arabian troops who came to the rescue of their Sunni minority brethren in that country. And did the heroic occupation change anything in Bahrain? Not really. In fact, now the Sunni minority is trying to put “their” country under Saudi rule so they can now become part of “the majority.”
So when you look at the Oakland Police Department uprooting #OWS-Oakland last autumn, compare that with how the Syrian “security forces” are dealing with their massive protests for over one year now.
Question of the Year 2012: Can major “occupations” or massive public demonstrations led or facilitated by Occupiers in the United States lead to military crackdowns and multiple deaths? Duh!! Remember that Bonus Army March’s demise? How about Detroit, Newark, Los Angeles in the 1960s? Yes, it can and has happened in the U.S. of A. repeatedly. The U.S. Army, like today’s Syrian Army, has used tanks and chemical weapons on a mass of citizens who demonstrate peacefully for social justice.
And did those protests and deaths in America lead to any change in the American system of governance? NO!! And will massive “occupations “and “flash mob protests” and “campus demonstrations “lead to any change in the American system of governance? NO!!!
They may lead to a few important changes in policy, but these will be disfigured over time to suit the oligarchy, that’s all. Look at what’s happening to all the New Deal changes that in some way were a result of the Bonus Army march. Look what has happened to American military policy in Eurasia after the anti-Vietnam protests forced a withdrawal from that part of the main continent of this planet: America’s presence there is greater and broader than ever. The oligarchs have long memories and lots of patience, since they have lots of money to bide their time. The people have short memories and scarce resources.
Is Chris Hedges correct that the Occupy Movement in America is morphing into a patchwork quilt of grass roots movements throughout the USA that will transform itself into a seamless tapestry that will bring about systemic change in America? Perhaps. No one really knows.
However, one thing we DO know is that systemic political change in America has occurred at the national level several times after long popular and populist struggles. However, in every single instance in which that has happened, it has occurred through the effective use of that very process to change the system that the Founding Fathers enshrined in our U.S. Constitution: The Amendment Process.