Quote of the Day: Occupy Wall Street

John Cassidy at the New Yorker notes that police violence against the protesters has only increased their numbers:

If the cops had kept their cool, the occupation, which is meant to last several months, might well have declined over time to a hard core of a few dozen. Now the protesters’ numbers are growing, presenting a dilemma for [Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly] and his billionaire boss Mayor Bloomberg. Should they leave the kids alone or present them with another publicity coup by attempting to break up their encampment?

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One thought on “Quote of the Day: Occupy Wall Street

  1. Michael Happy Post author

    The famous Gandhi quote: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We’re at stage two, perhaps teetering on stage three.

    We’re already seen police violence against the protesters in New York that has clearly been intended to provoke, to make people push back, at which point the now hourly repeated dismissal of the protesters as a “mob” becomes self-fulfilling. The fact that no one has risen to the bait says a lot about the protesters. The fact that the provocation has been offered says a lot about their antagonists.

    We’ve been here before. Police provocateurs are now just business as usual. Just last year at the G20 summit in Toronto, what were supposedly “Black Bloc” vandals ran amok for more than an hour surrounded on all sides by a billion dollars worth of police security. Only afterwards did the police move in and arrest a thousand innocent protesters — many of them in government designated protest “zones” — in the largest single mass arrest in Canadian history. This may increasingly become the model: the abuse of police and judicial power by the state in the name of public order.

    The difference this time is that just about every protester is now outfitted with a phone with video capability, and they are out and recording all of the time from every direction. The most egregious police abuses in New York that sparked public anger were almost immediately circulated on the internet. For the time being, at least, it’s difficult for the police to get away with standard coercive tactics with impunity. There is also the fact that what has in just the past few days become known as the 99% movement has spread to scores of cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, and there may increasingly be safety in numbers. Police brutality has only led to exponentially increased protest, and that for now may be a deterrent. Two weeks ago it was just a couple of hundred protesters in Manhattan. Now it’s many thousands in more than a hundred cities.

    That doesn’t mean vigilance isn’t required. The laughter and mocking dismissal by the corporate media probably hasn’t yet peaked. The increasingly addlepated polemicist P.J. O’Rourke — you know, the “funny” conservative — was on Bill Maher’s Real Time Friday night mindlessly repeating at every available and unavailable opportunity what are obviously the agreed-upon memes to characterize the protesters: “bongos and bongs.” The mirth continues to ensue.

    But the characterization also expresses what people like O’Rourke do not even bother to hide, and that is contempt for the people involved and the concerns they represent. The “fight” that succeeds the laughter, when it comes, could approach from any direction and be manifested in any number of different ways. All of it will likely include third-man-in media tactics to bully public perceptions into a state of acceptance and then indifference.

    I joked months ago that the corporate media are now so useless and so inevitably doomed that all of the familiar celebrity “journalists” and “pundits” could share the surname of Romanov. Whatever happens over the next little while, they are finished as a significant journalistic entity, and in the foreseeable future too. The average age of the Fox News viewer is over 65, so just give it a decade, and the viewership of network and cable news generally is hemorrhaging. Newspapers are shutting down and scrambling to hold on to a steadily declining readership that just gets older every year. Even a once revered “liberal” institution like the New York Times is a joke — it would have to be to employ clowns like Maureen Dowd, Ross Douthat, Tom Friedman and David Brooks. The “paper of record” now cannot even call torture — a legally defined and applicable designation — when it is committed by Amercians, most especially if they are former members of the Bush administration. It is a disgraceful state of affairs, and it is the norm.

    So after the fight, according to Gandhi’s formulation, is supposed to come the win. It may not be immediate, but the odds are for it. One way or another, the one percenters are going to lose. It may not be tomorrow. It might not even be soon, although we can always hope it might be. But they are going to lose eventually. For thirty years they’ve been stripping the middle and working classes of what should have been the rewards of a generation’s worth of increased productivity. Most recently, they have criminally mismanaged the world’s economy into a state of collapse and further enriched themselves as they’ve done so. This is becoming clearer and clearer to more and more people. And that is what makes this a losing proposition for the people who so obviously consider themselves our betters. They’ve put themselves above the law. But they cannot put themselves beyond the will of the people. They have the advantage, but we still retain the power, and that is really what frightens them, because some things cannot be bought or stolen.


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