We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch. (Note: Christopher, an online supporter from northwestern Oregon, alerted me once again to this excellent article.)

Street points out that the "management of consent/dissent" explanation for the capitalist ruling classes policies to control their subjects that was used to contain dissent in the latter half of the 20th century has been altered with the addition of more sophisticated weapons to discourage any kind of public displays of resistance to their policies. But he reminds us that our masters in the capitalist class have often used deadly force throughout the nation's history whenever it was necessary to contain dissent:
Make no mistake: armed force state repression is alive and well in the United States. The Iron Heel lives, updated and refined for the current age. It did not simply pass into the dustbin of history with the Ludlow Massacre, the Palmer Raids, Kent State, COINTELPRO, the murder of Fred Hampton, or Wounded Knee II. It has hardly been rendered obsolete by the soft power of the mass media and other modes of propaganda and thought and feeling control, including carefully staged quadrennial electoral extravaganzas that tell people that democracy consists of getting to mark a ballot for five minutes or less once every four years and then going home to let rich people run the world (into the ground).
Now in the 21st century we are seeing an updated version of weapons used against organized resistance to protests over oppressive or deleterious ruling class activities as we saw with the Occupy Movement in New York, in organized protests in Oakland, Chicago, Ferguson, etc, and now at Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.
The nation’s ever more militarized police departments are loaded up with an array of so-called “nonlethal crowd-control technologies” designed to abolish the right of public assembly.  The terrible tools include things like the “Long Range Acoustic Device” (LRAD) – a sonic cannon that can cause total hearing loss for protesters who refuse to disperse at authorities’ command. Drones are now routinely deployed against protestors inside the U.S.  (Along with dozens of other opponents of the eco-cidal Dakota Access Pipeline [DAPL] in Iowa, I have now been drone-surveilled at close range).

It is true that protestors are not murdered in U.S streets by government gendarmes. At the same time, the proscriptions against sheer mass and bloody repression here have incentivized American authorities to develop more subtle, technically sophisticated forms of state coercion that prevent or discourage citizens from assembling and protesting.