Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are Warnings About A Growing Police State Warranted?

It's not difficult to attribute right wing talk about an oppressive government coming to take away your guns to a number of things besides legitimate concern, like racism and a paranoia associated with it.

There's always been some buzz on the Left, too, about oppressive government -- Big Brother, 1984, George Orwell type of stuff -- that's, generally, similarly dismissed, but there's a good deal of talk going on now in Leftist, and even not so Leftist media, about how quickly the people of Boston and its suburbs, after the recent bombings, followed the directives of the government that they stay inside, close their businesses, and shut down their mass transit system. The articles talk about how the government uses fear to promote an agenda, and how the media plays into it and plays along, and about how, as a nation, our acceptance of things like the Patriot Act, drone assassinations and torture make us not unlike Boston area residents in their meek and willing submission to "the lockdown."

Government oppression of groups like the Black Panthers, the state murders of their leaders, the race-based stop and frisk policies of New York City, the differential persecution and prosecution of minorities that perennially leave our prisons and death rows vastly disproportionately full of people of color, are also confined to a category that, while legitimate in itself, minimizes an oppressive government analysis, for the dominant majority anyway, if not for members of the affected groups, because it doesn't expand the analysis to include the economic system as a whole, the system that determines social relations, their basis in wealth and in the control over the economy and economic decisions, and the power those things bring. 

Here in Albuquerque, there have been a lot of killings of innocent people by police in the last two years. In the news accounts, the people had something the police said looked like it might have been a gun. That thing turned out to be a butter knife in the hand of a disturbed person in one case, a pair of pliers in a holder on a janitor's belt in another case. Besides the assertion by police of the gun-like object, and besides the immediate highlighting after the killing by the police via a helpful media of any criminal record the dead person might have had, if you read the news accounts carefully the common thread in all the cases is that the people didn't obey the police, and the police opened fire, and the police didn't shoot to disable, but to kill.

The disappointing monthly report on hiring released today is another indication that the economy isn't recovering. At this point in the recession of the 80s, and in the Great Depression of the 1930s, the recovery in hiring was well underway. Unemployment is stuck at above 7 percent, officially, and when you count the people who have stopped looking for work it's more than twice that. Official unemployment in Europe its almost 30 percent in some countries and over 12 percent in the Eurozone overall, and that's officially. 

The current recession has gone on for more than six years and mainstream economists, those associated with banks and the IMF, are admitting that they don't know what to do about it. Governments, well aware of the potential for social unrest, meanwhile, are passing, under the banner of anti terrorism, laws to restrict peoples' freedom and make it easier to arrest and detain people, and continue spying on their own people.

Take a look at this video, and then at least re-think what you've concluded about oppressive government warnings. If you come to the same conclusion as before, fine. But look at how the police treat the people they're rousting from the green house. People on the lower socioeconomic rungs of American society, who go unheard, have long known what's like to have the police shout orders at them like this, to be shoved around and treated like a dangerous suspect as a first condition, to be ordered at gun point to get your hands on your head, the most defenseless position you can assume. People in Watertown, Mass, know what it's like, too, now. People just like you.


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