Monday, June 8, 2015

The Police State

Police in the US have shot dead 400 people so far this year. Today, June 8, is the 159th day of the year.

The number of times the police have merely beat and verbally abused people so far is of course much higher. In the video below that started going around this weekend, at the 3 minute mark a foul mouth cop brutally throws a 14 year old bikini clad girl to the sidewalk several times and eventually kneels on her back with both knees.

This happened at some kind of pool party in McKinney, Texas. It was a very mixed race crowd, as you can see. Watching the whole seven-minute video you can get some kind of sense of how the police acted in what was a chaotic scene. You might even tend not to blame the cop for what he did.

But looks can be deceiving. The kid who shot the video is now being quoted as saying:

The people who congratulated themselves a couple of years with pronouncements that the Occupy Wall Street Movement went nowhere are in for a surprise, I think. The people who were in the streets then haven't changed their minds at all, not one bit, and now there's the Black Lives Matter Movement.

These young African Americans are way smarter and wiser than the white college age kids who were run out of city parks by the Obama Administration in 2011, and they have nothing to lose. That movement is growing, and there's a lot of talk going around about alliances.

If you have a minute, read this piece in Salon, an interview with Chris Hedges, the former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner who was in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall covering the uprisings and rebellions that swept the Soviet bloc countries. Hedges says that we, in the US, are in a "revolutionary moment."

"It’s with us already, but with this caveat: it is what Gramsci calls interregnum, this period where the ideas that buttress the old ruling elite no longer hold sway, but we haven’t articulated something to take its place."

He adds that "the facade of power — both the physical facade of power and the ideological facade of power — appears to remain intact. But it has less and less credibility.

"There are all sorts of neutral indicators that show that. Low voter turnout, the fact that Congress has an approval rating of 7 percent, that polls continually reflect a kind of pessimism about where we are going, that many of the major systems that have been set in place — especially in terms of internal security — have no popularity at all.

"All of these are indicators that something is seriously wrong, that the government is no longer responding to the most basic concerns, needs, and rights of the citizenry. That is [true for the] left and right. But what’s going to take it’s place, that has not been articulated. Yes, we are in a revolutionary moment; but maybe it’s a better way to describe it as a revolutionary process.

Hedges says that a "revolutionary consciousness" is building, but it's not yet known what will set the revolution off.

"That is the big unknown. When it will come is unknown. What is it that will trigger it is unknown. You could go back and look at past uprisings, some of which I covered — I covered all the revolutions in Eastern Europe; I covered the two Palestinian uprisings; I covered the street demonstrations that eventually brought down Slobodan Milosevic — and it’s usually something banal."

That part where Hedges talks about there being nothing articulated to take the place of the existing order. I don't hear a lot of talk about that. People are aware of the traditional alternatives, Socialism and Anarchism. There's nebulous talk about economies based on collectivism. There's talk about justice in the context of a reformed Capitalism. What there is mostly is just anger and disappointment, and disillusionment. Disillusionment encompasses losing faith in the existing order, and losing faith in its ability to solve the problems it's created.

When and if a real mass movement forms and gains critical mass, it's not going to surprise our government and our security forces -- the military and the police. It's part of their job to be aware of the potential for things like that, and to not talk about it so that the people who do still have faith in them don't lose it. They haven't been arming local police with military weapons and vehicles for the last ten years for nothing. They know nothing else but violence, and when something happens they will attempt to violently suppress it.

Wealth keeps accumulating at the top. All new wealth being created is going there, and has been. Living standards are flat. The Neoliberal, Reaganomics politics that have brought us to the point that very few people believe in the American Dream anymore aren't going away. Both parties are solidly on board with that. When was the last time you heard one of our New Mexico politicians talk about income inequality? The never do. You might have heard a feeble bleat along those lines here and there, but they have no intention of going against the Capitalist ruling class. Just look at their deeds. Look at what they vote for.

In the 1960s there were people who were very serious revolutionaries. It took a few years but they were eventually infiltrated, rounded up, isolated, or murdered by police and FBI. These young people are very aware of that and how it happened. They also have means at their disposal they didn't have in the 1960s. They have computers, for one thing. They know how to use them. They also have the fact that a different set of people make up the general population. People who don't necessarily believe that the future is a sure thing. People who have lost homes, lost jobs. People who have come here from other places where the history was different.

Those of you don't think it can happen here, who have already forgot about that Revolution in 1776, and the Civil War, and 1848, stay tuned.


  1. i think your email got hacked, unless you really want me to be betting on games at a sports book in Vegas.

    1. Come to think of it, that's what it looks like. When someone comments on an old post like that it's usually spam.

      For those of you who don't know what we're talking about I noticed a post on Jim's Only In New Mexico blog from a week or so ago that I hadn't read yet, and left a comment on it. That's a good blog by the way. My comment was in response to the other comment, Jim, which I think was from the archbishop's designated defender.

  2. I think your paragraph which begin with "wealth keeps accumulating at the top" cuts to the chase the most....

  3. Well said, and TB is correct, wealth and power.
    Oh, and no emails on my end suggesting gambling....

    1. Thanks Mike.

      That makes me curious about those predecessors who pushed west. I think of them as engaged in endless backbreaking toil and pious but some of the popularized versions of them have them being two fisted, gamblers, two fisted gamblers, and so on.