A pernicious form of economics is lauded in America, it is enforced by armed men with state-of-the-art battle gear who are well trained to respond to orders from people working to preserve a system that has its roots in slavery, environmental destruction and conflict across the planet. Are people frustrated enough to do something? They might be, but what can regular people do to fight the ill effects of late stage capitalism?
I was involved in a debate not long about about protesting. A friend had just been arrested somewhere in the vicinity of the undercover CHP cops who have been accused of acting as “agent provocateurs” during protests in the east bay.
My quite unpopular question was: is protesting going to achieve anything except getting the leaders of the movement injured and alienating the regular people who might otherwise support the movement?
Lately, protests have been regularly degenerating into warfare with the police, often because there is a small group of black masked risk takers co-opting what might be peaceful demonstration. Since most protestors are not well enough educated, organized or disciplined, they do not have the wherewithal to control the extremists in their midst, so that small minority of people tends to be the voice that gets heard in the media, rendering protest as a political tool irrelevant by way of criminalization.
For “the movement” to succeed, its leadership needs to take the long view and train people with that in mind. Yes train. Often black masked risk takers are referred to as professional protestors, when in fact they are simply angry and mischievous people who are brave enough to go over the line and meet police violence with other kinds of violence. Hotheads should not be in charge of the message of the movement. Wise and peaceful people should be the dominant voices. (but who pray tell are these people? We don’t know because the message is dominated by hotheads.)
Violence does not make sense on a few fronts. Firstly, you cannot beat anger with anger. The enforcers of the system are much better schooled at anger, belligerence and scientific social control than even the most informed student protestor. Young men and women with honorable intentions are no match for trained paramilitary. You simply can’t beat an angry man at being angry, he’s just too good at it, so some other means are called for. But what are those means?
Secondly people who stoop to violence of any kind run the risk of becoming just like the people they oppose. Live by the sword, die by the sword is something that has been proven over and over again in human history. Why is it that we aren’t heeding that message?
Way back when in the 1950s and 60s, in a time of Howard Zin, before the consolidation of capital and the birth of the 1%, protest WAS a good option. I think we should examine whether protesting in the street is the best way to go about subverting a very complex and embedded system. The police are just people acting as soldiers for bankster thugs. It makes sense to influence the people who give police directions, and if this is at all possible, it is not likely to be violent protest that achieves this goal.
It is the policy and operating principles of the police that need revision. We need to change their bosses and modify their mandate. It’s time for people to wake up and realize that the problem is not the police, but the system that uses them as enforcers against the people.
If you want to change things, first we need to examine all the assumptions about our economic and political system and move in a mass way to correct our course. Maybe the new form of protest is in the marketplace? Capitalism, an economic system has viciously turned on Democracy, a political system and is holding the people captive through brutal oppression.
The core principles of Capitalism and Democracy are antithetical to each other. Democracy is about representation, giving people a voice in how their lives are shaped by governance. Democracy is about fairness and brings people together to make wise decisions for the common weal.
Capitalism is about competition, it pits each one of us against each other for selfish reasons. Capitalism always plays out with winners and losers, it always ends up with the most aggressive and predatory people in charge.
Its time we stopped conflating Democracy and Capitalism. Its time that we the people return economics back to proportions that makes sense in a representative Democracy. At this time, and perhaps for a long time, economics has occupied too great a position in our attentions. We must first admit and understand this to make change happen.
We the people need to change the way we exchange economic empowerment in our societies and we need to step up our commitment to representative Democracy by systematically favoring leadership that is committed to realigning economics in proportion relative to what is essential to have happy and healthy lives for the largest amount of people possible, not just the top predators.
Protest was once a good way of influencing politics. But if it is now economics that needs influenced, is protest in the street the best means of doing so?