Protest

Thais take to the STREETS

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on December 9, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Thailand: Historic Turnout Shakes Regime

Editor’s Note: As better footage becomes available, the videos below may be changed, along with the captions accordingly.

December 9, 2013 (Tony Cartalucci) – Monday December 9, 2013 at 9:39am was set to be the largest anti-regime rally yet in Thailand’s latest bid to oust the Wall Street-backed dictatorship of Thaksin Shinawatra. Even the night before, massive numbers of people flooded into several protesting sites, and by morning a torrent of tens of thousands poured through the streets of Bangkok to join them.

For miles in every direction, protesters could be seen streaming to and from protest sites on foot, by train, subway, bus, car, motorcycle, and bike. Several organized mass rallies marched through the streets, while thousands upon thousands made their own way. Food courts, restaurants and cafes across the city were filled with protesters staging in small groups before setting out with larger ones.

By evening, the trademark Thai flag arm bands, ribbons, and flags could be seen carried by people scattered all over the city. Areas such as the prime minister’s office (Government House), were filled to capacity and no longer accessible by additional protesters. Impressive protest sites that had occupied the entire width of major roads in the city for weeks, now had protester camps sprawling deep into side streets.


Image: In what is usually an empty intersection on the edge of one permanently occupied protest site, has been filled to capacity by protesters on Monday, December 9, 2013. This second historical turnout in as many months has further shaken the illusion that the regime commands the support of the vast majority of the Thai population. The regime would go on to cancel a planned counter-rally scheduled for the next day, surely to be embarrassingly dwarfed by today’s events.

Videos: Just 2 of 9 separate main protest groups on the march, set to merge at Government House later on during the day. There were also up to 40 smaller groups organized by schools, unions, and other organizations, as well as a constant stream of thousands of individuals, families, and groups of friends moving to and from the different protests on their own. 

….

While numbers are not in yet, it is safe to say several hundred thousand at the very least were present in the streets at any given time, and that the number of overall participants throughout the day was well over a million. In the suburbs late that night, miles away from the protest sites, groups of protesters could still be seen traveling together in small groups either returning home, or setting out to camp overnight in the center of the city.

The Message is Clear: Thaksin is Never Coming Home 


With the vast resources of Wall Street and his own personal ill-gotten gain, defacto dictator of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra has never managed to marshal so much support. His counter-rally planned for the next day in a nearby province was canceled – his regime claims because it has already stepped down and is waiting for elections. However, realistically, the fight is far from over, and if Thaksin had the support, now would be the time to show it. It simply isn’t there.

Image: Regime thugs line the streets in Thaksin Shinawatra’s rural stronghold, the province of Udon Thani in the nation’s northeast. Their goal was to intimidate would-be protesters into not taking to the streets, as hundreds of thousands were all over the country else where. Despite the fear and division Thaksin has tried to sow in the Thai population, protesters in Udon Thani still marched.

….

Even in his stronghold, the rural northeast of Thailand, anti-regime protesters flocked to provincial halls. In what could be considered one of the the very centers of his support, the province of Udon Thani, the regime deployed thugs armed with clubs, but still failed to deter protesters from demonstrating. The barriers of fear and helplessness carefully created and cultivated by the regime, are at last crumbling.

While Thaksin may have no true support in the streets, what he does have is an impoverished, intentionally poorly educated, exploited, and manipulated constituency at the polls. They are eager for his destructive populist policies, either indifferent or ignorant of the short and long-term damage they will do (and already have done) to the country. He is eager to call for elections he knows he will readily win with reckless handouts no other party would be irresponsible enough to propose, in an attempt to once again return himself and his proxy regime to power.

Why Elections are Currently Unacceptable 

The regime’s current strategy is to appear reasonable, even soft, in the face of unreasonable demands and “mobs” it and its Western backers have portrayed as violent. By calling for elections, it is hoped that the average onlooker only sees a government attempting to do the reasonable and “fair” thing – to let the “people” decide. What it doesn’t want onlookers to see is how it has rigged the elections through cartoonish campaign promises (cars, houses, free computers, overpaying for rice) readily believed by an exploited electorate.

And while the country is officially run by prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, her position is one in title only. Her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra openly runs the country from various locations around the world, as he evades a 2 year jail sentence, 2 arrest warrants, and a lengthy list of pending court cases. His “openly running” the country is not merely the accusations of his political opponents within Thailand, but the observations of Western journalists as well. Earlier this year, the New York Times wrote in its article, “In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype:”

Millions of people across the globe have cut the tethers to their offices, working remotely from home, airport lounges or just about anywhere they can get an Internet connection. But the political party governing Thailand has taken telecommuting into an altogether different realm.

For the past year and a half, by the party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape corruption charges.

The country’s most famous fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet, chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him from civil servants, party officials say.

Of course, this fact is now conveniently skipped over by the same Western media, or brushed off as insignificant, now that the regime’s credibility has been called into question and it clings desperately to power. Another election would only see another proxy put into place for Thaksin to remotely direct from his private jet, 5 star hotel in Dubai, or luxury lodgings in Cambodia or Hong Kong.

The enduring myth used to justify Thaksin’s grip on power is that he holds popular support across Thailand. However, this myth can easily be challenged by election results themselves and detailed electorate surveys carried out by Thaksin’s own Western backers.

According to the Election Commission, in 2011’s general election, Thaksin’s proxy party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout of approx. 74%). This gives Thaksin’s proxy party a mere 48% of those who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually “lead” the country.

As of 2010, Thaksin’s “reds” made up at best, 14% of the population.

And while careful choreography is used to portray Thaksin’s so-called “red shirt” supporters as omnipresent and holding a commanding majority across Thailand’s political landscape, a detailed survey of Thailand’s electorate in 2010 revealed a mere 7% identified themselves as being “red,” with another 7% considering themselves only “leaning toward red.” The political rank and file that support Thaksin’s opponents in the Democrat party have an equally unimpressive following – leaving what is widely referred to in Thailand as the “silent majority.”

Next 

The silent majority, in recent months, is silent no more. People who have avoided Thailand’s color coded political struggles have decided Thailand would be better without the Shinawatra family, their regime, their political machine, including the “red shirt” movement, and the foreign interests that have propped them all up for the last decade. They do not follow the leaders on stage, but rather the idea of uprooting this regime and preventing another from taking its place.

With a second unprecedented display of dissent against the ruling regime, and with prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolving the parliament, the next battle will be to challenge the regime’s intentions of simply re-installing itself in another round of stolen elections. Protest leaders had promised to end the rally today if no one showed up – of course, the rally will now continue on, building additional pressure upon the regime until it can finally be lifted up from the ground, and hauled away for good.

Podcast: Surly on OWS & Empowerment

Off the Microphones of Surly & Monsta

Aired on the Doomstead Diner on June 20, 2013

logopodcast

Discussion at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

For Diner newcomers, by means of introduction, I am a man who came late to political activism, but who found himself in the streets as a vocal and active supporter of the Occupy movement in the fall of 2011. As I described in the first podcast, I got involved not so much for myself but for my daughters generation, who are being systematically fleeced of the opportunity to have a stable future due to the state sanctioned depredations of a handful of central bankers and vulture capitalists.

Occupiers came from all political persuasions and coalesce around a couple of common themes of political and economic justice. The “Move Your Money” effort for people to move their money from megabanks to local banks or credit unions was one; the “Move to Amend” effort to create a groundswell of support for an amendment to erase the “Citizens’ United” decision and get money out of politics was another.

The Occupy moment was a symptom than people were fed up with the current system. And the system lashed out with a terrible urgency against peaceful protestors. And there was no popular hue and cry because in the end, most people simply don’t want to hear it. Most possess a normalcy bias so profound they cannot accept new information that their way of life is coming to an end. Which was one of the subtexts of Occupy.

In this Podcast with Monsta666, I answer questions about my own experience with Occupy, and the small group dynamics that put stresses on any group, let alone one that is leaderless by definition. We also discuss what the elites think (hint: not much), what happens when the desire for justice becomes the desire for vengeance, and the consequences of what occurs when the just-in-time 72-hour shipping paradigm crashed and burns.

Becoming Anonymous: Which Side are YOU on?

Off the Keyboard of RE

Discuss this Article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

In his article The Orkin Man: Which Side Are You On,  my fellow Admin here on the Diner Surly detailed his POV on how the Battle Lines shape up, along with all the excesses that result when Humanity resorts to violence as a means to resolve its problems, which basically amount to the inability we have shown over the last few millenia to share the resources of Mother Earth in some equitable fashion.  At least inside Western and Asian Ag societies through this period anyhow that has been the case.  My rebuttal to that article came in Unforgiven.

Which Side are You On? is a Miner’s Folk song which comes from the early years of Coal Mining in the FSofA, and in his post Surly details the Battle of Blair Mountain, in which Striking Miners were violently squashed down by the FSofA Military.  Same Military which later would squash down the Bonus Army during the Great Depression on the shores of the Potomac River around Washington.

Apache HelicopterOf course we are now set up for very much the same type of Confrontations again, and in those Mass Battles between J6P armed with Hunting Rifles and the Military armed to the TEETH with everything from LRAD to AR-15s to Apache Helicopter Gunships, getting into this sort of melee with TPTB is pretty much a LOSING PROPOSITION, on this topic Surly and I are in Full Agreement.

Now, there are numerous suggestions/ideas/philosophies discussed every day inside the Diner regarding how best to proceed given the vast Force Differential between TPTB and J6P.  Among them are Peaceful Protest and Withdrawal of Consent as Alternatives to Massed Violent Confrontation, but something of a Middle Ground does exist here in the form of the Assymetric Warfare of Anonymous. Diner  A.G. Gelbert and I recently had an exchange on this topic inside the Diner which I will include here below.

The Anon fight is quite different, it is much more an Individual fight, and these days it is not easy to remain Anon in any regard.  We discussed these difficulties in the thread.

Besides this tangent though, another very important Moral Question was broached, which is the CHOICE we all have to make in one sense or another as to which side of this Battle we will line up on, besides HOW we might fight it.  By ENLISTING in the Military rather than waiting to be Conscripted, you can have a better choice of Jobs which have higher survival percentage, and possibly lower Suicide Rates also, though that is not clear at the moment.

The choices that existed during the Vietnam Era are less possible these days.  Likelihood would be now if you managed to cross the Hoser Border to the Great White North they would Conscript you up into THEIR Division of the Big Ass Military.  Swimming the Rio Grande in a Reverse Wetbacking Escape Attempt doesn’t seem like a bright idea either, you would be Dodging Bullets in the ongoing “Drug War”, and as Peter has mentioned inside the diner, Gringos are likely to be Targets for this stuff pretty soon down there.

So the questions are many here.  HOW to negotiate this Shitstorm, HOW best to make a fight if you choose to do so, WHICH side to Line Up with in the Battle for All the Marbles?  Or perhaps you still do try to run away, RUN AWAY FAR, RUN AWAY FAST?  To WHERE do you RUN then?  If you have a Sailboat, do you point it towards Pitcairn Island and join the Inbred Descendants of Fletcher Christian and the rest of the Bounty Mutineers and improve their Genetic Diversity?  This does not seem a fabulous alternatie either, even if you can pull it off.

If you decide to hit the Streets in Massed Peaceful Protest, linking Arms and singing “We Shall Overcome”, how long do you last out there when the Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets and LRAD come out?  If you go the route of the Miners from Blair Mountain and show up with your Hunting Rifles, how long do you last when the Apache Helicopter Gunships arrive to bring Death From Above?  If you try to make the Fight Anon, how LONG can you stay Anon, and WHAT can you actually accomplish in such an Asymmetric battle?

If you decide SURVIVAL is your Imperative and you VOLUNTARILY join the Army of Darkness, HOW do you LIVE with yourself after that?

Morton’s Forks abound here, many CHOICES to be made, NONE of them very good, but perhaps some a bit better than others.

The discussion from inside the Diner looks at these questions in some detail, so let us review it here:


Online RE

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Becoming Anonymous
« Reply #24 on: Today at 03:03:17 PM »

RE”  Become Anonymous”
Impossible RE. It cannot be done anymore.
I tried to make an anonymous contribution with my pay pal account last month and it cannot be done.

Definitely know the Pay Pal problem.  When we did that BRAZOS Fundraiser for WHD, I tried to make an Anon Contribution by purchasing a Visa Gift Card for Cash at Safeway and using that to make the online contribution.  No go, Pay Pal would not take that card number.  In the end I snail mailed the card to WHD.  Not anonymous to him, but at least Da Goobermint doesn’t have a record of my donation.
Cash FRNs remain pretty much the last Anon form of Money.  If you have Gold for instance, if you sell it to a Gold dealer for some Cash, anything over I think $600 has to be individually reported to Da Goobermint.
Remaining truly Anon on the net can only be done by very accomplished Hackers using proxy servers, and they have to be at least as good as the Spooks who try to track them down.
Far as Travel goes, you can’t do Anon in a Car of course, they have to be registered.  You can still get around Anon on a Bicycle and even some of the lower end Mopeds.
Obviously Air travel can’t be done Anon, and even though I haven’t done it I am pretty sure you have to show Identification to buy an Intercity Bus Ticket nowadays.  I recently took a ride on the Alaska Railroad and you get your Ticket with your Name printed on it, not Transferrable.  However, I didn’t have to show any ID for it, we bought the tickets in bulk and just provided a Manifest to the Railroad ticket office.  Any names could have been on it.  No idea what the situation is on Amtrak down in the Lower 48.
With all the gobs of Security Cameras in stores and on City streets now wired into the Net, and Gobs of storage space along with facial recognition software, in theory at least you probably could be watched 24/7 as long as you are outside your McMansion.
Inside, the Cameras are still sorta “voluntary” on your Computer or Tablet, but these probably can be hacked into and turned on without your knowledge anytime you have the computer switched on.  Malware stored in the computer could do that even if you are not Online, then upload the recorded video whenever you sign on.  Probably advisable if there is a camera front and back on the Laptop to tape a piece of cardboard over it.
To escape all of this, really you have to drop out of the industrial economy altogether and go rewilding in remote areas.  The situation promises to get ever worse until the Grid and the Net Collapse.
There are a few things you can still do proactively.  One is to do your own Data Encryption of your emails and so forth.  256 bit data encryption is very powerful, and as long as the software is clean without back doors it can’t be broken even by Supercomputers.  You can check the software for backdoors also, at least a decent programmer can because it is not that complex, its just a mathematical algorithm based on Public and Private Keys and prime Numbers.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if I created a Forum on the Diner which was all Encrypted, and only Diners with the Keys could unencrypt it?  Likely I suppose it would get the Diner shut down in no time.
Anyhow, I do agree with you, remaining TRULY Anon with respect to Da Goobermint is about impossible nowadays.  However, you can still try to avoid becoming “Famous” like Julian Assange.  Wikileaks got too Big releasing lots of embarrassing Documents, and Julian was the Face of Wiki.  Julian hadda be taken out.  Now he is a Battle for his LIFE, he has already lost the battle for his FREEDOM.  He is already under a form of House Arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
We Diners are small fry, a bunch of mostly Old Guys and some UE young ones who complain to each other daily about the loss of Freedom and the destruction of our Planet.  We pose no Threat to TPTB at this point, and none of us are Famous.  So we are allowed at this point to chat as we will, with probably some Spook checking us out every so often for a good laugh while checking the Site Stats.  The Black Escalades don’t show up until you get Big like Wiki and Famous like Julian.
We got a long way to go before that happens, and the Grid and Net will likely fail before we do.  Until then, Hard Harry here will WRITE HARD and…wait for it…

PUMP UP THE VOLUME ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!

 

*Disclaimer:  Like Christian Slater I haven’t aged well and don’t look too much like that anymore.  However, here on the net or on Radio for that matter nobody can see what you look like, so you look like what the Mind’s Eye Pictures.  That’s the Picture I hold in my head when I am not looking in the Mirror to get hammerred with the real picture of the Toll life has taken on me in the Age of Oil.
RE


Offline agelbert

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Re: Ecuador Grants Assange Asylum, Defying UK Threats
« Reply #25 on: Today at 03:22:24 PM »
RE, Back when I joined the nasty guard to avoid a bullet in Nam I was an Intelligence Operations Specialist. We mostly just prepared pilot briefings for mock bombing attacks and made mission flip charts showing where enemy radar, triple A and other hazards were. All of us had top secret clearances, of course. But the sign we had on our office door was one I will never forget and the DD might enjoy:
Air Force Intelligence The nature of our job is so secret that we do not know what we are doing
I kid you not!  :icon_mrgreen:

Online RE

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Which Side are You On?
« Reply #26 on: Today at 04:29:13 PM »

RE, Back when I joined the nasty guard to avoid a bullet in Nam I was an Intelligence Operations Specialist.

That is a remarkable Coinkidink AB.  In many prior discussions (with Ross in particular), I have mentioned that one of the better Survival Techniques in a time of Fascism is to JOIN the Fascist Army VOLUNTARILY, and among the safest positions if you are good with Numbers is to get into the Intelligence Department.  Logistics also is not too bad.
At least until the Full On War with the Chinese gets rolling and Carrier Groups start heading for Davey Jones Locker En Masse, the Navy is better than the Army.  The LAST thing you want to get stuck with is as Grunt Infantry in the Army or the Marines.
A 4 year College Degree is a great help also, you go in as an Officer right off the bat.  At least you used to, maybe not anymore though.
Of course, the problem with any of this is in the “Which Side are You On?” area.  No matter what you do or how safe your paticular job is, once in there you are fighting as a Soldier of the Illuminati.  That is a tough Moral Quandary Pill to swallow for most of us nowadays who grasp what is going on now.
Even us Old Fogeys may end up forced to make this choice.  As the Young Grunts are sent off to the Killing Fields, Retired Auto Workers will be called in to man up to the Production Line for Tanks and APCs.  Old Bloggers will be asked to Write Propaganda to help the War Effort.  Write it and you get a Paycheck from Da Goobermint.  Don’t write it, at best you Starve.  Write AGAINST it, you get a One Way Ticket to the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio to be reformulated into MREs for the Troops as soon as they break your Anon and Track You Down.
In the end, just about all of us are likely to have to decide Which Side We Are On and whther to try to Fight it from the Outside or Survive it from the Inside.  The Avoidance Tactic is likely to be quite difficult to undertake.
RE


Offline agelbert

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Re: Ecuador Grants Assange Asylum, Defying UK Threats
« Reply #27 on: Today at 04:54:59 PM »
RE, If I had the same mindset I have now back then I would have run off to Canada (if my Army officer old man didn’t shoot me first!).
The other day Surly1 posted that DARPA plan to make a pack of humanoid robots. I made some gallows humor out of it but I subsequently read that suicides last month broke all the records in the US military. People just don’t want to do the empire thing at the grunt level any more. It’s getting to them so the reptiles on top are thinking of outsourcing humans to machines. As WHD said, it won’t work; robots are devilishly complex, break down easily in battle dusty situations and, last but not least, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander (see Iran and the super duper secret drone they got their dibs on). It seems the people on top fear us more every day. That fear is driving them nuts. Buying all that ammo? WTF!!?
CFS has left the building of the Gooberment.
I’ll dig up the military suicides  article if you want to read it.
__________________________________________________________

There are no single solutions that will work for every person in every place.  Circumstances are different for different people, priorities differ, moral and ethical philosphies differ.  All we really can do here is to identify the CHOICES that lay before us all as this spin down proceeds, and in fact gathers speed now.  In terms of PREPARATION though, nothing is more IMPORTANT than preparing your MIND for what is to come here.  More important than #10 Cans of Mountain House Food, more important than Solar PV Cells and Batteries, more important even than Guns & Ammo.  Because if you have not considered it carefully, if you have not played it through in your head, chances are very good no matter how good your Physical Preps are, you will PANIC, and you will not Stay the Course you have thought through here

For this REASON, the Doomstead Diner is here on the Net.  Psychological PREPARATION for the Greatest CHALLENGE to face Homo Sapiens since Toba went Ballistic 75,000 years ago.  No time for DENIAL anymore.  NOW is the time to GET READY, and GET TOUGH.  Because when the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.

RE

Burlesque in Norfolk and the TRUTH about Violence at Occupy

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table in the Diner
                 

In the scheme of things, the politics of Occupation occur on bigger stages than Norfolk, VA. Better known and noisier Occupations on Wall Street or Oakland, even Richmond, make the news and earn the headlines. Yet the fact that several groups of Occupiers maintain a presence and effect actions here in the heart of East Coast military might, and continue to bear witness to the abuses of the combination of state and economic power even here, has seemingly rattled the judgement of the stewards of that power here in southeastern Virginia.

Later she told me, “Right before it happened, I had a moment of clarity: that this was going down, and I could choose to go through with it, and if I did there could be repercussions. And I decided then to do it. And while they were arresting me, I felt pity for them.” The pretrial thoughts ofCarmen, my 20-year old daughter, the “littlest Occupier.”

 

The case of three of the Norfolk Occupiers for “obstruction of justice” by the police of the city of Norfolk went to trial today in General District Court. The three, Angela, Tess, and Carmen, had charges dismissed by the judge.

The judge found the charges overdrawn and that the behavior in question failed to rise to the standards required of obstruction in the statute, which was it itself clarified in a 1925 Virginia state decision cited by the defense.The charges were dismissed even before the defense attorneys mounted their defense of their clients. As the judge said, “Had the City pursued tresspass or even resisting arrest charges, they might have made a case. But they didn’t bring it to court.”

The issues were several: 1) there was no evidence that a lawful order to clear the park had ever been given; discovery produced no order; 2) there was no clear indication why the three women were even arrested, where it was clear that people that were in the park at the same time were not arrested; 3) the arresting officers failed to bring those arrested before a magistrate, violating procedures. From the cheap seats, it was pretty clear that the City might have made a trespassing charge stick, but the requirements of obstruction were too high a judicial hurdle to clear.

The defendants’ behavior didn’t even belong in the same zip code as obstruction: the accused were at all times peaceable, linking arms and engaged in chanting and prayer. At no time did they so much his raise their voices. They simply linked arms.

Given the events of this morning, one has to wonder why the district attorney even brought these charges, knowing that she had such a weak case with so many holes? If doing this was an attempt to send a message to the burgeoning Occupy movement, I have to think the message was marked as “not received.” That doesn’t mean that civil disobedience does not and will not have its costs.

On this day, justice was served. There will be other causes, other days, and we must remain ready.

UPDATE March 9: Yesterday, three Norfolk Occupiers, Anna, Tess, and Aliaka had a court date in room #6 in the General District Court Building downtown. They faced the heinous charges of “desecration of a monument” for having written in CHALK messages of peace, love and hope on the base of the Confederate monument opposite Commercial park (where the encampment had been.)Yes, you read that right: the messages were in chalk.
Their cases were dismissed. Nothing in their actions, as in the case of Carmen, Tess and Angela, rose to the level required by the definition required by the city statute.

So what you see at work is the same phenomenon at work in other places, that of the local police being enlisted to “crack down” on Occupy using trumped up charges. In Norfolk, the authorities are 0 for 4; the first set of cases for obstruction (Anita, Angela and Geoffrey) when the park was shut down were nolle prosequi’ed; Joelle’s arrest for trespassing, for simply sitting in the park, was dismissed; and both my daughter and colleagues’ case and the case described above were both dismissed.

One more court date remains, for a separate action on December 17. Ought to be interesting.

***

Update: The Truth About Violence at Occupy

I get a lot of crap from right wingers about supposed violence at Occupy gatherings. from first hand experience, I can say that I have never met such a fine and peaceable group of individuals. There are those, the younger, less patient “black bloc” crowd who want more confrontational direct action and to mask themselves, etc.

For my part I want them to know who I am, for better or for worse: I own a home, have raised a daughter, pay taxes and have had a career and a public life of sorts in this community, and I withhold consent from the entire rotten edifice of fixers and thugs.

In any event, it comes to this: a definitive look at the record of Occupy’s supposed record of lawlessness in the face of multiple police riots, by Rebecca Solnit, one of the most inteligent observers we have.

Surly

From Salon.com

When you fall in love, it’s all about what you have in common, and you can hardly imagine that there are differences, let alone that you will quarrel over them, or weep about them, or be torn apart by them — or if all goes well, struggle, learn, and bond more strongly because of, rather than despite, them. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter.

Until they did.

Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares.

All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.

And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless — some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence.

The Faces of Violence

The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women, wheelchair-bound occupiers and octogenarians. It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years.

On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these were isolated incidents.

That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs and tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here.

But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives, through national and international economies, through the global markets. These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators in D.C., the men — and with the rarest of exceptions they were men — who stole the world.

That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers). And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States.

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Oakland’s Beautiful Nonviolence

Now that we’re done remembering the major violence, let’s talk about Occupy Oakland. A great deal of fuss has been made about two incidents in which mostly young people affiliated with Occupy Oakland damaged some property and raised some hell.

The mainstream media and some faraway pundits weighed in on those Bay Area incidents as though they determined the meaning and future of the transnational Occupy phenomenon. Perhaps some of them even hoped, consciously or otherwise, that harped on enough these might divide or destroy the movement. So it’s important to recall that the initial impact of Occupy Oakland was the very opposite of violent, stunningly so, in ways that were intentionally suppressed.

Occupy Oakland began in early October as a vibrant, multiracial gathering. A camp was built at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, and thousands received much-needed meals and healthcare for free from well-organized volunteers. Sometimes called the Oakland Commune, it was consciously descended from some of the finer aspects of an earlier movement born in Oakland, the Black Panthers, whose free breakfast programs should perhaps be as well-remembered and more admired than their macho posturing.

A compelling and generous-spirited General Assembly took place nightly and then biweekly in which the most important things on Earth were discussed by wildly different participants. Once, for instance, I was in a breakout discussion group that included Native American, white, Latino, and able-bodied and disabled Occupiers, and in which I was likely the eldest participant; another time, a bunch of peacenik grandmothers dominated my group.

This country is segregated in so many terrible ways — and then it wasn’t for those glorious weeks when civil society awoke and fell in love with itself. Everyone showed up; everyone talked to everyone else; and in little tastes, in fleeting moments, the old divides no longer divided us and we felt like we could imagine ourselves as one society. This was the dream of the promised land — this land, that is, without its bitter divides. Honey never tasted sweeter, and power never felt better.

Now here’s something astonishing. While the camp was in existence, crime went down 19 percent in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. “It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland,” the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation.

The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time — a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd.

That night, some kids did the smashy-smashy stuff that everyone gets really excited about. (They even spray-painted “smashy” on a Rite Aid drugstore in giant letters.) When we talk about people who spray-paint and break windows and start bonfires in the street and shove people and scream and run around, making a demonstration into something way too much like the punk rock shows of my youth, let’s keep one thing in mind: they didn’t send anyone to the hospital, drive any seniors from their homes, spread despair and debt among the young, snatch food and medicine from the desperate, or destroy the global economy.

That said, they are still a problem. They are the bait the police take and the media go to town with. They create a situation a whole lot of us don’t like and that drives away many who might otherwise participate or sympathize. They are, that is, incredibly bad for a movement, and represent a form of segregation by intimidation.

But don’t confuse the pro-vandalism Occupiers with the vampire squid or the up-armored robocops who have gone after us almost everywhere. Though their means are deeply flawed, their ends are not so different than yours. There’s no question that they should improve their tactics or maybe just act tactically, let alone strategically, and there’s no question that a lot of other people should stop being so apocalyptic about it.

Those who advocate for nonviolenceat Occupy should remember that nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Violence Against the Truth

Of course, a lot of people responding to these incidents in Oakland are actually responding to fictional versions of them. In such cases, you could even say that some journalists were doing violence against the truth of what happened in Oakland on November 2nd and January 28th.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, reported on the day’s events this way:

“Among the most violent incidents that occurred Saturday night was in front of the YMCA at 23rd Street and Broadway. Police corralled protesters in front of the building and several dozen protesters stormed into the Y, apparently to escape from the police, city officials and protesters said. Protesters damaged a door and a few fixtures, and frightened those inside the gym working out, said Robert Wilkins, president of the YMCA of the East Bay.”

Wilkins was apparently not in the building, and first-person testimony recounts that a YMCA staff member welcomed the surrounded and battered protesters, and once inside, some were so terrified they pretended to work out on exercise machines to blend in.

I wrote this to the journalists who described the incident so peculiarly: “What was violent about [activists] fleeing police engaging in wholesale arrests and aggressive behavior? Even the YMCA official who complains about it adds, ‘The damage appears pretty minimal.’ And you call it violence? That’s sloppy.”

The reporter who responded apologized for what she called her “poor word choice” and said the piece was meant to convey police violence as well.

When the police are violent against activists, journalists tend to frame it as though there were violence in some vaguely unascribable sense that implicates the clobbered as well as the clobberers. In, for example, the build-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the mainstream media kept portraying the right of the people peaceably to assemble as tantamount to terrorism and describing all the terrible things that the government or the media themselves speculated we might want to do (but never did).

Some of this was based on the fiction of tremendous activist violence in Seattle in 1999 that the New York Times in particular devoted itself to promulgating. That the police smashed up nonviolent demonstrators and constitutional rights pretty badly in both Seattle and New York didn’t excite them nearly as much. Don’t forget that before the obsession with violence arose, the smearing of Occupy was focused on the idea that people weren’t washing very much, and before that the framework for marginalization was that Occupy had “no demands.” There’s always something.

Keep in mind as well that Oakland’s police department is on the brink of federal receivership for not having made real amends for old and well-documented problems of violence, corruption and mismanagement, and that it was the police department, not the Occupy Oakland demonstrators, which used tear gas, clubs, smoke grenades and rubber bullets on January 28th. It’s true that a small group vandalized City Hall after the considerable police violence, but that’s hardly what the plans were at the outset of the day.

The action on January 28th that resulted in 400 arrests and a media conflagration was called Move-In Day. There was a handmade patchwork banner that proclaimed “Another Oakland Is Possible” and a children’s contingent with pennants, balloons and strollers. Occupy Oakland was seeking to take over an abandoned building so that it could reestablish the community, the food programs and the medical clinic it had set up last fall. It may not have been well planned or well executed, but it was idealistic.

Despite this, many people who had no firsthand contact with Occupy Oakland inveighed against it or even against the whole Occupy movement. If only that intensity of fury were to be directed at the root cause of it all, the colossal economic violence that surrounds us.

All of which is to say, for anyone who hadn’t noticed, that the honeymoon is over.

Now for the Real Work

The honeymoon is, of course, the period when you’re so in love you don’t notice differences that will eventually have to be worked out one way or another. Most relationships begin as though you were coasting downhill. Then come the flatlands, followed by the hills where you’re going to have to pedal hard, if you don’t just abandon the bike.

Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago. Nevertheless, the American swell in this tide involves a delicate alliance between liberals and radicals, people who want to reform the government and campaign for particular gains, and people who wish the government didn’t exist and mostly want to work outside the system. If the radicals should frighten the liberals as little as possible, surely the liberals have an equal obligation to get fiercer and more willing to confront — and to remember that nonviolence, even in its purest form, is not the same as being nice.

Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is: everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already doing it. It is everywhere.

In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public space in tents and holding General Assemblies. February 20th, for instance, was a national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers are organizing on many fronts and planning for May Day, and a great many foreclosure defenses from Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in their homes and made banks renegotiate. Campus activism is reinvigorated, and creative and fierce discussions about college costs and student debt are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.

Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host of recent victories. The campaign against corporate personhood seems to be gaining momentum. A popular environmental campaign made President Obama reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reversed its decision to defund cancer detection at Planned Parenthood. Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at last brought Trader Joes into line with its fair wages for farmworkers campaign.

These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular power. They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and arisen hasn’t stopped.

What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want and how we get there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table in the Diner

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