Has the Occupy Movement Really Initialised a Civil War?

Posted: November 28, 2011 in anti-cuts resistance
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From Naomi Wolf in the Guardian:

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.

And this isn’t even a left/right question – I can’t imagine New Labour being any more tolerant of the British Occupy movement than the Tories; the Democrats any more tolerant than the Republicans. It’s a familiar story though – rebel against the interests of the state, rather than just saying nasty things, and find yourself at the sharp end of a police baton; it’s as true in New York City as it is in Shanghai, Singapore or Moscow. It’s the consequences of any breach of the ‘pact’ which John Kampfner refers to in his book ‘Freedom for Sale’, and we’re now seeing the real world examples all the time – argue about the corruption in our political systems online to your heart’s content, set up e-petitions, write nasty letters to biased news organisations all you like, but if you actually get out onto the streets, and do something which might just change people’s minds about the political sphere, which our political masters believe is theirs by right, and you will be stopped with violence.

Wolf makes a bold claim, that the opening rounds in an ersatz civil war have been fired, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s true, although it should be. It’s very interesting to see how effectively she joins the dots, but until a critical mass of the 99% is prepared to put its private freedoms on the line (and a majority has been successfully bought off over the last 30 years), nothing of any substance will come of it. Yes it’s appalling to see young, old and pregnant people being brutalised by the police services the middle classes have always believed to be on their side, but unless private freedoms start seriously to be threatened, only a minority will actually take action against the state, and find itself regularly suppressed. We live in a time when Democrats are Republicans and the Republicans are fascists, which adds even more to a culture of inaction rather than rebellion, but if we faced economic collapse…what then? It’s entirely possible.

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