Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is Somebody Getting Very Rich From All The Tumult In The Streets, Too?

The Market Plunge on the news of the Standard and Poor's downgrade of US Government debt was of course obviously a short selling bonanza for those who were properly set up to profit from the Plunge. The notion of deliberate market manipulation to produce said Bonanza is hardly far-fetched. The Gods Who Walk Among Us wanted another injection of cash-dollars to momentarily sate their insatiable financial demands, and so they "manufactured" another Crisis Bubble, and we were once again on that E-Ticket Roller Coaster Ride with no way to get off.

The Crisis -- repeated over and over again -- is the New Bubble Economy, a game only played at the top.

Which of course brings me to a consideration of the tumult in the streets all over Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and from time to time the United States (in muted form), tumult that has devolved into civil war in more than one state experiencing street protests and battles between the People and Authority. Are these Crises, too, aspects of the New Bubble Economy? Is somebody getting rich off them?

I don't have an answer. I don't think this aspect of Tumult, Popular OUTRAGE!!!™, has been explored in the literature, and I doubt that anyone participating in the demonstrations, civil disturbances, riots, and civil wars that are wracking so much of the West and Middle East are counting the shekels involved, if they are counting much of anything at all -- apart from the dead and injured or the number of useless cell-phones they can cart away from the shops.

But the Money? Could there be Money, indeed handsome profits, involved in the uproars?

Why not?

Some of this tumult is similar to, if not modeled on, the protests and demonstrations, the riots and civil disturbances of the '60's, and while in those days it was all very horrifying to the Silent Majority, especially the riots in the Ghettos (it's hard to imagine just how much fear those riots inspired in the white suburbs), there were plenty of people making money off of them, off of the Student Movements that were underlying much of the tumult, and off of the security measures necessary to protect the White Women from the Rampaging Hippies and Negroes. Fear of Nuclear Annihilation was nothing compared to fear of Hippies and Negroes. Of course the drug dealers ("God Damn the Pusher Man!") were making out like bandits. Which some of them were.

Commercialization of the Movements of the Era was taken for granted and was criticized in lengthy screeds published in obscure periodicals like Ramparts and The Realist.

The Death of the Hippie was famously celebrated in the Haight in October, 1967, in part due to the hyper commercialization of the Summer of Love.

Of course one of the most famous activists of the era, Jerry Rubin, famously became a multi-level marketer and toured the country with Yippie co-founder Abbie Hoffman presenting a staged debate between "Yippie versus Yuppie."

But that kind of commercialization of a Movement -- which most of us at the time took for granted, even if it was criticized intellectually as more evidence of the oppression of the system -- is quite a different thing from the kind of money that is possibly being made from all the tumult in the streets these days.

From a cultural and political standpoint, what's going on now is on a different plane. Those raising a ruckus now are no longer motivated by their belief that they could make a better world. Instead, in Europe and America at any rate, they're trying to hold on to what little they have before it is taken away by a handful of hyper-rich and not very bright economic predators.

That's a key difference, in my view, and the transformation happened before our eyes in Seattle at the WTO conference in 1999. It seems so long ago now. Though I wasn't in Seattle for the WTO protests themselves, I was on the phone with people who were there while the action in the streets was taking place. They could recognize right away that there were provocateurs among the crowds who were trying to precipitate violence among the protestors and who were committing most, if not all, of the acts of vandalism that were used as the pretext for the excessive police crackdown on the protests. This was obvious to people who were there at the time, and it has been pointed out many times that many protest actions are peppered with undercover police and provocateurs as a matter of course. Exposing them has become a protest action sport.

The heavy-handed repression of the WTO protest in Seattle in 1999 became the model for such actions, and we see it repeated over and over again. Protestors get injured and sometimes die in these events. It has become an almost ritualized process, though, with heavily armed paramilitary police on one side, masked Black Bloc Anarchists (who may or may not be provocateurs) on the other, and the masses in between. The police and the Black Blocs are the ones who get the attention. What the protestors are agitated about is almost never discussed.

The repression, however, is. It is discussed and widely celebrated.

But are these events set up to make money for speculators?

The mind boggles at the thought.

I'm not going to get into it too much more because I don't have enough information, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least.


  1. Certainly there are people who exist to make money from riots like these. Raytheon would like to sell you... or rather your government... a "pain ray."

    Of course, they prefer the name "Active Denial System," which they hope will keep you from noticing the strong resemblance between the Raytheon CEO and Donald Pleasance's celebrated performance as Ernst Stavros Blofeld in You Only Live Twice.

    I don't think Raytheon has to insert provocateurs into the crowd though. They know "the law" will do it for their own reasons, and that riots will happen that will make their expensive high-tech tools of repression most attractive to "the law." So, they just need to wait patiently, like a spider.

  2. Governments and their Owners are as one, oblivious to any interest but their own.

    I wasn't really clear about my perspective on how those on top intend to profit -- massively -- from the Civil Unrest Bubble they're inflating. Rayethon's fiendish devices are certainly part of the process of squeezing the last penny out of the system.

    As you say, the violence doesn't have to be provoked any more. It's quite a natural response to conditions -- and the circumstances and incidents that led up to the riots in Britain were predictably inciting.

    But the Our Rulers are not blind. They have been quite aware all along that the squeeze being put on the Lower Orders would result in unrest and tumult. And so it has been.

    The question, as always, is how to manage it. And who will profit by how much from it.

    One of the questions I'm hearing more and more is, "Why are you destroying your own neighborhoods?"

    Followed by: "Your oppressors and your enemies are not your neighbors. If you must burn the fucker down (as must be from time to time) go where the money is. Unless the struggle is taken to those on the Top of the Heap, things will only get exponentially worse for those on the bottom."

    Since the struggle is not taken to those on top -- not even in Greece -- I suspect there is something else going on...

    But we'll see.

    (Are you in Britain? Hope you're OK...)

  3. No, don't worry I'm not in England, I actually live in Florida.

    In the US, if someone is trying to guide a social movement that's outside of the law, or even legal but a little too successful, I immediately think of cases like this or the old COINTELPRO program.

    On the other hand, I may also think of that old Hollywood epic Barabbas in which the titular fool picks up a torch to help "his fellow Christians" burn Rome.

    I know a little bit about the internal workings of police agencies. My father (police lieutenant and later captain) was flown out to California to take part in wargame in which a Leftist revolution was happening in a typical American town. That would've been sometime after the Newark riots though. They were really scared in those days.

    He told me about it, it sounded like fun. I love double blind wargames, though I never get to play.

  4. I should point out that I'm originally from New Jersey. So that's where my father was a police officer at the time.

  5. In the US, if someone is trying to guide a social movement that's outside of the law, or even legal but a little too successful, I immediately think of cases like this or the old COINTELPRO program.

    Indeed. COINTELPRO has been regenerated for all intents and purposes in any case. Some people may be having fun with it, but too many Americans (especially of the Leftward persuasion) are either terrified or suffering because of it.

    Don't know where I got the idea you might be in Britain, but anyway...;-)

    I think our own August Authorities believe they are well-prepared for any disturbance that may occur as a result of ever more draconian cuts in services and access to them (which is primarily what's been going on the last few years: denying access to services rather than eliminating them.)

    Riots in this country will be suppressed with surpassing brutality, I have no doubt. The world will look on in awe and horror.

    Significant civil disobedience won't be treated any more gently.

    Authorities already have in place protocols that can extinguish even the most harmless political protests.

    This was used in the "pre-crime" round ups in Minneapolis-St.Paul before and during the 2008 Republican convention, as well as in Denver for the Democratic convention to suppress demonstrations; also used at every single G8, G20, WTO, etc gathering here or abroad. But there are many other events it can be invoked for, and it basically suspends civil rights for the duration.

    We live in a police state, it's that simple. Of course, being OUR police state, most Americans are comfortable enough with it.

    And some people are profiting handsomely off it.

  6. I probably use some Britishisms in my writing owing to my love of British literature (I used to study it at Rutgers). It's a bad habit, I suppose ;-)

    Actually, one of the things I've noticed is that when I read in the American news of a 'riot trigger,' like this we haven't seen the kind of serious riots I would expect here in the US. I'm not sure why. I'd like to pretend its because the potential rioters feel they have better ways to influence politics... but that's just a comforting lie.

    In some ways, I think here in the US we are living in something like A Clockwork Orange society or maybe something like Brazil. But here I'm playing, "Which dystopian nightmare world does the modern US most resemble?" (I also like Robocop just because its a good fable of privatization, if you watch it carefully it shows the privatization mechanism operating in good detail. It even ends up with the idea of enslaved human labor replacing free labor, as we are seeing with prison labor replacing former free labor in some states...)

  7. This is pretty good:

    London Riots.

    It reminds me of one of the comments here:

    "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

    These riots are such a waste, of course, so much destroyed and so many people hurt, and those in power can continue to enjoy their perks with just slight annoyance: "Prime Minister David Cameron returned from his vacation in a (shared) ten thousand pounds a week villa in Italy where he was reportedly taking tennis lessons with a coach flown out from Britain."

  8. I'm so old I remember when Oakland had REAL riots, massive protest demonstrations and persistent port strikes.

    I went for my draft physical at the Oakland Induction Center when tens of thousands were gathered on the streets in front of the center in protest. They held us at Santa Rita prison farm for hours while the police tried to clear the street. Finally, they took us in to town, through what looked like a war zone, debris everywhere, tear gas stinging in the air. There were still thousands of demonstrators outside the center, and a cordon of police officers cleared a path for the inductees through the shouting throngs.

    The Oscar Grant thing was horrible, but then BART cops are notorious pigs. Not that the Oakland police are any better. Their citizen murder rate was way out of control. I was surprised the reactions to the Grant shooting were as mild as they were.

    The last Oakland protest I was tangentially associated with (arranging transportation for some participants from out of town) was the Port of Oakland anti-war protest in 2003.

    It was viciously attacked by police. The shock of the attack on those protestors is, I think, still reverberating in the anti-war community, though there have been numerous protests at the port since then without serious incident.

    A video:


  9. I saw the Darcus Howe interview this afternoon at C&L, and have been monitoring BBC periodically through the day and evening. They haven't shown it again, but they have run clips of young people expressing their anger and frustration at the police for "disrespecting" them.

    One thing I just saw amazed the heck out of me: The newscaster was on a streetcorner in Manchester, reporting as if he were at a sports match. The rioters were expected to run down the street toward the police (who were on another street) at any minute. The excitement built. The rioters appeared right on cue, running toward the police, who were moving languidly toward the intersection. The reporter was getting more and more excited about the coming confrontation. But then the rioters disappointed him by turning off onto a side street, avoiding confrontation with the police.

    It all looked and sounded as staged as professional wrestling.


  10. I've noticed how vicious they've been against the anti-war movement.

    I think people should start calling "non-lethal" munitions "torture" munitions. They'll be deploying those in London now, according to some news stories I've read.

    When I was a child, they had taken batons away from the cops in my town (so the cops all bought heavy black metal flashlights to use instead). These days they'd be like kids in a toy store.

    In the second Francis Urquhart series on the BBC, Francis stages a little "street theater" to embarrass the King of England (who's making lefty speeches and seems to genuinely care about the underprivileged). Basically, a mini-riot, followed by special forces that he had "assigned to the King without his knowledge" quickly restoring order. Both the "rioters" and the special forces were acting on the Prime Minister's orders, of course. A little show for the media, to make the King look like a naive "bleeding heart."

    That's one of the things I love about the British, they are so very cynical.

    I'm kind of upset at seeing West Indians cast as the villains here, as my better half is West Indian, though from the US Virgin islands and not the British ones.