Screengrab from the F29 March in Portland, OR
A bill passed Monday in the US House of Representatives and Thursday in the Senate would make it a felony—a serious criminal offense punishable by lengthy terms of incarceration—to participate in many forms of protest associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests of last year. Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader.Yes. Well.
The bill—H.R. 347, or the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011”—was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, while only Ron Paul and two other Republicans voted against the bill in the House of Representatives (the bill passed 388-3). Not a single Democratic politician voted against the bill.
The virtually unanimous passage of H.R. 347 starkly exposes the fact that, despite all the posturing, the Democrats and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder with the corporate and financial oligarchy, which regarded last year’s popular protests against social inequality with a mixture of fear and hostility. -- http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/mar2012/prot-m03.shtml
This is news? In a sense, yes, it is, because it represents a significant ratcheting down of the very concept of "protest" and "petitioning" and "redress of grievance." It's like the "violence" debate: ultimately, anything, any action at all, under the right circumstances, can (and no doubt will) be defined as "violence" by Authority and used as an excuse (as if one were needed) to unleash whatever force is deemed necessary to stamp out the threat to the peace and security of the pillage and looting class that rules us.
The entirety of our elected government in DC agrees that "protest" and "petitioning" and "redress" shall not be allowed to take place during any sort of national security event, nor shall it be allowed in the presence -- or within some arbitrary distance from -- the High and the Mighty.
This measure would be deemed unconstitutional on its face -- if the Constitution still meant anything. But the Constitution was cancelled long ago and its protections are weak sauce at best. What we have now is a hybrid state between a nonfunctional representative democracy and a full on Imperial Autocracy.
I assume the President will give his assent to this law.
What does it mean?
One thing it means is that it shows just how strong the Occupy Movement is in the eyes of Our Rulers. They're freaking out. This law -- which essentially allows and codifies the arbitrary criminalization of any action the Authorities deem to be troublesome, any time, anywhere, and oh, criminalizes strikes by Federal workers (not that they can actually do it anyway) -- is of a piece with the consistent ratcheting down of the societal control mechanisms that began soon after the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.
Many people noted how odd it seemed that the Patriot Act was ready to go the moment President Cheney called it forth. How could that be? Easy: it had been written well in advance by people and interests unknown, and it only needed the right trigger to push it onto the agenda. They (whoever they might be) were just waiting for the day. It came.
But note, there was some opposition back then, opposition that was dealt with promptly and efficiently with the Anthrax Scare. It was amazing to see how Tom Daschle's mind was concentrated and how easy it was to pass this very complex bill that probably no one to this day has read in its entirety.
It was much the same with the establishment of the bloated DHS. Same with ICE. All these measures and restructurings of the National Security State were ready to go when called forth by the appropriate officials -- because they have long been planned for by Our Rulers.
There was no opposition to this measure, except for the token and completely ineffective "Nay" of the ever token and ineffective Ron Paul.
Occupy is strong? Good heavens! And here are all these people running around with their megaphones claiming Occupy is DEAD! It's not a pleasant thing, but it is hilarious to witness. Our Rulers are afraid that Occupy is going to make a ruckus while many of those who claim to support the Occupy Movement claim it is well past its sell-by date.
Which is it?
One of the wonders of the Occupy phenomenon is that no one really knows; no one can say with authority and certainty whether the Black Bloc "cancer" has killed it, whether the constant internal wrangling has paralyzed it, or whether the encampments were a good thing or a bad one. The Occupy Movement baffles Authority. It baffles many of those most intimately involved as well.
But I digress.
This measure, that the WSWS (a very important source for news analysis, btw) is making such a stink over -- almost alone among news outlets -- is of a piece with the Patriot Act, the NDAA, the numerous efforts to curb and contain protest demonstrations nation wide that have been fast-tracked and implemented for years.
We live in a police state.
Those who continue to argue that "it's not quite a police state yet" I think are trying to hold out hope that somehow the tide can be turned, but it's a wan hope at best. Our Rulers are not going to back down on their obsessions with overpolicing everything anytime soon.
One observation made in the article, however, struck me as a bit odd.
Under the ancien regime in France, steps were taken to ensure that the “unwashed masses” were kept out of sight whenever a carriage containing an important aristocrat or church official was passing through.
That may have been the case in the Provinces, but the Palace of Versailles was open to the public -- unwashed or anyone else -- and it was possible, by hieing oneself to the the Palace, to petition the King directly, or to present ones plea to any noble there one could track down. The situation was quite unlike the situation we face now in which gaining access to Our Rulers is typically out of the question, and the whole apparatus of government is placed behind walls and barricades.
The government's horror of The People is manifest daily, as is their fear of confrontation with the masses.
The hilarious sight of the Portland RoboCop Brigades in full riot armor facing off against unarmed demonstrators is the iconic portrait of the reality of our times. It's not simply that Our Rulers don't like the People, they are petrified of them.
This seems ironic given the fact that the Ruling Class simultaneously believes that they don't have to listen to the People, nor in fact, do they believe there is anything wrong with governing contrary to the public interest or the People's Will. They sincerely believe they are supposed to do that, in fact. Our Rulers also believe that the People will do nothing about it that the Rulers need pay attention to.
And yet they are full of fear and dread of what the People could and might do.
So they send in the horse police and the RoboCops. They hide their official selves and official business behind layers of secrecy, high walls and barricades. They order their Cossacks to fire on unarmed protesters again and again, wounding hundreds. They send their infiltrators to spy, their disruptors to disrupt.
They do everything they can to undermine effective protest and especially effective demonstrations of alternatives to the present corrupt and decadent social, economic, and political systems short of all out military operations.
This bill is part of that process of self-protection Our Rulers are obsessed with.
And to think. Even after an assassination attempt at Versailles on Louis XV, the palais stayed open to the public. Soon enough, "le deluge" came. The Bastille was stormed. The Fishwives marched on Versailles. The King and his Court were taken to Paris, and the rest as they say is history.
Of course, we're much more civilized than the fishwives and sans coulottes of 1789 Paris, and Our Rulers have long since learned how to head off (in a manner of speaking) their own Apocalypse.
Yet you'd think they'd learn by now that the more the ratchet of oppression and repression tightens on the masses, the less secure the Rulers become.
You'd think a lot of things...
[Note: there are supposed to be some big honking protests and demonstrations today at the Capitol. The propagandists are out in force to ensure... disharmony. I think I shall... bear witness... ]