A rally to counter the Islamophobes that were staging a gathering in NYC.
“We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is ‘Democracy’
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
‘Cause we’re the Cops of the World, boys
We’re the Cops of the World…”
– Comrade Phil Ochs (1940-1976)
“State Police Keeps Press Away; Arrests and Assaults Peaceful People”
This is the Democracy that brings the likes of Bush and Obama to power. The Democracy that lets Democrats and Republicans contend with each other to run the American imperialism. The Democracy which exemplifies itself as the freedom forum to force its way into rest of the world. The Democracy that thrives on individual liberty, and free press!
And, when the rest of the world opposes the mammoth contradictions and brutalities of what the Democracy comprises, the Democracy then teaches the world a lesson. Across the world, the lesson comes in the form of lingering unforgiving wars where the Democracy annihilates the humanity that disregards its proclaimed superiority.
And, nearer home, the Democracy manifests in its nakedness, in its actual being, in the status of a Police State.
American Democracy does not even have to preach its virtues. In fact, it does not need a propaganda press. It simply does away with the press. American Democracy is not answerable to anyone, except those who own it: the wealthy class and their puppets, the lawmaking agencies, executives and representatives. They do not need the lobbyists at Washington. They are the lobbyists of capitalism themselves. A monstrosity that sustains itself. A system that perpetuates injustice as though it were normal, and necessary.
When NYPD forcefully evicted all the peaceful dissenters at the Liberty Square earlier tonight, and dumped one of the the largest collections of progressive books and literature literally into trash cans, it was a true reflection of what the civilized Democracy looked like. Not only were the people who claimed to be the majority brutally teargassed, handcuffed and unjustly arrested, but even the media/press which are supposed to represent the voices of the American society were disallowed from covering the ways the events unfolded in the middle of the night. Even the airways were blocked, lest the “free press” sends a helicopter to cover the brutalities that might give the much sacrosanct and vulnerable Democracy a bad name!
Really, what is this thing called Democracy? A system where the police decides to grant credentials to the press, a system where the media are owned by a bunch of millionaires to air their collective capitalistic interests, and a system where the reporters are forbidden from covering one of the most significant news events in recent times?
What happened today was worse than any other event of state brutality ever recorded in modern history. A right to peacefully dissent is not an exclusive form of American liberty grant. It is a fundamental human right everywhere in the world. It is so fundamental that every revolution and every mass movement has depended on its actualization.
Any government, by virtue of being one, is merely a temporary entity that is duly allowed to be there at the first place by the majority of people in a given society. May it be Hitler’s Germany, or FDR’s America, or Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, or Nehru’s India, a government is always in place with the support of the majority of people. Political scientists can call a government a form of dictatorship, communism, a monarchy or a democracy. The fact remains, without at least the implicit support of the majority, no government can stay in place. People implicitly, or overtly lend support to any regime for it to continue.
And therefore, it is the people who also inevitably change the governments and replace the systems.
Each time the people protest and make the changes, the events are duly recorded and the governments take notice of the oppositions. In the ongoing war, the people’s wills are always taken note of. No matter how politically polished or uneducated they may appear to be. When the Berlin Wall collapsed, one could dispute the collective intelligence of those that rejoiced. When the fascist minded folks walked the grounds to exhibit their deep-seated racism in Nazi Germany, one could virulently attack the sanity of the people. When George Bush was reelected to power in America, one could ceaselessly apologize on behalf of the electorates. But the reality is in each successful implementation of a political framework, it is the majority people, whose will has always prevailed sooner or later. And it is no wonder then, that this will has always been recorded in the pages of contemporary world history.
Except when the Democracy is questioned.
In the Wall Street area, where the Occupy Movement first started, when the police swiftly, hideously and murderously took over the Square amidst the darkness of a long night, American Democracy did not feel alarmed. American Democracy was not allowed to be recorded by the media to be the brutal, dysfunctional and oppressive construct it actually was. And the world’s earliest Democracy, the most vigorously tested Democracy, the world’s most successful Democracy did exactly what it was supposed to. It was not the Obama government or the Bush government that failed the people’s aspirations. It is the majority of people’s will to sustain an inherently failed system of Democracy – a system where money buys the votes – that failed the peoples’ aspirations.
Occupy Wall Street had major flaws no doubt, but it would have failed its purpose had it not enlightened the people about the failed system of Democracy that it was fighting within.
Fortunately, when the movement was overpowered by the Democracy, it veritably succeeded in its mission.
In its failure to succeed, the mass movement gains its success. Such is the nature of the Democracy.
Either we accept this contradiction, or we must redefine the word Democracy.
(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)
The homeless and the Hippies, the socialists and the students, the communists and the commoners – the Wall Street has been occupied for good by the countless human beings demanding dignity of life denied to them under American capitalism. Every disenfranchised minority is now decrying the citadel of private capital, greed and monstrosity. And contrary to White House assertions and corporate media verdicts, the defamed Wall Street has been denied a bail-out – by the people of the United States.
Braving the NYPD interventions and assaults, seeking solidarity with the otherwise indifferent bystanders, and hoping that the collective aspirations of the oppressed masses finally prevail, thousands of radicals are demanding the revolution – not in faraway Libya or Syria, but right here in the centerpiece of global imperialism, in the New York City. This is the Wall Street Spring – a significant demonstration of solidarity among anti-capitalists and class struggle prisoners!
Wall Street Spring is radical in manners that have shaken the foundation of mainstream media in this country. Both liberal and conservative media have cautiously covered this uprising, essentially because unlike in the past, this gathering is truly diverse, and phenomenally radical. The revolutionaries are not endorsing any simplistic political ploy by a liberal party to garner support through expressions of politically correct rhetoric. In fact, quite the contrary. A placard prominently reads – mocking the Democrats – “Job Creators, my ass”.
In many ways, “Occupy Wall Street” is reminiscent of the several marches across the country over the past decades. People from various sections of society have gathered to march against police brutality and societal inequality. And yet in significant ways, it is rather different. The goal today is not to reconcile following legislative changes, but to revolt to ensure a peoples’ democracy. The march is not silent. The march is not harmoniously conducted hand in hand with musical backgrounds. The march today is disparate, heterogeneous, expressive of collective anger and resentment against the status quo. More of an extension of the Black Panthers taking over college campuses with loudspeakers and radical agendas; than a pacified demonstration of hopeful placards. It is not a congregation to reconstruct the capitalistic society, it is one that speaks through the voice of the latest victim Troy Davis: “Dismantle this unjust system”.
“You Must be Asleep to Experience American Dream”
Long ago, Malcolm X announced how he was experiencing American Nightmare, not American Dream. For several decades his call for the people to literally “wake up” were ridiculed, suppressed and relegated to dustbins of history by the private media enterprises. From Hollywood flicks to CNN headlines, frivolous entertainments were repackaged as news for popular consumption. Big businesses through advertisements and various forms of sponsorships pushed their agendas for a ferociously vital American economy – an economy where capital would be privately held, with solitary aim for unlimited profits, and where the capital would invariably triumph over the labor.
For decades, the American Dream – a fictitious and opportunistic claim that anyone can selfishly prosper through individual efforts – has been demonstrated as the encompassing ideology of global capitalism. The phrase has gained approvals because it has gone unquestioned. Much like the accompanying rhetoric: Democracy.
The dream and the democracy – both are at stake this time. In the past, the masses demanded to restore them. This time, they are demanding to dismantle them. No wonder, the New York Times failed to deconstruct what is happening at the Wall Street. “Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim” read the headline on the Times. For decades the mainstream corporate media defined for the people what their aims should be in order that the status quo is duly maintained. And usually in the western world, the protests have invariably taken a reformist shape, because the goals are precisely laid out, the conversations are articulately arranged, and the legislative conclusions draw the final lines.
However, this time, it is different, to say the least. It is not just the Wall Street. It is Occupation United States. Similar “occupation” movements are taking over various cities in the country, almost in a way, that it is difficult to fathom the direction they shall take. Many critics of the Occupation are arguing that this movement shall fail because it does not have specific goals. For instance, the otherwise liberal Colbert Report ridiculed the occupation as a mindless gibberish because the humorist found the lack of an articulated goal to be quite unacceptable.
Unacceptable, it sure is. Protests, demonstrations, and marches have traditionally been easy to contain because they tend to address specific issues and have extremely limited sphere of influence. They usually do not address the system as such because strictly from a pragmatic standpoint, it delays the process of redressal. And from a political standpoint, an attack on the system is a call for dismantling and possibly, overthrowing of an existing political economy – something which is outrightly rejected by not just the ruling class members of politics and businesses, but also by a great number of citizens who live in class denial.
War Has Been Brought Home
Occupation movement this time around offers no immediate solution – nor does it harbor much hopes either. If the collective demand is to have Obama administration dissociate itself and the United States from Wall Street money, the collective intelligence says it is probably not possible. Demanding a solution from the very system that needs to be dismantled is a worthless endeavor. And no one knows this better than the radicals themselves. And yet, what is much more important is the historical knowledge that revolutions take place not through pessimistic withdrawals, but through constant engagement with all available avenues of protests until the status quo is reversed.
In our fast-paced, solution-oriented, just-do-it society, it is quite predictable that many intellectuals and journalists, politicians and diplomats shall continue to question the viability of movements that offer no concrete alternatives. But a reflective and critical study of revolutionary theories and unique histories of various progressive movements shall demonstrate that all that the masses need are a few sparks, and there is no telling what turns the events will take!
Capitalistic America today appears to be insurmountable. It appears so, because it is depicted as thus through textbooks and newspapers, amidst televised programs and blockbusters. The deep vulnerabilities and classic contradictions of capitalism are deliberately omitted in an effort to celebrate the manufactured notions of freedom and democracy in the western world. But as humanity continues to evolve, and as consciousness of the masses across various oppressed social locations continues to be raised, the protocols are bound to shatter. The people will emerge as the leaders themselves. And their collective aspirations – to inhale the air that celebrates human dignity, free from greed of private accumulations – are bound to prevail. Its just a matter of time. And, that clock is ticking today at the Wall Street.
(Saswat Pattanayak, 2011)