Police states don’t appear full blown, over night. They are, like any other social phenomenon, part of social and political process ~ the end result of long term corruption of the political culture and the incremental diminishing of democracy.
This is a process that has been taking place for at least twenty years in Canada and it should come as no surprise that the police in Canada are now willing to take actions ~ at the direction of the politicians ~ that escalate the threats to democratic expression and the intimidation of ordinary citizens.
The corporate security state is not static ~ it will keep filling more and more space to the extent that they are allowed to by civil society.
It is not a process that will suddenly arrest itself.
There is no “enough” in this plan.
But in that incremental process there are seminal moments ~ sort of qualitative leaps in the continuum of anti-democratic moves that momentarily reveal to everyone willing to look at what is actually happening.
The police actions in Toronto are one of those key moments, one that we will look back on as a time when the authoritarian governments we now endure tested our resolve.
They know exactly what they are doing.
There was no spontaneous “over-reaction.”
There were no cops “out of control” ~
the obvious fact is they were always in control.
This was a very strategic operation from beginning to end.
The decision to allow the Black Bloc to do its destructive work without any intervention at all was strategic as the police and their political masters knew the media would play their pre-assigned reactionary role and focus on the destruction of property.
The mass arrest of 900 people was a message to those willing to take a stand: you could be next, and a criminal record is no laughing matter.
Provocateurs in action
There is no question
that amongst the mob
of window-breakers and car-burners
were a significant number
of agents provocateurs.
How many we will likely never know as this time around; none were exposed as they were in Montebello at the SPP Summit.
The black clad activists have a lot to answer for ~ they provide the cover for the provocateurs and they are totally responsible for the media frenzy about the damage to a few shops.
Perhaps next time the real social activists should swarm these people and stop them if the police refuse. They are the enemies of social change ~ we should treat all of them as agents provocateurs and plan to deal with them accordingly.
In the process we might catch a few more cops in the act.
But in the bigger picture they are a side show. The crisis in democracy itself is developing quickly as the security state apparatus and its political committee ~ Harper and his handful of operatives obviously, but provincial governments as well ~ plan for the future.
It is a future that promises to be increasingly grim.
There is a clear connection here between the obscene amount of money spent on security, the completely unnecessary shut-down of Toronto, the nine foot fences, what the police did ~and what the “leaders” talked about.
We could call them the austerity summits: an agreement to make working people and the poor pay for the crisis.
in the history of our nation, in full dictator mode.
In the next year ~
unless Harper can actually be forced from office ~
Canada will witness the second wave
of huge cutbacks to the social democratic state.
The set up is in place:
the enormous tax cuts implemented by Flaherty in 2007 (and still being implemented) and the resulting huge deficits (party due to the “stimulus”) is the perfect useful crisis to justify massive cuts to social spending and the radical downsizing of the federal state (with the military intact and growing).In effect, Harper wants to download everything onto the provinces and distribute the political responsibility for downsizing to all senior governments.
These cuts will have a severe impact on hundreds of thousands of Canadians ~ individuals and families already facing an economic crisis of unsustainable personal debt, and over-work at mostly low wages.
High unemployment is the other useful crisis ~ a key part of the strategy of “labour flexibility” aimed at lowering the share of the economy achieved by workers, and thus decreasing their political power at the same time.
Will this increasing pressure on Canadians’ quality of life and economic security be the trigger that creates the conditions for social unrest?
Dangerous contraband removed from the clutches of anarchists:
water bottle and water, ping pong balls,
golf balls, rubber ball, medical supplies.
There is no way of knowing that ahead of time but it will certainly present the conditions for a rejuvenation of social movement efforts to mobilize against the corporate state. Labour will be forced from its self-imposed slumber and have to take a real stand ~ and not just show up a single demonstration.
When resistance does increase,
that corporate state hopes to have created
a new a normal where demonstrating
is seen as vaguely threatening,
the demand for civil liberties
is the recourse of scoundrels,
and criticism of governments
naïve at best
and dangerous at worst.
Economic insecurity does not necessarily lead to greater resistance. It can also lead to passivity out of fear that things could get even worse. That passive part of the population is the classic ground for fascist politics and the desire for a “strong” leader, in the mode of a father figure.
We have a decidedly different political culture in Canada than they do in the US but what is happening there can also happen here ~ not in exactly the same way and not as quickly.
What will the 25,000 people who participated in the demonstrations do in the face the assault on their fellow-citizens?
Will they become active in organizations fighting for a better world?
Will they donate $100 each to those organizations critical to defending democracy? ($2.5 million would make a difference.)
Will the labour movement ~ still the sector of civil society best equipped to put resources into the struggle – finally take the situation seriously?
Will they come together, call for a coalition to rid the country of the most dangerous prime minister in its history?
Will enough people demand of the NDP that it actually defend democracy ~ instead of denouncing the violence as its only statement on the events did?
Is the NDP even capable under its current leadership of understanding where we are and how to address the crisis?
I can’t think of a better wake-up call for all of us than the wanton violation of civil liberties and democracy that happened on the weekend.
Calling for an independent investigation, demanding civil liberties be respected, denouncing the governments involved, raising money to defend those falsely charged ~ all of this is necessary.
STEPHEN HARPER'S HIT LIST PART 1 ~ POWER, PROCESS AND ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY
I’m staring out my living room window Sunday, catching my breath between visits to the detention centre, and suddenly a police van rolls up and nabs three people right in front of my house.
We’re 2 miles from the fence.
So this is plainly illegal.
Problem is, I’m actually getting used to all this.
So here’s the deal: the storyline has changed. The city’s worst nightmare isn’t the shattered glass, though that’s a drag. It’s the possible effect all this menacing display will have on our future tolerance for arbitrary authority. Will we recover the sense of boundaries and prerogatives we had on June 20? Or has something shifted?
Saturday’s spectacle ~ its sometimes humour-strafed standoffs with riot police, endless impromptu street takeovers and marches, emergency tweeting and the grabbing of quiet moments for quick analysis ~ was a socially complex affair.
But not for police tacticians.
They practised a paranoid
one-size-fits-all style of crowd control,
decades out of date
and destined to alienate
an entire generation of young activists
My dear writer, that is EXACTLY what was intended! Scare the hell out of them, instill complete and utter fear for the coming authoritarian state. How great is our power that they must behave so at the bequest of their masters!
Despite their undercover officers, their over-cover ones, intelligence networks and on-line monitors, police showed their ignorance of protesting crowds and a preoccupation with collective punishment.
Seized contraband ~ masks, loudspeaker, spray paint
I spent almost 12 hours on the street Saturday, minus a 45-minute sushi break, and several hours Sunday, and I saw every variety of participant, from steelworkers to students, indigenous activists, radical cheerleaders, people with psychological problems, white-haired justice people, tattooed folk and an endless array of those ready to sit down in front of police lines and hold hands.
There were 200 Black Blocers and thousands of the rest of us ~
and that’s supposedly the reason police blocked us,
threatened us with tear gas,
marched with batons into crowds of us,
drove horses into our midst so we fled in panic,
and questioned, detained and sometimes hurt us on the street.
Police acted as if all the protesters were villagers
protecting a guerrilla army,
treating everyone with the same suspicion,
presumption of guilt and sense of impunity.
What we have here is the type of teaching our enforcers have been studying in Israel. This is exactly the Israeli / Noahyde approach to those who do not toe the party line. Exactly! Heavy handed. Assumptive. Collective Punishment. Presumption of guilt. Impunity. BINGO! All the right words are there.
Nothing they did made sense to the civilians to whom they are accountable.
Riot police suddenly appeared, forming deep lines in front of marchers in strategically senseless areas, exhibited huge operational inconsistencies, issued warnings to vacate in quiet voices and seemed to be governed by mysterious reasoning no one in the street could fathom or respect.
And despite Chief Bill Blair’s promise that Queen’s Park would be a “safe’’ zone, by 6 pm Saturday it was the most dangerous place in the city.
I was shocked when I interviewed two detainees from the mass arrest at Novotel and found they had been detained for 12 hours with no access to a lawyer. But later, well, it seemed banal. Everyone reported that they weren’t allowed legal counsel.
Despite all the provocations,
demonstrators didn’t go mob;
they vented their anger in long tirades against tyranny
in front of impassive police and then danced
and sang to entertain their tormentors.
Confiscated as "dangerous" helmet
This sorry "contraband" collection reminds me of the pathetic pile of "weapons" the Israelis used to justify their attacks and executions on the Mavri Marmara? And, just as with that first set of images released to the media, this set included bogus images of goods seized in the past! Gosh are we becoming a Zionist state or what?
And contrary to all those theories you learned in undergrad psychology about “contagion” in mass situations, street marchers kept their cool and their generosity.
As I fled, my heart racing, from charging mounted police in Queen’s Park Saturday, voices rang out all around me: “Walk, walk, don’t run.”
And soon, despite the proximity of the horses, hundreds of people slowed their steps to prevent trampling each other.
At one point, on University, I had a sudden Quebec City flashback and a flare of worry about tear gas. I must have said something out loud, because the heavily tattooed woman beside me in black offered me her only bottle of water to keep in case I had to flush out my eyes.
As for the Black Bloc, ostensibly the reason our rights drained away as the hours went on, don’t get me started. It’s easy to say they’re pumped by the cop overkill and the testosterone in the air, but they’re a symptom of a real problem, and I don’t just mean capitalism.
The Bloc has taken the noble tradition of civil disobedience and dragged it through the muck.
When you decide to break the rules in the name of something grander, you have to own up.
The Berrigan brothers didn’t destroy U.S. government draft documents and then put on disguises. They condemned the Vietnam War, and then they did the revolutionary thing: they went to jail.
I laugh to think of Blocers taking responsibility, and I’m tired of three days’ worth of people telling me we have to respect their rights as activists. Sure, I can see a situation where someone might decry oil’s fouling of the earth by defacing a gas station. But then you have to phone the police, contact the media, issue the manifesto, get arrested, reimburse the franchisee and explain oneself in court. It’s called being an adult.
Instead, Blocers slipped in and out of their personas. I stood next to one as he was taking off his black duds during a standoff. Coward. The broader movement likes to say, “There’s no Black Bloc, only black bloc tactics.’’ Don’t soak me in sophistry.
The destruction cult has the grassroots over a barrel ~ thus the “diversity of tactics” truce. If there isn’t an accord with the masked marauders, its members won’t respect the integrity of the peaceful protest zones. This pact entails not dissing others’ actions, which is why Toronto Mobilization Network reps were so careful with their words when interviewed.
Folks, liberate yourselves.
The native march banned face masks
and the Bike Bloc made a no-trashing policy.
It’s time for movement indignation and shunning
to send the Bloc back into civilian clothes permanently.
Last weekend, thousands of peaceful souls stood up to the scary sight of lines and lines of cops, and you’d better believe that all that cat-and-mouse scrambling over public space had a larger purpose.
Society owes a debt to those
who spent hour after hour
holding their ground as free citizens.
This wasn’t the mission protest organizers sought,
but when it was handed to them,
they did what had to be done.