Monday, February 27, 2012

Some things to think about

The current crony capitalist system in place since the Reagan Revolution dismantled the New Deal consensus that capitalism had to serve both labor and capital is requiring ever-increasing levels of repression to milk additional increments of wealth out of labor for the benefit of capital. Currently almost 5% of the U.S. population is either in jail, on probation, or otherwise involved in the correctional system. We have more people in prison both as a percentage and as a sum total than Stalin had in his gulags.

It was amazing to see the amount of police state brute force used against the Occupy movement. We're talking about a movement that, if it had been ignored, would have simply faded away within a few weeks because people would have gotten bored and moved on. Instead it was in the headlines for weeks because of the level of brutality used to suppress it. Why in the world were the oligarchs so panicked? It's because they have just about reached the end of the amount of force they can apply to eke out tiny increments of wealth out of the labor of the 99%. When you're already applying as much force as Stalin applied, you're reaching the point where it costs more to apply additional force than you'll get as a return on that additional force.

At this point I want to mention something called "retreat mining". In pillar-and-room mining of large shelves of valuable mineral, pillars and walls of valuable ore are left standing to hold the roof up. Once the shelf has been exploited to its full extent, then starting at the back of the mine, and moving forward, the pillars and walls are systematically pulled out and as the process moves towards the front of the mine, the back part of the mine starts caving in behind them. The goal is to outrun that process of collapse, get all that valuable ore out that had been wasted as pillars and walls to hold the ceiling out, and if the whole mine ends up collapsing behind you after you get the last bits of ore out of the last pillars and walls, well who cares, right? This reminds me of what our elites are now starting to do. Because the cost of the violence to hold up the walls / keep the system from collapsing is so expensive, they're now retreat-mining -- cutting police forces and fire departments (San Jose now has fewer cops than in the early 70's when it was literally half its current size), cramming more and more prisoners into less and less space with fewer and fewer prison guards in order to save money, etc. They're hoping they can suck the very last resources out of the economy and spirit them off to safety (where?) before the whole system collapses.

Will it work? Who's going to stop them? Us silly flightless waterfowl babbling on the Internets? I don't think so! But at least there will be this record, some time in the future, of what they are doing...

-- Badtux the Violence Penguin


  1. Jailing people is contraindicated if you want to squeeze work out of them; they are leeching off of you. (Though of course, you fund a robust incarceration system off of their non-production.)

    Brutality vs. the Occupy movement is precisely what any movement need to get animated. As with the Civil Rights movement, a day without hosing or dogs was a wasted day. Publicity matters, or did, so the government and press are complicit in their cause.

    The interesting thing is, this "oppression" does not seem to bringing out all that many more supporters. Oh, I have friends in S.F. who "joined" for a day, before a night of fine dining and feeling very "involved"-as-spectators. No tents for them.

    SOOO ... given every inducement to protest, we ain't got much persistent violence, or new, long-term activists on the horizon.

    And THAT is an indictment of our current society.

    What a difference 50+ years makes.

  2. The problem with Occupy was one of message and purpose. What was the message? By being deliberately anarchist, the only message that outsiders got was an incoherent babble. What was the purpose? What was it intended to accomplish? Get news coverage? Well, it accomplished that, but so what?

    So the one message that *was* consistent across Occupy -- the 99% vs the 1% -- was received. At that point, Occupy was meaningless to the majority of people, because once the message was received, it had accomplished its purpose as far as most folks were concerned.

    Yet the oligarchs were in *panic*! What were they scared of?

  3. I dunno if the oligarchs were in panic. Cops do what they do ... when you're in riot gear, everything looks like a riot. There was some police over-reaction, which brings the spotlight down on them.

    There was also bad behavior from the OWS, as my friend in Oakland pointed out. The liberal press didn't much focus on the anarchist destruction, like busting Whole Foods windows (a store which supported OWS!)

    Yeah, the 1% v. 99% message was heard. Now what? Far as prison overcrowding, you will get some more prison riots; that's predictable. Far as the worker bees in society go? Plebs are plebs ... they'll keep on keepin' on, voting Republican and buying Chinese, right?

    Everything's under control and they're safe, right? That's what the people in paramilitary garb do, right?

  4. As Gerald Celente said, "When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it" as in "lose their composure, go ape and start burning shit down." That's the reason for the overreaction to OWS. The message being sent to middle-class people like me (one of those 1-day wonders at the Occupy Vancouver demo) was "We in authority will crush you with clubs and chemical weapons if you squeak against us." So as far as organized protests go, the overreaction to OWS worked.

    Trouble is, with no organized outlet, people will start reacting in disorgaized ways. (Or so I predict.) People have an innate sense of what's fair and when they're being treated unfairly. Especially Americans, with their overarching sense of entitlement and cultural tradition of violence. When they think the system is rigged, when criminals at the top are runing rampant without punishment, they're gonna get pissed off and fractious.

    They might not articulate it in grand terms like over-educated foofs such as me, but the notion of "Why should I obey the law?" will permeate society. A lawless society will not be a pleasant place in which to live. Look for more random acts of senseless destruction, and more murders inside prisons as the guard force gets hollowed out and discipline inside the walls breaks down.

  5. Lisa, if you look at what the oligarchs were printing in their press, what they were pushing in their news media, it was clear that they were in a panic. OWS had to be marginalized before it could accomplish anything. While there was no purpose to begin with other than to push the 1% vs 99% meme (which it did successfully), if allowed to persist in a meaningful fashion something else might have happened, something threatening to the oligarchs and their power.

    And: A lot of the force brought to bear upon Occupy *was* directed by the politicians, *not* by the police. Yes, once the cops were ordered to break up Occupy they did what they always do, but the police aren't the ones who decided to take the whole of OPD and put it to work herding anarchists around.

    Regarding bad behavior from Occupy, that was inevitable the moment they embraced the anarchists. The anarchists haven't accomplished a blessed thing in their past 150 years other than to start wars by killing or blowing up the wrong people and make the oligarchs look good by comparison. But that's a topic for another story, one about how Occupy was subverted and turned into just another sideshow for the anarchists to use to do their thing.

  6. Bukko,

    I'm afraid we know the system is rigged, but unlike penguin, most of us are ostriches. We know the "criminals at the top are runing rampant without punishment"; we're "pissed off and fractious", and that shows by the amount of ice creams tubs and Bud Lights we imbibe. "Take that!"

    Per, "Why should I obey the law?" -- because that's what we do, unless we're criminals, and then we get locked up. Because it's a sound living for some, they keep their heads low and make the most of their yard time. One hour in the yard is actually better than most of us on the outside enjoy.

    Per, "more murders inside prisons as the guard force gets hollowed out and discipline inside the walls breaks down" -- who cares? Takes some undesirables out of the population; creates more jobs in the prison industry.

    Yeah -- the system's rigged rigged to keep us complacent.


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