FROM SYMBOLISM TO ACTION

When you consider the following…

An Occurrence at Republic Steel 

The Bomb at Haymarket

          COINTELPRO

Populist Protests from the Left (Miami Model)by Digby

How I Got Arrested and Abused at G20 in Toronto, Canada

…there is no doubting the symbolic importance of the following:

Wisconsin Police Union Announces Solidarity with Occupation of State House

After reading all the former articles, you can see how important the last one is.  The strategic narrowing and reduction of the collective bargaining movement and the elimination of organized left-wing populism in the U.S. could not have been accomplished without the active participation of organized police forces.  This is a dynamic which adapted to the needs of the ‘captains of industry’ and their servants in government over the decades.  Its most recent incarnation brings the vertical integration of all levels of law enforcement in sync with developments in information technology and social media.

There is no doubting the ability and willingness of concentrated wealth and its servants to marshal the will and the resources to divert and destroy democratic energies that appear to run counter to their narrow and rapacious interests.  What they lack, however, is sheer numbers.  While the masters of our universe control the lion’s share of the wealth, in an ostensible democracy those who don’t control the wealth have the ability to shape public policy to alter the status quo to their favor.  That would require a relative conceptual unanimity; in other words, they have to understand that they’re in the same political and economic boat, and that their shared interests are more in concert than with those of the superwealthy investor class.

As the examples listed above demonstrate, there have been times where small numbers of organized and motivated people have been able to bring this concept of unanimity to a larger national audience.  In such times, our societal masters have mobilized all the tools at their disposal to crush these small groups and poison their political seeds before they can blossom and be harvested.  In the 1880s it was the police, the U.S. military, the Pinkertons, and the newspapers.  These days it’s the police, the FBI, the CIA, and corporate media (including the Right Wing Noise Machine).

The solidarity expressly and defiantly declared by the Wisconsin police union, along with the solidarity expressed by the Illinois FOP, throws a temporary wrench into the works.  If its nominal first line of violent repression joins the opposition, then the corporate/government cabal must realign its tactics.  That could be expensive and problematic.

I have no illusions that this development will positively affect the impending legislative outcome in Wisconsin.  The GOP holds majorities in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, and Governor Scott Walker is publicly relishing his role as a hand puppet for the Koch brothers.  The numbers don’t add up for working people.

However, if the people occupying the state house and grounds can keep this organization alive past the protest, and if they can build coalitions that include strong support for and by the police unions, then this single vote can be transformed into a Pyrrhic victory for the Koch brothers and the entire corporate/governmental attempt to destroy organized labor.

Furthermore, the public is watching.  This is a chance for people to gain a clear understanding of the consequences of political nihilism in a supposed democracy.  It remains to be seen if it will translate into constructive electoral activism next year, or if the energies of the Madison insurrection will be diverted and dissipated by then.

I’m planning to be on a CFD Union Local 2-sponsored bus to Madison, WI tomorrow morning, and as soon as possible I’ll try to report on what I see there.

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