- The Last Victory for American Activism
- Sunday in the Park With Occupy
- That Powerful Sweet Smell in the Morning. Smells like… Victory!
- The Cold Dead Joke of the Late Night Comedian
- The Day American Activism Died
- When Division Breeds Derision
- The First Rule of Democracy…meets the Second
- Turning Yellow: When a Nation Screams As One
- Why Julian Assange Sits In Stir
- Epilogue: Out of the Mouths of Babes
“Democracy Has Just Been A Word…Never Been An Act!”
-Wall Graffiti / 2016 Thailand Military Coup.
5:05 AM. February 4, 2012. It’s almost pitch dark. No one has slept this night. The only morning illumination comes from scores of dimly glowing dots of blues, greens, yellows, reds or orange inside a patchwork of hundreds of still standing tents. Most sit empty for the first time in months; a lamp left on during their vacancy. Nearby, the tall, jet-black and ornate sidewalk lamp poles lining the concrete walkways of McPherson Park here in Washington D.C. provide a few additional stage lights, their bright-white cones casting a single spotlight on their foreground.
Under these spotlights, peering nervously across this scene into the depths of the grey-on-black streaks of the approaching morning, many small groups of protesters stand huddled together, as if for warmth, against the brisk, sub-zero February morning as the first warning flashes of dank sunrise announce this day. The night’s silence is broken as the voices from these groups slowly rise. There is anxiety in the sound. Nervousness. And…
Fear. Fear of how bad this day would turn out to be. Yes, the tents were all still there, for now. The stalwarts had stayed out of principle. Their hearts and minds would not be swayed. This morning, they huddled, shoulder to shoulder in their groups, hot tea, coffee or a freshly light cig cupped in hand; finding support within their waning numbers. All knew as they glanced about the fringes of the park, second-by-second… today was going to be a very bad day.
The cops are coming.
* * *
In the next few hours, made-up of minutes that wore on in slow-motion horror, it would all be over. Finished. All that once was and could have been of the last outbreak of effective democratic American activism would be stripped bare; stomped into submission, its rattling bones, like the hundreds of nearby multi-coloured tents, cast into a huge trash can of US history thus offended. By the end of this day, American activism would be dead. Its leadership dead as our collective cause. The one we, who still stood our ground this morning, shivering, used as a nationwide rallying cry to everyone who could still hear and listen. For months we had shouted, often screamed that name, that dream, that goal, that one call to action. That threat. The one we all so defiantly called, “Occupy.”
Yeah, American activism would be dead this day. Dead as the American dream.
The one we were all trying to save.
“Protest is when I say I don’t like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.” ― Ulrike Meinhof
This February morning, all had reason for fear. We all knew that we would not win on this day. The First Rule of Democracy-the numbers, the ratio-cops-to-activists– did not bode well for a victory in our nation’s capital this morning. But, the First Rule had beaten them back, beaten them badly, once before. We knew that the cops remembered, as some of us did now, that turbulent morning aeons ago. Two months before.
Some of us huddled here shoulder-to-shoulder had first been in Los Angeles at America’s biggest Occupy camp at City Hall. Oh, the cops came to kick us out on that morning, too, and for the exact same reasons . But it took ‘em two tries to do it!
The memory of that great day: that incredible night until morning when we, those of us who finally stood up for ourselves, and for others, against what we knew was festering all around us. That one morning when… we finally won. There, under the lampposts, those of us who were there that day in L.A. told the fable of that glory day to those who had only heard about that Sunday. That day too long ago when we, together, kicked those cop’s fucking asses.
Without firing a shot or throwing a punch we, the Occupiers in LA, had showcased what Occupy actually stood for to our nation. A reminder of the First Rule of Democracy. That day, we used our collective middle fingers to give the bastards a whipping they would not forget.
Now, we shivered and prepared for what we all knew would be our own ass-kicking to come.
“They’ll have to drag me out…” was said again-and-again to draw courage on that morning, too. That story of LA brought needed smiles to nervous faces as it was told. All the while, all eyes darted about in the day’s slow illumination, watching. Listening.
* * *
It was the morning of that great day in November 2011. Driving south towards San Diego city, like so many other southern Californians, the news of the day’s eviction of the Los Angeles Occupy camp- the biggest in the nation- was broadcast over the car radio. Trouble was brewing and the cops were massing on the fringes of city Hall grounds to begin the threatened eviction.
Yes, on that Sunday Nov. 29,we, the people: the disaffected, the poor, the homeless and those of us who honoured our conscience and still believed in the possibility of changing our world for the better would, as one, look right through the grey-tinted face shields and into the eyes of 1000 black jacketed, riot-gear-clad cops. Not one of us backing up… one… single… inch.
The eviction notice of Occupy LA spread like a herald’s call to action. They came.
It was time.
Southern California flooded into Los Angeles City Hall. By noon over three thousand. By 4 PM four thousand. By the time the biggest General Assembly (GA) ever was convened on the city hall steps, the crowd swamped the City Hall grounds from centre stage of W. 1st Street to the side streets of N. Main and N. Spring., nearing 6000 strong. I was standing at the top of the massive stone entryway steps looking down at the milling crowd as the twilight of this night approached, taking pictures by the score and smiling so hard the edges of my mouth cramped.
This was a real protest.
The energy was electric, infectious. The crowd was getting ever louder as calls for “Mic Check” were ignored, until calm was finally restored and the first speaker and the laborious Occupy democratic process was introduced to the crowd. “Shut the fuck up!” could be heard from many well-intentioned Occupiers demanding a return to civility and decorum- and silence- as others shared stern looks with the few remaining offenders until the message of respect was universally received. Quiet.
“The cops ain’t gonna be able to control this mob, tonight,” I heard a voice remark just off my right shoulder. This was a prescient comment indeed. It came from a City Hall cop standing right next to me. “Those cops move… it’s going to be a full-blown riot.”
He was referring to the hundreds of cops-over a thousand- with more arriving by the hour– all in full black riot gear, who lined all four streets all the way back to W. Temple. Standing almost shoulder to shoulder they surrounded the entire City Hall grounds and every side street and alleyway. Unlike the affable cop near me, these cops were here to evict everyone, by force. From the vicious, penetrating stares they provided to anyone within eyeshot, they were absolutely salivating at the chance to get started.
But there was just one problem. Actually six thousand problems… and growing. Those damn Occupiers, many who stood deliberately and directly in front of many a cop, just inches away, staring back. They were growing in number. And getting louder. Much louder. All waited for the moment when all those cops took their first step forwards. And, then…
No one was here to back down tonight.
It was time.
It had only been two months before that LA city council members were writing proclamations in favour of Occupy and singing its praises as a new form of non-violent, democratic protest. They had invited Occupy to stay on the city hall grounds. The Occupiers were welcome to come and stay…and protest, or so they said in glowing oratory. And the LA camp grew, becoming the biggest in America with over 1000 tents and 1500 Occupiers daily. Zuccotti in N.Y.C and McPherson and Freedom Plaza in DC were mere postage stamps by comparison.
Occupy within weeks became so much more than merely an opposition movement. Occupy became an example. By providing social services long since gutted from local society, the example Occupy showcased in many ways was the only example of society’s remaining obligation to the unfortunate. LA streets are a very unsafe place to sleep and the City deliberately provides little assistance in the failed hope that the homeless will finally move on. Somewhere. However, all were at least safe and could eat at the Camp. Despite the drug abuse, assorted low-lifes and nefarious side of the Occupy camps, violence was virtually unheard of. Non-violence, tolerance and diversity were embraced and preached as an integral part of Occupy. A communal spirit pervaded the camps and this included an educational component, as small symposiums, lectures and talks on assorted democratic principles were held throughout each day for any who chose to sit in and learn.
These were exciting days.
“Education is the Most Powerful Weapon One Can Use to Change the World” – Nelson Mandela
To understand the effectiveness and leadership that the Occupy camps so quickly provided nationally, all one needs to have done was stop into the camps, as so many did, on any Sunday morning.
Occupy camps had sprung up in more than a hundred cities and towns, big and small, across America. Zuccotti Park, New York City, got most of the press- and the money- during those crazy days when it seemed that activism had finally returned to leading the conscience of the nation. Every state Capital city had an Occupy Camp and local politicians sang the praises of the new populist form of inclusive democracy and non-violent opposition.
Yes, like LA, these camps were an amalgam of passionate activists, the homeless, drug abusers, and the temporarily interested. However, to a suddenly threatened Government not used to effective opposition, the Occupy camps were a much bigger problem than the Occupiers themselves realized. For these camps from sea to shining sea were, behind the scenes, just weeks away from having a new separate national Occupy political platform.
From the massive Los Angeles camp of well over one thousand to McPherson Park in D.C. down to the small camps of Austin, TX and San Luis Obispo, Calif, Sunday was the most special day of every week. The camps on these days were a true sign that the opposition Occupy had created was working. And, support was growing.
Beginning in the mornings each Sunday and continuing often until past dark, people came from everywhere. They came to the camps. Many said, they “had to.” Their obligation.
It was time.
Yes, they showed up at the camps. Every type of American. Race? Sex? Religion? Didn’t matter. They came with food to share. Freshly baked cakes, cookies, little tarts. Hot soup. Cigarettes or a bit of weed to share. They came with clothes and donations. There were always extra coats and jackets available to newly arriving Occupiers.
Each and every visitor came in spirit. Looking across the camps, conversations in groups took place among the tents or on the sidewalks next to the monuments, lampposts, and street corners, the participants locked together in impassioned, but collegial discourse while others listened carefully. Many who were interviewed spoke of their personal need to be involved in any manner, even for one day, but also of their need for accurate information due to their distrust of the media. It was satisfying to see so many people coming together. The camp took on a conspiratorial, hushed, tone. This reporter interviewed many people at McPherson who went to work daily but stayed in their own heat-less tent- in February- every night.
Then there was the Occupy platform. Across the breadth of the nation’s camps, all were trying via the slow laborious machinations of Occupy democracy and inclusion of all, to effect a national platform that would be presented to all Occupiers for a national vote. And then? A new political party. This, by the very nature of Occupy’s all-inclusive democratic proceedings, was a daunting task indeed. But one embraced with hope. Not the fake political kind. Real Hope.
From the vantage point of those venturing to the Camps, this was American society renewed. Discussion, disagreement, tolerance, inclusion, love and a spirit of cooperation for the good of all. Everyone. All welcome. These societal tenets had been virtually destroyed by an ongoing capitalist set of self-serving US governments over the past forty years. There was now an optimism that pervaded the many impassioned conversations and it shined on the faces of those who roamed the camps on these Sundays.
We were starting to believe.
However, an Obama administration predisposed to the continued gutting of what little was left of American social responsibility, had a decidedly different view of Occupy. To the “primal forces of nature” thus challenged, this was not democracy renewed. This was not non-violent protest. No, in a nation of purchased leaders Occupy was to them a different example of leadership.
It was a threat.
* * *
With LA City having almost no food program for the homeless, it was the Camp that filled this fundamental role as well. This November night, as the emotions of this night, rose and fell, I spent several hours in the company of Daniel T. as we watched for the cops to begin this night’s attack from our vantage point high up on the top of the City Hall steps. Dan, a thirty-year-old chef at a local restaurant proudly told me how he had organized the massive tent kitchen that lined the sidewalk of W.1St. street and how he and forty plus volunteers were preparing and cooking a free breakfast and dinner for 1500 or more. Everyday. Anyone who was hungry was welcome.
This evening’s dinner had been cancelled.
Each morning he and his old yellow Toyota pick-up would be down at the LA Wholesale Produce markets of Central and Olympic Streets in downtown. There he spoke with dozens of wholesale vendors asking for bruised or slightly blemished produce. The response was tremendous, he said, and each morning he returned laden to gunwales with the day’s ingredients. Augmented by other food donations and a tiny donated budget, he and the other cooks turned this into a basic, but the nutritious meal, so that no one had to go hungry. Why? “Fuck man…it’s the right thing to do, right? That’s why I’m here.”
But as the winter closed in, the media did its job and echoed the many politicians who had already turned tail on Occupy. Yes, there were drugs. The camps were noisy and sleep was not always easy. Garbage collected despite volunteer details performing clean-up. The haphazard set-up of the hundreds of tents was a tattered assortment at best, but never once did I see a rat. Well, except for the ones who appeared on the City Hall steps asking us to now take our game of democracy and go home.
Then the eviction notices came out.
Typically, the cops arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, posting the single page eviction notices on tents, trees, trash cans and street signs as they stole quietly through the Camp in groups of three. Then the alarm of the day went off. That morning everyone knew what they did not, all these weeks, want to admit would ever come : It was on!
The stated eviction deadline was Sunday at 5 PM. Everyone out. No exceptions. Out or be arrested.
“There is absolutely no greater high than challenging the power structure as a nobody, giving it your all, and winning!” ― Abbie Hoffman
The media which had also turned so quickly on Occupy was also, this day in LA, spoiling for some high news ratings and looking forward to some good old fashioned police brutality. Coverage of the pending eviction was all over the news and scores of reporters roamed the LA camp, acting cool, but didn’t give a shit about the truth of this national story. Well, that was their job. Their news copters hovered overhead until the cops cleared the skies in preparation.
But, all their coverage instead brought out the city and the surrounding counties. By Saturday, hundreds more had come down with their tents and donations. But, on Sunday when 1500 Occupiers seemed about to get very seriously worked by the ever-mounting police militia, for some of conscience and pent up outrage, this all was too much for one to stand by and merely watch-on in sympathy from afar.
That day and that longest of nights I talked with dozens who had driven to be at the camp that day for one simple reason: to finally say, “No!” Like this reporter, they had made the first move, decided to do something, after far too long.
It was time.
* * *
That Sunday night seemed to last forever on a razor’s edge. One wrong move by a protester and the Cops would have devolved into an orgy of mace, batons and tasers. Guns? One attack by any one of the cops would have thrown all that pent-up and frenzied kinetic energy, outrage, and desperation of the 6000 Occupiers raining down on these political henchmen en mass.
As it approached 4 AM of Monday, the tete-a-tete remained nose to nose. Bullhorns from the cops attempted continually to intimidate the protesters into leaving, while bullhorns from the Occupiers and the banshee screams from the protesters answered their challenge. The morning was coming.
From atop the City Hall steps we all agreed that the cops were not going to let this night continue for long. The protesters still struggled out loud with their personal moral dilemma: whether to get out of camp beforehand, or continuing to stand in unison, using one historically successful democratic tactic: The First Rule of Democracy.
We had those fuckers outnumbered 6-1!
By now, the crowd undulated like some kind of massive wounded animal writhing in preparation for one last gasp of life before death. As cop cars screamed down the streets scores of bicycle riding protesters suddenly whirled towards them circling the grounds on the perimeter streets in renewed defiance, pedaling furiously. Small groups, getting bigger as they attracted participants, prepared for their own pending defensive actions. Couples boldly walked the perimeter sidewalks, arm in arm, showing the cops that they were scared of them no more.
Bullhorns bellowed from the phalanxes of cops. The perimeter boundaries on all four streets became solid; twenty deep with protesters on all sides as the defences of personal liberty squared off inches from the masked all-black pigs. The knife edge was literally drawn: The street gutter of oppression right before the grass-fringed sidewalk of resistance.
Now, one-by-one, Occupiers old and new linked hands, just feet from the police front lines in a show of solidarity- an unbroken chain- that surrounded the entire grounds. More than a half-mile in circumference. Organizers called again and again for calm as the cops bellowed for them to leave… or else! On the four sidewalks, the front lines of the cops and the protesters stood inches apart, face to face, nose to nose. The cops played with their nightsticks or fingered their cans of mace threateningly. The protesters returned the threat with the one weapon so hated by every cop in attendance… the middle finger of a self-confident smile. Oh, they all wanted to beat all of us to a pulp and were begging to see the festivities begin in earnest. Some had been rooted to the same spot for hours, wordless, unsmiling… vicious.
Suddenly, 5:35 A.M. A historic roar. Thousands, yes thousands, of spontaneous cheers erupting in unison across the grounds of City Hall. A cacophony echoing off the surrounding concrete buildings. The cheers of the thousands of us who had- that very moment- seen with our own eyes the unimaginable, what we had all thought was impossible that night. What we had all silently prayed for. These cops, after more than eighteen hours of intimidation and a monstrous show of force… they now turned on their heels in unison… they went backwards.
They went home!
Victory! Our victory! A national victory. For those, we were fighting for and the ideas we all shared. It was a very great morning. It was thrilling. It was unbelievable… to be able to “believe” in something once again. After so,so long.
On this crystal blue southern California morning, I walked through the crisp slowly warming air swinging in circles of joy around lamp posts and parking meters one-by-one on the long trip back to my car. The cops were still everywhere; on every side street and alleyway, all standing in clusters near line after line of cop cars of all shapes and sizes. They grimaced, staring at me as I paraded my reverie before their nasty faces. I considered my own middle finger as a final message before disappearing from their sight, but then instead laughed out loud, guffaws of satisfaction and happiness. For I realized that today, this day, we had all already given them- every single cop- the best middle finger possible.
But, in the eternal optimism of that amazing morning, none of us could know that this victory would be the last- ever- for non-violent American activism.
Yeah, the LA cops came back on the Tuesday and stomped us real good. But they still proved the First Rule of Democracy. That day, the inverted ratio of cops to protesters was 4:1. The wrong way, this time.
They breezed through the camp on Tuesday in what could only be described as a full blown attack. Everyone got kettled or beaten, forced into huge groups, except for the wounded, and put on buses that then left for Dodger Stadium parking lot to sit, hour after hour in the heat of the day. No bathroom breaks, no news, just sitting there boiling in the sun.
All the while, the cops surrounded the dozens of buses, standing or leaning on their black-and-whites, glowering. And smiling.
The demise of the LA Occupy camp and the legend of that Sunday were the best advertising Occupy could have had. People across America were now following this leadership. Opposition was rising. City by city, it had found a place to fester and grow stronger. It had found fertile ground and its roots were growing far too quickly. The remaining camps nationwide continued to grow. Activism flourished.
It was time.
“Politics is the only art whose artists regularly disown their masterpieces.” ― Raheel Farooq
Before Occupy became a household name splashed across the daily news cycle, Americans, particularly those whose cynicism had not lost a sense of humour, realized some other undeniable, important and yet often ignored rules about their national condition. One: Their government- from POTUS to Congress- is utterly controlled by capitalist corporations and a fear mongering military that holds complete sway of all their politicians. Two: The media cannot be trusted. Be it Newspaper, Radio, Television or Cable, the media, almost without exception serves the interest of the established regime.
Hence, a very new political affectation arose from a place never before considered as part of the News Media: the snarky, quick-witted late-night comedian as a pundit of popular opinion and a new voice of a disenfranchised nation. What news exec. would have thought that the tiny, struggling cable channel, Comedy Central, would suddenly take a prominent place within mainstream news media and steal ratings and respect from these increasingly propagandized news corporations?
Enter Jon Stewart and protege Stephen Colbert.
Stewart had spent years as host of “The Daily Show.” His acerbic wit and bold, direct – yet cuttingly humorous- interview style slowly manifested into his daily political commentary. From the opening monologue through his cutting duplicitous interview questions, he challenged his many guests, exposing them as being mere pawns in the system he regularly mocked to the growing glee of his attentive viewers. As the show grew in popularity Stewart’s rendition of the daily news and current events became a more trusted voice in the wind of media lies and propaganda. Not surprisingly, The Daily Show became one of the top-rated shows on cable TV with millions tuning in each evening. It became more than obvious that Stewart knew very well the power he had gained in honestly exposing the lies of the status quo and his nightly demeanour brimmed with confidence. But his was something more than that… something that became more and more apparent as the Daily Show sharpened its collective sword of political humour. Stewart’s persona was no longer mere comedy. It was, now, leadership.
Many forget that once Walter Cronkite, the career old-school journalist and decades-long anchor of the CBS evening news, was considered the most trusted man in America. In a by-gone era when news was based substantially on facts, on-scene reporting, two-sided analysis and competition among the big three networks, CBS, ABC and NBC, Cronkite exemplified the highest standard of news. Unlike, the teleprompter reading, make-up slathered, talking heads currently featured across all news media, in a long-gone world full of take-no-prisoners, gumshoe journalism, Cronkite had risen the top, and he had earned it the hard way. More important than Cronkite’s eventual legacy as an icon of American news, when he retired on air at the end of his final “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” the nation across the breadth of American media knew that “news” had lost more… it had lost a leader. Never to be replaced.
As trustworthy American journalism began its slow but steady transformation into one national American Völkischer Beobachter, the networks were replaced in prominence by cable news and then cable news dutifully descended into what it has become today: Entertainment propaganda for dullards designed to maintain wholesale ignorance and the authoritarian status quo control of same. Two decades on from the Cronkite era, what little intelligence that still remained in America was hungry for news that confirmed their growing suspicion that… we’re all fucked.
This left the news door open for Stewart and his political variety show to become a similarly trusted voice. Like Cronkite, a large portion of the nation gravitated to his words and political commentary because he, too, was offering the truth. Hell, it had to be the truth , ’cause no one else was saying it!
His eventual sidekick, Stephen Colbert, a man of incredibly gifted wit and a talent for spontaneous, unscripted, ad-lib humour worked his occasional hilarious five-minute political parodies into being a regular feature on Stewart’s show. Colbert was a different sort than Stewart and entered the show at a time when The Daily Show had already begun to morph into a political force and leadership that commanded ever-increasing viewership because of it. So the show was ready for Colbert and his brand of hilarious, deep cutting, if not hurtful, political brand of humour. Colbert’s style augmented Stewart’s shtick perfectly. Not surprisingly, Colbert’s very rare comedic talents earned him a show of his own , “The Colbert Report” which immediately followed The Daily Show. Stewart’s show became the set-up routine handed off to Colbert every evening.
Colbert showed real brass and was even more aggressive in destroying his interviewees. Arrogant political leaders using their standard talking points were excoriated by Colbert because he knew his subject well and his adversary better. His humour not only exposed them, it mocked them and what they had come to his show and try to stand for. Colbert took obvious delight as he left most of them quivering for mercy as the audience roared in guffaws of ridicule, and approval, of these political leaders, being thus stripped bare naked by their new hero.
Colbert was so politically effective, and funny, that his public destruction of so many politicians forced House Speaker John Boehner to advise, in writing, that Republicans avoid Colbert’s invitations to be on the show. His daily mockery of the American condition, like Stewart’s, was not limited to individual political hypocrisy or either political party. His ongoing factual examination of the results of the incredibly divisive Citizen’s United US Supreme Court decision- that made corporations into people in order to justify unlimited campaign financing- was some of the only correct commentary available from any media source. Like Stewart, Colbert had gone from comedian to political pundit and next to leader. He showed this as he regularly brought to his show people of impeccable credentials in their fields and offered them to his viewers as a counterpoint to the established MSM narrative. Many of the issues he tackled continued to be updated and expanded on week after week as his education and viewership on important current events continued to increase.
Both shows became so popular that there was a six-month waiting list for audience tickets. When visiting New York City in 2010, a line of young people hoping for a remaindered ticket stretched down the avenue for a hundred yards or more. Colbert and Stewart had become political rock stars. Acknowledgements, praise and awards came in as both hosts showcased their success, which they gladly acknowledged was due to their growing audience’s allegiance to them and their quest for alternative news. People and organizations paid tribute to them, their shows and what they had accomplished as the new mirror against growing American political oppression. And that popularity continued to grow as did the leadership that their shows offered to a waking portion of an outraged nation, a new voice of opposition deliberately inspired.
Then… they went too far.
* * *
It was early 2010. Building on the success of both shows, Stewart and Colbert began using their daily evening platforms to advertise a new milestone in their comedic leadership. Before Occupy exemplified the First Rule of Democracy, both understood that their nation needed a single gathering point for all those who wanted to make their own voices heard in Washington and across the nation. Hence, they booked the entire Washington Mall, the scene of great moments in US history. Its stated purpose was to provide a venue for attendees to be heard above what Stewart described as the more vocal and extreme 15–20% of Americans who “control the conversation” of American politics. This would be a gathering of like minds and a symbol of protest to those dark minions housed in their fortifications close by. They called their call to action, “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear!”
The event was largely ignored by MSM and the networks as just another crackpot stunt, but in a sign of the popularity of both the shows, word spread and people came from everywhere. Interviewed during the month-long ramp-up to the event that would be broadcast live for three uninterrupted hours on Comedy Central on Oct 30, 2010, Stewart and Colbert said that they were hoping for, perhaps, 100,000 to attend.
So when both took to the huge elevated banner draped stage on that crisp and clear DC morning, the looks on their faces, as they started from side to side along the length of the huge mall, the smiles they wore said more than they could have imagined. There were not 100,000 in front of the stage; estimates actually approached 250,000. They had, like their government, completely underestimated the numbers and the outrage of the nation, one that had got off their couches that day, got in their cars and finally made a personal effort to make one personal statement. To finally say ,“No!”
It was time.
All stood, laughed and cheered as both hosts and their guests that ranged from Ozzie Osborne to the recently arrested terrorist ex-musician Cat Stevens graced the stage and mocked, again and again, the lies, the distortions, the control and the manufactured fear created by politicians and their minions in their government and their media. Stewart spontaneously tried to quantify the surprising and overwhelming success of the protest by starting a human wave from across the stage front and sending it backwards through the crowd. The wave took so long to reach the back that Stewart began a second, then third wave. So, it became very obvious to Stewart, Colbert and a nation watching on a once very minor cable channel- and to the status quo- America was really pissed!
As these two leaders bid goodbye to these maddening throngs of rejuvenated Americans on that DC afternoon, admonishing them with more humour, to come together, work together and all get along together in this day’s final humorous salvo designed to re-propagate their goals for this day, the nation had suddenly taken an incredible step towards restoring Sanity and eliminating Fear. This day, Stewart and Colbert had taken what they had so slowly and methodically built for years and established their shows and themselves as true and effective leaders of a new opposition. They were ready for truly big results to come. They were doing what no others had managed to do in decades: The times… they were a-changing’!
Or that’s how it seemed on that glorious day, nearly a decade ago. Oh, yes! It seemed like a victory.
In the nearby dark basement halls inhabited by the black-hearted practitioners of unlimited greed and American authoritarian capitalist control, this day’s successful event was not the comedy event of the decade. It was a horror show.
A year later, when the advent of Occupy philosophically echoed what Stewart and Colbert had helped start, giving a place for the opposition to ferment, both hosts paid homage to those Occupiers and Occupy camps that had now joined them on front lines of opposition. Daily, viewers tuned in to see them showcase this new focus of daily opposition. The ratings of both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, for the same reasons that had made the DC event on the Mall exceed all expectations, were still growing; as was their influence. The Occupiers, like Stewart and Colbert, were the new leaders of the opposition and everyone of like mind and desperation was welcome to join.
Sincere leaders, real leaders- those that lead on behalf and inclusion of others without demand for personal gain -are the greatest rarity in our modern world. These leaders, in the minds of established hypocrisy, avarice and greed, are the greatest threat. The vital ingredient to the First Rule. Something had to be done.
When it did, retribution happened oh, so quickly.
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” ― Malcolm X
6:00 AM. February 4, 2012. McPherson Park. “They’re here!” came the sudden shout of warning, snapping everyone at McPherson and camps across the nation, to attention. It was true. They were here. Cops. Hundreds.
They were coming our way.
On the western edge of McPherson Park, Khaki uniformed DC Park Service police combined with DC metro police. Near them, Yellow long sleeved Haz-Mat suited and gloved sanitation workers stood with huge trash bins near bigger trash trucks ready to raze this park, its tents and all the ideals that this park had stood for during the past four months, directly into the dust bin for US history. Vanquished.
Again, their bullhorns of oppression blared warnings to us to leave or be arrested. Most had left, many had stayed. In an interesting loophole of DC metro law, tents were actually OK. Sleeping in them was not. Thus, anyone having a tent and a sleeping bag had their tent summarily chucked into the rubbish bin. Anyone resisting was arrested. Without the numbers needed for effective opposition- like in LA- these hit men, the cops and the workers, roamed free, tossing the last vestiges of our hopes into bins, smashing them to pieces.
Under an ageing, four-sided, floppy, olive drab military tent, Mike, the camp librarian had spent months culling a very substantial collection of donated books that numbered in the thousands into a correctly categorized library on make-shift wooden shelves for all to use freely. His was a library in a tent and Mike slept elsewhere. This fact and the many remaining Occupiers made this clear. So, as the Camp became almost barren, the final spectacle of Mike and his library still stood as one last middle figure to the cops. There he stood as we yelled encouragement and the cops waited for him to finally fall asleep… to be arrested, all his books and their stores of knowledge to be burned at the stake of America’s capitalist pyre.
The final nightmare had begun.
Across the nation, on this day and the next, every remaining camp of any size or influence was crashed by the cops. Denver went down during a driving snowstorm. Philly got beat up pretty bad we were told. Zuccotti had already gone down, but their reappearance on the concrete rotunda was anticipated and put down brutally by New York’s finest. Small camps like San Luis Obispo, Calif and Austin, Texas were left alone to wither and die without support from the nation or their brothers in state capital Occupy camps.
By the end of the day, that terrible daylight years ago, we had all been defeated. Our leaders had been taken and our collective national Occupy political platform- so tantalizingly close to fruition- was left to twist in the wind for all to laugh at and forget.
Did we forget?
Yes, there was talk of how to regroup, to begin anew, but without the Camps that provided the gathering place for this opposition to grow and congregate the national Occupy camps were doomed to a Hooverville-like fate at the hands of a government once again threatened by non-violent public protest. Yeah, it was over quickly. Too quickly for a movement so close to success. All that was left of the government stopping we insurgents was mopping up what little remained of any potential future leadership.
This day, come nightfall, American activism was stone dead.
Colbert went from political leader to political sell-out in no time, prostituting his skills and success in order to become the exact same political shill he had rallied against and encouraged his viewers to fight against. The last two years of the Colbert Report had almost none of the bite as before and interviewees were generally a milquetoast assortment. His reward for whoring out his legacy was the Late Show. Nowadays, four nights a week, Colbert spews scripted status quo pablum to the ignorant masses. Like the many other late night pundits who together could not ad lib a fart at a baked bean contest, he is paid lavishly – in Rachelle Maddow style- to help keep them in line.
Stewart had the sincerity to bow out before he was forced to sell-out. He is today rarely heard from, his legacy has faded into oblivion. He too, like Colbert, became the personification of one last, very sad, tasteless, and disgusting political joke: Not the one about what once was…the one about what might have been!
By 3 p.m., the southern half of McPherson Square had been mostly cleared out, with bulldozers clearing off the top layer of soil, which was removed by dump trucks.
And so it goes.
“It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and find no one there.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fast forward eight years. American activism ignores the First Rule of Democracy and fails to bring together the nation under one banner. This ignores the true endemic problem. Worse, it dooms their own selective protest cause to failure. It is nigh time that up and coming American and world leaders well utilize the First Rule of Democracy, or accept their fate. That understanding seems to have joined Occupy in the dust bin of the American mind.
Whereas once 1984 and Animal Farm were a regular part of the High School bibliography, placed on the list to encourage critical thinking about one’s travails of government- and as a warning- this has been replaced by the machinery of the State with a state of mind that seems anaesthetized. America is strangely apathetic considering its ever degenerating social and economic condition.
Unions and the union organizing that was once put dramatically to effect using the First Rule are today equally useless. Like activism, the union leadership has been replaced by nameless, suit and tie clones of the politicians they once used their collective membership to grab in a stranglehold. Whatever happened to the power of the AFL- CIO under George Meany or the United Auto Worker (UAW) under Hoffa? Whatever happened to national strikes! The Unions sold out their own constituents in Washington style long ago when they first strangely helped sell the capitalist cool Aid of NAFTA to their members and enticed them to ignore their brains and self-preservation and then vote for their own workplace demise and the end of industrial America. Unions today exert all the authority and effect of a Nevada boxing commissioner.
Activism in America has become a fractured, ineffective amalgam of separate interests that have little interest in coming together. Further, few of these factions correctly understand the real villain behind the story’s plot. The reality of current protest leadership shows that the vast majority fail due to this narrow-minded focus that ignores the root causes: Those that maintain the status quo of a very tiny minority.
Missing is inclusion, tolerance, education, compromise and dialogue among all interest groups that leads to the organization needed for cohesive national activism. Without these tenets, true democratic change will not occur. Only the illusion of protest will remain. For the past eight years, American activism has accomplished precious little. Sure, it looks good, but that’s the point.
After flying to East Texas to report on the reality of the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline and its corporate smashing of the local environment, Texas democracy and local civil rights by Trans Canada Corp., this new American activism had already shown itself repeatedly. I saw this same malady at the Mayflower, AR tar sands spill, I saw it at the DNC/ Charlotte protests in 2012 and I saw it at the Drone protests in San Diego. I saw it at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protests. I saw this malady also spread across the pond to the 2014 NATO Summit protests in Newport, Wales. What I saw was the current state of what is left of opposition and activism: Ineffective, mercenary, useless, but with a love of media coverage and one hand out for donations.
Leadership has been replaced by a self-serving cadre of separate faux-activist causes, such as Black Lives Matter, Antifa, #Me Too#, March For Our Lives, or the rise of similarly minded militia groups. None of these groups has the ability to look beyond its own pet cause, much less a willingness to join forces. Most of these groups are decidedly exclusionary and intolerant of any who may not completely agree with their views. None focus on the bigger problem, nor the First Rule.
* * *
In a friend’s rural wooden bungalow outside Winnsboro, TX, I had been waiting into the wee hours of the morning to interview Jesse, the supposed leader of TSB, “The Tar Sands Blockade.” He had been missing in action since I arrived in East Texas a week before. This was surprising since TSB had been contacted with an offer of feature press in several budding news sites. Aside from the democratic and ecological carnage reaped on residents and their lands by TransCanada and their local politicians, despite public outrage, as documented in a multi-part expose, there was something else quite wrong: A protest. If that’s what it could be called.
This Texas gig was about the most dangerous this reporter was tasked with. Cops, these cops, most of whom were doing double duty for Trans Canada, define the role of their badge at their whim and have a tradition of getting away with murder here in the Pan Handle. Worse, Texas cops are all big…really big.
The supposed beachhead of the TSB protest was well up in the pines, a good mile off the main road. High in these trees, some of the protesters lived in a rope tree fort directly across the path of where the pipe would be dug into the red Texas clay . “Thou Shall Not Pass!!” was the impromptu banner draped across the 100-foot width. A cat and mouse game continued each night as Trans Canada sought to starve out the tree bound protesters while 4-6 Trans Canada henchmen lazed about drinking coffee in white plastic chairs under a nearby blue awning. One way or another, each night the protesters managed to get food and water up to their compadres and disappear unscathed. This contest was followed closely in press releases by TSB.
But, none of this was slowing down Trans Canada. Not one inch.
I witnessed and heard the screams of some of these activists, being gleefully tortured by the cops as Trans Canada reps. looked on smiling, knowing we would be next if we made a sound. Sarah and Ben had locked themselves to a huge D-9 bulldozer in a manner, using a 3-inch diameter piece of PVC pipe, that prevented them both from being cut loose quickly. Instead, the cops tasered and assaulted the two for hours before they were finally arrested and tortured again by the local county judge with huge fines, days in jail and draconian criminal charges, all recently passed for that purpose just weeks before by the Texas legislature at TransCanada’s request.
TSB leaders had promised these gullible ideologues legal fees and representation, and for a time some were provided pro bono by a Houston based attorney. But as the arrests added up, criminal charges increased and pro bono donations dried up, Ben, like so many were left to the hands of the state and those corrupt local judges. When I spoke to him at the end of the protest, when Trans Canada had prevailed, unscathed all the way to Port Arthur, he was disillusioned, frustrated and bitter about his pending court trial and at what the leaders of TSB had done with his willingness to protest. So was this reporter.
This was not a protest; it was a theatre. What became sickeningly obvious was that TSB had no inclination of trying to defeat Trans Canada. TSB had accomplished nothing except a pile of arrest records for well-intentioned young activists. Not one time did a TSB leader get arrested. None of these protests had any functional result in so much as slowing down KXL. Trans Canada and MSM merely hid the resultant torture from public view and kept on digging.
So, what was the real reason for these protests? Donations.
TSB did not seek new members, except when the likes Daryl Hannah stopped into stroke her long-dead notoriety. They did not create effective direct action protests elsewhere on the 1,800-mile pipeline beyond Winnsboro area. They did not disable TransCanada’s equipment. They did not coordinate with other protest groups nor increase the force of their protest by an assembly of pure numbers. They preferred to hide-out in the forest.
What these leaders of TSB did do was only orchestrate actions that placed the junior protester at grave risk but without damaging Trans Canada in any way. However, their Media Team tried to make these limited actions and the arrests and police brutality high profile enough to ask for more donations, each and every time.
So, as I waited until almost 3 AM for Jesse to arrive for the night, I had many questions for him. Predictably, the interview did not go well.
Considering what little I saw of effective protest, I asked him about what he thought about the tactics advocated by the likes of Edward Abbey and his Monkey Wrench Gang ideas on effective protest. “We’re not doing any of that!” he almost spat, while cleaning his teeth and pacing about the cabin. Challenged with Abbey’s writings and successes of philosophy in lieu of TSB’s failure in tactics, he maintained, “Trans Canada knows we’re here. We are all standing together on this…” About the injuries and arrest records of the volunteers, “They knew what they were getting into.” And, of his personal lack of incarceration, “I’m always busy. I have too much to do each day, travelling, coordinating. If I go down, there’s no chance.”
It was hard not, at this point, to digress to the heart of the matter.
Highlighting briefly all that I had seen and written about in the previous two weeks, I summed up in one question what I had distilled from these many facts. “It appears that the true goal of TSB is to create reasons for donations with limited, ineffective actions. It does not appear that you are interested in stopping KXL.”
His answer came quickly, with him storming out into the night after accusing my honest question of being why no one can trust the media. Yes, most media was guilty. But so was he. Guilty of betraying the trust that his volunteers, the trust a too-trusting viewership had shown him, and guilty of –again using the commodity of “Hope” to swindle the dreams of the young and their sincere desire for real activism, thus betrayed for money.
American activism has little to cheer about. Like TSB, its blinded leaders have accomplished little beyond equally creating a mere theatre of protest. Many are lead by individuals that are not in any way interested in national goals, nor inclusion. Few speak of the true underlying problem. None call their followers to action against this foundational sickness. Instead, too many are more interested in their own power, their own financial rewards, and excluding other leaders or groups who might usurp their personal quest for both within their singular issue. Too many of these groups and their leaders are in reality mercenaries. Their protest is all too often an aid and benefit, if not the embodiment, of the collective problem they should be fighting. Functionally most of these groups fulfill the role of their government’s Agent Provocateur since these groups serve to distract from the sponsored real problem. This only further divides a nation in the interest of those who stand quietly behind the curtains of this charade. Watching.
Take for example Antifa, a supposed anti-fascist protest movement that strangely offers only the outward signs of real fascism. They pile out of rented buses from many parts unknown and reap scripted violence on those they disagree with. Which is everyone. Most come from other areas of the country or state just to stir up trouble for the nightly news and would not be on those rented buses unless the paycheck was already in hand.
Or, Black Lives Matter, a singular cause that is utterly exclusionary, singular in focus and uselessly, but deliberately militant. Ignoring that more Whites (52%-2017-18) are killed each year by police, BLM rages against racism while espousing a purely pro-African American platform that is as racist in its anti-white boy demands as the anti-black racism they claim to be fighting. Here too, BLM fails to see this duplicitous hypocrisy, one that only further fractures their country and dooms their cause to failure.
The #Me Too movement has given women the chance to get even with men for generations of real and/or perceived abuse, and the notches on their guns are an ever-growing list. This has men- one half of society- running scared. Any allegation must be immediately taken as factual upon disclosure or else be guilty because of one’s denial or impossible defence. Surely it will not be long before Mistletoe at Christmas is outlawed and Valentine’s Day cards come with a government warning.
However, beyond the scripted theatre of the many pet causes available, have any of these protests garnered any meaningful success at all?
Last year much ballyhoo was paid to the young leaders and their fledgling anti-gun protest movement, March For Our Lives, created in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting in February 2018 where 17 people were killed. Their national quest for gun control gathered on the Washington Mall on March 24 in one of the largest protests ever held on the Mall. MSM heralded them as champions of the youth movement and a strong, formidable opposition to the NRA and its vaunted second Amendment.
Fast forward one year to this past week. All that youthful kinetic energy and promises of success instead received the sour punch line from the government they should have been fighting in the first place. After all that, Congress only approved a ten-day background check, instead of the current three days.
That’s all, folks!
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”― John F. Kennedy
When the choice of the First Rule of Democracy is denied by the status quo who clearly understand its inherent threat, history shows that desperation by the public will lead to desperate measures. For those of conscience, there is no other choice. Contrast, however, the afore-referenced contrivances of mercenary and ineffective activism with the test of wills at the first Bundy Ranch stand-off in Nevada and its epilogue which played out later at the Malheur National Wild Life Refuge in Oregon.
Cliven Bundy has an expansive cattle ranch that ranges over a good portion of the arid Nevada landscape near Bunkerville, NV. It had been in his family for over a century, leased long-term from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Like many of the other ranchers, Bundy’s cattle roam the landscape regardless of borders while waiting for the round-up. But, suddenly Uncle Sam-whose name was really House Speaker Harry Reid- wanted it. All of it.
Claiming one million dollars in unpaid leasehold fees imposed arbitrarily by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) their private security in the guise of police began to round-up Bundy’s cattle. Further, BLM wanted his lease and land to be vacated.
Unsurprisingly, Bundy told them to fuck off!
Dutifully, state-sponsored media first portrayed Bundy and his family as the next insurrectionists in the spirit of Waco, Texas or Ruby Ridge, Idaho: An extremist white whacko who was about to be put down in similarly brutal fashion by the ever-mounting presence of hundreds of BLM cops. So as Bundy, his family and supporters dug in for a defiant protest, unlike the corrupt minions of the collapsing 4th Estate, a few really good journalists dug even deeper.
Turned out, that what was really going on was an old fashioned land grab. Harry Reid has a son and his son has connections with the Chinese. All three needed Bundy’s ranch for their grand designs of a massive solar farm, and to line their pockets. MSM did their usual job of fellating their masters, thus presenting only the news most favourable to the crime. And Harry Reid.
More and more cops continued to surround the Bundy clan on all side roads. When news of the untold reality of this upcoming political theft managed to squeeze itself through the micron-sized holes still left in the national media filter, sympathy for Bundy turned to outrage and next into mobilization, i.e., a rapid sprint to Nevada.
Does any of this sound familiar so far?
Daily, activists showed up to increase the protest. Now very familiar with the First Rule of Democracy as shown to them on that great Sunday in LA, the corporate criminals brought in re-enforcements by the truckload. All heavily armed and spoiling for a fight. Daily they assaulted the protesters as they marched to meet the cops on the two access roads to the ranch. They beat people indiscriminately; at one point body slamming an elderly Bundy grandmother to the ground, just for highlights. The cops were getting bolder. The protesters attempts to bring this story of corpora- political abuse of power to the national news cycle via non-violent protest was becoming desperate. It looked like the cops were preparing to attack them all in Branch Davidian style. They did not have the proper ratio needed for the First Rule. Would this protest end in defeat like before… the criminals smiling?
Few in attendance, particularly the Cops, had ever heard of the underground militia group, “The Oath Keepers.” Many don’t know about them now. But they had heard about Bundy Ranch and their call to action. Better, they had an oath to keep.
In a previous article, “The Secret American Army,” inspired by this reporter’s chance meeting with two ex-military (Navy and Army) Oath Keepers, Stuart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers were profiled as was their rational adherence of their oath to their country, a country that they too have grave reservations about. So, now they arrived; trucks, guns, ammo, military experience and all. Other militia groups also arrived to join the protest and change the fundamental equation.
Quickly, they secured the perimeter of the Bundy home stead. Out posts and look-outs posted. Meetings were held with all at the compound and their goals defined. Like the Bundy’s and their several hundred supporters, the Oath Keepers and the other well-armed supporters were here to stay. Until the Cops left. For good.
The Oathkeepers wasted no time in making this fact abundantly clear. In days the Bundy compound was transferred from a disparate assemblage of efforts into something more akin to the siege of Khe Sahn. Rifles poked out over sandbags as Chamo uniformed Oath keepers patrolled the perimeter, side arms obvious to all. The protests took on an orderly fashion as they still approached the cops on the county roads daily, a phalanx of Oath Keepers in attendance always. Uniformed Oath Keepers, several of them former military officers confronted the off-duty cops in professional dialogue and laid down the law. Real law. The First law… and the Second!
The beatings and assaults stopped. Completely. And the siege began. No protesters in or out. The cops held the perimeter. Despite the addition of so many weapons now looking back at the cops and all their weapons, there was no tension. Knowing that both sides were at all times in each other’s gun sights, cops and protests alike milled about the ranch. No guns were ever drawn with intent. But, the equation had changed. In response, so did the cop’s tactics.
The full story – the true story- was now penetrating the press as were the new developments at the siege. This story could not be buried anymore. Harry Reid was already a stuttering, mumbling mess about the whole affair. Back on Capitol Hill, divisive political party politics smelled fresh meat and Reid and company were squarely on the platter. The story was no longer the US establishment versus a want-a-be dessert insurrection: It was a greedy corporate owned politician and his hired guns against Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Because of the addition of the Oath Keepers to the First Rule of Democracy, Harry Reid’s democratic Kryptonite- like his quest for Fool’s Gold- had turned back to desert sand.
“Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence?” ― Paolo Freire
Across America, outrageous examples of America’s decline into tyranny continue daily. The disciples of the status quo now desperately attempt to force the American public to enjoy their lashings. Increased austerity, economic and social impoverishment, and endless Israeli inspired American war. Police killings of the unarmed, elderly, handicapped and/or innocent rarely draw protests beyond a couple hundred, all of whom burn out and fade away within days. Protests are usually a mere distraction, distraction from the real cause of the problem.
However, in France at this minute French President, Trump disciple and capitalist Blair-ite, Emanuel Macron and his parliament are scared- really scared– of their public. He has met the First Rule of Democracy. He gets more worried with each passing of an increasingly turbulent French weekend. Macron and his American inspired minions have good reason to be fearful. The people of France, unlike a distracted, incongruent and leaderless American people have finally awoken from their apathy. They have had an epiphany. They now know, and can clearly articulate, the real problem within their society.
Their own government.
France understands that, regardless of the plethora of social and political issues demanding activism and protest, these problems collectively have one cause. Further, they know that nothing will ever change for the better until that problem is stomped underfoot like the social serpent that it is. The people of France demand that their government change back to being France once again, not a lap-dog rendition of the long stolen American dream.
Enter the Gilet Jaunes. Nationalist. Idealist. Populist. Inclusionary. Leaderless. Fearless.
The Gilet Jaunes have deliberately grabbed the international spotlight very quickly. Of course, their example, other than scenes of violence are much hidden in the US media and UK press. In just over three months, this Nationalist protest movement has taken the outrage exhibited on many occasions by French farmers and blended it with the sympathy of the rest of the nation for resistance to Macron’s continuation of the Sarkozy lead march to carving French socialism into a greedy capitalist model. The French have suffered the result. Marcon has abandoned all pretence of slipping his agenda through the voters and his historically low approval ratings show this clearly.
Just as Occupy almost brought a nation together in opposition, the Gilet Jaunes, as a new democratic opposition movement grows by using many of the tools and similar political philosophy and tactics that brought much of America together under the Occupy banner. Similarly, the Gilet Jaunes appear- in their yellow vests- to be on the precipice of real political change by bringing their national protest right into the teeth of Marcon’s underhanded duplicity.
Like the entire American political system and its “hope”– full power junkies, like Clinton, Trump, Sanders, Warren, Gabbard or AOC, Macon was somehow elected as president; his false but carefully derived words of populism delivered to his nation with the forked tongue of war, austerity and relabeled trickle-down economics. In reaction, like Occupy and Bundy Ranch, the growing throngs of French opposition are now, finally, willing to do what Americans never consider. They will now take back their democracy…whatever it takes.
It is time.
Following the example of his American puppet masters, Macron’s only response to the Gilet Jaune’s attempts at encouraging non-violent protest has been to tightly grip his reigns of power and lash out brutally against his people’s unfathomable demands for freedom. So far, the protests have already forced him to throw out a few morsels of change; cancelling the gas tax increase and pretending he will lower University tuition. His new means of holding democratic power, which he has for four more years, is to create new laws making the French people and their attempts at non-violent mass protest thus illegal with new unheard of punishments attached.
For reasons unknown, the French, unlike their endemically war-like America counterparts, still abhor violence, particularly violence inflicted on them by their government. It is likely that had these same protests arisen in the USA there would be hundreds of dead on the streets already. But in France, the many injuries- which stands at 123 injured, 20 blinded, and one lost hand as of this writing- are already far too much for the public to merely bare witness to. Hence, the protests every weekend are getting bigger.
Unlike the Hitler-esque tricks routinely used in America to great effect, Macron is losing. The press attempts to demonize the protesters with accusations of violence, but in reality, it is the government that has resorted to violence. Using the equivalent of the US-backed Antifa, the Black Bloc or “Casseurs” (looters), as the new agents provocateur to start some camera-ready violence, as documented in an excellent article this past week, by Vanessy Beeley, it is this mercenary sub-protest group that has been guilty of initiating most of the violence. Their actions, not condoned by the Gilet Jaune, have been used by the French government as a raison d’etre to allow French police to toss stun grenades into peaceful protesters, shoot tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at their heads or beat them with truncheons at their whim and without apology. This is similar to what was observed in the time of the DC Occupy protests when Agents Provocateur mixed with the peaceful protesters before attacking them from within their ranks so as to give the DC cops a reason to begin their own rounds of vicious violence.
But in France, with every injured protester, with every new draconian law, with every weekend’s massive police violence, the every weekend protests in France grow bigger and more demanding. The French- and their government- now fully understand the First Rule of Democracy.
Being inclusionary of all France’s problems and therefore their protest groups, opposition is properly coalescing under one new and all-powerful banner with one single voice; a voice that screams the one word that is anathema to those leaders of Macron’s ilk. The word that encapsulates all that is desperately needed, not just in France, but in most of the world. The word of universal empowerment: “No!”
The French now understand that all these facets of their nation mental austerity of conscience – and more- must be encapsulated as one single all controlling problem: Their capitalist controlled government.
France- the people of France- has had enough. They now demand change. A return. An escape from an American inspired direction that the vast majority of their nation knows in their souls is the wrong one. So, change for France will come.
Because France will do whatever it takes!
It is time.
“This world is being brutalized and controlled by the fascist clique of Western nations. There is no ‘democracy’ left in this world…. Colonialism has returned in full force. And begging, trust me – begging and talking of peace is not going to help. – Andre Vltchek
The civilized, moral world is literally dying from a lack of leadership. Leadership, thus defined, is the rarest commodity in the world today. It is demanded more than ever before. Leadership is the one missing ingredient in using the absolute power of the First Rule of Democracy. The forces of empire know that the First Rule is never possible without leadership. How many real leaders have managed to survive an already ravaged, pillaged and pilloried world?
This week former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, adored by his people as Lula, had his prison sentence arbitrarily doubled despite his previous conviction and sentencing on political corruption charges, said charges being dubious at best. To be clear, Lula would likely have won the 2018 Presidential election in a landslide and that the only bar to this return to popular, anti-capitalist Brazilian democracy was his trumped up American inspired conviction. This conviction amounts to a political coup. This alone allowed for a new Washington anointed puppet, Jair Bolsonaro, to seize power by default and begin the re-gentrification of Brazil, anew.
In Bolivia and Nicaragua, Evo Morales and previously over-thrown Daniel Ortega are under renewed US assault of their nationalist leadership. Their perceived crime, too, is being populist and true to their countries, not the US corporate empire. Both have caught the ire of Washington by lambasting accurately the destruction of their countries by the American spawns of the IMF, World Bank and multi-national US corporations that care not for their people, other than as cheap labour. Much less their country’s environment. Predictably, Washington’s economic sanctions on both countries have forced divisive US poverty on the people in an attempt to sow discontent. And overthrow.
Venezuela? It speaks for itself.
America hates leaders, particularly those that rightly and with conscience expose America for what it truly is and has done to the world and have the rare ability to rally their own public to action against it. Hence, effective protest victory anywhere is hidden from view by an equally corrupt media industry.
But there is another leader, a leader potentially more powerful than Lula, Morales, or the Gilet Jaunes. For this leader could bring them all together since he offers much more; a helping hand and a path- an example of collective leadership. This leader provides them all with a deadly weapon, one that is the historical talisman of the First Rule and anathema to authoritarian regimes. Truth, facts, pictures, and revelations; given to us as confirmation of the identity of the one real problem, delivered in a manner that none can deny. This leader does not do this with promises, assurances, or public requests to be trusted. He does it with a weapon historically undeniable: Documents!
Enter Julian Assange. The most dangerous man in the world.
For the reasons stated America wants him silenced, better, dead. He has been the consistent unwavering force for truth that has revealed to our world the depth of the reality- the horrors- of the US / Zionist empire, its tricks and its widespread control. No longer do the properly educated believe in any remaining vestige of American benevolence. Assange and Wikileaks have done more than any organization to rip off the mask of the empire and strip bare its celluloid mantle of claimed freedom and democracy. He has exposed the empire’s false prophets who lie continually from the pulpit of their parliaments, statehouses or Congress.
The knowledge he legally offers to the remaining world of conscience has done more than any one leader to bring many issues and protest groups together to fight this one common cause.
The documents and resulting knowledge he has already offered the world shows beyond doubt the willful barbarity reaped on the world routinely by a worldwide US military and corporate Zionism. In his most recent crime, Assange exposed Hillary Clinton and her faux- American opposition party known as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as being as democratically fraudulent as the political systems that keep dictator El-Sisi in Egypt, the corrupt Poroshenko in Ukraine or the Likud party of Bibi Netanyahu in Israel, still in power. Clinton rightfully met her demise in the 2016 US presidential when it became undeniable to all except the willfully ignorant that documents proved that Hilary Clinton and the DNC that spawned her were criminals. They had all conspired to rig the election. Thanks to this truth-and the documents- Clinton and the DNC went from anointed to discarded in barely ten of the final days of the election. This, of course, was good for true democracy, but bad for Clinton and her Clinton Foundation coffers.
Truth by Documents is now a capital crime in the growing US worldwide empire.
Most still believe that Assange sits in stir only due to his avoiding prosecution for alleged rape charges in Sweden. But these charges have been dropped, leaving the lapdog UK government to next accuse him of jumping bail because he, to save his own life from the empire, managed to somehow escape house arrest for the temporary sanctity of the Ecuadorian embassy. His current condition is anything but freedom. He now sits in solitary confinement of this Ecuadorian prison, no phone, no internet and few visitors; even his attorney. But his legacy of releasing information, as any good journalist is duty bound to do, is by no means the reason he remains incarcerated.
It is his leadership.
In a previous article, “World: Finally, We Have a Leader,” this reporter penned an expose on Assange, positing that the world is hungry, if not desperate, for real leadership. In a world full of false prophets and co-opted and paid for leaders, Assange stands out as the one leader of the remaining free world whose own actions make him worthy of leadership. This is clearly shown as Australia has recently reinstated his passport, while Switzerland set about petitioning to offer him Swiss asylum. His name increasingly personifies the current brand-name of quality journalism and of true opposition and activism.
The Primal Forces of Nature hate Assange to their core. They know, as does the awakening world that his release will not merely be his vindication of the false charges against him. No. It will be the advent of massive and demonstrative worldwide protest, a protest that will demand, just like France, Nevada, Lula, Morales and Occupy, the return of power to the people.
Should Assange be suddenly released, and next offer to speak publicly just down the road in the massive Wembley Stadium of 100,000 or more, it will sell out in ten minutes. A worldwide, unavoidable media event will again showcase a desperate world coming together under one roof and before one podium. Should he return to the public stage, his provable legacy as a real, consistent, sincere, truth-telling populist will catapult the desperate world to responsive action. His own victory- should he prevail- and his struggle will be a badge of courage made more so by the hatred of the forces he exposes. His incarceration for eight years has implicitly anointed him as leader of the opposition party. “The” opposition party.
Assange is not a criminal. His alleged crime, however, is the worst capital crime imaginable to those that fear the First Rule of Democracy; that of leadership. Leadership that, like Occupy and the Gilet Jaunes, provides a call to action, a gathering place of like minds, encouragement and strength. A conscience. He provides knowledge to the fight which is the courage for all to come together in this fight.
Assange and Wikileaks have too effectively ripped back the curtain of media censorship and overt political control to reveal standing behind this curtain a shivering, disheveled, scrawny little visage of a morally starving human serpent, hissing and violently thrashing about wildly without possessing any real power beyond the bullies he employs with his stolen riches. As this snake gazes nervously about his scripted stage, he is confronted now with a packed house, pitchforks and scythes in hand, armed and ready to render him and his ilk, once again, asunder.
When his curtain is burned before the glowing eyes of the world, the First Rule of Democracy will then rise as one. Then, the guillotines of populist justice will be finally dusted off and those of dark heart and mind will be dragged screaming and begging forgiveness to the town squares of every city in the empire, their heads next placed on stakes for those remaining “leaders” to gaze at in abject horror.
On that day, that glorious, crisp clear blue morning, the world will dance. It will smile. It will collectively swing circles around lamp posts and parking meters on its own way-finally- back home. We will all put our middle fingers in the air. On that day we will have won. It will be a day when we can all again, after far too long…have something … to believe in!
It is time for the world to shout out as one, to stand together with a voice that carries on the wind like the rattling of pitchforks, across all nations and all the seven seas:
“Je Suis, Gilet Jaune!”
“Je Suis, Julian Assange!”
Shout. Louder! Shout it! Not just until those in their ivory towers can finally hear you.
You must scream until they fear you!
It is time!
“We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.” -Greta Thunberg
So what really happens when that positive, activist energy finally goes head to head with the forces of the status quo that these leaders have ignored or underestimated?
This week saw the problem of trying to speak truth to power encapsulated in the office of that bastion of thirty years of unchanging capitalist hegemony, Diane Feinstein. Earth Guardian’s local chapter San Francisco Bay Crew and Youth Against Apocalypse, protest groups of local young students had come calling with their accurate grave concerns about climate change. This polite group of budding activists had come for answers from their political representative about her inaction on climate change, about their own futures and The Green New Deal.
Feinstein was having none of it.
In the dire state of activism, it is heartening to hear young men and women as young as nine or ten already standing up to power. Sadly, it is best that they and America’s young activists begin at an early age to understand what they and their nation are really up against.
Spokespersons for both groups did a far better job of articulating with more clarity than their adult counterparts, what is really wrong with the world. As shown on the video of their all too brief confrontation with Mrs. Feinstein and during the inspiring interview by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, protesters Magdalena (ten y.o.) and her brother Rio (12 y.o.) of Earth Guardians and their sixteen-year-old counterpart from UVA, Isha Clarke, showed the kind of spunk needed if they are to carry the banner of their cause and… lead!
But their problem- their real problem– was personified only feet away from them as Feinstein using a condescending, dismissive and dictatorial tone, and clearly exhibiting her impatience with these upstarts, sent them, too, and their cause away from her attention to be ignored.
“But…” exclaimed Magdalena, who had been keeping up her challenge to Feinstein’s every excuse from the front row, “We’re going to be the ones who are impacted!”
“I have been doing this for thirty years,” said Feinstein while next touting her recent election success and clearly annoyed at being challenged in her wisdom . “I know what I’m doing… It’s not going to happen in ten years.”
Isha Clarke responded with the need for Congress to consider the Green New Deal and why there is so little time. Feinstein failing to raise her gaze from the floor and look into the eyes of any of these children she and her ilk would gladly send off to the gallows of her ecology, boldly asserted, “We have our own Green New Deal.”
Sure she does. And here lies the problem.
Magdalena, Isha and Rio all admitted admiration for Greta Thunberg, the now sixteen-year-old Swedish student who used her personal courage, leadership and youth to start weekly student strikes in Sweden. From her singular weekly protest before the parliament’s entrance on each Friday that she took away from school, her protest has now carried over to many countries as she and her growing generation rightfully compel their governments to act on climate change.
These three scrappy activists would do well to pay close attention to the lesson given by Sen. Feinstein. Then they would do better to listen carefully to the crafted words of Ms Thunberg. Her lioness like eyes challenge with her every sentence. She speaks in a tone that is fierce, direct, uncompromising…threatening. Thunberg has good reason to assume this persona, for she is very wise for her years and knows already the real problem-the one the young protesters encountered in Ms Feinstein. This young adult knows it must be dealt with first and foremost. This problem, as she points out to great effect, lies exclusively in the adult population of her future world. And, we adults are really screwing things up.
In her recent speech at the UN Climate Summit in Poland, Thunberg called to action these adults and her generation. “You say you love your children…” Her penetrating gaze looking over the room, one-by-one, “But you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
Few recall that in those times when last American activism took no prisoners and did create real social change, the voices of the young helped lead that call to action. In the tumultuous transition from LBJ to Nixon of the ’68 election, Huey Newton was 26, Bobby Seal just 22. The Chicago Seven were ages 27 to 32. College campuses were the hotbed of protest and change and discussion, radical education and spirit. When you look into the eyes of Greta Thunberg you see a focus, a determination, that is unblinking; a look once seen, too long ago, in the eyes of the likes of Angela Davis (24), ,Davis Malcolm X and Edward Abbey. A challenge.
In words that showcase her understanding of the First Rule and the true foundational problem of society not so articulated in a half-century, Greta Thunberg, the new mother lion of youth activism summed up for all needing to listen,
“Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible… there is no hope!”
In calling for immediate action on Global Warming, Thunberg and her American peers and her counterparts in Berkeley deliberately use the language of inclusion within their call to action. Last Friday and in Poland all these budding leaders used another word essential to their success in understanding the real forces they fight while using the First Rule of Democracy. A long forgotten word. A word that is the very antithesis of the capitalist corporate predation that has systematically destroyed so much of the, once, civilized world. A word. A word for everyone.
If the world is to change and heal it is this kind of foul language that must be hailed. Equity. Enough for all. Everyone. Certainly, there is enough. Except for the endemically greedy. Could it be that this understanding of leadership is now growing quickly from within? Could it be that they understand the foundation of it all?
On Friday, March 17, 2019, these students, these leaders will lead a worldwide student strike about Climate change. The Youth Climate Strike. They will, those that show the will and the courage to follow their hearts, their minds, and their leaders, walk out of their classrooms together in protest. In doing so, what does their action say to the adult teacher in every worldwide classroom? What does this action mean to the parents who must witness and address their child’s bold statement? What does it say to a nation of voting adults infested with an apathy and derision so far unable to find their way through the mire of the swamp? This mirror of shame will be held up held up- by children- to the lazy, the apathetic, the unaffected. Those who still sit rather than stand, yawn rather than scream. Those that ignore the future of the youth of the world, will be the example next Friday of how much must be done, and of the adult world’s unwillingness. For, they are the final barrier to the First Rule of Democracy.
These are desperate times on so many fronts. Wake-up! Everywhere the people of the civilized world are losing. Thankfully, what is old is eventually replaced by what is new. Could it be that the youth of our world have somehow managed to see through the filters of deliberate foundational distortion and realize with utter clarity what the true problem befalling them is? Will they find a means, no matter what, to conquer these forces that would dismiss them and their quest for “equity” en masse from the offices of their corrupt minds? It will take an iron will, and much, much more.
As Greta Thunberg concluded the final lines of her speech, this was truly pause for applause. Her final statement hung in the air for all to cheer as she again stared, challenging, about the packed hall in Poland. Her words, of such force and wisdom that they seemed to echo forever in the sudden silence.
Her words must, now, forever, echo in the minds of all.
“If the solutions within this system are so impossible to find… then maybe… we should change… the system itself!
Now, we’re talking!
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About the Author: Brett Redmayne-Titley has published over 170 in-depth articles over the past eight years for news agencies worldwide. Many have been translated. On-scene reporting from important current events has been an emphasis that has led to his many multi-part exposes on such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, NATO summit, Keystone XL Pipeline, Porter Ranch Methane blow-out, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Erdogan’s Turkey and many more. He can be reached at: live-on-scene ((at)) gmx.com. Prior articles can be viewed at his archive: www.watchingromeburn.uk