10 August 2011

Carl Davidson : Winter of Our Discontent?

Summer of our discontent: Buildings set on fire in Tottenham, a poor neighborhood in north London. Photo from Politicol News.

Son of 'Shock Doctrine':
The approaching winter of our discontent

By Carl Davidson / The Rag Blog / August 11, 2011

Watching the rebellions of the young and poor continue in London and now spread to other industrial centers in the UK raises an interesting question: Will the Arab spring and the European summer lead to a fall and winter of discontent here in the USA?

All the makings for it are there. We have impoverished communities of the unemployed where there are huge numbers of young people who have never had a regular job of any sort. Now that any form of taxing the rich for funding a jobs program like that proposed by Rep. John Conyers' HR 870 has been declared "off the table," it doesn't appear likely to change, either.

Add to that the GOP-led "Shock Doctrine" (with an assist from the White House) of creating a neoliberal deficit hoax to take from the working class and give to Wall Street, and you spread deeper misery across all of Main Street.

Now the AFL-CIO, thank goodness, is calling for a new round of mass actions against austerity and in defense of the tattered safety net. Add to that the October2011.org project, where the peace and justice movement is planning to camp out in downtown DC's Freedom Plaza until all the troops are brought home from the wars.

It's a perfect storm shaping up. Hopefully, many of our young unemployed and underemployed will be drawn to them. But any police outrage could set off a chain reaction -- we've seen this many times in our history.

We have a few decent politicians facing up to the problem, like the 80 votes of the Congressional Progressive Caucus behind the People's Budget. But our top political class has declared their efforts "off the table," too.

In brief, they're telling us our views don't count and we have nowhere to go.

That's what the bigwigs in London thought, too. Now they're all in a tizzy about riots and violence. In contrast, in one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you? Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Of course, many small shops and working-class homes, unfortunately, are being harmed in the UK events. Street heat is best when the target is narrowed on the upper class, and you keep the moral high ground. That way you can draw even more millions into relatively peaceful assembly with powerful and lasting implications. But when long-ignored social dynamite explodes, things don't always work out that way, with the well-controlled niceties of a tea party, no pun intended.

It is right to rebel against outrages and unjust conditions imposed from above. The "Shock Doctrine" is a two-way street, and once it erupts, more than you might think will know which side of the barricades to gather on.

[Carl Davidson is a national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a national board member of Solidarity Economy Network, and a local Beaver County, PA member of Steelworkers Associates. In the 1960s, he was a national leader of SDS and a writer and editor for the Guardian newsweekly. He is also the co-author, with Jerry Harris, of CyberRadicalism: A New Left for a Global Age. He serves as webmaster for SolidarityEconomy.net and Beaver County Blue. This article was first published on Carl's blog, Keep On Keepin' On. Read more articles by Carl Davidson on The Rag Blog.]

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