Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Well, you probably don't need me to tell you that Zuccotti Park has been cleared by city officials here in New York. The New York Times story is here; a pretty good Guardian liveblog is here.

Juan Cole writes:

Not only did the police, at the orders of billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, abruptly move on the protesters, they are alleged to have deliberately kept the press away, which is clearly unconstitutional if true....

One of the ways that the First Amendment has been constrained is that fewer and fewer public spaces are still considered "public" (Zucotti Park is privately owned even though it is a park in a city).

In contrast, our emails, bank transfers, and our automobiles parked in our driveways have all been declared "public."

So the government has invaded private space, declaring it public for purposes of monitoring the public (a violation of the Fourth Amendment). And it has pushed the public out of formerly designated public space by allowing its privatization, so as to prevent the public from demonstrating and peaceably assembling and seeking redress of grievances....

I see what he's getting at, but the common thread, as I see it, isn't the creation of a surveillance state -- it's the ceding of power to corporations. Yes, there's increased government surveillance since 9/11 -- but the worst, and by far most pervasive, intrusions on privacy, the ones that affect everyone, come from corporations (as is clear to anyone who has a bank account or an Internet connection). So I suppose it's appropriate that the park OWS took over was a "public" space that's really private -- a space to which the public has access only at the pleasure of its corporate owner.

I'd also add that the removal of OWS and other Occupy encampments is justified on the basis of their real or perceived effect on the community -- cost to local businesses (a special obsession of the New York Post), noise, crime, and so on. But isn't that precisely what we're not supposed to consider when dealing with Wall Street itself? The dominant Randians and semi-Randians in our government don't want us to intercede to minimize the social impact of the financialization of our economy and the casinoization of finance. We're not supposed to care, for instance, whether communities are being destroyed by an epidemic of foreclosures caused by financial recklessness; the current president can't or won't do anything effective about foreclosures and the man most people think will run against him thinks the foreclosure crisis should just play itself out. There's community impact, but it's created by billionaires, not drum circles, so in this case we're not supposed to intervene. And that's the society we live in.

1 comment:

c u n d gulag said...

The solution for Bloomberg is simple.
He, himself, can buy a public park or two, and make them private.

And then, since the city's facing a budget shortfall, he can sell the existing public parks to corporations.
Welcome to 'Citi' Central Park!
'Dolly Madison' Square Park!
'Duracell Battery Park!'

Then, it's trespassing no matter where you go.

"Come to New York City, pay your admission, and visit our great parks!"
But don't linger!
Or you'll end up in the new human zoo at Rikers State Park.