From 1945 to 1953, “This Is Your FBI” ran as a weekly radio program. The old-time radio website explains the show in this way: “These were fact-based dramas that told the story of FBI cases from the agent’s point of view. Producer/director Jerry Devine had previous radio experience on the show Mr. District Attorney, which was a solid and responsible pro-law enforcement radio drama.” So much “from the agent’s point of view”; so “solid and responsible pro-law-enforcement” that J. Edgar Hoover worked with the producer to make it more authentic. At the end of each show, as I remember from listening to it as a child, an actor performing the role of Hoover would explain how the country was infiltrated by bad guys. He would tell us that we children should keep our ears attuned and our eyes open for the evil and the peril of communism. He instructed us not to try to intervene; he especially warned us about our parents and family, and that we should recognize that the importance of protecting the country was greater than any allegiance we owed to family and friends. In short, we should turn in our commie parents. (As an impressionable child, I was quite stricken by these instructions. I don’t remember having any indication, or recognizing any indication, that my parents were engaged in subversive activity. Nevertheless, I cautiously warned my mother not to tell me if she WERE involved in communist activity, because if I knew I would be duty bound to . . .well you get the picture).
It is with that sort of terror that I heard the statements coming from the mouths of New York policemen and politicians and echoed by other irresponsible folk around the country. Politicians thrive on the maxim: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Cases in point: George Bush following 9/11/2001 on a world stage; the privatization of the New Orleans public schools after Katrina. And now the police union, George Pataki, Rudy Giulani and others in New York have blamed protesters for the assassination of 2 police officers. But they have gone further to enlist the aid of the general populace in identifying anyone who might write on a blog, or social media, anything that might be interpreted as threatening to the police.
A span of 60 plus years intervenes between then and now. A lot of reading, gathering knowledge and experience, and documents showing that the list of “subversive” organizations and individuals investigated by the FBI and held on Richard Nixon’s list stretch the length of a football field. Now my stomach churns and old memories revive and this time I am on the side that I expect would be reported, not for threatening anyone, but for simply being supportive of and associated with those justly protesting the police, who act as a special body of armed (mostly) men standing above society. For writing this blog post. Yes.
Events are moving quickly, and every effort is being made to line up as many people as possible to support an assault on protest, crush dissent rapidly. From the emergency managers supplanting democracy in Michigan (a surprising number of people have been
won to the side of hoping these managers will solve the problems of the cities ruined by capitalism), to the arrest, conviction and sentencing of Reverend Edward Pinkney for up to 10 years in prison for attempting to defend Benton Harbor from corporate takeover to the escalating numbers of police killings around the country, the Dred Scott decision seems to have been updated: poor people in America have no rights that capitalism is bound to respect; and to execute its will, capitalism is preparing a full blown fascist assault on our rights.
The point though is that capitalism has no choice if it wants to save its control of private property. Democracy, limited as it may be, is the treasured disguise of capitalism. Once the emperor has no clothes, force is it’s only option, the option of weakness. It has seized the tactical offensive, because strategically it is on the defensive. How else can it control the 80% of the American population that is flirting with poverty, or the 15% of the American population that is already in poverty? That is what unites the American people. Centuries of ideological schisms, underpinned by material differences, are melting into air — if we can seize on our common economic interests, our battle for survival. If we can turn our defensive posture into a fight forward, toward the new cooperative world that is possible. A new cooperative world is necessary, and the future is up to us.