Thursday, November 17, 2011

Olbermann on Bloomberg

In this “Special Comment” on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Keith Olbermann basically rips Bloomberg a new one. He deserves it. The billionaire Bloomberg—who is not part of the 1%, but rather the .01%—ordered the police to clear away “Occupy Wall Street” protestors, and has no doubt unleashed a huge number of unintended consequences.

Olbermann compares Bloomberg to George Wallace and Joe McCarthy, among others, who acted to suppress democracy. While to me that seemed a bit over the top at first, I think Keith is on to something.

The “Occupy” movement was by all reports running out of gas and was becoming an occupation for the sake of itself, and not a movement. By clearing the protestors and dumping everything—including over 5,000 books—into the rubbish, Bloomberg has inadvertently breathed new life into the “Occupy” movement. Oops.

Keith’s comparison of Bloomberg to anti-democratic demagogues is even more apt considering that the newsmedia was deliberately prevented from covering the police action and police actually arrested several journalists (including a cameraman working for TVNZ’s “One News”) to prevent them from doing their jobs. That’s not the action of someone who respects democracy, liberty or the rule of law—it is the action of a despot eager to suppress all three.

The brutality of the repression of the “Occupy” movement in some places has been breathtaking, but the fact that the corporate elites are doing it is not surprising: The last thing the corporate elites or their minions in government are willing to tolerate is any sort of real challenge to their oligarchy. Bloomberg simply acted as he was always going to do: Repression.

The US Supreme Court has given a lot of room for free speech, and it has frequently reaffirmed the right to symbolic speech, even when it’s not popular (like flag burning, for example). Bloomberg is on very shaky legal ground in ordering the park cleared. I’m sure he knew that, and I’m also sure he wouldn’t have cared: Sin in haste, repent at leisure, and all that.

I hope we don’t see anything similar here in New Zealand when the “Occupy Auckland” even is brought to an end, but we very well may. While the issues of class, income distribution and the influence of corporations are very different in New Zealand than in the US, and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement isn’t really relevant here, we nevertheless may see a similar end.

Thanks to Michael Bloomberg, the “occupy” movement, including that in New Zealand, has been reinvigorated. No wonder so many people think he’s an idiot.

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