By Saswat Pattanayak
“We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is ‘Democracy’
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World...”
- Comrade Phil Ochs (1940-1976)
“State Police Keeps Press Away; Arrests and Assaults Peaceful People”
This is the Democracy that brings the likes of Bush and Obama to power. The Democracy that lets Democrats and Republicans contend with each other to run the American imperialism. The Democracy which exemplifies itself as the freedom forum to force its way into rest of the world. The Democracy that thrives on individual liberty, and free press!
And, when the rest of the world opposes the mammoth contradictions and brutalities of what the Democracy comprises, the Democracy then teaches the world a lesson. Across the world, the lesson comes in the form of lingering unforgiving wars where the Democracy annihilates the humanity that disregards its proclaimed superiority.
And, nearer home, the Democracy manifests in its nakedness, in its actual being, in the status of a Police State.
American Democracy does not even have to preach its virtues. In fact, it does not need a propaganda press. It simply does away with the press. American Democracy is not answerable to anyone, except those who own it: the wealthy class and their puppets, the lawmaking agencies, executives and representatives. They do not need the lobbyists at Washington. They are the lobbyists of capitalism themselves. A monstrosity that sustains itself. A system that perpetuates injustice as though it were normal, and necessary.
When NYPD forcefully evicted all the peaceful dissenters at the Liberty Square earlier tonight, and dumped one of the the largest collections of progressive books and literature literally into trash cans, it was a true reflection of what the civilized Democracy looked like. Not only were the people who claimed to be the majority brutally teargassed, handcuffed and unjustly arrested, but even the media/press which are supposed to represent the voices of the American society were disallowed from covering the ways the events unfolded in the middle of the night. Even the airways were blocked, lest the “free press” sends a helicopter to cover the brutalities that might give the much sacrosanct and vulnerable Democracy a bad name!
Really, what is this thing called Democracy? A system where the police decides to grant credentials to the press, a system where the media are owned by a bunch of millionaires to air their collective capitalistic interests, and a system where the reporters are forbidden from covering one of the most significant news events in recent times?
What happened today was worse than any other event of state brutality ever recorded in modern history. A right to peacefully dissent is not an exclusive form of American liberty grant. It is a fundamental human right everywhere in the world. It is so fundamental that every revolution and every mass movement has depended on its actualization.
Any government, by virtue of being one, is merely a temporary entity that is duly allowed to be there at the first place by the majority of people in a given society. May it be Hitler’s Germany, or FDR’s America, or Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, or Nehru’s India, a government is always in place with the support of the majority of people. Political scientists can call a government a form of dictatorship, communism, a monarchy or a democracy. The fact remains, without at least the implicit support of the majority, no government can stay in place. People implicitly, or overtly lend support to any regime for it to continue.
And therefore, it is the people who also inevitably change the governments and replace the systems.
Each time the people protest and make the changes, the events are duly recorded and the governments take notice of the oppositions. In the ongoing war, the people’s wills are always taken note of. No matter how politically polished or uneducated they may appear to be. When the Berlin Wall collapsed, one could dispute the collective intelligence of those that rejoiced. When the fascist minded folks walked the grounds to exhibit their deep-seated racism in Nazi Germany, one could virulently attack the sanity of the people. When George Bush was reelected to power in America, one could ceaselessly apologize on behalf of the electorates. But the reality is in each successful implementation of a political framework, it is the majority people, whose will has always prevailed sooner or later. And it is no wonder then, that this will has always been recorded in the pages of contemporary world history.
Except when the Democracy is questioned.
In the Wall Street area, where the Occupy Movement first started, when the police swiftly, hideously and murderously took over the Square amidst the darkness of a long night, American Democracy did not feel alarmed. American Democracy was not allowed to be recorded by the media to be the brutal, dysfunctional and oppressive construct it actually was. And the world’s earliest Democracy, the most vigorously tested Democracy, the world’s most successful Democracy did exactly what it was supposed to. It was not the Obama government or the Bush government that failed the people’s aspirations. It is the majority of people’s will to sustain an inherently failed system of Democracy - a system where money buys the votes - that failed the peoples’ aspirations.
Occupy Wall Street had major flaws no doubt, but it would have failed its purpose had it not enlightened the people about the failed system of Democracy that it was fighting within.
Fortunately, when the movement was overpowered by the Democracy, it veritably succeeded in its mission.
In its failure to succeed, the mass movement gains its success. Such is the nature of the Democracy.
Either we accept this contradiction, or we must redefine the word Democracy.