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 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 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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3 Responses to Carl Davidson : Winter of Our Discontent?

  1. Pollyanna46 says:

    Wait until the arrogant SOBs cut Medicare – talk about people with nothing left to lose?? Young and old together: “Da roof, da roof, da roof is on fiah! We don give a dam let the motherfucker burn!!”

  2. Didier says:

    And do not believe the mainstream press
    Lewisham Says: “Blame the Government, not our Kids!”

    Last night, a people’s assembly in Lewisham going by the name of Deptford United decided to organise a demonstration from Deptford High Street to Lewisham Town Hall in order to counter the notion that the urban riots were just “mindless violence”.
    Tonight, at short notice, over 200 people assembled in an attempt to build solidarity and to engage with the public on the real issues behind the urban riots. Our comrades in South London Solidarity Federation (SolFed) produced a brilliant flyer, explaining what some ALARM! members have been attempting to articulate throughout. Yes, we disapprove of some of the methods used by the rioters. But we cannot simply dismiss this as mindless violence, as having no social or economic basis. The riots were an expression of rage (albeit at times poorly articulated) and we must not attempt to silence that.
    The people of Lewisham were highly responsive to the demonstration, with many joining along the way, applauding, cheering and raising fists to the sky. It is clear that, although the community has gone through some hard times over the past few days, they are not prepared to let class society forget that they are STILL ANGRY at the waves of repression that have decimated our communities. Austerity, police harassment, poverty – these issues will not go away as a result of these riots, but become more prominent. We must seize this opportunity to organise as a community, to rebuild the solidarity and class identity that Thatcherism has devastated.
    The next demonstration, organised by North London Unity, a people’s assembly in Hackney and in Haringey, takes place THIS SATURDAY, 1pm at Gillett Square Dalston to Tottenham Green.
    All free-thinking radicals who are not afraid to critically engage with this process should come along. This is step one of rebuilding our communities politically, from the ashes of the rebellion.
    As our comrades in SolFed so brilliantly put: we need to organise to take back the world that has been stolen from us.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Let US be Manning the Obamavilla BARACKADES, indeed; and FORECLOSING on the Occupier therein, thereafter! And sooner, than later:;

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