Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Uncivilized Reform

Modern American society continues its downward spiral today as Oakland explodes in a cloud of tear gas, flashbang, and rubber bullets. Several hundred armored policemen, under cover of darkness, moved to disband members of the Occupy Oakland movement, which had been camping in a public park for several weeks. Jean Quan, Oakland's major who initially supported the protestors, left the job of breaking up the camp in the hands of a new police chief, and then she fled town.

The chief unleashed hell, on multiple levels, introducing all manner of violence and chaos on what had been a fairly peaceful (though messy and potentially illegal) protest. Those in favor of Occupy Oakland were incensed. Those opposed were inspired. Both sides now planning to turn it up a notch. The 99% vs the 53%, while the 1% quietly snicker behind their castle walls.

The question now becomes: Was Oakland a fluke or a sign of things to come? It is either an exception and we won't see any more Occupy events turn ugly, or it is the first of many more clashes between the entrenched, degrading system and a motivated collective of challengers.

Seems to me that Oakland is just following the pattern of uncivilized reform in America and across the globe. Feels awfully similar to the buildup to the "race riots" of the early 60s. How about the politically fueled Chicago riots of the late 60s? Remember Tunisia? Egypt? Libya? Greece? Isn't the pattern the same?

  1. An unacceptable system is weakly held in place across the nation. (ie: political / social / economic oppression of the majority by a few select groups or individuals in power) 
  2. Compliance to the system is codified by laws, legislation, military or social enforcement. (ie: Increased influence of money and corporations over governments, dictatorships, autocracts, dogmatic theocracy)
  3. Eventually, due to corruption, entrenched bureaucracy, and excessive public suffering, the system losses its legitimacy. (ie: The Great Recession starting in 2007)
  4. Reformers appear to challenge the system, usually starting by exposing the corruption inherent in the system. (ie: Wikileaks, Occupy Wall Street) 
  5. New technology enables the people to organize in previously impossible ways. (ie: Twitter, Facebook, GPS.)
  6. Reforms requested by the people are flatly rejected by the corrupt system.
  7. The people continue to lose faith in the old, corrupt system and its legitimacy continues to degrade.
  8. Eventually, civilized reform escalates into a full blown conflict between the two opposing sides, old versus new. 
  9. The old system either reforms itself (Mubark resigned after 18 days of protests) or the old system forcefully collapses (The Soviets Fall in 1989, Gaddafi's execution was a public spectacle)
  10. Eventually a new era begins with a new system, and there is peace. For a while. 
So. Is Oakland a fluke? Or just an inevitable stage of the process? Will our system reform itself, or collapse?  Are those bankers in the shining glass skyscrapers getting nervous? How long before somebody realizes they ought to be Occupying D.C.? Or stage the mother of all protests outside the next GOP Debate? The story unfolds even as I type.

No comments: