Freedom is Obedience

11.15PoliceRaidOccupyWallStHaving witnessed, from a distance, the robot invasion of Liberty Square, one observer was moved to comment that she’d thought of the NYPD as predators, but never actually said the word out loud. It is hard to admit that one’s own kind are behaving like senseless creatures of the wild. Besides, while stalking the unwary prey and attacking in the dead of night certainly looks like a nightmare that might terrify a child, the destruction of the village was obviously not aimed to sustain the horde. Neither the robots nor the clean-up crew took anything for themselves.

A village was destroyed. Without their futuristic costumes, the midnight raiders might almost seem a re-incarnation of 19th Century Luddites, seeking revenge on a threat to their very existence. But, like the villages of Vietnam and the cities of Iraq, the village in Liberty Square had given no offense to the troops. Just as when Dubya explained “we fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here,” it wasn’t clear who was meant by “them.” Inoffensive villagers have a hard time processing the idea that their very existence is offending someone.

A village was destroyed, but not directly. The predators didn’t look like predators because they were under orders, obedient to directives, and their own interests (not to get fired) were also once-removed. Whose interests are served by razing a village and consigning the detritus to the dump is hard to decipher, simply because the people giving the orders and referring, like Dubya, to the royal “we,” go to great lengths not to dirty their hands, lest they risk showing their incompetence.

The village, which sprouted like mushrooms in Liberty Square and managed to sustain several hundred people by sharing resources for almost two months, had to be destroyed because every moment of its existence was a poke in the eye of the denizens in the towers. They weren’t getting their “cut.”

There’s a lot of that going ’round. The people of Greece, for example, are rumored to be running fully 40% of their economy untaxed–i.e. without giving the banksters a “cut” of the action. And, while the extent of the U.S. shadow economy has not been as well researched, the reliance on money as a lever to control the economy and keep the populace in check is obviously not working as well as intended. People aren’t dropping by the wayside of starvation, nor willing to work for slave wages.

The social safety nets are working too well and not just because the banksters aren’t getting their “cut” of every dollar that’s doled out. The direct relationships between the elderly, the unemployed and the medically needy and their care providers contradicts the interests of middlemen, getting their guaranteed trickle of income from every dollar that’s spent and, in the process, getting to determine who has access to money and who doesn’t.

The term “predatory lenders” gained some currency during the run-up to the latest financial debacle. It was an accurate designation in the sense that the lenders’ ultimate purpose was to deprive their prey of all of the resources needed to sustain life and accumulate a mountain of wealth for themselves–like a hoard of pack-rats, if such creatures could be imagined. But that’s not what the robotic invaders of Liberty Square or the people on whose orders they destroyed the village were about. There was no interest to acquire or accumulate on anybody’s part–no selfishness at all. The object was to destroy, pure and simple and evil.

To deprive someone of the necessities of life is evil unless, as is provided for under our system of laws, a person has deserved punishment as a consequence of having deprived someone else first. Punishment is supposed to be a consequence, not the default. Which, since the deprivators were ostensibly dispatched under cover of law (by the Mayor and Chief of Police), raises the question what deprivation the residents of Liberty Square were presumed, albeit not proven, to have committed. And the answer, it would seem, is simply that there had been a failure to obey.

Obedience, that’s the ticket. Obedience is the new secular commandment. Well, perhaps not so new. In 1969, when men were still requisitioned and sent off to be killed without their consent, the entrance to the Fort Dix, New Jersey stockade announced to those inside and out

  • FREEDOM IS OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWWhich may well be true when the law is an instrument of justice. But, when obedience is re-defined as the law’s objective, then the promised freedom is turned into an oxymoron. How does that happen? I’d like to think it’s just an aberration, a mental processing error (obedience is the law?), confusing the proper relationship between cause and effect, crime and punishment, which arises from time to time and, once recognized, is easily corrected–as easily as revoking DADT and the military draft. Oh wait, that last still hasn’t happened. Our young men are still being coerced to register for involuntary servitude, as if they were the property of the state, just as soon as their emancipation from the ownership of their parents is achieved. Liberty, it would seem, is still a far distant goal. No wonder the disobedient villagers in Liberty Square had to be punished.
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Photos via OccupyBostonGlobe.com, OWS livestream - Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."