ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The Occupy movement, as broadly defined as you want, has already demonstrated the ability to reshape consciousness through acts (and spectacles) of public resistance. That is very real political capital in the struggle to control the public imagination and cannot be underestimated.
However, the state/corporate alliance and its police take this movement very seriously and have arsenals of weapons at their disposal, starting with surveillance technology that can analyze virtually everything we say or do or write online. The internet has become “the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen,” said Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after receiving his native Australia’s highest honor for journalism. Every Face book, email or blog posting should be written with the understanding that it could be used against you in a court of law or during a police interrogation. And that’s not being paranoid.
Local police departments were infused with a surge of new weaponry and surveillance technology after 9/11 through Homeland Security initiatives, ostensibly to fight terrorism. There were all-out displays of fully armored tactical teams with automatic weapons and military vehicles at anti-Bush, anti-war protests in Albuquerque during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is standard operating practice for police and federal intelligence agencies to have informants pose as movement activists. Agent provocateurs can be directed to incite acts of violence for the sole purpose of providing a cover for a police crackdown.
Digital technology advances enable enhanced coordination among local police departments and national intelligence agencies. Naomi Wolf writes that the Department of Homeland Security participated in a conference call involving 18 U.S. cities in early November and advised on “how to suppress” to Occupy demonstrations, after which police violence against protestors and journalists in New York, Oakland and elsewhere ratcheted up a notch. According to Wolf, “when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence.”
State funding for repressing the Occupy movement is virtually limitless because, as history shows, private corporations will pay the police bills when necessary and hire their own paramilitary forces. Private security forces were deployed against protesters by the owners of Succoth Park, the privately-owned public space where the Occupy Wall Street resistance began.
If the movement can sustain or step up the resistance, repression will become more widespread and probably more violent. The good news is that the Occupy movement’s radical decentralization and its horizontal organizations make it collectively capable of withstanding heavy handed opposition. Clusters of resistance operating largely independently of one another are harder to penetrate and make predictions more for difficult for intelligence agents. The movement lacks a hierarchy that can be toppled and powerful leaders who can be neutralized or bought off. There are, it seems, plenty of reasons for optimism.