A couple of days ago Russel Brand did an interview with Huffington Post Live. Through the chest hair and a semi-embarassing attempt at lactating the show´s host, he made a few rather salient points.
The crux of Brand´s argument was that “the system”, or the governing structures that exist to organise society, not only serve to benefit only a wealthy and powerful few but are also inherently fragile. It is for this reason, he says, that politics and the media are so stringently controlled.
Not especially profound maybe. The type of statements that are easily dismissed as the rantings of a conspiracy theorist. Or even, viewed in the context of his later attempts at milking an australian, the warblings of mad man.
Nevertheless, with Mr B in mind, let´s take another look at three key events this week.
Each of the below represents an attempt by the state to quell an uprising in form or another, and each represents a fear by the ruling power of the ordinary man realising he has the power to change something:
1.) America attempts to blacken name of CIA whistleblower
Ed Snowden, former NSA employee blew the whistle on United States surveillance of it´s citizens and beyond. An incredibly brave and commendable act, wholeheartedly applauded by this blog.
“I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in. My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” – Ed Snowden
It is little coincidence, says Foreign Policy magazine, that America has now embarked on a concentrated smear campaign against him across the media, at the same time as the administration tries to press criminal charges against the guy and extradite him to the US. In light of the information that Snowden has revealed to the watching world, the idea that it is he who should be answering to questions of criminality is laughable.
2.) Turkish autocracy opts to crush rather than engage with new, vibrant civil society movement
Turkey´s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today issued protesters with a “final warning” to leave Gezi Park in central Istanbul. According to the country´s leader, the wave of protests are over:
“We have not responded to punches with punches. From now on security forces will respond differently. This issue will be over in 24 hours.”
Amnesty international have responded by saying this statement is “only likely to lead to more violence and more injured protesters, particularly as fresh demonstrations are planned this evening in Taksim Square and elsewhere.”
In the last few days, the ruling party AKP have inflicted heavy fines on four television channels that have been streaming the events from Taksim Square. According to the Radio and Television Supreme Council, the images showing the dispersion of protestors by riot police “harm the physical, moral and mental development of children and adolescents.”
Meanwhile, rumors of plain clothes police infiltrated the protesters in order to create mistrust and divide the demonstrators have now been verified. The UK´s Guardian newspaper confirmed that an attack by five “protesters” wielding a Maxist flag and throwing Molotov cocktails, broadcast on Turkish television, were in fact middle-aged undercover police officers staging an “attack” for the benefit of the cameras.
3.) The Greek government closes down public broadcaster
Late Tuesday evening, viewers watching the news on the main TV channel ERT saw the screens go to black. This was followed by the announcement that, in a move that can only be considered a move against democracy – the administration had shut down the public broadcaster ERT, calling it a “haven of waste”.
2,700 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. ERT will be reopened again in September under new regulations, with new rules and new staff.
Not to be deterred, using a combination of company-owned and personal equipment, the staff who have just lost their jobs are now producing interviews and debate from their studios and broadcasting them via sattelitte streaming, giving Europe’s public service media access to latest developments.
“This closure, without any prior notice, without consulting the unions, without debate in Parliament, on the orders of the Troika, is yet another symbol of the anti-democratic and authoritarian ways of the European institutions and the Greek government. It is a new attack on employment. Above all it is an unqualified attack against freedom of information and creativity in Greece. Some people believe that through this it will be possible to reduce or eliminate any criticism or protest against the iron fist of austerity policy being applied to the Greek people” – statement from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left
As I finish this post, rapidly I might add for I am already late to join the other students, the sounds of whistles and chanting can be heard outside the window. In Chile today, the community once again marches for it´s right to free education. No doubt it will, as always, end in tear gas; afterall, police brutality looks pretty much the same wherever you are.
So, from Katy Perry´s former bit of stuff to Greece and back again, I leave you with a quote from Alice Walker: