Convention season 2000 became...

A Season of Confrontation

Revolutionary Worker #1069, September 3, 2000

"The alleged freedom of expression in the 'democratic countries' is a sham - and for two basic reasons-because the ruling class has a monopoly on the means of molding public opinion and because its monopoly of armed force puts it in a position to suppress, as violently as necessary, any expression of ideas, as well as any action, that poses a serious challenge to the established order."

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP,USA

Police clubs, preemptive raids, mounted police charges, barbed wired "protest pits," mass arrests and jailhouse abuse-the summertime political conventions came equipped with an open police state in the streets.

The authorities wanted their official political representatives to have the political spotlight to themselves. They didn't get it.

The system wanted to define and confine what politics, policies and controversies would be center-stage for this election season. They didn't get that either.

Determined struggle broke through the police clampdown and media whiteout. Thousands of people faced the police courageously. Generation 2000 raised their banners under fire-in a rain of rubber bullets outside the Democratic Convention in L.A., in the fluid confrontations surrounding the Republican Convention in Philadelphia. And they forced-forced!-the many crimes of international capitalism into the spotlight.

Out in the ghettos and barrios of L.A. and Philly, the masses of people took heart. When the police came to bust the puppet factory of Philly, residents of the surrounding Black community praised the protesters and called out the occupying police. Millions of people in L.A. wondered how the protesters would respond-after the LAPD attacked the Rage and Ozomatli concert during Clinton's Monday speech. And then there was excitement and support when those thousands of young fighters came back on Wednesday and marched-militant, together, disciplined, strong, defiant!-on the LAPD headquarters itself, calling out years of police murder and brutality.

A Revealing Moment

The presidential election season is supposed to be The Pinnacle of this system's so-called democracy. This is the time when the people's voices are supposedly listened to, when the people are supposed to be deciding on the directions, policies and leaders of society.

But what did we really see going on during the convention weeks? Phony packaged infomercials, while the voice of protest was met with rubber bullets and media censorship. It was an attempt to put a human face on an inhuman system - while out in the streets, the gloves were off.

The system doesn't mind some symbolic protests at their events. They like it as a distant backdrop-so they can brag about the "freedom of speech and protest in America." But they want it contained, controlled, loyal and muffled.

Clearly, the mainstream press came into convention-time with orders to keep the message of the protests off the airwaves. And they tried to continue this, even after they were forced to report on mass arrests and police attack.

First, they suppressed any discussion of what people were there to oppose. Then (with straight faces) the TV commentators claimed "the protest forces are so diverse it is not clear what their causes are, or even if they have causes."

Albert Gore Jr.'s laundry list of capitalist plans was reported as "substantial discussion of issues" - while the street opposition to a long list of capitalist crimes was described as "unclear" and "vague."

You have to wonder exactly which of the "causes" weren't clear. Was the opposition to the death penalty and police brutality unclear? Or the demand to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal? After Seattle, DC, Windsor, Philly and L.A., does the widespread hatred of the global sweatshop-ization by corporate capitalism still remain unclear? Perhaps the disgust over the system's twin reactionary parties was unclear to official media commentators. Or maybe the slogan "Human Need NOT Corporate Greed!" was just too hard for TV anchors to understand.

The Workings of a System

"Every time I plant a seed, they say, 'Kill it before it grow.'"

Bob Marley

Sometimes people say it is just too extreme to label this political system "a capitalist dictatorship." After all, they say, how can a system be both a constitutional democracy and a class dictatorship.

But that is exactly the situation-this electoral system is not a way in which the ordinary people exercise power. It is the way the ruling class trains and mobilizes the masses of people for its political purposes.

The problem with the elections is not that a basically good system has been corrupted by corporate money. This is a basically corrupt system, that was established-from its very beginnings-as the best, preferred framework for defending the slavery, genocide and capitalism of the "founding fathers." It is designed to legitimize the next leaders of this system, while it organizes sections of the people to support their oppressive policies.

Elections are not times when the powerful listen to the people-they are times when the pre-chosen representatives of the system try to get the people to listen to them. That's why the authorities suspended all visible rights of the people in the street, while they exercised their right to control the political process on the airwaves.

This system is a great teacher. This summer is crammed full of valuable lessons, learned under fire.

When the media could no longer ignore what was happening in the streets, their reports mirrored the official police line-that the cops had been forced to attack because "some protesters had come just to disrupt the conventions."

Well, let's just assume for a moment, that is true.

Let's just assume that many people had come to disrupt the indoctrination of millions in the system's politics and outlook. Let's just say many were determined to disrupt any whitewash of this system, the defense of its military invasions, the self-congratulations over cutting welfare, and all the demagogic lies about "inclusion" and "defending working families."

Let's just say thousands had come to disrupt all of it, and demand a better world.

What would be so wrong with that?

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