"When the police attempt to use their powers to bring the violent few into line. . ."
You seem to assume that the police only act once provoked by violent acts, and that they act legally, that is using "powers" granted them by law. These are both *extremely* suspect assumptions.
It is silly to say that these recent protests are simply "anti-capitalism". What they are about, it seems to me, is the undemocratic undertaking to change the rules by which the game of capitalism is played. The web page you link to is a call to action against "corporate tyrany", which is not the same thing as capitalism. The transnational capitalism of today is a far cry from the capitalism of Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations (not The Wealth of Transnational Corporations). Adam Smith, in fact, warned against granting too much power to corporations, which were, in his day, strictly national entities. The corporations of today are incalcuably more powerful than those of Smith's day, and they are taking steps to become more powerful still. That's what all the fuss is about. It's not hard for me to imagine that were he alive today, Adam Smith, the patron saint of capitalism, would be inthe streets with the protesters.
The proposed New World Order of unelected "free trade compliance bodies" who meet in secret, publish no minutes, accept no direct public particiaption, is widely, and I think correctly, pecieved as a stealth attack on democracy itself. Under the current rules, citizens of the United States, Austraila, Canada, Britain, have some say in the formulation of laws regarding labor, the environment, health, wages, and so forth. The proposed order is an attempt to disenfranchise, to arrogate the authority to regulate such matters to a tiny, tiny few; further, to a few who can be counted on to decide matters in a way that consistently increases the power of the powerful.
It is the very stricture of democratic process relative to how we define capitalism that is drawing the people into the streets. So while you may trivialize the protesters by saying that they are naively "anti-capitalist", they are in fact not so easily bamboozled. You cannot say somebody is "anti-capitalist" when you are at the same time actively working to change the very definition of capitalism. This is called "bait and switch", a sucker's con, and it's not going over too well with a certain segment of the populace.
In the United States of America, people are supposed to have, according to our constitution, the rights "peaceably to assemble" and to "petition the government for redress of greivances."
The first of these rights has effectively been eliminated since Seattle. If you have an open mind, investigate police behavior at the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, and at the World Bank protests in Washington DC. There hundreds of people, (including dozens of tourists and a few diplomats) were detained without arrest, or arrested on charges that the police knew were false. This is a euphemism for kidnapping.
The police watchword has become "NO MORE SEATTLES," and police have demonstrated that they won't let the law, or the constitution, stand in their way of preventing more Seattles. As an church-going, non-radical, PTO-member, served-my-country patriotic old fart, I tell you that I live in a police state, at least when it comes to this provision of the constitution. It is gone. Oblliterated. (Remind me to put in my diary what happend to me at the Boston Bush-Gore debate. I thought I was in Belgrade.)
The world "free trade" movement is an attempt to redefine government, in such a way that there is no right of the people "to petition for the redress of greivances."
But in the United States long ago people took to the streets, and took up weapons, to ensure these very rights. Over hundreds of years people have given their lives in the name of these rights (among other rights, to be sure). The argument in the streets is not (only) about "Captitalism." It's about the rights of democratic people to govern themselves. People are willing to fight over these things.
You may say, "but 99 out of 100 people don't care that they're ceding their rights." Well, so be it. It has often been the vigilent few who have protected the rights of the many. And often people, lulled by the promise of greater creature comforts, have given themselves over to tryany.
I'm not a street protester and I know that there are some ill-informed people among them, and people with half-baked ideas. I know that there are violent people, and "revolution for the hell of it" people there too. But there are deeper things going on, and I predict that the protests will not stop for a long time to come.
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