[Marxism] Re: Not a dime's worth of difference

andrew c pollack andypollack at juno.com
Wed Jul 21 21:06:23 MDT 2004

I wanted to make sure folks didn't miss the Daley-Bloomberg comparison in
the second article posted under this subject line -- in which Bloomberg
comes off worse than Daley! Hearing Bloomberg's repeated disdain for
protesters, the press, his political opponents -- every time I hear him
say to myself "that's just how a corporate executive acts at work, where
there's no right of free speech." And I think Cohen draws that out nicely
with the Daley comparison.

This is important for longer-term purposes too, as we remember how much
worse US authoritarianism can become -- worse than any tyranny the planet
has yet seen -- when corporate interests are some day challenged in a
serious way. 

On Wed, 21 Jul 2004 10:44:39 -0400 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> writes:
> NY Times, July 19, 2004
> Pop Quiz: What Do New York 2004 and Chicago 1968 Have in Common?
> If trouble breaks out between police and demonstrators at next 
> month's 
> Republican convention, the media will be quick to draw comparisons 
> to 
> the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Mayor Richard J. Daley's 
> rampaging police — who injured hundreds of unarmed protesters and 
> bystanders — provided one of the great cautionary tales in American 
> politics, and one that is already on the mind of the Bloomberg 
> administration. In a recent interview, the mayor's communications 
> director rushed to say, before I could even raise the subject, that 
> his 
> boss was no Mayor Daley, and that this was not Chicago in 1968.
> As the co-author of a lengthy Daley biography, "American Pharaoh: 
> Mayor 
> Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation," I can 
> attest 
> that the two mayors are not much alike. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who 
> made $5 billion at the intersection of finance and technology, is a 
> world away from Mayor Daley — the father of Chicago's current mayor 
>> who plodded his way up an old-line Democratic machine, and lived his 
> whole life in the working-class neighborhood of Bridgeport. And 
> given 
> the probity and professionalism Mayor Bloomberg has shown in office, 
> a 
> Chicago-style debacle seems unlikely here. Still, these two men seem 
> to 
> have a remarkably similar distaste for demonstrators — and for 
> somewhat 
> similar reasons.
> Mayor Daley's dislike of protests was largely rooted in his view of 
> politics. The Chicago machine was built on the principle that the 
> way to 
> have a voice in government was to pay one's dues at the precinct 
> level 
> by turning out the vote. Mayor Daley shared the machine's 
> hierarchical, 
> pragmatic values, and was offended by anyone who made demands on 
> elected 
> officials without helping to elect them.
> When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought the civil rights 
> movement to Chicago in 1966, his idealistic words about equal 
> opportunity and fair housing were lost on the mayor. Mayor Daley 
> could 
> not believe that Dr. King expected to dictate policy to city hall 
> when 
> he did not control a single precinct captain.
> Mayor Daley viewed the 1968 protesters in much the same way. When I 
> started work on the Daley book, I shared the common misconception 
> that 
> Mayor Daley hated antiwar protesters because he supported the 
> Vietnam 
> War. But I soon learned that he opposed the war, and had quietly 
> tried 
> to persuade President Lyndon Johnson to withdraw the troops. The 
> mayor's 
> objection was in a way procedural. If the demonstrators wanted to 
> end 
> the war, it seemed to him, they should have done the hard political 
> work 
> to be where he was that week: inside the convention hall.
> Mayor Bloomberg's roots lie in a social organization that's very 
> different from the clubhouse, but equally intolerant of spontaneous 
> outbursts. Until he ran for mayor he had spent his life in the 
> corporate 
> world, where — as in a political machine — people pursue a common 
> goal 
> by working through the system. Employees who try to harangue leaders 
> into changing corporate policy are not engaging in free speech. They 
> are 
> being insubordinate.
> In his handling of demonstrators, Mayor Bloomberg has acted like a 
> corporate leader dealing with unruly subordinates. His police have 
> confined them in metal "pens," and treated them with a roughness 
> that 
> makes protesting the government a grueling experience. The New York 
> Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of a diabetic, 
> wheelchair-bound 
> New Yorker who says she was kept in a pen at a protest last year 
> despite 
> a medical need to leave.
> In the negotiations over next month's anti-Republican protests, the 
> city 
> initially tried to force the 250,000 demonstrators who want to 
> gather in 
> Central Park into Queens. Its final offer is a site on the West Side 
> Highway, an uncomfortable, out-of-the-way, narrow venue that will 
> make 
> it impossible to gather as a group to hear speakers. Mayor Bloomberg 
> delegated the negotiations to the police, stepping in only 
> occasionally 
> to belittle the protesters' concerns.
> It's easy to understand how Mr. Bloomberg's background, like Mayor 
> Daley's, gave him a distaste for unruly protesters. But that doesn't 
> excuse his failure to speak out forcefully about the importance of 
> free 
> speech. He is mayor of New York now, and one of the New York's 
> proudest 
> attributes has always been its openness to robust political debate. 
> When 
> he rolls out the red carpet for the Republicans, he should make 
> clear 
> that as long as protesters obey the law, they will be just as 
> welcome as 
> the delegates.
> These are hard times for protesters. Sept. 11 provided an excuse for 
> tossing out the Founding Fathers' broad notions of freedom of 
> speech, 
> petition and assembly, and for imposing "time, place and manner" 
> restrictions that push protests completely out of view. When 
> President 
> Bush appears in public, the Secret Service now routinely forces 
> demonstrators to move to far-off "free speech zones." When the 
> president 
> attended a gathering of world leaders last month on Sea Island, Ga., 
> protesters were kept 10 miles away.
> As mayor of New York, Mr. Bloomberg has a special duty to resist 
> this 
> trend. Because if political dissent can't make it here, it can't 
> make it 
> anywhere.
> -- 
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