[Marxism] Report from Boston - question

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sat Jul 31 04:20:56 MDT 2004

Jay wrote:

I'm glad I did [go to the demo] for other reasons -- such as a glimpse of
America's future in these concentration camp-like "free speech zones."

When the President or high officials travel around the United States, the
secret service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to
set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones" where Americans opposed to
their government's policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are
quarantined. These zones aim to keep demonstrators out of presidential sight
and outside the view of media covering the event, as much as possible. On
May 30, 2002, Ashcroft also abolished restrictions on FBI surveillance of
Americans' everyday lives (the two Patriot Acts greatly extend governmental
powers in this respect).

BLS data suggests that there are in the "land of the free and home of the
brave" some 1 million security guards, 1.2 million police, detective, and
law enforcement officers, 1.1 million military domestic personnel of various
kinds, and 0.3 million corrective institution & prison officers, a security
apparatus totalling 3.6 million people (roughly one security person for
every 82 American citizens of all ages) claiming a personal income of over
$100 billion a year.

But is there any sociological-type analysis of the "zoning" of American
society more generally, i.e. not just as a political development but as a
cultural or economic phenomenon ?

I've tended to think that, contrary to the promise of "free markets", "after
globalisation, ghettoisation" (not necessarily a real ghetto, but the
tendency to impose boundaries of some sort to wall out "foreigners",
"enemies" or "aliens" or generally ""people who don't belong") but the
concept of "zoning" is really better since a zone could be a semantic space,
a financial zone or a cyber-space, i.e. it does not necessarily have to
refer to an actual geographic territory such as an actual "gated community"
or compound.

As we know, for something to be a commodity requires the assertion,
maintenance and defence of private ownership rights, which requires a social
framework of enforcible rules which limit access to those who have a
legitimate financial claim. At stake here then, is the pattern of social
rules governing the conditions of access to a space, a resource, a
territory, a group or anything like that, i.e. how the contradiction between
privatisation of access on the one side, and technologies which enable
greater communal access on the other side, is specifically mediated to
establish social boundaries, and define "insiders" and "outsiders".


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