The government wants Americans to believe that anarchist violence is a very real possibility at the Republican and Democratic national conventions. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have issued a bulletin to that effect.
“FBI and DHS assess with high confidence anarchist extremists will target similar infrastructure in Tampa and Charlotte, with potentially significant impacts on public safety and transportation,” according to the
Fox News, of course, took the bulletin and ran gleefully with it, running the headline “Feds warn anarchists could blockade roads, use acid-filled eggs to protest conventions”.
Even Politico, not known for its hysteria, covered the bulletin with the headline “Report: Anarchists may attack conventions,” as though anarchists were going to infiltrate the conventions and start laying waste to the building, the politicians and delegates.
People, particularly Americans, are easily controlled by their government and its various proclamations and warnings. The TSA, though not as heinous as some right wingers would like it to be, is there as a constant reminder that there is a terrorist threat, an “other,” always at our doorstep. The terror threat warning, in all its Big Brother glory, serves the same function. Such tactics are low-level, subliminal messaging to convince Americans to live in perpetual fear.
So, too, has it been for over 100 years with anarchism. Before the terrorist became boogeyman du jour there was the anarchist boogeyman. He was a useful symbol to provoke hysteria, replaced after World War II with the ubiquitous ”Russkie.”
The government used anarchist hysteria to a terrifyingly theatrical degree in the Haymarket trials and executions. What your high school history teacher isn’t allowed to tell you is that on May 4, 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago, anarchists, communists and workers were rallying to protest police violence at the previous day’s demonstration. The demonstration was peaceful, with even the mayor attending, until one individual (who was never identified) lit an improvised explosive that killed one officer and wounded several others. Police then unloaded on demonstrators, killing four and wounding as many as 70 others.
In the aftermath, the anarchist became a violent, fearful symbol. People seemed to quickly forget that it was anarchists who were attempting to bring a modicum of sanity to America’s ethically and morally-bankrupt hyper-capitalism, in the form of the weekend and eight-hour work day, as well as fair pay for the people who actually did a company’s manual labor.
The same sort of fearmongering surfaced again during the late ’60s when countercultural protests were common. The Weatherman (see: The Weather Underground documentary), first with its rhetoric and later with a few bombings (they never killed any civilians), gave the government all the ammunition it needed, allowing politicians and mainstream media to fashion an umbilical cord between the Weatherman and the counterculture at large. Last year’s Occupy marches and rallies provoked the same response from authorities: suddenly there were anarchists everywhere who wanted to cause violence and bring the curtain of civilization down.
The bulletin should be seen for what it is: fearmongering propaganda. Such pronouncements are the lifeblood of this American republic, dominated as it is by the Ballardian uber-rich with their private security. Theirs is the locus of the real fear in America.