By lambert strether of Corrente.
11:20 Shocking, or not so shocking, Bloomberg lies: You’ll recall yesterday his office refuted reports that 5000 books from People’s Library at Zuccotti trashed. They said taken uptown to garage and even posted photo of some books. Today librarians went up to claim and….surprise? Find only small number of books, and most of them destroyed. Also found promised laptops–also wrecked. See report and many photos here.
Yes, there were 5,554; here’s the catalog. The eclectic, donated collection, originally cared for by Brooklyn librarian Betsy Fagin, was housed in a tent donated by singer/writer Patti Smith. I say “there were 5,554″ because this morning New York Mayor-for-Life Michael Bloomberg had the library bulldozed, as part of his bungled invasion of Zuccotti Park, already rebounding to Bloomberg’s discomfiture and (hence) the public good. What’s Bloomberg’s problem with books, anyhow? Does he think trashing a library is going to help him buy his way to a third-party presidential run? Is “destroying things never felt so good” really the platform America’s Mayor of the 1% wants to run on? Wait, don’t answer that.
Now, let’s be fair. It is true that Bloomberg didn’t actually set the people’s books on fire.** All Bloomberg did was bulldoze the library, put the books into garbage trucks, and haul them away to a Department of Sanitation facility at 650 West 57th Street in Manhattan — not to be confused with any of these facilities — claiming that they could be picked up today (Wednesday), presumably on presentation of the proper (photo) ID [Of whom?], thumbprint, iris scan, DNA sample, or whatever else the powers that be want from us these days. Some flack then tweeted a putative photo of said books “safe and sound” . OccupyLibrary:
We’re glad to see some books are OK. Now, where are the rest of the books and our shelter and our boxes?
Pas si bete. And what if the sanitation workers “threw” the kitchen food into the same “massive pile” as the books? How many of the 5,554 books can people still read? We already have reports of broken glass being mixed in with other goods the police said could be claimed.
Whatever. Because a library is more than its holdings. As soon as Zuccotti Square was re-occupied, Occupiers began immediately began to self-organize the library again. Here’s the library at 7:00AM today. And here’s the address where you can send donated books.
And that’s the story: Occupier self-organization. Self-organization is how the Tahrir Square organizers beat Murbarak’s baltigaya, and self-organization is how the Occupiers will beat the 1%. Because look what Bloomberg bulldozed: Not only a library, but:
- A media center
- A kitchen
- A medical tent (in which a patient was being treated)
None of what Bloomberg bulldozed was or is about violence. All of those institutions are about solidarity, people helping people. (For the homeless or the hungry, these institutions are helping people who can’t get help anywhere else.) Perhaps that’s really what Bloomberg didn’t like?
What the story is not: Occupier cleanliness and health, although that narrative was reinforced, no doubt entirely by coincidence, by having sanitation workers destroy a library, a media center, a kitchen, and a medical tent. Exactly as in Madison, WI, the Occupiers set up systems to keep the park clean; heck, the first time Bloomberg tried to use the clean[s]ing pretext, #OccupyWallStreet rented power washers and cleaning supplies with their donations and cleaned the park themselves. And who said “clean” trumps the First Amendment? Bloomberg’s girlfriend, who serves on Zuccotti Park’s Board?
And since it would be irresponsible not to speculate, for those who follow the zeitgeist, it was clear that two separate sets of talking points had been developed to make cities Occupationfrei: First, ZOMG, “violence.” Three or four days ago, there was a sudden spate of coverage where the headlines associated the Occupations with violence, death, and suicide, and where the stories themselves showed no causal relationship at all; one might imagine that editors, who write the headlines, were on a conference call, just like the governors. Second, ZOMG, “clean,” along with images of filth, dirt, disease (and, of course, sex. And hair). This is the shop-worn “dirty hippies” trope, and can probably be attributed to the well-known laziness and class bias of elite reporters at Pravda and Izvestia, rather than anything organized from the top down. (If or when either set of talking points permeates a society, especially when reinforced by the mass media, matters tend to end badly.)
Whatever his decision making process, Bloomberg went with the “clean” set of talking points (full statement, Pravda), probably because the New York Occupiers have been resolutely non-violent, putting the Occupiers in the pleasant position of being able to point out that Bloomberg, like the rest of the 1%, respects the First Amendment and our system of Constitutional government exactly as much as his police force respects the rule of law, which is to say, not at all. [But then, you knew that. [But not "all walks of life" know it.]]
Bloomberg has also positioned the Occupiers to ask this question: Are communications, shelter, food, medical care, and books being bulldozed only in Zuccotti Park? Or is the 1% bulldozing them everywhere? [But then, you know the answer. [But not "all walks of life" know the answer.]]
* * *
I just don’t know what the 1% are so afraid of. Well, actually, I do: People self-organizing to share all we know of the world freely without rentiers and robber barons skimming and gatekeeping. If I were “Mike,” I’d be scared of that, too. Yeah, I’d bulldoze it. In a heartbeat, “champion of the First Amendment” though I might be, just as soon as my goons could organize it. But I’m not “Mike,” praise the God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any.
NOTE * Trial balloon from Pravda, coded as finger-waggging at the Occupations.
NOTE ** Pause for obligatory yet not written joke on how Bloomberg “cooks” books by denying the existence of accounting control fraud.
NOTE Now, if the Free Network Foundation’s technology goes beta and propagates, our digital libraries would be safe as well.
UPDATE Best jokes:
1. “The police have occupied Zuccotti Park. But what are their demands?”
2. “If only they enforced bank regulations like they do park rules, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
UPDATE Readers, I accidentally published a partial version of this and then unpublished it, because I’m not familiar enough yet with WordPress. If I did that and lost your comments, I apologize.