During one of my sociology classes the other day we were speaking about Karl Marx and one of his pieces called “Estranged Labor (1944)”. I wanted to take a quote from this piece of writing which I found to be strong and I felt would help support my point throughout this blog post.
Political economy fails to explain the reason for the division between labor and capital, between capital and land. For example, when it defines the relation of wages to profit it takes the interest of the capitalist as the basis of its analysis; i.e. it assumes what it is suppose to explain… The only wheels which the political economy sets in motion are greed and the war of the avaricious–competition.” (Marx on Religion, page 118).
I sat in class and I read these specific lines to myself more than once, and I remember realizing how right Karl Marx was. Occupy Wall Street came to mind and soon I was able to link what was going on in 2011 with what Marx spoke about in 1944.
As I thought about Karl Marx and this quote, as mentioned before I thought about Occupy Wall Street and what was currently happening in UC Davis College. On Friday November 18, 2011, about 2 to 3 weeks ago non violent protestors were peppered sprayed, not just slightly peppered sprayed but heavily sprayed as a method to spread them apart and remove them from the campus. When I first heard about this incident I was shocked and disappointed at what things have come to. These students were punished for exercising their natural born right. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi responded by sending a letter to the university stating that the school had no option but to ask police to assist in the removal of these protestors. A letter was send to her by Nathan Brown, an assistant professor insisting on her resignation. I have attached the link to this letter at the end of the blog.
I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.(Nathan Brown).
This specific situation is an example of what Karl Marx was speaking about. People with wealth, the political economy will side with the Capitalist system. Yes two police officers and the chief were suspended, pending an investigation of the situation. But is this enough? These police officers were ordered by a person with power to go ahead and remove these non violent protestors; I do not think it is just the police officers who need to be punished. I think that the problem with incidents such as these is that the person giving the orders is not being penalized. This has not been the only instance of police brutality seen in The Occupy Wall street protests. I have attached a video which shows the police man handling a college student and pulling her by the hair while she is obviously not fighting back.
Overall i wanted to say that again for me it is kind of scary how things have escalated to this point. But i must say that the situation is getting out of control when people are unable to express themselves freely. This is what we have to stand up for our freedom of speech and the ability to say something is not right without the fear of being harmed. I felt that Nathan Browns letter to the chancellor was strong and much needed. People have to realize that the only way change will come is with continuous support to one another.The unity of a majority can cause great change. As individuals, who are greatly affected by these acts, our job is to at least spread the word and educate others on what is going on. That way we can help to reach what Marx exclaimed to be a class consciousness.
Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, from Nathan Brown: http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/open-letter-to-chancellor-linda-p-b-katehi/