Wednesday, October 25, 2006
What stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique ("a great task that occurs once in two thousand years"), which must therefore be difficult to bear. This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did.... Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical
suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!
Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
If you have tears to shed, let them fall like rain for Lt. Ackley of the New London (Connecticut) Police Department. This noble paladin of public order was victimized during the September 22nd arrest of protester Lauren Canario, whose supposed crime was to sit placidly reading a book on the front porch of a home that had been seized by the New London Development Corporation (NLDC).
Canario, who has twice been forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation, is currently being held at York Correctional Institution on $5000 bail. She was arrested last year and held in irons for the supposed crime of trying to participate in a City Council meeting held to discuss eminent domain seizures of property in New London.
According to Caleb Johnson, who called Lt. Ackley, the officer “told me he has been victimized by her, as he has been forced to carry her where they want her to be, resulting in him hurting his back.”
Hey, butch it up, hero. Ditch the donuts and do some deadlifts and good mornings. If you're serious about working as a rented thug for the local affiliate of the corporatist state, chances are you'll occasionally have to do some hands-on heavy lifting – heavier, in any case, than lifting a pen to scribble an extortion note (sometimes called a “traffic ticket”) when you're shaking down local motorists on behalf of the folks who slop your trough.
As it happens, Lt. Ackley had some help lifting and carrying the non-cooperative, non-resisting protester. It really shouldn't take two burly gendarmes to lift one small-boned, middle-aged woman.
The NDLC is, in a specific sense, a fascist entity: A public-private partnership (with both the local government and the federal Department of Commerce) that employs state power on behalf of a private cartel.
As the Institute for Justice recounts, in 1998 the City of New London “handed over its power of eminent domain—the ability to take private property for public use—to the New London Development Corporation (NLDC), a private body, to take the entire neighborhood for private development. As the Fort Trumbull neighbors found out, when private entities wield government’s awesome power of eminent domain and can justify taking property with the nebulous claim of `economic development,' all homeowners are in trouble.”
The beneficiary of this seizure was the politically connected pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which insisted that by using the power of eminent domain to raze the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, it could expand the city's tax base – thereby serving the “public good,” which in this case is defined as “evicting law-abiding home owners in order to keep the local political parasites knee-deep in donuts and whores.”
The Supreme Court placed its imprimatur on this doctrine in its notorious Kelo decision. In its origins, the NLDC is the type of “improper or wicked project” Madison referred to near the end of Federalist essay number 10 – meaning that the seizure of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, unjust and abominable as it is, would have been a matter to be dealt with at the state level, rather than the federal level.
Or so I thought – until I discovered that the NLDC is a “partner” with the U.S. Department of Commerce. That which the federal government subsidizes, it controls. I pointed this out earlier regarding the Bush regime's claim that any local law enforcement agency receiving a “homeland security” subsidy – however modest – is effectively federalized.
The same principle should apply when citizens seek redress for government abuses, such as those committed by the federally supported NLDC. The problem, of course, is that it's almost impossible to imagine any federal court siding with the people against the political class, including favored corporate entities like Pfizer. State and local authorities, including the police, aren't going to abandon this racket, especially when they have the Feds at their back.
This is why Lauren Canario and her husband moved from Las Vegas to New London to join in a peaceful protest movement against the expropriation of Fort Trumbull residents. Are they “outside agitators”? That's a question to ask their new neighbors.
Is “civil disobedience” of this sort necessary and proper? It makes a good counterpoint to ballot measures in several states intended to pre-empt similar fascist applications of eminent domain elsewhere.
Should those measures pass, they will immediately be challenged in court by agents of the corporatist state, and the war of attrition on property rights will continue – and most likely escalate. Which will mean more work for the likes of Lt. Ackley.
It may seem uncharitable at best, and demented at worst, to compare the self-pitying Lt. Ackley to similarly self-absorbed officers who carried out the murderous decrees of the Third Reich. But bear in mind that the Lt. Ackleys of today are also enforcing fascist policies, albeit with more deference to their victims (for now, at least) than was displayed by their German and Italian forebears. The key distinction here is one of degree, not of kind.
at 9:10 AM