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Sweeping up the filth

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday October 13, 2011 03:36 PM

So Bloomie's patience, never very long, is finally at an end, and he's moving to roll up the Occupy Wall Street presence in Zucotti Park at police gunpoint. The hammer is supposed to descend at 7 AM tomorrow (Friday the 14th), and the occupiers are calling for people to show up beforehand. I plan to head down there.

The pretext, rather humorously, is that the park needs to be 'cleaned'. It's interesting to contemplate the link between cleanliness and repression -- in both the political and psychological senses of the latter term.

Bloomberg's justification for rounding up the occupiers in the name of 'cleanliness' is only a pretext, of course, but it isn't randomly chosen. He might just as well have said he needed to dig up water pipes or electric cables or replace the pavement, but he didn't. The imagery of 'cleaning up' no doubt appeals to Bloomie himself on a psychic level, but it also appeals to his constituency.

The accumulation of wealth is notoriously connected, in the economy of libido, with the retention of feces. Gainers and retainers of wealth, on a deep level, hug their own filth to themselves -- even wallow in it, as Scrooge McDuck so evocatively did in his Money Bin, like a dog rolling in his own excrement. Do we not describe people as "filthy rich"? These old phrases contain much wisdom, hidden in plain sight. But the filth of the rich must be regarded as clean; pecunia non olet, as Vespasian remarked in connection with another public-sanitation initiative. Therefore something else must become filthy -- and what more suitable, more poetic, than people who don't have any money?

"Treating people like dirt" is another phrase that contains more wisdom than we realize. (Was it Levi-Strauss who said that from the anthropological perspective 'dirt' can be defined as 'matter out of place'?) One must view people as dirt before one can sweep them up. The occupiers astutely note that the "real dirt" is not to be found among them, but among their enemies. And for this very reason, they're the ones who have to be cleaned up.

Comments (8)

Good stuff, this. We live, also, in a country with a thriving storage industry. Something in that, I think.


Bloomie is following in the footsteps of Ronnie.


Oh this is so true, go to the comment section of any conservative blog or article on OWS and you'll see they're all obsessed with the dirt, stench, contagions of the protestors. But this is a fantasy; Zuccotti was remarkably clean when I visited last week, if suffocatingly crowded


Yes. It was clean, amazingly so. A lot cleaner than the usual highway rest stop, that great homeland of the American heart. The supposed dirtiness of Zucotti Square is half lie and half hallucination.


Case of Pre mature ejectulation by el toado

I trust the kids were prepared with a few surprises and a new location

Turn out is key
I'm too far away alas


Turnout is indeed 'key', as they say. I think Bloomie hates the occupiers personally, and I think he's getting a couple of dozen high-level phone calls every day telling him to do something about them. And I think he has about as much control over the cops as Claudius had over the Praetorian Guard.

But I also think he doesn't want to show up in the history books alongside Richard J Daley.

My guess is, if there are enough occupiers there, and they're just stroppy enough to confront the cops with the choice between Chicago '68, on the one hand, and backing down, on the other -- then the cops might just back down. A long shot, I know, but it's what I'm hoping for.

Good luck, New Yorkers. It's the cheap seats for this observer: there's not enough critical mass in the Manch-Vegas.


The removal looks toe slow but productive work
Given the non resistor ethos of the kids in charge

Numbers numbers numbers

Are there enough.?

Willing and able bodies ready to go down there
and form an endless line of violators

Enough to exhaust the Packing capacity
of the jails of Gotham or at least over whelming the processing capacity ?

If they release too quickly the line can become a loop

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