Harcourt on Chicago's Expansion of Police Powers

Outlawing dissent: Rahm Emanuel's new regime
Bernard Harcourt
The Guardian
January 19, 2012

It's almost as if Rahm Emanuel was lifting a page from Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine – as if he was reading her account of Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys" as a cookbook recipe, rather than as the ominous episode that it was. In record time, Emanuel successfully exploited the fact that Chicago will host the upcoming G8 and Nato summit meetings to increase his police powers and extend police surveillance, to outsource city services and privatize financial gains, and to make permanent new limitations on political dissent. It all happened – very rapidly and without time for dissent – with the passage of rushed security and anti-protest measures adopted by the city council on 18 January 2012.

Sadly, we are all too familiar with the recipe by now: first, hype up and blow out of proportion a crisis (and if there isn't a real crisis, as in Chicago, then create one), call in the heavy artillery and rapidly seize the opportunity to expand executive power, to redistribute wealth for private gain and to suppress political dissent. As Friedman wrote in Capitalism and Freedom in 1982 – and as Klein so eloquently describes in her book:

"Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function … until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

Today, it's more than mere ideas that are lying around; for several decades now, and especially since 9/11, there are blueprints scattered all around us.