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Standing Rock: The true face of fascism

With all the frenzied hysteria comparing the election of Donald Trump to the second coming of Hitler, the media has been strangely silent on the assault by police, government, military and private security on water protectors protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Over the course of months, peaceful protesters have been sprayed with water cannons in sub freezing temperatures, pepper sprayed, maced, shot with rubber bullets, had dogs set on them and concussion grenades thrown at them – one woman reportedly losing an arm – for standing in the way of oil companies and their rapacious quest for profit.

A few facts to be clear on:

  • The land in question is under treaty. It does not belong to the United States, but to the sovereign Lakota Nation.
  • Energy Transfer, the company behind DAPL, is owned by Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren, with a personal net worth of $4bn
  • DAPL and its subsidiaries are acting in a criminal manner. The law requires a Environmental Impact Statement and cost benefit analysis be submitted for work to commence on the project. To date these have not been forthcoming.
  • This pipeline will impact water quality for millions. The 1,172-mile pipeline was originally to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, but was rerouted after complaints from local (non-indigenous) residents fearing for the safely of their communities and water.

Many progressives are quietly hoping President Obama will take action to help the people of Standing Rock. His remarks from Cushing Oklahoma in March 2012 suggest they are probably dreaming:

”Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. (APPLAUSE.) That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

So we are drilling all over the place — right now. That’s not the challenge. That’s not the problem. In fact, the problem in a place like Cushing is that we’re actually producing so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don’t have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it to where it needs to go — both to refineries, and then, eventually, all across the country and around the world. There’s a bottleneck right here because we can’t get enough of the oil to our refineries fast enough. And if we could, then we would be able to increase our oil supplies at a time when they’re needed as much as possible.

Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.” (APPLAUSE.)

In a letter addressed to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has expressed its plans to remove Water Protectors from the site on December 5. Of course there is nothing new about forcing indigenous people from their ancestral lands – this is the nature of colonialism, usually overlooked or brushed off as the relic of a distant past. But when the government employs state violence, using militarised police to act with extreme prejudice against its citizens on behalf of private capital, you can forget the idea that you live under a democracy.

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission voted on Wednesday to borrow a further $7 million to cover the cost of enforcement related to the pipeline. With some 2000 veterans set to join the demonstration this weekend, things are likely to heat up. If tensions escalate, this has the potential to make WACO look like a Sunday stroll.

This is unacceptable on so many levels, not least that a nation which sees itself as a beacon of liberty and democracy should continue to hold its indigenous people in such utter contempt. Former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told Rolling Stone on Wednesday that America is rapidly headed towards an “economic and political oligarchy”. It seems the good senator has been living under a rock. When private profits are put before citizens’ rights and police are employed to operate as a private security force for big oil interests, you no longer have the conditions for either a constitutional republic or a democracy. This is fascism writ large.


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  1. ryan1967Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks to Sean for this interpretation of the contemporary USA and its authoritarian tendencies: Let’s boycott violent movies which glorify the misuse of violence.

  2. quiltingforkids

    Apparently, they have now commenced spraying the protestor encampment site with chemicals, by flying overhead at night with crop dusters, an entirely illegal operation, but obviously sanctioned by the local armed forces arrayed against the Native American people and supporting protestors. The American government is now complicit in an act of terrorism against Native Americans.

  3. Matt

    State power has always served capitalism (as opposed to real – human – market systems – which have existed for thousands of years):

    Here are some examples:

    1. The deployment of English troops into China when China wanted nothing to do with the West and its rapactious ways in the 1800’s to get access to China’s markets:

    This site: http://www.historytoday.com/julia-lovell/opium-wars-both-sides-now describes it as:

    “the start of a western conspiracy to destroy China with drugs and gunboats”

    2. The largest deployment of troops on English soil in history was to put down protests and riots resulting from the development of Industrialisation in England and its destruction of English families and communities of the time. See:


    3. The national guard in America shooting striking workers as in Ludlow in 1914, and many similar incidents in America:


    4. The use of state force to attack protestors against corporate power and manipulation in the 1960’s and 70’s:


    5. The state-supported obliteration or subjugation of Indigenous peoples where-ever there are valuable resources globally over the last 500 years.

    What is amazing is that the state-sponsored terrorism that we call Capitalism has been able to survive against such strong community resistance. I guess it is just a sad testiment to how ruthless its proponents are prepared to be.


  4. babyjewels10

    America. Where corporations and billionaires set the rules and the police are their own private army.

  5. Harquebus

    Another good one Sean.

    I have been following this developing situation for some time now. I have also been watching the gradual militarization of our own law enforcement.

    Here are a couple that I have read recently for those who might be interested.

    “It was intense public response that led Montana’s Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin to literally turn his detail around.”

    “With an eye toward the media, old military uniforms will be donned so that if the veterans are brutalized by the police, they are brutalized not as ordinary citizens, but as people who once served the government they are protesting against.”

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks again, Sean.

    I’m also following the developments at Standing Rock with a mixture of fear and anger for the People standing against state-sanctioned abuse of the environment, Indigenous People’s rights and people’s rights to protest without intimidation.

    Power to the Water Protectors and Protesters!

  7. Freethinker

    This is pure greed, the big is taken advantage of the small.
    This is not only happens in USA it happens between countries and unfortunately Australia is guilty when want to take advantage of East Timor.

  8. Adrianne Haddow

    It’s great that you have written this piece on Standing Rock, Sean.

    It is interesting to note that this action by the native Americans has been ongoing for many months and the msm in the US have been silent on the issue.
    The only reporting of the many human rights abuses during this time has been done by alternative media such as the Young Turks and Democracy Now. Amy Goodman, a reporter and editor from Democracy Now was arrested for trespass, while reporting at the end of September. Given that the land is claimed by the local Sioux people in a treaty signed by the US government in the late 1800’s, trespass is a debatable point.
    Water protectors have been arrested and held in dog cages in the basement of the sheriff’s office, strip searched and left naked in these cages until bail is set. The police department has written ID numbers on their arms, and denied medication to some.

    There are large representative groups of the seven Native American Nations camped at Standing Rock, and they have been creative in getting their message out through the use of drones to film the actions of the fascist private security guards and the Morton County police force. They have been filming and posting on youtube as Digital Smoke Signals. The Morton County sheriff has now created a no fly zone over the area in an effort to prevent footage from getting out to the world.


    I am concerned that this fascist reaction will set a precedent for similar protests here in Australia, given the NSW governments change to laws for environmental protesters involved in disrupting mining developments and coal seam gas explorations.

    Add to this the Queensland Labor government’s extinguishing of native title for the Wangan and Jagalingou people in the Carmichael Basin ( Adani mine site) and the declaration that the 5 mega mines planned for that land have been declared ‘critical infrastructure’ in an attempt to subvert legal action taken by these people.

    We live in sad times when care for the cleanliness of water, air and land is subjugated in the interests of resource extractors.

  9. Freethinker

    Just on the news, Trump will nominate retired General James Mattis to be his defence secretary.
    This man in San Diego said, quote: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling.”

    It does look more bad that was anticipated……..what a team!!!

  10. jimhaz

    I see it is as the true face of globalisation due to its effect on increasing the level of competition by too large a margin too quickly. The competition creates the political arseholes – it always gives them the required excuse to be immoral.

    We must start reintroducing protectionism.

    Even in Australia I would say no person who currently earns under 100,000 in salaries in a developed country has benefitted from globalisation this century. Consumerism is always just temporary fleeting contentment, and leads to gluttony and incredible waste – owning a home gives a permanent increase in contentment.

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I agree with jimhaz, although we need to clearly define protectionism and how it will work for ordinary Australians and the Environment without dissolving our humanitarian assistance to desperate people overseas and in the gulags of Nauru and Manus.

  12. philgorman2014

    Who is being terrorised and by whom?

    Standing Rock; the world has been there before and should know what to expect next.

    Since 2012 the police of every Australian state and territory and over 40 other countries have been issued with BearCats. In Australian official and media New-Speak these half million dollar, 9 tonne armoured personnel carriers are “rescue vehicles”. The American makers’ name actually stands for Ballistic Engineered Armoured Response Counter Attack Truck. Two of them are shown in the article’s photograph.

    In addition to manning these armoured personnel carriers police tactical units undergo paramilitary training in full combat gear with assault weapons. The excuse is the presence of terrorists in our midst.

    It’s a pity the same resources are not put into preventing the daily terrorisation maiming and killing of Australian women and children by “ordinary” Australian men.

    The real threat to our democracy is a brutal and corrupt neo-fascist corpocracy owning ever more authoritarian right wing governments intent on crushing dissent.

  13. Michael Taylor

    Phil, if this is happening in Obama’s America, just imagine what Trump’s America will be like.

  14. Harquebus

    I agree and it is happening by stealth.

    “Militarized police. Riot and camouflage gear. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Drones. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Concussion grenades. Arrests of journalists. Intimidation tactics. Brute force.”

  15. crypt0

    Never a truer word spoken, Phil.
    Too bad the overwhelming majority of Australian people don’t have a clue …

  16. Annie B

    Sean Stinson

    Thank you for revealing the ‘state of the nation’ in that reprehensible country, that calls itself ‘democratic’ ( nothing could be further from the truth ) … and that applauds itself for being ‘exceptional and unique’.

    I have also been following this dreadful tale of despotism, against a nation of peaceful people who want to just ‘live’ by proper and immediate access to life giving water.

    The entire thing is making me – and many others, ill to contemplate.

    This grubby mob which calls itself “United” … is sliding rapidly into anarchism, aided and abetted by the supposed ‘peace-keepers’ of the country.

    A sickening situation .. I am surprised that Obama has not been more forthcoming in stopping this outrage. But then – he has just 7 weeks left of his term, and perhaps simply doesn’t give a damn ? …

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