In liberal democracies, the entire justification for a country’s legal structure is, typically, some kind of ideal of human freedom and liberty. The American bill of rights begins with the freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. In practice, the assembly of people that gather in order to protest – which is the very essence of what is supposed to be American – is considered less legitimate than an assembly of people who want to sell you something.
You point this out to most middle-class Americans, they seem incredulous. Poor ones not so much, they don’t assume the rules are fair. Anyway: they’ll say “but of course you have the right to assemble, you just need a permit, what’s wrong with that?” So you have to say “all right, if you have to ask police permission to print something, that’s called not having freedom of the press. If you have to ask police permission to say something..” And they’ll say, “but that’s different! There are traffic issues. You can’t just gather. It gets in the way of people walking down the street” Which is funny, because I don’t remember anywhere in the constitution it says anything about the right to unimpeded traffic flow.
David Graeber on.
This is a minor quote from a very wide-ranging interview; Graeber talks about Occupy, centrism, the pandemic, techno-utopianism, debt, the environment, anarchism, natural disasters, and capitalism, among others.