Around the world, military regimes are arising as if it were the latest fad and every State is vying for Faddist of the Year. In all of these countries, when the military takes over, the populace rebels–and suffers horribly. No one knows exactly what these military dictatorships are seeking: it can’t be pure, naked power for power’s sake, for this is not a stable or satisfying end but is fraught with anxiety and justifiable paranoia: someone will always want to take it away. And a neverending cycle of a debauchery of violence is the result, the people paying the price, one way or another. Is there something else, something so great and wonderful to have that makes the cavalier subjugation and life-taking a necessity? What, in truth, was New Orleans’ Katrina debacle all about? To resort to coarse barbarism, there must be something these people are frightened of losing. And losers fight like hell to not be made the losers.
Unfortunately, in one country in the world, the populace has not rebelled. Indeed, there has been little reaction at all, even to the raising of the ante from 4,000 crack troops to 20,000. These Army personnel are to help the various local, State, Federal and mercenary police forces with crowd control using, of all things, non-lethal weapons of destruction that include biological and chemical weaponry going far beyond pepper spray. Internationally, these are WMD and are illegal in the game of war; using them internally, on a State’s own population is apparently acceptable. Where is the humanity? As with all hypocrisy, it lies in the rhetoric, the carefully crafted word. And the press keeps passing off this coup in rosy tones, as if it’s just what’s right and good for your own safety and well-being. Please believe, it’s for your own good to have rifles and tasers and mortars and clubs pointing at you.
When the military is called in to control the population in order for the State to maintain its power hegemony, it is called a coup. And, again, this is usually accompanied by widespread violence. Except in the United States of America where the coup has happened right out in public, in the press. As if it’s just a natural occurrence, like flowers, sap and peccant humor. Despite its violation of homeland law (Posse Comitatus), the military presence is hailed as if it is a step forward–in the name of humanity. Be so afraid, America, of the outside world that you will overlook the danger–the terror–within. Be so afraid, America, that you let your government do to you what it does to others in the name of freedom. Be so afraid, America, of the conspiracy even though conspiracy theories are hogwash. It’s easy to count coup on people if they’ve been prepared, like a farmer tilling his field before planting the seeds that grow the crop. Pesticides like Roundup® do the chore of weeding and vermin control. And there is a plethora of vermin out to ruin your life. They’re everywhere!
When an entire population is paranoid, paranoia is no longer a mental illness because it is normal; the non-paranoid becomes the illness. That is, normalcy becomes abnormalcy. Paranoia is an irrational fear, an unfounded fear: a pervasive, long-standing suspiciousness and generalized mistrust of others. These kinds of people are obsessed with vigilante looking out at the world around them for clues and signs to prove they’re right. If you look hard enough, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Ask the police, they find trouble wherever they go. Some say they make it, for job security. The DSM-IV-TR:
this disorder [paranoia] is characterized by a pervasive distrust and suspicion of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent. . .as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her Reads benign remarks or events as threatening or demeaning. Persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack.
This is paranoid personality disorder, not paranoid schizophrenia. A personality disorder involves a severe disturbance in behavior nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Society has been disrupted for the past eight years, right? So, you have a right to be paranoid, America, because the irrationality, the imaginary, is materialized, not simply a state of mind. It is in your backyard. It’s not a secret fantasy any more.
When this first became manifest, this rise to military overlordship, there was an outcry from the left, which is really no more than impotent disenfranchised and disgruntled middle classniks who have, for the most part, never been on the streets, active in their activism, putting their safety on the line. They write. They blog. They puke cliché and old hat sentiment, leftist jingoism. After a two week spate of outrage at the military presence in the country, this left became silent. In mid-December, Atlantic Free Press produced an article on the increase in the military presence and their array of death defying (but non-lethal) weaponry, noting the glee of the generals (With Shot and Shell, or “Modular Crowd Control Munitions“).
The coup in the United States of America is still silent, a bloodless revolution. With the economic downturn–to be polite for this situation–and the almost total lack of a social network of support for the population, can you say, “North Korea II”? The crowd that’s in need of controlling, the crowd that is threatening the ruling hegemony is a jobless, hungry lot and when they are pushed to the limit, they will become irrational, like those people who fight eviction from their foreclosed homes–and them commit suicide. This crowd needs to be controlled in order to corral such rational outbreaks of the deluded who can’t see this is the best of all possible worlds. They will be abused, dehumanized for daring to question their lot: who do they think they are!
But the rise to a military state began before the assignment of the Army to help enforce the law–an action that evinces a foreknowledge of general unrest and the need for force. This surety of the need for control saw practice runs via great sweeps and round ups of people, from a few thousand to 10,000 in one go. Just recently, gloriously reported in the press, the Army and police forces went on manoeuvres, practicing for the upcoming spectacle of trouble. In general, the US population has not responded, not with awe, not with outrage–because the media, but for one town’s plight, glossed over the stings as with a comedian’s throw-away line. And, of course, these people arrested and jailed and then forgotten were characterized as undesirables. For such massive stings to be successful and so very well-coordinated, the various police forces not only had to have known where all these people would be at a specific time but the sting had to have been planned well in advance: the military already knows. As frightening as this kind of knowledge from surveillance is, more frightening is the fact that the US populace took these mass raids stride, saw them as nothing untoward, nothing out of the ordinary. A sign of victory for the military machine: apathy in the face of a purge.
The government, the rulers discovered that they could get away with murder, disappearance already being irreproachable and, therefore, acceptable, as if to say: shit happens. If there are so many pests, vermin and bad sorts around, it is not out of order that a military force would be required to help an over-extended civilian police force control them; i.e. save us. Any detractors–already labeled lefties–are so marginalized that, even if their outrage made it into the newspapers, their voices are co-opted. So. . .the authorities know nobody will complain and they are free to do whatever they want at any time they want. This is a coup. A take-over. And America has let it happen.
Wilhelm Reich noted that when “the state apparatus sets itself up to be the master. . .of society, if it claims autonomous power for itself, then it becomes the arch enemy of society. . .” (The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Pocket Books edition of 1976, p. 262). The US government is of such unfettered autonomy that it violates its own and international laws with impunity. Nobody does anything outside of the disenfranchised left singing to the chorus about the impropriety. . .the chorus does nothing but sing back. Grandmas do more in the US than anyone on the so-called left, a catch-all term that really means anybody who doesn’t agree with the ruling authority.
As Karl Jaspers maintained in his The Question of German Guilt, we’re all guilty. He included himself and I include myself, my expat status being the result of “on the street” activism. And state corruption. I ran to stay alive. Dead, or at least made socially impotent, my voice is stilled. So that now I am shrieking at the chorus in frustration because this fact of a military take-over really needs to be thrust in the faces of the couch potatoes, the rednecks and people like my family who subscribe to right wing “news” outlets and The Drudge Report (The Dredge Report?) and I am not there to take it to the streets: I am only a gadfly. They, my family, think I’m nuts and that I need to be on drugs to straighten my thinking out. . .like most Americans, it seems, I should be drugged into apathy. One drug or another is fine, one obsession or another–it’s of no concern what it is as long as it works.
It’s all about control. Controlled people find nothing wrong with the unfettered surveillance that presages military action. . .because they have nothing to hide, not realizing that having nothing to hide is neither important nor the issue. When everyone knows your business, you have no private life. Indeed, you have no life at all, no freedom to act because everyone is watching you. And you know it. Small town life: everybody knows everyone else’s business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re actually being watched or not, the possibility is there because the fear, the news report of somebody being caught, is ever a ready rationalization. Where’s the humanity?
Reich also writes that the “use of police clubs and pistols to create a semblance of peace can hardly be called ‘a solution to social problems’ ” (p. 265). Who’s the problem? Unification via force is an illusory unification. But the illusion has the look of reality. It is, nevertheless, a delusion. Insanity rules! As indeed seems to be the case when anything from the enjoyment of sex to the collecting (hoarding) of things is labeled psychotic. Ernst Cassirer, in his The Myth of the State, concurs: it ain’t real, folks. But what can you expect of a cowed populace so inundated with propaganda in the form of news or regular TV programming or commercials or scandal sheets or urban myths and conspiracy theories (that don’t exist)? Media communication is no more than a series of clichés “that numb our powers of attention by sheer pervasiveness” (Marshal McLuhan, From Cliché to Archetype, p. 57). Clichés help us to not think and ultimately lead to dogmatic proclamations, dogma being intellectual laziness (Cf. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations). In the 1960’s, Jacques Ellul foresaw the rise of the propaganda era (Cf. Propaganda), so that, as thoroughly as Skinner’s rats, the US population has been prepared so that it will respond as wanted (needed). Where’s the humanity?
Whenever anyone tries to control another (others), that person is lying. In order to control others, you must lie, for no one wants to be controlled. There is no need for truth, as long as the lies are truth-like, because only “one thing is sufficient for them–that they should yield calculations which agree with observations” (Andreas Osiander as quoted in Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, p.131). And so the lying grows and grows and its irrationality and obviousness are lied away, like a manic Pinocchio reveling in his proboscid elongation. If the lie is exposed, so what? Confession is good for the soul. The lied-to are satisfied that their belief that they were lied to is real: see? I toldja. And somehow that satisfaction of having been right all along is enough; there’s never more than a token of action to right the wrong or put a stop to the lie and the liars. Self- satisfaction is a powerful drug. It makes you feel good. . .and when times are bad, feeling good is euphoria. Kind of like lying to yourself. So, the controllers, the liars, are hiding right out in the open. Everyone sees them. Everyone knows who they are. Everyone asks them to reform themselves. Eventually, the lies cannot continue to be rationalized, fail to satisfy and pacify, and then the military is let loose like a sounder of slavering mad dogs out rabbit hunting. Once the fear of god-like authority is put into the crowd of upstarts, it’s business as usual.
What is the business?
Ernst Cassirer believed it was the thwarting of change, that these dictators with their lie of democracy and freedom know they are about to be upset because the world is changing–but in a kind of ennui fashion–and are fighting to preserve their status quo (The Myth of the State). These are the rich and powerful, the authorities, the authors of society and culture and right and wrong. With the world run at authoritarianism via the manacled fist of the military, perhaps Cassirer is correct. The power elite are about ready to lose their status, their world is collapsing, and they are fighting for their lives. At any cost. The cost is other people’s lives, which is of little concern as long as it’s not their lives. This is humanitarianism: they are human, everyone else is not. “The fascist dictator declares that the masses of people are biologically inferior and crave authority, that, basically, they are slaves by nature. Hence, a totalitarian authoritarian regime is the only possible form of government for such people” (The Mass Psychology of Fascism, p. 308; italics in the original). Have the ruling elite been telling you they know what you want, what’s good for you? My fellow Americans, for how long have you been told you don’t know what you want? How long have you been told that they know better? Which means you are inferior. Folks, you’ve been enslaved. In the name of security.
Nobody wonders whose security.
I remember attending a weekend seminar on Entrepreneurship for the Independent Living Organization (ILO). I am disabled (sub-human) and I fought for disabled (sub-human) autonomy. I remember sitting at a large round table, like all the other tables, listening to some enlightened businessman (i.e., someone who understood that the sub-human can be useful) expound the fact that in a few years, in the US, whites would no longer be in the majority and they (the power elite) had to think of how to handle this situation. Meaning that it was an intolerable situation, to these white people. (I am white.) Meaning that non-whites are not as good, that is, inferior. I looked at the black man sitting next to me: no reaction. I looked about the huge Marriott ballroom: no reaction. Not from the blacks. Not from the Latinos. Not from nobody. And yet it was such a racist remark. Well, folks, welcome to the solution. The white hegemony, of which Obama is a part, is afraid of losing control and is using any means possible to maintain their position at the top of the pyramid. Look to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. Look to Seattle and Miami (and The Miami Model). Look to the new immigration solution. Do you think the people’s army will not fire on its own? No? Look to Tiananmen Square. Look to Kent State. Look to the world of Abraham Maslow (Obedience to Authority).
The world, the US, is looking at the end of inhumanity, dehumanization, at the end of class and racial exceptionalism–the weltanschauung of the power elite; but the dying beast must flail about a bit before it actually dies. But die it will. And what will replace the old ways? If the petty left have any say in the matter–they’ve been yelling for over 100 years–more of the same under a different name. Marxists are as blind as religious fanatics and as difficult to argue with: have you no faith? Well, actually, no. No Marxian revolution has gotten anything other than dictatorship, authoritarianism. No Marxian revolution has succeeded. The argument that they weren’t done right is akin to the argument that you didn’t get god’s grace because you didn’t pray right. So do it some more. Somebody’s gonna win the lottery!
(Once, in the US, the workers’ revolution was being done right; it was coming from the grassroots. This was the Union movement. Big business with government collusion squelched it.)
State control of all resources: isn’t that like a monarchy? an oligarchy? an aristocracy? a monopoly?
Working for the State–and you must work: isn’t that like slavery? Forced labor.
The workers’ battle never being over means it’s a losing battle or, at best, a no-win situation. So you always need a leader, right? To keep you on track, telling you what to do, what is right and what is wrong. Isn’t that authoritarianism?
The argument that you must have government by authority is what dictated the perversion of the Iroquois constitution by the Fathers of our Country, the Sons of Liberty. Because white Europeans could not conceive of such a thing while staring it in the face. But, then, Indians are barbarians and therefore inferior; white men are civilized. Indians, nigs, spics, chinks, gooks, camel jockies. . .all inferior sorts.
So tell me. . .what’s so different in the Marxian government from what the US has got now? State control of resources because big business controls the State, which means people are working for the State. And the military is on call to maintain order, to keep people on track; that is, making sure you know your place. Doesn’t America already have the Marxian State? Like Russia and China and North Korea and Vietnam? It’s certainly got the military to make sure you behave!
The coup was silent, bloodless. People don’t want to think about it, either. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Slogans. Obedience. Hear no evil, see no evil (Cf. The Question of German Guilt).
The weak link in controlling behavior, in lying, is that people are not predictable. There are ever a few disaffected. And that disease kind of spreads.
Still. . .the question remains: what’s the replacement? If you don’t have an end clearly in sight, you’ll just get chaos–or more of the same. Popper urges us to “work for the elimination of concrete evils rather than for the realization of abstract goods. Do not aim at establishing happiness by political means. Rather aim at the elimination of concrete miseries. . . .fight for the elimination of poverty by direct means. . . .the evils are with us here and now” (Conjectures and Refutations, p. 484). A military presence and combat fatigue from constantly being on guard due to constant surveillance, always waiting for the boom to drop, are evils.
JAMES L. SECOR is a retired professor, a writer-playwright living out on the edge of the Gobi Desert where the skies are clear, the air fresh and the water possibly the only non-polluted water in the country: mountain run-off from the year-round snow-capped Qilian Range, which he can see from his front patio. He can be reached at email@example.com any time night or day.