FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Tantrums of the American Ruling Class

by THOMAS L. KNAPP

Not too long ago, I predicted that if I live to the average American male lifespan of 76 — I’m 46 now — I’ll have outlived the United States as we know it.

At the time, I feared I was being over-optimistic, but lately I’m leaning the other way and thinking that my timetable may have been unduly timid. The United States may be something quickly receding in history’s rear view mirror by the time I start getting junk mail from AARP (“you’re 50 — join now!”).

The recent temper tantrums of the American political class and its toadies abroad bring to mind an old saying (incorrectly attributed to Gandhi) — “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” — and the Kubler-Ross model of grief. Our would-be masters appear to have moved forward from “denial” to “anger” in a big way.

In England, Metropolitan Police thugs (in admitted connivance with their US counterparts) abducted David Michael Miranda and held him prisoner for nine hours, stealing several pieces of computer and communications gear. Miranda’s crime? He’s the husband of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist most responsible for bringing the disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden forward for public scrutiny.

In the United States, US Army Colonel Denise Lind is, as I write this, “deliberating” over a sentence for American hero Bradley Manning, who likewise embarrassed the political class with exposure of their crimes and peccadilloes. The prosecution is asking for a sentence of 60 years or more. Given the complete illegality of the proceedings in nearly every respect, the proper question is how, and in what amount, to compensate Manning after releasing him and apologizing to him. But this isn’t about justice. It’s about revenge.

Ladar Levison, owner of secure email service Lavabit — which Snowden allegedly used when preparing to unload his trove of secrets — recently closed down the service rather than become entangled in the US government’s revenge operation versus Snowden. The government’s response? He’s now under threat of arrest … for going out of business! And he’s not the last to shut down rather than bend over.

These are just the latest incidents in a weeks-long run of American tantrum theater. I’ll be unsurprised if tomorrow we see US president Barack Obama throwing himself onto the Oval Office carpet, thrashing his arms and legs vigorously while holding his breath.

I’m not sure which fact Obama finds more upsetting: That his gang can’t keep secrets any more, or that the rest of us can. But in truth those two facts are the crux of the matter.

Knowledge being power, the continued existence of the state as we know it — centralized political authority with a monopoly on “legitimate” violence — requires maintenance of an illusion: That government can know everything it wants to know about us, and that we can know nothing that it doesn’t choose to tell us. A situation opposite, as it were, the current reality.

Thanks to heroes like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, that illusion has been shattered over the last few years. As a result some states have fallen, more are failing, and all are besieged. We are on the cusp of the post-state era. Thus the anger among those whose lives and ambitions are bound up with a dying institution.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail