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.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece