FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Eavesdropping, Drones, an Integrated Posture

by NORMAN POLLACK

We are taught to pick-and-choose, but defining the nature of society, its propensity to democracy or fascism, is not like entering the ice cream parlor and selecting chocolate or strawberry.  Policies are not discrete.  When POTUS personally selects candidates for assassination, his record on bank regulation, gun control, protection of the environment, climate change, surveillance, the countless things that come before him, must be examined critically, each and every one, for evidence of common underlying assumptions and/or consequences for the structure of power, degree of wealth concentration, and class structure.  Obama’s policy framework is unitary, internally consistent, and, I believe, leaning dangerously toward fascism, if not already there.

Surveillance is, and has always been, the litmus test of antidemocratic societal tendencies.  It presupposes secrecy and—the fruits—identification of the scapegoat in order to paper over the arbitrary use of power and the accumulation of power itself.  Given its history, surveillance cannot be dismissed as an inadvertency or clumsiness of the novice; it is knowingly administered for questionable ends.

Manipulation is one, preemptive moves another, the outright cover up of war crimes a third, but whatever the purpose sought it redraws the playing field so as to facilitate domination of the offender, subordination the victim.  To the latter, it is akin to high-tech or electronic rape, stripping away privacy, diminishing status and identity, denying, to those such as Merkel, Hollande, Rousseff, possibly Callderon, and the list promises to get bigger, the dignity and security of authority to act consistent with their office.

Obama has demonstrated criminal behavior on many fronts, from drone attacks to paramilitary operations aimed at regime change, to the juridical abomination of indefinite detention, to, of course, intervention per se, none of which is inconsistent with, and in fact energizes, massive surveillance and, betokening utmost cynicism, eavesdropping on foreign nationals and leaders with whom America has treaty-relations, presumed ideological affinities (though not always), joint-military activities, intelligence consanguinity, and for whom it expresses friendship, sincere or otherwise.

In other words, in the eyes of the world, with the exception of those bought off, it is a grifter, con man, even pimp, to remain with more honorable terms.  It is selling damaged goods, literally, toxic / exotic financial instruments that brought on the world financial crisis, symbolically, an overweening militarism as protection from—from what ? its own vengeance against those who won’t play ball by American capitalist rules.

Political leadership that serves the needs of the public does not require surveillance, both to find out what the people are saying and thinking and as a vehicle of social control.  And a political leadership that renounces the aim of unilateral hegemonic leadership of the globe, that respects the rights—broadly construed, from trade rights to other nation’s own self-determination—does not require eavesdropping abroad.  It is not too much to say that surveillance is presumptive evidence of the Police State made or in the making (or that a nation is already two-thirds of the way there with the current propaganda fetish: the National Security State, whose stock-in-trade happens to be, coincidentally, what we’ve just been describing).

When the aforementioned policy areas are examined, in the present context of surveillance / eavesdropping, say, e.g., drone assassination or ineffective bank regulation, it becomes clear that capitalism depends for its unrestrained development and hegemonic place in the sun exactly the arbitrary solipsistic approach to law, domestic and international, to be trampled on, treated with contempt (witnessed at this moment in USG response to the Snowden revelations and consequent anger manifested today in Brussels), not merely Obama’s hand caught in the cookie jar, but arrogance raised to a new level of impunity and immunity, incitement to still further power-grabs as “friends and allies” buckle lest displeasing the Leviathan.

My New York Times Comment (Oct. 24) on Alison Smale’s article, “U.S. Envoy Is Summoned by Germany Over Spying Report,” same date, follows:

The US stands exposed to the world as a menace to human dignity. Blame Snowden? Why, for telling the truth? For shining a moral light into the cesspool of USG policies? He is our Tom Paine; Obama, our Benedict Arnold (along with a gang of war-happy national-security advisers). Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff possess the courage to stand up to Obama, and The Times today in its editorial hinting at the self-evident profound immorality of his program of targeted assassination, may, just may, be a straw in the wind that Americans and the world citizenry are now discovering the totalitarian proportions of the US polity–surveillance and eavesdropping, along with assassination, utterly unconscionable and revealing Exceptionalism as the license to kill and deceive.

Sweet-talk our way out? Angela Merkel isn’t buying. She is the Joan of Arc standing up to US bullying, and for that we should all be grateful. Repercussions? Perhaps the time-worn “friends and allies” formula will start to break down, and with it, greater skepticism about involvement in US interventions. Maybe EU will seek greater autonomy. Maybe NATO will start to splinter. Maybe the world will start to reject US claims to unilateral hegemonic leadership, and with it, the manipulation of global economic patterns and military paradigms congenial to American power.

Snowden has made us look in the mirror of our wretched demeanor; Angela will not be alone in drawing away from what is there: a spreading cancer.

Norman Pollack is the author of The Populist Response to Industrial America (Harvard) and The Just Polity (Illinois), The Humane Economy, The Just Polity, ed. The Populist Mind, and co-ed. with Frank Freidel, Builders of American Institutions. Guggenheim Fellow. Prof. Emeritus, History, Michigan State.  He is currently writing The Fascistization of America: Liberalism, Militarism, Capitalism.  E-mail: pollackn@msu.edu.

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail