FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Patriotism Redefined

by NORMAN POLLACK

The New York Times begins the New Year with a plea for granting amnesty or a reduction of charges for Edward Snowden, a good and decent start given the Establishment-oriented framework—yet failing to criticize the totality of aggrandizing power, repression, and illegality which lay behind and make possible the abuses—the outright political criminality—that Snowden revealed.

NYT speaks of the “resulting furor” created by his revelations. I wish that were so. But in fact, what furor? The American people, including many self-styled liberals and progressives, manifest the silence found in the already habituated to making an accommodation with tyrannous government in exchange for alleged safety and “freedom” to disproportionately consume the world’s resources and demonstrate near and far US military power.

Beyond silence lies tacit and, for most, actual approval, of national supremacy, itself an unquestioned goal, as measured by a unified hegemonic system in which market penetration, trade-and-investment expansion, regime change, and all necessary means of implementation, take precedence over social democracy at home—the last thing wanted, in the first place. The people, wallowing in the false consciousness of externally-prescribed definitions of patriotism, i.e., that which buttresses the ruling order, allow the commission of CRIMES in their name, including the self-inflicted wounds at home in the further construction of a class-state of widening disparities in wealth and power.

Snowden, to many, remains a traitor, because to admit otherwise, to wholly redefine patriotism as the exposure of and opposition to corrupt, authoritarian government, removes the foundation of complicity in self-serving privilege which, deliberately set in place, blinds us to the near-universal exploitation we practice on others and ourselves.

Nowadays, to be an American is to look the other way. To avert the eyes, as POTUS unleashes missiles on drones, which leave blood spats where humans once stood—or slept in their beds; as NSA in symbiosis with the FISA Court tears apart the fabric of, not only privacy, but what it means to be an individual, entitled to self- and public-respect; as international relations become subject to the promiscuous eavesdropping on the world’s leadership fueling the breakdown of trust so necessary to averting war; and, inseparable from the foregoing, as government’s loss of integrity turns its own mission from serving the general welfare, to providing all-out support from every direction—military, financial, ideological—for mega-capitalism thriving on the spirit of privatization, non-regulation, and rampant cynicism.

No wonder, then, to look in utmost alarm at the true patriot, a whistleblower who blows the whistle on fast-encroaching totalitarianism, militarism, pointless consumerism, and the concomitant of all three, the formation of an underclass, held hostage to a low-wages paradigm, but more, a warning to the rest of society that power directed outward can also—and under provocation, will also—be turned inward.

My New York Times Comment on the editorial of the same date, “Edward Snowden: Whistle-Blower,” Jan. 2, follows:

When is a crime not a crime? What are the political-moral foundations of true patriotism? Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” is tiddlywinks compared with the enormity of USG’s moral turpitude, Obama’s complicity in if not continued authorization for high crimes and misdemeanors (for starters, categorical violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution), the criminal cynicism and blatant disregard for civil liberties and human rights in Washington. The Times of course deserves commendation–a true beacon of sanity in what has become a Nazified milieu of governance and the exercise of power. Hats off for that.

Yet, not sufficient. The problem runs deeper than abuses connected with intelligence-gathering. For that to occur, other factors must be in operation first. There is no longer restraint on the trespass of human privacy–indeed, privacy per se is held in contempt, not only by a government engrossed in seeking power, power not only to satisfy a geostrategic vision of global hegemony and financial-commercial dominance, but power as a philosophic absolute in itself, yet also by a populace corrupted by consumerism and military engagement, to the extent of falsely swapping traditional freedoms for acquiescence in a cesspool of arrogance, superiority, rigid notions of exceptionalism.

It is not a crime to expose repression and illegality. The true criminals are those who create and defend those conditions. Rather than offer amnesty, POTUS should surrender to The Hague.

Norman Pollack is the author of The Populist Response to Industrial America (Harvard) and The Just Polity (Illinois), The Humane EconomyThe 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:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail