FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

What We Learned From the Manning Show Trial

Major Ashlend Fein, US Army prosecutor in Bradley Manning’s court martial, caught my attention when he referred to Manning as an “anarchist” in closing arguments. As an anarchist, I’d be proud to share that label with Manning. But I’ve never heard from any reliable source that he considers himself one.

Manning — if indeed guilty of supplying thousands of military and state department documents to Wikileaks — has certainly helped to promote anarchism. Exposing the corrupt reality of the state — its lies, torture, atrocities and collusion with authoritarian governments against their own people — behind all the talk of “peace” and “freedom” is the method of promoting anarchism. But equally deserving of credit, in helping us further the cause of anarchy, are Major Fein himself and everyone else involved in the Manning show trial.

The charges leveled against Manning, and the lengths to which they have gone to have their vengeance against him, have done more than a thousand anarchist tracts could do to show the fraudulent nature of so-called “representative democracy.”

The most serious charge against Manning was “aiding the enemy.” Although this was the sole charge of which military judge Denise Lind acquitted him, the fact that the entire executive branch brought its full force to bear in pushing such charges in the first place is significant. According to the Obama administration, Manning “indirectly” provided the enemy with classified information, by releasing it to be published in venues where he knew it would be accessible to the enemy.

Now, let’s stop to think about who this “enemy” might be. What kind of information did the leaked documents reveal? They revealed

– war crimes by U.S. military forces, murdering civilians and journalists in cold blood; – torture by U.S. military personnel;

– the corrupt dealings of U.S. State Department and other functionaries with the local authoritarian governments of the Middle East, including secret authorizations by local governments for the use of American drones to carry out extrajudicial killings on – their own territory — facts that would have resulted in rioting in the streets.

I doubt any of this was surprising to al Qaeda. They almost certainly assumed it to be true. If exposing this stuff “aided” al Qaeda in any way, it did so only by giving them hard evidence of the truth to share with those who weren’t already aware of it — namely the publics of the Middle East, the U.S. and its allies, and the world. And this would be harmful to the interests of the U.S. government only to the extent that it was true — i.e., to the extent that it revealed to the allegedly sovereign people of the allegedly democratic United States the real nature of “their” government’s policy, or revealed to the people of the Middle East what kind of sham democracy the U.S. was promoting in their region

The U.S. government fears an informed American people, and an informed world public opinion, far more than it ever feared al Qaeda. What we’ve called “representative democracy,” since the rise of universal suffrage in the West a century or so ago, has been an elaborate exercise in securing the outcome desired by ruling elites — preserving an intersecting alliance of corporate and state oligarchies — while maintaining the fiction of popular rule.

This ruling class has maintained its power mainly through what Edward Bernays called “manufacturing consent” — carefully restricting the range of alternatives on the table and shaping public consciousness to see that restricted range as exhaustive. The range is bounded, basically, by the preferences of the left and right wings of the corporate elite. It encompasses only measures consistent with, and which can largely be carried out by the people running, the present structure of power. Anything else is deemed “extremist” or “silly,” beyond the range of thought of Serious People.

The basic structural presuppositions of this system are justified in terms of inevitability and necessity — because it’s the only conceivable way of efficiently organizing things. For the American people, a decentralized and horizontally organized society without centralized state power, Fortune 500 corporations, giant banks and millionaire CEOs must be as unthinkable as an Animal Farm without a class of pigs (well fed on apples and milk, of course) to manage problems beyond the competence of mere lower animals. It requires distracting the public from any awareness that “another world is possible,” or that the present system exists to serve not the public, but rather the interests of those running things.

Manning committed the one unforgivable sin in a sham representative democracy: He let the “sovereign” people in on what “their” government is really doing, and whose interests it’s really serving. For that, the political class will never forgive him.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

More articles by:

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 01, 2020
Marshall Sahlins
Trumpty’s Country
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
No Pandemic-Related Pause? VA Privatization Leaves Veterans Waist Deep in Another Big Muddy 
Kenneth Surin
The UK and Covid-19 Crisis
Jack Wareham - Dylan Burgoon
“Whose University? Our University!” The Struggle for a COLA at UC Berkeley
Erik Molvar
Oil industry Exploits Pandemic as Excuse to Dodge Federal Regulations, Fees
Robert Jensen
Apocalypse, Now and Forever
Jake Johnston – Kira Paulemon
COVID-19 in Haiti: the Current Response and Challenges
Jen Moore
Guatemalan Water Protectors Persist, Despite Mining Company Threats
Danny Shaw
“The Coronavirus is Man-Made:” the Conspiracy Theory Trap 
Nafeez Ahmed
Former WHO Director: 8-Week Suppression Strategy Could Stop US COVID Crisis in Its Tracks
Frances Madeson
Death Camps in the Making: New York’s Prisons During a Time of Pandemic
Clark T. Scott
The White House and the CDC are United in Stupidity
George Ochenski
What Does COVID-19 Have to Do With Industrial Pollution?
Norman Solomon
Trump’s Mass Negligent Homicide Doesn’t Let Democratic Leaders Off the Hook
Scott Owen
Another New Peace
Elizabeth Schmidt
Lessons From Africa: Military Intervention Fails to Counter Terrorism
Greta Anderson
What’s the Hang Up on Releasing Adult Lobos?
Ted Rall
The Speech Trump Must But Cannot Give
March 31, 2020
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu Uses Coronavirus to Lure Rival Gantz into ‘Emergency’ Government
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
Growing Xenophobia Against China in the Midst of CoronaShock
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Chernobyl Moment: the US May Lose Its Status as World Superpower and Not Recover
Roger Harris
Beyond Chutzpah: US Charges Venezuela With Nacro-Terrorism
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Has America Reached Its Endgame in Afghanistan?
Thomas Klikauer
COVID-19 in Germany: Explaining a Low Death Rate
Dave Lindorff
We’ve Met the Enemy and It’s a Tiny Virus
Binoy Kampmark
Barbaric Decisions: Coronavirus, Refusing Bail and Julian Assange
Nicolas J S Davies
Why is the U.S. so Exceptionally Vulnerable to Covid-19?
James Bovard
The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy
Michael Doliner
Face Off: the Problem With Social Distancing
John Feffer
The Politics of COVID-19
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Cure and Our Disease
Howard Lisnoff
The Fault Lines of a Failed Society Begin to Open Up Into Chasms
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba: An Example of Solidarity In a Time of Crisis
Ralph Nader
Out of the Coronavirus Crisis Can Come Efficient Historic Changes for Justice
Thomas Stephens
Apocalyptic and Revolutionary Education in Times of Pandemic
Edward Martin
Erik Olin Wright and the Anti-Capitalist Economy
March 30, 2020
Marshall Auerback
Washington Uses the Pandemic to Create a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Its Cronies
Ron Jacobs
Going After Maduro
Justin Podur
When Economists Try to Solve Health Crises, the Results Can Often be Disastrous
Thomas Knapp
Decarceration: COVID-19 is Opportunity Knocking
Arshad Khan - Meena Miriam Yust
Dying Planet and a Virus Unleashed
William Astore
How My Dad Predicted the Decline of America
Seth Sandronsky
Reclaiming Vacant Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic
John G. Russell
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-American Pandemic
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
As the World Tackles the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. Raises the Pressure on Venezuela
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail