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.

More articles by:

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.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail