FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Liberal Totalitarianism and the Trump Diversion


The ongoing political circus in the capital of the world’s most powerful empire opens almost daily  with a new act each day showcasing an even more bizarre and more revealing display of the internal rot of a culture and a political system in decline.

The day before Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, the Russia-gate drama took an unexpected and dangerous turn with the vote by the House Intelligence Committee to release a now classified memo that alleges that senior members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) may have misled the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) in order to secure a warrant to engage in what Republicans assert is a politically motivated effort that spied on the Trump campaign before he won the 2016 election and attempted to undermine his presidency.

Right-wing neoliberal Democrats who have engaged in a vigorous defense of the intelligence agencies of the U.S. state are concerned about the possible fallout with the public. They argue Republicans are deliberately undermining confidence in U.S. institutions by irresponsibly hurling allegations that support a growing public perception that the government and the individuals who populate governmental institutions are inherently corrupt.

Republicans now refer to this as “FBI-gate” and Democrats counter by appealing to the dubious belief that the FBI is some kind of neutral political force populated by people of unreproachable character—those who would never engage in the kind of crass partisanship being alleged by Republicans in Congress.

Even members of the Congressional Black Caucus–the one caucus that traditionally has always been wary of the FBI because of its history abuse against Black activists, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–joined in the effort to prop up this institution and its former director Robert Mueller.

This new narrative of FBI integrity and neutrality is predicated on the assumption that most of the public has forgotten or is unaware of the notorious history of the FBI and its founder, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was a racist anti-Semite and fascist sympathizer. He shared his obsessive anti-communism and anti-Semitism with Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s Gestapo chief, who Hoover corresponded with personally and kept on the FBI’s mailing list right up until the eve of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.

As the nation’s political police, the FBI has been at the center of domestic repression and political manipulation for decades. From Hoover’s early career working as special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, when Hoover was given the responsibility to plan and execute the infamous “Palmer raids” in which thousands were arrested in twenty-three states for “subversive activities,” to his and the FBI’s role in the first McCarthy period of repression in the 1950s through to the COINTELPRO program against the anti-war, Black Liberation and Civil Rights movement. The intelligence gathering, counter-insurgent role of the FBI has been consistent.

When the history and role of the FBI is objectively understood as a central component of the repressive state apparatus, it is not farfetched to accept the meaning of the August 2016 message Peter Strzock, the director of the FBI’s counter-intelligence division, sent to Lisa Page, a high-level official with whom he was romantically involved. In that message, it is clear that Strzock thought it prudent to develop a strategy to undermine a Trump presidency, even when the chance of Trump getting elected seem impossible to many.

Strzock is quoted as texting to Page over a secure device:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

This quote reveals two things: (1) the thinking of individuals who hold institutional power and are well versed in the exercise of “extra-democratic” institutional power, or what some refer to as the power of the Deep State; and (2) the specific rationale for implementing what appears to have been a classic counter-intelligence project to influence, manipulate and control a political process, in this case the election for the presidency of the United States.

In response to the information coming out about the memo and the explosive allegations of governmental malfeasance, Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member of House Intelligence Committee made the laughable statement that the vote to release the memo “politicize(s) intelligence process.” Perhaps Schiff hoped that the public had forgotten all of the instances of politicized intelligence from the manufactured data supporting the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to the manufactured data about the existence of weapons of mass destruction that justified the disastrous attack on Iraq.

But what Schiff, as well as some Republicans, are concerned with is how the public will process and respond to the existence of a massive, coordinated effort to exercise unelected political power.

They are concerned the extent of the coordination between the state and elements of financial and corporate sectors exposes the hidden reality of how real power is exercised in Washington and the financial center in New York, the power behind the reach of the atrophied mechanisms of democratic accountability and control.

Beyond the Circus: Strengthening the Ideological and Political Mechanisms of Domination

It’s ironic, or perhaps just a reflection of the power of propaganda, that it is now just becoming apparent that while the attention of the people was mobilized and directed to fictitious external sources of electoral interference by the Russians, the real culprits working to undermine the limited democracy that does exist were always in the United States and in plain sight.

They are the ones who re-authorized extending FISA section 702 that allows the state to collect communications from U.S. citizens and even tap into communications databases of companies like Google to collect information without a warrant. They supported inserting provisions of the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as one of Obama’s last legislative acts. They were silent as the government prosecuted whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, which justified expanded National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and called for the head of former federal contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. They think it is a good idea for Facebook to establish “counter speech” controls and for Google to adjust its algorithms to bury alternative news sites and sources of “radical” analysis.

And while Trump has been a useful idiot for the Deep State, it is important to clearly identify the forces driving this process and giving it political legitimacy–liberal Democrats!

Despite the phony news of economic prosperity that came out of Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, the more insightful and “responsible” members of the ruling elite recognize the explosive potential of real opposition to the elite agenda and understand the crisis of confidence in and legitimacy of the system will continue to deepen.

The recognition of that has resulted in ruling-class elements being united in one very important area– “domestic national security.” That is to say not the threat of “terror attacks” or other physical threats, but the security that the ruling class is attempting to acquire for itself by strengthening the repressive state apparatus against the people. Using the gift of “Russia-gate” given to it by the Democrats, the state in collaboration with the capitalist communication sector has attempted to tighten its ideological grip on the public by limiting the range of information available to the public.

The neo-liberal right has always understood much better than many elements of the left what Cuba revolutionary Jose Marti meant when he said that “trenches of ideas are more powerful than weapons.”

So, while we are entertained by the theatrics of Trump and shudder with horror after his latest antic, the real forces of totalitarianism are working right under our noses, normalizing the capitalist dictatorship in the name of upholding freedom.

More articles by:

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. 

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail