As if he could peer into the future, American author Henry David Thoreau is credited with the expression: “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
I’ve written and spoken often about the requirements for maintaining an empire, particularly an empire in decline: obedience at home, oppression abroad, and wholesale destruction of the living planet. I’ve written numerous essays about the latter two phenomena. Although I’ve spoken about a few examples concerning obedience at home, I’ve not focused on the topic with a single essay. Ergo, this essay.
Herein I present a few recent examples of obedience at home. This essay is hardly comprehensive, and the hits keep coming. But it’s a minor start to a major issue. I’m certain many more examples will appear — though not to the typical, purposely ignorant American — until American Empire finally sinks to the bottom of the cesspool in which it is mired.
I focus on the Obama administration because it is the most recent and also the most horrific example of imperialism. I refuse to play the game currently popular among Democrats in which Obama is compared to Mitt Romney or John McCain. Obama has a record as president, and Romney and McCain don’t. I cannot imagine a worse president than Obama, although that’s what I thought about his predecessor, too. I’m hardly the only person to refer to Obama as the worst president ever. Full disclosure: When I was registered to vote, I was a lifelong Democrat.
When he was in the Oval Office, I thought Ronald Reagan was the worst president ever. But I still recall thinking, when Reagan was shot, that it could be worse: We could have his vice president, ex-director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) George Herbert Walker Bush, as president. A few days shy of eight years later, we did. Then along comes Slick Willy, who slyly managed to outflank his predecessor and the opposing party on several significant issues. In every case, Bill Clinton outflanked the opposition by moving further to the political right. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, George W. Bush was selected. Twice. And then, he was replaced by somebody even worse. In my voting lifetime, each neo-conservative U.S. president has been replaced by a worse version. And lest you believe otherwise, our two-party, one-ideology system of governance is working brilliantly. It’s not working for us, but that’s never been the plan.
Within my lifetime, Democrats have shifted far to the right, thus coopting the ideas of the Grand Old Party. The latter party is effectively gone, serving only to make the Democrats seem sane by comparison. Obama and the Democrats can get away with every imaginable abuse — and many abuses I could not have imagined until they occurred — simply by using the Republicans as cover. The corporate media are fully engaged in the cover-up, as pointed out in the 21 March 2013 issue of Harper’s magazine: “Barack Obama … never stops serving the ruling class, yet the mainstream media, from right to left, continues to pretend that he’s some sort of reincarnation of Franklin D. Roosevelt, fully committed to the downtrodden and deeply hostile to the privileged and the rich.”
Obama’s corporate government is doing the bidding of the corporations. The corporate media aids and abets the enemies of the people. As Noam Chomsky points out, “any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.” The American people, fully convinced they are consumers instead of citizens, capitulate to their masters. The unseen bars keep the people enslaved.
Obama seeks cradle-to-grave power to rule over Americans, with examples that are breathtaking in their number and scope. He is responsible for torture, according to two-year independent investigation by the Constitution Project released 16 April 2013 (see here). Obama’s Department of Justice has brought charges against six whistleblowers under the Espionage Act of 1917, a number that exceeds every previous administration combined. Indeed, he destroys whistle-blowers with a hateful vengeance, with a recent example focusing on a man who tried to reduce government waste. His vision of this country is termed Obama’s wiretap America in the 8 May 2013 issue of Salon, although it’s merely an extension of policies in place since at least 2001, according to an 11 May 2006 story in USA Today. Even before then, the National Security Agency (NSA) had a back door built into Windows software. Obama’s government gives AT&T and other telecommunications companies secret immunity from wiretap laws. In fact, officials in his administration have authorized a new government program involving the interception of communications on Internet service providers, as well as to record every single telephone conversation (as reported in the Guardian as recently at 6 June 2013). The same day, the Washington Post reports that one of George W. Bush’s legacies, continued by Obama, is a collaboration between U.S. spy agencies and Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. Oh, and Obama’s Internal Revenue Service could be reading your email without a warrant. These invasions of privacy in the name of security — an overview of the “best” articles on this worst of horrors is offered by ProPublica — are merely warm-up acts for the massive National Security Agency data collection and analysis center under construction in Utah which, according to a former NSA official, puts us very near “a turnkey totalitarian state.”
All of this probably is fine with most Americans. It’s been a long, relatively gradual road to this point and we have been spied on by our own government since I was five years old. Most American citizens favor being spied upon, according to a poll conducted 6-9 June 2013 by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post. Most Americans also favor imprisoning terrorist suspects even without evidence to convict, according to a Rasmussen poll conducted in April 2013. And we’re busily looking the other way as the NSA uses a bogus, secret interpretation of the Patriot Act to get away with recording millions of telephone calls and retaining every email message for an indeterminate length of time. Fortunately for them and all of us law-abiding citizens, Obama refuses to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay — yet another in an endless string of broken campaign promises — and instead has approved major upgrades.
And, lest we ever forget, I’m here to remind you what George W. Bush and his cabal of evil-doers proclaimed: Those terrorists hate us for our freedoms.
Many people more informed than I have argued that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is running the show, and has been doing so at least as far back as 22 November 1963. One needn’t get into the big picture to point out that the CIA’s mission, with respect to data, is “collect everything and hang onto it forever.” The CIA admits to using broadcast news to manipulate the American citizenry as far back as 1954. The good-guy/bad-guy story of Al Qaeda is a classic example of an organization founded by the CIA in 1998, and then demonized by the CIA and other government entities.
Rather than the CIA running the show, maybe the big banks have been in charge, at least since the 1990s. According to the 29 December 2012 issue of the Guardian, the brutal crackdown on Occupy was coordinated by the big banks. Indeed, a compelling case can be made that JP Morgan Chase runs the whole show, since the Federal Reserve Bank and JP Morgan Chase appear to be the same entity.
Rather than the CIA or the big banks running the show, maybe it’s the tyranny of oligarchy. Consider the revolving doors between the federal government and corporations. A recent example has former CIA head and four-star Army General David Petraeus joining buyout firm KKR & Co. L.P. (formerly known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.), one of the world’s largest private equity firms.
Not surprisingly, the corporate media is barely making a peep as Obama’s corporate government continues to practice socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. Why do you think a homeless man gets a 15-year sentence for stealing a few dollars whereas a CEO receives a 3-year sentence for stealing $3 billion? Why do you think local police officers work for Exxon after a spill? Why do you think the Fifth Amendment no longer exists as a functioning law of the land?
Obama’s corporate government flaunts the illegal acquisition of information as he launches a war on journalism, according to recent reporting by the Guardian and Slate. Too little, too late, the corporate media express outrage long after they acquiesed to fascism. A recent example is the New York Times calling for the citizenry to trust the official government story on the Boston bombing or be proclaimed insane.
Contrary to popular belief in the neoconservative blogosphere, Obama is not coming for your guns. The federal government has way more artillery than the citizenry could possibly muster, and it is no longer able to cover up huge purchases of ammunition. Writing for the 11 April 2013 issue of Guardian, Glenn Greenwald exposes Obama’s lies about drones: (1) The Obama administration often has no idea who they are killing; (2) Whistleblowers are vital for transparency and accountability, which is precisely why the Obama administration is waging a war on them (e.g., White House exempts itself from FOIA requests); and (3) Secrecy ensures both government lies and abuses of power. A month after Glennwald’s piece appeared, Obama finally admits his drones killed four Americans. That’s why Obama and his government don’t care about your guns: They have more firepower than you.
The feds don’t need your guns, but they’re broke, so they need your money. Already, a confiscation scheme is planned for the United Kingdom and the U.S. Unfortunately for the government, it’s getting a little late to extract fiat currency from most Americans. In a closely related issue, the criminalization of political dissent is complete in America.
It’s difficult for me to imagine a more passive citizenry than the current state of American Empire. Surely Thoreau would be stunned.
News flash: the virgin terry, who comments occasionally in this space, contacted Barry Saxifrage about his January 2013 article in the Vancouver Observer. Regarding my interpretation of his article, Saxifrage responded thusly: “It is not expected that we hit 4C by 2030 on that path.” Fortunately, I was misinterpreting Saxifrage’s article and concluding a direr future than implied with his analysis. With thanks to the virgin terry, climate change summary and update has been revised accordingly. Note that I still think our species is headed for near-term extinction due to the self-reinforcing feedback loops we’ve triggered.