Welcome to the Age of Authoritarianism – Sponsored by the 1 Percent

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The recent troubles in Ferguson and elsewhere have highlighted not only America’s deep and pervasive racism, but the growth of the American police state, a police increasingly difficult to tell apart from our military not only in clothing but in equipment, as the above photo shows.

What we were worrying about in 2011 at the height of the Occupy Movement continues to be a cause for worry today at the height of the I Can’t Breathe movement.

Fox News can spin our fears (and so make a mockery of them) as really having to do with attacks on so-called “freedom of religion” and the “right to bear arms” but these are not the essence of the police state despite what happened to a gun rights activist in Houston when he ran afoul of a bullying cop.

We cannot compare what happened to the open carry advocate to what happened to Michael Brown. If, as Open Carry Texas insists, the Houston cop is a felon for demanding ID, how is it that Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department, or NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who actually killed the people they confronted, are not?

Edward Snowden said the surveillance state “undermines the entire system of justice,” but it is not only the justice system under attack, but the idea of democracy itself.

The 18th century saw the spread of democracy, of the principle that political power derives not from God, not from kings, but from the will of the people. But the 21st century is seeing the spread of the authoritarian principle that far from being the origin of authority, people must obey authority

Having defeated the Soviet Union, the United States has begun to look more, not less, like its former adversary, which epitomized the idea that everybody is equal, except for those who are not.

We’ve seen the Supreme Court destroy the Constitution by handing our democracy over to corporations. Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, my friend,” and the Supreme Court agreed.

We don’t get to vote for corporations. We have no control over corporations. If corporations control our government, as is increasingly the case, where does that leave “We the People”?

We have already seen that the filthy rich will stop at nothing to make themselves even richer – and at our expense.

As Bernie Sanders puts it, “Many people think Congress regulates Wall Street, but in fact it is Wall Street that regulates Congress.”

This is a mockery of the very principals of democracy. The people, increasingly, do not wield power, but must yield to power. Speaking truth to power carries with it increasingly stiff penalties.

It is not simply that we are surveilled down to the last private detail of our lives everywhere we go, but try to surveil authority and see what happens. Look how far the First Amendment gets you even in the United States – the origin of the 18th century’s democratic wave – if you film police engaged in abusive and freedom-violating behavior.

This is despite, we are reminded, repeated court rulings (and the Department of Justice) have upheld a citizen’s right to record the police. Technically we have that right; but exercising it will get you beat and arrested. Even if you’re a journalist. Even with freedom of the press.

BraveNewFilms shows us how “Protect & Serve” became “Search & Destroy,” a War on Drugs followed by a War on Terror:

They show us how poverty has now become a crime:

Just this past weekend, as Revolution News puts it,

Berkeley protesters got the crap kicked out of them by police this weekend as thousands of students took to the streets to participate in #BlackLivesMatter protests that have erupted across the country after 2 grand juries refused to indict police officers in cases of police brutality against unarmed black men.

The mainstream, that is to say, corporate media, focuses on the violence of the demonstrations while ignoring the violence of the authorities, who are often responsible for the violence in the first place.

And it’s not just the United States. Edward Snowden says surveillance is far worse in Britain with its “system of regulation where anything goes,” and punishing people for “Disobedience to authority” has become all the rage in Europe as well:

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In Spain, a draconian new “gag law,” which, Revolution News reports, “essentially legalizes human rights abuses.” Distributing or even taking images like the photo below “can get you a 30.000€ fine.”

Europe_Disobedience_2

Human Rights Watch reports that fear of home-grown terrorism in Europe has driven authorities to abandon any idea of winning hearts and minds, and “engaging in the battle of ideas” has now become less and intellectual exercise and more a physical, a euphemism for brutality while mass surveillance has become endemic.

We all remember how the authorities responded to the largely peaceful Occupy Movement. Not only were the demonstrators demonized but the authorities targeted the media, attempting to keep them away from the protestors. The police restricted who would have access to the demonstrations and, more importantly, to the police response.

We hear a lot about private use of drones, or their use by corporations, but it’s the official use of drones we should be worrying about.

We are essentially terrorists now to our own government if we so much as raise our voices in opposition, or attempt to exercise or supposedly inalienable right to free speech.

Human Rights Watch’s Benjamin Ward points out that,

Terrorism is a tactic of the weak—asymmetric warfare designed to provoke a strategic over-reaction. When it succeeds, societies become more closed and rights are curtailed, especially for groups perceived to be associated with the threat. If European governments forget the hard-learned lessons of the last decade and return again to anything-goes, abusive measures, Europeans will be less safe, not more, and those who threaten will be the victors.

Another concern is that our governments are doing the enemy’s work for them. If we dismantle our own democracy in fear for our democracy, what are we left defending? We are supposed to be exporting democracy, not importing oligarchy, theocracy, and totalitarianism.

The Alien and Sedition Acts confirmed from our earliest days as a republic that we were willing to curtail freedom to protect it, a tendency confirmed by Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, and again, by 2001’s Patriot Act. While all these are done in the name of the people, they are done to the people. The dichotomy is glaring.

While it is wrong for Wall Street to control our government, it is far more wrong for our government to control us, because that means corporations truly are people and that – necessarily – we are not.

We have see how far governments are willing to go to suppress our freedoms in their supposed defense. The question is, just how far are We the People not only willing, but able to go, to protect ourselves, as Thomas Jefferson would have put it, from our governments?

In other words, from the 1 Percent, who, while railing against government controls, control our governments, and through that control, you and me?

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12 Replies to “Welcome to the Age of Authoritarianism – Sponsored by the 1 Percent”

  1. The GOP has made accusations that Obama would create a military state, when in fact, teapublicans have been trying to create that very thing by arming Barney Fifes with weapons designed for the battlefield, not public policing. These same gop jerks are all over tv/radio selling you suckers guns and gold for the upcoming radical govt that Canadian Cuban Ted Cruz and career quitter Sara Palin are selling you. You are a sucker.

  2. I recommend everyone even interested in this issue, let alone alarmed by it, go to the website of Professor Bob Altemeyer at the Uneversity of Manitoba and download his free PDF, The Authoritarians.

  3. Rey,

    Absolutely. I downloaded it a few years ago when you first mentioned it. The Authoritarians lives on my Bookmark bar.

    Thank you, again.

  4. How telling is it that the 1% are willing to cut their own incomes throats by pushing poverty and repression onto the very people they depend on for their wealth.

    How telling the police will soon be part of the military. This society of this country will be isolated from the world.

    The grand experiment no longer matters and has run its course. Capitalism will reign until it is destroyed by itself. Cars cant run without fuel, the rich cant survive without a value to their money. We were that value in buying and supporting them.

    And how do other corporations feel? Big pharma will lose a huge number of its users. The big 3 will lose a large number of auto buyers. Will it be worth it to them?

  5. Maybe this time instead of a personality they can’t control, the plutocrats will try to use faceless institutional means to control. Of course involving media and religious personalities is counter to that.

    I wonder if the .1% fear the “other” (concept or people) or if again it and they are a convenient argument for lessening and removing freedoms to “rectify” a wrong against the inattentive and un-critical thinking part of the population. That group seems to be the tipping point to move a society in one direction or another.

    I don’t see the consumer-society surviving what the .1% are after. Perhaps it is and always was a means to the oligarchical end–bleed the middle class of wealth while whipping up fears for distraction. Run the country and the world like a corporation where the chief executives are pharaohs literally. Society is too chaotic if a group of middle class people might be able to thwart the chief executives’ wishes. Everything is business after all.

  6. If you can find the Ajay/Citibank plutonomy memo anywhere (the plutonomists have been getting it deleted wherever they can), it explains what they think. They think that by siphoning off whatever wealth remains among us ewepeople, they can create a great demand for luxury goods among their own class, which the rest of us will produce under brutal conditions, for next to nothing, just to exist. Their greatest obstacle is the one person/one vote doctrine, which they have begun to dismantle.

  7. I told you Big corporations and Republican government is behind all these police brutality bullshit ” ᗩᑎᗪ IT’ᔕ GOIᑎG TO GET ᗩ ᒪOT ᗯOᖇᔕE OᑌT ᕼEᖇE.

  8. “Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. ”
    V For Vendetta

  9. Kurt Russel’s movie Escape From New York and other movies like it isn’t quite so far fetched now, right?
    Script writers have already written America’s destiny. I guess it is fate, the world will have to be completely taken over by a few before we get to Star Trek time. Still controlled by a few powerful men. Still living in a violent world but forced to go to other planets rather than disturb the World’s leader’s interests.
    From the beginning, however it started, nothing ever really changes except the names and men’s weapons.

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