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Wikileaks and the War for your Mind

By Joe Quinn

Wikileaks and the War for your Mind

In November 2008, current advisor to President Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described to a group of British political and corporate elite two very basic transforming developments that he believes are occurring on the world scene:

“The first change concerns the surfacing of global issues pertaining to human well being as critical international issues such as climate, environment, starvation, health and social inequality. The second change concerns a global political awakening.”

Brezezinski described this second change as “a truly transformative event on the global scene”. He said that: “for the first time in all of human history, almost all of mankind is politically awake, activated, politically conscious and interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity here or there in the remotest corners of the world which are not politically alert and interacted with the political turmoil and stirrings and aspirations around the world. And all of that is creating a world wide surge for the worldwide surge for personal dignity and cultural respect in a diversified world.”

To an audience in the US he described the global ‘terror threat’ in this way:

“I’m deeply troubled that a very vague emotionally stated semi-theologically defined diagnosis of the central global menace is obscuring our national ability to comprehend the historically unprecedented challenge which is being posed in our time”

The historically unprecedented challenge is:

“A massive global political awakening and this is obstructing our ability to deal effectively with the global political turmoil that this awakening is generating.”

Brzezinski went on to describe another new reality that global powers such as the US must face: “”while the lethality of [our] power is greater than ever, [our] capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at an historical low”. He further noted that:

“In earlier times, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

Brzezinski is no political light-weight. He has been on the Washington scene for 40 years and served as Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser not to mention his long-term membership of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg group. As such, his opinions hold significant weight, not so much as an indicator of how things are on our planet, but rather how the US government and the global corporate elites would like things to be. It is clear from Brzezinski’s comments therefore that a potential global political awakening is of great concern to the elite of this world and it would be naive of us to think that they are not taking steps to confront this ‘unprecedented challenge’.

Historically, governments have relied on control of information to control the people. In the last 100 years, that control has been effected largely by control of the media. From government officials as ‘experts’ on the evening news or columnists in newspapers to media representatives ’embedded’ with troops overseas at war, it was a relatively easy task for the government to present a very one-sided picture of world events. With the dawn of the internet age however, and particularly in the first ten years of the 21st century, came the ability for the ordinary person to provide news and analysis to a wide audience and effectively challenge the monopoly of the mainstream media and government control of information.

With the launch of the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, the need for the US government to control information reached new heights. In response to the threat posed by a virtual army of amateur journalist bloggers and web-site owners, the US government has not been idle.

In 2006 a US military document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gave a fascinating insight into the US government’s plans for ‘information operations’. Written in 2003, the document, entitled ‘Information Operations Roadmap‘, describes the new methods that were being used to fight what the White House understood as an electronic information war. Signed by then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, the ‘roadmap’ called for military and government public affairs officers to brief journalists and admitted that information put out as part of the US military’s psychological operations would be directed also at the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans and, as a result, English-speaking people the world over.

Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” the document reads. The term “fight the net” appears several times in the document and makes clear that the US government views the internet, and the information available thereon, as an enemy.

In a 2007 book entitled Information Strategy and Warfare: A Guide to Theory and Practice, Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, John Arquilla, and Douglas A. Borer, Associate Professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, assert that US government information strategists could “consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other person of prominence […] to pass the US message. Sometimes specific numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message, for example, may be worth considering. An alternative strategy is to ‘make’ a blog or blogger […] if a [covert] military blog offers valuable information that is not available from other sources it could rise in ranking fairly rapidly.”

As regards blogs or web sites that speak too much truth to the people, the strategy outlined involves: “hacking the site and subtly changing the messages and data – merely a few words or phrases – may be sufficient to being destroying the bloggers credibility with the audience. […] There may also be times when it is necessary to pass false or erroneous information through the media. […] In these cases, extra care must be taken to ensure plausible deniability and nonattribution and to employ a well thought out deception operation that minimizes the risk of exposure.”

The Israeli government too has recruited an ‘army of bloggers’ to combat anti-Zionist web sites according to an article in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper in January 2009.

Recent polls suggest that the US and Israeli government’s fears in this regard are well-founded. A 2008 Pew Research Center poll for example found that 40% of people in the USA get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, compared to 35% who say they use newspapers. While 70% of all respondents said they used television as their main source of news, almost 60% of people under 30 years old reported using the internet rather than television as a main source of national and international news.

So the question is, if the US and Israeli governments view the internet as the ‘fifth battlefield’ (behind, land sea, air and space), to what lengths are they likely to go to win the ‘war’? More to the point, does winning this ‘war’ ultimately involve shutting down internet freedom of speech and all dissent against the government?

Today it is public knowledge that, in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, the mainstream media acted as a mouth-piece for government in unquestioningly spreading the lies and propaganda of the Bush administration and the Washington Israeli lobby far and wide. The effect was to generate public support for what were clearly imperial wars of conquest. Independent news sources sprang up in response to this utter failure on the part of the mainstream media corporations to fulfill their supposed role of holding government officials to account.

Confronting government lies with truth then has been the means through which truth-tellers on blogs and web sites the world over have gained public attention and respect. It would make sense therefore that, to effectively counter or neutralize this ‘threat’, the US and Israeli governments would have to come up with something rather special as a replacement. They would have to produce a convincing facsimile that appeared to be a genuine ‘whistle-blower’ operation capable of re-directing public attention away from the independent media and monopolizing the market for truth in an age of deception. At the same time however, any such operation would have to remain under the control of the same governments. Subtle deception with “plausible deniability and nonattribution” would be the name of the game.

Enter Wikileaks

Wikileaks is officially an international non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. Its first document was published in December 2006. The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”. WikiLeaks started out with the aim of “exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” Interestingly, these are very same areas that are primary geo-strategic and political interest to the US and Israeli governments.

Julian Assange is generally described as the director of Wikileaks. In September 2010 Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange in 2010. In response, Assange told him: “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest. I don’t like your tone, if it continues, you’re out. If you have a problem with me, you can f**king quit.” In a July 2010 interview with Belfast Telegraph reporter Matthew Bell, Assange had this to say about “conspiracy theories”

“Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories. It’s important not to confuse these two. Generally, when there’s enough facts about a conspiracy we simply call this news. I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”

Assange appears to be unaware of the fact that the US wars crimes that he is allegedly so eager to expose were only possible because of the 9/11 attacks and that the official US government story about how the attacks occurred is so full of contradictions and omissions that it is safe to conclude that it is a complete fabrication.

As of June 2009, the Wikileaks site had over 1,200 registered volunteers and listed an advisory board comprising Assange and eight other people. One such board member, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, said that while he received an e-mail from WikiLeaks, he had never agreed to be an adviser. Phillip Adams, another putative board member, said he’d never met Assange or been asked for any advice and suggested that the board was just “window dressing”.

For the first few years, Wikileaks was a relatively unknown to the general public. It wasn’t until March 2010 when the organisation acquired and released a video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by US forces that Wikileaks’ true rise to global fame began. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks began what has turned out to be a sort of ‘strip tease’ for the politically awakened when it released the ‘Afghan War Diary’, a compilation of 92,201 records of individual events or intelligence reports from US troops and agents in Afghanistan. In October 2010, the group released a package of almost 400,000 US military field reports from the US invasion of Iraq called the ‘Iraq War Logs’. In November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.

Beginning with the Afghan War Diary, Wikileaks teamed up, bizarrely, with three mainstream media ‘partners’ – the UK Guardian, Germany’s Der Spiegel, France’s Le Monde and The New York Times – ostensibly to facilitate the organisation and dissemination of the documents. Few Wikileaks enthusiasts seem to have considered the problems with the very idea of such a partnership. It was, after all, the mainstream media who were largely responsible for selling the lies that led to the illegal Iraq and Afghan invasions and the massive suffering and deaths that have resulted. The New York Times for example on September 8, 2002, led with a front-page story by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, which falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy aluminum tubes as part of its ‘worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb.’ As contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Massing later wrote, “In the following months, the tubes would become a key prop in the administration’s case for war, and the Times played a critical part in legitimizing it”. Despite this, Assange himself stated that he chose the NY Times because it is “one of the best newspapers in the world for investigative research“. How could Assange and Wikileaks possibly expect that ‘secret documents’ exposing US government war crimes would be delivered uncensored to the public by media corporations with such a track record?

Indeed, the first raft of documents concerning the US presence in Afghanistan were transformed into headlines that did more to support the US government’s position on the Afghan conflict than to expose any grand lies. Via Wikileaks mainstream media ‘partners’, the public was regaled with stories of Iran’s ties to al-Qaeda, Iran’s development of suicide bombs in Iraq, Pakistan’s aid to the Taliban, Iran’s growing nuclear threat etc. Subsequent document releases have followed suit with the most recent ‘Cablegate’ documents supposedly revealing that several Middle Eastern governments secretly wanted the US and Israel to ‘deal with’ Iran. There were, of course, a few crumbs thrown to the anti-war community in the form of rather benign ‘leaks’ about US spying at the U.N. and already publicly known details of the US military killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and condoning torture, but overall there was little in the documents to cause more than temporary embarrassment to big government and much to support their war-mongering policies.

But perhaps the most worrying result of the Wikileaks documents release is the reaction of US and other government officials in calling for changes to laws designed to protect freedom of speech. For example US Senator Mitch McConnell called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a “high-tech terrorist” on NBC’s Meet the Press and said, “if it’s found that Assange hasn’t violated the law, then the law should be changed.” On December 3rd 2010, Sens. John Ensign, Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown introduced the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act (SHIELD) which would give the government the flexibility to pursue Assange for allegedly outing confidential U.S. informants. Brown said the law would prevent anyone from compromising national security in a similar manner. While Wikileaks supporters have denounced such moves and claim them as evidence that Wikileaks constitutes a real threat to government secrecy and lies, given that the Wikileaks documents themselves have so far proven ineffective in reigning in government corruption, it is difficult to see the entire Wikileaks fiasco as anything other than a cunning set-up.

Israeli Fingerprints

Further suspicion has been cast on the integrity of the Wikileaks operation due to the fact that, despite the large number and the wide array of political and military subjects that the documents detail, not one of them portray either the Israeli government or military in a negative light. Indeed, only a handful of documents make reference to the Israeli government in any way. Given the well-known close relationship between the US and Israeli governments and the close involvement of the Israelis in Middle Eastern affairs in general, this fact is rather astonishing and has given rise to further suspicions about the source and integrity of Wikileaks as an organisation.

Suspicions of ties to the Israeli government were partly confirmed when, in December 2010, Julian Assange admitted in an interview with Al-Jazeerah TV that only a meager number of files related to Israel had been published so far because ‘Western’ newspapers that were given exclusive rights to publish the secret documents were reluctant to publish “sensitive information about Israel“. “The Guardian, El-Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel. Even the New York Times could not publish more due to the sensitivities related to the Jewish community in the US,” he added. In the same interview, Assange said: “We were the biggest institution receiving official funding from the US but after we released a video tape about killing people in cold blood in Iraq in 2007, the funding stopped and we had to depend on individuals for finance.” Assange also appears to hold Israeli Prime Minister and accused war criminal, Benjamin Netanyahu, in high regard calling him a “sophisticated politician“. Writing in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Aluf Benn wrote, “Thanks to Wikileaks, there is now no fear Washington will exert heavy pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction or to accelerate negotiations on a withdrawal from the territories.”

What this amounts to is a tacit admission by Assange that the mainstream media had indeed been censoring documents, that Wikileaks was, at least in the beginning, funded by the US government and that the Israeli government has been afforded special treatment by Assange and Wikileaks. This last revelation came hot on the heels of the allegation in November 2010 by a Syrian newspaper reporter that Assange had met with Israeli officials and agreed to not release documents that were critical of Israel. In late December 2010, and apparently in response to the allegations of ties with Israel, Assange claimed that he would “release 3,700 files related to Israel over the next six months, depending on our sources.” Several questions arise as a result of Assange’s remarks: Why wait 6 months? Isn’t Wikileaks fundamentally about speaking truth to power and informing the public of facts that government’s would rather keep secret? Why withhold information about an Israeli government and military that has already been proven guilty of war crimes and opt instead for spreading US and Israeli government lies and disinformation about Iran?

When taken with other aspects of the overall Wikileaks phenomenon, Assange’s comment that the Israel documents would be released “depending on our sources” is highly suggestive of the fact that the Israeli government itself could be the source of these documents. Indeed, when viewed from a broad perspective, the Wikileaks organisation fits the profile of an Israeli operation designed to manipulate both the global public and the US government. After all, Israel excels at manipulating the world’s only super-power and has done so very effectively for many decades via its firmly entrenched US spy network. In truth, the Wikileaks operation affords the Israelis a wonderful new tool with which to subtly pressure and threaten US officials into playing the game the way Israel wants. If Obama comes on a little too strong in his condemnation of Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land, there are undoubtedly as yet unreleased documents that would make US spying at the UN look like a misdemeanor offense. And then of course there is the claim by Assange that he has received documents that relate to that mystery of mysteries: UFOs. If those behind the Wikileaks documents desired to truly throw the cat among the pigeons and radically transform human society and perhaps carry out the greatest deception of all, a ‘smoking gun’ disclosure on the ‘reality’ of extra-terrestrials would be the way to go.

I should make it clear that, when I speak of ‘Israel’, I am not simply referring to the public face of the Israeli government but more specifically to a small group of global ‘financiers’ who have adopted the Israeli national and Jewish religious ideology. To these individuals, both the geographic position of the gerrymandered state of Israel (a wedge and source of division between East and West, old and new), and the religious position of Judaism (a wedge and source of division between Christianity and Islam) is essential to achieving their aims of complete control of the global population.

In summation: based on the available data (past and present) we can reasonably conclude that, through the media hype afforded to the Wikileaks documents and the side show of Assange’s alleged rape charges, a concerted effort is being made to distract public attention from the efforts of genuine anti-war and truth-teller bloggers and web sites to expose the true crimes of the US government and the hidden hand behind global affairs; at the same time, the US government is given an excuse to clamp down on internet freedom of speech and prepare the way for an eventual terminal shut-down of the world wide web.

The Dice Are Stacked Against Humanity

By Noam Chomsky

The Dice Are Stacked Against Humanity

I’ll begin with an interesting debate that took place some years ago between Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology. They were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And Sagan, speaking from the point of view of an astrophysicist, pointed out that there are innumerable planets just like ours. There is no reason they shouldn’t have developed intelligent life. Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth.

And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation. And he had a good argument. He pointed out that if you take a look at biological success, which is essentially measured by how many of us are there, the organisms that do quite well are those that mutate very quickly, like bacteria, or those that are stuck in a fixed ecological niche, like beetles. They do fine. And they may survive the environmental crisis. But as you go up the scale of what we call intelligence, they are less and less successful. By the time you get to mammals, there are very few of them as compared with, say, insects. By the time you get to humans, the origin of humans may be 100,000 years ago, there is a very small group. We are kind of misled now because there are a lot of humans around, but that’s a matter of a few thousand years, which is meaningless from an evolutionary point of view. His argument was, you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation. He also added, a little bit ominously, that the average life span of a species, of the billions that have existed, is about 100,000 years, which is roughly the length of time that modern humans have existed.

With the environmental crisis, we’re now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we’ll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.

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American Interventionism: Protecting the Profit Machine

March 24, 2011: By Richard William Posner

American Interventionism: Protecting the Profit Machine

Why America is really so concerned about the push for democracy in the Middle East.

A Brief Refresher Course

America is the spawn of empire building and from the start has itself engaged heavily in that activity. In nearly all cases it has shown a preference for bribery, coercion, intimidation and force over diplomacy and cooperation.

As a nation founded on invasion, occupation and genocide, America has maintained its empire by those means to this day.

Although Spain began the slaughter with the voyages of Columbus, the British colonies that became the United States continued it with a vengeance.

On October 26, 1606, King James I of England granted a royal charter to establish The London Company, a for-profit, joint stock venture that was also known as the Charter of the Virginia Company of London. The company’s purpose was the colonization, for profit, of North America.

From the Start; Murdering the Real Americans

In 1607 the British arrived in Jamestown and, shortly thereafter, began the calculated extermination of the indigenous population. By 1890 an estimated 90,000,000 people, in North, Central and South America had been systematically slaughtered in the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny.

The overt genocide in North America was curtailed after the infamous massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, — you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead. —

Black Elk, Oglala Holy Man on the aftermath of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, December, 1890. The United States Army Seventh Cavalry used Gatling guns to slaughter 300 helpless Lakota children, men and women.

Although efforts at limited, selective genocide have continued, they have become much more clandestine.

Lee Brightman, United Native Americans President, estimates that of the Native population of 800,000 (in the US), as many as 42% of the women of childbearing age and 10% of the men…have been sterilized… The first official inquiry into the sterilization of Native women…by Dr. Connie Uri…reported that 25,000 Indian women had been permanently sterilized within Indian Health Services facilities alone through 1975…

No one actually knows how many native women were sterilized during the seventies. You may rest assured that the eugenics movement, although out of sight, is not extinct.

Motivation for Mass Murder

Throughout most of American history, the primary motivation for innumerable annexations, invasions, occupations, coups, assassinations and the installation of genocidal dictators has been to advance the agenda of capitalist globalization and to protect the privatized profit machine wherever footholds have been established.

Whatever the nature of the “business” that has entrenched itself in any sovereign nation, it can count upon the protection of its private security company; the U.S. government.

Chiquita Banana Republic?

Jacobo Arbenz became the democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1951, winning 65% of the vote. In 1952 Arbenz announced an Agrarian Reform Program which threatened to nationalize the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Banana). Faced with the reforms of a socialist democracy, the corporation sought American intervention. (emphasis added)

The democratically elected, progressive government of Guatemala was overthrown in 1954 by a CIA-organized and funded coup. The pretense for this assault on democracy was the alleged, ubiquitous threat of Soviet takeover when, in fact, Russia had no interest in the country. They did not even maintain diplomatic relations. (emphasis added)

This act of U.S. terrorism resulted in one of the most inhumane chapters of the 20th century. A forty year reign of terror ensued, eight years of which was supported by the Reagan administration. This was a period of torture, military-government death squads, mass executions, disappearances and inconceivable cruelty resulting in the extermination of at least 200,000 civilians.

In 1982 Reagan went to visit General Efrain Rios Montt, possibly the worst of the military dictators, who had slaughtered the Guatemalan Indians and peasants indiscriminately. Montts’ actions had won him global condemnation. After meeting with the butcher, Reagan stated that the general was getting “a bad deal”.

This is but a single example among many. To gain further knowledge, try What Uncle Sam Really Wants by Noam Chomsky and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions since World War II by William Blum.

Also visit Serendipity for some rather stark and ghastly revelations.

Ronnie Strikes a Blow for “Democracy”

In Nicaragua the proxy army of Ronald Reagan, AKA the Contras, was formed from the vicious National Guard of Somoza, a mercilessly repressive, U.S.-friendly dictator.

From 1981-1989 the Contras waged all-out war, on behalf of Washington, against the Sandinistas. Their goal was to destroy progressive government social and economic programs, which were not favorable to the capitalist “free market” agenda.

The civilian death toll was well over 13,000.

John Stockwell, 13-year veteran of the CIA and former U.S. Marine Corps major, had this to say about the American method of “spreading democracy”.

They go into villages. They haul out families. With the children forced to watch, they castrate the father. They peel the skin off his face. They put a grenade in his mouth, and pull the pin. With the children forced to watch, they gang-rape the mother, and slash her breasts off. And sometimes, for variety, they make the parents watch while they do these things to the children.

These are the activities done by the Contras. The Contras are the people President Reagan called ‘freedom fighters.’ He said: ‘they are the moral equivalent of our founding fathers’.

Source

The Addicted Empire

Venezuela is the largest oil producer in South America.

In 2002, a U.S. backed coup in Venezuela became a U.S. back-fired coup. The democratically elected Hugo Chavez was temporarily ousted and replaced by the Bush-approved businessman Pedro Carmona. The outraged response from the people of Venezuela, including most of the military, was so overwhelming that the U.S. puppet was forced to give up his stolen prize after less than 48 hours. He fled Venezuela after he was placed under house arrest pending trial for his part in the failed coup, sought and was granted asylum by Colombia and later turned up in Miami. (emphasis added)

The American instigators/enablers of this recent “intervention” were appointees to the Bush administration whose careers were established orchestrating the dirty wars of Ronald Reagan.

The reason this coup was attempted and why Chavez has a target painted on his back by America can be summed up in a single word: oil. That’s probably the single most important commodity on Earth today, though water may soon overtake it, but that’s another discussion. America’s petroleum industry wants global control of oil production and the profits from it. They don’t want to share those profits with the People of Venezuela or anyone else, but that’s exactly what they’ve been forced to do by the Chavez government.

Since Venezuela is a democracy — in fact, and not in name only like the U.S. — there is a much stronger social component. That is to say, the government attempts to act in the best interests of the majority of the citizens rather than in service of powerful special interests.

The social democracy of Venezuela is hindering the capitalist profit machine in its impossible quest for infinite growth. That the filthy peasants of some back-water Third World country should have their lives improved at the expense oil company stockholders and billionaire CEOs is simply unacceptable.

The U.S. is attempting to do in Venezuela what it did when it came to the rescue of the United Fruit Company in Guatemala. Hugo Chavez is a marked man. I’m surprised he’s still alive. Then again, look how many assassination attempts Fidel Castro has survived.

Go East Young Empire!

The U.S. planned an invasion of Afghanistan well before the conveniently timed “attack” of September 11th. There are strong economic and strategic interests, centered on the control of oil reserves in Central Asia, which are the true motivation for the occupation of Afghanistan.

The U.S. is eying those reserves in the Caspian and Central Asia as an alternative to oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region. Afghanistan is the preferred gateway to and delivery route for the oil, for which American oil companies have acquired rights to as much as 75 percent. Big Oil wants a pipeline through Afghanistan to the Pakistani port of Karachi on the Arabian Sea.

It seems apparent however, that there is little enthusiasm for such a project from whatever powers may be in Afghanistan. In order for the pipeline to become a reality, an obedient puppet regime, enabling U.S. remote control of the country, is required.

The slaughter taking place in Afghanistan has little to do with “the war on terror”, which is nothing more than a pretext for escalating American aggression, and much to do with advancing the agenda of the capitalist profit machine. It’s simply a variation on a theme.

Don’t Mess With the Dollar!

Saddam Hussein made a fatal error when he became the first OPEC member to demand payment for oil in euros rather than dollars. A shift from petrodollar to petroeuro would have a catastrophic effect on the American economy.

Continued American control of Iraqi oil is the reason for the illegal invasion and occupation of that sovereign nation. Anyone who was paying the least attention knew long before the attack was launched; there were no weapons of mass destruction and no connection with Al Qaeda.

One of the first things done after the invasion was to put Iraq back on the petro-dollar. America was largely in control of the inputs and outputs of Iraqi throughout the 1990s. Payment for the oil was in petrodollars, and there was no invasion. No sooner was the switch made to petroeuros than incontrovertible evidence of imminent danger from Saddam’s awesome military might and close ties with Al Qaeda were discovered (invented) and used as a pretext for invasion and occupation.

Once again the capitalist enforcer, U.S. military might, was brought in to ensure that “business as usual” would not be interrupted. In the years following the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, big oil is making the highest profits of any industry in the history of the world.

War profiteering and weapons sales have also been very profitable.

The Peasants are Revolting!

At least that’s how the globalist elite feel.

Suddenly, as if some multi-lingual epiphany has simultaneously struck in several places, common people in the Middle East and elsewhere are getting uppity. They are demanding democracy and insisting that their human rights be recognized. They are taking inspiration from each other and, hopefully, a chain reaction has begun that will lead to a better world for all.

Even in America, lowly, insignificant, middle-class blue collar laborers are emerging from a long sleep of indoctrinated complacency and demanding their civil liberties be returned and their human rights honored. Could things get any worse for our masters?

I certainly hope so. Imagine if you will, several OPEC nations suddenly being transformed from capitalist-friendly monarchies and dictatorships into social democracies like those that are beginning to emerge in Central and South America.

Envision the peoples of Third World countries all over Earth coming to the understanding that the internal strife in their societies, which is often fomented and exaggerated by outside forces, is allowing those same forces to steal their resources and heritage, destroy their culture and environment and deprive them of their dignity, integrity and humanity.

It’s one thing for America and its “allies” to bring in the enforcers and abort one or two isolated, nascent, “socialist” experiments. It would be quite another to deal with a global flare-up of societies, especially those in oil producing nations, suddenly awakened and enraged by the injustices they have endured for centuries at the hands of a cadre of parasitic, psychopathic, self-proclaimed rulers.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!” — R.E.M.

Could it be possible that we are about to witness, even participate in, a global, societal sea change? Is there a chance that homo sapiens are beginning to access their species consciousness, awakening their potential to embrace the reality of a single human family?

Perhaps the would-be rulers of the world have finally pushed too far, hard and wide in their quest for supremacy over all. Their actions, made so highly visible today by the nearly instantaneous global spread of information, may become the catalyst that will initiate the disintegration of their dystopian dream. Their lust for power and control and the ruthless pursuit of them may be about to backfire.

The technological “shrinking” of our world, the sudden ability of practically everyone to know what is happening, almost everywhere, nearly in real time, is making us all more aware of each other and our shared humanity than ever before in history. That awareness also brings the recognition of the injustice, oppression and exploitation we are all being subjected to.

If sufficient numbers of people realize they ultimately share the same goal; if they instinctively work toward that single, identical purpose, however independently, nothing will stop them from achieving it.

If it’s true that the darkest hour is just before dawn, then the sun is just about to rise.

Richard Posner is a writer, computer graphics and image editor, and is skilled at electronic music applications.  The full range of his political and ideological views, and the background for those, can be found on his own site.  Richard can be contacted directly at coldwarbaby@gmail.com

How the U.S. Radicalized Conservatism

February 27, 2011: By Professor Lawrence Davidson

How the U.S. Radicalized Conservatism

If you have the stomach to listen to the likes of Glenn Beck or track the antics of people like Sarah Palin you might get the idea that today’s American political conservatives are a bunch of radicals and extremists. And, as we will see, you would be correct. But this is not how it always was. There was a time when conservatism was a more low key affair with a certain sense of pragmatism and even fair play. There is not much of this traditional conservatism left here in the U.S. except in certain intellectual circles. And, even there, one has the sense that it is hanging on by its fingernails.

If you want to learn more about this remnant you might take a look at the writings of Jim Kalb. Kalb is a leading thinker in the traditional conservative movement, a believing Catholic and, in his roll as a wordsmith, an afficionado of palindromes (a word or phrase that reads the same forwards and backwards) to which we will refer at the end of this piece. Here is how Kalb spells out the meaning of his brand of conservatism,

A network of commonly accepted attitudes, beliefs and practices that evolves through strengthening of things that work and rejection of things that lead to conflict and failure. It therefore comprises a collection of habits that have proved useful in a huge variety of practical affairs, and a comprehensive and generally coherent point of view that reflects very extensive experience and thought.

In other words, this sort of vintage conservatism emphasizes what it regards as useful traditions over rapid innovations, and workable stability over precipitous change. There will always be change, of course, but in the world of traditional conservatives it should be slow and incremental, not “radical” or “revolutionary.” Whatever one might think of this traditional conservatism, it is pretty clear that modern American political conservatism has abandoned it for a multitude of extremist positions that play themselves out as publically expressed obsessions. Let us take a look at some examples of this “fall from grace.”

Part II – American Political Conservative Obsessions

1) The alleged right to possess unlimited numbers of deadly weapons. For modern political conservatives obsessed with the issue of gun laws, this “right” to be over armed supercedes the public’s need for a safe environment. Thus, compared to the age old tradition of public safety, the gun mania of today’s conservatives is absolutely revolutionary. It certainly has nothing to do with the Constitution’s “well ordered militia” and does not reflect “habits that have proved useful in a huge variety of practical affairs.” In fact, the only “habits” this obsession references are those displayed in fantasies that romanticize cowboys and military combat.

2) The battle against legal abortion. This modern political/social conservative cause also references fantasy rather than “a comprehensive and generally coherent point of view that reflects very extensive experience and thought.” This is because the outlawing of abortion does not eliminate abortion. It simply drives it into the back alleys creating an ever greater risk to desperate and mostly poor pregnant women. Thus, obsessed as they are with the rights of the unborn, these so-called conservatives care little for the much more traditional right of well-being for those who are “post womb.” In addition, unwanted births put stress on the traditional family structure, increase rates of delinquency and deepen poverty. Many of today’s political/social conservatives who seek to outlaw abortion with such religious zeal also sadly stand out as hypocrites. Anti-abortionists, supporting an allegedly “pro-life” cause, often act or support or turn a blind eye to their own violence that can and has reached the level of murder. Perhaps most frustrating of all, these same “right to lifers” often stand in opposition to a pragmatic answer to the abortion problem– that is the age-old and honored tradition of contraception.

3) An obsessive fixation with taxes. Those modern day political conservatives who have this particular mania seem to be incapable of understanding that it is a radical act to advocate the reduction of taxation to the point of social ruination. In order to spare their wallets and allegedly promote “individual freedom” they advocate, among other things, privatizing the public school systems, denial of services to indigent people, and elimination of state involvement in such issues as public health and environmental safety. Yet these state activities are real “commonly accepted attitudes, beliefs and practices.” To stand against them is not to be truly conservative, but rather to play the role of the stereotypical wild-eyed revolutionary. That is because, refusing to be taxed for these purposes means the recreation of conditions experienced in a place like Manchester England, circa 1830. That was a time when, as a matter of policy, no money was made available for government regulation of the “private sector.” Things got so bad in Manchester (and other industrial towns in England) at this time that there was mass illiteracy, pervasive malnutrition among the poor and, due to workplace pollution, the average laborer was dying at about the age of 16.

4) Paranoid concern with illegal immigration. Immigration, legal or illegal, constitutes a process that is one of the defining pillars of the American national character. Unless you are an American Indian you are an immigrant or the descendent of immigrants, a healthy percentage of whom were not “legal.” Therefore, to overreact to immigration is to undermine a traditional practice as old as the nation itself. In addition today’s political conservative approach to immigration is obviously not a “strengthening of things that work and rejection of things that lead to conflict and failure.” Immigration of whatever nature has always worked to strengthen the nation’s economy. Hysterical reactions to it reflect an attitude that only “leads to conflict and failure.”

Part III – The Problem of Radical Conservative Islamophobia

There is yet one more obsession of today’s political conservatives that stalks the American public landscape in a radically malignant way. It is the phenomenon of Islamophobia. For instance, consider the recent 38th annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), attended by a number of Republican presidential hopefuls. Journalists’ reports on the conference show that it was successfully used as a venue by such extremists as David Horowitz (“political Islam is a totalitarian movement that seeks to impose Islamic law on the entire world”), Pam Geller (the CPAC has been”corrupted and compromised by the Muslim Brotherhood”), and Robert Spencer (“Muslims are not able to be moderate–or they would be speaking against what is written in the Koran”). Through their foothold in the conference these radicals were able to influence the already paranoia prone modern American conservative mind. These Islamophobes are joined by some more recognizable, but no less radical, names such as Lt. General William G. Boykin (ret.) who at one time served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. Boykin is a Christian fundamentalist obsessed with the fantasy of Muslim infiltration of the United States, particularly through the spread of Sharia Law. He has co-authored a book with former CIA Director R. James Woolsey Jr. entitled Shariah: The Threat to America. He has also urged withdrawing the protection of the First Amendment for Muslim Americans. Boykin enjoys much influence among the religious elements of today’s American conservative movement.

The growing number of conservative elected officials who preach Islamohobia is a clear indicator that this is a fantasy has entered the minds of Republican voters. A good example of the consequences is the present activities of Republican Representative Peter King. King is not from the deep south or somewhere in west Texas. He is from Long Island, N.Y. And, he is now Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, a position from which he spreads the same problematic message as Horowitz, Geller, Spencer and Boykin. King is planning hearings on the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” As presently planned, the hearings promise to be low on accurate knowledgeable and objective witnesses and high on those who have a clear record of Islamophobia.

Part IV – Conclusion

This then has been the fate of conservatism in America. What started out as a worldview valuing the wisdom supposedly to be had from tradition, has become a clearly paranoid mentality constantly imagining outside conspiracies and inside saboteurs aiming to destroy national values and the citizen’s personal rights. In addition, the range of remedies that today’s conservatives offer to fight against these “threats” are almost entirely extremist in nature. They range from the financial destruction of the U.S. federal government through severe reduction of taxes, to carte blanche accessibility to deadly force for gun fanatics, to the passing of draconian laws on abortion and immigration, to the McCarthyite persecutions of entire minority groups such as American Muslims. These proposed policies do not reflect any definition of traditional conservatism. They are certainly not examples of a “comprehensive and generally coherent point of view that reflects very extensive experience and thought.” Instead they are destructive of the nation’s traditions and values and can only lead to disaster. Thus, out of respect for Jim Kalb’s comparatively sane definition of conservatism, I end with a palindromic warning to all those American pseudo conservatives out there, “Live Not On Evil.”

ldavidson@wcupa.edu www.tothepointanalyses.com

2011: A Brave New Dystopia

By Chris Hedges

2011: A Brave New Dystopia

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake,” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” in his book “Democracy Incorporated” to describe our political system. It is a term that would make sense to Huxley. In inverted totalitarianism, the sophisticated technologies of corporate control, intimidation and mass manipulation, which far surpass those employed by previous totalitarian states, are effectively masked by the glitter, noise and abundance of a consumer society. Political participation and civil liberties are gradually surrendered. The corporation state, hiding behind the smokescreen of the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and the tawdry materialism of a consumer society, devours us from the inside out. It owes no allegiance to us or the nation. It feasts upon our carcass.

The corporate state does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader. It is defined by the anonymity and facelessness of the corporation. Corporations, who hire attractive spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education and mass communication. They control the messages in movies and television. And, as in “Brave New World,” they use these tools of communication to bolster tyranny. Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression.”

The result is a monochromatic system of information. Celebrity courtiers, masquerading as journalists, experts and specialists, identify our problems and patiently explain the parameters. All those who argue outside the imposed parameters are dismissed as irrelevant cranks, extremists or members of a radical left. Prescient social critics, from Ralph Nader to Noam Chomsky, are banished. Acceptable opinions have a range of A to B. The culture, under the tutelage of these corporate courtiers, becomes, as Huxley noted, a world of cheerful conformity, as well as an endless and finally fatal optimism. We busy ourselves buying products that promise to change our lives, make us more beautiful, confident or successful as we are steadily stripped of rights, money and influence. All messages we receive through these systems of communication, whether on the nightly news or talk shows like “Oprah,” promise a brighter, happier tomorrow. And this, as Wolin points out, is “the same ideology that invites corporate executives to exaggerate profits and conceal losses, but always with a sunny face.” We have been entranced, as Wolin writes, by “continuous technological advances” that “encourage elaborate fantasies of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, actions measured in nanoseconds: a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose denizens are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge.”

Our manufacturing base has been dismantled. Speculators and swindlers have looted the U.S. Treasury and stolen billions from small shareholders who had set aside money for retirement or college. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus and protection from warrantless wiretapping, have been taken away. Basic services, including public education and health care, have been handed over to the corporations to exploit for profit. The few who raise voices of dissent, who refuse to engage in the corporate happy talk, are derided by the corporate establishment as freaks.

Attitudes and temperament have been cleverly engineered by the corporate state, as with Huxley’s pliant characters in “Brave New World.” The book’s protagonist, Bernard Marx, turns in frustration to his girlfriend Lenina:

“Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?” he asks.

“I don’t know that you mean. I am free, free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”

He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We have been giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated.

The façade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths. The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security. The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity. The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.

We increasingly live in Orwell’s Oceania, not Huxley’s The World State. Osama bin Laden plays the role assumed by Emmanuel Goldstein in “1984.” Goldstein, in the novel, is the public face of terror. His evil machinations and clandestine acts of violence dominate the nightly news. Goldstein’s image appears each day on Oceania’s television screens as part of the nation’s “Two Minutes of Hate” daily ritual. And without the intervention of the state, Goldstein, like bin Laden, will kill you. All excesses are justified in the titanic fight against evil personified.

The psychological torture of Pvt. Bradley Manning—who has now been imprisoned for seven months without being convicted of any crime—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of “1984.” Manning is being held as a “maximum custody detainee” in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. He spends 23 of every 24 hours alone. He is denied exercise. He cannot have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Army doctors have been plying him with antidepressants. The cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo have been replaced with refined Orwellian techniques, largely developed by government psychologists, to turn dissidents like Manning into vegetables. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. Now we can all be taken to Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to become compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures” are regularly imposed on our dissidents, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was imprisoned under similar conditions for three years before going to trial. The techniques have psychologically maimed thousands of detainees in our black sites around the globe. They are the staple form of control in our maximum security prisons where the corporate state makes war on our most politically astute underclass—African-Americans. It all presages the shift from Huxley to Orwell.

“Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling,” Winston Smith’s torturer tells him in “1984.” “Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”

The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. Tens of millions of citizens have had their e-mails and phone records turned over to the government. We are the most monitored and spied-on citizenry in human history. Many of us have our daily routine caught on dozens of security cameras. Our proclivities and habits are recorded on the Internet. Our profiles are electronically generated. Our bodies are patted down at airports and filmed by scanners. And public service announcements, car inspection stickers, and public transportation posters constantly urge us to report suspicious activity. The enemy is everywhere.

Those who do not comply with the dictates of the war on terror, a war which, as Orwell noted, is endless, are brutally silenced. The draconian security measures used to cripple protests at the G-20 gatherings in Pittsburgh and Toronto were wildly disproportionate for the level of street activity. But they sent a clear message—DO NOT TRY THIS. The FBI’s targeting of antiwar and Palestinian activists, which in late September saw agents raid homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, is a harbinger of what is to come for all who dare defy the state’s official Newspeak. The agents—our Thought Police—seized phones, computers, documents and other personal belongings. Subpoenas to appear before a grand jury have since been served on 26 people. The subpoenas cite federal law prohibiting “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” Terror, even for those who have nothing to do with terror, becomes the blunt instrument used by Big Brother to protect us from ourselves.

“Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating?” Orwell wrote. “It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.”

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”

Happy as a Hangman

By Chris Hedges

Happy as a Hangman

Innocence, as defined by law, makes us complicit with the crimes of the state. To do nothing, to be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of crimes carried out by the state.

To be innocent in America means we passively permit offshore penal colonies where we torture human beings, some of whom are children. To be innocent in America is to acquiesce to the relentless corporate destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. To be innocent in America is to permit the continued theft of hundreds of billions of dollars from the state by Wall Street swindlers and speculators. To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people, including children, to die. To be innocent in America is refusing to resist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not only illegal under international law but responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. This is the odd age we live in. Innocence is complicity.

The steady impoverishment and misery inflicted by the corporate state on the working class and increasingly the middle class has a terrible logic. It consolidates corporate centers of power. It weakens us morally and politically. The fraud and violence committed by the corporate state become secondary as we scramble to feed our families, find a job and pay our bills and mortgages. Those who cling to insecure, poorly paid jobs and who struggle with crippling credit card debt, those who are mired in long-term unemployment and who know that huge medical bills would bankrupt them, those who owe more on their houses than they are worth and who fear the future, become frightened and timid. They seek only to survive. They accept the pathetic scraps tossed to them by the corporate elite. The internal and external corporate abuse accelerates as we become every day more pliant.

Our corrupt legal system, perverting the concept that “all men are created equal,” has radically redefined civic society. Citizens, regardless of their status or misfortune, are now treated with the same studied indifference by the state. They have been transformed from citizens to commodities whose worth is determined solely by the market and whose value is measured by their social and economic functions. The rich, therefore, are rewarded by the state with tax cuts because they are rich. It is their function to monopolize wealth and invest. The poor are supposed to be poor. The poor should not be a drain on the resources of the state or the oligarchic elite. Equality, in this new legal paradigm, means we are all treated alike, no matter what our circumstances. This new interpretation of equality, under which the poor are abandoned and the powerful are unchecked, has demolished the system of regulations, legal restraints and services that once protected the underclass from wealthy and corporate predators.

The creation of a permanent, insecure and frightened underclass is the most effective weapon to thwart rebellion and resistance as our economy worsens. Huge pools of unemployed and underemployed blunt labor organizing, since any job, no matter how menial, is zealously coveted. As state and federal social welfare programs, especially in education, are gutted, we create a wider and wider gulf between the resources available to the tiny elite and the deprivation and suffering visited on our permanent underclass. Access to education, for example, is now largely defined by class. The middle class, taking on huge debt, desperately flees to private institutions to make sure their children have a chance to enter the managerial ranks of the corporate elite. And this is the idea. Public education, which, when it functions, gives opportunities to all citizens, hinders a system of corporate neofeudalism. Corporations are advancing, with Barack Obama’s assistance, charter schools and educational services that are stripped down and designed to train classes for their appropriate vocations, which, if you’re poor means a future in the service sector. The eradication of teachers’ unions, under way in states such as New Jersey, is a vital component in the dismantling of public education. Corporations know that good systems of public education are a hindrance to a rigid caste system. In corporate America everyone will be kept in his or her place.

The beating down of workers, exacerbated by the prospect that unemployment benefits will not be renewed for millions of Americans and that public sector unions will soon be broken, has transformed those in the working class from full members of society, able to participate in its debates, the economy and governance, into terrified people in fragmented pools preoccupied with the struggle of private existence. Those who are economically broken usually cease to be concerned with civic virtues. They will, history has demonstrated, serve any system, no matter how evil, and do anything for a salary, job security and the protection of their families.

There will be sectors of the society that, as the situation worsens, attempt to rebel. But the state can rely on a huge number of people who, for work and meager benefits, will transform themselves into willing executioners. The reconfiguration of American society into a corporate oligarchy is conditioning tens of millions not only to passively accept state and corporate crimes, but to actively participate in the mechanisms that ensure their own enslavement.

“Each time society, through unemployment, frustrates the small man in his normal functioning and normal self-respect,” Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1945 essay “Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility,” “it trains him for that last stage in which he will willingly undertake any function, even that of hangman.”

Organs of state repression do not rely so much on fanatics and sadists as ordinary citizens who are desperate, who need a job, who are willing to obey. Arendt relates a story of a Jew who is released from Buchenwald. The freed Jew encountered, among the SS men who gave him certificates of release, a former schoolmate, whom he did not address but stared at. The SS guard spontaneously explained to his former friend: “You must understand, I have five years of unemployment behind me. They can do anything they want with me.”

Arendt also quotes an interview with a camp official at Majdanek. The camp official concedes that he has assisted in the gassing and burying of people alive. But when he is asked, “Do you know the Russians will hang you?” he bursts into tears. “Why should they? What have I done?” he says.

I can imagine, should the rule of law ever one day be applied to the insurance companies responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans denied medical care, that there will be the same confused response from insurance executives. What is frightening in collapsing societies is not only the killers, sadists, murderers and psychopaths who rise up out of the moral swamp to take power, but the huge numbers of ordinary people who become complicit in state crimes. I saw this during the war in El Salvador and the war in Bosnia. It is easy to understand a demented enemy. It is puzzling to understand a rational and normal one. True evil, as Goethe understood, is not always palpable. It is “to render invisible another human consciousness.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book “The Gulag Archipelago” writes about a close friend who served with him in World War II. Solzhenitsyn’s defiance of the Communist regime after the war saw him sent to the Soviet gulags. His friend, loyal to the state, was sent there as an interrogator. Solzhenitsyn was forced to articulate a painful truth. The mass of those who serve systems of terrible oppression and state crime are not evil. They are weak.

“If only there were vile people … committing evil deeds, and if it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them,” Solzhenitsyn wrote. “But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

The expansions of public and private organs of state security, from Homeland Security to the mercenary forces we are building in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the burgeoning internal intelligence organizations, exist because these “ordinary” citizens, many of whom are caring fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, have confused conformity to the state with innocence. Family values are used, especially by the Christian right, as the exclusive definition of public morality. Politicians, including President Obama, who betray the working class, wage doomed imperial wars, abandon families to home foreclosures and bank repossessions, and refuse to restore habeas corpus, are morally “good” because they are loyal husbands and fathers. Infidelity, instead of corporate murder, becomes in this absurd moral reasoning the highest and most unforgivable offense.

The bureaucrats who maintain these repressive state organs, who prosecute the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or who maintain corporate structures that perpetuate human suffering, can define themselves as good—as innocent—as long as they are seen as traditional family men and women who are compliant to the laws of the state. And this redefinition of civic engagement permits us to suspend moral judgment and finally common sense. Do your job. Do not ask questions. Do not think. If these bureaucrats were challenged for the crimes they are complicit in committing, including the steady dismantling of the democratic state, they would react with the same disbelief as the camp guard at Majdanek.

Those who serve as functionaries within corporations such as Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil and carry out crimes ask of their masters that they be exempted from personal responsibility for the acts they commit. They serve corporate structures that kill, but, as Arendt notes, the corporate employee “does not regard himself as a murderer because he has not done it out of inclination but in his professional capacity.” At home the corporate man or woman is meek. He or she has no proclivity to violence, although the corporate systems they serve by day pollute, impoverish, maim and kill.

Those who do not carry out acts of rebellion, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, are guilty of solidifying and perpetuating these crimes. Those who do not act delude themselves into believing they are innocent. They are not.

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a weekly columnist for Truthdig. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.” On Dec. 16 he, Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret Flowers and several others will hold a rally across from the White House to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempt to chain themselves to the White House fence.  More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at www.stopthesewars.org.

The Top Censored Stories From 2009-2010

By Project Censored

The Top Censored Stories From 2009-2010


1. Global Plans to Replace the Dollar


2. US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet


3. Internet Privacy and Personal Access at Risk


4. ICE Operates Secret Detention and Courts


5. Blackwater (Xe): The Secret US War in Pakistan


6. Health Care Restrictions Cost Thousands of Lives in US


7. External Capitalist Forces Wreak Havoc in Africa


8. Massacre in Peruvian Amazon over US Free Trade Agreement


9. Human Rights Abuses Continue in Palestine


10. US Funds and Supports the Taliban


11. The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating Data to Enrich Drug Companies


12. Cuba Provided the Greatest Medical Aid to Haiti after the Earthquake


13. Obama Cuts Domestic Spending and Increases Military Corporate Welfare


14. Increased Tensions with Unresolved 9/11 Issues


15. Bhopal Water Still Toxic Twenty-five Years After Deadly Gas Leak


16. US Presidents Charged with Crimes Against Humanity as Universal Jurisdiction Dies in Spain


17. Nanotech Particles Pose Serious DNA Risks to Humans and the Environment


18. The True Cost of Chevron


19. Obama Administration Assures World Bank and International Monetary Fund a Free Reign of Abuse


20. Obama’s Charter School Policies Spread Segregation and Undermine Unions


21. Western Lifestyle Continues Environmental Footprint


22. 1.2 Billion People in India to be Given Biometric ID Cards


23. Afghan War: Largest Military Coalition in History


24. War Crimes of General Stanley McChrystal


25. Prisoners Still Brutalized at Gitmo


Censored 2011- New Book Release on 9/15

Project Censored’s “Censored 2011: The Top Censored Stories of 2009-2010″ is now available for pre-order here! This year’s volume is truly Media Democracy in Action. Not only does it cover the most under-reported stories the corporate media ignore, but this year’s Censored Deja Vu, Junk Food News and News Abuse, Signs of Health, and FAIR’s 10th anniversary of Fear and Favor in the News Room. A full Truth Emergency section debuts this year for “Censored 2011″ to address State Crimes Against Democracy as well as analysis of the corporate media spin that led to the Iraq War and continues to hide US allied atrocities in the Middle East. Project Censored now has over 30 college and university affiliates contributing on our expanding websites and we introduce this year the Project Censored International section of the book, reviewing global trends in media control and censorship. Former director Peter Phillips and new director Mickey Huff describe the new directions of the Project and research methodology plus an update from Dave Mathison on Being the Media, London’s Index on Censorship and much, much more! From now to September 15th, anyone donating $30 or more to the Project will receive a signed copy of “Censored 2011″ by the editors. Regular orders can be sent through the store on the Project Censored website for $19.95 plus $3 shipping and handling. Mail orders can be sent to Media Freedom Foundation, P.O. Box 571, Cotati, CA 94931. Thank you for your support of Project Censored and for helping fight media censorship.

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