Monday, July 8, 2013

Why It Matters

Ultimately, this whole Snowden Thing may blow over like any other Summertime SharksInTheWater Story, but we don't know that yet.

This whole uproar seems to me to be a direct power play by one corporate faction to essentially seize the government on behalf of its own interests, and in the process ensure the willing submission of enough of the public to make it stick.

We've been living in a corporate state for quite a long time now, and the Obama administration has been, if anything, its more than willing servant. So much so, the outrage has been barely contained.

I have been aware that Greenwald is a factional corporate liberation player for almost as long as he's been active in the so-called Left Blogosphere. Not only has he vigorously defended corporate personhood and the Citizens United decision, he has been at constant pains to denigrate government power and authority while essentially never finding fault with corporate authority and power -- unless, that is, such corporate power and authority interferes with interests he supports.

While he was certainly a thorn in the side of the Bush Regime, he's pulled out all the stops in his vein popping hatred for Obama and his administration. But ultimately, no matter how much the issue gets personalized from time to time, the "enemy" is government, and the objective is to reduce it to complete submission to corporate interest and power. Or to destroy it.

When he's yelling loudest about "civil liberties" it's important to ask: "Liberty for whom to do what?" We might think we know, but I'd suggest we don't. The answer is important. And I doubt one would ever get a straightforward answer from Greenwald. I know I never did.

Corporate liberation means that corporate interests are liberated from onerous -- in many cases any -- government interference in their affairs at all. Corporations become free of any restraint or responsibility they don't choose for themselves. They cannot be compelled in any way -- apart from enforceable contracts they willingly enter into. To a Corporate Libertarian, corporations are intrinsically benign or even intrinsically good. They only do bad things when forced to do them by perfidious government.

To a Corporate Libertarian, government involvement or intrusion into corporate affairs is intolerable. To a Corporate Libertarian, the proper relationship between government and corporations is submission and service.

The People and the public interest don't factor into it at all though you may hear much cant and rhetoric about the People and the Public Good and whatnot from Corporate Libertarians. Most of it is marketing. It's mostly meaningless, for unless one is aligned with and subject to favored corporate interests .... fffft.

Some of the propaganda tactics being employed by Snowden/Greenwald partisans are strikingly Stalinist, though I doubt many people would recognize them. Their order that everyone exclusively focus on the NSA ignoring every other aspect of the story and domestic surveillance in general, the ridiculing and shouting down of any questioning of the story as received from Greenwald and the Guardian, constant denunciations of "government" and especially highly personal and often barely veiled racist denunciations of Obama, and preening/overweening righteousness are all factors which remind me of Stalinist propaganda tactics. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of it either. There has been an attempt -- that looks to have been partially successful -- to create a mindless mob to carry forward a hate campaign directed at "government" in general and Obama in particular.

Both Naomi Wolf and Sibel Edmonds (among others) have raised questions about aspects of the story and about those promoting it that trouble them, and they have both faced withering denunciations for daring to ask questions. Others who have expressed anything less than complete acceptance of the story as delivered by Greenwald and the Guardian have faced slurs, smears, and furious denunciations by Snowden/Greenwald partisans. It can't get much more Stalinist than that.

Meanwhile, domestic surveillance itself is basically been secured and solidified. The government has been somewhat more forthcoming about the surveillance, there has been some movement toward minor reforms of the legal foundations of the National Surveillance/Security State, and at least superficially, there appears to be no chance in holy hell that that domestic surveillance will be curtailed let alone ended...

Unless... actually there is a chance that surveillance will be modified if not completely suspended for some groups, such as favored corporate honchos, certain media interests, and some government agencies and interests.

That was the essence of the complaints and demands brought forward with the initial domestic surveillance "scandals" involving AP and FOX . Basically, they were demanding exemption from the surveillance everyone else was subject to because of the First Amendment. If the media is to be exempted (regardless of the Constitution) who else would be demanding their own exemptions? Shortly after the Snowden story broke, members of Congress demanded to be exempted (oh, and eventually were assured they were exempt!). No doubt the various corporate partners of the Surveillance State have defenses in place to prevent their information from being shared (though hackers are still able to defeat them) and I wouldn't be surprised if their contracts specify that the government cannot collect their data. How many others will demand and get exemptions? At what cost to the rest of us?

We've been devolving into an Empire in which your social class, who you are, who you know, and the alliances you have entered into become the most important aspects of your life and are the determinants of your future. It's an Empire in which you are a suspect until your status is established to the satisfaction of interested authorities. It is an Empire in which everyone who has not established their status to the satisfaction of parties they may not even be aware of are subject to invasive surveillance and continual exploitation throughout their lives, and there is literally nothing they can do about it.  It is an Empire endeavoring to ensure that no one subject to surveillance and exploitation wants to do anything about it.

We are very far down this path. Nothing Greenwald or Snowden has revealed has diverted our course.

I'm not sure at this point that anything will.

What then must we do?

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