Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keeping us safe...

So Edward Snowden revealed the vast nature of domestic spying through leaks of classified documents in the Guardian newspaper. I appreciate your efforts, Mr. Snowden. President Obama says that this domestic spying is necessary to keep us safe - bullshit, but further I believe that it isn't even meant to keep us safe. The real purpose is to keep tabs on dissent and to keep the corporatocracy safe from anyone who might oppose it. President Obama represents the corporatocracy and all of its tentacles - big banks, multi-national corporations, the military-industrial-security-complex, industrial agriculture, medicine for profit, etc. In fact, he is probably one of the finest supporters of the corporatocracy ever, mainly because he pretends that he isn't (and a lot of people believe him). By dividing what little opposition to corporate rule remaining he is doing a better job than his Republican rivals in promoting the existing power structure. I told many people this before the last election but most thought I was crazy.

Firstly, I'm not counting on the government to keep me safe. There was a period of time when the government made some modest efforts to regulate toxic chemicals in our foods, drugs and consumer products, safety in workplaces etc. but the whole regulatory framework has been taken over by corporate minions and underfunded to nonfunctionality. Presidents don't try to keep us out of wars either, in fact they actively work to get us into them. This is why the founders put the ability to declare war in the hands of the congress - Presidents have found many ways around this little detail though and we have been on a permanent war footing as long as any of us can remember. Terrorism is the new thing to scare us into keeping the purse strings open for the military but I don't expect that the government will protect me from terrorism either. In the twisted logic of the way our system now works, acts of terrorism further the goals of the military-industrial-security-complex by promoting fear even if any single citizen has a much greater risk of being struck by lightening. I have more fear of being labeled a domestic terrorist for resisting the corporatocracy than I have of harm from the kinds of terrorists I'm supposed to be afraid of. Overall, I'm far more worried about my own government (police overreach, domestic spying, etc.) than any supposed threat from abroad.

Just to be perfectly clear, I think it's fine for the feds to obtain warrants and gather information when there is evidence of criminal activity. This isn't about the ability of the government to fight crime or even terrorism - it's about the ability of the government to keep tabs on dissent. This desire and in fact this practice is not at all new. The government has been keeping tabs on dissenters for over a century and probably longer (as long as we have pursued an empire, I guess). What's new is that the technology now allows for massive dragnets that collect and store an incredible amount of data on virtually everyone. So much so that enormous new data centers are being built to cope with the flood of personal data that's being intercepted. Algorithms look for keywords and associations and highlight individuals for further scrutiny. Of course it never ends with merely keeping tabs on dissenters, they are targeted for retaliation in many forms - up to and including arrest and assassination - check out what happened to Michael Hastings.

Government informants join groups of dissenters to report back, disrupt and sometimes even plan and execute protests in such a way as to allow for easy prosecution. Agent provocateur's instigate or commit acts of violence in order to have a pretext for police intervention. People can be blacklisted, held back from promotion or denied employment with no knowledge and certainly no recourse. Chris Hedges gives a good history of this kind of government retaliation in his book "Death of the Liberal Class", which I highly recommend. Even if there were no overt targeting of dissenters, the very fact that the government is listening in on our conversations has a chilling effect on speech.  None of this history is taught in school so young people are far more likely to accept pervasive government spying because they're unaware of how the government has used and abused information about dissenters in the past.

Anyway, I figure I'll save the hard-working government agents a little time and trouble and state right here that I'm opposed to the corporatocracy (if they haven't figured it out already...).

I oppose overseas wars, the bloated Pentagon budget, CIA interference in other countries, the so-called global war on terror, domestic spying without a clear indication of criminal activity, private prisons, the war on drugs, the militarization of domestic law enforcement and the war on whistleblowers.

I oppose the desperate attempts to extract the last remaining fossil fuels using environmentally damaging methods - including drilling in the Arctic, tar sands and hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

I oppose the profit driven health care system and the private insurance companies which have been protected by Obamacare. I oppose Monsanto and the corporate domination of our food supply.

I oppose the too-big-to-fail banks and the casino-capitalism of Wall Street.

I oppose corporate personhood and everything that it implies, especially corporate participation in elections.

A better world is possible - free of corporate domination, based on renewable energy, local agriculture, equality of opportunity, sustainability and true justice through the rule of law - where the laws are written to protect people, not the wealthy elites. I fear it's too late but my conscience dictates that I speak out anyway.