The photo below is from the state of siege imposed in California on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 due to some attack on some cops. It depicts a citizen trying to get to his home being threaten by the police. The residents in the ‘affected’ area were not allowed to come back to their homes for 24 hrs, homes were invaded by the cops as was done in Boston after the marathon massacre.
When I see this, I feel afraid of the police. As a person with a disability, I’m considered by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) as a ‘possible terrorist’. NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) has probably by now put my name (and yours if you are receiving ‘mental health services’) in the FBI/NSA/ list of mentally ill people to keep an eye on. See my post ( under gun control category) NY SAFE Act gun law .
What you see in that AP photo could happen to any one of us soon. All needed is a real or staged ‘terrorist attack’ on a cop by a ‘mentally disabled’ kid or adult and BADDA BAM, you have a rifle pointed at your face like that OR a military boot stomping on your face.
This is NOT Iraq or Afghanistan. This is good ol’ Sacramento, California area.
WARNING! Image that may be considered disturbing by some people is included in this post.
In the USA, contrary to Europe and the Middle East, the visible evidence of the consequences of the war on the working class unleashed by their elected law-breakers…um…I meant to say law-maker’s policies, is not the working class seen in the streets fighting their corrupted elected politicians and their police-state. No. In the USA, the visible evidence of that class war is the disintegration of the public mental health in the form of self-immolation, increase in suicide rates, increase in ‘mass shootings’. It’s not ‘chemical imbalance’, it’s mental illness due to political imbalance. Mental illness in healthy societies is very low and not a problem to that society.
This evidence of the increased mental deterioration of our people is what our president callously referred to as that pesky
I know you don’t like to hear this but, our president’s and law-breakers (in both houses of Congress and both parties) laws redistribute our wealth up to the billionaire elite of Wall Street, to the war-mongering arms dealers and builders, the health insurance industry’s CEOs, the pharma and to the surveillance industry’s CEOs (among other privileged elitists) through trillions of dollars spent in contracts. This leaves the public safety-net destroyed when we need it the most.
The ignored-by-the-media epidemic increase in homelessness, usurious loan interest rates that guarantee the debt will be unpaid by an unemployed working class, the trillions in student loan debt that guarantee the students will not have a living-salary because the interest is prohibitive, veterans returning home without health and mental health services, all of this and more can have ONE guaranteed result: trauma to the mental health, individually and collectively.
But there are TWO public expressions of this problem: class struggle in the streets, as in Europe and the Middle East, or collective and individual depression expressed in self-directed violence and/or spontaneous, unplanned violence against the society. This last one is the one the law-breakers fear because they know it can turn into class struggle in the streets with THEM as the target.
Soo, before that happens, they and their media have DISCONNECTED from the public view the chain that ties the INCREASE in ‘mental health issues’ to the economic and political war on the working class, and put the blame on mental illness as a threat to society, with the mentally ill turned in the public eye into a ‘terrorist’.
Self-immolation has got to be the most extreme form of political statement. The Tibetan monks used it to protest the Vietnam war and even today. We have yet to see why that man in the mall here in the US set himself on fire but, whatever the reason, it’s a bad omen of the extreme effect this ‘economical crisis’ is having on our people.
These laws taking away the civil rights of people with ‘mental illness’ are NOT created for your protection. They have been created for the protection of the elected officials and the banking and financial elite AFRAID of what may happen to them when we finally wake up.
People, the medicine we need is ‘the people united’ putting the fear in the elite’s heart.
Yesterday I opened a post about my views on mental illness and dissent in the USA.Today I look into how this connection was continually been made for us in TV programs.
The entertaining ‘terrorists’
Until 9/11, it was an imperative for the government, and the big financial interests it represents, to paint a picture of the USA as a happy nation, the spectator of a world in chaos, but not touched by it. The USA was above all that racket. We don’t have coup d’état in the USA, Kennedy’s assassination was the act of one and one man alone, no conspiracy was found there. It was a ‘common crime’. Neither did we have here racism a la South Africa.
Likewise, it was unwise to tag McVeigh as a ‘terrorist’; it would have messed with the idyllic vision of the US as a happy united people. There were NO TERRORISTS in the USA, land of the free; only crazy power-thirsty cultists, Nazis, Puerto Rican and Black separatists (meaning PRican liberation movement and Nation of Islam) fanatic sympathizers existed in our midst.
In the 1990s, TV shows like Geraldo, Ophra, Maury Povich and Jerry Springer helped paint the idea that these political groups and their views were laughable abnormalities, inconsequential and entertaining, not to be taken seriously. They could even be helped with therapy and kumbaya, as Ophra tried, because, after all, you have to be ‘crazy’ to be in one of these groups. Except that, what was crazy here was not the person but the political ideas of these people, the idea that the US government’s policies could be considered so oppressive by groups of people that they would choose to separate from it. (I’m not siding nor supporting any group here.); the idea that racism was coming only from the KKK and Black racists.
Political dissent in the USA was unofficially diagnosed FOR the public opinion through these programs as a crazy act, an irrational act. Officially it was diagnosed as ‘oppositional defiant behavior’ in the DSM bible. We were allowed to think that the root of these people’s problem was ‘social’: bad parents, poverty (usually the ‘white trash’ and ghetto members were the invitees), etc but never was the US politics and policies considered as factors. Are you crazy? Hell no! There was seldom serious discussions about these problems.
All these TV programs, my friend, represent the corporate ‘art of ideological propaganda’.
Then came 9/11, the game changer.
“Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; “against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.
Tomorrow I will discuss this new definition of ‘terrorism’ and compare it to the old one (in the earlier post for you to do the comparing on your own) and get into the scapegoating of mentally ill people as terrorist. It’s right there, in the highlighted part. Can you see it coming?
Before 9/11, a person who went out on a ‘killing rampage’ was viewed by the public as one who “went postal’, a ‘bomber without a cause’ or a ‘serial killer’. In other words, it was considered the act of a ‘common criminal’, not a political or act of war. After 9/11, that same person committing the same act is considered ‘a war terrorist’ and ‘a crazy person’, to boot.
When and how did we decide to re-classify our definition of ‘common crime’ as ‘an act of war and terrorism’, and to link it to mental illness? Who helped shape our collective ‘perception’ of ‘imminent’ danger?
I will share my views about how mental illness has been scapegoat, after 9/11, as terrorism in a veiled effort to control political and social dissent in our nation, which our current president has declared to be in “a permanent state of war”.
Parts of this post will go under the headings:
The politics of crime: crime in the US before 9/11
Our a-political perception of crime
Mental illness to the rescue
THE POLITICS OF CRIME: Crime in the US before 9/11
Before 9/11, mental illness was seldom considered the sole culprit of acts of violence in our society. Acts of violence by ‘civilians’ (killing co-workers or loved ones) was seen by the public mostly as something done by someone who ‘lost it’ or who ‘went postal’. Implied in these descriptions is some sort of collective understanding that the person committing the crime was under the pressures of work, finance, love betrayal, or other social problems; the public was able to point to a ‘social context’ behind the act of violence. Because of this awareness of a social context behind crimes, the citizens of a town, city or state could look for a social solution to the problem of violence, not for a ‘war’ policy or armaments solution.
Also, pre-9/11 there was an unspoken social ‘agreement’ on the distinction between a ‘common criminal’ and a ‘terrorist’. A terrorist was a foreigner ‘at war’ against us but not here in the USA, and home-grown violence (by civilians) was just ‘regular crimes’. Thus, terrorism = act of war.
In other words, before 9/11 there seemed to be no ‘political’ crimes in the USA, acts of violence to advance political beliefs. Seldom did the media or law enforcement agencies (at least publicly) tagged as ‘terrorism’ crimes that were clearly political in nature. Not even Timothy McVeigh, member of a separatist militia movement, was tagged as a terrorist, not until way after 9/11. The killing of a US President was NOT considered a political or even as terrorist act either. It was tagged as the act of a fanatical ‘lone-wolf’, who probably had been manipulated by the commies, a fact which would have made the crime a political one and a conspiracy. (But we never really went there, did we?) The ‘unabomber’ was a ‘rebel without a cause’, even a ‘mad genius’ but not a terrorist, certainly not a ‘political crusader’ for the animal rights movement, a fact many people don’t know about. And, finally, incarcerated political dissidents before 9/11, like imprisoned Puerto Rican liberation movement members, considered themselves ‘political prisoners’ (not terrorists) but the federal government had perennially refused to accept them as such, tagging them instead as ‘criminals’, until recently.
All of these examples of reluctance by the government to use the ‘t’ word, ‘terrorism’, fly despite the fact that it (FBI) had, before 9/11, a clear definition of terrorism:
“the unlawful use of force or violence, committed by a group(s) of two or more individuals,against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”
That is a political definition of terrorism, based on power struggle between the government and other groups of people to “furtherance of political or social objectives”. It required a “group” (“two or more”), and purposeful coordination of acts was implied. But we hardly knew about this definition, didn’t we? Why? This is in part because of the “two or more” requirement, given that our criminals were almost always portrayed as ‘lone-wolves’.
OUR POLITICAL PERCEPTIONS OF CRIME
The one thing the government (federal and state) must protect above anything else is…no, it’s not ‘the nation’. It is the public trust in the government’s institutions. No trust in government = dissent, polarization, and power struggles for change in the way the government leaders run the nation, be it through peaceful civil disobedience or violence.
The public’s perception of ‘crime’ is shaped by the government’s criminal and justice systems policies and politics, among others. (It’s interesting to me that the first American group to be labeled as ‘terrorist’ was the animals rights movement in The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006, something unrelated to war or Al Qaeda.)
So, it is conceivable that, to protect the public’s perception that the majority of the people are satisfied with the government’s policies, that there is no significant dissent within the society, the actions of dissenting groups are described as ‘regular crime’ and ‘crazy’ to devoid them of its political statement against the government policies. It reeks to Nazism, doesn’t it?
So, in a nation engaged in a ‘permanent war against terrorism’ and in enacting political, economic and repressive policies (police and surveillance state), which attack the middle class (leaving de-facto only two classes, the elite and the poor), how is the government going to label the natural political acts of dissent and resistance of those affected by its unfair policies and the impact it has on the social fabric?
Tomorrow: the pre and post 9/11 perception on crime, and mental illness to the rescue.
This is the latest installment of Big Brother’s “anti-terrorism” orders. What I find most disturbing in this Digital Journal article is that ANY “personal problems” is sufficient to label you as “terrorist”, or more specifically a “sleeper” cell terrorist, if during your “personal problem” you happen to vent “fury at the West[?] for the global policies of the US”. Also, “excusing violence against Americans on the grounds that American actions provoked the problem”, in other words, disagreeing with US foreign policies would automatically convert you into a “sleeper cell”.
Notice that expressing your “fury” against any European nation, the “West”, counts as an act of ‘treason’. That’s the long arm of the globalist elite. You are not allowed to criticize or have dissenting views ANYWHERE, not only in the US or about non-US policies. Your political opinions are restricted now to either shut up or accept as perfect the nation’s actions to ‘protect the homeland’.
If there where any doubts of the reality that our government distrusts its citizens, that this is a BIG BROTHER state, that dissent is DE FACTO banned, that ALL Americans are considered traitors by the FBI and our politicians, that our Constitution is dead…that article ought to erase any such doubts.
According to the FBI and the Department of Justice [justice for the elite] list of ‘characteristic’ behaviors and beliefs of terrorists, I and all of you who may agree with a few of my posted opinions, are considered ‘terrorists’ by our government. You don’t have to do anything ‘wrong’; just express disagreement about our government policies, mild or ‘furiously’, or even just visit this blog, and you are a “sleeper” cell terrorist.
This is all happening during the Obama administration.
Yeap. America, the land of the free, RIP. Long live the dictatorship.
Interesting Gallup poll.
One thing: according to the poll, Americans have NOT change at all, since 2011, in their believe that the “failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are a danger to others” is the MAIN cause of mass shootings (48%). But, there was a REDUCTION of 6% since 2011 to 2013 in the amount of people who believe that guns are the culprit. The question is Where did those 6% put the blame now? Evidently their change in perception is NOT reflected as an increase in the category of people who believe that the mental health system is to be blamed.
Surprisingly enough, Democrats are MORE likely to believe that guns are NOT the main culprit (51%), which brings the question: Why is the Dem Party so intent in ramming down our throats gun control laws as a panacea to this problem? As I showed in my previous post, Obama stated that the MAIN reason we have ‘ritualistic mass shootings’ is because “we” (the public) refuse to adopt “firm background checks”, a sad and absurd statement from the president of “hope and change”.
“Independents” are MORE inclined to blame guns than republicans themselves (44 vs 49% respectively).
This all leads me to believe that the Democratic Party PREFERS to blame guns so it doesn’t have to explain Why are they cutting funds for mental health services while the American people understands that bad quality of mental health services is the main cause of mass shootings.
If we were to accept that Gallop poll as valid, then these would be some points for the mental health advocacy community to consider:
1. Is the NRA succeeding in its message that guns are not to be blamed for mass shootings?
2. Is blaming the ‘mental health system’ equivalent to blaming the mentally ill individuals? That would be disastrous for us.
3. How can the mental health advocacy community take ‘advantage’ of the believe that the mental health system is the main cause of mass shootings? This point ought to be ‘exploited’: demand REAL reform in the mental health system NOW. While mental illness is NOT the ONLY reason for mass shootings (wars, national economy, environment of police-state, home foreclosures by Wall Street, joblessness, homelessness and many other social issues are part of the problem of mass shootings), we could focus on QUALITY of services as much as on QUANTITY as a response to mass shootings.
We must battle against ALL background checks that stigmatize the mentally ill. Background checks are NOT the answer, not even enough to accept them TEMPORARILY because, once the legal damage is done, we can’t fight it for the next 50 years.
I’m a skeptic when it comes to polls, but, given that Americans tend to ‘buy’ them, it would make sense to take advantage of this one.
Obama made some remarks yesterday (Sept 17) in the Spanish tv station Univision which I consider APPALLING. I bring them for your consideration here because, hopefully, I misunderstood said remarks, and you can clarify them to me. Feel free to post your comment.
This is my transcript, you can hear him directly in the video below. Highlights are by me and my comments follow below the vid.
“The fact that we don’t have a firm enough background check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to this kind of mass shooting…uhm…I do get concerned that this becomes a ritual that we go through every three or four months where we have these horrific mass shootings and yet we are not willing to take some basic actions we know can make a difference. Ultimately, this is something Congress is gonna have to act on. I have now, in the wake of Newtown, initiated a whole range of executive actions, we put in place every executive action that I proposed right after Newtown happened. So I’ve taken steps that are within my control. The next phase is for Congress to go ahead and move.”
Now, my reactions to each of his ‘compassionate’ statements.
1. Obama says that the reason we go through this “mass killing every three or four months” is because background check system is not “firm enough”. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be fixed, our background check system. Even George W. Bush was more useful to the mentally ill people than this president we have now. After all, it was W who gave us the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and the super important ADA Amendment Act of 2008.
I challenge ANYONE to tell me how has Obama gone above and beyond what W did for the mentally ill people. FYI, I’m not a republican (rather die) nor do I support nor sympathize with W. But, to Caesar what belongs to Caesar…
2. Also, Obama says that we are more “vulnerable to this kind of shooting” because of lax background checks. The implications: mentally ill people make this nation “more vulnerable”, and mentally ill people MUST be ‘firmly’ checked.
Given the path our government has taken, since Obama came to power, towards a surveillance state branding every citizen or group that it considers ‘subversive or dissenting’, these ‘background checks’ are bound to apply soon to any mentally ill person, whether or not applying for guns. NYS Office of Mental Health has started the trend already. See my post ‘NY Safe Act:…‘
3. The “ritual”. Now THAT was interesting. Was that scripted? Or was it ad lib’ed? Wow. Is he talking about mentally ill people having a ‘compulsion’ towards mass killing? Is he EXPECTING a mass shooting by,er, December or January 2014?
Funny thing is that, IF that’s what he meant, that mentally ill people have a RECURRENT death wish, why can’t he prevent the shootings? Evidently he expects them to happen consistently every three or four months. Does he expect that this compulsion and RITUALISTIC behavior can be stopped with “firm background checks”? HELLO. IS ANYBODY AT HOME!?
4. Who is “we” in that “and yet we are not willing to take some basic actions we know can make a difference.”? Is he blaming the public because they don’t want laws that are clearly oppressive and fascist? Or is he blaming the NRA supporters? It could help if he were more CLEAR. I think he is blaming BOTH. The “basic actions” entails depriving people who visit a psychiatrist of their civil rights, just to protect “we”.
5. And then there was the throwing of the towel. He is basically saying that he ‘tried’ to do something but, because “we are not willing to take some basic actions” he can do no more. It’s “up to Congress to move”.
That is THROWING THE TOWEL. He’s doing it because you voted against his gun law this year. He doesn’t care anymore, is what he’s saying. ‘Deal with it’ is what he’s saying.
Well, I’m going now to prepare my post for December’s mass shooting.
See you later.
This article about the legal status of Obama’s NDAA, his law that strips US citizens of Habeas Corpus (due process), is interesting and important for the future of those of you out there fighting the ‘system’, whether it is the anti-war actions or mental health rights and everything in between.
As you know by now, our government puts in its Homeland Security list of ‘terrorists’ every person or group that dissent from its policies (written to benefit the corporate boys). The NDAA allows the government to arrest anyone it deems a ‘threat’, without evidence of the threat, arrest and send to prison for as long as it deems it necessary.
I recommend you read the whole enchilada, but here’s an excerpt:
By Chris Hedges
I and my fellow plaintiffs have begun the third and final round of our battle to get the courts to strike down a section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that permits the military to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, the lawyers who with me in January 2012 brought a lawsuit against President Barack Obama (Hedges v. Obama), are about to file papers asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our appeal of a 2013 ruling on the act’s Section 1021.
“First the terrorism-industrial complex assured Americans that they were only spying on foreigners, not U.S. citizens,” Mayer said to me recently. “Then they assured us that they were only spying on phone calls, not electronic communications. Then they assured us that they were not spying on American journalists. And now both [major political] parties and the Obama administration have assured us that they will not detain journalists, citizens and activists. Well, they detained journalist Chris Hedges without a lawyer, they detained journalist Laura Poitras without due process and if allowed to stand this law will permit the military to target activists, journalists and citizens in an unprecedented assault on freedom in America.”
Last year we won round one: U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York declared Section 1021 unconstitutional. The Obama administration immediately appealed her ruling and asked a higher court to put the law back into effect until Obama’s petition was heard. The appellate court agreed. The law went back on the books. I suspect it went back on the books because the administration is already using it, most likely holding U.S. citizens who are dual nationals in black sites in Afghanistan and the Middle East. If Judge Forrest’s ruling were allowed to stand, the administration, if it is indeed holding U.S. citizens in military detention centers, would be in contempt of court.
In July 2013 the appellate court, in round two, overturned Forrest’s ruling. All we have left is the Supreme Court, which may not take the case. If the Supreme Court does not take our case, the law will remain in place unless Congress strikes it down, something that federal legislators have so far refused to consider. The three branches of government may want to retain the ability to use the military to maintain control if widespread civil unrest should occur in the United States. I suspect the corporate state knows that amid the mounting effects of climate change and economic decline the military may be all that is left between the elite and an enraged population. And I suspect the corporate masters do not trust the police to protect them.
If Section 1021 stands it will mean that more than 150 years of case law in which the Supreme Court repeatedly held the military has no jurisdiction over civilians will be abolished. It will mean citizens who are charged by the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or the nebulous category of “associated forces” will be lawfully subject to extraordinary rendition. It will mean citizens seized by the military will languish in military jails indefinitely, or in the language of Section 1021 until “the end of hostilities”—in an age of permanent war, for the rest of their lives. It will mean, in short, obliteration of our last remaining legal protections, especially now that we have lost the right to privacy, and the ascent of a crude, militarized state that serves the leviathan of corporate totalitarianism. It will mean, as Forrest pointed out in her 112-page opinion, that whole categories of Americans—and here you can assume dissidents and activists—will be subject to seizure by the military and indefinite and secret detention.”
Continue reading at Chris Hedges: The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA – Chris Hedges’ Columns – Truthdig.
Read it and cry, or mourn, or burst or do something to release the…anger? They simply ignore the rules, PERIOD. But Obama said “we don’t spy on you”, except that he didn’t finish the sentence; he meant to say ‘we don’t spy on you…when the equipment is not working’.
My fear is that we will become numb and used to it, like in that movie ‘Brazil’ (1985), one of those movies you must see before you DIE. It’s a funny take on ‘1984’ that actually makes 1984 seem more painful. Compare how ‘Winston’ dealt with Big Brother to ‘Sam’s coping mechanism, if I may use the term. Rent it or watch online at Amazon, or at viooz.co/movies (need java plug ins).
We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. … We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. How does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement – a world of fear and treachery and torment. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever. ‘The State explaining why it does what it does in the novel by George Orwell, ‘1984’.
I just bumped into this excellent post “Winston Smith of 1984 Still Relevant” and decided to share it with the few souls that manage to find my blog. It is truly worth reading, particularly if you haven’t yet read ‘1984’. I disagree with the article author’ statement that ” the present US does not match the Orwellian dystopia exactly”; I think we are already there, except that people are starting to realize it now thanks to Snowden. That’s when reality starts to resemble fiction. The many cases of police brutality and military teams invading homes (which our mainstream media refuses to publish) on account of ‘suspicions’ of a petty crime being committed, tell us that we are already in ‘1984’.
Anyway, here is that article or comment:
I first read George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 in 1968, when the date he used as the title of his book still seemed far in the future. I read Orwell’s book one slow summer in the heat of central Florida. Neither we nor anyone we knew could afford air conditioning, and so I read the book outdoors in the shade of a century-old oak tree. The book affected me profoundly.
Many of the terms Orwell coined in his masterpiece such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and memory hole, became part of our language over time. My favorite Orwellian phrase has always been “down the memory hole.” A memory hole was a garbage chute leading to an incinerator; it was used to dispose of inconvenient evidence of past events when the Party wished to erase those events from history. The Party was not a political party involved in running for office, but simply the state.
The job of the protagonist, Winston Smith, was to re-write past newspaper articles, placing the original versions in the memory hole, so that the historical record would conform to the changing official Party version of history. A small group of elites, the Inner Party, controlled the masses via near-universal surveillance (only the Inner Party members themselves could opt out of it), propaganda, and brutal violence. The nation-state ruled by the Party was always at war, had always been at war, and would forever be at war, which was the general justification for state repression.
Orwell once observed in an essay on the English language that contemporary political language was “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In the book we find that the Party does something similar; not only does it make lies sound truthful, but it manipulates language in order to make it it impossible to think critically about the Party. The public’s vocabulary is severely limited, while words are redefined so that thinking critically about the Party becomes grammatically impossible. Suspecting the party of lies would be a contradiction in terms, as what the Party says is by definition true.
Winston Smith was a party member, but he was not one of the Inner Party. Rather, he was a member of the Outer Party, a larger group of middle-class bureaucrats. At one point he says to an Inner Party member, regarding the Party’s actions, “I understand how, but I don’t understand why.” The Inner Party member explains:
We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. … We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. How does one man assert his power over another? By making him suffer. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. In our world, there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement – a world of fear and treachery and torment. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.
Orwell captured the essential nature of the state perfectly in this speech. Far too many people have observed the federal government’s habit of expanding its own power without asking the question Winston asks. While the present US does not match the Orwellian dystopia exactly, there are many parallels between it and our reality, and the answer to Winston’s question remains relevant.
Thanks to the whistle blowing of Edward Snowden, we now know that the US government sees no real limits on its “right” to use surveillance against the general population. It is claimed that by computerized analysis of metadata collected by the National Security Agency, one can practically read the mind of the target. Apparently the US government expects to be able to read the minds of the masses, just as the Party did with its system of surveillance.
But the massive spying by the NSA is not the only aspect of the modern US reminiscent of 1984. The TSA is not only treating the flying public like criminals, but now apparently believes that they should be involved in searching people outside of airports as well. According to a report by KTTV, the Department of Homeland Security partnered with the Los Angeles County California Sheriff’s department and TSA agents recently to conduct an exercise that was described as a “full scale terrorism drill.” The drill was reported to have been taking place nationwide, with various agencies even using undercover agents, “looking for anything out of the ordinary.” US officials claimed that these drills were designed to make the public feel safe in light of rumors that the Boston bombers had planed a July 4th terror attack. According to Nicole Nishida of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the people will celebrate their independence from tyranny by submitting to random bag searches.
Winston Smith observed that your worst enemy in a surveillance state was your own nervous system, because at any moment, the internal tension caused by living in such a society was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom. The Party would notice this, and could use it as evidence to condemn you for thoughtcrime. Today our own state is working towards the capability to use real-time computer analysis to read thoughts, emotions, and intentions. They claim this will keep us safe from terrorists, but could very well be used to accuse any of us of “intended” crimes. Far from making them safer, the state is putting everyone at risk of being identified as an enemy of the state.
A few years ago, Wendy McElroy asked the question: does the US have police state powers now? Her answer:
Clearly it does. The American government exerts extreme control over society, down to dictating which foods you may eat. Its economic control borders on the absolute. It politicizes and presides over even the traditional bastion of privacy — the family. Camera and other surveillance of daily life has soared, with the Supreme Court recently expanding the “right” of police to perform warrantless searches. Enforcement is so draconian that the United States has more prisoners per capita than any other nation; and over the last few years, the police have been self-consciously militarizing their procedures and attitudes. Travel, formerly a right, is now a privilege granted by government agents at their whim. Several huge and tyrannical law-enforcement agencies monitor peaceful behavior rather than respond to crime. These agencies operate largely outside the restrictions of the Constitution; for example, the TSA conducts arbitrary searches in violation of Fourth Amendment guarantees.
I ran a Google search today on “US police state” and Google yielded just shy of one trillion hits. The question is not “is the USA becoming a police state” but rather the question is “why.” Why does the state continue to seize power for itself? It is not to keep you safe; your safety is the last thing on the minds of the rulers.
George Orwell answered the “why” in 1949 and the answer has not changed. It is part of human nature to want power over others, but we have known for thousands of years that power corrupts. There is no reason to expect that the state’s power will not continue to be abused, and to expand until Orwell’s dystopian vision is made manifest.
These photos not in the article.
New NYS bill would make it a felony to ANNOY a cop! You get 4 big years in prison for the crime.
S 240.33 AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER.A PERSON IS GUILTY OF AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER WHEN, WITH THE INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY, THREATEN OR ALARM A PERSON WHOM HE OR SHE KNOWS OR REASONABLY SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER ENGAGED IN THE COURSE OF PERFORMING HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES, HE OR SHE STRIKES, SHOVES, KICKS OR OTHERWISE SUBJECTS SUCH PERSON TO PHYSICAL CONTACT. AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER IS A CLASS E FELONY. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.