What a time we live in, eh? If one were to politically define the US right now, ‘divisive’ would suffice. But I can come up with better terms. Immediately. I don’t need to rack my brain to conjure up synecdochic language like, e.g., ‘hyper-right wing Paranoia’ or ‘culturally-divergent with on one end a racist religio-complex-sporting Rightwing contingent, vehemently petitioning in Tea Party regalia against every single thing hued with Leftist coloring, yearning to screw (literally) the last remaining untouched landbases within the US for crude while reciting the lines to “Give Me Back My Bullets” and allowing Texas to rewrite educational curricula, propounding the supremacy of American Capitalism (which, ironically, is pretty much AKA the Democrat’s Capitalism [i.e., free trade, something that is pretty damn Liberally toned as well]1 … but I digress.
What worries me is the current milieu of The Country. Like all other empires before the US, over-extension of assumed power through the use of Imperial military might and misperceived economic privilege is thinning out the foundation; fulcrums are deteriorating; substructures are moldering; the plinth is crumbling.
This can be interpreted figuratively and/or literally. Anyhow, presumably, the parabolic rate at which Zero is reached invariably speeds up along the descending curve, following a zenith period. And like anything that rides Gravity’s Rainbow, the ride ends with a bang. If we apply this law to (geo) politico-economics then history, or rather, the archival anecdotes of civility’s economic persistence, or, OK, let’s refine this and call it cliometrics, illustrates that Political Zero is no fun to attain.
In the last days of Rome, G.A. Diocletian, faced with economic woes and one military imbroglio after another, decided to divide the empire, and, executed the final persecution of the Christians. This wasn’t a novel tactic but, rather, (N.B.) a veteran stratagem to maintain power by any means necessary. Division, persecution, coerced/co-opted assimilation, exodus, et al. blights the stories of civilization since latter’s beginning.
Gilgamesh murdered the Keepers of the Forest and seduced the Wild Man with prurient concessions; interpret that as you may. The Fertile Crescent dried up as quickly as the ziggurats went up. Cedar forests and bogs gave way to sprawling densities of people, later replaced by Saharan desertification. The story of the Hittite empire narrates the Battle of Kadesh and subsequent civil war and coups galore. And it’s safe to say that that entire region’s early empires were rife with social turbulence, reaching a terminal period of economic decline piggybacking ecological problems; the two go together like beans & rice.
Then there was Rome’s political ataxia. And more to come. Skip forward a ways and Britain basically screwed over, big time, India to screw over China, also immiserating the Irish, claiming Ireland as cantonal farmland for British Commonwealth’s aristocratic collation. Spain’s monarchical tyranny persecuted Moorish tenants. Ringing up some nasty debt, Spain commissioned some seriously bloody pogroms in search of gold, coming home not empty handed but with Columbus’ “discovery” of lands rich with slave labor and Amerigo Vespucci’s unearthing of Brazilwood. Now Europe could have a surplus of sugar and red dye.
Colonialism brought with it Imperial Teamwork; i.e., proto-globalization. The Caribbean Basin was emptied of culture by the millions, and then, too, the same for the American continents. The concentration camp entered the scene. Calvinist Boers felt the wrath. (So did Kenya’s Mau Mau much later on in the 20th Century.) And the entire Global South was ravaged for resources.
Revolution spread like stochastic wildfire throughout Europe in the mid-Nineteenth Century, bringing us philosophical Badasses like Mikhail Bakunin and critiques of Marxism that couldn’t be defined as Slanted-to-the-Right (thank you Mik) because the whole political-spectrum/obstinate Humanism is a sham that sunders us all from the nurturing care of a miraculous birthing Nature; away from being true stewards of ecological Place.2 The despotism of czarist Russia ended with a Bolshevik victory that culminated in the gulag. And around the same time European economic woes and gripes and feuds and feints and démarches – that incontrovertibly began as a result of Imperial Teamwork – erupted into WWI followed by an interregnum of “Armistice” only to recrudesce into WWII.
It was circa this period that technology and science and rationality cloaked in their Cool Logic made persecution efficient and bureaucratic and sanctioned by the State, insisted by the political voice, chanting in lumpen unison. Jews, homosexuals, Roma gypsies, Russians, Slavs, intellectuals, anarchists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other social deviants were all persecuted. ID cards that later became train passes that later ferried the persecuted out of the ghettos to you-know-where is how bureaucracy, science, technology, and persecution miscegenated with economics and politics. (Himmler’s Final Solution was managed under the Economic Administration Section of the Reichsicherheithauptamt.)
It was an orgy of the utmost depravity to say the least. But evil is banal, no doubt. And this kind of dark banality spiraled diffusively outward and into the space-time continuum. In no particular chronological order, there was Japanese systematically killing Chinese; Turks v. Armenians; Americans slaughtering Koreans and Filipinos and N. Vietnamese; Israel v. Palestine and the UK v. the IRA, the Cold War, Chile’s 9/11, etc & c.
And the ratio of civilized to indigenous alludes to the unjust centrifugal forces of modernization; a hegemonic agenda defined euphemistically by globalization and latter’s misnomer pal, Freetrade™, climaxing atop a post-modern pinnacle of some seriously ubiquitous social & environmental alienation.
But — and so what is there to say about today’s integration of industry, economics, surveillance, incarceration, and militarism? Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben avers that the salient feature of the post-modern world is the concentration camp. No matter where one goes in the world today, one is indeed navigating the panoptical terrain of a surveillance culture. (And most definitely one probably has a financial stake or two in the whole gamut as well.)
Though, one need not wield Asimovian psychohistory to attempt to predict the political patterns yet to transpire. With nifty things like NARUS STA 6400s3 and recent administrations’ floccinaucinihilipilification of important things reputed to have exclusive authority like, say, FISA, while shamelessly indulging in warrantless wiretaps and data mining and drift-netting4 and “classified Continuity Annexes” alongside the incessant attempt to apply juridico-political power to normalize proactive strategies of preemption – with shit like this, fuck a crystal ball, the future is now.
But let’s not kid ourselves; this isn’t entirely new water we’re treading. These tricks have been up Empire’s sleeves since the get-go, and, predictably, the tricks will get flashier the tighter Empire grips its waning power in a desperate attempt to maintain order; Weed the Garden, as it were.
Last Year Barak Obama appointed one William Lynn as deputy secretary of defense. And Lynn is no stranger to the field of defense.5 This ace was Raytheon’s chief lobbyist; Raytheon being the defense darling that recently brought us the Death Ray, or in more technical cant: The Active Denial System (ADS). Delivering a laser-type beam of electromagnetic radiation (like a microwave does), penetrating 1/64th-of-an-inch of the target’s outer epidermal layer, warming subcutaneous molecules (like a microwave does), effecting a sensation that’s been described as burning from the inside out, Raytheon’s “nonlethal”6 crowd control gadget is right up there with other prized innovations such as e.g. rubber bullets, immobilizing nets and foams and sprays, chemical agents, and laser weapons that, as Ando Arike expounds upon in his recent piece for Harper’s, “cause dizziness or temporary blindness…”
Oh and there’s more, ohhhh so much more! Like, for instance, the vertiginous and bilious LED Incapacitator (no kidding around); the MEDUSA7 that also uses a microwave beam (I couldn’t make this stuff up) to deliver unpleasant auditory sensations inside one’s map; and there’s also Pulsed Energy Projectile (go ahead, put it into an acronym), which is just as F’d-up as all the other aforementioned items.8
Let’s also shine the illuminating kliegs on InfraGard. “InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Offices.” Neato. InfraGard is private business deputized.
According to Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, “InfraGard is a child of the FBI.” It is an FBI operation, with FBI agents in every state “overseeing” local InfraGard chapters (there are 86 chapters, VT has one). In Nov. 2001, IG had approximately 1700 members. There are now 23,682 and steadily climbing. FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke at an InfraG convention on 9 Aug. 2005, stating: “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of the InfraGard. From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts … and 11,000 [now spilling over 23,000] partners in our mission to protect America. Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”
You catch that? The private sector is now America’s first line of defense. He went on to urge IGard members to get in touch with the FBI if they “note suspicious activity or an unusual event.” And also said they could “sic” [sic] the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”
The funny thing is, in Bush’s NSPD 51 “National Continuity Policy,” the Commander in Chief dictates the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate with “private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.”
InfraGard members are also being prepared for martial law scenarios, being told that it is their responsibility to safeguard their portion of the infrastructure, and, if need be, use deadly force to protect it.
Holy Smokes! This is heavy-duty. And go ahead and fact check this, you’ll find all the IG info in Matthew Rothschild’s article “The FBI Deputizes Business” scribed for The Progressive back in ’08.
For a more global perspective just muse for a bit on the expansion of NATO, pushed further east than Russia prefers; NORTHCOM and latter’s complementary AFRICOM … and the 2008 reactivation of the US Fourth Fleet (demobilized in 1950) immediately following Columbia’s blitz into Ecuador.
Given the recent connubiality between the belligerent Right and populism in addition to the terrifying rise of popularity of this terrifying phenomenon, imagine what a US with all of its weaponized crowd control gadgets, surveillance apparatuses, and defense & securitization networks (domestic and abroad) would look like with another GOPish president. Yikes!
If financial institutions and their anaclitic significant others – the corporate institutions – heavily influenced Obama’s election in order to finish arming the Empire at the behest of a consenting populace blindsided by the advertisements of Hope & Change®, it is safe to bet that those same industrial influences will want to put a Good ‘ol Boy Patriot RWinger in the ring when it’s time to start swinging.
And so removing Seldon’s calculator pad from its belt-hung pouch and gazing at the prescient red diodes flashing and blinking on its screen representing the condition of the Empire at present … add to this all the known probabilities of a popular Rightwing movement with a successful election in two years, culminating in vice-regal revolt against All Sworn American Enemies, “the contemporary recurrence of periods of economic depression, the declining rate of planetary explorations, the…”
Oh Boy – each input makes those diodes flash crimson fast. A field-differentiation makes the numerical probability of Total Horror 92.5%.And, so, what to do? Some may say it is time to cast away the Right v. Left dialectic – that it serves our lovely planet and us no Good. Some would also opine it is time to invoke the essence of true Badassism and call upon the spirit of Bakunin and his ilk if we want to defend a real Democratic tenet as well as the health of our one and only planet.
- (!) [↩]
- Boromir: “How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king …?” Steward of Gondor: “Few years, maybe, in other places of less royalty … In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice.” Viz. kings are not stewards and being a steward does not warrant one to be a king. [↩]
- (semantic traffic analyzer) [↩]
- And I don’t mean the kind of drift-netting used to catch herring by weighting the bottom of a net and buoying the top so to allow the net to drift w/ the tide, no sir, not that kind of drift-netting. [↩]
- And I’m not singling out Good Cop Obama here. His Bad Cop predecessor Bush.2 was way worse, no doubt. And you know, while we’re down here at FN4, taking a break from the main text, what is up (?!) w/America getting all hyper-Rightwing on everybody in the wake of an ostensibly Democratic/Liberal takeover of the same old duplicitous machinations that were set in motion decades and decades ago that have been expanded and hot-potatoed back&forth between cabinets, gaining kinetic force and mass that clearly benefits one Super Class of cambists and corporate nonpareils (which was rubbed in our face w/explicit and unwavering Whatchoo-gunna-do-about-It oligarchic juridico-politico-corporate hubris recently by a 5-4 majority Supreme Court ruling)? Seriously, the Right contingent is angry over stuff they claim is ‘O’’s Big Err, suffering from that salient U.S.Amnesia and doltishly forgetting that Bush.2 and Clinton et al. and Bush 1.0 and preceding RWR and so on to the -10 have been conveying all of these problems into the present. But really, this incessant yearlong Rightwing paroxysmatic reaction to the Most Moderate President Ever, as if (this is where I’m really perplexed) he’s a Leftist radical etatizing the US is fucking bonkers, if not just downright stupid. [↩]
- Which, in all actuality, the DoJ tries to steer clear, at-all-costs, of using the term “non-lethal,” opting for “less-than-lethal,” probably for liability reasons. But this doesn’t cotton well with the Tough Guyz over at DoD who stick inveterately with “non-lethal.” [↩]
- [= Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio] [↩]
- And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the Taser. Oh this menace, the Taser. Just recently, here in my home state of Vermont a homeless 58-year-old woman was Tasered by a Barre City police officer in a Cumberland Farms parking lot … for loitering. For the record, there have been 600+ deaths heretofore in the US from Taser attacks by Coppers. I have a hunch most of these law-enforcing proles-w/-‘tudes don’t even know that Taser is an acronym, (So true: Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle. Laser, for the record, is also an acronym. And so is Maser.) not a word for a constabulary weaponized electro-laser. [↩]