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Government security paranoia

The key ingredient of classical totalitarism is violence toward opponents.  In all classic totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany and the USSR the citizenry were kept mobilized to support the state. Opponents were sent to concentration camps or exiled.  Here the idea different: a passive but thoroughly monitored and thorously brainwashed  populace is the goal. That why the name "inverted totalitarism". 

The manifesto of inverted totalitarism is widely considered to be so called Lewis Powell’s  memo but its role as a crystallizing force for the movement is probably exaggerated. The initial phase was probably McCarthy witch hunt.  In 1970 this process was actually already twenty years old and in pretty developed stage.

I suspect that it was mainly the creation of people like Richard Mellon Scaife, who inherited part of the vast Mellon fortune from his alcoholic mother and bunch of similar people who inherited vast fortunes. For example Scaife money also helped fund television documentaries on the economics of Milton Friedman, the guru of the monetarist school of free-market economics. Those "anti-Titans of Industry" bankrolled not just the conservative legal movement, but the conservative movement in general.

It is very interesting how they managed to adopt and rectified the key parts of  Bolsheviks' Party strategy. The irony is that methods developed to protect and expand communist ideology proved to be no less effective in protecting and expanding "capitalist ideology". This might be a classic case of adoption of the principles of the bitter enemy. Among them:

  1. Control the press. Journalists are just soldiers of the Party. Remunerate royally whose who "served with distinction". Silence those who are not: for journalist silencing is as close to physical death as one can get.
  2. Ideology needs to be supported be powerful research institutions (aka "think tanks") and adapted to modern realities by captured institutions and paid "intellectual agents".  The goal is total domination of the ideology in all mass media channels, books, universities, etc.  There is power in numbers of think tanks, university endowments, etc.  Make the line between research and PR  as fuzzy as possible.
  3. Promise anything to be elected, adopting, if necessary, the most attractive to electorate parts of the opponents platform. After election behave as you please and do completely opposite as train already left that station.
  4. Control all major channels of media and indirectly censor opposing view. Avoid direct censure unless absolutely necessary, as it alienates people and fuel discontent. Jus deprive then of the audience and kill with kindness: provide huge stimulus for those who voluntarily "follow the Party line".
  5. Ensure that textbooks presents historical and other events only through the prism of Party mythology and make part of the mythology sacred so that those who try to attack can be accused in undermining the foundations of civil society. Create and cultivate  a newspeak that makes expression of opposing ideas more difficult and more suspect.
  6. Demonize the opponent and project your worst inclinations and deeds on them.  It had long been a practice of more conservative politicians to refer to liberal reforms such as child labor laws and environment protection measures as "Communist" or "Red plots." Few people understand that for people of the USSR and Eastern Europe in media CIA played the same sinister role KGP used to play in the USA.
  7. Never admit that you are wrong. Explain all failures by enemy actions, natural disasters or due to some other third party. Subvert the law system to protect the Party members and never criminally charge the top brass no matter what are actual transgressions.  
James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings — two party system,  illusion of "free press" and a controlled "circulation of the elites."

Here is an interesting review of Wolin book: Inverted Totalitarianism in the US

The US is a self-declared empire that scholars have labeled a “superpower” since it achieved military and cultural hegemony in a “unipolar moment” at the “end of history” while seeking “full-spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, cyberspace and outer space, as stated in the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020.

In order to impede the Soviet Union’s imperial projects, the US likewise slung itself astride the globe using multilateral institutions, spy networks and covert operations which produced a “Cold War” that eliminated the idea of peacetime and demanded permanent military mobilization bolstered by the military-industrial-congressional complex while placing citizens on high alert against nuclear threats and a domestic infestation of “reds” that excused the government’s surveillance of citizens.

The Constitution, which limits power, and a democracy, which requires local control and citizen empowerment, are both profaned by superpower, which defies limits in its quest for global supremacy, overshadowing localities and overpowering citizens while projecting power outward and inward simultaneously.

To describe this configuration, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism.”

In old totalitarianism, the state dominated the economy while iconic demagogues who permanently held office mobilized citizens and openly flaunted the blanketing power of the new order they were imposing. With inverted totalitarianism, the economy dominates the state wherein temporary “representatives” serve a permanent corporate regime that demobilizes citizens while claiming to protect individual liberty by reducing state power, thus concealing the totalitarian character.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion, and Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate “citizens” while systematically neglecting the needs of regular citizens, producing an apathetic electorate that’s lost hope in the political process.

State power is legitimated by media events called “elections” that elites have learned to control through finance, marketing and media ownership, while politicians accept bribes called “contributions” that are considered “speech” – as defined by the Supreme Court, effectively using “free speech” to silence the citizenry while replacing constituents with lobbyists.

Citizens fear job loss and benefit loss due to downsizing and outsourcing, which maximize “efficiency,” while the government shreds social safety nets for the sake of “efficiency,” leaving citizens vulnerable and yet unable to protect themselves when states outlaw collective bargaining, thus criminalizing worker self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, slashing federal programs enhances state power by making government less unwieldy and easier to control since it dilutes public involvement, thus depleting public power and solidifying executive power.

The idea of democracy is emptied of substance and used as a slogan to justify military invasion, occupation and torture while the doctrine of “preemptive war” renders all acts of aggression as defensive and undertaken for the sake of insuring “stability.” For example, deference to US demands and the protection of corporate assets – in a war against terrorism that lacks a specific geographic location and thus requires the globe-girdling ability to strike anywhere anytime.

Instead of a politburo circulating state propaganda that touts one political ideology, the corporate media feigns democratic debate that features “both sides” who are portrayed as extreme opposites but actually reflect a slim range of political discourse, thus giving the appearance of freedom while relying on White House, State Department and Pentagon spokespeople to supply the “official” version of political affairs, which are broadcast into every home through television, thus manipulating the public rather than including them.

Democracy functions as a useful myth that obscures the totalitarian atmosphere in which citizens feel politically impotent and fearful as they are dwarfed by giant, rigid, top-heavy bureaucracies that respond to the protocols of a corporate state that collaborates with telecommunications companies to monitor the population and develop detailed digital profiles of citizens while local police forces cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies, augmenting the burgeoning prison industry as the state loosens laws that forbid army soldiers from patrolling US streets.

The corporate state defunds public programs and forces everything into the market, including health, education, social security, pensions, public broadcasting, prisons, water, soldiers, surveillance and national intelligence, while businesses commodify the environment and patent DNA.

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The president gives a press conference By David North

August 16, 2006

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In his book Bush at War, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post reports being told by the president,

"I'm the commander-see, I don't need to explain-I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation."

In fact, the president's audiences may be excused for wondering whether Bush himself really knows why he says most of what comes out of his mouth. There is little evidence of any connection between conscious mental activity and the physical process by which the president produces words. Even when nothing more is required of Bush than that he read from a prepared text, the assignment seems to tax Bush's intellectual capabilities to their maximum.

The president's Monday press conference was a fairly typical performance. He read the opening statement with difficulty, frequently slurring his words and losing his place. Later, during direct exchanges with reporters, Bush interrupted his replies on several occasions to acknowledge that he had forgotten the question. Far from staunching concerns about the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbollah war and his administration's conduct of foreign policy, Bush's disoriented, meandering, frequently absurd remarks and always dishonest statements could only serve to intensify anxieties, within more knowledgeable sections of the ruling elite, about the president's grasp of reality.

As is invariably the case in statements made by Bush, there was no attempt to persuade or convince his audience. His opening statement did not present a logically constructed argument. Bush simply made assertions utterly unsupported by facts. These statements were generally ludicrous and pitched to the level of the most reactionary, backward, ignorant, and, to be blunt, stupid sections of the American public.

In his celebrated first inaugural address in 1933, delivered in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt asserted his

"firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror...."

But the entire rhetorical repertoire of George Bush consists of invoking precisely the sort of irrational fear that Roosevelt made the object of contempt. In an opening statement on Monday that ran about five minutes, Bush used the words "terror" and "terrorists" 23 times.

In Bush-speak, these two words have become universally valid synonyms for all the diverse opponents and enemies, real and imagined, of the foreign policy objectives of the United States. This universal use of the terror/terrorists epithet has deprived it of any genuinely concrete significance.

The president summed up the global scale of the war against terrorism as follows: "The world got to see-got to see what it means to confront terrorism, I mean. It's the challenge of the 21st century. The fight against terror, a group of ideologues, by the way, who use terror to achieve an objective-this is the challenge."

Bush is not a student of American history, but in his own way-guided by his political handlers-he is tapping into the uglier characteristics of the country's political tradition. Approximately 40 years ago, the historian Richard Hofstadter called attention to the "paranoid style in American politics," which he described as "a way of seeing the world and of expressing oneself."

The "paranoid style" in the politics of the United States, Hofstadter argued, was not to be equated with the clinically defined paranoia of an individual. Although both the individual and political forms of paranoia "tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggressive, grandiose and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others."

Prior to the Bush administration, the quintessential expression of the political paranoia of the American right was McCarthyism, which sought to create a mass base for political reaction by fomenting a quasi-hysterical fear of an "international communist conspiracy." In June 1951, McCarthy declared that the United States was threatened by "a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men."

Bush is incapable of the rhetorical bombast that distinguished the junior senator from Wisconsin during the latter's hey-day more than a half-century ago. But many of the same political methods employed by McCarthyism-above all, its appeal to fear and ignorance-are revived in the Bush administration's "War against Global Terror."

As for what Bush had to say about the war in Lebanon itself, his remarks consisted of a series of political evasions and crude lies. He stated that "America recognizes that civilians in Lebanon and Israel have suffered from the current violence," as if there existed a sort of equality between the physical consequences of the war for the two countries. Or that America's "recognition" of the suffering somehow compensates for the fact that the United States delayed a cease-fire for three weeks in the expectation and hope-ultimately disappointed-that the Israeli military would totally destroy Hezbollah and murder its leadership. The scene of Condoleezza Rice cheerfully proclaiming the birth of a new Middle East as American-made bombs rained down on Beirut from American-made aircraft has become part of the collective memory of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims.

Bush's assertion that "It was an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah on Israel that started this conflict" was a bald-faced lie. Putting aside the long and bloody history of Israeli military efforts to dominate Lebanon-which, since 1978, have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese people-it is well known that in the months preceding the outbreak of war Israel had engaged in numerous violations of Lebanese territorial sovereignty.

Aside from fairly routine incidents such as over-flights of Lebanese territory, reports are now emerging that Israel and the United States discussed and reviewed plans for a military assault on Hezbollah.

According to a lengthy article by the authoritative investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, which was published in the New Yorker just a few days before the Bush press conference, the Bush administration "was closely involved in the planning of Israel's retaliatory attacks."

The Hezbollah capture of two Israeli soldiers was a pretext for war. Hersh writes: "According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the US governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah-and shared it with Bush Administration officials-well before the July 12th kidnappings."

The United States was anxious for Israel to initiate large-scale military operations for two interrelated reasons. First, the destruction of Hezbollah would eliminate an important base of Iranian influence in Lebanon. Second, to the extent that Hezbollah had been equipped with Iranian weaponry, the Israeli campaign would provide a test run for the anticipated assault against Iran for which the Bush administration is preparing.

Bush's account of the origins of the war was not challenged by the reporters at the press conference, who never confronted the president with the information uncovered by Hersh. Not one of the assembled journalistic hacks had either the courage or integrity to challenge Bush's blatant lies.

To list all the political inanities that Bush managed to cram into a half-hour press conference would require a far longer article. But two statements stood out.

"Israel, when they aimed at a target and killed innocent citizens, were upset," intoned the president. "Their society was aggrieved." How touching! The murderers wept over the corpses of their victims. Is this not an expression of their humanity?

Bush also referred to another moral virtue, attributing it to the United States: "We don't fight the armies of nation states; we fight terrorists who kill innocent people to achieve political aims."

It did not occur to any reporter to ask the president to provide a definition of "nation state." How would Bush define Serbia, which the United States bombed in 1999 for two months? Or, for that matter, Iraq? And, they might have asked, if a terrorist is to be defined as someone who is willing to "kill innocent people to achieve political aims," why should the terrorist label not be allied to the prime minister of Israel and, one might add, the current president of the United States?

See Also:
On eve of Lebanon ceasefire deadline: US, Israel face political debacle
[14 August 2006]

The Terrorism Fraud

September 23rd, 2010 | Author: Patriot

The Terrorism Fraud By Philip Giraldi

September 22, 2010

"Terrorism" has become the most abused word in the English language. The fear of terrorism has driven explosive growth in the United States government, has led to two wars in the past ten years with possibly several more waiting in the wings, and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. It consists of attacking a largely civilian population to demoralize it and reduce its willingness to resist either an aggressor or an occupying power. It has been used extensively in the twentieth century and so far into the twenty-first century because it is a force equalizer. It enables a resistance movement or a group seeking a change in government to attack a much larger and more powerful opponent. Because it has that ability to engage asymmetrically, one can expect that terror tactics will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future.

Fear of terrorism has been exploited by those who seek a hegemonistic role for the United States. To be sure, 9/11 was a horrific event and subsequent terror attacks in London, Madrid, Moscow, and Bombay were reminders that there will always be individuals and groups prepared to sacrifice their own lives to kill at random for a cause. But the horror of a terror attack should be placed in context and should not be allowed to justify actions on the part of government that are even more damaging in the long term. In the United States, that is precisely what has happened. Terrorism has been the justification for the two Patriot Acts and the Military Commissions Act that have gutted key parts of the Bill of Rights; the creation of an all-powerful unitary executive in the person of the US president; the exploitation of state-secrets privilege to cover-up government wrongdoing; and the evolution of a security state in which individual rights to privacy are constantly assailed by a government intent on collecting more and more information on each citizen.

Beyond that, terrorism was used to justify war with Iraq over completely bogus claims that Saddam Hussein had met with the 9/11 plotters. It is now being used to define Washington's relationship with other countries. Some nations, like Sudan, have been branded state supporters of terrorism even though they do not in fact do so. Others are also indicted for their alleged relationship to terrorism to make a case for war. Iran is currently in the crosshairs, which is particularly ironic as it has itself been the victim of terrorist groups that are evidently supported by the United States, Israel, and Pakistan. Protection against terrorism has been used over the past ten years to justify every government abuse in a number of countries, not to mention the explosive growth of the budget busting defense and security industries worldwide.

As the America of Barack Obama continues to engage in and even expand the "long war" against much of the rest of the world that was launched by his predecessor, it is perhaps valuable to use the government's own analysis to examine just how serious the terrorism problem really is. There have been numerous reports from military and intelligence sources in the war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan while the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 came out on August 10th. The latter examines country-by country the terrorism problem. It makes no effort to count terrorists and provides little analysis of their motives, but it is interesting in terms of its assessment of the lethality and reach of the various groups that it identifies and discusses. The truth is that not many of what the US government refers to as terrorist groups actually threaten the United States by any stretch of the imagination. Most groups employing terrorism limit their activities to attacking the government in their own countries or to resisting occupying powers, without any real international reach or the intention to threaten anyone outside their local orbit. The groups that have an international agenda and pretensions, and therefore might theoretically be able to threaten the United States, are a handful of so-called Salafists, to include al-Qaeda in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and al-Shabaab in Somalia. Salafists believe that their mission is to cleanse the entire Muslim world and recreate the universal Caliphate, meaning that their battlefield includes both Islamic countries and those foreign allies that support the corrupt regimes that they would like to overthrow.

The featured terrorist group that is regularly cited to create a case for military action or intervention is the al-Qaeda faction that is nominally headed by Osama bin Laden (who may be dead) and is located primarily in Pakistan. The US military and CIA in Afghanistan have made a major effort to collect information on the group and its activities. The military command and intelligence community estimate that there are 50 to 100 al-Qaeda possibly located in Afghanistan plus "several hundred" more in neighboring Pakistan. That's all. And the threat they represent is tying down 100,000 American soldiers at a cost of $7 billion per month. If that makes sense to anyone, please help me with justifying the math.

The other Salafist groups are equally unlikely candidates for doing significant harm to the last great superpower, at least judging from the State Department report. It states that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) carried out four possible terrorist attacks directed against foreigners in 2009, "On December 25, Nigerian citizen Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow himself up while on a flight into Detroit. Abdulmutallab admitted to having been trained by AQAP in Yemen. There were three other terrorist attacks against foreign interests: On March 15, four South Korean tourists were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Shibam in Hadramaut province. On March 18, a motorcade carrying South Korean government officials was attacked by a suicide bomber on the road to Sana'a International Airport. In June, nine foreigners were kidnapped in Sa'ada, resulting in three confirmed deaths. The remaining six were still missing at year's end." That's it for a terrorist group that allegedly threatens the United States, and it should be noted that the reported kidnappings might have been carried out by local tribesmen seeking ransoms, not by the terrorist group. Also, the underwear bomber appears to have been sent on his mission after an airstrike killed two al-Qaeda supporters in Yemen, bringing to mind yet again the Ron Paul maxim that "they are over here because we are over there."

In North Africa, the report reveals that the once feared al-Qaeda affiliate did not operate at all outside of the Maghreb region where it has had a presence in one form or another for eighteen years. During the year 2009 it killed twenty-seven people. Not to disparage the deaths in any way, that number has recently been exceeded a number of times in a single day in Iraq, including 31 dying in bombings last Sunday, where the United States recently announced another "mission accomplished."

In the Horn of Africa, the State Department describes al-Shabaab as "a disparate group of armed militias, many of whom do not adhere to the ideology of the group's leaders." State goes on to concede that the group is linked to al-Qaeda only by "mutually supportive rhetoric." In spite of some alarming recent media coverage in the US, al-Shabaab has its own problems in dealing with its local enemies and has not targeted the United States at all. Some US government officials and media talking heads have expressed concerns that Somali Americans who travel back to their country of birth to join al-Shabaab might return to the US to commit terrorist acts, but the actual threat is very much a "what if," not an established fact.

That's pretty much the international terrorism story, at least insofar as it actually relates to the United States. A few hundred malcontents and zealots, most of whom are on the run from the local authorities or hiding in caves, are more than a nuisance but they do not rise to the level of a serious threat. Few of them can even fantasize about blowing themselves up on the New York City subway system, assuming they could get a visa and make the trip, put together a working bomb from fertilizer, and find the Lexington Avenue line. The reader must decide if the terrorism "threat" justifies spending a trillion dollars a year while waging an unending war on multiple foreign battlefronts. And then there are all the American soldiers and local inhabitants who have to die in the process of making the homeland "safe" while the homeland itself becomes increasingly a draconian national security state. A return to sanity might be suggested as well as a bringing home of US forces from their 761 overseas bases to begin to reverse the enormous overreaction to a threat that, in reality, is not much of a threat at all.

Read more by Philip Giraldi

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