Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sapranos in the White House

If we belong to a street gang or pretty much any gang of criminals, the way to the top, the way to achieve power is through brutal force. Generally, the most dangerous, the most threatening psychopath gets to be boss. Somebody more dangerous may come along and kill him. The new guy is boss. They don’t spend a lot of time taking minutes of meetings and discussing points of order. The craziest guy with the biggest gun calls the shots and everybody else listens.

In a somewhat more complex way, that is also how fascism works. In fact, there are many parallels with fascists and the average everyday band of criminals. Their goals are more or less the same and so are their methods.

Some may say that this is the law of the jungle; that humans are that way naturally. But if they studied anthropology beyond watching the Flintstones, they would know that hunter-gatherer societies were not violent and the individuals were not self serving but were in service to the rest of the community.

In the modern civilized world, we are generally compelled to play by a set of rules that are based in rationality and legal principles that are set according to standards that most agree with. Whether based in civil or common law, nations agree on a set of basic notions of what constitutes a civilized society. From these principles The Bill of Rights was adopted in the USA, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been adopted in Canada and each nation has a set of legal principles that citizens must abide by. Internationally we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared by the UN in 1948. In the civilized world, we have laws and no man or woman is above those laws.

Modern authority is based in rational principles and laws. Traditional or charismatic authority may be the basis for habits and customs within subcultures. These arbitrary rulers may hold sway over cults or movements, but they must all adhere to the principles of the wider legal authority of rational legal principles. This is what separates us from the archaic past and protects us from the tyranny of criminals or the menacing whims of violent madmen.

Now imagine living in a world that is run like a biker gang. Those that are most powerful, most violent and those with the biggest guns win. Legal principles mean nothing because the men with that power cannot be arrested and brought to trial. They have their own protection, their own police and their own military. They intend to force everybody else to abide by the law, but they are exempt. Not only that, they can make rules up as they go along. They do what they want and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Now the rulers can stack the deck in their own favour and nobody can stop them. They have at their command a military force that is the most powerful in the world.

This is what is going on in the world today. It’s not that the gangsters have gone wild and their mayhem will be over in a few years. The problem runs much deeper than that.

What is most important in the arrest and detention of suspected terrorists by American forces is not the plight of those men. What is even more important is the precedent that this has set. What is most important about the invasion of Iraq is not the massive slaughter and indiscriminate killing of many thousands of Iraqi people. What is even more important is the normalization and validation of the use of fascistic force. The cowards in the media and the cowards that mimic security legislation are complicit in this massive crime. As horrific as the oppression and killing is, the legacy that these actions project could be far worse. Aside from that, the legal principles that have been our protection from tyranny have been torn to shreds.

Those with financial, political, and military power have placed themselves above the law not only in their own society, but over all societies. Their response to dissent is either no response at all or they will repeat the same predictable lies over and over again. They thumb their noses at the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International or anybody that criticizes their draconian and brutal attack on civil liberties, the law, and on individuals. They will say that this is ‘the war on terror’; that we’ll have to excuse them while they lock people up without charges, torture people and invade other nations; unprovoked. If we accept this, then we’ll have to excuse every brutal dictator in history that had their nation attacked or threatened. The declaration at the Nuremberg Tribunals that initiating war, invading another country, is the ultimate war crime and contains within it all other war crimes, means nothing. The Geneva Conventions also mean nothing and the rule of law means nothing.

The Patriot Act was born in the violence of 9-11 and it was given immortality in the violence on July 7th in London. It effectively strips the citizens of the United States and any other citizen in the world of their fundamental human rights. The state can lock you up by claiming that you are an enemy. You have no right to a lawyer or a judge. You have no rights whatsoever and you may be tortured. You may also be spied on or killed should you arouse suspicion. We’ve recently seen what happened to Jean Charles de Menezes of Brazil for walking around with Arab colored skin.

The normalization of extraordinary state power has occurred with an alarming silence. Alarming too is the immunity of the corporate/state power from rule of law while at the same time stripping away ordinary legal protections for the average citizen. George W. Bush and company are free to terrorize whole societies at their leisure while brown skinned citizens have to worry about being apprehended or shot. The new oppression of the New World Order has racist, cultural, national, and class preferences. It has the same prejudices.

The language used by the overlords of the New World Order is disturbing in its ambiguity. To wage war against vague and subjective enemies is an excuse for tyranny. Passing laws that are worded with language that is open for any interpretation makes society vulnerable to abuse by the state. For example, recent legislation in Britain makes it an offence to “indirectly incite” anyone to commit terrorist acts. Couple the cavalier attitude judges and pretty much the whole legal profession has shown with respect to civil liberties over the past several years with this vague legal language adopted in the USA, Britain, Canada and other Western nations, and you have a recipe for explicit repression.

This indiscriminate language has a very aggressive edge. For Bush and company, the enemy has become quite abstract. Evil forces are 'out there' and they are enemies of freedom and democracy, according to Bush. As long as these elements exist, they pose a threat to the United States and the ‘free’ world. Bush stated in his last State of the Union address that it is the mission of the USA to free oppressed people all over the world. Considering his track record regarding freedom, we know what he is really talking about. This code for, 'we are going to take whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. When Bush mouths the word freedom, he necessarily perverts its meaning.

The standards that need to be met in order for Bush to rationalize military attacks have suddenly become very subjective. He doesn't have to find something hard like weapons of mass destruction any more. That proved too difficult. With the spineless media and henchmen by his side, Bush can justify an attack on just about anyone. The notion of and validation for ‘pre-emptive war’ has already been established. With the media, congress and other world leaders looking for their backbones, George W. Saprono will do what he wants.


We have awakened to a world where the mob has taken control. They have the biggest guns and Bush has the most ruthless gangland characters pulling his strings and yanking his chain. Besides, he is one of them. The World Court can go to hell, and every other court can go to hell. The guys with the most money and the biggest guns call the shots now.

From here it looks as if the maniacs in the White House and the terrorists that brought down the twin towers share the same goal of terrorizing American society. If their aim was to disrupt any sense of peace or civility in the United States, they have succeeded. If they aimed to play on the psychology and sense of security Americans may have had, they succeeded. But they couldn’t have done it without the Bush’s help in whipping up hysteria and fear.

Anti terrorist legislation is not about protecting you from terrorists. It’s about control. It’s about muting dissent in an era when the sweetness of the Keynsian state will give way to the full exposure of the ugly skeleton of the oppressive barbed iron state that has always been there.

But we need to hold our seat in the midst of this. In the midst of this insanity, if you listen you can still hear the voice of reason and calm. All the dogs are not barking up the same tree. Here is a fine example:

US District Judge John C. Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ahmed Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists but as a statement to the Bush administration about its terrorism-fighting tactics.
"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel," he said. "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."
He added that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have made Americans realize they are vulnerable to terrorism and that some believe "this threat renders our Constitution obsolete ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won
."
(http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/072905N.shtml)

This was a stroke of courageous beauty amidst the backdrop of the ugly rise of what has the disturbing appearance of corporate/ bourgeois state tyranny . And there are many more. Watch for them, nurture them and protect them. They are our friends and allies.

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