PRISM and Rise of a New Fascism in US
Post Categories: Head Stories
John Pilger | Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 14:45 Beijing
In his book Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
“Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public.
In 1971, the whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as the Pentagon Papers, which showed that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and “security” agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.
Speaking about the National Security Agency (NSA), Senator Church said: “I know the capacity that there is to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law . . . so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
On 11 June, following the revelations in the Guardian by the NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Ellsberg wrote that the US had now fallen into “that abyss”.
Snowden’s revelation that Washington has used Google, Facebook, Apple and other giants of consumer technology to spy on almost everyone is further evidence of a modern form of fascism. Having nurtured oldfashioned fascists around the world – from Latin America to Africa and Indonesia – the genie has risen at home. Understanding this is as important as understanding the criminal abuse of technology.
Fred Branfman, who exposed the “secret” destruction of tiny Laos by the US air force in the 1960s and 1970s, provides an answer to those who still wonder how a liberal African-American president, a professor of constitutional law, can command such lawlessness. “Under Mr Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state . . .” he wrote. “But no president has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police state.” Why? Because Obama understands that his role is not to indulge those who voted for him but to expand “the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings, mostly civilians, since 1962”.
In the new American cyberpower, only the revolving doors have changed. The director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen, was an adviser to Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state in the Bush administration who lied that Saddam Hussein could attack the US with nuclear weapons. Cohen and Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt – they met in the ruins of Iraq – have co-authored a book, The New Digital Age, endorsed as visionary by the former CIA director Michael Hayden and the war criminals Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair. The authors make no mention of the Prism spying programme, revealed by Snowden, that provides the NSA with access to all of us who use Google.
Control and dominance are the two words that make sense of this. These are exercised by political, economic and military design, of which mass surveillance is an essential part, but also by insinuating propaganda into the public consciousness. This was Edward Bernays’s point. His two most successful PR campaigns convinced Americans that they should go to war in 1917 and persuaded women to smoke in public; cigarettes were “torches of freedom” that would hasten women’s liberation.
It is in popular culture that the fraudulent “ideal” of America as morally superior, a “leader of the free world”, has been most effective. Yet even during Hollywood’s most jingoistic periods there were exceptional films, such as those of the exiled Stanley Kubrick, and adventurous European films would find US distributors. These days there is no Kubrick, noStrangelove, and the US market is almost closed to foreign films.
When I showed my own film The War on Democracy to a major, liberal-minded US distributor, I was handed a laundry list of changes, to “ensure the movie is acceptable”. His memorable sop to me was: “OK, maybe we could drop in Sean Penn as narrator. Would that satisfy you?” Kathryn Bigelow’s torture-apologising Zero Dark Thirty and, this year, Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets, a cinematic hatchet job on Julian Assange, were made with generous backing by Universal Studios, whose parent company until recently was General Electric. GE manufactures weapons, components for fighter aircraft and advanced surveillance technology. The company also has lucrative interests in “liberated” Iraq.
The power of truth-tellers such as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema and the corporate media. WikiLeaks is especially dangerous because it provides truthtellers with a means to get the truth out. This was achieved by Collateral Damage, the cockpit video of a US Apache helicopter allegedly leaked by Manning. The impact of this one video marked Manning and Assange for state vengeance. Here were US airmen murdering journalists and maiming children in a Baghdad street, clearly enjoying it, and describing their atrocity as “nice”. Yet, in one vital sense, they did not get away with it; for we are all witnesses now, and the rest is up to us.
John Pilger’s film on Australia, Utopia, will be released in the autumn.
Tags: government PRISM public society US
The Rise and Fall of Friendly Fascsim p1 Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion…
I see at present members of the Establishment or people on its fringes who, in the name of Americanism, betray the interests of most Americans by fomenting militarism, applauding rat-race individualism, protecting undeserved privilege, or stirring up nationalistic and ethnic hatreds. I see pretended patriots who desecrate the American flag by waving it while waiving the law.
In this present, many highly intelligent people look with but one eye and see only one part of the emerging Leviathan. From the right, we are warned against the danger of state capitalism or state socialism, in which Big Business is dominated by Big Government. From the left, we hear that the future danger (or present reality) is monopoly capitalism, with finance capitalists dominating the state.
I am prepared to offer a cheer and a half for each view; together, they make enough sense for a full three cheers. Big Business and Big Government have been learning how to live in bed together and despite arguments between them, enjoy the cohabitation. Who may be on top at any particular moment is a minor matter-and in any case can be determined only by those with privileged access to a well-positioned keyhole. I am uneasy with those who still adhere strictly to President Eisenhower’s warning in his farewell address against the potential for the disastrous rise of power in the hands of the military-industrial complex.
Nearly two decades later, it should be clear to the opponents of militarism that the military-industrial complex does not walk alone. It has many partners: the nuclear-power complex, the technology-science complex, the energy-auto-highway complex, the banking-investment-housing complex, the city-planning-development-land-speculation complex, the agribusiness complex, the communications complex, and the enormous tangle of public bureaucracies and universities whose overt and secret services provide the foregoing with financial sustenance and a nurturing environment. Equally important, the emerging Big Business-Big Government partnership has a global reach. It is rooted in colossal transnational corporations and complexes that help knit together a “Free World” on which the sun never sets. These are elements of the new despotism.
A few years ago a fine political scientist, Kenneth Dolbeare, conducted a series of in-depth interviews totaling twenty to twenty-five hours per person. He found that most respondents were deeply afraid of some future despotism. “The most striking thing about inquiring into expectations for the future,” he reported, “is the rapidity with which the concept of fascism (with or without the label) enters the conversation.” But not all knowledge serves the cause of freedom… the tendency is to suppress fears of the future, just as most people have learned to repress fears of a nuclear holocaust. It is easier to repress well-justified fears than to control the dangers giving rise to them. p3
In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a popular novel in which a racist, anti-Semitic, flag-waving, army-backed demagogue wins the 1936 presidential election and proceeds to establish an Americanized version of Nazi Germany. The title, It Can’t Happen Here, was a tongue-in-cheek warning that it might. But the “it” Lewis referred to is unlikely to happen again any place. Even in today’s Germany, Italy or Japan, a modern-style corporate state or society would be far different from the old regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese oligarchs. Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism.
In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment. The Japanese or German versions would be quite different from the Italian variety-and still more different from the British, French, Belgian, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, or Israeli versions.
In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal.
I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders. I am worried by those who quibble about labels. Some of my friends seem transfixed by the idea that if it is fascism, it must appear in the classic, unfriendly form of their youth. “Why, oh why,” they retrospectively moan, “didn’t people see what was happening during the 1920s and the 1930s?” But in their own blindness they are willing to use the terms invented by the fascist ideologists, “corporate state” or “corporatism,” but not fascism.
I am upset with those who prefer to remain spectators until it may be too late. I am shocked by those who seem to believe in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s words of 1940-that “there is no fighting the wave of the future” and all you can do is “leap with it.” I am appalled by those who stiffly maintain that nothing can be done until things get worse or the system has been changed. I am afraid of inaction. I am afraid of those who will heed no warnings and who wait for some revelation, research, or technology to offer a perfect solution. I am afraid of those who do not see that some of the best in America has been the product of promises and that the promises of the past are not enough for the future. I am dismayed by those who will not hope, who will not commit themselves to something larger than themselves, of those who are afraid of true democracy or even its pursuit. p5″
Our pseudo-democratic governments are in reality fascist:
“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”–Benito Mussolini
We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.” —–Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
But that’s the whole point of corporatism: to try and remove the public from making decisions over their own fate, to limit the public arena, to control opinion, to make sure that the fundamental decisions that determine how the world is going to be run —which include production, commerce, distribution, thought, social policy, foreign policy, everything—are not in the hands of the public, but rather in the hands of highly concentrated private power. In effect, tyranny unaccountable to the public.— Professor Noam Chomsky, interviewed in Corporate Watch
“As political theorist Michael Parenti points out, historians often overlook Fascism’s economic agenda–the partnership between Big Capital and Big Government–in their analysis of its authoritarian social program. Indeed, according to Bertram Gross in his startlingly prescient Friendly Fascism (1980), it is possible to achieve fascist goals within an ostensibly democratic society.”—Richard Heinberg http://www.nexusmagazine.com//corporations.html
“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.” — John Adams, 1788
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be. “Thomas Jefferson
“There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust.” — Demosthenes: Philippic 2, sect. 24
“What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” — Tom Clancy on Kudlow and Cramer 9/2/03
“It’s important to realize that whenever you give power to politicians or bureaucrats, it will be used for what they want, not for what you want.”– Harry Browne
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” — Pericles, 430 B.C.
“Give government the weapons to fight your enemy and it will use them against you.” — Harry Browne
“Give a good man great powers and crooks grab his job.” — Rick Gaber
“Overload the police with victimless crimes and other minutiae and eventually only creeps and bullies remain cops.” — Rick Gaber
“Power draws the corrupted; absolute power would draw the absolutely corrupted.” — Colin Barth
“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” — Tacitus, Roman senator and historian (A.D. c.56-c.115)
“The more prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be. The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits there will be.” — Lao-tzu, The Tao Te Ching (believed written in China, 6th century BC).
“An oppressive government is much worse than a man-eating tiger.” — Kong Fu-Dzuh (“Confucious”)
“A moderate is either someone who has no moral code of his own, or if he does, then he’s someone who doesn’t have the guts to take sides between good and evil.” — Rick Gaber
“Intellect annuls Fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free….The revelation of Thought takes man out of servitude into freedom.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Fate”
“Democracy is defended in 3 stages. Ballot Box, Jury Box, Cartridge Box.” — Ambrose Bierce
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.” –Frederic Bastiat, ca. 1837
“The State is the coldest of all cold monsters, and coldly it tells lies, and this lie drones on from its mouth: ‘I, the State, am the people’.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra, 1883
“People constantly speak of ‘the government’ doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men.” — H.L. Mencken
“Government, when it is examined, turns out to be nothing more nor less than a group of fallible men with the political force to act as though they were infallible.” — Robert LeFevre, in his essay, Aggression is Wrong
“Crime does not pay … as well as politics. ” –Alfred E. Newman
Democracy is when two wolves and a sheep vote on what they will have for lunch. http://www.wealth4freedom.com/truth/chapter1.htm
“Politics is a means of preventing people from taking part in what properly concerns them.” Paul Valery (1871-1945)
“When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we, in essence, accept that the state owns our bodies.” ~U.S. Representative Ron Paul
“…somebody has to take governments’ place, and business seems to me to be a logical entity to do it.” – David Rockefeller – Newsweek International, Feb 1 1999.
“Government is big business, with the face of democracy.”–Jim West
“President George Bush held a WashinGton dinner…for 2,000 of his closest friends…(it) was sponsored by the tobacco and oil industries. But the big bash was the one given by Vice President Dick Cheney….The guests were lobbyists for the nuclear power, natural gas and oil industries.”–Toby Moore (Daily Express 24 May 2001)
“Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent. –H. L. Mencken
“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” -H. L. Mencken
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” –Thomas Sowell
“…the world is governed by very different personages to what is imagined by those who are not themselves behind the scenes.” – Benjamin Disraeli (1801-1884) Prime Minister of Britain
“The Establishment decided Thatcher’s ideas were safer with a strong Blair government than with a weak Major government. We are given all these personalities to choose between to disguise the fact that the policies are the same.”–Tony Benn (Sunday Times Oct 6, 2002)
“The planet is being controlled, to an alarming extent, by elites, or, as I call them, cartels. There are many cartels, but 7 are the most powerful. They evolve, they learn from one another, they both compete and cooperate. Unfortunately, the trend is more towards cooperation. These 7 cartels represent the following areas: GOVERNMENT, MILITARY, INTELLIGENCE, ENERGY, MONEY, MEDIA, AND MEDICAL…..I came to this map of cartels through my own research on the medical monopoly. That’s where it started, in 1986. .. Once you understand these cartel elites, you can begin to separate out information into loose layers of importance, as in, which layer of the control game are we talking about? Because it’s all about layers. And at most layers, the players are forwarding agendas which they do not realize fit into higher and more destructive agendas.”–Jon Rappoport
“The constitution has broken down. We have no enemies except the ones we select and direct towards the nearest nuclear bombs. They need an enemy to provoke, a diversion. This is the mentality of tenth-rate people who are in politics because corporate America likes them. They are malleable. They give them contracts to build missile shields that will never work. It’s deeply corrupt.”–Gore Vidal (Observer magazine 12 Aug 2001)
“The State is the coldest of all cold monsters.” [Nietzche]
While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State. Lenin, “State and Revolution”, 1919
“Believe nothing until it has been officially denied.”–Claud Cockburn
“The art of government is the organisation of idolatry.”–George Bernard Shaw.
“Democracy allows mediocrity to rise to the top.”
“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”–George Bernard Shaw.
“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. — George Bernard Shaw (1944)
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”–HL Mencken.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell
“Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.”–TH Huxley.
“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.”–George Bernard Shaw.
“The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.”—-George Bernard Shaw.