Saturday, August 24, 2013
Yes, It CAN Happen Here!
Winston Smith strapped to the rat cage in Room 101. As the rats approach he screams and betrays his lover telling O'Brien to "Do it to Julia, not me!" This is what the fascist state wants - to divide each from all others to enable totalitarian control.
In the movie '1984' prior to being led to "Room 101" (roughly the equivalent of the torture-water boarding room in our modern era, except worse), "O'Brien" (the INGSOC inquisitor) informs Winston Smith what the future will look like: "It will be a boot stomping on a human face.....forever!" He was referring to the unstoppable spread of fascism across the planet. Winston is first forced to submit to electro-shock torture: his body placed on a large conductor and administered shock after shock because he has refused to betray his lover (Julia) and submit in 100% devotion to the State ('Big Brother'). Also, because he refuses to say O'Brien is holding up five fingers, when it is really just four. (O'Brien: "If I say it is five, then it is five!")
But after Winston expresses distinct disgust for "Big Brother" it is to Room 101 he must go where the torture is the manifestation of one's worst fears. In Winston's case- rats - two of which are put into a rat cage-cum-mask that can be strapped to the head and allow the vermin to approach his face as different levers are pressed and wire partitions collapse. One more partition and they will be eating away at his face- likely boring right through his head. The scene from the movie is shown below:
Orwell's novel was meant to be a cautionary tale of what can transpire within the most obnoxious, obscene, totalitarian systems, such as Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Third Reich. It never crossed his mind to consider the possibility of a fascist state emerging in a democratic nation, say like the U.S. However, unknown to too many Americans, Sinclair Lewis did consider such a possible future and wrote about it in his novel: 'It Can't Happen Here'.
Those who are interested can find the entire text of the novel here: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301001h.html
A brief synopsis:
It is (1935), and there's a highly contested election of an oafish yet strangely charismatic president, who talks like a "reformer" but is really in the pocket of big business, who claims to be a home-spun "humanist," while appealing to religious extremists, and who speaks of "liberating" women and minorities, as he gradually strips them of all their rights. One character, when describing him, says, "I can't tell if he's a crook or a religious fanatic." After getting elected, he puts the media - at that time, radio and newspapers - under the supervision of the military and slowly begins buying up or closing down media outlets. The biggest media tycoon of the time directs his newspapers to heap unqualified praise upon the president and his policies, and a special relationship with the government. The president, taking advantage of an economic crisis, strong-arms Congress into signing blank checks over to the military and passing stringent and unconstitutional laws, including seizing property and mass spying.
Hmmmm.......sounds very familiar, similar to what happened in the U.S. after the Bush II bloodless coup in 2000. We saw Bush entrain Big business and the military by exploiting a terror attack then getting unconstitutional laws passed in the form of the Patriot Act - including provisions to enact martial law on the flimsiest pretext, as well as getting a pussified congress to pass the Military Commissions Act in 2006, removing habeas corpus.
Recall earlier I'd warned of one of the outstanding hallmarks of the fascist state, tied to demolition of privacy protections as enshrined in the 4th Amendment. I noted, referencing the language of the amendment:
" 'Being secure in one’s person, house, papers, effects' implies PRIVACY! These are after all MY private papers, my private effects, my house, etc. If an inherent right to privacy was a myth then by all accounts being secure in one’s person, papers, effects wouldn’t matter. Hell, let the whole freakin’ world see ‘em! This is why in a fascist dictatorship 'personal effects' don’t exist. “Personal papers” has no meaning. The state has full monopoly, de facto ownership on whatever the person has, even his own body. Hence, in fascist dictatorships, such as existed in Nazi Germany, all personal effects, papers could be seized by the Nazis on a whim or remote suspicion "
Enter now the barbaric recent seizure of property of Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British police during a flight transfer at London’s Heathrow Airport. Without offering any reason whatsoever, they seized his property (laptop, jump drives, computer games) on the basis of an anti-terrorist statute, passed in 2000, with the Orwellian name “Schedule 7.” As blogger David Lindorff writes:
"Miranda was subsequently detained and held, without access to a lawyer, for nine hours -- the maximum amount of time allowed under the draconian terms of Schedule 7 -- and was during that time questioned by at least six security agents, whom Miranda says asked him about his “entire life.” Never was there any suggestion that he was a terrorist or that he had any links to terrorism. Rather, the focus was on journalist Greenwald’s plans in relation to his writing further articles about the data he had obtained from US National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, now living in Russia under a grant of political and humanitarian asylum"
In other words, it was obviously payback for Greenwald's reporting of Snowden's leaks in the UK Guardian newspaper.
Lindorff goes on:
"In a related action, police also went to the offices of the UK Guardian newspaper, which is where Greenwald works, though from his home in Brazil, and, in an act of wanton destruction reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers or Chinese public security bureau thugs, destroyed hard drives of the newspaper’s computers containing leaked documents provided by Snowden."
Are we entering the era of Newspeak and Orwellian-style fascism written about in '1984' and Sinclair Lewis' 'It Can't Happen here'? You be the judge. But bear in mind, as in those novels, once liberty is lost it is unlikely to be recovered. Miranda's case is now being investigated in Britain, see e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/22/terror-law-watchdog-report-david-miranda and civil libertarians will rightly see this as a test of whether the UK is tilting toward becoming "Oceania" and remaining a lapdog of the U.S. spy state, or if it truly values civil liberties.
The jury is still out and the clock is ticking. Meanwhile, the release of recent government audit reports disclose even more unauthorized NSA seizure of emails, communications, etc. violating the 4th amendment. See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/21/nsa-illegally-collected-thousands-emails-court
Will congress do anything now? This is another test, for our own nation!