Thursday, July 24, 2014
Of 'White Flags' and the Subjugation of Government to a Corporate Order
Question: When is a white flag (actually a whitened American flag) hung atop a bridge (Brooklyn Bridge) a message by fed up citizens against the corporate -military spy state, and not the act of "terrorists", terrorist wannabes, or artists trying to generate an "art form"- as some in the dopey media insist?
Well, when the medium used actually can constitute the basis of the message, as Marshall McLuhan first pointed out in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In this case, the message of the bleached out American flag to the point of whiteness, or "surrender" - might well suggest to many of us that the flag raisers wanted us to think of the surrender and subjugation of our actual government to the corporate state and the marginalization of citizens (mostly to consumers) that has transpired since.
Chris Hedges again (Empire of Illusion, p. 166):
"Our government is being wrecked by corporations, which now get 40 percent of federal discretionary spending. More than 800,000 jobs once handled by federal employees have been outsourced to corporations, a move that has not only empowered our shadow corporate government but also helped destroy federal workforce unions."
Hmmmm.....shadow corporate government. But ....what if the 'shadow' becomes so powerful, say in controlling our representatives - either by lobby-campaign money or other blandishments - that the citizen becomes "Weimar-ized" to use Hedges' term? That is, useful only very briefly to put the bought out reps into office, after which the infusion of money trumps the votes and the corporate order reigns supreme. In this case the shadow government has de facto taken over the representative one, you know based on "consent of the governed" and it mutates into a nightmare or farce based on "consent of the corporate order".
Maybe, just maybe, that was the message the Brooklyn Bridge flag raisers were trying to send but most Americans, including officialdom, are too dumb to get it. (Another aspect: the location - as one newser explained last night - is right amidst a bevy of local and federal gov't buildings.)
But we haven't gotten to the most toxic component of the corporate-security shadow matrix, which has extended its tentacles all over the planet. True, it had existed prior to September 11th, 2001, but following that event it went far beyond any "war on terror". No, it merely exploited the 9/11 event and the pseudo-lingo "war on terror" to give comprehensive doctrinal expression to an overbearing imperial policy. This came in an official document, “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” issued in September 2002. In the world, it stated, only one economic and political system remained “viable”: the American one of liberal democracy and free enterprise.
But as I already noted (previous post) free enterprise has nothing to do with democracy.
As I quoted Chris Hedges (op. cit., p. 185):
Democracy is not an outgrowth of free markets. Democracy and capitalism are antagonistic entities. Democracy...is based not on personal gain, but on self-sacrifice. A functioning democracy must often defy the economic interests of elites on behalf of citizens, but this is not happening.
But see, because the corrupt corporate shadow government, i.e. the "SYSTEM" e.g.
sold us this bill of goods, we've been looking the other way while it's metastasized. Grown to the extent of a malignant cancer. Indeed, in its formalized "doctrine" it makes no bones about asserting that it reserves the right to "henceforth promote and defend this system by the unilateral use of force — preemptively, if necessary."
REALLY? Neoliberal, corporate governance is that crucial? Imposing slave labor and indentured servitude to the corporations is THAT important to the nation's security? Evidently it is!
The United States by its "Bush Doctrine" reserved the entire field of military force to itself, restricting other nations to humbler pursuits- like keeping their cell phones and computers open to NSA snoops.. In the imperious words of the National Security Strategy: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States. If the United States is displeased with a regime, it reserved the right to overthrow it — to carry out “regime change.”
“In the world we have entered,” Bush Junior said, “the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act.”
Indeed it will if the nation is entrapped in a ruthless corporate order- and is particularly hostage to the military -industrial complex which needs ever more money from the taxpayers to feed its insatiable maw. From this distorted frame of reference, Bush's insane doctrine makes sense. Plus the fact that the Neoliberal-Neocon security state is dedicated to removing citizen security - and what better way than to bleed the coffers of government dry, via tax cuts and military spending?
Nothing fixes concepts and arguments better than a graphic, shown above. This ought to make mince meat out of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' claim this morning that: "disengaging from two wars - in Iraq and Afghanistan - is tricky - and may lead the world to perceive we are disengaging from the world".
Oh, I think not, sir! I believe the world would instead exhale in a collective sigh of relief that a newly minted Empire (since 9./11) has finally removed its meddling paws from two places it had no business invading in the first place. But only used the pretext of "pre-emptive" war to try to establish Neoliberal democracies - which tactics we were already warned about in Amy Chua's 'World on Fire'. As Chua observed,you have to be prepared to live with whatever the result of the democratic outcome - irrespective of how much you may despise it. And if a country's infrastructure won't support Neoliberal markets, well you better suck that up too!
I mean, seriously, does the U.S. REALLY need 702 military 'installations' in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department's 2012 budget statement? ( Figures that don't include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.) We're talking about our military presence in nations like Germany, South Korea, and Japan. ALL of these represent redundant costs since the wars that incepted the bases are now more than a half century over! While the total cost of these bases is kept secret, the best analysis I've seen estimates their ten-year cost at approximately $1 trillion. (Some like hedges and Seymour Mehlman - quoted in his book - put that cost closer to $3 trillion)
Chris Hedges again (p. 165):
"The defense industry is a virus. It destroys healthy economies. We produce sophisticated fighter jets while Boeing is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule and our automotive industry goes bankrupt. We sink money into research and development of weapons systems and starve renewable energy technologies to fight global warming....
The massive military spending, aided by a $3 trillion war, has a social cost. Our bridges and levees collapse. Our schools decay, our real manufacturing is done overseas, and our social safety net is taken away. And we are bombarded by the militarized language of power and strength.."
As for Mehlman, as Hedges notes (ibid.) he actually coined the term 'permanent war economy' to describe the American economy. As he notes, "since the Second World War the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, present and current military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government".
The problem is that it's undermining and destroying the nation, leading us to a dangerous precipice. A large part of this is the funneling of desperately needed funds to military programs, and the other part is the mammoth corporate welfare defense contracts afford. As Hedges observes:
"Defense systems are usually sold before they are produced and military industries are permitted to charge the federal government for huge cost overruns. Huge profits are guaranteed."
The Pentagon, Mehlman notes, isn't restricted by the economic rules of producing goods, selling them for a profit, then using the profit for further investment and production. No, it can actually make profits off WASTE. This may also be why, as former defense spending analyst Chuck Spinney noted in 2002, nearly $1.1 TRILLION still cannot be accounted for by the Pentagon. Consider just the bogus F-35 fighter which has had numerous cost overruns and still exhibits defects and problems that may never be solved. Yet, 2,335 of these white elephants have been ordered at a cost of a third of a billion each (cost still going up). WHY?
Because we think we have a blank check - mainly from the likes of China and other creditor nations - and that gives us license to go on doing this forever. But the jig will soon be up and most of the sad and sorry lot who pass for "citizens" today won't even see it coming.
Hedges again (pp. 187-88):
"The bullet to our head, inevitable if we do not radically alter course, will be sudden. We have been borrowing at the rate of $2 billion a day over the last ten years and at some point it has to stop. The moment China, the oil-rich states and other international investors stop buying U.S> Treasury bonds, the dollar will become junk. We will become Weimar Germany.
A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans."
The proverbial "pitchforks" will then come home to roost.
At that stage, a single raised, bleached-out American flag over the Brooklyn Bridge will be the least of our security worries. For make no mistake that an insane policy of unchallengeable military domination over the earth, wrought at enormous expense to a nation's citizens, and accompanied by a unilateral right to overthrow other governments by military force, is an imperial, Augustan policy destined to end badly. A policy redolent of ancient Rome - and we know what happened to Rome by way of its military overstretch.
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, according to George Santayana. But is anyone paying attention?