soft totalitarianism : self-censorship and acceptance of corporate surveillance
cross poste at the demise
The revelation from one of the world’s few remaining independent press organizations, the Associated Press, that, subsequent to the federal government’s attempt to criminalize the act of reportage, its traditional sources regarding governmental wrong doing (or just plain government doing) are choosing to keep mum should be of no surprise to the AP, and also to us, the citizenry.
When confronted with the specter of rulers who make the game up as they go along their merry way committing both immoral and illegal acts (and also, immoral illegal acts) who then claim that they have self-created authority to do these things, which meet the standards of their underling rubber-stampers (which cannot in any case be reviewed by ‘regular citizens’) –many Americans have recently fumbled with, have attempted to define for themselves based upon what they know now is true about how the government operates and from whom it takes orders, have almost brought to utterance but are hamstrung from personally accepting a concept that has been reviled, ostracized, belittled, ignored (all in a self-serving fashion that countervails appreciable extant reality) but is none the less likely the single most apt way to characterize the relationship between our current leaders of commerce and leaders of our nation: that we are living in a neo-fascist state.
Moreover, many citizens are realizing that, with the metastasizing fashion that corporate finance has seized all world markets and made pariahs of those earthlings who do not participate in the predatory system of structured western commerce; we live in a globalized neo-fascist economy where even sovereign state governments are powerless to effect change using systems of democratic governance.
Benito Mussolini, the historic patriarch of the world’s first broadly acknowledged fascist state, is reported widely (but not definitively) to have once described the government that he controlled as “corporatist” as opposed to fascist, because fascism is the melding of the state and corporate interests. Which of these players actually is the controller in this dynamic is less important in my mind (I am not a historian) because when the state’s interests and corporate interests merge, the interests of the populace – the citizens who are supposed to direct polity in democracies – are not the foci of the energies and concerns of the state and our corporate masters.
What concerns fascists, both corporate and political, is often rather; for politicians, the concern to maintain power (do the bidding of corporate controllers) and concentrate power (e.g. presidential signing statements), and in the corporate world, the concentration of power (monopolization) and the maintenance of power (wealth hoarding) – really the same thing, none of which directly speaks to the concerns, needs or wishes of the governed.
When the media complains now about their inability to mine sources due to the government’s threatening actions, they must not want to remember that they (meaning DC media types – but the same holds true at the city and state levels) have over and over again chosen to trade their being given “access” to ask questions of those who govern for their acquiescence to power itself – not embarrassing, not alleging anything untoward, not bringing up unseemly or embarrassing matters; generally kissing the ring, if you will, of the political class in America largely for selfish careerist reasons.
Examples of this fake-style journalism are myriad indeed- to name a few; why no questions to the candidates for president last election on the illegal occupation of Palestine, why no questions about the presidential assassination of American citizens with no due process, why no concern in the media that Dodd-Frank has been neutered by politicians in both parties, why so much agreement that ‘no laws were broken’ when the private banks destroyed the world economy and were consequently made whole with tax dollars handed out in an impressive bi-partisan manner to these private companies with no pre-conditions, why is it fair to make these private parties whole with tax dollars, why no reportage about the corporate/government cooperative program to attack and criminalize the Occupy movement, why no media interest in the detainment and torture of Bradley Manning, why no reporting on the massive surveillance state in the US that has been known about for more than 10 years, with lawsuits being filed, admissions of wrong doing on the part of the highest levels of government, laws being retroactively changed to protect corporations, presidential candidates running on the issues of transparency, illegal surveillance and privacy, as candidate Obama did? The list is nearly endless.
What one can very easily calculate is that the press is understood by the powerful as a tool of propaganda and has been turned into no more than a career building mechanism by reporters and a money maker for media owners, none of whom understand as our founding fathers did that a free and contentious press is a bulwark against totalitarianism and fascism, a necessary component of a free democratic society.
From one standpoint, the questions that are not answered might reflect that concerns such as those referenced above just may not be seen to be of interest to the media because they feel their audience does not care about these. We know this is not the case subsequent to the recent revelations of the massive surveillance state and Americans’ genuine, concerned and almost frantic interest in the story.
From another standpoint, the questions that are not answered are providing cover for politicians who want their anti-democratic programs to never be discussed – in other words, these media professionals are conspiring to cover-up government abuses. And, the same can be said of the press when it comes to writing about corporate excess and corporate crime…we have seen over the past twenty years or more that questions about matters that are ‘sensitive’ to the corporate elite remain, quite simply, never asked and buried.
So, with respect to the media coverage of corporate crime and political malfeasance we see an agreement to present a charade of press freedom as a free press. The political class depends on fake-reporters that self-censor to maintain control and (as we have become aware due to recent revelations), to enlarge the national security state and diminish or negate the rights of Americans to confront and challenge the national security state. A beautiful form of control that relies upon individuals to abandon their sense of community and commitment to the ongoing project of a democratic country. We don’t have the need for Pravda, just look at what a free press we have…soft totalitarianism.
Sadly, we too, the citizenry, have ‘traded-off’ to secure access. Access to coupons, targeted advertising, special offers, reduced prices, free gifts – consumer treats that flow like an unstoppable torrent as we daily agree to the ‘terms of service’ contracts that are presented to us by corporations so we can use the products that they develop.
In light of the revelation that the federal government has been and intends to continue to record every possible communication and transaction that we make, many Americans are rightly concerned about their loss of privacy and its attendant freedom (the right to be secure in your persons, homes, papers and effects). Revealing, this anger and disbelief and concern, as we have each individually and on thousands of incidental occasions over the past ten years consciously, willingly and happily relinquished our anonymity and autonomy to the enticing, invasive and unstoppable culture of complete corporate surveillance.
No need to take away our rights when they have been gifted away to our leaders of commerce by you and me…Soft totalitarianism.
‘beware of maya’ george harrison