The Year of Living Dangerously
Part One of Two
By Manuel Valenzuela
Manifestations of Intent
04/02/08 “ICH” — – – Can you smell the smoked fumes of a discombobulated economic engine that has ceased to function, its synergy spitting and sputtering, its many parts thrashed by the claws, and vices, of neoliberal capitalism? Can you feel the dismantling of the economic spark plug, the American consumer, as our livelihoods are sacrificed to the greed, and incompetence, of the establishment and as the value of our lives is further enslaved to the Almighty Dollar and its puppet masters?
Can you hear the roar of authoritarian Machiavelli-types, of which many exist, cheering as the Constitution is discarded like yesterday’s trash, its principles and foundations burned inside the incinerator of fascism? Can you hear the searing of one of the greatest documents of governance ever created by man as it goes up in flames thanks to the kerosene thrown at it by American corporatists in power, its ashes slowly scattering into the realm of nothingness?
Can you see, if not blinded by tele-trash and infotainment, by the propaganda we call news, by the lies and deceit and censorship of the corporate media, by the comforting glow of television, by the charade that is American democracy and by the myriad distractions of bread and circus, the approaching finality of American liberty and freedom, soon to be replaced by Big Brother, a surveillance society, a police state and full-fledged corporatism?
Can you sense the growing momentum of militarism and imperialism rampaging across the nation, and the globe, leaving nothing but hatred and animosity in its wake? Can you sense that imperialism and empire abroad and freedom and democracy at home are mutually exclusive, that to attain the former the latter must be sacrificed, and that inevitably the people must, for imperialism to function, be immersed in tyranny? Do you realize that we are one major shock, one major event away from catapulting our lives into the headwaters of an altogether different America?
If you are not angered, indeed enraged, by the current state of the United States, then you have not been paying attention, or you just do not care enough about the future your children will inherit, and have to live in. If you are not alarmed at where, at present, this course is invariably taking us, then you have abandoned the responsibilities of an informed citizen, preferring the comfortable warmth of ignorance to the absolute frigidity of a most ominous reality.
Indeed, it has been our passivity and acquiescence, bred of comfort, distraction and the erosion of critical thinking, that has facilitated our decent into authoritarian and corporatist waters. It has been our indifference and our “can’t happen here” mentality that is inevitably guaranteeing that it does, in fact, “happen here.” It is our inexperience with tyranny at home and our lack of exposure to authoritarian tendencies such as surveillance, secret police, torture, spying and disappearances, prevalent in many American supported states, encouraged by our government, though until recently non-existent here, that subjects us to a methodical assault by Machiavellian ideologies.
What billions of humans have first-hand experience in, oftentimes thanks to our government’s sponsorship, funding, training, backing, protection and encouragement, we have not yet fully been subjected to. The dirty little secret that the people outside our borders understand fully, and which has been kept from us, is the principle that if America wishes to maintain its empire, it must then continue acting like an empire. This, of course, means maintaining a firm grip over its vassal states, by proxy through its puppets, using the methods any aspiring empire must use, namely tyranny, oppression, and repression along with the tools at the disposal of any credentialed authoritarian.
As the empire expands and seeks more control over lands, resources and people, its methods become more and more brutal, as native peoples become more resistant, with growing imperialism and addiction to hegemony needing greater amounts of military weaponry, violence and tyranny to squash and threaten resistance movements. In order to maintain its overstretched empire, America must therefore become openly fascist, a reality that cannot be fused with the freedoms, rights, liberties and democracy of its own people. The two principles, empire and liberty, are diametrically opposed, incompatible elements in a struggle to determine the future course of the nation.
Given that historically the nation’s elite and its establishment have consistently chosen imperialism, expansion and empire building, there is no reason to believe that this hegemonic drive will decelerate. On the contrary, in a world of finite resources, eager and growing competitors, a globe that only seems to get smaller, with an ever-increasing population and with Washington enraptured in arrogance, self- aggrandizement, self-exceptionalism and greed, it is certain that the elite will invariably chose to sacrifice the Constitution, and the foundations of American society, and hence the freedoms, rights and liberties of the masses, in order to maintain and expand the realm of American hegemony. This paradigm is occurring today, in real time. The transformation is under way, right before our eyes.
For between the coup that was the 2000 general election, allowing entry into the executive branch of corporatists and authoritarians, and the first hours of the American Reichstag, or 9/11, that most catalyzing and transformative of events, the neocon Pearl Harbor, America, already a most vicious and evil empire in the decades before then, seemingly elevated its level of arrogance, unilateralism, defiance, wickedness, inhumanity and violence against the people of the world.
Whereas the 2000 stolen election introduced an era of open hostility, unilateralism and a “we will do what we want” mentality regarding the United States’ view toward world relations, including the planning and green lighting of the attacks, invasions and occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle East nations, 9/11 was the shock introducing the world to an America intent on global hegemony, now open and transparent, the new normal, the maker of humanity’s new reality. The inside job of 9/11, aimed as a psychological attack on the American people, designed so the masses would become subservient and acquiescent to otherwise unpopular methods of empire building, also allowed the Pax Americana to begin its quest for hegemony on a more transparent, and thus easier, basis.
Before 9/11, as has been described above, America’s elite were forced to rely on mostly clandestine methods of hegemonic expansion, as well as to at least give the impression of following and adhering to international law, its activities kept secret from its population only to maintain control on the home front, given the unpopularity of tyranny and all its tools. This made it much harder for the empire to achieve its goals. With the end of the Cold War, with its threat of an external bogeyman gone, which was used as an excuse to justify America’s imperial aspirations, supposedly to defend freedom and democracy, new excuses had to be concocted, new enemies had to be created that would engender in the population acceptance towards a continuation of Manifest Destiny.
Hence, new methods of manipulation, such as 9/11, were implemented. The opportunity that was 9/11, a catalyzing and transformative event, allowed American fascists to continue their previous drive forward, only this time in a more open, methodical way, with the full engines of American societal and military might fully behind the endeavor to conquer the strategic lands, resources and peoples of the world in favor of American corporations, particularly the military-industrial-energy complex, and its elite. Today, much more than in the past, the criminality and control is done in full and open arrogance, not caring that the world becomes witness to an imperialism that is as systemic as it tyrannical.
9/11, for all its terror and fear inducing stupor, guaranteed compliance, passivity and even ignorant encouragement on the part of the American people. After all, an external, dark-skinned, unknown bogeyman had dared to attack the empire. It was only natural, then, that the empire fight back, even if those lands of the bogeyman were conveniently also those that had been preemptively chosen months and years before for invasion and attack due to the strategic locations and natural resources claimed by the empire itself. Under this rubric, along with the frivolous claim of bringing “freedom and democracy” to the Middle East and Central Asia, the American people were easy patsies to the maniacal ideology of American fascists in power.
What we call American-style imperialism has thus evolved, with 9/11 acting as its birth pangs, in open arrogance and unilateralism, in open state sponsored terrorism and hostility, in open defiance of and in direct confrontation with the peoples of the globe. Where once clandestine mass murder, violence, war, coups, repression, tyranny, executions, assassinations, disappearances, collective punishment, dehumanization and torture dictated the empire’s maneuvers to control the people and places of the world, with its assortment of dictators, tyrants, juntas, kings, proconsuls, ministers and elite fraudsters helping maintain and expand the fields of empire, the next stage of the empire’s temerity has brought imperialism into plain sight.
Today the world entire can see, with the exception of those living inside the empire itself, — for most citizens choose a cocktail of delusion, denial, beliefs in exceptionalism and the inherent goodness of America, an absence of reason and self-imposed ignorance in order to secure an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality – what millions of human beings have experienced for decades. American imperialism and empire building has become an accepted reality, a “new normal,” with its attempts at building and securing hegemonic power throughout the world, through threats, violence, war, economic strangulation and market colonialism, as evident as cold in winter and as real as sunrises in the east.
What is new, and what is not fully understood by the vast majority of the 310 million people it affects, however, is that the empire has brought clandestine corporatism and authoritarian rule inside the very shores of America. It has begun importing the very essence of the imperial methods it has and continues to use abroad, most of which have been very successful in controlling its domain, and thus expanding its global hegemony.
This has been achieved by the criminal manipulation of psychology; by the induction of fear into the populace; by the mass propaganda of sacrificing liberty for security – which achieves neither – ; by conditioning the masses to think only in foggy black and white, good versus evil reasoning; by gutting of the economy, thus creating hardship, financial insecurity and a need to scapegoat (classic divide and conquer strategy); by destroying jobs and wages, slowly destroying the middle class, in essence making this group slaves to debt and predatory capitalism; by waging perpetual imperial wars designed to control resources and strategic locations and transfer trillions of dollars from average Americans toward the pockets of the establishment; by the exponential rise in militarism, the military-industrial-energy complex and the subsequent allocation of ever-expanding budgets towards the Department of War and away from other government services; by the decline of critical thinking and reasoning skills by the purposeful decimation of education; by the systemic pattern of lies, deceit, propaganda and brainwashing endemic in corporate media; by the wholesale auctioning off of all branches, departments and agencies of government to the corporate world; and by the embedding of corporatists and fascism’s enablers into all sectors of the United States government and its propaganda apparatus.
With a more than malleable citizenry conditioned for obedience and passivity, it is easy to see why corporatism rises like a phoenix in the nation of the Founding Fathers. It is inside the belly of the beast itself where the empire has declared open war against the American people, in the span of a few years unleashing a devastating assault on the rights, freedoms and liberties of every American. It has been in the last seven years where the policy of eroding the power, strength and wealth of most working and middle class Americans has had its greatest success, thereby creating an almost impotent subservient class of serfs and slaves. It is inside the bowels of the empire itself where the people are under constant attack, with the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people being gutted and eviscerated on a daily basis.
The objective, of course, is simple. Using fear mongering and scapegoating of an external enemy, a dreaded dark skinned bogeyman of unquestionable “evil”, preferably one that is unknown and different, therefore, the very object of fear, one that coincidentally inhabits the lands whose resources and locations you covet, thereby validating war and destruction and conquest and occupation, the populace is bombarded with the recipe of engendered hatred and, of course, perpetual fear. Straight out of the Orwellian playbook, then, the concocted fear of the Arab and Muslim is used both to conquer resources and land needed to expand hegemony, with the acquiescence and passivity of the people, as well as to eviscerate the freedoms of and better control the lives of the population.
A populace in constant fear of “its way of life,” of its cherished “freedoms and liberties,” which the catapulted propaganda spews mercilessly on a daily basis, making the repeated lie a certifiable truth in the eyes of tens of millions, will inevitably place unbridled faith, even if blind, on the elements of government which, by definition, are entrusted to protect and defend the people. If hundreds of millions have no problem placing blind faith in a god that has never before been seen, heard, smelled or felt, relying on the stories and language of our primitive past, refusing to use reason and critical thinking to combat myth and fables, how can we expect them to not place blind faith in a tangible unitary executive acting as father figure – or alpha male for that matter – that offers promises of security and protection in a terribly uncertain and frightening world – albeit a fictional charade at that – while preaching from the bully pulpit?
Along with an approaching economic meltdown – which inevitably causes anger, hatred, scapegoating, false patriotism, xenophobia, racism, crime, hardship, hunger, suffering, poverty, fear, division and insecurity in a large segment of the population, thereby making tens of millions easy targets willing to accept authoritarian and tyrannical rule over their lives – the use of an external enemy as convenient scapegoat the riled masses can concentrate their wrath on virtually guarantees national compliance and acceptance of the erosion of Constitutional guarantees in favor of a police and surveillance state under corporatist rule. This formula has worked wonders for many of modern history’s most ruthless authoritarians.
This combination of economic shock fused with fear of terror and of a very dangerous external enemy that wants to destroy the peoples way of life is a recipe for a successful implementation of corporatist and authoritarian doctrine throughout the nation. The anger, resentment and negative energy of the masses, most afflicted by the hardships of a severe recession or near depression, is easily corralled into an amalgam of anger that can be manipulated and channeled in whatever direction the corporatist elite chose. Under these conditions, and having a scapegoat by which hatred and anger and emotions can be directed at, the corporatist element in leadership can dictate empire’s follies and aggressiveness with reckless abandon.
Together with a spineless and colluding legislature, – nothing but a collection of fraudsters, snake oil salesmen, charlatans, professional liars, opportunists and corrupt politicians, each bending over to the thrusts of the corporatist world, their powers decimated, their significance diminished, having now become but an insignificant opinion-generating entity, firmly under the control and power of the unitary executive, unable to enforce or keep the president-emperor in check – the government in Washington has become the very entity destroying freedoms, liberties and rights and helping to build and secure the infrastructure needed for a permanent corporatist, surveillance society, a police state, an authoritarian reality.
What no terrorist organization could ever accomplish has over the last seven years been done by the same government most Americans believe incapable of wrongdoing, the same government we place blind faith and trust in, the same government we actually believe has an opposition within its ranks. Ironically, what the external bogeyman could never take away is being methodically plundered by our internal “protectors,” and with our unbridled, yet ignorant support and enthusiasm. Taking candy from a baby is a much more difficult endeavor. With the state and corporations colluding together, the masses are left to fend for themselves.
In fact, it has been the government, with the help of the corporate media, that has terrorized the citizenry in an open and continuous act of psychological warfare. It has been the government, along with the Ministry of Truth, that has instilled fear and insecurity into the population. It is they who, under any definition of terrorism, have become our terrorists, our real enemy, our internal bogeyman. Fear mongering has never been so easy and, when the collective trauma of 9/11 wears off, all that is needed to reinvigorate the senses of the masses are lies of further attack, more dehumanization of the enemy, propaganda of imminent threat and insecurity and, if all else fails, one more false flag event.
Part 2 of this article will be posted on Tuesday 05/02/08
Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic, international/national affairs analyst and Internet columnist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.