Mass Surveillance & Social Control

by BurnItDown on Février 2, 2014 - 4:30pm

Summary & Analysis: The Last Gasp of American Democracy by Chris Hedges

In the months since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began to release a trove of documents revealing a global surveillance system created by the “Five Eyes”[1] intelligence collective, the debate on the corporate media has been focused primarily on the “privacy vs. security”[2] conflict which seems to define the scandal. This argument, as pointed out by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, is based on a false premise. The programs in question have prevented no terror attacks[3] since their inception, but have been used for economic espionage[4], persecution of minor drug crimes[5] (with systematic cover-ups of that use), the prevention of international action on climate change[6], and perhaps most frighteningly, to coordinate the razing of Occupy encampments[7]. In other words, the programs have nothing to do with preventing terrorist attacks, and everything to do with totalitarian social control for the corporate class.

So what is morally right in this scenario? On the side of the corporate class, arguments can and have been made that corporate-state’s wholesale intrusion into the most personal details of private citizens is justified in the name of security from terrorist attacks. As mentioned above, this claim does not hold up to rational inquiry, because no attacks have been prevented. In reality, the corporate class presumably wants to hold onto these programs because social unrest is an inevitable result of the skyrocketing income inequality[8] which defines modern capitalism[9], as well as the forthcoming global destabilization[10] caused on by anthropogenic climate change. The elites know what is coming. And they want to be able to see who is planning resistance to their rule, to prevent and silence movements such as Occupy before they arise, and to silence all dissent. Just like the Stasi in East Germany, the global security state has as its aim an entrenchment of the power of the elites it serves. No other theory stands up to empirical research. Social control is the only sound reason why these programs exist.

Conversely, the side of the debate led by Snowden and Glenn Greenwald clearly has the moral high-ground with regard to the system of mass surveillance. That the power of the security state is already being used to suppress nonviolent political dissent is evidence towards the theory that these systems are being used to guard the privileges of the corporate-class against the power of a mobilized citizenry. Hannah Arendt, quoted by Hedges in the article, describes how systems such as the one being discussed are not truly for the purposes of national security, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.”[11] Hedges, who personally viewed Stasi repression in East Germany, understands the correlation between massive police-states and social control. In the end, the question is: “Are we willing to live in a society run for the benefit of the few, or are we going to rebel against it?”

SOURCES

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_last_gasp_of_american_democracy_... - Original article by Chris Hedges

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes - Brief overview of the Five Eyes Security collective, comprised of the governments of America, Canada, England, Australia & New Zealand

[2] http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/11/reconciling-privacy-and-security-po... - The debate as it is typically presented in the corporate media; "Security vs. Privacy."

[3] http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/20/21975158-nsa-program-... - An investigative report showing that no terror attacks have been prevented by the collection of citizen's private data.

[4] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-08/u-s-government-spied-on-brazil-... - A description of how the U.S. government has been using its spying infrastructure to gain competitive advantage for American oil companies over Brazil's Petrobras

[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/us-dea-sod-idUSBRE97409R20130805 - An article describing the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) use of NSA data to prosecute drug offenses. The DEA then systematically covered up said use of information, falsifying their sources in order to guard the NSA from scrutiny.

[6] http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/governments-have-been-spying-their-way-ou... - A description of how the Five Eyes have been using their spying power to prevent international deals which would attempt to prevent catastrophic climate change.

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-cra... - A description of the "total integration" of the security-state which took place in response to the Occupy movement.

[8] http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/09/10/one_percent_recovery_95_p... - Did you know that since the economic crash of 2008, 95% OF ALL INCOME GAINS have gone to the top 1% of earners?

[9] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/20/oxfam-85-richest-people-... - And did you also know that the 85 wealthiest people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest half of all of humanity (3.5 BILLION people) combined?

[10] http://climatechange.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/Turn_Down_the_hea... - A report by the World Bank describing the effects of a 4 degree rise in global temperatures. It is apocalyptic.

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism - An overview of the book from which the quote is taken. The quote is also used in the original article by Hedges.