You better believe that the financial elite who run this country do have OWS and any other social movement under 24/7 surveillance. Anything that strives to change the status quo of neoliberal capitalism will be undermined and crushed, whether through covert actions or co-optive schemes. Social justice, the environment, and the very habitability of planet earth are not on the agenda of the 1%’ers.
Michael Parenti’s son, Christian, gives the methods by which the capitalist power structure controls rising social movements:
Parenti starts by noting a paradox within the capitalist system. “Capitalism needs poverty,”(2) states Parenti unequivocally, arguing that without enough poor people around workers start demanding better conditions and higher wages. However, at the same time, capitalism is threatened by too much poverty. Poverty, he argues, tends to breed dissatisfaction, which makes revolt more likely. The question is “How do you have poverty and manage the threat of poverty?”(3) The answer, for Parenti, is by expanding social control mechanisms through the criminal justice system. The buildup of prisons and policing in the last two decades is not a result, as some might have it, of corporations expanding into the criminal justice system for profits.(4) Rather, the growth comes from an increasing need by the capitalist class (in collusion with the state) for greater social control, a growth necessary to keep the poor from revolting. Prisons, mandatory sentencing, and the “war on drugs” become the means by which the state is able to subdue the working class and keep poverty at a level that maximizes profits while minimizing dissent. Here we see a clear example of “hard-line” social control.
Parenti also describes a second, softer tactic of social control, mainly co-optation. He briefly describes the way that workers’ movements in the 1960s were co-opted by turning their leaders into administrators of low income housing and social services. This co-optation happened at a time when the Unites States was economically strong enough to absorb the poor in order to legitimize the system. However, the economic crisis in the 1970s put an end to this tactic and brought with it the harder modes of social control. Parenti concludes that, “In a class society, rule comes down to two things, as Machiavelli said. The prince has two choices. He can either treat men [sic] well or crush them. . . . Sometimes economic conditions are plush enough that people can be treated well, but more often then not, in a capitalist society, the ruling class, through the state, must crush and intimidate people to reproduce their system. And that is what the criminal justice system is all about.”(5)
And tying together the previous post about Drones and the earlier post about the State’s oppressive security and surveillance apparatus, we have this essay which contains a perfect example of how the Corporate State crushes dissent:
“…I see other things coming even sooner, caused by the same ruling elite’s insatiable greed and lust for power, and by the same political system’s actions in support of their goals.
First there is the accelerating march towards a police state, which began in earnest during the first year of the Bush/Cheney administration with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the passage of the cynically named USA PATRIOT Act, and the launching of the so-called War on Terror, but which has been carried forward to a place I could never have imagined by Bush’s successor, Barack Obama. Today, police in America ride around with fully automatic M-16s in their squadcars, routinely taser people, including children, the elderly and the disabled, for minor offenses, and when confronted with a peaceful and permitted political demonstration, respond in full military SWAT gear, complete with guns, pepper spray, clubs, tear gas, and undercover agents who deliberately try to incite violence.
Just yesterday, long-time Latino activist Carlos Montes, 64, was arrested in Los Angeles during a joint LAPD/FBI SWAT-team midnight raid on his house. The charge: possessing illegal weapons. But Montes possessed only licensed guns in his home. The catch was, the FBI, which was clearly after Montes, a retired Xerox salesman, for political reasons, conveniently told local police that he was not allowed to register firearms because of a (get this!) 1969 felony conviction for allegedly throwing a coke can at a cop (Montes says he never threw such a can). Note that the police knew all about that conviction when Montes first registered his guns. He has not been in trouble with the law since then. Clearly he could have simply been informed that his gun registrations were invalid, and the guns had to be turned in. Why Montes, who has remained politically active and a critic of the government, was really arrested in this Gestapo-like manner became clear when an FBI agent hopped in the car with him right after he was picked up, and said, “I am from the FBI and I want to talk to you about the Freedom Road Socialist Organisation.” Montes is now facing a possible 22 years in jail for possessing legally registered guns that the LAPD has known for years that he had in his home, and that nobody ever cared about before. (I had to learn about this from the British newspaper the Guardian. The corporate media in America have covered up this outrageous political bust.)
America today is crawling with secret police–local, state and federal. They’re all connected too, through 72 so-called Fusion Centers that receive federal funds, but remain insulated from any kind of public oversight. Our phones and our internet communications are monitored automatically by National Security Agency super-computers that look for key words like “airport, exercise, flu, blizzard, bridge, or fundamentalism,” any of which prompt closer attention to what we are saying or writing.
Meanwhile, the president has claimed the right to detain–in secret, without charge–any American he deems to be a threat, and to hold such people indefinitely, without any recourse to lawyer or trial. He is even claiming the right to execute such captives. So much for the Fourth Amendment, as well as the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth!
While I don’t think we live in a police state yet (having lived in China for two years, and visited there as a journalist over four other years, I know what a real one looks and feels like), but all the elements for one have been put in place and await only the throwing of a switch.
In the vision I clearly have, I feel strongly that someone, whether Obama or Romney, or whoever follows him, will throw that switch. When power is available to political leaders, they inevitably avail themselves of it. It’s just a question of time.
But there is another vision I have too. It has to do with America’s increasing international lawlessness and bellicosity. As the nation turns increasingly to technology for its aggressive purposes, through the use of armed robotic drones, and through internet attacks on purported “enemies,” it not only opens the door to others to do the same to us; it virtually assures that we will be attacked ourselves in like manner to what we are doing.
It was one thing to be the world’s superpower when being a superpower meant having the biggest ICBMs and the most nuclear warheads — weapons that required an enormous military budget and a massive industrial base. Drone technology and internet “weapons” are something else altogether. As Israel has demonstrated with its Stuxnet virus, a very small nation can easily construct a weapon of tremendous destructive power. Iran demonstrated its own capability in that area by using computer savvy to take control of a sophisticated US surveillance drone flying over its airspace, actually stealing it electronically, landing it, and now, apparently, back-engineering it. And remotely-piloted drones are not particularly complex technologically. Basic ones can be purchased off the shelf in any hobby shop.
How long will it be before foreign predator drones begin flying over US airspace, taking out targets without leaving any clue as to who was the attacker? How long before other countries begin destroying American power systems, industrial sites or military command centers using internet-based computer viruses?
This is a game that many people can play, and I predict that it will not be long before we Americans will rue the day this country began playing it….”