As despotic regimes lose the people’s consent, they take ever more brutal measures for keeping their hold over the narrative. The corporate state’s transition into this has been more dramatic than in past oligarchies, because for many decades it’s operated through the system of staged “democracy” that Sheldon Wollin calls inverted totalitarianism. Not all the ruling elites have agreed on how much repression should happen. And even at this stage, many of them think little of it is necessary because they arrogantly assume most of the public shares their worldview. But these seem to usually be the pundits, academics and politicians on the outer rungs of the power structure, whose employers deeper in the system know what needs to be done to maintain control.
The suppression of dissent started with the introduction of free speech zones and the violent police tactics that were used against dissidents in the WTO protests. It was then expanded to the creation of a surveillance state that reviews all of Americans’ electronic communications, and the surge in construction of private security facilities that happened across the country after 9/11. In 2005, an agency called the Domestic Security Alliance Council was formed at the request of corporations which would “bridge the information divide between America’s private and public sectors.” That meant corporate executives could use it to collude with America’s intelligence agencies. This resulted in the FBI spying on Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011, an addition to the unnecessary mass arrests that law enforcement used to kill the movement. The militarization of police departments around the country in the last decade has exacerbated it all.
This has happened as the state’s propaganda becomes more coordinated and monolithic. In 2007, reveals WikiLeaks, Rachel Maddow, John Podesta and others formed a media “echo chamber” that interconnected their messaging efforts. In 2013 the now corporate-controlled CIA was freed from a 1948 law which prohibited the agency’s psychological operations, meaning unknowable CIA propaganda workers are now stationed in media posts around the world. Last year through Obama’s Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, an agency was created for fighting undesired information. This has made deceptions possible on a scale that may not have been feasible just ten years ago.
The electoral fraud and voter suppression in the 2016 Democratic primary has been hidden from the minds of most Americans through encompassing media propaganda. The deceptions being used to manufacture support for war with Syria, Russia, and North Korea are so formidable that they’re getting a tiny fraction of the resistance
that the Iraq WMD claims did. Paranoia about Russia, founded on the fraudulent DNC Russian hacking claim, pervades the mainstream consciousness. Paranoia that was enshrined into the official record last year when the CIA-funded Washington Post accused the top twenty leftwing alternative media sites of being run by Putin. Wikileaks has naturally been the prime target of McCarthyite demonization, so much that I recently saw an online corporate propaganda troll write "Wikileaks is information for traitors."
This has allowed for the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act to be passed under the guise of fighting Russia. Companies like Facebook and YouTube have been using it to suppress what they judge as “fake news.” And after the intelligence agencies declared war on the alternative media in January by implicating them and their dissenting views with Russian sedition, the FBI has legally attacked them this month. Reporters from RT and its “associates” are now required to register as foreign agents from Russia, with the penalty for not doing so being removal from the airwaves. The repression will get far worse when the next major terrorist attack happens, which the government will doubtless blame on one of the current regime change countries. The first measure they’ll try in that moment is likely the repeal of net neutrality, which would make the corporate media sites the only news left online as everyone is required to pay large fees for an internet presence.
There are a lot of people who will no doubt comment on this piece’s hopeful message with “if only you were right.” But I’m referencing history when I say what we’re experiencing is an oligarchy’s reaction to its looming death. In April 1989, anti-Soviet demonstrations were met with police retribution that killed 21 people through gas attacks and beatings. The Soviet government blamed the protesters, saying they’d been “abusing democratization to the detriment of our new policy of openness and of our very society." And a lot of Russian citizens at the time no doubt believed that. Two years later, the Soviet regime was over.
This is how tyrants are resisted, and how profound strength and wisdom are found in the process. The aftermath of a failed repressive state is almost never utopian-it’s usually a chaotic landscape where new demagogues can fill the vacuum. But in the wake of every overthrown dictatorship, there’s someone who's supported the regime, and who seeks amends after being freed from the propaganda system that got them to participate in atrocities. This dynamic of evil and redemption is probably the most powerful human story that can be told, and it’s how we can keep up the will to revolt in these times.
Adopt the mindset some attribute to Bernie Sanders to explain his unending drive, which is one of constant focus on stopping injustice. Never stop being outraged at how over thirty million Americans are without health care while nearly all of people’s tax dollars go to funding perpetual wars. Stay angry about how our government has hidden the history of a Korean war that killed nearly three million people, and is now blaming the Korean people for war provocations that the U.S. is responsible for and that could kill 25 million more. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re obligated to support entities like the Democratic Party, which recently rained depleted uranium bombs onto tens of thousands of innocent people while dropping a bomb around every three hours in 2016 alone. Or that you should to trust in agencies like the CIA, which has created a crack-cocaine epidemic, installed dozens of brutal regimes around the world, and repeatedly lied us into wars that have killed millions.
And always do so while working toward the ways we’ll actually be able to end the regime. Reading online articles about these problems is productive, as are even the smallest acts of revolt, but the circumstances may soon require us to be creative. Transcript the knowledge the corporate state wants buried onto private data stashes, preferably paper ones, so that it can be accessed when they try to take it off the internet. Start underground revolutionary newspapers or pamphlets to keep an alternative press alive amid roiling censorship measures. Fight for an open internet and discourse at the same time, as one should surrender nothing to fascists. Take these actions now, and when the oligarchy is defeated, we’ll be able to finally bring the real history of this era into the open.