Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Supporting American Militarism Is Supporting Genocide

Right now in Yemen, the biggest tragedy in decades is happening so that oil interests and the U.S. empire won’t be inconvenienced. The U.S.-Saudi assault against Yemen, expanded this year without any authorization from congress, has ravaged the country while imposing a blockade on aid to it. This has resulted in seven million people on the verge of dying from malnutrition, with images of the victims resembling the images from Nazi concentration camps.

Congress may have voted this week to declare America’s Yemen involvement unauthorized and to provide aid for the crisis, but the system that led to the crisis remains in place. The U.S. still devotes $700 a year to its military and holds 800 military bases around the world, making for what Noam Chomsky calls the biggest terrorist organization in existence. A corporate-controlled intelligence community is still able to regularly lie to advance its agenda. The president can still assassinate American citizens without trial. The torture facility in Guantanamo Bay is still open, and still holding dozens of innocent people. The military is still controlled by private defense contractors like Blackwater, the Trump-affiliated security company that’s been prosecuted for senselessly slaughtering civilians in Iraq.
Both major parties and all three branches of government are still dominated by a masked corporate state that’s been slowly taking power for forty years. That corporate state is still saturating society in propaganda through a highly consolidated corporate media, and still using censorship and violence to silence its opponents. We’re still living under the most extensive and intrusive surveillance state in human history. 
The U.S. prison system still holds more people than those of China or North Korea so that private prisons can be enriched and so the underclass can be made submissive. Our unelected rulers in the billionaire class still appoint narcissists, sociopaths, and incompetents to do their work in government, which has been morbidly parodied by Donald Trump’s rise. We’ve still been stripped of our rights to privacy, due criminal process, free and fair elections, protection for whistleblowers, and the ability to sue banks and corporations.
Until we reject corporate capitalism and imperialism, events like the Yemeni crisis will keep repeating themselves in what Chris Hedges calls the self-perpetuating “Pandora’s Box of War.” Public opinion polls and the upsets of the 2016 election show most people despise these ideologies. But the ruling oligarchs’ propagandists are working feverishly to keep us in a state of paralysis and disengagement. 
If the majority of people really dislike Wall Street, argued a recent New York Times article, why do Wall Street politicians dominate government? The gerrymandering, electoral fraud, mass purging of disfavored voters, influx of corporate campaign money, and systematic exclusion of poor and black people from our elections in recent years is made nonexistent by this statement from the Times. And outlets like the Times have consistently tried to erase these events, all while promoting themselves as virtuous defenders of the truth. Political and historical illiteracy are remade as being informed. Despotism is remade as democracy. Any reason to challenge authority is de-legitimized.
This remaking of our political language into an authoritarian belief system was deliberately planned from the start of the corporate takeover. Throughout the 1970’s, the neoliberal economist James McGill Buchanan promoted the idea that having a functioning democracy was unjust to the rich, who deserved to increase their wealth without any restrictions. Radical right leaders and the liberal elites in the Carter administration enforced this despotic worldview. Both of these groups concluded that there was an “excess” in the people’s democratic involvement, and that more power needed to be given to elites for society survive in its traditional form.
These beliefs formed the basis for our current crisis. Leaders like Reagan and Thatcher advanced them under an authoritarian populism which claimed to protect family values, personal freedom, strengthened security, and respect for the flag. The Christian Right was empowered, along with a culture that glorified violence through the exaltation of guns. The arts and public education were denounced and de-funded. A revamped American militarism was carried out by equating criticism of U.S. policies with being anti-American. The poor were demonized and pushed further to the margins. This created a decreased solidarity with the poor among the American people, mirroring what’s happened in the other countries that have adopted neoliberalism.
Throughout the 21st century, these authoritarian revisions of language have reached their conclusion. Money is now defined in our highest court as speech. War is now defined as something that must be endless in order to defeat an eternal terrorist threat. Privacy and other civil liberties are defined as enemies of security. Ignorance, in implicit ways, is defined as strength. When we refuse to believe these redefinitions, hope for a different kind of society is strengthened.

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