Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Establishment’s Attacks On Manning Are Attacks On Open Society

We shouldn’t have expected less from the political establishment that’s employed election fraudvoter suppression, the mass silencing of disfavored online content, intimidation from law enforcement, and police violence to attack dissenting voices in recent years. As Chelsea Manning is attacked by this establishment’s propagandists during her senate campaign, their hypocrisy and authoritarianism is made clear by looking at how the law was corrupted to make her actions “traitorous.”

For decades before Manning’s experience, the kinds of leaks she’s carried out were generally tolerated by the government. “Officials launched leak investigations but only went through the motions before abandoning each case,” writes former CIA reporter James Risen in his recent piece The Biggest Secret. Then during the Obama administration-and even morso during the Trump administration-state whistleblowers became seen as traitors. Manning, after revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was subjected to psychologically shattering torture through solitary confinement. She attempted suicide twice throughout her imprisonment.

Maybe the establishment’s members hate Manning so much because her being in this position shows the limits of the regime’s power. And if they get their way, even those few semblances of openness will soon be crushed. As we’ve seen with the corporate state’s newfound ability to persecute and demonize whistleblowers, or to torture, or to surveil Americans on a mass scale, eroding the values that make society free can be as quick and as easy as changing a law. It doesn’t matter that these things were considered unacceptable until recently; now that the state says they’re acceptable, the culture has molded to accommodate them. 

And right now the rules are being changed at a staggering rate. Major censorship policies are being imposed by governments and corporations around the world, making it harder and harder for independent speakers to get out their messages. Last month the FBI took its war against dissent further than ever by implicating the leftist magazine CounterPunch, without evidence, in advancing Russian propaganda. This was a step towards making all dissenting media into targets for the state’s McCarthite campaign. Already RT America’s executives have been forcedby the Justice Department to register as foreign agents, and the CIA-controlled online companies have become very hostile towards dissenting outlets and journalists.

As technology advances, this state of techno-tyranny will encroach more and more. As Julian Assange said in his statement for this month’s World Socialist Website conference on organizing against online censorship, “Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” Already we spend most of our time online being coerced, consciously and not, by sophisticated AI mind control systems, with Google, Facebook and Twitter using a tool called “counterspeech” to silence disfavored content.

Our looming economic, geopolitical and environmental crises seem almost welcome as the existing social systems become ever more despotic. Oxfam International has reported that 82% of the wealth produced in 2017 went to the top 1% of the world population. This adds onto the perfect manifestation of elite overproduction, as new billionaires now appear around every two days. The decadent and insulated world that exists within this elite class is what all these oppressive measures are here to protect. And the holders of this power will resort to very extreme measures before they surrender it.

Manning, Snowden, Assange, and the other government-targeted whistleblowers are some of the first ones to have officially been made into “traitors” for defying the power of the state. Those of us who speak the truth publicly are turning into the next targets, as the Deep State’s McCarthyite campaign shows. After that, anyone who dares question the ruling establishment will become treated this way by the state as well. Don’t fear these threats though. The real thing to fear is when you’re compliant with the state’s power.

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