Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Purge Against Dissenters Has Begun

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Last month, Chelsea Manning went on Democracy Now to discuss her experience in captivity under the U.S. government. Some of her remarks went:
“You know, it was—I thought I was done. I thought, ‘OK, like I can go home now.’ But I don’t feel like it’s this—I mean, in this environment, in this place, this time that we’re in is what I feared when I—because I saw, you know, and I realized it’s expanded more and more, that it’s not just the military, it’s not just the intelligence community. It’s not—it’s police. It’s the justice system. It’s immigration. Like all these systems are overlapping, and they’re suffocating people, deliberately and methodically, over decades. And this has been a continuing—you know, like people have been building this whirling death machine of power for decades now.”
What Manning had gone through before she’d come to this conclusion was torture from the state. Her crime had been exposing the crimes of the government, an act that’s only illegal when the law has been perverted to serve authority. Her penalty was 23 hours a day in solitary confinement-something the Geneva Conventions defines as illegal-for 11 straight months. She attempted suicide twice during the ordeal.
“It’s just a big cage, a big metal cage,” Manning also said in the interview. “And I was staying there. And it was—you know, I lost the sense of who I was. I lost a sense of time. I lost a sense of location.” I suspect it was this breaking down of her psyche, this total exertion of power over her by the government, that had made her contemplate how extreme our society’s despotism is becoming. And, as her words above imply, how the rest of the population is also not safe from the kind of repression the government has subjected her to.
In George Orwell’s 1984, the Party works to methodically break prisoners’ psyches through physical and mental torture so that they’ll be made to love Big Brother. The similarities between this and Manning’s story should make people see the
dangers of staying complicit with our society’s creeping authoritarianism. 
I say this because there are many who feel safe with what’s happening. The widespread public hatred for Manning, along with her fellow heroes Assange and Snowden, have chillingly shown this. Those who are comfortable with supporting the government’s war on whistleblowers, like those comfortable with the war against Muslims and Blacks, have fallen for a classic strategy of tyrants. This strategy is to cut off liberty bit by bit, while making the broader population feel falsely secure from the growing purge.
Don’t be fooled. The corporate, military, police, and technological control systems are capable of totalitarian control, and they’ll go after more and more people as dissent becomes less and less tolerated. Around 80,000 American prisoners are currently in solitary confinement. 2.2 million Americans are in prison, a 500% increase from forty years ago. Police are more militarized than they’ve ever been before. The NSA has set up the most expensive and intrusive surveillance system in history. The president, under an order signed by Obama, can send in the military as a domestic police force. Corporations dominate the government. We are at the mercy of the death machine, and it’s now making its move.
Police violence is increasing, with 277 killed by U.S. police so far in 2018. The war on drugs is being escalated, and President Trump is covertly turning America’s police against the citizenry. Under guise of fighting a greatly exaggerated “Russian influence” threat, corporations and governments are massively censoring media outlets the state deems to be “subversive.” Austerity and warfare have been intensified in the last year as the Trump White House’s cabal of corporate executives, military heads, and intelligence insiders dismantle the remains of democratic institutions. 
The escalation of ICE attacks on Hispanics, the intensification of hate crimes, and Trump’s Muslim travel ban (now in effect in a partial form) show how America is becoming an ethnic nationalist state. With every attack on liberty, the death machine gets more powerful, and tyranny subtly gets more normalized in the public’s mind. 
The Ecuadorian government’s depriving Julian Assange of his online connections with the outside world starts the final purge of dissenters. By ignoring this violationof Assange’s right to free speech, and by continuing to demonize him as a Russian agent, mainstream liberals have shown which side they stand on this purge. We have no allies within the political establishment-the death machine is ready to put the fist down onto us, and there’s no telling who Assange will be followed by. We’ll either choose to break out of the establishment’s propaganda narratives, or we’ll be forced into following along with them.

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