Mar 9, 2014
The Corporate State and the Subversion of Democracy
Posted on May 31, 2008
By Chris Hedges
As the pressure mounts, as this despair and desperation reaches into larger and larger segments of the American populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. It is not accidental that with the rise of the corporate state comes the rise of the security state. This is why the Bush White House has pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” the warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting. It is part of a package. It comes together. It is not about terrorism or national security. It is about control. It is about their control of us.
Sen. Frank Church, as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975, investigated the government’s massive and highly secretive National Security Agency. He wrote:
“That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. ... I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return. ...”
When Sen. Church made this statement the NSA was not authorized to spy on American citizens. Today it is.
We are fed lie after lie to mask the destruction the corporate state has wrought in our lives. The consumer price index, for example, used by the government to measure inflation, has become meaningless. To keep the official inflation figures low the government has been substituting basic products they once measured to check for inflation with ones that do not rise very much in price. This trick has kept the cost-of-living increases tied to the CPI artificially low. The disconnect between what we are told and what is actually true is worthy of the old East German state. The New York Times’ consumer reporter, W.P. Dunleavy, wrote that her groceries now cost $587 a month, up from $400 a year earlier. This is a 40 percent increase. California economist John Williams, who runs an organization called Shadow Statistics, contends that if Washington still used the CPI measurements applied back in the 1970s, inflation would be in the 10 percent range. The advantage to the corporations is huge. A false inflation rate, one far lower than the real rate, keeps equitable interest payments on bank accounts and certificates of deposit down. It masks the deterioration of the American economy. The Potemkin statistics allow corporations and the corporate state to walk away from obligations tied to real adjustments for inflation. These statistics mean that less is paid out in Social Security and pensions. It has reduced the interest on the multitrillion-dollar debt. Corporations never have to pay real cost-of-living increases to their employees. The term “unemployment” has also been steadily redefined. This has rendered official data on employment worthless. In real terms about 10 percent of the working population is unemployed, a figure that is, over the long run, unsustainable. The economy, despite the official statistics, is not growing. It is shrinking. And as the nation crumbles we are awash with the terrible simplicity of false statistics. We confuse our emotional responses, carefully manipulated by advertisers, pundits, spin doctors, television hosts, political consultants and focus groups, with knowledge. It is how we elect presidents and those we send to Congress, how we make decisions, even decisions to go to war. It is how we view the world. Four media giants—AOL-Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch’s NewsGroup—control nearly everything we read, see and hear. This growing disconnect with reality is the hallmark of a totalitarian state.
“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines,” Hannah Arendt wrote, “totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda—before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world—lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”
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