Monday, June 10, 2013

They already know everything because you let them

Edward Snowden is now being heralded by no less than Daniel Ellsberg. Snowden, of course, exposed the rampant NSA spying program and fled to China in order to escape what will surely be energetic attempts at retribution by the US government. The program is being labeled an attempt at "security". The question that no one is asking is: Security from what?

A "war on terror" is deliberately left wide open to be pursued in any direction. Nameless, stateless; it could be anyone and anywhere and, most importantly, it could be us. The first time government of, by, and for the people was mentioned was the last time it existed. Now the only question is why.

Why would the government be so obsessed with controlling its citizenry? Because people left with no other choices tend to revolt. Revolt would be bad for those in power, not least because it disturbs their carefully crafted image of the land of opportunity/greatest nation in the world/(insert pathetic slogan here.) It's been less than a couple weeks since the last time I was attacked for rejecting the benefits afforded me by being part "of this great nation." People believe this stuff, even when the evidence of rampant inequality, perhaps the highest in the history of said nation, is everywhere. If much of the population is doomed to work low-wage jobs for the rest of their existence, with little prospect of change, what hope do they have other than violence? If the highly educated segment of the population is largely demoralized because that education has been devalued if it doesn't produce instant profits, what message might they deliver to people actually willing to read their books, view their art, and listen to their speeches? Is it hope? Is it opportunity? Or is it "don't bother following me here"?

A populace without choices is a populace without hope. No hope means nihilism. Nihilism means violence. Thus, the control. That control is already so effective that much of the population, urged on by wealthy and compliant media sources, screams for more whenever a violent event occurs. After the Boston Marathon bombing, some of the first responses were complaints about the government not knowing enough and/or acting quickly enough. The only way to know that much and act that fast is with the type of program that Snowden revealed. It's a howl of outrage, not that two men took such actions, but that the government wasn't hovering over them to stop those actions. It's easy to do when it's "crazy Muslims" aka NOT ME. I don't have anything to hide! I don't have anything to answer for! They shouldn't be spying on me! Just the bad people! It's NOT ME!

But it is you.

Just like animals in a very pretty and comfortable enclosure at the zoo, it is you. If you're lucky, you have food and a nice place to stay and despite the fact that you walk the same boring path and look at the same boring plants every day, it's easy to not think about how your entire world is 50 square yards. Until perhaps you lose that nice job of being looked at by the tourists. Or you lose that good food. Or that enclosure isn't so comfortable anymore. And then you realize that they have been watching you, guiding you, controlling you... because, at its root, they're afraid of you.

They're afraid because they know that if enough animals in the zoo that are less equal than others decide to band together and resist the controls, revolt against the keepers, and abandon the enclosures, they might be in trouble. Without doubt, their profit margins would be in trouble and that is, in the end, the most important thing to any member of Congress and any president elected in the past 150 years, at least.

So, should people be outraged about the NSA program? Sure, I guess. It's just one more symptom of how the system is maintained. But what they should really be outraged about is not that the system of control was exposed, but that it exists in the first place. The NSA program is one element of a massive problem that is summed up in one simple phrase: rule by the rich. As long as that exists, you might as well relax and perform for the watchers. Nothing you do will matter until that changes. And, incidentally, if 1/10 of the outrage currently being spewed about the spying were directed at the massive economic and environmental problems in this country, things might actually start to change.

The Man's got a surefire system
An economic prison!
Ya gotta get out!
Ya gotta get out!

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