Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Origins of Big Brother in the Military/Industrial Complex

Big Brother brainwashes his subjects, rewrites their history and deadens their language, but his broadest means of control is the waging of war, or of what passes for war.
—E.L. Doctorow
"Big Brother" is how Orwell depicted the totalitarian state in which human individuality, freedom, choice, and lives are subordinated to the needs of the "state". Every means is, therefore, justified to maintain the omnipresent state in power.
Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
--1984, Chapter I, Part I, George Orwell
In 1984, when Winston describes a news film of "mercenaries", he might have been describing Blackwater in Iraq.
...[a] great huge fat man trying to swim away with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gun sights, then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as though the holes had let in the water."
--1984, George Orwell
More recently, UPI reported from Iraq
A man, woman and child in a small white vehicle tried to flee from an armored personnel carrier, but round after round of .50 caliber bullets drilled into the vehicle and soft flesh until at last the car burst into flames. After the inferno had engulfed their vehicle the blackened bodies of the mother and child were melted together in death's embrace'.
In another excerpt from Winston's diary in 1984
"...middle-aged woman with a little boy about three years old in her arms. little boy screaming with fright and hiding his head between her breasts as if he was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting her arms round him and comforting him although she was blue with fright herself, all the time covering him up as much as possible as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him. Then the helicopter planted a 20 kilo bomb in among them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood."
Executions happen every day in Iraq, but the carnage perpetrated by Blackwater USA is done in the name of "we the people".
At least four Blackwater sport utility vehicles stopped in lanes of traffic that were entering the square from the south and west. Some of the guards got out of their vehicles and took positions on the street. As though their bodies could stop the bullets, Iraqi men covered women and children. But in the ensuing bloodbath not only were the protectors mercilessly gunned down, so too were those they tried to protect.
And from another dispatch from UPI
A former Blackwater USA employee suspected in the killing of an Iraqi vice president's bodyguard reportedly is a former Army paratrooper who lives in Seattle.

Andrew Moonen, whose identity was previously kept confidential by Blackwater, Congress and the State Department, is the sole suspect in the shooting death of Raheem Khalif, a bodyguard to Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, The New York Times reported Thursday.

U.S. and Iraqi officials previously said Khalif was shot three times by a Blackwater employee who had been drinking on Christmas Eve 2006. Khalif died at a U.S. military hospital the day after the shooting.

When asked about the shooting, Moonen's father, Alvin Moonen, said: They train these guys like they do and then they're surprised?

Moonen was fired from Blackwater hours after the shooting. The company cited a blatant and egregious violation of a company policy that prohibits employees from carrying firearms while drunk.

No charges have yet been filed in the case, but an official with the FBI said the case is being actively pursued.
--Blackwater shooting suspect identified, Gulf in the Media
Americans should be enraged, outraged that Blackwater USA claims to perpetrate arbitrary executions in our name. The "War on Terror" is just another bloody Bush fraud, a hoax, a lie to justify war crimes. By its excesses, Blackwater has exposed to the world the nature of Bush's NeoCon war, in fact, a series of cold blooded murders having nothing whatsoever to do with a "war on terror". As the Blackwater gang of paid thugs make a killing field of the streets of Baghdad, the rest of the world will hold the American people to account for having enabled the Bush regime to begin with.

The apparent lack of outrage in America is as outrageous itself. I often wonder: what has become of the American people? Have we, in fact, become the enemy we claim to fight? The United States is openly called the "world's biggest terrorist" throughout Europe, and with considerable justification! What had been "means" become "ends" themselves. The Military/Industrial complex is machines within machines, what mathematicians would call an "emergent property", a beast of its own making.
Mary Godwin, soon to become Percy Shelley's wife, wrote it in the Summer of 1816 when she and Shelley and other members of Lord Byron's hippie entourage vacationed with Byron in Switzerland. Mary was the 19-year-old daughter of a noted feminist writer, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
Frankenstein's Faustian quest for knowledge takes him to the terrifying secret of life. His product, the monster, is more articulate, more intelligent, and more able to feel pain than his human maker. The monster produced by Frankenstein's intelligence and creative drive had Frankenstein's intelligence and sensibilities, but in a kind of grotesque parody. In a curious way, Frankenstein and his monster merge together.
--Dr. John Leinhard, The Engines of Our Ingenuity, Frankenstein
And in yet another essay on this subject:
Mary Shelley was unmistakably talking about the science-based technology of her day. The subject drew her in. Later in her life she wrote biographies of famous scientists for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia. Her Frankenstein voiced a recognition of the dangers lying in our new powers.

...Mary Shelley had summoned up a demon living in all of us.
--Dr. John Leinhard, The Engines of Our Ingenuity, Frankenstein
Scientists, engineers and philosophers use the term Emergence to describe how complex systems and patterns arise out of many relatively simple interactions. Examples include "intelligence" in artificial intelligence, life itself at the end of an evolutionary process. Emergence is at the very core of a new physics primarily concerned with "complex systems".

Bush claims absolute power. Bush presumes to re-write laws passed by Congress. Bush presumes to enforce only those laws he likes, disregarding the rest. Bush has assumed the power to "declare" a state of war and commit US troops to battle. Never mind that that is a war crime. He has, in fact, assumed powers that the US Constitution reserved solely for Congress and the Courts. There is no need of either in Bush's Orwellian vision of the great American GOP dictatorship.

Albert Einstein wrote that the purpose of socialism is to overcome and advance beyond a "predatory phase of human development". In Bush we revert to it. Bone headed GOP "trickle down economics" and imperial oil theft abroad threatens an economic train wreck, indeed, democracy itself. A new study confirms that military spending is an economic albatross, a depressing drag on the economy, that will increase joblessness, deprive millions more of an education. Military spending and Pentagon waste soak up federal monies better spent on education, infrastructure, and job creation.

Pentagon waste takes monies out of circulation and depresses the economy. Only a tiny part of the economy will benefit, namely, the filthy rich already bought and paid for by Bush's inequitable tax cuts for what he called "his base". None of that wealth has trickled down, though Bush, unlike Ronald Reagan, never really pretended that it would. It was a transparent pay off to the very rich for their support. [See: The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath, Kevin Phillips; and a Hat Tip to Vierotchka re: Swiss headline]

The question then is: how did we get here? After all, we had been warned.

The Last Honest GOP President Warns
of the Military/Industrial Complex

Sen. Mike Gravel Challenges Big Bro's Big Myth: the War on Terrorism, an Orwellian Perpetual War
Big Brother is the Military/Industrial Complex itself, a self-organizing gestalt, a beast of its own devising. Bush is Faust, eager to sell his soul to do Satan's bidding. Bush is not Big Brother but, rather, Big Brother's avatar. Bush is but its pawn --an especially eager, willing, and sycophantic one.

Big Brother is an unfeeling Leviathan, in fact and by design, above the law, above obeisance to Congress, above the ability of the people to control. Like American corporations themselves, said, by law to have all the rights of people and none of their obligations, Big Brother is a law unto itself. At present, no one, certainly no one in Congress, has been able to oppose the Military/Industrial complex served, as it is, so fanatically by those who feed at the trough. No one dependent upon the MIC is free to make a decision based upon conscience. They are the minions of Moloch.

The US now resorts to industrialized death to make a living --its industries hollowed out during the Reagan years. Aggressive war, in reality mass murder, is our only major export. America is in the death business; the MIC is Murder, Inc.

America must certainly lead the world in the production of military hardware --tanks, missiles, nuclear weaponry, in fact, weapons of unprecedented and unimaginable mass destruction. It must surely trail the world in every other industrial classification --a third world nation on steroids. As long as this is the case, no one living in the US, no citizen of the US abroad, is truly free. We are all reduced to mere units in a bigger, evil machine. Bush and his servile ilk serve Moloch willingly and visibly at Bohemian Grove. Slavery, however, is forced upon the rest of us, a process assisted ably by a corporate media.
The most extreme example of this, of course, is Fox News, which is seen by all credible reporters as political porn, of the low grade variety at that, featuring D-listers in the news industry with the ethics of Debbie and her Dallas doers. Fox is laughable, and it is clearly a state run organ which hires official state reporters to report officially sanctioned news.

The Fox outfit is obvious propaganda, but it has played the foil to something far more insidious and sinister, and which in its sheer subtlety is far more dangerous. The mainstream press, as it is known, compared with Fox looks like left wing reportage, of course. In reality, however, the mainstream is neither left wing nor anything remotely resembling even a moderate or objective fourth estate.

Should you have doubt in this regard, I urge you to consider, as an example, the revelations from Dan Rather about what CBS did to curry favor with the White House.

Or the most criminal example of what can happen to a corporate owned, fully politicized, fourth estate: the Iraq war. These types of political propaganda practices used to be called Yellow Journalism. Now they are the standard, cleverly renamed "fair and balanced."

So it naturally follows that the robber barons and their fourth estate business partners should indeed benefit from the puppet they all worked so vigorously to enthrone.

Corporate Interests merged with State Interests

The corporate interests of America are now almost entirely at one with the political interests of America. The people are either relegated to the outskirts as unimportant bystanders or are caught in the cross-fire as casualties of a hostile corporate takeover by American and even foreign corporations. We "the people" do not matter in a country where corporate profits are tied to state policy, which then uses those same corporations to tell us what is real and what is fabricated, what is true and what is false.
--Laura Alexandrovna, Our Cold Civil War
A militarized society is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Much is made of the fact that the military provides opportunities for high school dropouts, the disadvantaged who might not otherwise get an education or a job. The military, it is said, takes these poor folk off the streets. Indeed, it takes them off the street and puts them in the line of fire in wars of naked aggression where suicide rates speak to the issue of our immoral position in Iraq. Moreover, had not the military, by soaking up the lions share of all federal spending, more monies might have been budgeted for truly productive programs like education and training. What is to be said about a society that finds it necessary to send young people off to die in immoral wars in order to get them employed and off the streets?

Eisenhower saw Big Brother's approach but could not have known how it might have been avoided. The revolution, decades in the making, is like a slow boil. We did not even know when we were "done", but cooked we are! We are like one of many puzzles that originated in the mind of the ancient Megarian logician, Eubulides of Miletus.

The puzzle is called "sorites", from the Greek for "heap." The question is whether or not a single grain of sand is a "heap"? The answer is obviously "no". But, if we add grains one at a time, the question arises: at what point have we made a "heap"? At what point have we made of the Military/Industrial complex a Frankenstein monster, Moloch, a Big Brother? At what point have we sacrificed our souls to ol' Scratch? At what point did MIC become the Owl god?

Big Brother does not merely exercise absolute power via the apparatus of the police state. Big Brother marshals the resources of a monolithic state to rob you of your person hood. Big Brother changes what it means to be "human".

In Goethe's version of Faust, Mephistopheles tries to grab Faust's soul when he dies but is frustrated by a divine intervention. Can the people of the US afford to wait passively for divine intervention? No! We have the power to deny to the state its power to define us. Challenged by aristocrats who demanded to know just who he thought he was, Voltaire said "I have no name but the name that I have made for myself!" Big Brother's lies have made of us our own worst nightmares, but only if we buy into the scheme. It follows, therefore, that Big Brother is finished when we make Voltaire's existentialist choice, when we take responsibility for what we have become, when we dare to define ourselves. The seeds of revolution are born when each individual chooses to be free!

Big Bro Changed What it Means to be "Human"
Notes: John H. Lienhard is M.D. Anderson Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and of History at the University of Houston. He is the author and host of The Engines of Our Ingenuity , a daily radio essay on invention and creativity heard nationally on Public Radio and internationally on the Armed Forces Network. He is also the author of the book The Engines of Our Ingenuity: An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture and Inventing Modern: Growing up with X-Rays, Skyscrapers, and Tailfins.

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Diane B said...

Our Country has suffered greatly under Bush, it may take some time before we have our freedoms completely back as a Nation, as a People, but we will.

Unknown said...

You are correct, Diane. But one of the most pernicious effects of "Big Brother" is the feeling of "helplessness" that is actually encouraged by the state. We all have the power to change things. The state is an artificial construct of man props, the most pernicious of which is the idea that we are helpless. As Simon Schama so dramatically wrote in his "History of Britain", the people ALWAYS had the the power to change the state, the people ARE sovereign.

Our own Constitution does not "grant" us sovereignty. It merely recognizes it. As Schama pointed out with regard to Charles I ...the people had always been "the" sovereign.

Anonymous said...

Len, I thought I'd just pass on some links to you that you might find interesting. I don't know if you've come across Arthur Silber, but Chris Floyd rates him highly (a great endorsement). Silber discusses how our culture instills an acceptance of violence and he provides a very thoughtful account of US-Iran politics at his blog powerofnarrative.

You are certainly right Len, to highlight the failure of social mechanisms and the media in bringing the Bush regime to power. Propaganda techniques were well known to the Nazis but modern mass communication and media skills have taken them much further. The hard Right have lied so often and so ably over the last few decades that the populace have surrendered their critical faculties and acceded political control to any defense industry/army general/right wing loudmouth who steps up to the mike. An entertainment fixated public, deprived of a decent education, workplace security and social identity have succumbed to Stanley Millgram's experiments on a national level and now accept the legitimacy of torture and killing of State-designated enemies. Maher Arar and Jose Padilla pass us by without a second thought. I'm reminded of Solzhenitsyn's account of the 6am train that would leave Moscow station every week for years, sealed carriages headed for the Gulags with their precious load of former citizens, now nameless Zeks whose very existence has become the prerogative of the State. Soviet citizens would pass these loaded carriages every day without a word or a thought, never moving to question the events before their eyes. So it is that our societies must deny the fact that Iraqis are dying in large numbers or that innocent people are being destroyed by criminals holding public office. The public would reject with revulsion the idea that a US President could rape any women he wanted, yet they accept with equanimity that he may murder any person he wishes. They have become disoriented children waiting on their daddy figure hoping, as always, that he won't be too violent or find fault in their behavior. Reason and sanity may have left the building for most people, but not for me. Bush is a vicious, criminal shit and Blair and Howard are straight out war criminals. There should be no comfortable old age for these bastards. Hopefully your words are reaching more people, Len.

Unknown said...

Damien, thanks for the links. I highly recommend them.

My position with regard to the powers conceded to Bush by Congress is simply this: Congress does NOT have the authority to pass any such act. The powers of Congress, President and the courts are prescribed by the Constitution which alone has the power to write "job descriptions" for the three branches. The "job descriptions" of the executive, legislative and judicial branches are rather finely drawn in our national charter and cannot be changed by a mere statute, resolution or any other vote of Congress.

The War on Terrorism, therefore, is not merely unlawful under international treaties and conventions --it's unconstitutional!

I would also make the case that any law passed by Congress based upon deliberate fraud is suspect, though that case is a bit harder to make. After all, everyone who wants a law passed "lies" to Congress. The lobbies may be crooked, but, alas, they are not YET unconstitutional.

Congress, however, is remiss in its failure to challenge Bush on his interpretation of the Constitutiuon and points of law. Congress rolled over and took it but it was the people who got fucked!

Nothing will change, however, as long as the people sheepishly put up with Bush and his tyranny. Things may change when the dollar collapses. But the odds are always against a "people's revolution". Millions of impoverished people --angry, hungry, and ill-equipped --makes a poor revolution. Tiananmen Square is an object lesson.

Techniques espoused by Alinsky, Ghandi, Thoreau are the people's only hope at present. We are, however, at a point described by Che Guevarra in General Principles of Guerrilla Warfare: "People must see clearly the futility of maintaining the fight for social goals within the framework of civil debate. When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken."

Thomas Jefferson said as much in our Declaration of Independence: "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Indeed, the "official conspiracy theory" is utter nonsense and the list of the "usual suspects" has grown uncomfortably short for Bush who has proven his criminal nature time and again. Therefore, the "peace is considered already broken". Bush is at war with the people of the United States. What Bush must surely know but will not recognize is that the "people" are sovereign, they are his "boss". The war he wages against them and their Constitution is high treason, aggravating the deaths that have resulted. High treason of this magnitude has always been dealt with historically with the block, noose or firing squad.

TSUMRA said...

"THAT Manure Storm at Leroy's Corral"
Was it really George W we saw in the crowd THAT night holding hands with Larry Craig?

Diane B said...

Len and Damien,

Thank you for another wonderful post, Len, and I agree we can change things or at least try!

Damien, your link was a real education, many thanks.

Nelson said...

All hail Moloch!

What did David Gergen call the Grove again? A gentleman's club?

Anonymous said...

Fifty years ago, the first artificial satellite was launched into space by the
Soviet Union, and an epic space race between the United States and its red foe took off. Twelve short years later, two Americans baby-stepped on the graying dust of the selenium sphere, concluding this race into a loud nationalistic orgy. Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut who climbed down the ladder of The Eagle, solemnly announced to the world after a few steps, "We came in peace for all mankind". But it is indeed the "Stars and Stripes" which the American astronauts left standing on the moon's surface on their way back to Earth, not the United Nation's flag…

It could have been indeed the UN flag: the rocket science that put Sputnik in orbit, Yuri Gagarin above the atmosphere, and these first Americans on the moon was at the time still a creation of the Nazi: In less than seven years, starting from1937, because of the ingenuity of a staunch Nazi rocket scientist, Wernher Von Braun, Rockets went from a few hundreds feet in altitudes to a couple of an hundred miles, with a payload that went from a meager 6 pounds to 350 pounds in 1944; enough weigh of TNT to scare the bee-Jesus out of Londoners.

So good was this wonderful gentleman at his job that he was gracefully excused from sitting inside the box of accused during the Nuremberg trail, and was instead rewarded with American tax-payers' money to work on the United States ballistic missile program, and form then on, directed and mainly engineered the four main rockets of the most glorious American space program: the Atlas, which propelled the Mercury program; the Titan, used on the Gemini program; the Saturn 1B, which carried the first Apollo missions, and the mighty three stages Saturn V which took Americans on the Moon, and later Skylab, our first space station. Simply put, the United States won the race to the moon because Wernher Von Braun visited American military jails instead of a soviet gulag.

However, this purely military endeavor which was the space race would have never been able to be carried out without a lot of tax-money, a near total drafting of the American engineering power and brains, and a lot of budgetary sacrifices. In order to accomplish these goals, the military/industrial complex, much feared by Dwight D. Eisenhower, needed not only to wrap Americans folks in strong nationalism and fear – the atomic Armageddon from the Soviets -, but also into a dream that, if not most of us, all of our children will very soon have a chance to go and explore this new frontier.

Arts of all kind went science-fictional. Houses morphed into futuristic shapes, while cars grew wings. Folks really saw water canals and human faces sculpted within Mars's topography; while some others sworn they were scooped off the surface of Maine or Oregon into flying saucers. Kids lured extra-terrestrials with M&Ms. Then Mikhail Gorbatchev had the temerity of preaching openness to the world and tore down a wall... And the race was all over. And no, the Challenger accident had nothing to do with it.

Today, we are painstakingly trying to finish this International Space Station that most Republican in the Capitol despise because – horror! - it is being build to do science. Even worse… Earth science: last year NASA removed from its old motto, the line "To Understand and Protect Our Home Planet…" in hoping to continue getting funded by the Bush administration that knows that NASA will never be able to reach Mars with the kind of money allowed by a Republican (or lately by Democratic) Congress – but this way, it sure will give more time to oilmen to cash some more profits before the world's Earth scientists get solid data about global warming that would infuriate the populace.

The space shuttle, a technology as old as a Cadillac deVille 1975, is still controlled by a computer, which you would not want to browse Internet with, and the crew gets panic attack before re-entry because of missing tiles, boyfriend problems or too much booze. NASA wants to bring us back to the Moon, but it will do so with a program that resembles so much the Apollo program that many of the components of the next spacecraft have had to be reverse-engineered from an old capsule saved – thank God - by the Smithsonian! Meanwhile, the Chinese are going to space with old Soviet space suits purchased on E.Bay, and the Russians are taxiing American astronauts back from the space station with a 30 years old technology driven capsule. So much for an Odyssey; where the hell is my hotel room on Titan? When I am going to get my jet backpack?

Please God hurry up in depleting these darn oil fields, so I can hope that my children will dream again of reaching new frontiers soon.

Unknown said...

Dante Lee said...

Mikhail Gorbatchev had the temerity of preaching openness to the world and tore down a wall

Gorbachev tore it down but, in keeping with your thesis, Ronald Reagan got the credit, at least in GOPAmerica where the Swastika got draped with a US flag. Under Bush, they have all but dropped the pretense.

Today, we are painstakingly trying to finish this International Space Station that most Republicans in the Capitol despise because – horror! - it is being build to do science.

Goppers hate science because pure science is non-ideological and they haven't figured out how to "buy" it yet.

The space shuttle, a technology as old as a Cadillac deVille 1975, is still controlled by a computer, which you would not want to browse Internet with, and the crew gets panic attack before re-entry because of missing tiles, boyfriend problems or too much booze.

I am reminded of an old TV series that starred Andy Griffith, called "Salvage I". Griffith played a junk yard owner who built a space ship -- the Vulture. He had a dream: to salvage the junk left on the moon by the Apollo moon expeditions. It was brilliant. Earlier, in the comic strips, a descendant of Ratchet Gearloose, Gyro Gearloose, invented a topless hat, a twenty years ahead machine, and a gloom light to darken places.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are going to space with old Soviet space suits purchased on E.Bay, and the Russians are taxiing American astronauts back from the space station with a 30 years old technology driven capsule.

America's old space suits used to be on display at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Or --they were last time I was there. Even then they were looking a big threabare and shabby. They were literally disintegrating.

Please God hurry up in depleting these darn oil fields, so I can hope that my children will dream again of reaching new frontiers soon.

When we've run out of "new frontiers", even GOPPERS may be forced to take Mother Earth's environment more seriously. Glad to see you back, Dante. Don't be a stranger.