Friday, December 23, 2005

This week in Repression

Tom Tomorrow has a post up about the latest reports of the erosion of civil liberties right here in the US. (Our story so far) He notes the reports about the NSA eavesdropping and the video of the NYPD doing everything short of being agent provocateurs at legal but non-approved protests. And of course there is the ubiquitous video camera.

I envision one day a protest rally where everyone will have a camera. The police of course both undercover and street cops will be taping the rally (That’s how we “take names” these days – check out the stories about the planned expansive use of cameras to videotape every vehicle on the road in the UK). On the other side all the attendees of the rally will have video cameras. Everyone will be video taping everyone else. It reminds me of a Monty Python skit. It was set on a dessert island inhabited only by TV news reporters (all named Bruce). The reporters all walked around interviewing each other. Not a perfect analogy, but apt I think. Ah but I am drifting.

Tom’s point in his post is the readiness with which the apologists and right wing toadies all twist themselves to make excuses for those that are abusing their positions of power. It is really stunning to read law-and-order types just accept the breaking of laws that affect national security (e.g. the Plame outing) and rights to privacy (e.g. the NSA eavesdropping). And it is done with such touching innocence.

These apologists believe that those in power are going after the bad guys and by definition because they support those in power, the apologists can’t possibly be bad guys.

Pretty sloppy thinking when you think how repression has worked throughout history. There is of course the French Revolution where the right thinkers heads literally rolled. And there is the Soviet Union which went from Bolshevik Revolution to Stalinist repression in less that a decade – taking with it many of the “fathers” of the Soviet Union.

But there they are apologizing away despite five years of evidence that the churlish bunch of thugs in power will think nothing of snuffing out anyone that isn’t loyal enough. Think: Secretary of Treasury Snow, Pre-911 Security Czar Richard Clark. And of course there is the previously noted Plame affair. Imagine what they would do with Rush if he ever went off the reservation.

As eventually he will. It is too bad that those on the right have made a fetish of disbelieving evolution. That leaves them with nothing but a theory of stasis. Things won’t change. A permanent right wing majority in this country will always look just like it does in 2005. But things change. And usually when left to their own devices things do not change for the better. Repression begets more repression. Why?

We see it in the genius of George Bush. He has waged a war of attrition against his political foes. The battle is won by whoever is standing last. We see it in the near yawns that the punditiocy has greeted the news of the “extra-legal” (so much nicer than the nasty sounding “illegal”, no?) NSA eavesdropping. We see it in former star-reporter-cum-just-plain-star Bob Woodward dismissing the Plame investigation.

In a real Constitutional democracy built on checks and balances either of these would be enough to get the president and maybe even his vice-president hauled before the Senate for trial after impeachment by the House. But Bush has reasoned (and when I say “Bush” I mean the collective Bush – that makes using “Bush” and “Reasoned” in the same sentence not so odd a construct) that by putting out enough chaff he can defeat the Constitutions defenses.

And so far he is right.

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