Thursday, December 22, 2011

Military Detentions

From: "They Thought They Were Free", a book written in 1955 by an American who interviewed Germans after the war-

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?"

The manipulation of the people has progressed so much since then, and yet, the process remains the same.

We, too, receive news of deliberations made in secret, that we cannot know the details of, because of "national security". We are watching as groups are targeted and demonized by mass propaganda, which is swallowed by the unthinking and the fearful.

And this technique of keeping people busily arguing about trivia while the main problem goes unchallenged is used with great effect.

I first really noticed it after the announced death of Osama Binladen, earlier this year.

The first announcement was so unbelievable that even the most gullible found it hard to swallow. They finally found the man for whom they have been searching for 10 years! But then they killed him and then they threw his body in the ocean. What?!!

I was amazed at how few people believed this the first day, including people I would have thought would believe anything they were told.

But then the flak started. He fought back, he didn't fight back, he hid behind his wife, he didn't, he was asleep, he was awake, he was a coward, he was brave, Obama watched the murder on TV, no he didn't, Pakistan knew he was there, no they were embarrassed because they didn't.

Soon, the media and the people were busily arguing about the details of the supposed mission, and forgot to question the main points. Was it really Osama? If it was, why wasn't he brought back for questioning and a trial? Should the SEALS involved be prosecuted for war crimes, for summary execution?

The new law to codify the illegal practices of the past decade, the indefinite detention of accused people, without evidence, charges or trial, aroused great opposition from Americans.

I had right wingers who usually don't speak to me come up and tell me how outraged they are by this law.

So, Obama threatened to veto the bill, and liberals calmed down. That is, until youtube video started circulating of Carl Levin explaining that the White House had been the ones to insist that Americans be included in the act.

Then they voted on whether to take out the part targeting Americans. It failed. Then they voted to put in language saying that the President didn't have to obey that part of the law if he didn't want to. That passed.

Then Obama delayed signing the Act.

By this time, most people are so confused that no one can organize against the bill, because so many people think that it's no longer a problem.

Mission Accomplished.

As a very interesting part of the theater, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, and General Petraeus and others spoke against the bill. Why?

During the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, I emailed my Egyptian friend (who lives in the US) and asked him what was going on. He replied that he didn't know what was going on in Egypt, but he did know that top Egyptian generals were meeting at the Pentagon.

And then the military refused to shoot the protesters, and gave them rides on the tanks, and the protesters hugged the soldiers, and gave them flowers and proclaimed that they were part of the uprising. How beautiful was that?

And then Mubarek stepped down and the military took over, and victory for the protesters was announced, and they basked in the adulation of the world for their peaceful victory, and the protesters left the plaza, and went home to start living in their new military dictatorship.

Whoops! Now they are being shot down in the plaza by the military instead of the police.

The propaganda continues, however, bizarrely enough. They get Time Person of the Year, and they give advice to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, just as if they actually had won, and were not being shot down. Amazing.

So what was the point of our national "security" apparatchiks testifying against the detention bill?

Was it to make us feel all warm and gooey inside about our principled top members of our repressive apparatus? Gosh, the evil Congress may pass this law, but we can be assured that our military will never enforce it. Our soldiers are the good guys, even when they're kicking down doors of civilians in other countries. So they would never kick down doors in this country. That's up to the civilian SWAT teams. That's how free we are.

More from "They Thought They Were Free" -

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.


David G said...

Great post, Wage Laborer! America is imploding and the pace of it is quickening.

I send you my best wishes for Xmas and hope you can get a break over the Festive Season better to gird your loins for 2012! I don't think it's going to be pretty!

Love and Peace.


wagelaborer said...

Thank you, David, and my best wishes for you in this festive season and the coming new year.

Anonymous said...

Did you read "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson? 80% of the German people went along. Suppose they were lured by the belief that only the intelligent were chosen and then there was no way to wiggle off the hook. Same shit, different assholes as they say.