Summary: Exactly one year ago Glenn Greenwald published the first of Snowden’s revelations. Two days later I forecast that our response to these momentous disclosures would be nothing. That our passivity would mark the birthday of the New America, and the death of the Second Republic (under the Constitution). Today I add this to the successful predictions page. It’s reposted below, as worth reading today as then (more so now, since we know so much more about the government’s activities than we did a year ag0)
As I said then: Our children are the victims. Powerful elites are the agents. We are the cause. This is now obvious to any who choose to see. 4 July 1776 was the birthday of the America-that-once-was, start of the successful revolution. 5 July 2913 was the birthday of the New America, start of the failed first reform movement!
—– Reposted from 5 July 2013, birthday of our New America —–
This week we learned more about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Do not see this as an event, but as a step in a process. Slowly we are broken to accept a harness designed by our ruling elites, administered by their agents in the government. Slowly since WWII, more quickly since 9-11, the government has extended its supervision over us. Not to control our daily acts — as in 1984 (the 1% doesn’t care what the proles do after work) — but to limit our political activities. Limit our ability to run the Republic.
The changes come slowly. It’s not like a frog being boiled, because frogs are smart and jump out of the pot. More like bondage porn, where a sub slowly surrenders to domination by the will of another. We are surrendering responsibility, the burden of self-government.
We cannot admit the harsh truth, and so take comfort in lies, myths, and amnesia.
We hope this will save us from the shadowy threat of jihadists – who one day over a decade ago killed a fraction of those who die each year in traffic accidents, or suicide by guns, or from other causes we cannot bother to address because we spend so much on security (internal and external, formerly known as police and defense). We give up so much in fear of an organization which probably no longer exists in significant form, bequeathing their name to nationalistic movements who fight us because we go to their lands and fight them.
We yield to the government because we believe that they — and our ruling elites — are too strong. We let the democratic machinery of the Republic lie unused because we believe that resistance is futile.
In fact we yield because it is easier for us. More comfortable.
What about all the bold noise in the newspapers, on the internet?
Yes, we boldly write and speak. As we boldly protested when we learned of the previous set of outrages. And the ones before that. As we will for the next one. And the next one.
We take comfort from the DC courtiers who tell us that the government is good and wise. That Congress has our back, and the Court approves every surveillance request because that’s the right thing to do. Our rulers talk about safety with slick, soothing, well-paid voices. The result: polls show little concern for our eroding rights.
Ask yourself when you will feel that this trend has gone on so far that you will work to change it? What is the red line for you, beyond which you will spend money, time, and personal credibility to join a movement to change it? Risking your “life, fortune, and sacred honor.”
Write it down. Let’s talk again when we reach that point. For whatever your red line, I believe that we will cross it. The momentum has grown too great. We have proven ourselves too spineless, so that the growth of the government’s power will accelerate from here.
The next phase will begin when a leader comes along to take our reins. Then history will take a new turn. The security services (formerly known as “law enforcement”) are ready for the call to action. The forms of the Constitution will remain for several generations, as it did for the Roman Republic. Our leader will be called “President”; we will have a Congress. Life will go on for the United States, but we will have become a different people.
I fear the boomers have made their mark on America. Our parents were the greatest generation, and we are the worst. A future generation must build the Third Republic.
Who can we count on?
Not attorneys; most work for the large corporations and the government.
Not Judges, who will reliably (not always) support the corporations and government.
Not law enforcement agencies (now best called security police), oppressive agents of the government (as they have been during most of American history).
Not the mainstream news media, who will occasionally meow — but when it counts support the government (e.g., echoing government propaganda about our wars, slander of dissidents like Manning and Assange).
We will have to find each other, and build from there. People seeking reform will be strangers in an increasingly strange land (an inversion of Exodus 2:22).
Always in motion is the future
These are guesses about large scale political movements beyond our ability to see — let alone predict. Yet I’ve made quite a few big forecasts, with a good record. So far my predictions about the decay of the Republic have been accurate — but too optimistic.
God help us if that’s true with this one.
For More Information about the surveillance state
See the original of this post for a wealth of links to analysis of the revelations about the NSA.
For a summary written now: “Snowden: Year One“, Julian Sanchez, Cato Unbound, 5 June 2014
A possible change: “Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies“, New York Times, 6 June 2014 — But it’s too soon for applause.
What can we do? See Reforming America: steps to political change.
Posts about the revelation of the security state:
- The NSA news might be a birthday for the New America!, 7 June 2013
- The Empire Strikes Back: The Demonization of Snowden Begins, 15 June 2013
- America’s courtiers rush to defend the government – from us, 22 June 2013
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government, 24 June 2013 — About civil disobedience
- Will a wave of leakers undercut America’s national security?, 8 July 2013
- The government strikes again, but finds yet another American willing to fight. Applause is not enough!, 9 August 2013
- “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”, 21 August 2013
- Scoring the game so far: NSA is winning, we’re losing, 23 August 2013
About America, pretty much all you need to know to see our future:
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic
- Loki helps us to see our true selves
- The several versions of the American Republic: our past, present, & future
- There is no problem with America’s political system, or the Republic
- A nation lit only by propaganda
Somewhere in our future lies the Third Republic
(a) America today
(b) Somewhere in our future awaits the Third Republic
10 thoughts on “Celebrate what happened one year ago. It’s the birthday of a New America!”
The picture that you paint of America is dark, but when people voice fears for American security with the release of five Taliban prisoners, you are most likely correct.
Churchill said of the English speaking people, including us, back in 1941: “We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”
What we have become is far worse than sugar candy.
Yes. It seems every day brings more stories of conservative madness, famed for political advantage by their leaders.
Future posts will explore if the flames they have ignited will spread in range and intensity, and if so with what effects.
I found these posts yesterday and found them interesting. I found them very good food for thought…and action frankly. Maybe I am just a little strange.
“Everything Is Broken“, Quinn Norton, Medium, 20 May 2014
Closing speech by Maciej Cegłowski at the “Beyond Tellerrand” Web Developers conference in Düsseldorf, Germany, 20 May 2014
I strongly recommend that everybody read both of those articles! I tweeted both out, and consider them among the most provocative things I’ve read in a long time.
Thanks for posting them.
“The next phase will begin when a leader comes along to take our reins. Then history will take a new turn.”
Of course it’s all speculation at this point, but it still seems like a good exercise to imagine specifically how this might unfold. Will our new leader come from the wealthy? From the halls of politicians? From the ranks of the military? That last one seems most likely to me.
Let’s say some ambitious General fancies himself a ruler, and simply arrests the President for “crimes against the people” or whatever.
Given some of the aggressive hostility I often hear directed against President Obama, I think there is a large fraction of the nation, maybe as much as a third, who would actually consider this to be a good thing. Another third probably wouldn’t care as long as it didn’t affect them personally, and the last third might be too afraid of reprisal to take any drastic opposing action. Same divisions would likely apply to members of Congress, and for the same reasons.
Said new ruler would then go about remaking America according to his own vision or lack thereof.
But here’s the ironic part – if this situation actually does come to pass, it could turn out to be a very bad development for the 1% who orchestrated its beginnings. Maybe this new ruler would be quite receptive to their bribes, or maybe he would seize and redistribute their wealth, or maybe he would have them executed. Those scenarios all have precedent in the history of government takeovers.
All interesting points!
I think we can state the situation a bit more clearly.
(1) People don’t come to power without support of a large part of the nation’s power structure. Usually some sort of coalition. This might include a “new class” of people not getting their due in the existing division of the pie. It might just be a representative or agent of the 1% taking power, brushing away the pretense that the 99% have a say.
(3) Your observation about the 3 factions, each 1/3 of America, is quite apt — as it describes the situation at the Founding. Roughly 1/3 were “patriots” (supporting independence), 1/3 were loyalists, 1/3 were neutral/didn’t care. Perhaps it’s always very roughly the same.
(4) Whoever the new ruler is, looking out at America shows that he (or she) will have no difficulty recruiting a security police — often called a secret state police (in German Geheime Staatspolizei, which has a catchy abbreviation you all know well).
(2) The actual events cannot be predicted because they are path-dependent, and so result from a host of events and decisions and fate.
Judging by the symbolism in their institutions and culture, the Europeans and North Americans -especially of the USA-, see themselves as the inheritors of the Greeks and Romans. Therefore it may be wise to learn from your ancestors.
This is an assessment of one of the disciples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the (at that time Byzantine) Romans.
Sahih Muslim 2898 a
Mustaurid al-Qurashi reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:
The Last Hour would come (when) the Romans would form a majority amongst people.
‘Amr said to him (Mustaurid Qurashi): See what you are saying?
He said: I say what I heard from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him).
Thereupon he said: If you say that, it is a fact for they have four qualities.
They have the patience to undergo a trial and immediately restore themselves to sanity after trouble and attack again after flight. They (have the quality) of being good to the destitute and the orphans, to the weak and, fifthly, the good quality in them is that they put resistance against the oppression of kings.
Hadith 6926 after that is similar.
The explanation below (except for point 5) is from the explanation on Islamweb.
1. ‘they are the most able to cope with tribulation’
it means that they are the wisest and most aware
in dealing with tribulation in a careful manner
so that they will come out of it peacefully
2. ‘the quickest to recover after a disaster’
it means that they are quick to restore themselves
to sanity after a disaster so they neither
surrender to it nor do they become weak because of it
3. ‘the quickest to attack again after flight’
it means that they are the fastest people
to engage in war and attack again if ever
it happened that they fled from their enemy
in some cases
4. ‘the best as far as treating the poor,
the orphans and the weak is concerned’
it means that they are the best people
to treat the destitute, the orphans
and the weak people, and to protect their
interest and care for their own affairs
5. ‘they put resistance against the oppression of kings’
it means that they do not only disobey
to follow oppression,
but also actively resist to remove it
By the way it is debated what ‘Romans’ specifically refers to in a modern context. Roman institutional forms/way of life or European ethnicity.
There is also a Chapter in the Al-Qur’an named “Ar-Rum”, The Romans.
A lot of the issues FM describes are dealt with in there, similar like how previous nations struggled with them. But deeper texts, require much more reflection. Or else you cannot gain anything from them.
Thank you for posting this. America has grown by learning from other cultures, and that becomes even more important as we begin the adventure if the 21st Century.
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