The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

Published on Global Research.ca, by James Petras and Robin Eastman Abaya, July 25, 2012.

Introduction:

One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state.  Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state … //

… The Concentric Circles of the Police State:

  • While the potential reach of the police state agencies covers the entire US population, in fact, it operates on the basis of ‘concentric circles’.  The police state is perceived and experienced by the US population according to the degree of their involvement in critical opposition to state policies.  While the police state theoretically affects ‘everyone’, in practice it operates through a series of concentric circles. The ‘inner core’, of approximately several million citizens, is the sector of the population experiencing the brunt of the police state persecution.  They include the most critical, active citizens, especially those identified by the police state as sharing religious and ethnic identities with  declared foreign enemies, critics or alleged ‘terrorists’.  These include immigrants and citizens of Arab, Persian, Pakistani, Afghan and Somali descent, as well as American converts to Islam.
  • Ethnic and religious “profiling” is rife in all transport centers (airports, bus and train stations and on the highways).  Mosques, Islamic charities and foundations are under constant surveillance and subject to raids, entrapment, arrests, and even Israeli-style ‘targeted’ assassinations.
  • The second core group, targeted by the police state, includes  African Americans, Hispanics and immigration rights activists (numbering in the millions).  They are subject to massive arbitrary sweeps, round-ups and unlimited detention without trial as well as mass indiscriminate deportations.
  • After the ‘core groups’ is the ‘inner circle’ which includes millions of US citizens and residents, who have written or spoken critically of US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, expressed solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people, opposed US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or have visited countries or regions opposed to US empire building (Venezuela, Iran, South Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, etc.).  Hundreds of thousands of these citizens have their telephone, e-mail and internet communications under surveillance; they have been targeted in airports, denied passports, subject to ‘visits’ and to covert and overt blacklisting at their schools and workplaces.
  • Activists engaged in civil liberties groups, lawyers, and professionals, leftists engaged in anti-Imperialist, pro-democracy and anti-police state activities and their publications are on ‘file’ in the massive police state labyrinth of data collecting on ‘political terrorists’.  Environmental movements and their activists have been treated as potential terrorists – with their own family members subjected to police harassment and ominous ‘visits’.
  • The  ‘outer circle’ includes, community, civic, religious and trade union leaders and activists who, in the course of their activity interact with or even express support for core and inner circle critics and victims of police state violations of due process . The ‘outer circle’ numbering a few million citizens are ‘on file’ as ‘persons of interest’, which may involve monitoring their e-mail and periodic ‘checks’ on their petition signing and defense appeals.
  • These ‘three circles’ are the central targets of the police state, numbering upward of 40 million US citizens and immigrants – who have not committed any crime.  For having exercised their constitutional rights, they have been subjected to various degrees of police state repression and harassment.
  • The police state, however, has ‘fluid boundaries’ about whom to spy on, whom to arrest and when – depending on whatever arouses the apparatchiks ‘suspicion’ or desire to exercise power or please their superiors at any given moment.
  • The key to the police state operations of the US in the 21st century is to repress pro-democracy citizens and pre-empt any mass movement without undermining the electoral system, which provides political theater and legitimacy.  A police state ‘boundary’ is constructed to ensure that citizens will have little option but to vote for the two pro-police state parties, legislatures and executives without reference to the conduct, conditions and demands of the core, inner and outer circle of victims, critics and activists.  Frequent raids, harsh public ‘exemplary’ punishment and mass media stigmatization transmit a message to the passive mass of voters and non-voters that the victims of repression ‘must have been doing something wrong’ or else they would not be under police state repression.
  • The key to the police state strategy is to not allow its critics to gain a mass base, popular legitimacy or public acceptance.  The state and the media constantly drum the message that the activists’ ‘causes’ are not our (American, patriotic) ‘causes’; that ‘their’ pro-democracy activities impede ‘our’ electoral activities; their lives, wisdom and experiences do not touch our workplaces, neighborhoods, sports, religious and civic associations.  To the degree that the police-state has ‘fenced in’ the inner circles of the pro-democracy activists, they have attained a free hand and uncontested reach in deepening and extending the boundaries of the authoritarian state.  To the degree that the police state rationale or presence has penetrated the consciousness of the mass of the US population, it has created a mighty barrier to the linking of private discontent with public action.

Hypothesis on Mass Complicity and Acquiescence with the Police State: … //

… Conclusion:  What is to be done?

  • The ascendancy of the police state has benefited enormously from the phony bi-partisan de-politicization of repressive legislation, and the fragmentation of socio-economic struggles from democratic dissent. The mass anti-war movements of the early 1990’s and 2001-2003 were undermined (sold-out) by the defection of its leaders to the Democratic Party machine and its electoral agenda.  The massive popular immigration movement was taken over by Mexican-American political opportunists from the Democratic Party and decimated while the same Democratic Party, under President Barack Obama, has escalated police state repression against immigrants, expelling millions of Latino immigrant workers and their families.
  • Historical experience teaches us that a successful struggle against an emerging police state depends on the linking of the socio-economic struggles that engage the attention of the masses of citizens with the pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty, ‘free speech’ movements of the middle classes. The deepening economic crisis, the savage cuts in living standards and working conditions and the fight to save ‘sacred’ social programs (like Social Security and Medicare) have to be tied in with the expansion of the police state.  A mass social justice movement, which brings together thousands of anti-Wall Streeters, millions of pro-Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will inevitably clash with the bloated police-state apparatus.  Freedom is essential to the struggle for social justice and the mass struggle for social justice is the only basis for rolling back the police state.  The hope is that mass economic pain will ignite mass activity, which, in turn, will make people aware of the dangerous growth of the police state.  A mass understanding of this link will be essential to any advance in the movement for democracy and people’s welfare at home and peace abroad.

(full text).

Links:

Migrants from Europe bringing girls to tolerant Britain for genital mutilation, on Savoir ou se faire avoir, le 25 juillet 2012: Young girls are being sent to Britain for the abusive removal of their genitalia by migrant families across Europe because the country is regarded as a soft touch on the ritual, an investigation has found. The UK has a reputation for being so tolerant of female genital mutilation (FGM) that parents from some African communities in mainland Europe are bringing their daughters to Britain solely to have them cut – sometimes during group sessions – BBC’s Newsnight discovered. While the penalties are tough in France – more than 100 people have been convicted there, serving prison sentences of up to 13 years – Britain has never carried out a single prosecution for FGM …

on en.wikipedia: On this day, published on main page of en.wikipedia, August 01:
1834 – The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into force, officially abolishing slavery in most of the British Empire

Comments are closed.