Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old News: The USA Has Been A Police State Since 1787

Winter Patriot

Last week the FBI raided the homes of anti-war activists in multiple states simultaneously, prompting Paul Craig Roberts to write a searing column called "It Is Official: The US Is A Police State".

I caught excerpts from Roberts and comments on his work from Chris Floyd, in "Domestic Disturbance: FBI Raids Bring the Terror War Home".

I don't disagree with anything Roberts or Floyd wrote about this story, and I would recommend both columns. But neither of these very fine writers approached the idea that struck me hardest when I saw Roberts' headline.

What's new about the USA being a police state? Why is it suddenly official now?

That the USA is a police state has been, if not officially official, then at least totally bloody obvious, for my entire life -- and the same is true of Roberts, and Floyd, and you (dear reader), and your parents, and their parents. For all our lives, we have lived in a police state that calls itself a democracy, and the cover story has been so effective that even some of our leading dissident writers are now just discovering the truth behind it.

Lest we forget: Forty years ago, in the midst of another generation's undeclared, unjustified, unwinnable and unpopular war, unarmed anti-war protesters were gunned down in broad daylight in public, and not one of the shooters who committed the crime was even tried.

In the decade leading up to those shootings, four civic and political leaders, all of whom posed threats to the established order, were also gunned down in public. The victims included a sitting President and a US Senator, yet no justice was ever served for any of these murders.

During the same period, countless civil rights activists and anti-war protesters were viciously assaulted, and some of them were also killed. Sometimes the crimes were committed by "law enforcement officials" themselves; at other times the crimes were committed with the silent approval of "the law".

From the 1930's through the late 1950's, the nation's "law enforcement" officers brutally crushed anyone they could find who had sympathy for communism, socialism, or any other "-ism" that didn't begin with "capital". None of this is secret. None of it is news.

All through our history, Americans whose skin wasn't quite white enough have been hassled, assaulted and ruthlessly murdered, often by the police whose lives depend on the taxes we all pay, and who are supposed to be protecting all of us. Most of the perpetrators of these crimes have never been brought to justice.

This pattern of official injustice -- supported more often than not by the police themselves -- has been going on for as long as you care to look. It runs as deep as American history itself. Though it may be pleasant to forget it, the USA is nation whose history includes -- nay! is a nation that was built upon -- genocide, slavery, lynching, and other forms of public terror, all with the open support of "the authorities".

A careful reading of American history shows that the basic problem here is not the current administration's disregard of the Constitution, nor the disdain for the Constitution shown by previous administrations. As Jerry Fresia points out in "Toward An American Revolution", the problem is the Constitution itself.

The Articles of Confederation, by which the "United States of America" came into being, guaranteed direct democratic representation at the national level, in a government which could be swept from power quite easily when and if the voters of the country were displeased. The most powerful men in the land -- slaveholders, mostly -- found their riches, their status and their privilege in jeopardy, and feared for what they were pleased to call "an excess of democracy".

So they banded together and wrote the Constitution, which set up our current system of "representative" government, under which the President is elected by an Electoral College chosen by the State legislators, rather than directly by the people; under which it takes three election cycles to change the entire Senate; under which countless federal officials -- including every justice on the Supreme Court -- are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, with nary a word from the House of Representatives, which is, at least in theory, the only part of the federal government over which the voters are meant to have any immediate influence.

Then, through a series of incidents that today would be called "terrorist attacks" (as long as they were perpetrated by Muslims), the authors of the Constitution inflamed enough other powerful men to ensure the ratification of the new Constitution -- quite against the wishes of the "common people" of the day -- setting the course which we now travel, and which the best of us (including Chris Floyd and Paul Craig Roberts) rightfully despise.

Rather than guaranteeing direct democratic representation and fair and equal rights to all citizens, the Constitution set up a federal government with the power to put down "insurrections", and a mandate to protect interstate and international "commerce". In our present-day terms, it empowers a deeply entrenched government running a police state at home to support a commercial empire abroad.

Those who support the Constitution, who pine for a return to "Constitutional law", who rail against one administration after another for taking "un-Constitutional actions" and passing "un-Constitutional laws", have a legitimate point. Life in the United States would certainly be better for a very large number of people if the civil rights granted in the Constitution -- limited tough they may be -- were strictly observed.

But we would still have the same problem. The federal government would still be owned by the most powerful men in the country, and would still be geared to putting down "insurrections" at home while supporting a "commercial" empire abroad.

That was the whole point of the Constitution in the first place. This is why we are where we are today. As Chris Floyd pointed out some time ago, "the purpose of a system is what it does". And what our current system does, its purpose, is still congruent with the wishes of the "Founding Fathers".

I fear that, if our leading dissident writers continue to miss this point, the best we could possibly accomplish -- even if we all stood together against the abomination that is our federal government -- would be a reversion to the root cause of our current problems.

And that's not going to be good enough.

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