1984? Nope. 2014
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Sid Shniad
2014-10-14 22:10:10 UTC
Raw Message
10 October 2014Twenty FourteenThe Orwellian audacity of the
president’s recent oratory is breathtaking. **The U.S. stands with
“freedom”? Really? Washington’s “partners” against ISIS include some of
the most reactionary and authoritarian governments – absolute monarchies –
on the globe.*

*And even Orwell might be chilled to learn that the NYPD used “retina
scanning technology” to document the involvement of Occupy and other
activists in recent civil disobedience actions for climate justice on Wall
Street.By Paul Street*

Oceana in Nineteen Eighty Four? Take a look at the U.S. in Twenty Fourteen.
Behold a vast and powerful nation –the world’ sole Superpower – where
absurdity reigns.

Living in the middle of the United States of America, I sometimes find
myself wondering: is this nation a living version – a mélange perhaps – of
the authoritarian dystopias that various novelists and others have tried to
warn us about in the past? The once futuristic works that come to mind are
Jack London’s *Iron Heel*, George Orwell’s *1984,* Aldous Huxley’s *Brave
New World*, Ray Bradbury’s *Fahrenheit 451*, and Kurt Vonnegut’s *Player

Oceana in *Nineteen Eighty Four*? Take a look at the U.S. in *Twenty
Fourteen*. Behold a vast and powerful nation –the world’ sole Superpower –
where absurdity reigns with shockingly irrelevant transparency, where War
is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength and 2+2=5. A land where
truth is orphaned and nothing matters, where the serial and monumental
crimes of the rich and powerful are thrown down the “memory hole” even as
they occur. History is relentlessly obliterated and manipulated to serve
the needs of the Masters, who know that “*Those who control* the present
*control* the *past**. **Those who control* the *past control* the future.”

The future is now.

It stars at the nominal top. Look at Barack Obama, latest in a long line of
U.S. War Presidents. He is an imperial and ecocidal corporatist, a mass
surveillance agent and advocate, and a technically Black white-supremacist
who was marketed and then elected in the names of peace, democracy, social
(including racial) justice, and environmental healing.

Three weeks ago, Big Brother Obama went on national television to tell the
subject U.S. citizenry about his pre-existing decision to undertake a
deadly new U.S. war in the Middle East. While saying that “we can’t erase
every trace of evil from the world” (Washington’s supposed ultimate goal)
he condemned the Islamic State’s (IS) “killing of innocents” and noted that
the IS “kill[s] children” and engages in “acts of barbarism.” Calling the
IS “a cancer,” he described U.S. missile and bombing strikes in Iraq and
Syria as “American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight
for their own freedom

Last week Obama spoke before the United Nations to “issue
a fervent call to
arms against the Islamic State.” (*New York Times*, 9/25/2014). The only
dialect the Islamic State terrorists and their “network of death”
understand, Kill List Obama told UN delegates, his eyes flashing anger, is
“the language of force.” The brutality of ISIS, Obama added, “forces us to
look into the heart of darkness.” For good measure, Obama warned nuclear
Russia that it “would pay for its bullying of Ukraine” (*New York Times*)
and denounced Moscow for holding “a view of the world where might makes
right.” He also suggested that the U.S. stands in the vanguard of the
global struggle against climate change.

The Orwellian audacity of the president’s recent oratory is breathtaking.
Never mind U.S. client Israel’s recurrent slaughter (with U.S. weapons and
ordnance) of hundreds of Palestinian children in Gaza. Any “heart of
darkness” there?

Never mind that the U.S. bombs housefuls of civilians in pursuit of one
presidentially targeted terrorist, killing dozens in pursuit of a single
enemy. How’s that for “the language of force” and “killing innocents.”

How about the public beheadings routinely carried out for even petty crimes
by “our partner” (in the new Middle Eastern U.S. war on/of terror) Saudi
Arabia, the most reactionary government and society on Earth?

How about the death of more than 500,000 children thanks to U.S.-led
“economic sanctions” during the 1990s? That’s the number of dead Iraqi
minors that CBS’s Leslie Stahl famously asked U.S. Secretary of State
Madeline Albright about in 1996. The Madame Secretary did not bother to
dispute the terrible statistic. She said “we think the price [the giant
juvenile death toll in Iraq] is worth it” – for the advance of inherently
noble U.S. foreign policy goals. How’s that for evil?

“Network of death”? Look at a map of U.S. military bases and forces in the
Middle East and around the world. The U.S. maintains more than 1,000
military installations across more than 120 “sovereign” nations, maintained
by a Pentagon budget that accounts for nearly half the world’s military
spending. U.S. Special Forces under Obama operate in 134 countries.

By some estimates, the U.S. Empire created more than 3 million unnatural
deaths in Iraq alone since what U.S. history texts call “The First Persian
Gulf War” – a one-sided imperial slaughter that culminated in a
mass-homicidal U.S. aerial assault on tens of thousands of surrendered
Iraqi conscripts. Then U.S. President George H W Bush told the world what
lesson to take from the terrible “turkey shoot”: “What We Say Goes.” Talk
about “might makes right”!

The “heart of darkness” arguably finds its top global-arterial pumping
station in the Pentagon, where post-9/11 planners came up years ago with an
interesting term for “collaterally” killed Arab and Muslim victims of U.S.
military operations: “Bug-splat”

Cancer? The U.S. generated an epidemic of child cancers and birth defects
in 2004 when it launched a devastating assault on the Iraqi city
Fallujah. The U.S. Marines used radioactive ordnance, leaving the city
with a toxic legacy worse than Hiroshima.

And never mind that U.S. under Obama as under Bush has done everything it
could to undermine international efforts to impose binding global carbon
emission reductions. Or that the West, led by the U.S., has provoked the
dangerous “new Cold War” crisis in Eastern Europe. It has done so by
violating early pledges that NATO would not expand eastward and by making
bids to recruit new NATO members among former members of the Warsaw Pact
and former provinces of the former Soviet Union.

So what? As the great British playwright Harold Pinter said about the
systematic deletion of U.S. imperial crimes in the reigning Western
intellectual and media cultures: “Nothing ever happened. Even while it was
happening, it never happened
It was of no interest.”

The U.S. mass media isn’t about to blow the whistle on Washington’s
imperial hypocrisy and transgression, that’s for sure. As the brilliant,
left and (therefore) marginalized U.S. political commentator Michael
Parenti noted seven years ago in his book *Contrary Notions*:

“U.S. military undertakings are portrayed [by U.S. ‘mainstream’ media] as
arising from noble if sometimes misplaced intentions. The media’s view of
the world is much the same as the view from the State Department and
 U.S. governmental and corporate leaders talk approvingly of
‘U.S. world leadership,’ ‘American interests,’ ‘national security,’ ‘free
markets,’ and ‘globalization.’ The media transmit these official images
without any noticeable critical comment regarding their actual content

[This] face-value transmission
earn[s] it such scornful nicknames as
‘stenographer for power’ and ‘mouthpiece for officialdom.’”

Already, Syrian rebel commanders have reported dead women and children
being hauled from the rubble of their homes in the wake of U.S. missile
attacks. The U.S.-based *Yahoo News* nonchalantly reports that “The White
House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President
Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes
will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.” (The “strict
standards” are news to those who have lost loved ones to the many hundreds
of drone attacks that Kill List Obama has launched in the Muslim
world. Only a tiny percentage of those strikes’ victims are “high profile
targets.” The rest are civilians, children, and merely alleged

The U.S. stands with “freedom”? Really? Washington’s “partners” against
ISIS include some of the most reactionary and authoritarian governments –
absolute monarchies – on the globe.

What about “the homeland” (a deeply imperial and militaristic term that has
become a regular part of the U.S. political lexicon since 9/11) itself? The
U.S. is an ever more openly oligarchic state where the top hundredth owns
more wealth than the bottom 90 percent and a probably comparable share of
the nation’s “democratically elected” officials. These and other terrible
facts reflect more than three decades of deliberately engineered upward
wealth and income distribution*:* a ruthless state-capitalist concentration
of riches and power that has brought us to a New Gilded Age of abject
plutocracy and the intimately related brink of environmental catastrophe.

Millions of U.S. workers toil for low and ever declining wages and benefits
in virtual “health care slavery” under increasingly ubiquitous employer
surveillance and monitoring. One in seven Americans now rely on local food
banks to survive. Half of those who do are employed.

Millions have been turned into “surplus Americans” by automation and/or the
export of their jobs. Those lucky enough to remain employed commonly report
have zero voice in the nation’s Brave New high-tech workplaces. Their
thoughts and opinions are irrelevant on the job, where they spend the
majority of their waking lives.

A large-scale practitioner of the death penalty, the U.S. quietly holds the
world’s highest rate of incarceration. The planet’s top prison state keeps
as many Black men behind bars today as were U.S. slaves in 1860.

As Matt Taibbi shows in his latest book *Divide*, the U.S. today deploys
two very different systems of “justice”: one for “the untouchably wealthy”
and another, draconian and shockingly intrusive one for “the criminalized
poor.” The criminal justice-wealth gap “allows massively destructive fraud
by the hyperwealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a
crime,” Taibbi notes.

The worst consequences of the nation’s vast repressive and ever more
militarized police-state apparatus fall on the disproportionately nonwhite
poor. But even children of relative privilege feel the iron heel of state
capitalism when they question and confront the nation’s “unelected
dictatorship of money.” (Ask the leading veterans of the Occupy Movement.
Even Orwell might be chilled to learn that the NYPD used “retina scanning
technology” to document the involvement of Occupy and other activists in
recent civil disobedience actions for climate justice on Wall Street.)

None of this can receive serious attention in the reigning
privately/corporate owned U.S. media. As Parenti explained in* Contrary
Notions*, “Many things are reported but few are explained. Little is said
about how the social order is organized and for what purposes
we are left
to see the world as do mainstream pundits, as a scatter of events and
personalities propelled by happenstance, circumstance, passing
expediencies, confused intentions, bungled operations, and individual
ambition –* rarely a world influenced by powerful class interests”(*emphasis

And it isn’t just the “news” and public affairs commentary wing of the
dominant media that performs this dark consent-manufacturing magic on
behalf of concentrated wealth and power. Corporate “entertainment” media
performs much the same function in possibly more powerful ways.

Thought-control American-style operates in a dangerously stealth fashion,
much less visible and overt than cruder, more classically “totalitarian”
variants. In the old Soviet Union, everyone knew that their nation’s
state-based communications system was/is elite-controlled. At the bottom of
each day’s *Pravda *and *Izvestia* (the *New York Times *and *Wall Street
Journal *of the Soviet state), you could see the "daily censors’" initials.
In the U.S., the selective, propagandistic, and power-serving nature of the
so-called mainstream media and the broader ideological system censorship is
cloaked, hiding under the deceptive names of supposedly non-ideological
“objectivity.” As Parenti noted 28 years ago:

"The sinister commandant who tortures Winston in Orwell’s *1984 *lets us
know he is an oppressor. The vision of the future is of a boot pressing
down on a human face, he tells his victim. The ideological control
exercised in the U.S. today is far more insidious. Power is always more
secure when cooptive, covert, and manipulative than when nakedly brutish.
The support elicited through the control of minds is more durable than the
support extracted at the point of a bayonet. The essentially undemocratic
nature of the mainstream media, like the other business-dominated
institutions of society [is]
hidden behind a neutralistic, voluntaristic,
pluralist façade."

All of which raises the critical question of what is to be done – a future
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