Sunday, February 17, 2008

On a related note

I figured that the previous post should invite a friendly reminder with regard to whom our government would likely target as "terrorists":

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic “war on terror.” Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to “examine and report upon the facts and causes” of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat it.

A clue as to where Harman’s commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who “engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights” as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters … the list goes on and on. According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of roughly 775,000 “terror suspects” with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

My emphasis added. That nugget came from a column discussing the concentration camps the US has been building for a while. Perhaps you have a better idea of who's likely to end up populating those camps. Why the government would wish to do so is a matter worthy of understanding. The way I understand power, it's safe to say that those who hold positions of power are dependent upon those they lead or rule. As long as the perception that those leaders are legitimate remains intact, things are just fine and dandy. The usual means of persuasion, such as propaganda, are sufficient to maintain the social order. It's when there is a crisis of legitimacy that governments resort more and more to forceful tactics in order to maintain power. By the time their legitimacy has devolved to that point however, it's only a matter of time until the regime topples. What kind of crisis? Hard to say, but one possible hint comes to mind: the last quarter century that has witnessed an increased merger between corporation and state, which has led to a handful of executives looting the treasury, is beginning to squeeze those of us in the lower and middle strata of the socioeconomic ladder harder than ever before; the potential for a lot of formerly middle-class individuals and families to openly revolt has probably crossed the minds of at least a few of the members of the ruling class, hence the contingency plans. A few concentration camps, the occasional death squad, a few high-tech torture gadgets may not prevent the inevitable collapse of the regime, but would nonetheless buy those in the ruling class most guilty of looting to find sanctuary in armed compounds in any of a number of exotic locations once it becomes clear that they need to get out of Dodge.

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