Tuesday, March 27, 2012

selling war from 1917 to 2012...,

aljazeera | One day in 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson sat in his office scratching his head. He faced a dilemma. The war in Europe was very good for American business, but he needed to persuade the American public that entering the war was good for democracy.

The problem was that Americans were deeply sceptical of capitalism, far more than today. As John Reed wrote in "Whose War?", an essay that ran in the socialist magazine The Masses: "The rich has [sic] steadily become richer, and the cost of living higher, and the workers proportionally poorer. These toilers don't want war... But the speculators, the employers, the plutocracy - they want it... With lies and sophistries, they will whip up our blood until we are savage - and then we'll fight and die for them."

Reed wasn't on the fringe. Six weeks after Congress officially declared war, enlistment totalled over 70,000 recruits. The military needed a million men. Something needed to be done, but initiating a draft alone would only incite rioting in the streets.

So Wilson launched an enormous propaganda campaign to turn public opinion around. He sent 75,000 speakers into communities around the country to deliver 750,000 speeches in favour of war. For the unmoved, Congress passed the Espionage Act, which criminalised criticising the government during wartime.

Americans often ascribe to economcis effects that are in fact caused by politics. Before the Espionage Act, for instance, there were hundreds of radical newspapers, many of them socialist or communist - or just sympathetic to the plight of workers. After the war, most disappeared. That wasn't the result of market forces. The US government went to great pains at great expense to persuade Americans to embrace an approved ideology while it silenced dissidents with old-fashioned censorship. The Masses, along with 70 other radical publications, went out of business, because the US Post Office wouldn't deliver it.

Yet they were the lucky ones.

'A turnkey totalitarian state'

The Wilson era saw 2,000 prosecutions under the Espionage Act. One was Eugene V Debs, the union organiser. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving a speech, lambasting the draft for World War I. Today, the Obama administration hopes to convict Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking documents to WikiLeaks, including a video of an American helicopter gunning down Iraqi children.

The War on Terror has inspired new laws and new ways to decimate civil liberties. The US Department of Justice recently rationalised the killing of Americans abroad. Attorney General Eric Holder twisted himself into knots trying to separate due process from judicial process. The difference apparently means that it was okay to murder an American working for al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Worse is our spying on everyone, including Americans. The National Security Agency (NSA) is building a huge complex in Utah to house server farms that can handle yottabytes of data (a yottabyte equals one septillion bytes, or one quadrillion gigabytes). According to James Bamford, the NSA wants to eavesdrop without needing court orders. As one source said, we are becoming "a turnkey totalitarian state".

If the NSA is collecting information on everybody, who does it consider an enemy of the state? "Terrorists" is one answer, but how do you define "terrorist"? Are terrorists also political extremists? Fist tap Arnach.


Big Don said...

What the heck is that image above (frequently appears in Subrealism posts) - the flower-looking thingie with a screaming  face in it surrounded by a blue ring and other assorted ornateness...???  Where did that originally come from?

Dale Asberry said...


Look again Donnie... that face is the epitome of calm. What physiological feature does the face surrounded by the blue ring and other assorted ornateness resemble? They usually come in pairs and when depicted as only one something much holier.

CNu said...

lol at "screaming face"



your world is a very dark and scary little place...,

Big Don said...

Looks like some kind of Michael Jackson "Image Reassignment" that went awry...

arnach said...

Interesting misdirection, BD, or am I making the mistake of attributing agency to simple ignorance?  You comment only on a minor detail of the appearance (oft repeated as you note), but have nothing to say on the content of the post.  Is this intentional?

You claim to have been a practicing engineer, and yet appear to be unable to put two together with two to get four, while at the same time failing to note that the meat of today's matters number in the trillions, metaphorically speaking.  Seems typical of the misdirection ploy so often played by your type these days:  Why worry about the loss of the environment or personal freedoms to unbridled greed when something crazy is up with the Kardashians?

John Kurman said...

The Espionage Act is still on the books. 

Dale Asberry said...

This has nothing to do with anything of a "black" nature, put that out of your mind. Also, look at it from a 'forest' perspective rather than a bunch of weird trees perspective. A shape will appear. What is that shape, and, in western art, what does the shape represent?

Big Don said...

Perhaps a Kansas City French Tickler...??

Dale Asberry said...

I'm giving you an opportunity to put that great intellect of yours to use and to learn something new.

Temple3 said...

And to think, the Fed was a wittle bitty baby at the time. 

CNu said...

The warsocialism bidnis gives a hungry central bank "something to grow on"!