Now we know the truth about the tyrant who needs an enemy, what the iron curtain and the secret state mean
“When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.”
Although some three millennia have passed since the great Greek philosopher Plato uttered these words, they have not lost their validity with time. The Edward Snowden revelations which have embarrassed the Barack Obama administration only underscore Plato’s warning. The Snowden bombshell that the government was monitoring phone calls and email communications of the citizens has blasted the myth that the government exists for the people. The reality is that the people are made pawns by the government which serves the capitalist class on the pretext that of fighting the enemy.
To understand the dirty game the so-called freest country on Earth plays, going back to the days of the Cold War will be useful.
Some 22 years ago, the United States emerged as the world’s sole superpower after it scored an emphatic victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War that had virtually divided the countries of the world into two political blocs. During the Cold war that existed from the end of World War II up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States got involved in major wars in the Korean peninsula and in Vietnam, proxy wars in Asia, Africa and Latin America, launched attacks on scores of countries and staged military coups in nations that did not toe its line.
President after President in the United States misled the American people by showing the Soviet bogey so that Big Business, the true rulers of the nation, could continue their plunder. They told the people that Communism was an evil that should be contained. Containment was the name of a policy which President Harry Truman declared in 1947 to check the spread of Communism, a popular ideology in the immediate post-war period in many newly independent countries and countries that were struggling to free themselves from the yoke of colonialism.
Claiming that the evils of communism were a threat to the democratic freedom of the United States and the Free World, successive US administrations spread the tentacles of capitalism. They told the people of the West that the Communist Soviet Union was an evil state that controlled the private lives and even the thoughts of its people.
Although the Soviet Union and other Communist countries gave or tried to give their citizens equal social and economic rights, such positive aspects were not shown to the Western people who were brainwashed by their leaders, the media and the film industry. They were told there was an iron curtain that prevented the rest of the world from knowing the horrors taking place in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. But in reality, it was the Western leaders who kept their people behind a smokescreen with their highly exaggerated propaganda.
Because of this smokescreen, the people did not and could not see that Communism – at least in theory -- promoted social and economic justice and community welfare. True, the type of communism practised in the Soviet Union, especially during the Stalin era, was far from Marxist-Leninism and eventually caused the collapse of the Communist State. But in hindsight, the so-called Godless Communism appears to have been a much better system than capitalism -- which makes even God a commodity and worships money. If they say Communism was evil, then the so-called free world is also as evil, if not more so. Didn’t the European powers in the 17-20th century justify colonialism on the basis that the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America were uncivilized?
Many a war crime the colonisers committed has gone unpunished. The 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritstar, India saw British troops mowing down more than one thousand Indians within ten minutes for agitating for freedom. The massacre of the Native Americans by the invading Europeans was another matter that has been wiped out from the memory of the people of the so-called Free World.
In recent times, the crimes committed by the armed forces of the US and Britain, the neocolonialists, on the people of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have failed to touch the conscience of the people in the so-called Free World. This is because the leaders of the so-called Free World have succeeded in painting a grisly picture of the enemy.
Yes, the tyrant needs an enemy -- just as Plato said -- to dupe the people and keep the people with him. In the so-called Free World, the tyrants wear a democracy garb. With the Cold War enemy defeated, the so-called Free World needed a new enemy. The Islamic terrorist was created. He had been a friend and freedom fighter for the Free World during the Cold War period, especially during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.
Imagine a world without an enemy for the US. Such a situation would expose the evils of capitalism and the collusion of the Western leaders. By diverting the people’s attention towards the Islamic terrorist – the new bogey – the capitalist free world manages to cover up its sins which have caused monstrous inequalities in society, allowed exploitation and led to the plunder of the people’s wealth and the world’s resources. To preclude protests like Occupy Wall Street on mega scales and to ensure capitalism’s survival, the so-called Free World needs the enemy.
Today capitalism or huge transnational corporations are bigger than the State. They run the government and decide who will do what job in the government. The government is not for the people, but people are for the government, which largely serves the interests of the capitalist class.
The Snowden affair has exposed the link between the security of the State and the interests of Big Business. Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com and regular columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, exposes this link in an article he wrote in the wake of the Snowden bombshell.
He says Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., the company which has got the contract to collect and store the details of the people’s phone calls and email exchanges in the government’s immense database, is a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group. Scheer quotes Oscar-award winning film director Michael Moore as warning that the Carlye Group was Big Brother and says that this US$ 176 billion private equity firm once employed former President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State James A. Baker and a host of political luminaries, including several Democrats in top positions.
Scheer says: “Our data is their commerce, and ever since 9/11, observing us has become mega lucrative.”
The New York Times reported that Booz Allen Hamilton had become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States. Some 98 per cent of the firm’s revenue of $5.8 billion last year came from the taxpayers, the same people being spied upon, according to Scheer.
The Snowden expose shows there is hardly a difference between the US and Oceania, the State in George Orwell’s 1984. Every American is a Winston Smith, Orwell’s hero, who could not escape the State’s watchful eye symbolised by the leader -- “Big Brother”.
In the movie version of 1984, Smith asks Julia, his lover, whether the resistance which they belong to was true. She answers in the negative. Should not the Americans ask themselves whether the war on terror was true or whether Osama bin Laden was true? Or at least, should not they be like Snowden, who said he exposed the secret to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”? Should not the American people, like Snowden, also be disgusted with the administration, for it has drifted away from the values that once made the United States a proud nation?
“I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American,” Snowden, who cherished the real American dream and values, told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday. He is a hero like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are.
But sadly, the American dream which once meant noble principles such as freedom, fair trial, transparency and good governance today refers to material things such as a posh house or a Porsche.
Lost in the rat race of material pursuit, a majority of the Americans said nothing when the George W. Bush administration curtailed their freedom by enacting the draconian Patriot Act in the name of fighting the war on terror.
Even after whistleblower Snowden’s revelations, there is no major agitation in the US. Only a few turned up for protests though a petition seeking pardon for Snowden has already got more than 50,000 signatures. Instead of the pardon, what is necessary is action to protect privacy and stop the government’s surveillance of the people.
The protest must also come from other countries, because according to Snowden, who is now in Hong Kong fighting any move by the US to have him extradited, the US has hacked into the email systems of China and other nations. He charged that the firm he was working for had carried out 61,000 hacking operations globally for the US National Security Agency. Reports said the NSA and the FBI had allegedly tapped into the servers of nine internet companies, allowing agents to examine emails, photos and other documents under the highly classified programme known as PRISM.
It appears the chickens have come home to roost when the very words with which the United States once ridiculed the Soviet Union have come back to haunt it. Today the words “iron curtain” and the sobriquet “the Secret State” fit the United States like the proverbial hat.