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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/24/13

Fossil Fuels + Security State = Perfect Fascist Storm

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(Article changed on July 24, 2013 at 18:54)

In several previous OEN articles, I've expressed my conviction that we need a nonpartisan mass movement like Occupy to fight the corrupt corporate-owned Democrat-Republican duopoly now strangling our democracy. I've also stressed that this movement--unlike Occupy--needs to make demands reinforced by an electoral strategy that members of the nonpartisan movement can apply whatever their own political bent. From http://www.flickr.com/photos/15528381@N02/8839702078/: Desfile 2013 Imperial .Storm. Troopers
Desfile 2013 Imperial .Storm. Troopers by xornalcerto

Desfile 2013 Imperial .Storm. Troopers by xornalcerto

The strategy I have in mind is simple, but with two parts. The first is to pledge always to vote AGAINST the corporate-vetted mainstream candidates put forward by Democrats and Republicans. The second is always to vote FOR grassroots candidates not backed by corporate donors--though the movement can sanction allowable exceptions. Among them might be, for example, mainstream incumbents like Liz Warren, who have demonstrably placed the common good above corporate interests.

In a deliberately nonpartisan mass movement, however, still another question inevitably arises. What demands can the movement make that will unite people all across the political spectrum? One core demand for achieving that purpose--to eliminate the undue influence of money in politics--seems to be a no-brainer. Over two-thirds of Americans already support a Constitutional amendment to reverse the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. For the sheer sake of unity, there are compelling arguments to base a mass people's movement on the single issue of purging the malign influence of Big Money from American politics. I would in fact warmly support such a single-issue movement, if unity on a (sightly) wider range of issues weren't possible.

But, for freedom's sake, I urgently advocate a slightly wider range of closely related demands--what I like to call a "coherent small platform." As my preferred name for such a mass movement, "Democracy Unchained," strongly implies, America has at this point all but lost its democracy. Former President Jimmy Carter has just added his highly respected mainstream voice to the growing, and ALREADY quite respectable, chorus expressing that view, which includes Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners and top Constitutional law professors. So, before accepting a single-issue movement for the sake of unity alone, I would urge a mass movement that is focused on reining in two Big Money corporatist powers that pose a toxic threat to what is left of American democracy. I refer to the global fossil-fuel industry and the U.S. security and surveillance state. Acting in concert, they constitute a virtual "perfect storm" for producing an enduring fascist state.

In an OEN article titled "WARNING: Why Fossil Fuels Are Necessarily Fascist Fuels," I've already made the case why today's extreme fossil fuel extraction is extremely hurtful to the populations exposed to it. It is, in fact, so deadly a contributor to climate change that, as public awareness of that fact grows, existing rights to engage in extreme extraction practices will have to be enforced by ever more fascistic measures. Indeed, as Josh Fox points out in his must-see film Gasland 2, the real novelty of  modern fossil-fuel extraction is that the cruelty associated with colonial resource extraction is now being visited on large numbers of U.S. citizens. And poll numbers bear Fox out--in a way that ought to make page-one headlines. For example, a majority of Pennsylvanians now want a moratorium on fracking, a method of extreme gas extraction not long ago widely touted as Pennsylvania's pathway to cheaper, cleaner energy and a veritable economic Second Coming.

What makes this sea change in Pennsylvania's public opinion truly remarkable is that the fracking industry enjoyed a gargantuan propaganda advantage over anti-gas activists, grounded in a far timelier, and painstaking, seizure of the political ground. Long before we had a clue as to what was hitting us, the gas industry had twisted political arms with big-dollar "torque," launched mega-million dollar ad and PR campaigns, corrupted media and academia with puppet-stringed loot, deceived rural leasers into often unconscionable contracts, retained local lawyers to keep them from representing drilling's soon-to-be victims, and endowed charities and schools with "educational" Terry the Friendly Frackosaurus coloring books, which not only fostered goodwill but served to "frack" suggestible children's minds.

Yet, despite this sweeping campaign of conquest, and now over five years into the fracking experiment, Pennsylvania remains a dismal 33rd among U.S. states in employment, and the majority of her citizens support a drilling moratorium. And, if you should seriously believe that this change resulted purely from the counter-propaganda of greatly outbudgeted and outflanked activists--whose elected officials, it should be noted, daily trumpeted fracking's wonders from their bully pulpits--I have a new zero-energy car I'd love to sell you.

Actual Experience, Not Activists, Changed Public Opinion on Fracking

As a frequently burned-out Pennsylvania anti-fracking activist (now living in Georgia), I know firsthand the seemingly insurmountable odds we faced in trying to change public views. Given the drillers' almost obscene advantages in propaganda capacity, political ties, and public relations, does anyone think activists could have turned public opinion against fracking if fracking were a GOOD thing? Considering all the trump cards held by the fracking industry, the fracking experiment in Pennsylvania, as reflected in the public's own judgment of it, can only be defined as an "epic fail." And the word seems to be spreading.

North Carolina, hardly a liberal bastion, is a place where one would expect folks to lap up the now discredited argument that it is the patriotic duty of Americans to support efforts to frack the country to energy independence. Yet, now, a majority of North Carolinians is opposed to allowing fracking in the state. So noxious on its own merits has the practice become that it now draws middle fingers from people who once would have queued up in "patriotic" droves to lease their land for fracking.

Yet the Pennsylvania and North Carolina governments, which, like the Obama administration, STRONGLY support expanded fracking, clearly march to a different drummer than moves the popular will. Pretty clearly, the public officials jig exclusively to the piper that pays them. And like Orwell's Big Brother, they must always have jackbooted force on hand to foist on the eardrums of the public a revolting music it plainly DOESN'T want to hear. Enter the Sandman--a.k.a. the U.S. security and surveillance state.

The Corporatist State Enforces What the People Don't Want

Now, the security and surveillance state--or what we should more properly term the military-industrial-surveillance complex--has an innately fascist tendency, independent of any special use to which it's put. Our nation's Founders rightly distrusted the whole idea of standing armies, and rightly assigned the declaration of war to Congress, the branch of government in theory MOST answerable to the popular will. Sure, the nature of modern war may require professional standing armies, but that by no means dictates that we disregard their deep inherent dangers; in fact, we should be far MORE wary.

No one who shares our Founders' perfectly justified squeamishness about concentrations of power--be they military or political--can be at all happy with the recent Circuit Court decision affirming our government's right to use the military to seize and indefinitely detain citizens merely suspected (by unknown executive branch criteria) of giving "active support to terrorism." Nor can we be happy that Congress, quailing at being branded "soft on terror," has unconscionably abdicated its Constitutional prerogative to declare war to the less publicly accountable executive branch.

I've so far mentioned only abuses relating to uses of the military, but the innate fascist tendencies of the military-industrial-surveillance complex spawned by the so-called "war on terror" are FAR broader and more treacherous. Besides our Founders' quite legitimate fear of standing armies, it's long been known that a state of war is incompatible with democratic freedoms; hence the very concept of martial law. One clear offshoot of the mismatch between war and democratic freedoms is identified in the wise slogan "Truth is the first casualty of war." Democracy depends on the informed consent of the governed, whereas war efforts depend on propaganda--and the less justified the war, the greater the distortion of truth the propaganda involves.

Statistically, it's QUITE arguable that the whole "war on terror" required a a radical exaggeration of the scope of the terrorist threat; in other words, the whole undertaking rested on a LIE. And because the aim and strategy of a war on terror are indefinable, it is necessarily a PERMANENT war and, in consequence, a PERMANENT assault on democratic freedom. One symptom of that assault is a broadening of wartime spying to include everyone. Another is the militarization of police forces, since a global war on terror has by definition no boundaries.

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Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements. No longer with RAP, he wields his pen (more...)

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