Saturday, January 25, 2014

The United States is not an Orwellian "police state"

The U.S. middle class left has taken the Snowden revelations  as carte blanche for their hysteria that  the country is a "police state" and an Orwellian nightmare.  Anyone subscribing to feeds from outfits like Counterpunch, Socialist Worker, and Socialist Action will be familiar with this.  World Socialist Web Site, which never met a labor union or affirmative action program it didn't want to tear apart, has made daily obeisance to "revelations" its mantra for months.

For U.S. communists such "revelations" come as no surprise, and do not affront our sensibilities.  Wallowing in moral outrage and engaging in prurient rhetoric about "1984" does not match today's social reality.  Instead, it can demoralize and demobilize.  Today there is unprecedented political space in the United States for workers defend their class interests and reach out for solidarity.  (Indeed, protests against murderous cops and Stop-and-Frisk are an important defense of this space).

Here is the current Militant editorial, which speaks to this:

Gov’t spying attack on workers’ rights

President Barack Obama’s Jan. 17 speech on National Security Agency spying was intended to convince us that expanding spy operations and methods are nothing “ordinary folks” need to pay attention to. That’s for the bad guys. Don’t worry, we are told, spies are our friends, they’re just like us, and the president himself is on the case.

While the NSA’s data mining program is not directed at the working class in the U.S. today, the ongoing assault on rights and constitutional protections by the capitalists’ government is very much our concern.

Starting in the 1970s and escalating rapidly after 9/11, the propertied rulers have sought acceptance for their stepped-up spying as minor intrusions of privacy required of “us all” in face of “terrorist” threats to the homeland. “Why should you care if you’re not a terrorist?” they say.

NSA Internet spying is just one small piece of the government’s network of snoops, informants and provocateurs. The mass collection of communications records are an extension of airport luggage and body searches, X-ray screening in government buildings, appeals to report “suspicious bags” on the subway, increasing use of conspiracy charges to “stop attacks before they happen,” and stepped-up targeting of foreign-born residents, whether “legal” or “illegal.”

While many of these efforts are today primarily used by Washington against al-Qaedist organizations and adherents, the rulers seek to have them in place because they know they will face greater challenges in the future. As the crisis of capitalist production and trade deepens, the bosses will continue to increase their attacks on the living standards, working conditions and rights of the working class. They have a premonition of the coming class battles it will engender, which is part of what drives their attack on rights today.

The working class is the ultimate target of the bosses’ wiretaps, black-bag jobs, frame-ups and provocations. In addition to NSA electronic spying, the rulers are ramping up the FBI’s “counterterrorism” units. The New York cops’ Intelligence Unit alone numbers over 1,000. As labor actions and political protests increase, government plants and informers will be deployed to disrupt them.

The big majority of workers and farmers do not yet directly feel these developments are aimed at them. But increasingly more focused probes by the rulers will be seen as what they are — and resisted — as working people and the labor movement are pressed into struggle.

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