Tomorrow is here.

Tomorrow is here. The game is over. The crisis has passed – and the patient is dead. Whatever dream you had about what America is, it isn’t that anymore. It’s gone. And not just in some abstract sense, some metaphorical or mythological sense, but down in the nitty-gritty, in the concrete realities of institutional structures and legal frameworks, of policy and process, even down to the physical nature of the landscape and the way that people live.

The Republic you wanted – and at one time might have had the power to take back – is finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it’s not there. It was kidnapped in December 2000, raped by the primed and ready exploiters of 9/11, whored by the war pimps of the 2003 aggression, gut-knifed by the corrupters of the 2004 vote, and raped again by its “rescuers” after the 2006 election. Beaten, abused, diseased and abandoned, it finally died. We are living in its grave.

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The war which we were told the Democrats and ISG consensus would end or wind down has of course been escalated to its greatest level yet – more troops, more airstrikes, more mercenaries, more Iraqi captives swelling the mammoth prison camps of the occupying power, more instability destroying the very fabric of Iraqi society. The patently illegal surveillance programs of the authoritarian regime have now been codified into law by the Democratic Congress, which has also let stand the evisceration of habeas corpus in the Military Commissions Act, and a raft of other liberty-stripping laws, rules, regulations and executive orders.

Bush’s self-proclaimed arbitrary power to seize American citizens (and others) without charge and hold them indefinitely – even kill them – has likewise been unchallenged by the legislators. Bush has brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas – and even arbitrarily stripped the Justice Department of the power to enforce them – to no other reaction than a stern promise from Democratic leaders to “look further into this matter.”

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But all of this is indeed “politics as usual” – the kind of politics that occurs under every system of rule. Even the Caesars were subject to such pressures, forced to remove (and sometimes execute) officials who had become too controversial due to scandal, crime, corruption or factional opposition, or even unpopularity with “the rabble.” Sometimes the Caesars themselves were removed for such causes – but the tyrannical system went on. Likewise, the kings and queens of England in their autocratic heyday were forced to give up ministers – even court favorites – due to similar pressures. And so too the Russian czars, the Chinese emperors, the Persian monarchs, the Muslim Caliphs, the Egyptian pharaohs, etc. Even Hitler was sometimes thwarted or hampered in his polices by factional strife or public displeasure. “Politics” does not disappear in undemocratic regimes. It is a function of human relations, and carries on irregardless of the political system imposed on a society.

Yet the belief persists that if there are not tanks in the streets or leather-jacketed commissars breaking down doors, then Americans are still living in a free country. I wrote about this situation almost six years ago – six years ago:

It won’t come with jackboots and book burnings, with mass rallies and fevered harangues. It won’t come with “black helicopters” or tanks on the street. It won’t come like a storm – but like a break in the weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind shifts on an October evening: everything is the same, but everything has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new reality has taken its place.

As in Rome, all the old forms will still be there: legislatures, elections, campaigns – plenty of bread and circuses for the folks. But the “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a degree of free debate will be permitted, within limits; but no one outside the privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy. Dissidents will be marginalized – usually by “the people” themselves. Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

The rulers will often act in secret; for reasons of “national security,” the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine: government by executive fiat, the murder of “enemies” selected by the leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security structures” targeted at the populace. In time, all this will come to seem “normal,” as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone.


This was written less than two months after 9/11. I was no prophet, no shaman; I had no inside knowledge or special expertise. I was just an ordinary American citizen reading news reports, articles, essays and books easily available to the general public. But even then it was crystal clear what was happening, and where it would lead if left unchecked. As we now know, it was not only left unchecked, it was exacerbated and accelerated and countenanced at every turn, by virtually every element and institution in American public life.


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    • Edger on April 15, 2010 at 05:13

    03 September 2007, at Atlantic Free Press

    Post-Mortem America: Bush’s Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead

    I added the picture.

    It’s not a pleasant read, I know, but I thought you might like to see it if you hadn’t already.

    Time to get mad?

  1. Just about everything Chris Floyd writes is a keeper.  I can’t even think of one clunker he’s written.  How does he do that?  How can a person bat 1,000?

  2. But the “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.

    The first step in frustrating such a system of control is to make crystal clear that the U.S. government does not have the consent of the people to continue governing.

    The first step in turning an anti-authoritarian Democrat on the street into the perfect tool of repression is to create a far right wing boogeyman of such purported numbers, power, idiocy and threat that, rather than discussing any of the above, any of the ways in which policies of the government are distorted and misused to protect the rightward leaning status-quo, they are instead focused on the “threat” of the “other”.

    The most insidious part is, it doesn’t even have to be a conspiracy, or some kind of grand evil plan on the part of a few people.  As soon as it became apparent that the current government and administration would never fulfill its promise, the desperate gambit would be to create and fuel a distraction.  

    The corporations, using Fox News as their mouthpiece eagerly created and fueled the tea-baggers to create an illusion of popular conservative discontent against “change” and when the health care debate started going the wrong way, the Democrats eagerly latched onto them as a way of creating a distraction.  This need for a distraction has subsequently filtered down to lower and lower levels.  If you can talk about evil militias and right wing teabaggers to fuel disgust and fear, it’s not as hard to NOT talk about indefinite detention, flat out legal violations of various amendments to the constitution, and so forth.

    This all is chillingly exemplified, thus:

    Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit, many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.

    (OR, they will use the self same educational system to create throngs of unfocused, civically illiterate people they can use to create the illusion of cultural values, movements and issues that serve not change but the self-satisfied elite).

    So, what to do?  All solutions, I believe, involve ways for the great mass of people to in effect peacefully withdraw consent, with the ultimate end goal being to expose the government/corporate ruling class and to force them to act in a more openly authoritarian manner.  Threatening violence or acting out of violence does nothing; all it does is to provide excuses for any resultant counter brutality and violence.  Suppressing a rebellion is perfect apologia.

    Suppressing, by contrast, a refusal to grant consent to govern, by strikes, by protests, by boycotting elections, by even some very old tactics such as civil disobedience .. this is much harder to fight to the extent it is long term and sustained.

    And the goal?  Do we think that withdrawal of consent will topple an authoritarian government?  Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not the goal.  The goal is to take the first step, and to make oligarchs act precipitously, to rip off their velvet and show the iron behind.

  3. …the squashed, kafka-esque figure in Edger’s picture.

    Live and die with dignity, whatever it takes.

  4. As you know, I had to go back to the states for a funeral a while back–it’s a little like a living zombie land there–the airports, the ‘security’ the whole thing.  It was a shock to the system.  Very 1984.

  5. It’s just a breakaway group of colonies whose chief figures

    disliked British interference in their internal matters.

    They had the same aristocratic pretensions as their English administrators. The Constitution was but a few pages because it had to be. Federalism was to be worked out. Democracy was an abstraction to be realized or not.

    Were the people to be sovereign? How was that supposed to happen? America was not a virgin birth. The English Common Law was already deeply imbedded into the new country with all that it entailed. The new republic was a skeleton upon which its inhabitants could, if they wanted, add revolutionary flesh and blood. But the seeds for an intellectual transformation of Western politcal thought were blown away by the winds of conquest and absurd notions like the Monroe Doctrine. What was that? Some Papal Decree?

    Our adolescent century (19th) was poisoned with unbelievable greed, exploitation and extermination. And the adolescent has now turned into a monster, not much different than Rome. Are we so much better because we don’t have large crowds in the coliseum cheering the predator drones as they spit fire down upon their targets?

  6. , so it seems to me that those who declare this system of a representational democratic republic dead and in the grave are underestimating the power of the people and of the ongoing history of human progress which seems to be a constant throughout history. Perhaps this manifestation has come to a dead end but the American character is a two sided blade. They went to far and had to quell the rabble with ‘Bottom up, we are the change …’ for a reason. People only consent to governance when they at least have access to parlamentery representation, a way to address their grievances civily and a means to live decently.

    Our system is flawed and the ‘enlightened’ founders were too but it was/is the culmination of self evident truths which people have always struggled to attain. The American character is a double edged sword, individualism and common good always waging against each other. Exceptionalism and nationalism are rampant but how can these alone carry power when people are told that this nation is for is wealth creation that is not for them but that they must sacrifice for this. We fight and die and pay for wars which are dishonorable and unpopular. Hard to be the good guys when the ugly truth seeps out and our enemies are villages.

    The illusion and the contract with the governed is broken. How long will they retain consent? How can they keep it going? This is not over yet, we have not gotten to a don’t tread on me critical mass but I believe we will. when things fall apart change occurs and humans before us and after us are the ones who form the contracts like our bill of Rights that consents to be governed. If those who govern the owners of the place continue to ignore the peoples rights and common good they will fall. Even Obama cannot hold back the rabble or win the consent and support. We are after all who we are waiting for…

    ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.’

    Mahatma Gandhi                    

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