The Techno-Corporate State is Cheney’s “New Normal”
“Homeland security is not a temporary measure just to meet one crisis. Many of the steps we have now been forced to take will become permanent in American life. They represent an understanding of the world as it is, and dangers we must guard against perhaps for decades to come. I think of it as the new normalcy.” – Vice President Cheney Delivers Remarks to the Republican Governors Association
With the recent revelations, thanks to Edward Snowden, of the extensive surveillance operations of the NSA, it has become pretty evident what the “New Normal” is. When former Bush Administration Vice-President Dick Cheney introduced the world to his “new normal” in the speech quoted above, he was basically advising everyone that the “techno-corporate state” earlier anticipated by constitutional law expert Arthur Selwyn Miller in 1968 had now become the new political and social reality.
I think that most people probably failed to understand the implications of this “new normal”, and perhaps thought of it as an enhancement or augmentation of the “old normal” — a new and improved version of reality. But what it announced, in truth, was an uprooting of the old norms and values. In broader terms, it was an uprooting of the democratic model of the state.
“We had to destroy the village in order to save it, sir”
Cheney’s “New Normal” seems to have answered in the affirmative the question posed earlier by another neo-conservative, Robert D. Kaplan, who in 1997 put the question of the viability of democracy in an Atlantic essay entitled “Was Democracy Just a Moment?“. Kaplan, who has himself some fascistic leanings, implied the answer to that in his own question by using the past tense “Was…” as if the demise of the democratic model was already a foregone conclusion. Mr. Cheney merely seconded that response with his “New Normal”.
The “New Normal” is what Miller earlier described and anticipated as this “techno-corporate state”, and it is not democratic. It is The Hive. For a while yet, though, it may preserve the trappings of democratic process merely as hollow ritual and empty ceremony. But, essentially, the old Tree of Life has been uprooted. Many people probably intuitively felt that or suspected it anyway.
The question that needs to be put to this regime of “the new normal” is this: what are the implications for the principle of the free development of the personality? I consider this the very core value of the democratic model, while the other three principle liberties — freedom of speech, of association, of assembly — are but secondary branches which derive from this one root and buttress it.
As readers of The Chrysalis will know, I consider the practice of “perception management” to be one of the great evils of our time — a deliberate violation of awareness, a corruption of reason, and a debasement of truth. With programmes like Total Information Awareness, PRISM, and Boundless Informant (amongst others), a major step has been taken towards implementing a total technology of social, psychological, and political control, one that will make George Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World look absolutely primitive and clumsy by comparison.
But even this “eye” of Big Brother is still too warm, too human, too alive. The “eye” of the techno-corporate state is not a human eye. It is the dead machine eye of total objectification, which reduces the human to the total object.
Such an eye is not “neutral” in its effects. It is deadening. It transforms all it sees into an “It”. The eye of even Orwell’s panopticon is till too human an eye. It still sees “he” or “she”. Still objectified, to be sure, but not yet an absolute “It”. The machine eye is the eye of total nihilism.