The Public© Interest®¿

The ever cynical Simon Jenkins, writing in today’s Guardian, has a decent opinion piece on Ed Snowden and espionage — that is, espionage exercised upon the public. But… we’re not supposed to see that as being “espionage” by a State against its own people, even though that is what it is. Instead, we’re supposed to see what Snowden and others did as being “espionage”, which it isn’t. It’s whistleblowing.

Be ever vigilant against the perversions of language and the distortions of reason and logic by propaganda and perception management, even though such constant vigilance can be wearing and wearying.

“Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear, absolutely nothing,” says the UK’s Mr. Hague. But maybe the New Colossus has something to fear from erstwhile “law-abiding citizens”?  It’s the old lie, of course. The cynicism of Mr. Hague’s statement, repeated always and everywhere, is disproven by the facts, present and past, some of which Mr. Jenkins summons for his attack on Mr. Hague’s big lie. Jenkins might also have mentioned COINTELPRO and Operation Northwoods, state conspiracies against “law-abiding citizens”.

“Law-abiding citizens” might not even recognise themselves as such. We’re told that the new secret state-within-a-state is making secret law — a fact that seems to be attested to by a former FISA court judge, in recent testimony, who expressed shock and dismay at how far the secret courts have gone in making such secret law. “Secret law” is typical of the brutal and barbaric Kafkaesque logic of totalitarian states, states which have come to suspect their own “law-abiding citizenry” as being nothing but a public mask while harbouring secret seditious intent. Which is, of course, exactly what the secret state-within-a-state is itself. It’s a strange Wizard of Oz and Alice-through-the-looking-glass world; the strange psycho-dynamics of a paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.

Such “schizophrenia” seems to be Mr. Hague’s problem, a problem of duplicity and the forked-tongue in the form of double-think, double-talk, and double-standard, given the history Mr. Jenkins calls upon to catch up Mr. Hague in the lie; given the very real demoralising scandals of the present in the UK and elsewhere, that “law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear, absolutely nothing” is simply untruthful. It’s duplicitous rhetoric because it’s not even the true question. The question is, whether the State has been “law-abiding”. The answer is “No”. Mr. Hague’s answer is a red-herring, designed to deflect and divert attention from the real issue.

And the real issue is that the state has gone rogue. Pour raison d’etat, lying and lawlessness have become acceptable politics. As Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne noted recently, an unchallenged “culture of lying” has risen up around government and politics (or “post-Truth politics”, as discussed earlier). The state has gradually created a fog and a veil around itself to disguise….. what?

Aye, there’s the rub. How to interpret this? What is being disguised, hidden, concealed behind “the culture of lying” and the politics of “perception management” (called “the optics”) that we aren’t supposed to know about? The convergence of private power and public power, of corporation and state, under the rubric of “private public partnership” to create a new type of state — the techno-corporate state.  It’s a new configuration, a new political potency, that old constitutional safeguards, checks and balances, cannot constrain or contain. And as Gandalf said of Sauron to the deluded and turncoat wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, “he does not share power.” And least of all with something called “the public”, which, of course, doesn’t exist according to Margaret Thatcher’s logic.

So, of course, writers at the Wall Street Journal can shamelessly promote the “Pinochet model” without the slightest sense of their own treachery, duplicity, and self-contradiction, which they share with Mr. Hague and others. An Orwellian logic that states “capitalism and liberal democracy are the same”, while at the same time, the opposite is held to be true. A capitalist and corporate dictatorship is deemed the cure for democracy. And, of course, Margaret Thatcher was a great friend of Augusto Pinochet.

A “neo-liberal dictatorship”, a thing thought to be an impossible logical self-contradiction (and it is), is held out as the solution to what ails liberal democracies — the Pinochet model, the Chilean “economic miracle”. Like Mussolini, like Hitler, Pinochet is credited with “making the trains run on time”, of bringing order to chaos with the help of economic technocrats from the Chicago School and corporate partners foreign and domestic. Behind the talk of “public-private partnership” lies the Pinochet model, an alliance of military, corporate, academic, media, and judicial-police power which was admired by the neo-conservatives and neo-imperialists such as Niall Ferguson and Robert Kaplan, both of whom expressed antipathy towards democracy. Nonetheless, the “Chilean economic miracle” was pretty much all propaganda waged to legitimise this new type of state. It is antipathy to democracy, not economic efficiency, that provided the rationale for promoting the Pinochet model.

And that’s the truth and the reality that the “culture of lying” and the practice of post-truth politics is intended to conceal (as this writer suspects). Democracy is unruly; the “public” is a mindless beast and herd that must be brought to heel, and — which confused, perplexed, not knowing its own interests therefore — might make the “incorrect” political decisions. This, and not the canard of public safety — which is, at best, merely a secondary rationale– was freely confessed by a head of Britain’s intelligence operations, as “maintaining the existing social and political order” was, according to the FBI, sufficient justification for the illegalities of COINTELPRO and other programmes. And that confession is what lies behind Mr. Hague’s soothing, reassuring lie, which even makes it the lie it is.

The truth is, the new techno-corporate state now regards the “public” as an unruly mass, a herd, a mob, a savage beast that must be tamed, “civilised,” and domesticated according to formulas and models decided in corporate boardrooms and political committees. That formula and model is repeated over and over again, daily, to make sure it sticks in the mind — “hard-working Canadians”, for example. The “ordinary Canadian” or “the average citizen”, just to cite some examples. This is not description, this is recipe and prescription, and for that reason also a proscription. Deviate too much from the recipe, the model and the mold, and your credentials as a “law-abiding citizen” who is expected to conform to the conduct and behaviour of the model and the formula, and you may very well fall under suspicion as a “deviant”. In other words, it is the techno-corporate state that now presumes to define what is “the public interest”, has assumed the right to define this “interest” and to impose it as “the new normal”. The “public interest” is now the registered copyright of the New Colossus. Since the public cannot be trusted with knowing its own “interest”, it must be relieved of the responsibility for it and therefore for self-government, and its “true” interests will be defined for it by a technocratic power elite.

This is, of course, social engineering and perception management, exercised by those who claim to even despise social engineering and perception management. And the disingenuousness and pretense of their self-promotion as champions of the public interest and the democratic will is revealed in the hollowness and vacuity of their rhetoric, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by others as being nothing but cynical propaganda. It’s an illusionists and con-man’s trick called “direction by indirection” to divert the mark’s or target’s attention from the real action behind the deception. The responsibility of self-government — the concept of the public as the sovereign power of self-determination in a democracy with ultimate responsibility for making law, for defining the public interest, and of the state as the executive of the public will — all this has been “relieved” from the public itself. The techno-corporate state even presumes, now, to decide who and who is not a “citizen”, and therefore reserves unto itself the right to define identities according to the formula and model it itself has conceived.

If the essential and core value of democracy is “the free development of the personality”, as the realised practice of responsible self-government and self-determination, then this is precisely what the New Colossus is in process of taking away, which it disguises behind soothing and reassuring rhetoric, but which nonetheless belongs to “the culture of lying”. The New Colossus, the techno-corporate state, is the coalescence and concentration of all the most powerful technologies of social and political control yet devised, including the construction of identities and the management of consciousness and perception, pour raison d’etat, of course.

But if “the free development of the personality” is no longer permitted or permissible, and if decisions about the public interest must no longer be left in the hands of the public, then democracy, as such, is effectively dead. And what we have in its stead is exactly what Bertram Gross called it 30 years ago, “Friendly Fascism”.

“There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power.”

8 responses to “The Public© Interest®¿”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    It occurs to me that I should draw out in what way these constantly reiterated cliches and rhetorical formulas about “hard-working Canadian” or “Joe six-pack” or “ordinary main in the street” or “the average Canadian” (or others) are actually prescriptions for conduct, and not descriptions of fact. Because they are almost always, when used, accompanied by photo-ops with appropriately stereotypical representatives of the type, who are deemed the true “norm”.

    Who is this “hard-working Canadian”, for example, as Mr. Harper (and not just Mr. Harper) keeps blathering on about? It’s the man who is busy making a living and taking care of his family, so busy in fact that he doesn’t have any time for politics or thinking about policies and making political decisions. And that’s the key right there. He can rest assured that, in forsaking his political rights, he can safely leave them in the hands of social experts, corporate “leaders”, and professional politicians, who can be entrusted with safeguarding his interests. (wink, wink).

    Who is the “average Canadian” (for example)? You hear it all the time — a statistical composite of characteristics or attributes that constitute a “norm” of conduct and opinion. The average Canadian or “ordinary Canadian” (another favourite recipe and formula) is someone who is not activist or a dissenter, who gratefully leaves affairs concerning the public interest in the hands of authorities or his betters — the “unaverage” Canadian who is, apparently, born to rule him. The “average” Canadian, again, has no time for politics or weighing policy decisions that might affect him or the public interest. He’s not an objector, or if he’s uneasy about something, he can always be brought around to recognising the ostensible wisdom of his betters. The “average Canadian” is someone who has given up all responsibility, which can be safely entrusted with others.

    It’s always the same narrative, a narrative of disenfranchisement — an insidious and nefarious propaganda that exercises a constant and daily hypnotic pressure on identity, and shapes it so that it conforms to type.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    I have an anecdote, pertaining to a local incident, that seems to me quite appropriate to include here after thinking about it.

    Mr. Harper’s government, without apparently any local consultation, decided to terminate the Shelter Belt Centre located here, an historic, well-known, and long-standing tree nursery and farm for reforestation and land rehabilitation. Some 40 families were affected by the closure.

    A modest protest against the decision (as well as some angry words in private) arose in the town, and calls for the government, and the local Conservative Party elected MP, to explain and account for the closure. So, after the fact, a kind of “consultation” was staged at which some 200 people attended. I wasn’t in attendance myself, but I talked to a man who was, and here is how he described it,

    The Conservative member of Parliament apparently declined to attend himself. Instead, he and the government sent representatives — that is, representatives of representatives. The representatives were instructed not to answer questions or to receive questions from the floor, only to explain the policy. So much for “consultation”, which was a charade that the government could later foist upon an unwitting public. Apparently, a couple of people left in protest, objecting that this was more like dictatorship than democratic process (quite rightly). Amazingly, though, the majority complied, and sat quietly and politely — perhaps sheepishly — through the “consultation” process to the end.

    And I was amazed when I heard this from my friend. I was filled with wonderment because such a thing would have been unheard of a few short years ago. No one would have allowed their democratic rights to be insulted and trivialised like that.

    But, right there, you have your new “ideal” or “normal” of the “hard-working, average man” — a man (or woman) who basically accepts dictate as “consultation”, who isn’t expected to object to the political “wisdom” and decisions of his betters — the ‘unaverage’ Canadian. Acceptably compliant, deferential, even when the very meaning of “citizen” is demeaned by such state insults and injury to his democratic rights.

    This is “the new normal”

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Actually, I can’t resist telling you another story that involved me personally.

    I had an opportunity to meet the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, about a year ago when he was scheduled to tour the plant I worked at in Regina. For security reasons, the visit was not announced until the morning it was to occur, and suddenly our offices were swarming with Harper’s personal staff, security personnel and even sniffer dogs. When I learned that Mr. Harper was to arrive shortly to deliver a speech and a “photo-op” with we “hard-working Canadians”, I left in disgust. I had no intention of being a stage prop for some cynical politician’s photo-op, and especially a politician like Mr. Harper, who I hold in very low regard.

    My “refusenik” gesture went unrecorded, of course. I simply walked out and went home. It wasn’t intended to be stage-acted for the media scrum anyway. But when I returned the next day, I made the unpleasant discovery that my own office had been emptied of all my personal effects and work gear and paraphernalia because Mr. Harper wanted it for his prep and change room. His staff didn’t bother returning my effects and gear to their place in the office afterwards.

    I had to live with the thought that “HE” had used my office for his personal change room. It was like, contaminated with politics after that and it stayed that way until I moved into another office. But ever after I always regarded that old office as being, in some way, contaminated with cynicism.

    What I found interesting, though, is that some at the office, who had a similar antipathy towards Mr. Harper and his politics, took part in this staged propaganda event, happily playing their role as “hard-working Canadian” and “average Canadian”. Only afterwards did they express some regret about having been so used.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    Filmmaker Oliver Stone asks the pertinent question: are we in control of our governments or are our governments in control of us?

    I might quibble with one thing, though. The word “government” has become problematic, and likely to be misleading because of obsolete mental associations that arise with the word. The word has become imprecise, suggesting some centre of power. In some ways, “government” has become highly distributed amongst other institutional actors (corporations for example) precisely through these “private-public partnerships”, so that corporate advertising, or other actors formal or informal, exercise governance. It’s in the nature of the techno-corporate state to be ubiquitous, and highly distributed — a kind of octopus, and that it now spans across more than one jurisdiction or sovereignty — interlocking elites from different states. It is, in some way, a model of a transnational state, much akin to Emmanuel Goldstein’s “Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” in Orwell’s 1984.

    The world, following Goldstein’s model of “oligarchic collectivism” has been reorganised into three supercontinents — Oceania, Eurasia, Eastasia. Oceania would presently roughly correspond to what is now called “the Anglosphere” and the “Five Eyes” — US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand. The present situation seems eerily similar to what Orwell’s Goldstein called “Oligarchic Collectivism”.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Actually, come to think of it, I’m surprised no one I’ve read so far has used the term “Thought Police” to describe this mass surveillance. When you think about it, that’s really odd. It’s as if it is too close to the horrifying truth to be recognised or admitted.

    • Scott Preston says :

      It is true. I didn’t have to reflect long on this. What is today called “the international community” and the techno-corporate superstate is nothing but Goldstein’s “oligarchic collectivism”.

      Now I have to work on accounting for the meaning of “oligarchic collectivism”. I have to flesh out the skeleton provided by Emmanuel Goldstein’s “theory and practice”

      • Just a stranger says :

        Maybe it would be fitting to dub the “oligarchic collectivism” as the system of the New World Order? 🙂

        That’s how it’s called by some ‘thinking’ groups (albeit some are not so thoughtful…) of the vast WWW.

        Sorry dropping by so suddenly. I just found your blog and really enjoyed reading your articles. You see beyond what is presented to us in media and in our everyday lives. I also liked your writing skill. I hope you can keep showing what you know and think around the internet without restraints.

        Best wishes and a Happy New Year!

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