At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.—ABRAHAM LINCOLN
There is nothing more horrible than to walk that fault line between new and old, seeing what the future holds, screaming about it in your art or your writing, and finding only mute incomprehension or dismissal in your audience.
We are at the start of a profound crisis that is going to demand radical changes. It is a struggle that, as Immanuel Wallerstein has written from his perspective as a historian, may “continue for twenty, thirty, fifty years and the outcome is intrinsically uncertain. History is on no one’s side. It depends on what we do.”
==The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It (Joshua Cooper Ramo)
What causes a democracy to change into some non- or antidemocratic system, and what kind of system is democracy likely to change into?
For centuries political writers claimed that if—or rather when—a full-fledged democracy was overturned, it would be succeeded by a tyranny. The argument was that democracy, because of the great freedom it allowed, was inherently prone to disorder and likely to cause the propertied classes to support a dictator or tyrant, someone who could impose order, ruthlessly if necessary. But—and this is the issue addressed by our inquiry—what if in its popular culture a democracy were prone to license (“anything goes”) yet in its politics were to become fearful, ready to give the benefit of the doubt to leaders who, while promising to “root out terrorists,” insist that endeavor is a “war” with no end in sight? Might democracy then tend to become submissive, privatized rather than unruly, and would that alter the power relationships between citizens and their political deciders?
“Inverted totalitarianism” projects power inwards. It is not derivative from “classic totalitarianism” of the types represented by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, or Stalinist Russia. Those regimes were powered by revolutionary movements whose aim was to capture, reconstitute, and monopolize the power of the state. The state was conceived as the main center of power, providing the leverage necessary for the mobilization and reconstruction of society. Churches, universities, business organizations, news and opinion media, and cultural institutions were taken over by the government or neutralized or suppressed. Inverted totalitarianism, in contrast, while exploiting the authority and resources of the state, gains its dynamic by combining with other forms of power, such as evangelical religions, and most notably by encouraging a symbiotic relationship between traditional government and the system of “private” governance represented by the modern business corporation. The result is not a system of codetermination by equal partners who retain their distinctive identities but rather a system that represents the political coming-of-age of corporate power.
==Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism -(Sheldon S. Wolin)
Humans, of course, have a remarkable capacity for self-delusion. To those in power, the control of information is regarded as utterly essential to achieving success, regardless of subject or policy, of administration or even country.
In 1798, James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”
==935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity (Charles Lewis)
In his 1966 book, The Arrogance of Power, Fulbright wrote: Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations—to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God’s work.
The government Madison envisioned was not a machine that would check itself. Essential to the effectiveness of these checks and the maintenance of balance was civic virtue—an informed and engaged electorate.18 The virtue of the people who held office would rest on the intelligence and public-mindedness of the people who put them there. Absent civic virtue, the governmental equilibrium of power would face collapse.
The Washington Post’s landmark 2011 study of Truman’s modern handiwork, “Top Secret America,” identified forty-six federal departments and agencies engaged in classified national security work. Their missions range from intelligence gathering and analysis to war-fighting, cyberoperations, and weapons development. Almost 2,000 private companies support this work, which occurs at over 10,000 locations across America.The size of their budgets and workforces are mostly classified, but it is clear that those numbers are enormous—a total annual outlay of around $1 trillion and millions of employees.“The nightmare of the modern state,” Henry Kissinger has written, “is the hugeness of the bureaucracy, and the problem is how to get coherence and design in it.”
Presidents can appoint only between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals (including domestic policy officials).55 Of the 668,000 civilian employees in the Department of Defense and related agencies in 2004, only 247 were political appointees.
==National Security and Double Government (Michael J. Glennon)
Reality of National Security State Trumps ‘Delusions’ of U.S. Democracy | Common Dreams
“I think the American people are deluded.”
So says Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon, whose new book, National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press), describes a powerful bureaucratic network that’s really pulling the strings on key aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
The ‘double government’ explains why the Obama version of national security is virtually indistinguishable from the one he inherited from President George W. Bush.
“I think the American people are deluded… that the institutions that provide the public face actually set American national security policy. They believe that when they vote for a president or member of Congress or succeed in bringing a case before the courts, that policy is going to change,” Glennon told the Boston Globe in an interview published Sunday. “Now, there are many counter-examples in which these branches do affect policy… But the larger picture is still true—policy by and large in the national security realm is made by the concealed institutions.”