As played out in the Black Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and 70s, the f.b.i.'s counter-intelligence program (Cointelpro) sought to repress black-america's long standing demand for social justice in U.S. society. In calling for an end to segregation, racial discrimination, mob violence, and police brutality, black-americans were defying the U.S. Jim Crow apartheid caste system. Their demand for fair wages, access to decent housing, health care, education for their children, just and fair treatment before the law served notice that they were no longer tolerant of their marginalized status in the land of their birth. It's not that blacks were violent in their demands, but that at every turn they made to improve their lives, they were met with violence. As regards to that, the f.b.i would investigate the boyscouts, if it had anything to do with black folk.
Cointelpro is a powerful, sophisticated, government instrument of repression and social control. It was designed to repress; traces of it can be found back in the most ancient of times where the drama is enacted of "haves" against "have-nots"; of weak against strong; of rich against poor; of who will be master, who will be slave; of who will be dominant, who will be subordinate.
It's fair to say that the Black Civil Rights Movement back then comprised a dangerous mix of disaffected social elements that posed a direct threat to both the hegemony of capital and its unfettered access to profits, and to the fiefdom of white supremacy and its historic cultural domination. Accordingly, the f.b.i. sought to crush this movement and the groups allied with it. Movement activists were covertly surveilled; their finances audited; backgrounds checked; employers and landlords interviewed. What indiscretions or infidelities that came to light were skillfully used against them. Groups were set against groups. The weak and faint-hearted were turned against their colleagues. Well placed news articles and not so subtle editorials cheered on this illegal f.b.i. activity. And much of the same activity goes on today.
In the wake of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack in New York City and the subsequent U.S.A. Patriot Act, cointelpro now finds itself with even more repressive powers. And the politicians, governors, policing agencies, and special interest groups that wish to fashion U.S. society (its institutions, behavior patterns, and beliefs) in their exclusive image, have taken to these new powers like pigs to slop. Consequently, the political climate today is such that an authority can casually construe the most harmless, inconsequential statement or act as a conspiracy or threat to national security. It's a climate where people feel reluctant even to donate charitable dollars to humanitarian organizations lest their name appear on a government "terrorist watch list." Surveillance cameras abound in public spaces, and cell-phones, CPS-systems, credit cards, personal computers, enable that a plethora of information on U.S. citizens be gathered and stored. Why collect all this information if not for manipulative or sinister purposes?!
Hence, on the ground and in cyberspace, our increasing reliance on electronics renders us even more vulnerable to cointelpro's pervasiveness. Vulnerable to its "watch list" and to what it has already done to our civil liberties and personal freedoms. The push of a button (as punishment for resistance to its authority) could make all our pertinent information -- our personal finances, records, credit cards, SS#s, licenses, our very names -- "disappeared" from the stream of U.S. electronic social interaction. Does that mean the sky will fall? No! But it could well mean strangers at your door in the middle of the night, electrodes at your genitals in a padded room, or worse.
Have we reached a point in our society where the rights we thought we once had no longer exist? And if so, why is that? Could it be complacency, insensitivity, preoccupation, be that we are too trusting of government, too accepting of what politicians tell us, that we failed to see them "bend the knee" before the banks and corporations on Wall Street? Failing to see that it is they who have let loose on us the Darthveda-like jackboots from walled citadels of no returns. Now don't that piss-you-off! Or does it?
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