from GlobalResearch Website
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
He is currently studying Political Economy and History at Simon Fraser University.
War, Racism and the Empire of Poverty
March 22, 2010
At a time of such great international turmoil economically and politically, it is increasingly important to identify and understand the social dynamics of crisis.
A global social crisis has long preceded the economic crisis, and has only been exacerbated by it. The great shame of human civilization is the fact that over half of it lives in abysmal poverty.
Poverty is not simply a matter of ‘bad luck’; it is a result of socio-political-economic factors that allow for very few people in the world to control so much wealth and so many resources, while so many are left with so little.
The capitalist world system was built upon war, race, and empire.
Malcolm X once declared,
“You can’t have capitalism without racism.”
The global political economy is a system that enriches the very few at the expense of the vast majority.
This exploitation is organized through imperialism, war, and the social construction of race. It is vitally important to address the relationship between war, poverty and race in the context of the current global economic crisis. Western nations have plundered the rest of the world for centuries, and now the great empire is hitting home.
What is done abroad comes home to roost.
The Social Construction of ‘Race’
500 years ago, the world was going through massive transformations, as the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and British colonized the ‘New World’ and in time, a new system of ‘Capitalism’ and ‘nation states’ began to emerge.
The world was in a great period of transition and systemic change in which it was the Europeans that emerged as the dominant world powers. The colonies in the Americas required a massive labour force,
“Between 1607 and 1783, more than 350,000 ‘white’ bond-labourers arrived in the British colonies.”
The Americas had both un-free blacks and whites, with blacks being a minority, yet they “exercised basic rights in law.”
Problems arrived in the form of elites trying to control the labour class. Slaves were made up of Indian, black and white labourers; yet, problems arose with this “mixed” population of un-free labour. The problem with Indian labourers was that they knew the land and could escape to “undiscovered” territory, and enslavement would often instigate rebellions and war:
The social costs of trying to discipline un-free native labour had proved too high. Natives would eventually be genocidally eliminated, once population settlement and military power made victory more or less certain; for the time being, however, different sources of bond labour had to be found.
Between 1607 and 1682, more than 90,000 European immigrants,
“three-quarters of them chattel bond-labourers, were brought to Virginia and Maryland.” Following the “establishment of the Royal African Company in 1672, a steady supply of African slaves was secured.”
Problems became paramount, however, as the lower classes tended to be very rebellious, which consisted of “an amalgam of indentured servants and slaves, of poor whites and blacks, of landless freemen and debtors.” The lower classes were united in opposition to the elites oppressing them, regardless of background.
Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 was of particular note, as bond-labourers, black and white, rebelled against the local elites and “demanded freedom from chattel servitude.”
For the colonialists,
“Such images of a joint uprising of black and white, slave and bondsman, proved traumatic. In the face of a united rebellion of the lower orders, the planter bourgeoisie understood that their entire system of colonial exploitation and privilege was at risk.”
In response to this threat, the landed elite,
“relaxed the servitude of white labourers, intensified the bonds of black slavery, and introduced a new regime of racial oppression. In doing so, they effectively created the white race – and with it white supremacy.”
“the conditions of white and black servants began to diverge considerably after 1660.”
Following this, legislation would separate white and black slavery, prevent “mixed” marriages, and seek to prevent the procreation of “mixed-race” children.
Whereas before 1660, many black slaves were not indentured for life, this changed as colonial law increasingly,
“imposed lifetime bondage for black servants – and, especially significant, the curse of lifetime servitude for their offspring.”
A central feature of the social construction of this racial divide was “the denial of the right to vote,” as most Anglo-American colonies previously allowed free blacks to vote, but this slowly changed throughout the colonies. The ruling class of America was essentially “inventing race.”
“Freedom was increasingly identified with race, not class.”
It is out of this that ideas of race and later, ‘race science’ emerged, as eugenics became the dominant ideology of western elites, trying to scientifically ‘prove’ the superiority of ‘whites’ and the ‘inferiority’ of ‘blacks’.
This would carry a dual nature of justifying white domination, as well as providing both a justification for and excuse to oppress black people, and in fact, people of all ‘races’. This was especially clear as in the late 1800s and early 1900s the European empires undertook the ‘Scramble for Africa’ in which they colonized the entire continent (save Ethiopia).
It was largely justified as a ‘civilizing’ mission; yet, it was fundamentally about gaining access to Africa’s vast resources.
Following World War II, global power rested predominantly in America, the leading hegemon, expanding the economic interests of North America and Western Europe around the world. War, empire, and racism have been central features of this expansion. In large part, poverty has been the result.
Now, the empire hits home.
The world has almost 6.8 billion people, half of them female.
The world economy has a labour force of 3.184 billion people; of all people employed in the world, 40% are women. While the world is equally male and female, 1.8 billion men are employed, compared to 1.2 billion women.
The population of people in low paying jobs, long hours, and part-time work are predominantly women.
Global Poverty and Wealth
In 1999, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reported that,
“Although 200 million people saw their incomes fall between 1965 and 1980, more than 1 billion people experienced a drop from 1980 to 1993.”
“100 countries were worse off than 15 years [prior].”
In the late 1960s,
“the people in well-to-do countries were 30 times better off than those in countries where the poorest 20 percent of the world’s people live. By 1998, this gap had widened to 82 times (up from 61 times since 1996).”
As of 1998,
“3 billion people live on less than $2 per day while 1.3 billion get by on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of those living on less than $1 per day are women.”
Elites and academics, as well as major social movements in western nations focus on population growth as being the driver in global poverty, picking up from where the Malthusians left off; poverty becomes the problem caused by “population growth” as opposed to a problem caused by wealth and resource distribution.
In 2003, a World Bank report revealed that,
“A minority of the world’s population (17%) consume most of the world’s resources (80%), leaving almost 5 billion people to live on the remaining 20%. As a result, billions of people are living without the very basic necessities of life – food, water, housing and sanitation.”
1.2 billion (20%) of the world population now lives on less that $1/day, another 1.8 billion (30%) lives on less than $2/day, 800 million go to bed hungry every day, and 30,000 – 60,000 die each day from hunger alone.
The story is the same, when it comes to other necessities like water, housing, education etc. On the flip side, we have increasing accumulation of wealth and power, where the world’s 500 or so billionaires have assets of 1.9 trillion dollars, a sum greater than the income of the poorest 170 countries in the world.
Other figures from the World Bank report include the fact that,
“The world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people,” and “The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.”
“A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.”
In regards to poverty and hunger statistics,
“Over 840 million people in the world are malnourished – 799 million of them are from the developing world. Sadly, more than 153 million of them are under the age of 5 (half the entire US population).”
“Every day, 34,000 children under five die of hunger or other hunger-related diseases. This results in 6 million deaths a year.”
That amounts to a “Hunger Holocaust” that takes place every single year.
As of 2003,
“Of 6.2 billion living today, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 per day. Nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”
In 2005, according to World Bank statistics,
“More than one-half of the world’s people live below the internationally defined poverty line of less than U.S. $2 a day,” and “Nearly one-third of rural residents worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.”
In 2006, a groundbreaking and comprehensive report released by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) reported that,
“The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth.”
An incredible startling statistic was that:
[T]he richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.
This is worth repeating:
the top 1% owns 40% of global assets
the top 10% owns 85% of world assets
the bottom 50% owns 1% of global assets
The 2009 UN Millennium Development Goals report stated that in the wake of the global economic crisis and the global food crisis that preceded and continued through the economic crisis, progress towards the goals of poverty reduction are,
“threatened by sluggish – or even negative – economic growth, diminished resources, fewer trade opportunities for the developing countries, and possible reductions in aid flows from donor nations.”
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report stated that in 2009,
“an estimated 55 million to 90 million more people will be living in extreme poverty than anticipated before the crisis.” Further, “the encouraging trend in the eradication of hunger since the early 1990s was reversed in 2008, largely due to higher food prices.”
Hunger in developing regions has risen to 17% in 2008, and “children bear the brunt of the burden.”
In April of 2009, a major global charity, Oxfam, reported that a couple trillion dollars given to bail out banks could have been enough “to end global extreme poverty for 50 years.”
In September of 2009, Oxfam reported that the economic crisis “is forcing 100 people-a-minute into poverty.”
Oxfam stated that,
“Developing countries across the globe are struggling to respond to the global recession that continues to slash incomes, destroy jobs and has helped push the total number of hungry people in the world above 1 billion.”
The financial crisis has hit the ‘developing’ world much harder than the western developed nations of the world.
The United Nations reported in March of 2009 that,
“Reduced growth in 2009 will cost the 390 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living in extreme poverty around $18 billion, or $46 per person,” and “This projected loss represents 20 per cent of the per capita income of Africa’s poor – a figure that dwarfs the losses sustained in the developed world.”
While the world’s richest regions lie in North America, Europe, and Pacific Asia respectively, the vast majority of the rest of the world lives in gross poverty.
This disparity is ‘color-coded’, too; as the top, the worlds wealthy, are white, while the world’s impoverished, the vast majority of the world’s people, are people of color. This disparity is further polarized when gender is included, as the majority of the wealthy are men, while the majority of the impoverished are women.
This disparity of a global scale is carried over to a national scale in the United States.
Race and Poverty in America
In the last months of Martin Luther King’s life, he focused his attention to the struggle against poverty.
“Sadly, as far as the country has come regarding civil rights, more Americans live in poverty today than during King’s lifetime. Forty million people, 13% of the population, currently fall below the poverty line.”
In 1967, King wrote:
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out. There are twice as many white poor as [black] poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and [black] alike.
Today, “more whites than blacks do still live in poverty, but a higher proportion of minorities fall below the poverty line, including 25% of blacks and 23% of Latinos (compared to 9% of whites). Stable jobs, good housing, comprehensive education and adequate health care are still unequal, unsuitable and, in many cases, unavailable.”
“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.”
“Federal Reserve research found that the wealth of the top one percent of Americans is greater than that of the bottom 95 percent.” Further, “Wealth projections through 1997 suggest that 86 percent of stock market gains between 1989 and 1997 went to the top ten percent of households while 42 percent went to the most well-to-do one percent.”
Wealth disparity is not color-blind.
As of 1998,
“The modest net worth of white families [was] 8 times that of African-Americans and 12 times that of Hispanics. The median financial wealth of African-Americans (net worth less home equity) [was] $200 (one percent of the $18,000 for whites) while that of Hispanics [was] zero.” Further, “Household debt as a percentage of personal income rose from 58 percent in 1973 to an estimated 85 percent in 1997.”
In 2000, a major university study revealed that the poor were more likely to be audited by the IRS than the rich.
In December of 2009, the Seattle Times ran an article in which they tell the story of Rachel Porcaro, a 32-year-old mother of two boys. She was summoned to the IRS back in 2008 where she was told she was being audited.
When she asked why, she was told that,
“You made eighteen thousand, and our data show a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle.” Thus, “They thought she must have unreported income. That she was hiding something. Basically they were auditing her for not making enough money.”
The reporter for the Seattle Times wrote that,
“An estimated 60,000 people in Seattle live below the poverty line – meaning they make $11,000 or less for an individual or $22,000 for a family of four. Does the IRS red-flag them for scrutiny, simply because they’re poor?”
He contacted the local IRS office with that question; they “said they couldn’t comment for privacy reasons.”
What followed the initial audit was even worse:
She had a yearlong odyssey into the maw of the IRS. After being told she couldn’t survive in Seattle on so little, she was notified her returns for both 2006 and 2007 had been found “deficient.”
She owed the government more than $16,000 – almost an entire year’s pay.
[…] Rachel’s returns weren’t all that complicated. At issue, though, was that she and her two sons, ages 10 and 8, were all living at her parents’ house in Rainier Beach (she pays $400 a month rent). So the IRS concluded she wasn’t providing for her children and therefore couldn’t claim them as dependents.
A family friend who was an accountant determined that the IRS was wrong in its interpretation of the tax law;
“He sent in the necessary code citations and hoped that would be the end of it.”
But the story wasn’t over;
“Instead, the IRS responded by launching an audit of Rachel’s parents.” Rachel said, “We’re surviving as a tribe. It seems like we got punished for that.”
Taxation is a major issue related to poverty.
A major report issued in November of 2009 revealed that the state of,
“Alabama makes families living in poverty pay higher income taxes than any other state.” Thus, “At the lowest incomes, we have some of the highest taxes in the nation because our system is upside down.”
In November of 2009, stunning statistics were revealed as a true test of poverty in America:
With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.
It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.
Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare.
The food stamps program is growing at the pace of 20,000 people per day, as,
“There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps,” and “In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children.”
Further, “food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible” nationwide.
Thus, there is potentially 18 million more Americans eligible to use food stamps, which would make the figure soar to 54 million.
In 2008, tent cities started popping up in and around cities all across the United States, as the homeless population rapidly expanded like never before.
The Guardian reported in March of 2009 that,
“Tent cities reminiscent of the “Hoovervilles” of the Great Depression have been springing up in cities across the United States – from Reno in Nevada to Tampa in Florida – as foreclosures and redundancies force middle-class families from their homes.”
An April 2009 article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel ran a report on the middle class in the US being thrown into poverty, in which the authors wrote,
“The financial crisis in the US has triggered a social crisis of historic dimensions. Soup kitchens are suddenly in great demand and tent cities are popping up in the shadow of glistening office towers.”
Further: Poverty as a mass phenomenon is back. About 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and more people are added to their ranks every day. More than  million people receive food stamps, and 13 million are unemployed. The homeless population is growing in tandem with a rapid rise in the rate of foreclosures, which were 45 percent higher in March 2009 than they were in the same month of the previous year.
[…] The crisis in the lower third of society has turned into an existential threat for some Americans. Many soup kitchens are turning away the hungry, and even hastily constructed new facilities to house the homeless are often inadequate to satisfy the rising demand.
Many private corporations across America are withdrawing their funding for social welfare projects. Ironically, their generosity is ending just as mass poverty is returning to America.
Crime was also reported to be on the rise at a dramatic rate.
One criminologist explained that in the face of more Americans struggling in harsh economic times,
“The American dream to them is a nightmare, and the land of opportunity is but a cruel joke.”
Statistics were confirming his predictions of a rise in crisis-related crime, as April 2009 was “one of the bloodier months in American criminal history.”
A professor of criminology stated,
“I’ve never seen such a large number (of killings) over such a short period of time involving so many victims.”
In the midst of the euphoria over a perceived economic recovery, which has yet to “trickle down” to the people, tent cities have not vanished.
In late February of 2010, it was reported that,
“Just an hour outside of New York City, a thriving tent city gives a home to refugees from the economic downturn.”
Many people in poverty,
“have become so desperate that they have had to move into the woods.” One woman in this forest tent city outside of New York had been living there for two years. She said, “I just went through a divorce. And it was a bad divorce. And I ended up here, homeless in here.”
Rob, a 21-year-old who was laid off when the Great ‘Recession’ began, is the youngest homeless man living in the forest tent city. He said the worst part is the shame,
“The embarrassment of walking out of here, the cars see you come by and they know who you are. The shame of walking into town and having people give you dirty looks just for the way you’re forced to live.”
While many more millions are being plunged into poverty, the internal disparities of race, gender, and age still persist.
In November of 2009, it was reported that the jobless rate for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions, as 34.5% of young black men were unemployed in October of 2009, “more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population.”
Further: The jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5 percent. For young blacks – who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination – race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education.
Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.
Another startling statistic in the report was that,
“Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent.”
The fact that these are the statistics for young people is especially concerning, as “the consequences can be long-lasting”:
This might be the first generation that does not keep up with its parents’ standard of living. Jobless teens are more likely to be jobless twenty-somethings. Once forced onto the sidelines, they likely will not catch up financially for many years. That is the case even for young people of all ethnic groups who graduate from college.
With poverty, food scarcity increases.
While many Americans and people the world over have felt the effects of the recession on their daily meals, the race disparity persists in this facet as well, as,
“one in four African-American households struggles to put food on the table on a regular basis, compared with about one in seven households nationally.” Further, “90 percent of African American children will receive food stamp benefits by the time they turn 20.”
In March of 2010, a truly staggering report was released by a major economic research group which concluded that,
“Women of all races bring home less income and own fewer assets, on average, than men of the same race, but for single black women the disparities are so overwhelmingly great that even in their prime working years their median wealth amounts to only $5.”
Let’s review that again:
[W]hile single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.
The research organization analyzed data from the Federal Reserve’s 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances.
Wealth, or net worth, in the report, is defined as:
[T]he total of one’s assets – cash in the bank, stocks, bonds and real estate; minus debts – home mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student loans. The most recent financial data was collected before the economic downturn, so the current numbers likely are worse now than at the time of the study.
The study further revealed that,
“For all working-age black women 18 to 64, the financial picture is bleak. Their median household wealth is only $100. Hispanic women in that age group have a median wealth of $120.”
Black women are more likely to be hit with the responsibility of working and raising children on their own:
In a 2008 study of black women and their money, the ING Foundation found that black women – who frequently manage the assets of their households – financially support friends, family and their houses of worship to a much greater degree than the general population.
They also are more likely to be employed in jobs and industries – such as service occupations – with lower pay and less access to health insurance. And when their working days are done, they rely most heavily on Social Security because they are less likely to have personal savings, retirement accounts or company pensions. Their Social Security benefits are likely to be lower, too, because of their low earnings.
The poor youth of America are also disproportionately subject to racial exacerbations of their social situations.
“more than half of all young adult dropouts are jobless. And dropouts are at greater risk of being incarcerated and having poorer physical and mental health than those who graduate.” Again, the racial disparity emerges, as “[p]oor and minority youths are far less likely to graduate from high school than white children.”
An October 2009 report released by the National Center for Education Statistics says,
59.8 percent of blacks
62.2 percent of Hispanics
61.2 percent of American Indians,
…graduated from public high school in four years with a regular diploma in the 2006-2007 school year compared to 79.8 percent for whites and 91.2 percent for Asian and Pacific Islanders.
Black and Hispanic dropout rates were more than twice those of white youths.
Many youths then venture into crime to survive. It is here where another racial divide rears its head in a clear example of how Justice is not blind, but sees in technicolour. The incarceration rate, that is, the prison rate of Americans is color-coded. Black men are incarcerated “at a rate that is over 6 times higher than that for white males.”
While black Americans make up 13% of the US population, they make up 40% of the US prison population.
Meanwhile, whites make up 66% of the US population, yet only 34% of the prison population.
Hispanics make up 15% of the U.S. population, and account for 20% of the prison population.
The poor youth are subject to further insults, as new federally funded drug research revealed a startling and bleak disparity: poor children who are dependent upon Medicaid, a government health program for low-income families,
“are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance.”
Further, these children, the poor children,
“are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts.”
A research team from Rutgers and Columbia posed the question:
Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them – but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?
The effects are not simply psychological, as,
“Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems.”
Ultimately, what the research concluded was that,
“children with diagnoses of mental or emotional problems in low-income families are more likely to be given drugs than receive family counseling or psychotherapy.”
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry revealed that,
“Children and youth on certain antipsychotic medications are more prone to getting diabetes and becoming fat,” and that, “the medication has significant and worrying side-effects.”
In America, the prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs to children rose five-fold between 1995 and 2002 to roughly 2.5 million.
Thus, we have a situation in which the poor are treated in such a way as to dehumanize them altogether; to deprive them not simply of life’s necessities, but to then use them as guinea pigs and to punish them for their poverty.
Hubert Humphrey once said,
“A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.”
How shall our societies be thus judged?
War and Poverty
It is to our own detriment that we fail to see the relationship between war and poverty both on a national and global level.
War is the most violent and oppressive tool used by the powerful to control people and resources. The industry of war profits very few at the expense of the majority; it does not simply impoverish the nation that is attacked, but impoverishes the nation that is attacking.
In April of 1967, one year before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, he delivered a speech entitled, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”
This speech is one of King’s lesser known, yet arguably, one of his most important. While reading the text of the speech does it no justice to the words spoken from King’s mouth in his magnanimous manner, they are worth reading all the same.
Dr. King declared that,
“A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”
His words are as significant today as the day they were spoken, and are worth quoting at some length:
Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. […]
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?
Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say.
Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
[…] I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.
We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.
So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years – especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.
But they asked – and rightly so – what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.
For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
[…] In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela.
This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.
It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us.
Five years ago he said,
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken – the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
[…] A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
[…] The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.
After delivering such a monumental speech against war and empire, King was attacked by the national media; with Life Magazine calling the speech,
“demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” and the Washington Post saying that, “King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
War is inextricably linked to the impoverishment of people around the world and at home. Inherent within the system of war, racial divides and exploitation are further exacerbated.
In the midst of the economic crisis, military recruitment went up, as the newly unemployed seek job security and an education.
A Pentagon official said in October of 2008 that,
“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” as “185,000 men and women entered active-duty military service, the highest number since 2003, according to Pentagon statistics. Another 140,000 signed up for duty in the National Guard and reserve.”
In November of 2008, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that recruitment into the military had increased by over 14% as a result of the economic crisis.
“The north of England, where the credit crunch has hit hard, is among the areas where the MoD says recruitment is at its strongest.”
In 2005, it was reported that the Pentagon had developed a database of teenagers 16-18 and all college students “to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment.”
Further, according to the Washington Post,
“The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report in 2008, which revealed that there is a dangerous trend in recruiting youth in the United States.
Recruitment of youth 16 and younger is prohibited in the United States, however:
[T]he U.S. armed services regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment. The U.S. military heavily recruits on high school campuses, targeting students for recruitment as early as possible and generally without limits on the age of students they contact.
Despite a lawsuit challenging its identification of eleventh-grade high school students for recruitment, the Department of Defense’s central recruitment database continues to collect information on 16-year-olds for recruitment purposes.
Various Army programs and recruitment services target students as young as 11, which includes a video game used as a tool for Army recruitment,
“explicitly marketed to children as young as 13.” Further, “The U.S. military’s recruitment policies, practices, and strategies explicitly target students under 17 for recruitment activities on high school campuses.”
In 2007, prior to the economic crisis, it was reported that,
“nearly three quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average.” Further, “More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average.”
The war casualties have disproportionately affected rural American towns, which make up the majority of military recruits. Interestingly, between,
“1997 to 2003, 1.5 million rural workers lost their jobs due to changes in industries like manufacturing that have traditionally employed rural workers.”
Now, they make up the majority of war casualties.
War and poverty are inherently related in this example: the most impoverished suffer the most in war.
In 2007, it was further reported that more than 30,000 foreign troops are enlisted in the US Army, being recruited to join from foreign nations such as Mexico in return for being granted US citizenship.
In 2005, whites made up 80% of Army recruits, while blacks made up 15% of recruits. In 2008, whites made up 79%, while blacks made up 16.5% of Army recruits. However, an interesting statistic is that between 2007 and 2008, there was a 5% increase in the recruit of whites, while over the same period there was nearly a 96% increase in the recruitment of blacks. In 2008, 52% of recruits were under the age of 21.
For the fifth year in a row, as of 2008,
“youth from low- to middle-income neighborhoods are over-represented among new Army recruits.”
In March of 2008, The Nation published an article entitled “The War and the Working Class,” in which it explained that the American military operated under an “economic draft,” as,
“Members of the armed forces come mainly and disproportionately from the working class and from small-town and rural America, where opportunities are hard to come by.”
This was even before the economic crisis had really started to be noticed in the United States.
In January of 2009 it was reported that,
“The Army and each of the other branches of the military are meeting or exceeding their goals for signing up recruits, and attracting more qualified people.”
In March of 2009, it was reported that,
“Fresh recruits keep pouring into the U.S. military, as concerns about serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are eclipsed by the terrible civilian job market.”
All branches of the armed forces,
“met or exceeded their active duty recruiting goals for January, continuing a trend that began with a decline in the U.S. job market.”
The military acknowledged that weakness in the U.S. economy, which lost 2.6 million jobs in 2008 and another 598,000 in January, has made the armed services more appealing to potential recruits.
It was reported in October of 2009 that due to the economic crisis,
“Middle-class American youth are entering the military in significant numbers,” as the Department of Defense announced “that for the first time since the draft ended and the all-volunteer force began 36 years ago, every service branch and reserve component met or exceeded its recruiting goals, both in numbers and quality.”
As the economic crisis “resulted in the largest and the swiftest increase in overall unemployment that we’ve ever experienced,” this created a boom for military recruiting.
In December of 2009 it was reported that with a record number of college graduates unable to find work, recruitment soared to record levels, even in the midst of President Obama announcing the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
As one commentator put it:
The United States is broken – school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding – yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each.
In January of 2010 it was reported by the military that many Marines nearing the end of their active duty are reconsidering re-enlisting due to the severe economic situation.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor in November of 2009, there were 15.4 million unemployed people in the United States, with the unemployment rate hitting 10%.
“Employment fell in construction, manufacturing and information industries, while jobs in temporary help services and health care increased.”
Thus, the unemployment figures are somewhat deceiving, as it doesn’t take into account all the people that only rely upon part-time jobs, as,
“People working part-time jobs for economic reasons numbered 9.2 million. These individuals worked part-time because their hours at another job had been cut back or they were unable to find a full-time job.” Hence, “Marines reenlist for numerous economic reasons.”
In 2007, Obama campaigned on a promise to increase defense spending, and that he wanted the American military to “stay on the offense, from Djibouti to Kandahar,” from Africa to Afghanistan.
Obama proclaimed his belief that,
“the ability to put boots on the ground will be critical in eliminating the shadowy terrorist networks we now face,” and he said that, “no president should ever hesitate to use force – unilaterally if necessary,” not simply to “protect ourselves,” but also to protect America’s “vital interests.”
Sure enough, Obama followed through on those promises.
Obama increased defense spending from the previous year. Alone, the United States spends almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined, including seven times the amount as the next largest defense spender, China.
In October of 2009, Obama signed the largest-ever bill for military spending, amounting to $680 billion. At the same time, he authorized a spending bill of $44 billion for the Department of Homeland Security.
A sad irony was that,
“Obama signed the record Pentagon budget less than three weeks after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.”
In February of 2010, Obama asked Congress to approve a new record-setting defense budget, at $708 billion. Interestingly,
“the Pentagon budget increased for every year of the first decade of the 21st century, an unprecedented run that didn’t even happen in the World War II era, much less during Korea or Vietnam.” Further, “if the government’s current plans are carried out, there will be yearly increases in military spending for at least another decade.”
As Eric Margolis wrote in February of 2010:
Obama’s total military budget is nearly $1 trillion. This includes Pentagon spending of $880 billion. Add secret black programs (about $70 billion); military aid to foreign nations like Egypt, Israel and Pakistan; 225,000 military “contractors” (mercenaries and workers); and veterans’ costs. Add $75 billion (nearly four times Canada’s total defense budget) for 16 intelligence agencies with 200,000 employees.
[…] China and Russia combined spend only a paltry 10% of what the U.S. spends on defense.
There are 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations and 255,000 service members stationed abroad, 116,000 in Europe, nearly 100,000 in Japan and South Korea.
Military spending gobbles up 19% of federal spending and at least 44% of tax revenues. During the Bush administration, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – funded by borrowing – cost each American family more than $25,000.
Like Bush, Obama is paying for America’s wars through supplemental authorizations putting them on the nation’s already maxed-out credit card. Future generations will be stuck with the bill.
Thus, the American Empire is in decline, spending itself into utter debt and is at the point of “imperial overreach.”
As Eric Margolis wrote,
“If Obama really were serious about restoring America’s economic health, he would demand military spending be slashed, quickly end the Iraq and Afghan wars and break up the nation’s giant Frankenbanks.”
So, while people at home are on food stamps, welfare, living in tent cities, going to soup kitchens, getting by on debt, and losing their jobs, America sends forces abroad, conducting multiple wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, expanding the war into Pakistan, funding military operations in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, building massive new military bases in Pakistan and Colombia and providing military aid to governments around the world.
As the empire expands, the people become more impoverished.
We cannot afford to ignore the relationship between war, poverty and race. The poor are made to fight the poor; both are often disproportionately people of color. Yet war enriches the upper class, at least powerful sects of it in industry, the military, oil and banking. In a war economy, death is good for business, poverty is good for society, and power is good for politics.
Western nations, particularly the United States, spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to murder innocent people in far-away impoverished nations, while the people at home suffer the disparities of poverty, class, gender and racial divides.
We are told we fight to “spread freedom” and “democracy” around the world; yet, our freedoms and democracy erode and vanish at home. You cannot spread what you do not have.
As George Orwell once wrote:
The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation.
The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.
 David McNally, Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism. Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2006: page 149
 Ibid, page 150
 Ibid, pages 151-152
 Ibid, pages 152-153
 Ibid, page 153
 Ibid, pages 153-154
 Ibid, pages 154-155
 Ibid, page 155
 ILO, Women in labour markets: Measuring progress and identifying challenges. International Labour Organization, March 2010: pages 20-21
 Jeff Gates, Statistics on Poverty and Inequality. Global Policy Forum: May 1999: http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/218/46377.html
 Social & Economic Injustice, World Centric, 2004: http://worldcentric.org/conscious-living/social-and-economic-injustice
 PRB, PRB’s 2005 World Population Data Sheet Reveals Persisting Global Inequalities in Health and Well-Being. Population Reference Bureau, 2005: http://www.prb.org/Journalists/PressReleases/2005/MoreThanHalftheWorldLivesonLessThan2aDayAugust2005.aspx
 GPF, Press Release: Pioneering Study Shows Richest Own Half World Wealth. Global Policy Forum: December 5, 2006: http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/218/46555.html
 UN, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009. United Nations, New York, 2009: page 4
 G20 Summit: Bank bailout would end global poverty, says Oxfam. The Telegraph: April 1, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5087404/G20-Summit-Bank-bailout-would-end-global-poverty-says-Oxfam.html
 Press Release, 100 people every minute pushed into poverty by economic crisis. Oxfam International: September 24, 2009: http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2009-09-24/100-people-every-minute-pushed-poverty-economic-crisis
 Press Release, Financial crisis to deepen extreme poverty, increase child mortality rates – UN report. UN News Center: March 3, 2009: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30070
 Josie Raymond, MLK’s Last Goal: Eradicating Poverty. Poverty in America: January 18, 2010: http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/view/mlks_last_goal_eradicating_poverty
 Jeff Gates, Statistics on Poverty and Inequality. Global Policy Forum: May 1999: http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/218/46377.html
 David Cay Johnston, I.R.S. MORE LIKELY TO AUDIT THE POOR AND NOT THE RICH. The New York Times: April 16, 2000: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/16/business/irs-more-likely-to-audit-the-poor-and-not-the-rich.html?pagewanted=1
 Danny Westneat, $10 an hour with 2 kids? IRS pounces. Seattle Times: December 6, 2009: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2010435946_danny06.html
 Phillip Rawls, Study: Alabama Income Tax on Working Poor Harshest. ABC news: November 4, 2009: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=8996975
 Robert Gebeloff, Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades. The New York Times: November 28, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/us/29foodstamps.html
 AP, In hard times, tent cities rise across the country. MSNBC: September 18, 2008: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26776283/
 Oliver Burkeman, US tent cities highlight new realities as recession wears on. The Guardian: March 26, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/26/tent-city-california-recession-economy
 Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart, Crisis Plunges US Middle Class into Poverty. Der Spiegel: April 23, 2009: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,620754,00.html
 RT, Unemployed New Yorkers find a new home in the woods. Russia Today: February 24, 2010: http://rt.com/Top_News/2010-02-24/homeless-woods-new-york.html
 V. Dion Haynes, Blacks hit hard by economy’s punch. The New York Times: November 24, 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/23/AR2009112304092.html?hpid=topnews
 Greg Plotkin, A Quarter of All African Americans Are Hungry. Poverty in America: February 25, 2010: http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/view/a_quarter_of_all_african_americans_are_hungry
 Time Grant, Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: March 9, 2010: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10068/1041225-28.stm
 Marian Wright Edelman, Children Drop Out and Into Lives of Poverty and Imprisonment. Poverty in America: January 22, 2010: http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/view/children_drop_out_and_into_lives_of_poverty_and_imprisonment
 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2008 – Statistical Tables, March 2009 (Revised 4/8/09): http://allotherpersons.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/factoid-black-male-incarceration-rate-is-6-times-greater-than-rate-for-white-males/
 Duff Wilson, Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics. The New York Times: December 11, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/health/12medicaid.html
 Kelly Sinoski, Children on antipsychotic drugs more prone to diabetes: Canadian study. The Vancouver Sun: November 11, 2009: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Children+antipsychotic+drugs+more+prone+diabetes+Canadian+study/2212393/story.html
 AP, Anti-psychotic drug use in kids skyrockets. MSNBC: March 16, 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11861986/
 Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html
 Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV. FAIR: January 4, 1995: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2269
 David Morgan, Financial crisis could aid military recruitment. Reuters: October 10, 2008: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE4998WU20081010
 Simon Johnson, Armed Forces enjoy recruitment surge thanks to the credit crunch. The Telegraph: November 30, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/3536738/Armed-forces-enjoy-recruitment-surge-thanks-to-the-credit-crunch.html
 Jonathan Krim, Pentagon Creating Student Database. The Washington Post: June 23, 2005: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/22/AR2005062202305.html
 ACLU, Soldiers of Misfortune. American Civil Liberties Union: May 13, 2008: page 8: http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/humanrights/crc_report_20080513.pdf
 Ibid, pages 8-9.
 AP, Rural America bears scars from Iraq war. MSNBC: February 20, 2007: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17231366/
 Cordula Meyer, US Army Lures Foreigners with Promise of Citizenship. Der Spiegel: October 19, 2007: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,512384,00.html
 NPP, Army Recruitment in FY 2008: A Look at Age, Race, Income, and Education of New Soldiers. National Priorities Project, 2008: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/militaryrecruiting2008/a_look_at_race_ethnicity_and_income_of_new_soldiers
 Michael Zweig, The War and the Working Class. The Nation: March 13, 2008: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080331/zweig
 AP, Bad economy makes for more military recruits. MSNBC: January 19, 2009: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28736832/
 Aaron Smith, Military recruitment surges as jobs disappear. CNN Money: March 16, 2009: http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/10/news/economy/military_recruiting/index.htm
 Tom Philpott, Weak Economy Draws Middle-Class Recruits. Military.com, October 22, 2009: http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,204238,00.html
 Nicholas Kimbrell, US army recruitment booms as economy slumps. The National: December 4, 2009: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091205/FOREIGN/712049812/1135
 Lance Cpl. Antwain J. Graham, U.S. economy makes Marines consider re-enlistment options more seriously. Marines in Japan: January 15, 2010: http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/Public%20Affairs%20Info/Archive%20News%20Pages/2010/100115-reenlist.html
 Robert Kagan, Obama the Interventionist. The Washington Post: April 29, 2007: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702027.html
 Glen Greenwald, The “defense cut” falsehood from The Washington Post and Robert Kagan. Salon: February 3, 2009: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2009/02/03/kagan
 Patrick Martin, Obama signs bills for record Pentagon, Homeland Security spending. World Socialist Web Site: October 30, 2009: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/oct2009/dfns-o30.shtml
 Andrea Shalal-Esa, UPDATE 1-Obama seeks record $708 bln in 2011 defense budget. Reuters: February 1, 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0120383520100201?type=marketsNews
 William D. Hartung, Obama and the Permanent War Budget. Foreign Policy in Focus: December 22, 2009: http://www.fpif.org/articles/obama_and_the_permanent_war_budget
 Eric Margolis, Wars sending U.S. into ruin. The Toronto Sun: February 5, 2010: http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/eric_margolis/2010/02/05/12758511-qmi.html
Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis – The Impoverishment of the Middle Class
March 30, 2010
The western nations of the world have built their great wealth and societies on the exploitation and plundering of the people and resources of the rest of the world.
The wealth, freedom, and structures of our societies have been built on the starvation, robbery, deprivation and murder of millions upon millions of the world’s people, both historically and presently.
It seemed for a time that “Western Civilization” had worked, even if only for the west. We saw the emergence and growth of a vibrant middle class, which has its origins in the Industrial Revolution, out of which we also saw the formation of the “nuclear family.” The middle classes of the west grew in wealth, education, and access.
While the great problems of the world, and for the majority of the world’s people, persisted and expanded exponentially, the great purpose of the middle class was siphoned and expanded into facilitating the development of a massive consumerist society.
The function of the middle class became that of consuming, not necessarily contributing to determining the direction of society.
Nevertheless, life was good; or so it seemed. Thus, the people were by and large able to turn a blind eye to the plight of the world’s majority. As the decades progressed, however, the great western empires, increasingly united under the umbrella of a US-led NATO empire, grossly expanded their plundering and exploitation of the rest of the world.
New avenues for capitalist expansion needed to be found, more money to be made, more assets to be owned, more power to be had. As a part of this process, class structure was being reorganized, which meant that the middle class was to undergo an evolution.
In the past few decades, the middle class has been forced to survive on debt. In order to maintain the image of middle class, and to maintain the functions of the middle class (i.e., to consume), the middle class needed access to credit and had to descend into a class of debt. Now, as the world is undergoing a rapid social, political, and economic transformation, the middle class has been marked for death.
As a debt crisis takes the nations of the world into debt servitude, the middle classes of the western world will lose their access to credit, and will be forced into repaying their debts. As nations fall under a debt crisis, the middle class will collapse with it. A class built and sustained on debt is not sustainable. We are entering into a period of rapid class transformation on a global scale.
The mirage of the middle class is steadily vanishing as our eyes adjust to the reality of our environment. The Empire we turned a blind eye to abroad, is about to hit home; what we do abroad, comes home to roost.
The middle class is about to realize the true cost of empire.
The Debt Class
In 1958, the first successful modern credit card was launched by Bank of America, eventually evolving into what we know as Visa. The origins of MasterCard date back to 1966. The expansion of credit card usage grew exponentially through the following decades.
In 2004, PBS published a special report on the “secret history of credit cards.”
One of the researchers explained that,
“The almost magical convenience of plastic money is critical to our famously compulsive consumer economy,” as “With more than 641 million credit cards in circulation and accounting for an estimated $1.5 trillion of consumer spending, the U.S. economy has clearly gone plastic.”
However, credit card companies do not seek as an ideal customer the one who pays off their cards on a monthly basis:
“The industry’s most profitable customers, the ones being sought by creative marketing tactics, are the “revolvers:” the estimated 115 million Americans who carry monthly credit card debt.
[…] Some experts say the profitability of credit cards really began twenty-five years ago [in 1979], when the banking industry successfully eliminated a critical restriction: the limit on the interest rate a lender can charge a borrower. Deregulation, coupled with a revolution in technology that enables the almost real-time tracking of personal financial information and the emergence of nationwide banking, has facilitated the widening availability of credit cards across the economic spectrum. But for some, the cost of credit is often far greater than it appears.”
Robert McKinley, founder and chairman of Cardweb.com and Ram Research, a payment card research firm, explained that,
“[Banks are] raising interest rates, adding new fees, making the due date for your payment a holiday or a Sunday on the hopes that maybe you’ll trip up and get a payment in late,” and thus, “It’s become a very anti-consumer marketplace.”
It was in the origins of the neoliberal era, in the 1980s, that the west saw the ascendancy of credit cards.
While the western nations of the world, in collusion with international banks and corporations, plundered the ‘Third World’ through “structural adjustment” at the behest of the World Bank and IMF, the middle classes of the western world were lulled into a debt trap from which they would not emerge:
“Between 1980 and 1990, the number of credit cards more than doubled, credit card spending increased more than five-fold and the average household credit card balance rose from $518 to nearly $2,700. With the cost of money sinking and average balances climbing, profits soared.”
“the total amount of outstanding revolving consumer credit, which is primarily credit card debt, reached $743 billion,” which was “nearly nine times the amount recorded 20 years” prior. Thus, “Credit card debt collection has not only become essential, it has become very profitable. The most recent data indicates credit card debt collectors generated $1.2 billion in revenue” as of 2004.
In 1994, Federal Reserve figures in the United States showed that,
“middle-class families remain stuck with unusually high debt payments as a proportion of their income.”
As the New York Times reported:
“That high debt, resulting from stagnating wages while low interest rates have encouraged families to borrow, means consumers are living close to the financial edge, and ready to cut spending at any sign of economic trouble.”
One prominent economist even stated that,
“The rate of consumer spending is not sustainable unless there is a noticeable pickup in the pace of income growth.”
This has not occurred.
In 2006, a major report released by a US think tank revealed that,
“The middle class today is less prepared for an economic emergency, such as losing a job or visiting an emergency room, than at any time since the late 1970s.”
The report, published 2 years before the outbreak of the global financial crisis, reported that:
“Despite a growing economy, a rising stock market and stronger corporate earnings that are helping the rich get richer, the middle class in America is caught in an unprecedented squeeze that makes it increasingly unstable.”
Among the conclusions of the report, it was revealed that,
“Income for middle-class families has remained stagnant or flat since 2001,” while “Prices for big-ticket items – housing, health care, college education and transportation – have skyrocketed, leaving families unable to save.” Thus, “Middle-class families are borrowing record amounts of money to pay their monthly bills.”
One of the lead research economists at the think tank stated that,
“Families are being forced to live beyond their means, just to pay for the basics, such as housing and health care,” and that, “They are not only spending their current income but all their future income.”
Further, the report revealed:
“To maintain day-to-day consumption, Americans are taking on record amounts of consumer debt, researchers say – $5.2 trillion since 2001. In June 2006, families took on debt equivalent to 129% of their disposable incomes, a big increase from the 96% in March 2001.
Many homeowners are tapping into the equity in their homes, assuming more debt to pay for escalating energy and health-care costs. Falling home prices could force many of these middle-class families into foreclosure or back into apartments.
Middle-class families are also struggling with the ballooning costs of higher education. The total cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at four-year public colleges has increased 44% in the past four years.”
Of course, this is exactly what happened with the onset of the global financial crisis, as foreclosures ran rampant, and household debt levels soared to new heights.
This issue is not only confined to America.
In 2005, it was reported that:
“[T]here are more credit cards than people in the UK (67m, to be precise), and that personal debt is so huge Britain is more indebted than Argentina. If interest rates go up, the experts warn, the effect on ordinary people could be like a “time bomb”. Credit card debt accounts for £2 billion and Britain has in total a £1 trillion debt mountain.”
In 2006, it was reported that on average, “a Briton has twice the debt of a European,” and “Total consumer debt in the UK is at a record £1.3 trillion.”
While Europeans are also mired in credit card debt,
“the average Briton owes £3,175, compared to the average debt in Europe of £1,588,” as “Borrowers from the UK now account for a third of all unsecured debt in western Europe.”
The Middle Class in Crisis
At the onset of the global economic crisis, as in, at the point in which the word “recession” was being used, in the Spring of 2008, it was reported that in the U.K.,
“The number of middle class families struggling to make ends meet has increased significantly, with debt advice agencies overwhelmed with pleas for help from households in affluent areas of the country.”
The financial problems of the middle class,
“[were] being driven by rising inflation, the increased cost of living and the downturn in the housing market.”
An article in the Telegraph explained that,
“The face of debt has changed. Historically, it used to be mainly people on benefits and people in social housing who went to debt advice agencies.” However, “Since the credit crunch started, there has been a big increase in professionals and home-owners coming for help – you just didn’t see these people before at all.”
The middle class is “struggling with mortgages, secured loans, and credit card debts.”
The middle class in Britain has been plunged into a personal debt crisis, as professionals across the nation fall into the red. The middle class has been spending beyond its means; however, easy access to credit has been aided and abetted by the banks and financial institutions that gave away credit cards and loans without proper financial checks.
At the same time, in America, it was reported in July of 2008 that years of spending beyond their means has left a record number of Americans “standing at the financial precipice.”
“have amassed a mountain of debt that grows ever bigger because of high interest rates and fees.”
As the New York Times reported,
“the increased availability of credit has contributed mightily to the American economy and has allowed consumers to make big-ticket purchases like homes, cars and college educations.”
It was reported in June of 2008, that despite the obvious onset of the economic crisis at that time,
“Cash-strapped Americans are ringing up more and more purchases on their credit and debit cards, and there could be a steep price to pay ahead.”
One market strategist stated that,
“Right now what we’re seeing is the US consumer losing their disposable income as they have to spend more and more on necessities because of higher prices for gas and food.”
This debt crisis is a consumer debt crisis of the western world.
An article in Macleans in March of 2009 explained that for Canadians, while “debt” used to be a “bad word” for nearly a century:
“[S]tarting in the 1990s our attitude to debt changed. As interest rates fell and soaring house prices made everyone feel richer, our nation of savers became a nation of borrowers. Debt emerged as the great enabler, the ticket to the trappings of a better life, to flat screen TVs and shiny new SUVs. Now the upward march of real estate has reversed course, taking the household net worth of Canadians with it.”
Now, Canadians are,
“at the point where regular Canadians are carrying even more debt than Americans. It’s true we used to save much more – as recently as 1990 we socked away 13 per cent of our disposable incomes – but the average debt carried by Canadian households has jumped 71 per cent since then to $90,700, growing six times faster than the average household income.”
The article elaborated,
“the average Canadian family now owes more than 1.3 times its disposable income. That puts us in a slightly worse position that the typical American family, which owes just over 1.2 per cent of its disposable income.”
The middle class wealth was built on this debt, and so when the housing market began to collapse, it “exposed much of that wealth as a mirage.”
Foreclosures and bankruptcies have soared, and now,
“paying down debts that once seemed quite manageable will become a crushing and onerous process.”
In August of 2009, Bank of America released a report in which they explained,
“The consumer debt problem in the economy really is a debt problem for the middle class. The need to work off a chunk of that debt will sap middle-class families’ spending power for perhaps years to come.”
The twisted irony here is that institutions like Bank of America encouraged and facilitated debt-based consumption, and engaged in far riskier debt-based transactions on a global scale, which caused the global financial crisis.
Subsequently, the banks, like Bank of America, were given a blank check by the government that bought their bad debts, and are now going to charge the taxpayers, of which the Bank of America report states they need to “work off a chunk” of their own personal debt. They forgot to mention that the taxpayers would also be paying off the bankers’ debts, too.
The Bank of America report further revealed that,
“Lower-income families account for 40% of the population but just 12% of total consumption,” while, “The middle class is 50% of the population and nearly as large a share of consumption, at 46%,” thus, leaving “the wealthy to account for a hefty 42% of consumption.”
The report explained:
“In terms of their debt burdens, neither lower-income families nor the wealthy are constrained the way the middle class is constrained. . .
[The report] says the middle-class has suffered more than the wealthy from the housing crash because middle-class families tended to rely more on their homes to build savings through rising equity. Also, the wealthy naturally had a much larger and more diverse portfolio of assets – stocks, bonds, etc. – which have mostly bounced back significantly this year.”
Thus, the consumer society has already been altered. It will no longer be the middle classes that are the consuming class, but the wealthy.
The middle class will be forced to deleverage and buckle under their debt burdens. This is only a radical acceleration of a several-decades long trend in Western society; the economic crisis simply sped up this process and is exacerbating its compound effects. Do not deceive yourself, this has been a long-time coming.
In May of 2009, it was reported that in the U.K.,
“The number of Britons in traditionally affluent areas who are being swamped by debt has more than doubled in the last six months,” as “The recession and resulting increase in unemployment has hit white collar workers in the service sector particularly hard.”
One expert stated that,
“We are seeing a higher percentage of middle and higher income clients who are struggling because of redundancy or the inability to manage their mortgage repayments, often alongside multiple credit card debts.”
He further articulated,
“Inevitably, these higher levels of debt are leading to [an] increased number of clients having to look at bankruptcy or other insolvency solutions.”
In July of 2009, the IMF warned that,
“Britain’s credit card debt crisis will get significantly worse in the coming months with a wave of consumer payment defaults.”
The IMF said it,
“expects [that] £1.5bn of consumer debt across Europe will not be repaid, much of it in Britain which has the highest number of credit card borrowers on the continent.”
“failure to pay credit card bills is likely to increase as unemployment rises and the number of personal insolvencies, which reached 29,774 in the first quarter of the year, continues to rise.”
In October of 2009, it was reported that,
“High earners are struggling with debt as much as people on low incomes, according to financial experts and advisory charities,” as a direct result of the credit crunch and years of spending beyond their means, as “The withdrawal of easy credit as a result of the credit crunch has forced even those earning six-figure salaries to seek help with their debts.”
Now into 2010, central bankers are concerned about the massive debt levels of nations and consumers (that they played a central role in), and “they are warning about the need to raise interest rates to control this.”
“When interest rates start to rise payments on these mortgages will rise to the point where some borrowers won’t be able to manage. The fear is that foreclosures will then increase and there will be a repeat of the market collapse that started in the United States in 2007.”
As a result of the credit crunch in Canada, middle-income families have actually been increasing their credit and debt in order to stay afloat.
In May of 2009,
“household debt has reached an all-time high of $1.3 trillion in 2008,” as “Canadian families are financing consumption activity with unearned money as they increasingly reach for credit to finance day-to-day living expenses.”
In October of 2009, the Bank of Canada reported that total household debt had risen to $1.4 trillion.
In 2008, the average Canadian had a personal debt of almost $39,000, and the trend was on the rise. 58% of Canadians said their borrowing is to finance day-to-day living expenses. Between September 2008 and September 2009, 148,373 Canadians went into bankruptcy, with the trend rapidly increasing on a monthly basis, suggesting that the financial situation of Canadians is only getting worse.
It was reported that over the course of 2009 in the United States,
“Total credit-card debt outstanding dropped by $93 billion, or almost 10%.”
On the surface, this appears to be a good trend, suggesting that people might be paying off their debts.
“It turns out that while total debt outstanding dropped by $93 billion, charge-offs added up to $83 billion – which means that only 10% of the decrease in credit card debt – less than $10 billion – was due to people actually paying down their balances.”
“Consumers weren’t paying down their credit cards at all: they were racking up billions of dollars in new debt, and defaulting on the old stuff.”
In late 2008 and early 2009, considered the worst period of the economic crisis, spending was down and panic was in the air.
People were also trying to pay off their credit cards:
“Then two things happened: the panic started wearing off, and unemployment continued to rise. The urgency of paying down debt ebbed, even as spending naturally continued in the face of country-wide layoffs. And as a result, credit card debt continued its natural upward rise.”
The only way to stem the rise in credit card debt is to increase employment so that people can afford to pay off their credit card debt.
However, due to governments bailing out the banks at trillions of dollars, the governments have put themselves at great risk of a fiscal debt crisis; thus, to pay off their debt, they will have to cut spending, which means exacerbating the unemployment rate, not stemming it.
The middle classes of the western world, surviving only on debt, are about to be subject to a “class default.”
The wealthy class will be the consumption class, as the middle class is absorbed into the lower class and labour work force.
The College Crisis
Coupled with and central to a crisis in the status of the middle class, we are witnessing a growing crisis in which college graduates are finding it increasingly hard to find jobs.
As record numbers of students graduate, they do so into a dwindling and ever-decreasing job market. With so many students having gone into extreme debt to attain an education, and graduate into a jobless market, we see the growth of a “crisis in expectations.”
As the Guardian reported in September of 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis,
“Universities are producing too many graduates, leaving more than a million people in jobs for which they are over-qualified.”
Thus, there are too many graduates and too few jobs.
Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton, explained in December of 2008 the misrepresentation of the official statistics for unemployment as put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As he explained, to be counted as “unemployed,” it is required that someone:
“was without a job in the reference week
made an effort to actively search for a job in the last four weeks
was available for work. A person who is not employed and does not meet this definition of unemployed is considered out of the labor force”
So, if you are unemployed and have given up on searching for a job, you are not counted in the statistics of unemployment.
Further, if you are surviving on part-time work, you are not counted in the unemployment statistics. Students who can’t find a job and return to school are not counted among the unemployed. Thus, the official government numbers are a gross misrepresentation of the true degree of the crisis in employment.
In November of 2008,
“the number of college graduates who were working fell by 282,000, while only 2,000 more college graduates were classified as unemployed,” as “Laid off college workers, who are unaccustomed to unemployment, may feel a stigma if they report themselves as actively looking for work, so they are uncounted among the unemployed.”
From March of 2008, college graduates began abandoning the labour force, while high school graduates have been joining it.
Many unemployed college graduates also decide to return to school instead of search for work.
“Over the same period, the unemployment rate has risen more than twice as much for high school dropouts as for college graduates.”
However, following March of 2008, when Bear Stearns collapsed and the severity of the financial crisis began to rear its head, the unemployment rate for college graduates accelerated and less-educated workers were increasingly getting the few available jobs.
As economist Alan Krueger explained,
“If funds for investment are not available because of the financial crisis, however, companies will hire fewer skilled workers.”
Thus, we will see a trend in which college graduates will increasingly have to take up jobs in the service and labour economy.
In January of 2009, it was reported that a poll of the UK’s 100 best-known companies revealed that, “Students face a “very slim” chance of a graduate level job” over the summer of 2009, as one in six graduate-level jobs have already been cut.
The intake of new graduates was to be cut by 17% over 2009.
There were even reports in the UK that the “slump” in graduate jobs in the UK would result in “hobbling Scotland’s economy for an entire generation.”
As the Scotsman reported,
“Despite racking up debts of up to £13,000 to pay for their degrees, those leaving university in the summer face a battle for work.”
“Dramatic falls in graduate opportunities could see soaring unemployment and increasing reliance on the welfare state.”
One university official stated,
“Students about to graduate are having to adjust their expectations.”
Further, Scottish graduates,
“can expect to owe an average of £13,000 by the end of their degrees,” while English graduates “who pay tuition fees, were predicted to graduate with an average of more than £17,500 of debt.”
The Sunday Times in the UK mentioned the story of one student, who, after 12 years of school, four years of university and a degree in Business Management, was now working on a factory production line.
“I want to do something that gives me opportunities, so that I can work towards something. I am qualified to do all sorts of things, but I am working in a factory.”
This crisis is affecting large swaths of graduates:
“They are among an army of graduates emerging from the education system who face the toughest employment prospects for years as the recession deepens. The government, having encouraged youngsters into higher education that has saddled many with large debts, is deeply worried. Graduate numbers are hitting a record high just as the number of jobs is shrinking.”
CBS reported in April of 2009 that graduates were entering the “toughest job market in decades,” as:
“The jobless rate among college graduates has more than doubled from a year ago to 4.3 percent. Almost 2 million college graduates are unemployed and a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicts companies will hire 22 percent fewer graduating seniors than they did last year.”
There are even bigger problems for graduates, due to the excessive amounts of new unemployed, as college graduates are not simply competing against each other, but also a large amount of earlier college graduates who have more experience.
There are around five unemployed workers for every opening, “so each job is a coveted prize.”
Interestingly, “many recent college grads are also often more willing to settle for lower-skilled jobs.”
In October of 2009, while people were being told that we were “in recovery,” the job market remained abysmal. While we are told that the job market “lags behind recovery,” we forget to use logic and realize the implications that the job market has for the near and long term future.
Business Week did a special report on how,
“unemployment is ravaging just about every part of the global workforce, [yet] the most enduring harm is being done to young people who can’t grab onto the first rung of the career ladder.”
This crisis is affecting young people in every area, from high school dropouts to college graduates, from Britain to Japan. One indication, the author stated, was that,
“In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago.”
Thus: “For people just starting their careers, the damage may be deep and long-lasting, potentially creating a kind of “lost generation.” Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods.”
“the baby boom generation is counting on a productive young workforce to help fund retirement and health care.”
However, young people will get jobs with less pay and benefits, which “would mean lower tax payments for Social Security and Medicare.”
“Only 46% of people aged 16-24 had jobs in September, the lowest since the government began counting in 1948.”
However, this has also led to some commentators suggesting the solution is to slash “high minimum wages,” saying that a “high” minimum wage has made it less attractive to hire young people. In this logic, the solution is to pay young people much less.
This could very well turn out to be the “Lost Generation.”
In November of 2009, it was reported that, “New college graduates had 40% fewer job prospects” over 2009, and that while the prospects for 2010 are “better,” they are “still not very promising,” as “hiring of grads with any degree will decline by 2% compared to 2009.”
In December of 2009, it was reported that while the unemployment rate dropped in November for men and women, both black and white, (according to official statistics),
“for recent college graduates and other young adults, the labor situation didn’t just remain dire – it got worse.”
It was revealed that:
“For 20- to 24-year-olds, the jobless rate rose four-tenths of a percent to 16% in November, even as unemployment nationally slipped to 10% from 10.2%.”
The Telegraph reported in March of 2010, that over the course of 2009 in the UK,
“there were 44.3 applications for each graduate vacancy but this year the total is expected to be even higher as a backlog of unemployed graduates make further attempts to find jobs.”
Student Debt – The Other College Crisis
In 2007, it was reported that a major crisis in the United States was in the increasing reliance upon private loans for students going to college, which were extremely unregulated:
“As college tuition has soared past the stagnant limits on federal aid, private loans have become the fastest-growing sector of the student finance market, more than tripling over five years to $17.3 billion in the 2005-06 school year.”
Student loans from the government have interest rates capped by law; student loans from private financial institutions have “variable” rates, “like credit cards,” that can reach 20%.
There was an increasing trend with students piling up debts, which have no limits, as high and higher than $100,000.
Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers said,
“When a student signs the paper for these loans, they are basically signing an indenture… We’re indebting these kids for life.”
In the midst of the financial crisis,
“graduates across the country are entering the workplace with staggering liabilities. The average student debt has doubled since the mid-1990s.”
“[M]ore than two-thirds of all students now borrow money to finance their education, up from less than half in 1993. Among undergrads who borrow, the average finished school in 2004 with loans of $19,000, up from $9,000 a decade earlier.”
In graduate school, however, “debt is escalating the fastest”:
“Master’s students who borrow, however, finish with an average $36,000 in loans; law students with $66,000; medical students with $106,000; and dental students with $143,000.”
The Los Angeles Times reported in December of 2008 on the debt trap students are drawn into, where high interest rates and fees aren’t disclosed up front.
The article tells the story of one girl who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in photography with $140,000 of debt,
“some of it at interest rates as high as 18%. Her monthly payments are roughly $1,700, more than her rent and car payment combined.”
She had taken the loans simply to pay for tuition.
One interesting fact to know is that the student loan market is worth (as of December 2008) $85 billion. Yet, the $700 billion bailout granted by Congress to the bankers would also benefit student-loan companies, which “will unfairly reward companies that have profited from writing risky loans to students.”
Meanwhile, the students suffer. A ‘real’ stimulus or ‘bailout’ would have been a student debt bailout; clear the slate and let students start anew.
Kathy Kristof writes for Forbes on the “Great College Hoax,” where students are cultivated with an image that college is a “sure-fire path to a life of social and economic privilege.”
She tells the story of two students, who got into debt to go to law school, got married, and suffered under the burden of debt servicing, citing it as a major facet in their divorce.
“The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that’s just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle.
The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks.”
In January of 2009, student loan debt in Canada had reached $13 billion, which “does not include debt from provincial student loans or private debt, such as lines of credit.”
Thus, says one commentator in the Georgia Straight,
“Today’s generation of students is living in a debt crisis like no other in Canadian history.”
The article continues:
“Federal and provincial funding cuts to postsecondary education have created this debt crisis by passing the burden of funding our public education system on to those who can least afford it: students.
According to Statistics Canada, tuition fees in British Columbia are nearly 10 percent above the national average, at just under $5,000. High tuition fees and student debt have undeniable long-term consequences on students and our society as a whole.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in September of 2009 that even in the midst of the economic crisis, student loans in the United States were rapidly accelerating:
“[T]he total amount borrowed by students and received by schools – in the 2008-09 academic year grew about 25% over the previous year, to $75.1 billion. The amount of money students borrow has long been on the rise. But last year far surpassed past increases.”
Further, odious debts are affecting major life choices of graduates,
“forcing them to put off traditional milestones – from buying a first home to even marriage and having children.”
Thus, we have entered a period where college graduates face record high levels of debt and unemployment. More and more adults are moving back home instead of buying their own.
As Reuters reported in January of 2010, while access to credit everywhere seemed to be limited,
“one area of the credit market is rapidly expanding: student loans.”
Student loans have risen to unprecedented levels, even in the midst of the economic crisis, and the perceived ‘recovery’.
Looking at this in broader economic terms, the private lenders are doing what all the big banks did in the lead up to the financial crisis and the creation of the housing bubble: giving excessive loans to high risk individuals who will never be able to pay back the loan.
This has created an “education bubble,” where students would go into extreme debt in order to get an education, and upon graduation would enter an intensely competitive and difficult job market. Even if they manage to get a job, it is likely not in the field of their education, and it is very likely that they will never emerge from their student debt.
Students are thrown into debt to take jobs that don’t exist, in order to pay loans they can’t afford on wages they won’t get. Though, the ‘popping’ of this bubble will have a greater social dynamic than economic, there will certainly be an economic dimension, as this is a strong indication of years and possibly an entire generation of slow or negative economic growth.
If there are no jobs for graduates, then the skills required for those markets will disappear, and with it, the economic vitality they created. It is, however, the social aspect that poses a still greater threat.
With a generation of educated youth thrown into debt servitude and unemployment, a generation of ‘expectations’ is failed.
When that happens, students take to the streets.
Class Default – What ‘Austerity’ Means for the Middle Class
In June of 2009, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that while governments around the world “bailed out” the finance industry, they failed to reform or regulate any of the problems in financial markets that created the crisis, and “some rescue plans have pushed banks to maintain their lending practices of the past.”
Thus, warned the BIS,
“stimulus measures won’t be able to gain traction, and may only lead to a temporary pickup in growth,” and “A fleeting recovery could well make matters worse.”
Further, the BIS warned that governments,
“will find it harder to place debt, and could face rising funding costs – leading to spending cuts or significantly higher taxes.”
The BIS further warned that countries such as Australia,
“faced the possibility of a run on the currency, which would force interest rates to rise,” and “fiscal stimulus packages may provide no more than a temporary boost to growth, and be followed by an extended period of economic stagnation.”
The BIS said that,
“the biggest risk is that governments might be forced by world bond investors to abandon their stimulus packages, and instead slash spending while lifting taxes and interest rates.”
This essentially amounts to “austerity measures” imposed upon the Western ‘developed’ nations of the world, akin to the austerity measures imposed upon the nations of the ‘Third World’ through IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) following the 1980s debt crisis.
This “austerity adjustment” will be endemic of the Western world. We are entering “a fiscal crisis of the western world.”
As the debt burden grows for western nations, they will be forced to raise interest rates, thus making payments on debt larger; currency devaluations will be required, in a stated attempt to encourage private investment; however, this will have the effect of causing inflation, where the prices of food and fuel and other essential commodities will rise dramatically.
At the same time, countries will be forced to exponentially raise taxes and cut social spending in an attempt to gain revenue while cutting costs, in order to pay off the debt burden and reduce deficits.
The result of this will be the decimation of the public sector, as areas of education and health care as well as other public enterprises are dismantled, privatized and sold off to mega corporations and banks for pennies on the dollar, as a devalued currency would make purchasing companies and assets much cheaper than before.
Concurrently, a massive privatization of infrastructure will take place, as roads, resources and other public assets are sold to multinational corporations. What will follow is what follows every time this is done in a ‘Third World’ nation: massive layoffs, spiraling unemployment and soaring poverty rates.
To know the extent of ‘austerity’ measures that will be imposed upon western nations, look to Europe, where nations already immersed in debt crises are undertaking ‘austerity’ reforms. In March of 2010, Greece unveiled a new round of ‘austerity measures’, which include salary cuts for state workers and tax hikes, and it “is likely to intensify public opposition in the Mediterranean nation, where strikes by unions in recent weeks have brought the country to a halt.”
Greece will “raise its value-added tax, a national sales tax, as well as taxes on fuel, tobacco and other items.”
One Greek government official stated,
“It’s going to be painful, people will protest, but we know Greece has no alterative.”
Right on cue, riots and protests broke out in Greece, with estimates of the number of people protesting between 20,000 and 60,000 in Athens alone.
Even police and security forces were protesting many of the measures. Naturally, the riots were met by clashes with the police forces. While Greece descended into crisis, British and American firms partook in aggressive speculative attacks against Greece in money markets, as the derivatives market booms with speculators hedging bets against a Greek default.
As investors move their money away from buying Greek debt, signaling a lack of faith in Greece’s ability to handle its debt load, the country subsequently plunges deeper into crisis,
“pushing the country further towards a possible debt spiral.”
Speculative attacks are taking place against many countries, as,
“Alongside Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland, Greece has been the focus of widespread market selling over the past few weeks, with investors fearing the countries may be unable to repair their balance sheets alone.”
Portugal, in an attempt to ‘forestall’ a debt crisis, has already begun imposing austerity measures, including “cutting welfare benefits and government hiring as well as selling assets and raising taxes.”
“Portugal aims to raise 6 billion Euro ($8.2 billion) from privatizations, trim welfare benefits and slash other state expenditure in an effort to reduce the country’s heavy debt load.”
This is just the beginning of the austerity measures being imposed in these countries, which are scheduled under programs that are intended to last several years, until the deficits are brought down significantly.
‘Austerity’ in America
While it will likely be a little while longer before America is truly hit with harsh austerity measures to reduce its deficit, the groundwork is already being laid down.
At the beginning of August, Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary who bailed out all the banks, said that,
“Americans face tough choices in reducing the national deficit.”
So after he gave the banks a blank check, saving them from their own institutional hubris, he acknowledged that indeed, someone must pay, and it will be the American people.
Appearing before the Congress, Geithner, as well as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that, “the economy would not collapse.” However, considering their track record, this means absolutely nothing coming from them.
What they did say that is worth noting, is that,
“emergency steps, including the bailout plan last year and the economic stimulus bill this year, are expanding the federal budget deficit to unsustainable levels.”
“We will not get this economy back on track, recovery will be not strong and sustained, unless we… can convince the American people that we’re going to have the will to bring these deficits down once recovery is firmly established.”
Geithner refused to rule out tax increases,
“saying President Barack Obama’s administration would take whatever steps were necessary to reduce the deficit,” and Greenspan said, “he believed the government eventually will impose some kind of value-added tax to raise revenue.”
A value-added tax is a tax on the “transfer” of goods from production to delivery, which makes the price for the consumers higher.
Thus, it is not a sales tax added onto the product, but is hidden in the product’s price, itself. Greenspan referred to the value-added tax as the “least worst solution.”
We must be reminded that Obama’s economic team are all architects of the financial crisis, who in the past played pivotal roles in creating the conditions for the crisis to occur, and who are all closely aligned with the interests of Wall Street banks. They are now in charge of organizing the ‘solutions’ to the economic crisis they helped cause; they are there for the banks, not the people.
Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the economic crisis, one of the key institutions of banking power, corruption, and the “black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.”
Now he runs the Treasury.
Top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers was previously Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration where he was a pivotal figure is the dismantling of banking regulations and expansion of the derivatives market, both of which were essential facets of the economic crisis.
Paul Volcker, another top economic adviser to Obama, a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, was responsible for creating the 1980s debt crisis across the ‘Third World’ by raising interest rates dramatically, causing a wave of countries to default under their debt loads and leading to the re-colonization of the ‘Third World’ by the IMF and World Bank.
These are men that should not be trusted to guard your piggy bank, let alone the national Treasury.
Lawrence Summers had, in the spring of 2009, promised that there would be no tax increases on the middle class; yet, in early August, he said he “would not rule out middle-class tax increases.”
In March of 2009, Summers said,
“Let’s be very clear… There are no, no tax increases this year. There are no, no tax increases next year.” In August, he said, “circumstances change and options cannot be ruled out.”
In March of 2009, it was reported that,
“President Barack Obama is putting former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in charge of a tax-code review aimed at closing loopholes, streamlining the law and generating revenue.”
Volcker, the head of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board,
“will be examining ways of being even more aggressive on reducing the tax gap.”
The tax gap is the difference between taxes that are owed and taxes that are collected. In other words, tax collection will be rapidly and aggressively increased.
While on the campaign trail, Obama vowed that anyone making less than $250,000 a year “will not see their taxes increase by a single dime.” A golden rule of political rhetoric is to never believe what politicians say when they campaign.
As the Wall Street Journal reported in August, Obama,
“was right, very strictly speaking: It’s going to be many, many, many billions of dimes.”
Perhaps the most important tax hike will be the value-added tax, which,
“would apply to every level of production or service, and it is beloved by politicians in Europe because it raises so much money so easily without voters noticing.”
Obama’s 2010 budget released in February of 2010 was most widely discussed for having increased taxes on the wealthy.
Despite these seemingly progressive and pertinent measures, most commentary has been quite superficial, failing to see that the tax increases on the wealthy will do little to even dent the deficit.
As one report noted:
“Taxing the rich will be one of the hot political stories this year. It will also divert attention from a much bigger story: Sooner or later, almost everybody in America is going to pay more in taxes.”
Since raising income taxes is widely unpopular, politicians will employ it as a ‘last-resort’, which leads the way for ‘creative’ tax hikes to take place, such as raising state and local sales taxes, and to crack down on tax evasion and increase penalties for filing taxes late.
There is also the route of ‘carbon’ and energy taxes. Health care taxes are also likely to increase, as several states had already raised taxes on hospitals. The federal government could also reduce aid to states, forcing them to cut their own spending. However, again, the “holy grail” of tax experts is the value-added tax (VAT), which would have the effect of simply raising prices.
In early February of 2010, Obama said he was “agnostic” about raising taxes on the middle class.
Obama stated that the government,
“needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.”
With the passing of so-called health care ‘reform’, roughly 12 new taxes will be levied against the middle class.
The 2010 budget in the U.K. is “to carry out a £19 billion tax raid on the middle classes to help pay Britain’s record debt,” as well as “cuts and savings in public spending.”
Business Insider reported, following the British budget assessment, that America will likely have a similar increase in taxes, analyzing potential future taxes that may appear in America. Among these are raising the alcohol tax on a particular drink, such as wine coolers; an increased tax on tobacco, all drinking sales taxes, increased taxes on gasoline, taxes on waste and garbage, increased property taxes, income tax increases, social security tax increases, and a variety of others.
In America, such an austerity budget would reduce funding programs for the unemployed, or those searching for jobs, spending on job growth would be cut and “gutted”, child spending would be cut, drug spending would be “destroyed,” dental services cut, retirees would be “ransacked,” salary cuts for public servants, carbon taxes would “hammer” consumers, education and science spending would be slashed, health spending would be cut, and welfare would be slashed.
Dylan Grice, working for the Global Strategy arm of Société Générale, a major international financial institution, wrote in late March of 2010 about the prospects of when it would be best to sell gold.
In this report, he stated that,
“developed market governments are insolvent by any reasonable definition.”
In other words, the west is bankrupt.
He suggested that America has the potential to fall into “an extreme inflationary event,” as governments tend to avoid an “explicit default” on their debt by allowing for an “implicit default” via inflation. He explained that a period of “short-term pain” would become necessary to deal with the financial reality of government debt.
He explained that as Ireland undertakes harsh austerity measures to deal with its deficit,
“These draconian fiscal policies wouldn’t have been possible five years ago. But the political winds have changed.”
He explained that what is necessary for governments to undertake austerity measures, is to experience a fiscal crisis, in order to “force a majority acceptance of the implications of an overleveraged government.”
He wrote that,
“a government funding crisis is both inevitable and necessary. Dubai and Greece are merely the first claps of thunder in what is going to be a long emergency.”
“Eventually, there will be a crisis of such magnitude that the political winds change direction, and become blustering gales forcing us onto the course of fiscal sustainability. Until it does, the temptation to inflate will remain, as will economists with spurious mathematical rationalizations as to why such inflation will make everything OK…
Until it does, the outlook will remain favorable for gold. But eventually, majority opinion will accept the painful contractionary medicine because it will have to. That will be the time to sell gold.”
Make no mistake, a default is coming, and with that, the middle classes of the west should expect to be liquidated through inflation and ‘austerity’.
Lest we forget, the reason why the people must pay, is because our governments have imperial foreign policies and serve the interests of powerful economic entities, such as the major international banks they bailed out.
Banking on a Crisis
As the nations of the western world have, since the onset of the global economic crisis, sought only to save the banks from their own bad investments, they have handed global banks a blank check.
The governments bought the bad assets of the big banks, taking the private debt and transferring it to public debt. Thus, the bad practices of banks were and are still being encouraged, as governments have shown their propensity to step in and “save” the banks. Thus, governments have chosen to privatize profit, and socialize the risk; this is the foundation of corporatist state structures, corporate socialism, or what is otherwise known as ‘economic fascism’.
In mid-September 2009, the BIS warned that,
“The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter [of 2009] as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.”
The derivatives trade had risen by 16%,
“mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.”
In other words, speculation is back in full force as bailout money to banks in turn fed speculative practices that have not been subjected to reform or regulation. Derivatives markets pose “major systemic risks” for the global financial system.
The destructive practice of financial speculation, largely operating through the global derivatives trade, remains totally unregulated and continues to be active and growing. This only suggests that as nations around the world begin to buckle under their debt burdens, the major financial institutions (along with the global central banking system) which were the key architects of the global financial crisis, will now be able to profit from the collapse of nations.
Large financial institutions and speculators will be able to engage in capital flight, quickly removing their money from a nation’s currency, speculating that it will collapse, which often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will thus engage in currency speculation, speculation against debt burdens and national fiscal austerity programs. Countries that do not take the established method of imposing fiscal austerity through “Structural Adjustment” will face a speculative assault.
As nations collapse, the banks will grow, further consolidate, and purchase major global assets.
This is why the financial system has not been subject to any actual regulations or structural reforms, because the financial crisis is far from over. The banks and mega-corporations must be permitted to grow and profit off of the crisis to come. Surely, several more banks and corporations will collapse, and we will witness an acceleration of the global consolidation of business and banking.
However, as nations collapse, the banks and corporations at the top will profit.
It will be the people of the world, and the whole world over, who will be forced to pay for the crisis caused by the international collusion between banks and governments.
Incessantly high taxes, rising inflation, mass unemployment and growing poverty will plunge the western world into a social crisis the likes of which have never before been seen.
The Reorganization of Global Class Structure
The world has already, in the past two years, witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.
What will follow is a global restructuring of class structure as the western educated middle class will largely be decimated and liquidated of all its material wealth. This is a new phase of globalization.
As Robinson and Harris wrote in Science and Society Journal:
“One process central to capitalist globalization is transnational class formation, which has proceeded in step with the internationalization of capital and the global integration of national productive structures. Given the transnational integration of national economies, the mobility of capital and the global fragmentation and decentralization of accumulation circuits, class formation is progressively less tied to territoriality.”
The authors argue that a global ruling class has emerged as a result of ‘globalization’, a class they refer to as the ‘Transnational Capitalist Class’ (TCC – the global ruling class created by neoliberal globalization).
“is a global ruling class. It is a ruling class because it controls the levers of an emergent transnational state apparatus and of global decision making.”
As governance ‘goes global’, social structures must follow in step.
Globalization has led to the formation of a truly global economy, where states have less influence in global economic factors, and increasingly the world economic system is controlled by a powerful minority of banks, international financial institutions, and corporations.
This process has been facilitated by the major nations of the world, primarily the United States, and it has in turn led to the formation of a truly global ruling class. David Rothkopf refers to this global class as the ‘Superclass’ and has concluded that it is a class consisting of roughly 6,000 individuals, roughly one member of the ‘Superclass’ for every one million people.
The economy has been effectively ‘globalized’; the world’s political structures are following the economy in being ‘globalized’, as nation states are reorganized into regional governance blocs modeled on the European Union, and ultimately a global state apparatus emerges.
Concurrently, global social structures will also have to be ‘globalized’.
The majority of the world’s nations do not have a vibrant middle class population. For a global state to form, global class structures must be totally transnationalized; the ruling class is not the only global class structure to be formed, it is simply the first to be transnationalized.
Thus, we have a situation in which we will see an increasingly concentrated global ruling class consolidate their control over the global levers of power while a global labour class is transnationalized, meaning that the middle classes of the world have been marked for liquidation.
This, however, is not a new phenomenon. The middle classes of the western world, primarily that of the United States, have for several decades, been subjected to the erosion of their material wealth. The middle class exists in theory; it is a class built and sustained by debt.
As the middle class evaporates into the lower labour-oriented class, there will be a number of major social changes that take place. As the Industrial Revolution changed class structure, the Post-Industrial Revolution will do the same. Suburbia will need to alter its landscape, as lawns become gardens for growing food.
The family unit itself will significantly alter.
As the Industrial Revolution led to the formation of the ‘nuclear family’, the Post-Industrial Revolution will lead to a re-emergence of the extended family, with multiple generations of families living together in the same house. Communities will have to come together or fall apart.
“The number of people living with several generations under one roof in the United States is at its highest point in 50 years, as families cope with ruinous job losses and foreclosures”:
“During the first year of the recession, the number of Americans living in such multi-generational families rose by 2.6 million, or more than 5 percent, from 2007 to 2008…
Now 49 million Americans – 16.1 percent of the population – live in homes with multiple generations. Many include adult children in their 20s.”
We are entering into the era of the ‘Post-Industrial Revolution’, a ‘class cleansing’ of the western world. The entire socio-political economic landscape is being redrawn and reorganized.
The effects will be felt from the wallet to the family unit, itself. The global financial crisis is a global class war.
In 2006, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest billionaires, said that what is going in is “class warfare,” and that,
“it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
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 Fred Lucas, 12 Taxes in Health Care Law Violate Obama’s Pledge Not to Increase Taxes on Households Earning Less than $250,000. CNS News: March 25, 2010: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/63313
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 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Derivatives still pose huge risk, says BIS. The Telegraph: September 13, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/6184496/Derivatives-still-pose-huge-risk-says-BIS.html
 Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge, U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says. Bloomberg: July 20, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aY0tX8UysIaM
 William I. Robinson and Jerry Harris, Towards a Global Ruling Class? Globalization and the Transnational Capitalist Class. Science & Society, Vol. 64, No. 1, Spring 2000: pages 11-12
 Ibid, p. 12.
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 Ben Stein, In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning. The New York Times: November 26, 2006: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/business/yourmoney/26every.html
The Global Economic Crisis – Riots, Rebellion and Revolution
April 7, 2010
As nations of the world are thrown into a debt crisis, the likes of which have never been seen before, harsh fiscal ‘austerity’ measures will be undertaken in a flawed attempt to service the debts.
The result will be the elimination of the middle class.
When the middle class is absorbed into the labour class – the lower class – and lose their social, political, and economic foundations, they will riot, rebel, and revolt.
Ratings Agency Predicts Civil Unrest
Moody’s is a major ratings agency, which performs financial research and analysis on governments and commercial entities and ranks the credit-worthiness of borrowers.
On March 15, Moody’s warned that the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain,
“are all at risk of soaring debt costs and will have to implement austerity plans that threaten ‘social cohesion’.”
Further, Moody’s warned that such ‘austerity’ measures increase the potential for ‘social unrest’:
“Growth alone will not resolve an increasingly complicated debt equation. Preserving debt affordability at levels consistent with AAA ratings will invariably require fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion,” said Pierre Cailleteau, the chief author.
“We are not talking about revolution, but the severity of the crisis will force governments to make painful choices that expose weaknesses in society,” he said.
In other words, due to the massive debt levels of western nations taken on to save the banks from the crisis they caused, the people must now pay through a reduction of their standards of living.
Naturally, social unrest would follow.
This has not been the first or only warning of “social unrest” in the west, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The Economic Crisis and Civil Unrest
At the onset of the economic crisis, these warnings were numerous.
While many will claim that since we have moved on since the fall of 2008, these warnings are no longer valid. However, considering that the western world is on the verge of a far greater economic crisis that will spread over the next few years, from Greece to America, a great global debt depression, these warnings should be reviewed with an eye on the near future.
In December of 2008, in the midst of the worst period of the crisis of 2008, the IMF issued a warning to government’s of the west to,
“step up action to stem the global economic crisis or risk delaying a recovery and sparking violent unrest on the streets.”
However, governments did not stem or stop the economic crisis, they simply delayed the eventual and inevitable crisis to come, the debt crisis. In fact, the actions governments took to “stem” the economic crisis, or delay it, more accurately, have, in actuality, exacerbated the compound effects that the crisis will ultimately have.
In short, bailing out the banks has created a condition in which an inevitable debt crisis will become far greater in scope and devastation than had they simply allowed the banks to fail.
Even the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the most prestigious financial institution in the world – the central bank to the world’s central banks – has warned that the bailouts have put the global economy in potentially far greater peril.
The BIS warned that,
“The scope and magnitude of the bank rescue packages also meant that significant risks had been transferred onto government balance sheets.”
The head of the IMF warned that,
“violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”
However, he is disingenuous in his statements, as he and the institution he represents are key players in that “small elite” that benefit from the global financial system; this is the very system he serves.
In late December of 2008,
“A U.S. Army War College report warn[ed] an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.”
The report stated:
Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities … to defend basic domestic order and human security.
Further revealed in the news release was the information that,
“Pentagon officials said as many as 20,000 Soldiers under the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will be trained within the next three years to work with civilian law enforcement in homeland security.”
Europe in Social Crisis
In January of 2009, it was reported that Eastern Europe was expected to experience a “dangerous popular backlash on the streets” over the spring in response to the economic crisis:
Hit increasingly hard by the financial crisis, countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states face deep political destabilization and social strife, as well as an increase in racial tension.
Last week protesters were tear-gassed as they threw rocks at police outside parliament in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, in a protest against an austerity package including tax rises and benefit cuts.
In January of 2009, Latvia experienced the largest protests since the mass rallies against Soviet rule in the late 1980s, with the protests eventually turning into riots.
Similar “outbursts of civil unrest” spread across the “periphery of Europe.”
This should be taken as a much larger warning, as the nations of Eastern Europe are forced into fiscal ‘austerity’ measures before they spread through the western world. Just as throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, countries of the ‘global south’, which signed Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) with the IMF and World Bank, were forced to undertake neoliberal reforms and harsh fiscal austerity measures.
The people of these nations rioted and rebelled, in what was cynically referred to as “IMF riots”. What our nations have done abroad, in the name of ‘aid’ but in the intent of empire, is now coming home. The west will undergo its very own “IMF riots”.
The fears of civil unrest, however, were not confined simply to the periphery of Europe.
In January of 2009, a massive French strike was taking place, as “teachers, television employees, postal workers, students and masses of other public-sector workers” were expressing discontent with the handling of the economic crisis; as,
“A depression triggered in America is being played out in Europe with increasing violence, and other forms of social unrest are spreading.”
By late January, France was “paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield.”
Yet, the ‘credit crunch’ had hit harder in Eastern Europe and the civil unrest was greater, as these countries had abandoned Communism some twenty years prior only to be crushed under the “free market” of Capitalism, leading many to feel betrayed:
“Europe’s time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.”
Olivier Besancenot, the leader of France’s extreme left,
“is hoping the strike will be the first step towards another French revolution as the recession bites and protests multiply across Europe’s second largest economy.”
He told the Financial Times that,
“We want the established powers to be blown apart,” and that, “We are going to reinvent and re-establish the anticapitalist project.”
In January of 2009, Iceland’s government collapsed due to the pressures from the economic crisis, and amidst a storm of Icelanders protesting in anger against the political class.
As the Times reported,
“it is a sign of things to come: a new age of rebellion.”
An economist at the London School of Economics warned that we could expect large-scale civil unrest beginning in March to May of 2009:
It will be caused by the rise of general awareness throughout Europe, America and Asia that hundreds of millions of people in rich and poor countries are experiencing rapidly falling consumption standards; that the crisis is getting worse not better; and that it has escaped the control of public authorities, national and international.
In February of 2009, the Guardian reported that police in Britain were preparing for a “summer of rage” as,
“victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions.”
Police officials warned,
“that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.”
In March, it was reported that “top secret contingency plans” had been drawn up to counter the threat posed by a possible “summer of discontent,” which “has led to the extraordinary step of the Army being put on standby.”
The report revealed that,
“What worries emergency planners most is that the middle classes, now struggling to cope with unemployment and repossessions, may take to the streets with the disenfranchised.”
As the G20 met in London in early April 2009, mass protests took place, resulting in violence,
“with a band of demonstrators close to the Bank of England storming a Royal Bank of Scotland branch, and baton-wielding police charging a sit-down protest by students.”
While the majority of protests were peaceful,
“some bloody skirmishes broke out as police tried to keep thousands of people in containment pens surrounding the Bank of England.”
Protests further broke out into riots as a Royal Bank of Scotland office was looted. The following day, a man collapsed and died in central London during the protests shortly after having been assaulted by riot police.
On May 1, 2009, major protests and riots broke out in Germany, Greece, Turkey, France and Austria, fuelled by economic tensions:
Police in Berlin arrested 57 people while around 50 officers were hurt as young demonstrators threw bottles and rocks and set fire to cars and rubbish bins. There were also clashes in Hamburg, where anti-capitalist protesters attacked a bank.
In Turkey, masked protesters threw stones and petrol bombs at police, smashing banks and supermarket windows in its biggest city, Istanbul. Security forces fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of rioters and more than a hundred were arrested with dozens more hurt. There were also scattered skirmishes with police in the capital, Ankara, where 150,000 people marched.
There were further protests and riots that broke out in Russia, Italy, Spain, and some politicians were even discussing the threat of revolution.
As a debt crisis began spreading throughout Europe in Greece, Portugal, and Spain, social unrest followed suit.
Riots and protests increasingly took place in Greece, showing signs of things to come to all other western nations, which will sooner or later have to face the harsh reality of their odious debts.
Is Civil Unrest Coming to America?
In February of 2009, Obama’s intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the economic crisis has become the greatest threat to U.S. national security:
I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries… Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.
What this means, is that economic crises (“if they are prolonged for a one or two year period”) pose a major threat to the established powers – the governing and economic powers – in the form of social unrest and rebellion (“regime-threatening instability”).
The colonial possessions – Africa, South America, and Asia – will experience the worst of the economic conditions, which “can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have.”
This can then come back to the western nations and imperial powers themselves, as the riots and rebellion will spread home, but also as they may lose control of their colonial possessions – eliminating western elites from a position of power internationally, and acquiescence domestically:
The rebellion and discontent in the ‘Third World’ “can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.”
In the same month, the highest-ranking general in the United States,
“Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ranks the financial crisis as a higher priority and greater risk to security than current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
He explained, “It’s a global crisis. And as that impacts security issues, or feeds greater instability, I think it will impact on our national security in ways that we quite haven’t figured out yet.”
Rest assured, they’ve figured it out, but they don’t want to tell you.
Again, in the same month, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned that,
“The global economic crisis could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s.”
“The crisis today is spreading even faster (than the Great Depression) and affects more countries at the same time.”
In February of 2009, renowned economic historian and Harvard professor, Niall Ferguson, predicted a,
“prolonged financial hardship, even civil war, before the ‘Great Recession’ ends,” and that, “The global crisis is far from over, [it] has only just begun, and Canada is no exception,” he said while at a speaking event in Canada.
“Policy makers and forecasters who see a recovery next year are probably lying to boost public confidence,” while, “the crisis will eventually provoke political conflict.”
He further explained:
There will be blood, in the sense that a crisis of this magnitude is bound to increase political as well as economic [conflict]. It is bound to destabilize some countries. It will cause civil wars to break out, that have been dormant. It will topple governments that were moderate and bring in governments that are extreme. These things are pretty predictable.
Even in May of 2009, the head of the World Bank warned that,
“the global economic crisis could lead to serious social upheaval,” as “there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission and a key architect of ‘globalization’ warned in February of 2009 that,
“There’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!”
In early May 2009, the New York Times reported on the results of a major poll, suggesting,
“A solid majority of people in the major Western democracies expect a rise in political extremism in their countries as a result of the economic crisis.”
Of those surveyed, 53% in Italy and the United States said they expected extremism is “certain to happen” or “probable” in the next three years. That percentage increases to 65% in Britain and Germany, and is at 60% in France and Spain.
Over the summer of 2009, the major nations of the west and their corporate media machines promoted and propagandized the notion of an ‘economic recovery’, allowing dissent to quell, spending to increase, stock market speculation to accelerate, and people’s fears and concerns to subside.
It was a massive organized propaganda effort, and it had major successes for a while. However, in the New Year, this illusion is largely being derided for what it is, a fantasy. With the slow but steady erosion of this economic illusion, fears of riots, rebellion and revolution return.
On March 1, 2010, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan warned President Obama about civil unrest, saying:
When we can’t feed our families what do you tell us? Thou shalt not steal? When survival is the first law of nature? What are you going to do when black people and poor people erupt in the streets of America? It’s coming! Will you use the federal troops, Mr. President, against the poor?
A March 8 article in the Wall Street Journal speculated about the discontent among the American people in regards to the economy, suggesting that it is “likely” that the economy has “bottomed” and that it will simply “trudge along” until November.
However, the author suggested that given all the growing discontent in a variety of areas, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some civil unrest:
Now, contrary to what you may read in the New York Times or the Huffington Post, the ugliness could come from anywhere – the Left, the Center or the Right. Almost everyone in America thinks they’ve been betrayed.
Clearly, the possibility and inevitability of riots in the United States, and in fact in many western nations becomes increasingly apparent.
The middle classes will likely become the most angered and mobilized populace, having their social foundations pulled out from under them, and with that, they are overcome with a ‘failure of expectations’ for their political and economic clout.
With no social foundations on which to stand, a class cannot reach high in the political and economic ladder, nationally or internationally.
As documented in Part 2 above of this series, the middle class, for the past few decades, has been a class living on debt, consuming on debt, surviving on debt and existing only in theory. As nations collapse into a global debt crisis, the middle classes and the college students will be plunged into a world which they have seldom known: poverty.
As documented in Part 1 above of this series, the global social systems of poverty, race and war are inextricably interrelated and dependent on one another. As the middle class is absorbed into the global poverty class – the labour class – our nations in the west vastly expand their hegemony over the world’s resources and key strategic points, rapidly accelerating military involvement in every region of the world.
As war expands, poverty grows, and racial issues are exacerbated; thus, the government asserts a totalitarian system of control.
Will the Middle Class Become Revolutionary?
In 2007, a British Defense Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years.
The report stated assuredly that,
“During the next 30 years, every aspect of human life will change at an unprecedented rate, throwing up new features, challenges and opportunities.”
In regards to ‘globalization,’ the report states:
A key feature of globalization will be the continuing internationalization of markets for goods, services and labour, which will integrate geographically dispersed sets of customers and suppliers. This will be an engine for accelerating economic growth, but will also be a source of risk, as local markets become increasingly exposed to destabilizing fluctuations in the wider global economy…
Also, there will continue to be winners and losers in a global economy led by market forces, especially so in the field of labour, which will be subject to particularly ruthless laws of supply and demand.
Another major focus of the report is in the area of “Global Inequality,” of which the report states, over the next 30 years:
[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge… Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents.
Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency.
They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.
The report states quite emphatically that there is a great potential for a revolution coming from the middle class:
The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states.
The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite.
Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.
Is Revolution the Right Way Forward?
As the world has already experienced the greatest transfer of wealth in human history, the greatest social transformation in world history is soon to follow.
The middle classes of the west, long the foundations upon which the consumer capitalist system was based, are about to be radically reorganized and integrated into the global labour class. As this process commences and accelerates, the middle classes will begin to protest, riot, rebel, and possibly revolt.
We must ask ourselves: Is this the right way forward?
History is nothing but an example that when revolution takes place, it can quickly and effectively be hijacked by militant and extremist elements, often resulting in a situation worse than that prior to the revolution. Often, these elements themselves are co-opted by the ruling elite, ensuring that whatever regime rises in the ashes of the old, no matter how militant or radical, it will continue to serve and expand the entrenched interests of elites.
This is the worst-case scenario of revolution, and with history as a guide, it is also a common occurrence. To understand the nature of co-opted revolutions and entrenched elites, one need only look at the revolutions in France and Russia.
While the righteous indignation and anger of the western middle class population, and in fact, the global population as a whole, is entirely justified, there is an extreme danger in the possibilities of how such a revolutionary class may act.
It is imperative to not take violent action, as it would merely be playing directly into the hands of states and global institutions that have been preparing for this eventuality for some time. Nations are becoming ‘Homeland Security States’, setting up surveillance societies, increasing the role of the military in domestic issues and policing, expanding the police state apparatus and militarizing society in general.
Democracy is in decline; it is a dying idea. Nation states are increasingly tossing aside even the remaining vestiges of a democratic façade and preparing for a new totalitarianism to arise, in conjunction with the rise of a ‘new capitalism’.
Violent action and riots by the people of these nations will only result in a harsh and brutal closing of society, as the state clamps down on the people and installs an oppressive form of governance. This is a trend and process of which the people should not help speed along. Violent acts will result in violent oppression.
While peaceful opposition may itself be oppressed and even violently repressed by the state apparatus, the notion of a clamp down on peaceful protesters is likely to increase dissatisfaction with the ruling powers, increase support for the protesters, and may ultimately speed up the process of a truly new change in governance. It’s difficult to demonize peaceful action.
While people will surely be in the streets, seeking to expand their social, political, and economic rights, we must undertake as a global society, a rapid and extensive expansion of our mental and intellectual rights and responsibilities. We cannot take to the streets without taking on the challenges of our minds. This cannot alone be a physical change in governance that people seek – not simply a political revolution – this must be coupled and driven by an intellectual revolution. What is required is a new Enlightenment, a new Renaissance.
While the Enlightenment and Renaissance were western movements of thinking and social change, the new global Enlightenment must be a truly transnational and worldwide revolution in thinking.
Western Civilization has failed. It will continue to insist upon its own dominance, but it is a failure in regards to addressing the interests of all human civilization.
Elites like to think that they are in absolute control and are all-powerful; this is not the case. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Take, for example, the integration of North America into a regional bloc like that of the European Union, an entirely elite-driven project of which the people largely know little or nothing about.
Elites seek to force the people of this region to increasingly identify themselves as ‘North American’, just as elites in Europe increasingly push for a ‘European’ identity as opposed to a national identity. While the intended purpose of this social reorganization is to more easily control people, it has the effect of uniting some of these people in opposition to these elite-driven projects.
Thus, those they seek to unite in order to control, are then united in opposition to their very control.
As the ‘globalization project’ of constructing a ‘new world order’ expands, built upon the concepts of global governance, elites will inadvertently unite the people of the world in opposition to their power-project. This is the intellectual well that must be tapped as soon as possible. Ideas for a truly new world, a true human ‘civilization’ – a “Humane Civilization” – must be constructed from ideas originating in all regions of the world, from all peoples, of all religions, races, ethnicities, social groups and standings.
If we are to make human civilization work, it must work for all of humanity.
This will require a global “revolution in thinking”, which must precede any direct political action. The global social, political, and economic system must be deconstructed and built anew. The people of the world do not want war, it is the leaders – the powerful – who decide to go to war, and they are never the ones to fight them. War is a crime against humanity, a crime of poverty, of discrimination, of hate.
The social, political and economic foundations of war must be dismantled. Socially constructed divides between people – such as race and ethnicity – must be dismantled and done away with. All people must be treated as people; racial and gender inequality is a crime against humanity itself.
Poverty is the greatest crime against humanity the world has ever known. Any society that permits such gross inequalities and absolute poverty, which calls itself ‘civilized’, is only an aberration of the word, itself. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated:
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Moody’s fears social unrest as AAA states implement austerity plans. The Telegraph: March 15, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7450468/Moodys-fears-social-unrest-as-AAA-states-implement-austerity-plans.html
 Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/16/imf-financial-crisis
 BIS, International banking and financial market developments. BIS Quarterly Review: December 2008: page 20
 Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/16/imf-financial-crisis
 Military.com, Study: DoD May Act On US Civil Unrest. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services: December 29, 2008: http://www.military.com/news/article/study-dod-may-act-on-us-civil-unrest.html
 Jason Burke, Eastern Europe braced for a violent ‘spring of discontent’. The Observer: January 18, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/18/eu-riots-vilinius
 Philip P. Pan, Economic Crisis Fuels Unrest in E. Europe. The Washington Post: January 26, 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/25/AR2009012502516.html
 Adrian Michaels, Europe’s winter of discontent. The Telegraph: January 27, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/4363750/Europes-winter-of-discontent.html
 Ian Traynor, Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets. The Guardian: January 31, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/31/global-recession-europe-protests
 Ben Hall, French workers stage strike in protest at job losses and reforms. The Financial Times: January 29, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/71c25576-eda6-11dd-bd60-0000779fd2ac.html
 Roger Boyes, World Agenda: riots in Iceland, Latvia and Bulgaria are a sign of things to come. The Times: January 21, 2009: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5559773.ece
 Paul Lewis, Britain faces summer of rage – police. The Guardian: February 23, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/23/police-civil-unrest-recession
 Geraint Jones, MI5 Alert On Bank Riots. The Express: March 1, 2009: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/86981/MI5-alert-on-bank-riots
 Sam Jones, Jenny Percival and Paul Lewis, G20 protests: riot police clash with demonstrators. The Guardian: April 1, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/01/g20-summit-protests
 Telegraph TV, G20 protests: Rioters loot RBS as demonstrations turn violent. The Telegraph: April 1, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5089870/G20-protests-Rioters-loot-RBS-as-demonstrations-turn-violent.html
 ITN, Police ‘admit contact’ with man killed at G20 protest. In The News: April 6, 2009: http://www.inthenews.co.uk/news/health/crime/death-at-g20-police-silent-on-assault-reports-$1285968.htm
 Henry Samuel, Riots across Europe fuelled by economic crisis. The Telegraph: May 1, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/5258634/Riots-across-Europe-fuelled-by-economic-crisis.html
 David Oakley, et. al., Europe fears rock global markets. The Financial Times: February 4, 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a124518a-11cb-11df-b6e3-00144feab49a.html
 Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_intel_chief_Economic_crisis_greater_0213.html
 Tom Philpott, MILITARY UPDATE: Official: Financial crisis a bigger security risk than wars. Colorado Springs Gazette: February 1, 2009: http://www.gazette.com/articles/mullen-47273-military-time.html
 AFP, WTO chief warns of looming political unrest. AFP: February 7, 2009: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gpC1Q4gXJfp6EwMl1rMGrmA_a7ZA
 Heather Scoffield, ‘There will be blood’. The Globe and Mail: February 23, 2009: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/article973785.ece
 BBC, World Bank warns of social unrest. BBC News: May 24, 2009: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8066037.stm
 Press TV, Economic Crisis: Brzezinski warns of riots in US. Global Research: February 21, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12392
 John C. Freed, Economic Crisis Raises Fears of Extremism in Western Countries. The New York Times: May 6, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/world/europe/07poll.html
 WBEZ, Farrakhan Warns Obama of Civil Unrest. Chicago Public Radio: March 1, 2010: http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=40331
 Evan Newmark, Mean Street: America’s Coming Civil Unrest? The Wall Street Journal: March 8, 2010: http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2010/03/08/mean-street-americas-coming-civil-unrest/
 DCDC, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2036, 3rd ed. The Ministry of Defence, January 2007: page 1
 Ibid, page 3.
 Ibid, page 81.
 For a look at the co-opting of the French Revolution by elites, see: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Global Power and Global Government: Evolution and Revolution of the Central Banking System. Global Research: July 21, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14464; For a look at the relationship between the Russian Revolution and powerful banking and corporate interests in America and Europe, see: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Origins of the American Empire: Revolution, World Wars and World Order. Global Research: July 28, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14552
 Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html
The Transnational Homeland Security State and the Decline of Democracy
April 15, 2010
As the western world is thrown into debt bondage and the harsh reality of the draconian economic ‘reforms’ to follow, a social collapse seems increasingly inevitable.
We will soon witness the collapse of western ‘civilization’.
The middle classes of the west will dissolve into the lower labour class. The wealthy class, already nearly at par with the middle class in terms of total consumption, will become the only consuming class.
The state structure itself will be altering; nation-states will become subordinate to supra-national continental governance structures and global governance entities simultaneously. Concurrently, state structures will no longer maintain their democratic facades, as the public state is gutted, where all that remains and is built upon is the state apparatus of oppression.
States will become tools of authoritative control, their prime purpose will be in establishing a strong military, as well as police-state apparatus to control the people. This is the dawning of the ‘Homeland Security State’ on a far grander scale than we have previously imagined. The object of ‘totalitarianism’ is to have ‘total control’.
In this project of total control, state borders, as we know them today, will have to vanish; the institutions of oppression and control will be globalized.
As society collapses, the social foundations of the middle class will be pulled out from under their feet. When people are thrown to the ground, they tend to want to stand back up again. The middle class will become a rebellious, possibly even revolutionary class, with riots and civil unrest a very likely reality.
The lower class itself will likely partake in the unrest; however, the youth of the middle class will be thrown into a ‘poverty of expectations’, where the world as they have known it and the world they had expectations to rise into, will be taken from them. Civil unrest is as inevitable as summer after spring.
When society collapses, the state will close itself over society to prevent the people from overtaking the levers of power and rebuilding a new social foundation. Nation-states are about to reveal to the people of the west their true nature, and that which the people of impoverished lands the world over have been exposed to for so long.
At their heart, nations seek and serve power; their skeleton is not the public welfare they speak of espousing, but the apparatus of oppression that they build and expand, regardless of all other considerations.
In February of 2009, Obama’s intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the economic crisis has become the greatest threat to U.S. national security:
I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries… Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.
What is being said here is that economic crises (“if they are prolonged for a one or two year period”) pose a major threat to the established powers – the governing and economic powers – in the form of social unrest and rebellion (“regime-threatening instability”).
The colonial possessions – Africa, South America, and Asia – will experience the worst of the economic conditions, which “can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have.” This can then come back to the western nations and imperial powers themselves, as the riots and rebellion will spread home at the same time as they may lose control of their colonial possessions – eliminating western elites from a position of power internationally, and acquiescence domestically.
Thus, the rebellion and discontent in the ‘Third World’ “can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.”
In this type of scenario, where established western elites are threatened with losing control of vast imperial possessions (resources, key strategic points), while concurrently are threatened with revolt at home, the end result is inevitably the rapid militarization of the foreign and domestic spheres.
It is no coincidence that as the economic crisis emerged in late 2007, the Pentagon military Africa Command (AFRICOM) was created in December of 2007, setting the stage for a military-based foreign policy for the entire continent of Africa in an objective aimed at securing its resources.
As the economic crisis continued, the domestic populations of western nations, particularly the United States, were increasingly subjected to further surveillance and police state measures. We have body scanners at airports, legal immunity was granted to corporations that spy on our telephone calls and emails and internet-usage.
The Homeland Security State is transnationalizing, following the economic crisis, itself.
The powers of globalization – the state, banks, corporations, foundations, and international organizations – are well aware of the effects this social reorganization will have on the people and the reactions that are likely to arise. After all, these same organized powers have been doing exactly this to the rest of the world for decades and even centuries.
What we are about to witness is not entirely new, it’s just being done on an entirely new scale, and it’s largely new to us.
The US Commission on National Security in the 21st Century
In addressing the issue of ‘Homeland Security’, it is important to analyze the origins of the structure, itself.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was officially formed in 2003 in reaction to the events of 9/11 and with the stated intent of ‘protecting the homeland’ from threats, primarily terrorism. Pushing the official myth aside, we can see that ‘Homeland Security’ was planned in advance of 9/11, and is not about protecting, but rather controlling, the people.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton and the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, established a commission to look at how the United States “provides for its security in a more comprehensive way than had been done in the last half century”:
The Secretary of Defense funded that effort and, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisors, selected 14 prominent Americans to serve on that Commission, and provide the guidance and the strategic direction, and ultimately all of the important policy choices that would be made by the Commission.
The final report was released on January 31, 2001, and was the most comprehensive review of US national security since the National Security Act of 1947, which created the CIA and the National Security Council.
The two Co-Chairs of the Commission were Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman.
Anne Armstrong, who has served on the boards of American Express, Halliburton, General Motors, as well as the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the premier think tanks in the United States
Norman Ralph Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest weapons manufacturers and military corporations in the world
John Rogers Galvin, a retired General and former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO
Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Pentagon and State Department official
Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank
Lee Hamilton, who would later be Co-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, a former Congressman for over 30 years who is currently President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and is a long-time member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission
Donald Rice, former CEO of RAND Corporation, a major Pentagon-linked think tank, and has served on the boards of Wells Fargo, Unocal, and Chevron
James R. Schlesinger, former US Secretary of Defense, former Secretary of Energy, former CIA director, had previously worked with the RAND Corporation, and was more recently a Senior Adviser to Lehman Brothers
In short, the Commission was made up of key individuals heavily linked to America’s highly influential network of elite think tanks, premier among them, the Council on Foreign Relations, but also including the American Enterprise Institute, CSIS, and the RAND Corporation.
This was, without a doubt, an elite-driven commission.
The Commission produced three major reports. The first report, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, was released in September of 1999, and was designed to take a look at the global environment over the next 25 years.
The report made 12 key observations, among them were:
1) An economically strong United States is likely to remain a primary political, military, and cultural force through 2025, and will thus have a significant role in shaping the international environment.
4) World energy supplies will remain largely based on fossil fuels.
5) While much of the world will experience economic growth, disparities in income will increase and widespread poverty will persist.
8) Though it will raise important issues of sovereignty, the United States will find in its national interest to work with and strengthen a variety of international organizations.
9) The United States will remain the principal military power in the world.
11) We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.
They give a variety of conclusions in their report.
The first among them was that,
“America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not entirely protect us.”
They state quite emphatically that,
“Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.”
Another major conclusion stated that,
“The national security of all advanced states will be increasingly affected by the vulnerabilities of the evolving global economic infrastructure.”
Expanding upon this conclusion, the report stated:
[E]conomic integration and fragmentation will co-exist. Serious and unexpected economic downturns, major disparities of wealth, volatile capital flows, increasing vulnerabilities in global electronic infrastructures, labor and social disruptions, and pressures for increased protectionism will also occur… For most advanced states, major threats to national security will broaden beyond the purely military.
Another major conclusion of the report was that, “Energy will continue to have major strategic significance,” emphasizing that Persian Gulf oil is a necessity to control.
Another key conclusion of the Commission was that,
“The sovereignty of states will come under pressure, but will endure,” elaborating that:
The international system will wrestle constantly over the next quarter century to establish the proper balance between fealty to the state on the one hand, and the impetus to build effective transnational institutions on the other.
This struggle will be played out in the debate over international institutions to regulate financial markets, international policing and peace-making agencies, as well as several other shared global problems. Nevertheless, global forces, especially economic ones, will continue to batter the concept of national sovereignty.
Further conclusions of the Commission include seeing an increase in,
“the deliberate terrorizing of civilian populations,” military competition in space, and that, “The United States will be called upon frequently to intervene militarily.”
The second report of the Commission, commonly known as the Hart-Rudman Commission, Seeking a National Strategy, was released in April of 2000.
In this report, the Commission emphasized the importance of maintaining and expanding the American empire, as
“The maintenance of America’s strength is a long-term commitment and cannot be assured without conscious, dedicated effort.”
In focusing on protecting America’s “vital interests,” the report stated that,
“U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, economic, financial, and diplomatic means must be effectively integrated for this purpose.”
The report also suggests that the United States must control “Persian Gulf and other major energy supplies,” cynically claiming that this would be done to ensure that energy supplies “are not wielded as political weapons directed against the United States or its allies and friends.”
The report further recommends that the United States “needs five kinds of military capabilities”:
nuclear capabilities to deter and protect the United States and its allies from attack
homeland security capabilities
conventional capabilities necessary to win major wars
rapidly employable expeditionary/intervention capabilities
humanitarian relief and constabulary capabilities 
The third and final report of the Hart-Rudman Commission, Road Map for National Security, was published in February of 2001.
The main conclusion of the Commission was that, “significant changes must be made in the structures and processes of the U.S. national security apparatus.” Chief among the recommendations was “Securing the National Homeland.”
The report warned prophetically that,
“A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century.”
Based upon this assumption:
We therefore recommend the creation of an independent National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government activities involved in homeland security.
NHSA would be built upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the three organizations currently on the front line of border security – the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the Border Patrol – transferred to it. NHSA would not only protect American lives, but also assume responsibility for overseeing the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure, including information technology.
As a part of the creation of a National Homeland Security Agency, the Commission further recommended the involvement of the Department of Defense in this process and structure, as well as reorganizing the National Guard so that homeland security becomes its “primary mission.”
In March of 2001, six months prior to the 9/11 attacks, Congressman Mac Thornberry proposed a bill to create a National Homeland Security Agency based upon the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission.
Hearings were held, but no further action was taken on the bill.
Roughly six months later, the September 11th attacks took place in the United States. On 9/11, a live Fox News report of the Pentagon attacks stated that,
“The part of the Pentagon that was struck today by an airliner was in fact undergoing renovation, and as a consequence, not all the offices there were occupied.”
Further, the reporter stated that,
“A couple of the offices that were in that portion of the Pentagon – or portions that were struck – were offices that deal with trying to deal with counter-terrorism. One is called the Office of Homeland Defense, it’s a newly-created office that was slated to get a big budget increase.”
Warren Rudman, co-Chair of the Commission spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations within days of the September 11th attacks, commenting on how the recommendations of the Commission had not been thoroughly put in place prior to the attacks.
He stated that,
“Unfortunately, we Americans I guess sometimes have to get hit with a two by four to get with it. I have no doubt that we will get with it.”
Senator Gary Hart, the other co-Chair, stated that the events of 9/11 “are in fact the introduction to a totally new century.”
Lee Hamilton, another commissioner, told the same audience at the Council on Foreign Relations that the “War on Terror” is,
“a permanent war, that it is an ongoing war.” He further stated that, “We must strengthen dramatically our defense of the homeland, and that means putting a lot more resources into borders and airports and cities, and protecting the critical infrastructure of the country.”
Eleven days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush announced he would create an Office of Homeland Security in the White House, of which he would appoint Governor Tom Ridge as director.
On October 8, 2001, Executive Order 13228 was issued, establishing two agencies within the White House:
the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), “tasked to develop and implement a national strategy to coordinate federal, state, and local counter-terrorism efforts to secure the country from and respond to terrorist threats or attacks,” and the Homeland Security Council (HSC), “to advise the President on homeland security matters, mirroring the role the National Security Council (NSC) plays in national security.”
In October of 2001, Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a bill to establish a Department of National Homeland Security, following the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission.
While hearings were held, no further action was initially taken. On June 6, 2002, President Bush gave a speech in which he proposed the creation of a permanent Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.
On June 18, 2002, Bush formally submitted his proposal for the Department of Homeland Security to Congress as the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The House passed the bill on July 26, 2002, and the Senate on November 19, 2002. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law on November 25, 2002.
The Department of Homeland Security thus became operational on January 24, 2003, with Tom Ridge as the first Secretary of Homeland Security.
The 9/11 Commission, formed in November of 2002, issued its final report in July of 2004. In it, the Commissioners, the co-Chair of which was Lee Hamilton, a prominent member of the Hart-Rudman Commission, recommended a number of key strategies aimed at “fighting terrorism.” These essentially amounted to a strengthening of “Homeland Security” and an expansion of a variety of police state measures.
Among the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission were to implement, under the Department of Homeland Security, a “biometric passport” system, and to,
“exchange terrorist information with trusted allies, and raise U.S. and global border security standards for travel and border crossing over the medium and long term through extensive international cooperation.”
Further, the Commission recommended the creation of I.D. cards, as,
“Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.”
It further recommended expanding “no-fly” and various other “watch” lists.
As well as this, the “information sharing among government agencies and by those agencies with the private sector” should be expanded.
The USA Patriot Act
The USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks and signed by President Bush into law on October 26, 2001, was in fact written up prior to the attacks of 9/11.
In a 2002 edition of the American University Law Review, an analysis of the effects that the USA Patriot Act has on civil liberties was undertaken. In the introduction, the authors state that:
Americans’ liberties have been trammeled in a variety of different ways. Under the guise of stopping terrorism, law enforcement officials and government leaders have now been given the right to conduct searches of homes and offices without prior notice, use roving wiretaps to listen in on telephone conversations, and monitor computers and e-mail messages, even to the degree of eavesdropping on attorney/client conversations. In addition, the President has made efforts to bring suspected terrorists into military tribunals for prosecution.
Finally, a growing sentiment for the establishment of a national identification card system in the United States has emerged, threatening to force all citizens to be “tagged.”
The Patriot Act centralizes law enforcement authority under the Justice Department.
Further, it coordinates domestic intelligence gathering from the Justice Department to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and it has thus,
“given the CIA the central authority to gather and use intelligence information garnered from domestic sources, including intelligence on United States citizens and residents.”
This authority “permits the CIA to begin, once again, to spy on American citizens.”
As part of the Patriot Act, the definition of ‘domestic terrorism’ itself has changed, and now,
“involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State,” as well as activities that “appear to be intended” to, “intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; or to effect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
Ultimately, this can,
“include any such acts that result in virtually any federal crime of violence,” and “these extensions of the definition of “terrorist” could bring within their sweep diverse domestic political groups.”
The Patriot Act also assaults the First Amendment right to advocate ideas, to speak freely, to associate with whomever one chooses, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
The Patriot Act permits searches and seizures from businesses, and subsequently,
“the owners and officers of the business are gagged from disclosing that they have been the subject of an FBI search and seizure, presumably including disclosures to the media.”
The Attorney General John Ashcroft referred to civil libertarians who oppose the Patriot Act as “unpatriotic” and “un-American” and said that their “tactics only aid terrorists.”
“the Attorney General’s statements demonstrate an extreme insensitivity to the fundamental American right to dissent without fear of retaliation.”
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, is also violated by the Patriot Act, as it allows for the “the wholesale disregard of the historic constitutional protections of notice, probable cause, and proportionality.”
The monitoring of communications is an area that is drastically exploited by the Patriot Act in violation of Constitutional law, as wiretapping was only allowed upon the showing of probable cause, under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
However, under the Patriot Act, FISA orders are not done under the basis of probable cause, but on the “certification” that “the information sought is related to the professed law enforcement purpose.”
The surveillance is not only of telephones, but also of internet-usage:
“The ability to monitor Internet sites visited by the subject of a search, in the absence of a showing of probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, is an unprecedented expansion of federal surveillance powers.”
Further, the Patriot Act violates the right to be tried by a jury of your peers, and instead, for terrorism cases, puts in place a system of “military tribunals” to try the accused.
Further, attorney-client privilege is now done away with, as correspondence between prisoners and their legal counsel can be monitored, and it “is not limited to alleged terrorists; rather, it extends to all incarcerated individuals.”
Further, many of those rounded up after 9/11 – reaching a number over 1,000 – were discouraged from seeking legal counsel,
“or have had access to counsel blocked outright.” Amazingly, “On November 13, 2001, President Bush issued an Executive Order suspending the rights of indictment, trial by jury, appellate relief, and habeas corpus for all non-citizen persons accused of aiding or abetting terrorists.”
The military commissions will not “apply the principles of law or the rules of evidence that are used in normal criminal cases,” where secret evidence can be used, and,
“the military will sit as both the adjudicator of fact and arbiter of law. In addition, these tribunals may impose the death penalty, even though only a two-third majority vote, instead of the unanimity mandated in civilian trials, is required for a sentence.”
Suspects will not be granted the writ of habeas corpus – the several-hundred-year old legal writ that guarantees prisoners the right to be found whether they are imprisoned legally or should be released from custody.
Immigrants, further, may be detained indefinitely and never granted the writ of habeas corpus to determine if their detention is lawful. The Patriot Act further allows for the monitoring of personal financial transactions, banking records, and educational records. Moreover, it also sets the stage for the building of “biometric identification systems” for citizens, such as fingerprint databases.
Major amendments were added to the Patriot Act in 2003, dubbing it the Patriot Act II. As part of the amendments, the government will be granted the ability to build a massive DNA database of suspects.
Jack Balkin, a Yale Law School professor, wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times in which he explained that one,
“measure would remove existing protections under the Freedom of Information Act, making it easier for the government to hide whom it is holding and why, and preventing the public from ever obtaining embarrassing information about government overreaching.”
Further: Perhaps the most troubling section would strip U.S. citizenship from anyone who gives “material support” to any group that the attorney general designates as a terrorist organization.
Other provisions that the bill would allow for include making it,
“easier for the government to initiate surveillance and wiretapping of U.S. citizens under the shadowy, top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” and it would further, “Harm Americans’ ability to receive a fair trial by limiting defense attorneys from challenging the use of secret evidence.”
In true draconian fashion, it would permit,
“the sampling and cataloguing of innocent Americans’ genetic information without court order and without consent.” 
The Patriot Act was subsequently renewed by Congress in 2006, and in September of 2009, the Obama administration recommended Congress renew the Patriot Act once again.
This should come as no surprise, since in 2008, while a Senator, Obama voted for legislation that allowed for warrantless wiretapping of American’s electronic communications, and that same legislation,
“also immunized the nation’s telecommunication companies from lawsuits charging them with being complicit with the Bush administration’s warrantless, wiretapping program.”
In February of 2010, Congress overwhelmingly voted to extend the Patriot Act without adding any protections for civil liberties.
The NSA – Big Brother In Action
In December of 2005, the New York Times ran an article breaking the story of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, as,
“Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States.”
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years.
The program is obviously illegal, since it does not operate with warrants; however, it is justified under the all-encompassing “War on Terror”. While the New York Times broke the story, they are also complicit in covering it up, as they had the story long before it was published, and in fact the paper delayed the story for over one year, until long after the 2004 Presidential election.
USA Today expanded upon the previous story, and revealed in 2006 that,
“The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.”
Further: The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans – most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime.
One official stated,
“It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” and that the goal of the NSA is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the United States:
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made – across town or across the country – to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
In 2006, an AT&T employee blew the whistle on the spying activities undertaken by the largest telecommunications corporation in the United States on behalf of the NSA.
He revealed that AT&T provided the NSA,
“with full access to its customers’ phone calls, and shunted its customers’ internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center.”
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, was taking part in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T for its part in the illegal surveillance program:
According to a statement released by Klein’s attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T’s #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.
“I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,” Klein wrote. “The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.”
Klein’s job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
In March of 2007, it was revealed that Mark Klein’s efforts to blow the whistle on AT&T’s involvement in the NSA surveillance program were being blocked by U.S. intelligence officials as well as top editors of the Los Angeles Times.
In his first broadcast interview with Nightline, Mark Klein revealed that:
[H]e collected 120 pages of technical documents left around the San Francisco office showing how the NSA was installing “splitters” that would allow it to copy both domestic and international Internet traffic moving through AT&T connections with 16 other trunk lines.
Klein attempted to take his documents to the LA Times to blow the whistle publicly on the program, which he referred to as “an illegal and Orwellian project.”
“after working for two months with LA Times reporter Joe Menn, Klein says he was told the story had been killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-director of the NSA Gen. Michael Hayden.”
The decision by the Los Angeles Times to kill the story,
“was made by the paper’s editor at the time, Dean Baquet, now the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times.”
Baquet confirmed he spoke with Hayden and Negroponte, but claimed “government pressure played no role in my decision not to run the story.”
In November of 2007, Keith Olbermann interviewed Mark Klein on MSNBC, where Klein elaborated on the secret program, saying that virtually all internet traffic in the entire country was handed over to the NSA.
He appeared on MSNBC at a time when Congress was debating whether or not to grant the telecom companies legal immunity for participating in the NSA program, which would thus shut down all pending legal action being taken against the companies for their involvement in the illegal program.
Klein reflected on his job, saying that,
“Here I am, being forced to connect the Big Brother machine.”
Total Information Awareness (TIA)
In November of 2002, the New York Times ran a story that revealed the existence of a secret Pentagon program called “Total Information Awareness” (TIA).
The director of the program is Vice Admiral John Poindexter, a convicted criminal for his involvement in the the Iran-Contra affair (involving smuggling arms and drugs in order to finance terrorists in South America).
Poindexter said that the program:
[W]ill provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant.
Poindexter headed the Information Awareness Office, which was run out of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA):
“The office is responsible for developing new surveillance technologies in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.”
Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, said that,
“This could be the perfect storm for civil liberties in America,” and that, “The vehicle is the Homeland Security Act, the technology is Darpa and the agency is the F.B.I. The outcome is a system of national surveillance of the American public.”
DARPA, existing within the Pentagon since the late 1950s, has been referred to as the “Department of Mad Scientists.”
After the program was made public, the outcry from civil liberties advocates created enough of a stir for Congress to put a hold on the program. The Pentagon then submitted a change in the program to Congress, and as the Washington Post revealed, it was “a name change.”
The word “Total” was replaced with “Terrorism,” and thus, the program would be called, “Terrorism Information Awareness.”
The New York Times summed up the program as such:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend – all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as “a virtual, centralized grand database.”
To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you – passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance – and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ” Total Information Awareness” about every U.S. citizen.
The San Francisco Chronicle published a story on Total Information Awareness in which it opened with the phrase,
“Live by the Internet, be enslaved by the Internet.”
The article elaborated:
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which funded the development of the Internet, is now funding the Information Awareness Office (IAO) to develop a “large-scale counterterrorism database.” The idea is to keep track of every bit of information on everyone in the country and “detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists.”
Further, as the article pointed out, even the logo of the Total Information Awareness program is eerie, as,
“the IAO [Information Awareness Office] logo shows an eye on top of a pyramid shining onto a globe.”
Beneath the logo, written in Latin, is a phrase that translates into “Knowledge is Power.”
In September of 2003, Congress ended funding for the program. The media then hailed the TIA program as “dead and gone.” Yet, the funding was cut for the specific program as envisaged under the umbrella of TIA. The various programs within TIA could continue as separate projects, with the full funding and support of Congress.
In 2004, the Associated Press reported that,
“some of those projects from retired Adm. John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness effort were transferred to U.S. intelligence offices, according to congressional, federal and research officials.”
Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks work by U.S. intelligence agencies, stated that,
“There may be enough of a difference for them to claim TIA was terminated while for all practical purposes the identical work is continuing.”
In 2006, it was revealed that TIA stopped “in name only” and in fact does live on, and it,
“was moved from the Pentagon’s research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency.”
Interestingly, “Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.”
The program has heavy involvement from private defense and intelligence contractors, highly secretive corporations that get major contracts from US intelligence agencies to be able to undertake intelligence activities that aren’t subjected to Congressional oversight.
The Modern Surveillance Society
The western world is fast becoming a transnational surveillance society, with the United Kingdom leading the charge.
In 2006, the British information commissioner, Richard Thomas, said that Britain was a surveillance society. There were more than 4.2 million CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras in the U.K., about 1 for every 14 people. The Surveillance Studies Network, an organization of academics, released a report on surveillance in which it was revealed that compared to other western nations the U.K. was “the most surveilled country.”
One of the lead authors stated that,
“We have more CCTV cameras and we have looser laws on privacy and data protection.”
In February of 2009, the British House of Lords Constitution Committee “warned that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies is a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights.”
The report stated:
The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country.
Increased use of CCTV in public areas, the DNA database, the government’s planned national ID card scheme and the various databases of British children are all threatening traditional freedoms, the report cautioned.
One article in a British newspaper pointed out in 2007 that George Orwell’s nightmare as depicted in 1984 has become a reality, and with a twist:
According to the latest studies, Britain has a staggering 4.2million CCTV cameras – one for every 14 people in the country – and 20 per cent of cameras globally. It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.
The article pointed out that within 200 yards of Orwell’s old home in North London, “there are 32 CCTV cameras, scanning every move.”
‘Big Brother is Watching You.’
In May of 2007, a watchdog group revealed that,
“The vast majority of Britain’s CCTV cameras are operating illegally or in breach of privacy guidelines.”
The number may be as high as 90% of CCTV cameras being illegal.
In 2008, senior British police officials revealed that with all of the CCTV cameras in the U.K., supposedly under the auspices of ‘preventing crime’,
“Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.”
In 2009, it was revealed that,
“Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population.”
While there are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain, 1 for every 14 people,
“in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75 million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens.”
An official from a pressure group, Privacy International, stated that,
“As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century non-democratic regime.”
In August of 2009, it was revealed that the British government had come up with a vast new Orwellian idea, terrifying in its scope and intent:
£400 million ($668 million) will be spent on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens. Why? To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables. The scheme has, astonishingly, already been running in 2,000 family homes.
The government’s “children’s secretary” Ed Balls is behind the plan, which is aimed at problem, antisocial families. The idea is that, if a child has a more stable home life, he or she will be less likely to stray into crime and drugs.
It gets worse. The government is also maintaining a private army, incredibly not called “Thought Police”, which will “be sent round to carry out home checks,” according to the Sunday Express. And in a scheme which firmly cements the nation’s reputation as a “nanny state”, the kids and their families will be forced to sign “behavior contracts” which will “set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.”
In November of 2009, it was revealed that,
“CCTV cameras are being fitted inside family homes by council ‘snoopers’ to spy on neighbours in the street outside.”
In January of 2010, the Guardian reported that,
“Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.”
Effectively, it will become “CCTV in the Sky.”
There have even been moves to attach microphones to CCTV cameras,
“designed to monitor rowdy bars and nightclubs in central London. They will also be installed in housing estates in an attempt to stop nuisance neighbors.”
Elaborating on the usage of such microphones,
“The devices would be programmed to trigger an automatic alert if noise levels get too high.”
Further, “talking CCTV cameras” which allow for “operators to publicly shame offenders is to be extended across the country.”
John Reid, the Home Secretary, stated,
“It helps counter things like litter through drunk or disorderly behavior, gangs congregating.”
In a strange psychological twist,
“In a bid to shame offenders into acting properly, the Government is drafting in children to provide the admonition.”
The government has thus undertaken what all police states and totalitarian societies ultimately do: recruit the children of the nation as spies. The government began competitions at schools:
Activities, such as designing posters that challenge bad behavior and taking part in neighborhood litter picks, help educate children about acceptable behavior while at the same time they are encouraged to use their ‘pester power’ in a positive way – reminding grown-ups how to behave.
The winning schoolchildren will be invited to become the ‘voice’ of the Talking CCTV in their town or city’s CCTV control room for one day – the day of the switch-on – later this year.
Within one week of the previous report,
“Britain’s talking CCTV cameras are to issue their first apology for embarrassing a blameless passerby on the day the government announces plans to extend the anti-vandalism scheme to 20 town centers.”
Marie Brewster, a young mother, had crumpled up some garbage and put it in her baby carriage, and then heard a voice say,
“Please place the rubbish in the bin provided.”
The U.K. has been implementing major surveillance and information databases on its citizens, including a database on Britain’s children, a,
“£224m directory, called ContactPoint, holds the name, address, date of birth, GP and school of all under-18s, and is aimed at helping professionals reach children they suspect are at risk.”
Due to this database,
“Doctors, social workers and police can look up details on every child in England.”
Britain has also unveiled a National ID Card program, of which a report of the London School of Economics revealed has many problems, including:
[C]ost, renewing the biometric testing, replacing ID cards, enrolling difficulties, difficulties with card reader machines, non-cooperation from the public, civil liberty, privacy and legal implications, problems for disabled users, security concerns and the creation of a new offence of identity theft.
In May of 2008, Prime Minister Gordon Brown introduced a new law where,
“Phone and internet companies will soon be forced to keep logs of internet usage to be made available to the police.”
Telecom companies, which were already required by the government to keep track of phone calls, would then be required to keep “records of customers’ internet usage, email usage and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) records.”
In October of 2008, it was revealed that GCHQ, the government’s secret eavesdropping agency,
“is plotting the biggest surveillance system ever created in Britain.”
This would include,
“Every call you make, every e-mail you send, every website you visit.”
The government expressed an interest in asking companies to monitor how people use social networking sites like Facebook.
The government would ask companies,
“to collect and retain records of communications from a wider range of internet sources, from social networks through to chatrooms and unorthodox methods, such as within online games.”
“The government is compiling a database to track and store the international travel records of millions of Britons,” which would “store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travelers.”
One Parliamentarian said,
“We are sleepwalking into a surveillance state and should remember that George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not a blueprint.”
For those that think surveillance is aimed at “protecting” people, more information has come to light which helps identify the true intent of surveillance: control.
In 2009, an investigation by the Guardian revealed that,
“Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years.”
The Guardian reported that,
“Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an ‘intelligence system’,” which “lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.”
Further, the program is also monitoring reporters and journalists who report on, cover, or attend protests.
In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security began handing out millions of dollars to local governments across the United States,
“for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a “surveillance society” in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost,” warned the Boston Globe.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
“has doled out millions on surveillance cameras, transforming city streets and parks into places under constant observation.”
The cameras are often extremely high-tech, as,
“technicians are developing ways to use computers to process real-time and stored digital video, including license-plate readers, face-recognition scanners, and software that detects” unusual behavior.
In 2007, it was revealed that there were greatly increased calls for installing surveillance CCTV camera systems in the United States modeled on the U.K., and
“In the first such public effort in the U.S., New York is planning to begin the installation of a similar, permanent system for lower Manhattan.”
The security cordon around central London is known as the “ring of steel,” which is what New York plans to emulate:
By 2010, as many as 3,000 cameras could be installed. One-third would be owned by the New York Police Department and the other two-thirds by private security agencies working with businesses. All the images would feed into a surveillance center staffed by both the NYPD and private security agents.
The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, as it is known, is being funded by the City of New York, as well as the Department of Homeland Security.
In November of 2008, the NYPD officially “flipped the on switch for their lower Manhattan spy center, where cops monitor surveillance cameras and license plate readers around the clock.”
In October of 2009, it was announced that, “Lower Manhattan’s network of security cameras, license plate readers and weapons sensors is coming to midtown.” New York’s “Ring of Steel” will extend “into an area that includes Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station and Times Square.”
The Midtown Security Initiative “would use a $24 million federal Homeland Security grant for the project,” which would be expected to be finished in 2011.
In January of 2009, the ACLU warned that,
“government-financed surveillance cameras are running rampant across the United States,” as “The federal government has given state and local governments $300 million in grants to fund an ever-growing array of cameras.”
As the Telegraph reported in September of 2009,
“The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing ‘Orwellian’ technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for ‘abnormal behavior’.”
One program known as Project Indect,
“aims to develop computer programs which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.”
The EU marks a growing trend in the transnationalization of surveillance, as,
“the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database.”
In a further analysis of the trend of the transnationalization of surveillance societies, the European Union’s “new five-year plan for justice and home affairs will export the UK’s database state to the rest of the EU.”
In fact, the EU regularly constructs five-year plans for “justice and home affairs affecting many areas of EU citizens’ civil liberties – policing, immigration and asylum, criminal law, databases and data protection.”
The Tampere program was for 2000-2004, which was followed by the Hague program from 2005-2009, “which included the commitment to bring in biometric passports and ID cards”:
The Tampere program was drawn up and negotiated by officials of the council of the European Union and the European commission, without any consultation with national or European parliaments, let alone civil society, and adopted in closed sessions by the European council (EU prime ministers).
A report on the new five-year program being constructed revealed that:
“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organizations”, leading to behavior being predicted and assessed by “machines” (their term) which will issue orders to officers on the spot.
The proposal presages the mass gathering of personal data on travel, bank details, mobile phone locations, health records, internet usage, criminal records however minor, fingerprints and digital pictures that can be data-mined and applied to different scenario – boarding a plane, behavior on the Tube or taking part in a protest.
Think that’s as bad as it gets?
As the Guardian revealed,
“it is proposed that by 2014 the EU needs to create a ‘Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation with the USA in the field of freedom, security and justice’,” which “would go far beyond current co-operation and mean that policies affecting the liberties and rights of everyone in Europe would not be determined in London or Brussels but in secret EU-US meetings.”
Of course, this program is cynically said to be about “freedom, security and justice,” as in, freedom from justice and security.
The EU plans to build the,
“largest 10 fingerprint system in the world,” and dauntingly, “Some of the most controversial changes introduced by the treaty of Lisbon are in the area of freedom, security and justice.”
The Lisbon Treaty was eventually adopted by every EU nation, following the second vote in Ireland after the Irish first voted ‘no’. In the EU, democracy only counts if it delivers the desired answer.
As a result of the Lisbon Treaty being passed, a variety of police state and surveillance measures can be undertaken for the entirety of the EU:
Other initiatives in the pipeline include a target to train a third of all police officers across the EU in a “common culture” of policing; controversial surveillance techniques including “cyber patrols”; an EU “master plan” on information exchange; the transfer of criminal proceedings among EU member states; access to other member states’ national tax databases; and EU laws on citizens’ right to internet access, among many other things.
The transnationalization of the surveillance society has even expanded vastly into Canada.
In 2009, the first independent study of video surveillance was carried out in Canada, in which it revealed that,
“At least 14 Canadian municipalities are using surveillance cameras to monitor people in public spaces, and another 16 are considering them or have considered them.”
Further, the report identified that,
“The use of surveillance cameras has exploded worldwide, especially since the 9/11 attacks.” It concluded that, “the growth of camera surveillance in Canada is undeniable, and is steady.”
Transit officials in Toronto plan to deploy 12,000 cameras on buses, subways and streetcars by the middle . Montreal’s transit system is adding 1,200 cameras to its surveillance network. Nearly 800 cameras monitor all commuter activity on Vancouver’s 28-kilometre Sky Train route.
In 2008, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner gave the green light to an expansion of the use of surveillance in Toronto’s transit system.
Toronto transit officials had announced plans to install 12,000 cameras in the bus, streetcar and subway system, which “would enable TTC staff or police to view live video or hear audio from any of the security cameras.”
In preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver, it was announced that the government would vastly expand the use of surveillance cameras in the city. While the City had oft-claimed that this was being done in a “temporary” nature for the Olympics, in 2009 it was acknowledged that in fact, they would be permanent.
An estimated 900 cameras were to be watching the crowds in Vancouver during the Olympics.
In January of 2010, a report by an independent organization revealed that,
“The use of surveillance cameras on city streets in Canadian cities is “mushrooming,” but so far the public appears unconcerned.”
Notable among the measures are the aims by the Ontario Provincial Police in acquiring,
“surveillance cameras with automated license-plate-recognition technology, and the RCMP has installed hundreds of cameras at Vancouver Olympic venues and tourist sites.”
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have deployed thousands of surveillance cameras on their transit systems, and half a dozen Canadian cities, including Ottawa, have adopted taxi cameras.
Clearly, this process is not simply a British or American venture, but is endemic of the transnational nature of the surveillance society.
In November of 2008, the National Intelligence Council (which oversees all 16 US intelligence agencies) released a major report analyzing global trends until 2025.
It explained that many governments in the west will be “expanding domestic security forces, surveillance capabilities, and the employment of special operations-type forces.”
Counterterrorism measures will increasingly,
“involve urban operations as a result of greater urbanization,” and governments “may increasingly erect barricades and fences around their territories to inhibit access. Gated communities will continue to spring up within many societies as elites seek to insulate themselves from domestic threats.”
“by nature (or rather by definition), a global project that cannot be fully accomplished in just one community or one country. Being fuelled by the need to suppress any alternative orders and ideas, it has no natural limits and is bound to aim at totally dominating everything and everyone.”
The ultimate feature of the totalitarian domination is the absence of exit, which can be achieved temporarily by closing borders, but permanently only by a truly global reach that would render the very notion of exit meaningless.
This in itself justifies questions about the totalitarian potential of globalization… Is abolition of borders intrinsically (morally) good, because they symbolize barriers that needlessly separate and exclude people, or are they potential lines of resistance, refuge and difference that may save us from the totalitarian abyss?
[Further,] if globalization undermines the tested, state-based models of democracy, the world may be vulnerable to a global totalitarian [centralization].
The totalitarian project is truly a transnational project; it is not merely confined to one or a few nations, but is a project of western society.
So while the west rapidly expands their imperial adventures in the ‘global south’ – Africa, Latin America, South and Central Asia – at home the governments of the established western democracies are throwing the notion of democracy overboard and are constructing powerful and pervasive ‘Homeland Security States’. The construction of a ‘Homeland Security State’ is no more about the protection of its citizens than the Gestapo was; it is about the control of their citizens.
The global economic crisis is central to this process of rapid state reformation and the transnationalization of tyranny.
Economic collapse and civil unrest are key facets of a changing socio-political economic system, of a move from democracy to despotism. When an economy collapses, the governments throw away their public obligations, and act in the interests of their private owners.
Governments will come to the aid of the powerful banks and corporations, not the people, as,
“The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.”
During a large economic crisis:
[The state] rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers. […]
Such maneuvers are difficult under a democratic regime [because people still] have some means of defense [and are] still capable of setting some limit to the insatiable demands of the money power. [In] certain countries and under certain conditions, the bourgeoisie throws its traditional democracy overboard.
The 2008 National Intelligence Council trend report, Global Trends 2025, discussed the decline of democracy in the world as a major trend in the next few decades:
[Advances in democracy] are likely to slow and globalization will subject many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions. […]
The better economic performance of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some about democracy as the best form of government.
[…] Even in many well-established democracies [i.e., the West], surveys show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges.
As the world collapses into a global debt crisis, countries will undertake fiscal austerity measures that will radically increase taxes and reduce social spending.
The result, as analyzed in earlier parts of this series, will be the eradication of the middle class and rapid expansion of poverty and growth of the lower, labour class. Students and members of the middle and lower classes will be in the streets protesting, rioting, rebelling, and the threat of revolution will grow.
As I analyzed in Part 2 above of this series, “Western Civilization and the Economic Crisis: The Impoverishment of the Middle Class,” the eradication of the middle class has been a long-term process, and so too has the process of constructing a Homeland Security State.
As people fall into social despair, governments will resort to political despotism.
The Homeland Security State is designed to control populations and protect the power of the political and economic elite. If the elites do not construct a pervasive police state, the people might take over the social, political and economic levers of power and reconstruct a new social system. Therefore, the elites must “do away” with democracy in order to protect their own positions of power.
The construction of a pervasive and powerful Homeland Security State is not simply about the structures of surveillance.
The emergence of a Homeland Security State will be marked by a new totalitarianism – not quite fascism and not quite communism – but a new system entirely:
it’s not Germany in the Second World War, this is 1984.
With that, the state apparatus will become incredibly oppressive and brutal force will likely be employed in order to induce submission to the state. The militarization of society is a central facet in this.
This will be the subject of the next part in this series, “When Empire Hits Home,” with a focus on the evolution of a military form of governance in the west, construction of dictatorial and totalitarian societies, the prospects of martial law, and the structures of state oppression, including the use of “detention camps” to imprison “uncooperative” elements of the population.
While this essay focused on the prevalence and evolution of a police state surveillance society in the west, the next part focuses on the militarization of society itself:
the descent into dictatorship and despotism.
This is the price that is paid for empire.
Too long have the people of the west been acquiescent to and ignorant of the rabid imperialism of our nations, the incessant and endless spreading of despotism, poverty, exploitation and death around the world.
In it, he wrote,
“Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization.”
In other words, America is and must continue to be an empire, but imperialism and democracy cannot prosper together; it is one or the other.
The elites of the west have chosen empire over democracy.
So far, this series has covered the relationship between war, poverty, and race, as well as the eradication of the middle classes, the potential for people to resist this process by rioting, rebelling or revolution, and the construction of Homeland Security States to monitor, track and control populations in an age of dying democracy.
We cannot ignore the relationships between our own societies and what our societies do to people around the world. This is the nature of empire and the price of power.
In order to construct a world which is sustainable and prosperous for all of it’s people, where freedom reins and power is held by all, we cannot afford to ignore the processes that have brought us to this desperate state. What is most evident in the enterprise of empire is the greatest of human weakness: power.
Universal equality and freedom for all peoples – not under a global socialist state, but under whatever local systems people choose for themselves – is the only way forward: the struggle of freedom for one is the struggle of freedom for all.
Empire is poison and freedom is the antidote, but only if it is freedom for all.
 Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_intel_chief_Economic_crisis_greater_0213.html
 CFR, National Security in the 21st Century: Findings of the Hart-Rudman Commission. Council on Foreign Relations: September 14, 2001: http://www.cfr.org/publication/4049/national_security_in_the_21st_century.html
 The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century – Major Themes and Implications. The Phase I Report on the Emerging Global Security Environment for the First Quarter of the 21st Century: September 15, 1999. Found at: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nssg/: page 3
 Ibid, page 4.
 Ibid, pages 4-5
 Ibid, page 5
 The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom. The Phase II Report on a U.S. National Security Strategy for the 21st Century: April 15, 2000. Found at: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nssg/: page 6
 Ibid, page 8.
 Ibid, page 11
 Ibid, page 14
 The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change. The Phase III Report of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century: February 15, 2001. Found at: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nssg/: page viii
 Ibid, pages viii – ix
 Homeland Security, Brief Documentary History of the Department of Homeland Security, 2001-2008. History Office. Found at: www.dhs.gov/…/brief_documentary_history_of_dhs_2001_2008.pdf; page 3
 Fox News, 9/11 Homeland Security Office Already Existed. September 11, 2001. Found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIrM4ZmLdPw
 CFR, National Security in the 21st Century: Findings of the Hart-Rudman Commission. Council on Foreign Relations: September 14, 2001: http://www.cfr.org/publication/4049/national_security_in_the_21st_century.html
 Homeland Security, Brief Documentary History of the Department of Homeland Security, 2001-2008. History Office. Found at: www.dhs.gov/…/brief_documentary_history_of_dhs_2001_2008.pdf; page 4
 Ibid, page 5
 Ibid, pages 6-7
 Andrew Grumet, 9-11 Commission Report Recommendations. Chapters 12 and 13 of the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Official Government Edition. Found at: http://grumet.net/911/recommendations.html
 Jennifer Van Bergen, The USA PATRIOT Act Was Planned Before 9/11. Truthout: May 20, 2002: http://www.ratical.com/ratville/CAH/PAplndbefore.html
 John W. Whitehead and Steven H. Aden, Forfeiting `Enduring Freedom’ for `Homeland Security’: A Constitutional Analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Justice Department’s Anti-Terrorism Initiatives. American University Law Review: Vol. 51, no. 6, August 2002. Found at: http://www.wcl.american.edu/journal/lawrev/51/51-6.cfm and http://www.ratical.com/ratville/CAH/CAofUSAPA.html#IA
 Inquirer Staff, US Patriot Act II hints at DNA database plans. The Inquirer: February 9, 2003: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1035372/us-patriot-act-ii-hints-at-dna-database-plans
 Jack Balkin, USA Patriot Act: A Dreadful Act II. The Los Angeles Times: February 13, 2003: http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0213-09.htm
 Press Release, ACLU says new Ashcroft Bill erodes checks and balances on Presidential power; PATRIOT II legislation would needlessly infringe on basic constitutional liberties. ACLU: February 12, 2003: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2003/feb/12aclu.htm
 Carrie Johnson and Ellen Nakashima, White House Seeks Renewal of Surveillance Laws, Perhaps With Tweaks. The Washington Post: September 16, 2009: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091503182.html
 David Kravets, Obama Backs Extending Patriot Act Spy Provisions. Wired: September 15, 2009: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/09/obama-backs-expiring-patriot-act-spy-provisions/
 Reuters, Congress extends Patriot Act, no new protections. Reuters: February 25, 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61P0EV20100226
 James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts. The New York Times: December 16, 2005: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/16program.html
 Time Grieve, What the Times knew, and when it knew it. Salon: August 14, 2006: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2006/08/14/times/index.html
 Leslie Cauley, NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls. USA Today: May 11, 2006: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm
 Ryan Singel, Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room. Wired: April 7, 2006: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/04/70619
 ABC, Whistle-blower Had to Fight NSA, LA Times to Tell Story. ABC News: March 6, 2007: http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/03/whistleblower_h.html
 MSNBC, Olbermann intervies whistleblower Mark Klein (wiretapping). Countdown With Keith Olbermann: November 9, 2007: http://videosift.com/video/Olbermann-intervies-whistleblower-Mark-Klein-wiretapping
 John Markoff, Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans. The New York Times: November 9, 2002: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/09/politics/09COMP.html?pagewanted=all
 William Saletan, The Body Electric. The New York Times: December 24, 2009: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/books/review/Saletan-t.html
 Cynthia L. Webb, The Pentagon’s PR Play. The Washington Post: May 21, 2003: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A19272-2003May21?language=printer
 William Safire, You Are a Suspect. The New York Times: November 14, 2002: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/14/opinion/14SAFI.html?pagewanted=1
 Rob Morris, Fighting terror by terrifying U.S. citizens. The San Francisco Chronicle: November 20, 2002: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/11/20/MN218568.DTL
 AP, U.S. Still Mining Terror Data. Wired: February 23, 2004: http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2004/02/62390
 Shane Harris, TIA Lives On. The National Journal: February 23, 2006: http://www.nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0223nj1.htm
 BBC, Britain is ‘surveillance society’. BBC News: November 2, 2006: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6108496.stm
 John Oates, Lords say surveillance society erodes foundations of UK. The Register: February 6, 2009: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/06/lords_reject_government_data/
 Standard, George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house. The London Evening Standard: March 31, 2007: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23391081-george-orwell-big-brother-is-watching-your-house.do
 Tim Hall, Majority of UK’s CCTV cameras ‘are illegal’. The Telegraph: May 31, 2007: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1553090/Majority-of-UKs-CCTV-cameras-are-illegal.html
 Owen Bowcott, CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police. The Guardian: May 6, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/may/06/ukcrime1
 Tom Kelly, Revealed: Big Brother Britain has more CCTV cameras than China. The Daily Mail: August 11, 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1205607/Shock-figures-reveal-Britain-CCTV-camera-14-people–China.html
 Charlie Sorre, Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes. Wired: August 3, 2009: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/08/britain-to-put-cctv-cameras-inside-private-homes/
 Daily Mail Reporter, Secret CCTV cameras fitted INSIDE people’s homes to spy on neighbours outside. The Daily Mail: November 19, 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1228876/Secret-CCTV-cameras-fitted-INSIDE-peoples-homes-spy-neighbours.html
 Paul Lewis, CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones. The Guardian: January 23, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/23/cctv-sky-police-plan-drones
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 Martin Wainwright, Talking CCTV cameras accuse wrong person. The Guardian: April 12, 2007: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/apr/12/ukcrime.humanrights
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 Matthew Tempest, ID cards ‘neither safe nor appropriate’. The Guardian: June 27, 2005: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jun/27/matthewtempest1
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 Charlie Savage, US doles out millions for street cameras. The Boston Globe: August 12, 2007: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/08/12/us_doles_out_millions_for_street_cameras/?page=full
 Alexandra Marks, New York plans London-style camera network. USA Today: July 11, 2007: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/surveillance/2007-07-11-nyc-surveillance-cameras_N.htm
 Cara Buckley, New York Plans Surveillance Veil for Downtown. The New York Times: July 9, 2007: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/09/nyregion/09ring.html
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 Sally Goldenberg, Midtown to get new security blanket. The New York Post: October 5, 2009: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/item_qZRjSbNTMPYOMnpXjwW8JM
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 Ian Johnston, EU funding ‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for “abnormal behaviour”. The Telegraph: September 19, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6210255/EU-funding-Orwellian-artificial-intelligence-plan-to-monitor-public-for-abnormal-behaviour.html
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 Stephen Booth, Europe’s own surveillance state. The Guardian: November 2, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/nov/02/europe-surveillance-state
 Don Butler, The surveillance society. The Ottawa Citizen, February 5, 2009: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/under-surveillance/surveillance+society/1236579/story.html
 CBC, Ontario privacy chief gives green light to TTC surveillance plans. CBC News: March 3, 2008: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2008/03/03/surveillance-report.html
 Mark Hasiuk, City admits surveillance cameras here to stay in Vancouver. Vancouver Courier: April 7, 2009: http://www2.canada.com/vancouvercourier/news/story.html?id=27da28a5-7b85-4ccd-a8fd-bdf0013c6ac5
 CBC, Olympic surveillance cameras causing concern. CBC News: January 18, 2010: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/01/18/bc-olympic-surveillance-cameras-robertson.html
 Don Butler, More cameras watching over Canada’s streets, public not worried: Report. The Province: January 14, 2010: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/2010wintergames/More+cameras+watching+over+Canada+streets+public+worried+Report/2442463/story.html
 NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project: November, 2008: pages 70-72: http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html
 David Lyon, Theorizing surveillance: the panopticon and beyond. Willan Publishing, 2006: page 71
 Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business. Monad Press, 1973: page 22
 Ibid, page 23.
 NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council’s 2025 Project: November, 2008: pages 87: http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html
 Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books, 1997: page 36