It is true that many of the more radical items on this administration’s wish list have yet to be realized. But make no mistake, the full agenda is still there, lying in wait. And there is one thing that could unleash it all: a large-scale crisis.
Large-scale shocks are frequently harnessed to ram through despised pro-corporate and anti-democratic policies that would never have been feasible in normal times. It’s a phenomenon I have previously called the “Shock Doctrine,” and we have seen it happen again and again over the decades, from Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s coup to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
The weak, the sick, the different, the “impure” and the “inferior” are to be made to disappear: by deportation, by bans, by walls – and by dying.
In this war of the elites, those who understand the “crisis of civilization” and are working to build community resilience as a response should be wary of hyper-partisanship. It may be essential over the short run to oppose both the rise of an authoritarian state and the dismantling of national climate policy. But no matter how fierce the contest, it is vital to remember that getting rid of Donald Trump will not make America great again.
The coming arrests mean that a wide range of Americans will experience the violations that poor people of color have long endured. Self-interest alone should have generated sweeping protest, should have made the nation as a whole more conscious. We should have understood: Once rights become privileges that the state can revoke, they will eventually be taken away from everyone. Now those who had been spared will get a taste of what complicity in oppression means.
Snowden: The surveillance revelations are critically important because they revealed that our rights are being redefined in secret, by secret courts that were never intended to have that role—without the consent of the public, without even the awareness of the majority of our political representatives. However, as important as that is, I don’t think it is the most important thing. I think it is the fact that the director of national intelligence gave a false statement to Congress under oath, which is a felony. If we allow our officials to knowingly break the law publicly and face no consequences, we’re instituting a culture of immunity, and this is what I think historically will actually be considered the biggest disappointment of the Obama administration. I don’t think it’s going to be related to social or economic policies; it’s going to be the fact that he said let’s go forward, not backward, in regard to the violations of law that occurred under the Bush administration. There was a real choice when he became president. It was a very difficult choice—to say, “We’re not going to hold senior officials to account with the same laws that every other citizen in the country is held to,” or “This is a nation that believes in the rule of law.” And the rule of law doesn’t mean the police are in charge, but that we all answer to the same laws. You know, if Congress is going to investigate baseball players about whether or not they told the truth, how can we justify giving the most powerful intelligence official, Clapper, a pass? This is how J. Edgar Hoover ended up in charge of the FBI forever.