Friday, May 20, 2011

Homeland Security, etc, Ushering in Feudal America?

The best history is history that sheds light on the present. There may be a connection between the Feudal System's power structure and what is developing in America as Homeland Security grows and gains power over civilians. On the other side of the ledger, things that would weaken civilians seem to be on the horizon, such as gun confiscation and faltering democracy. Consider the following from page 3 of the book pictured left wherein the author explains what kept the Feudal system in place:

As long as the nobles held their monopoly of the military profession, rebellion against their authority was futile. The short bow was the best weapon possessed by the lower classes, but its shafts were of little effect against knightly armor. Even if a peasant could find the means to procure the equipment of a knight, he would lack the training required to use it effectively. Until the non-noble class obtained wealth, leisure, or a cheap, easily used, and effective weapon, the position of the feudal aristocracy was perfectly secure.
Now, keeping all this in mind, let us observe several trends in America today that move us closer to this dynamic.

Since its creation in 2002, Homeland Security's budget has inched upward every year. With opportunists such as Rick Santorum posturing to be the greatest protector of the people, the incentive for such congressmen is to make DHS grow.

Homeland security gives the government more power to search persons and belongings than it would otherwise have--as long as government perceives a threat of terrorism. For example, because people think a terrorist attack is more likely to occur on an airplane, the groping arm of DHS, the TSA, invades people's privacy more so than a regular police officer would be able to in a place such as a subway.

More importantly, Homeland Security is locationally far-removed from the civilian population, almost as much as a feudal aristocracy would be. Whereas a police chief may reside in or nearby the neighborhood he patrols, DHS workers answer to distant federal apparatchiks, and would presumably have fewer ties to the locality which they deal with. The disconnection sets the psychological stage for inhuman treatment, almost like a class system in feudal Europe would.

Don't be fooled by the DHS website which has nice pics of workers smiling on it. Sometimes services are outsourced to save money (on something that is wasteful to begin with*), as was the case when a mercenary intelligence group populated by foreigners was caught spying on people at a second amendment rally and at an anti-gasdrilling demonstration, both in Pennsylvania. Moreover, TSA workers' attitude toward passengers--that they are “guilty until proven innocent [by strip search]”--could not be more hostile or dehumanizing.

And DHS has implemented surveillance cameras in Walmart to spy on Walmart shoppers for some reason. Maybe DHS is looking to get stills for "The People of Walmart" website.

No one would doubt that such invasiveness, spying, etc empowers the government relative to the people—and that’s what we’re getting at here. Indeed, we remain a far cry from a feudal system-scale imbalance, but empowering DHS inches us toward it.

It has been said that federal bureaus are run like independent little kingdoms and operate with the sole goal of increasing their budgets by demanding more tribute from taxpayers in return for "keeping them safe". But it is doubtful that Homeland Security does or can make us safer, and even if they do, they only do so to a very small, insignificant degree, and the invasion of privacy and loss of power to citizens may not be worth it.

We've just illustrated how DHS strengthens government, but now lets turn to things that might weaken the governed.

Gun confiscation would not add resources to the government but would subtract resources from non-governmental civilians. When effective weapons such as guns are confiscated, the government's power rises relative to that of the civilian population, given that only civilians seem to be the target of proposed gun confiscation legislation. The police and military will obviously always have firearms--as will criminals. In the feudal system, only the noble lords had weapons, as did invaders--with the peasants being helplessly caught in the middle. Gun grabbing moves us closer to this dynamic, with the modern-day invaders being terrorists and criminals the peasants being law-abiding American civilians, and the lords being DHS. The difference is that, in feudal times, there often was a legitimate threat of serious invasion, so the noble knights often served a purpose. The chances of suffering a terrorist attack in America were very slim before 9/11 and have been very slim after that day.

Infringing upon the second amendment may not be much of a concern for some. As long as we have a benevolent government, some may argue, gun grabbing from civilians should pose no serious problem. But what if the government stops being benevolent, what would bring this about, and is it happening now?

Further failure of democracy is needed to initiate a really tyrannical dictatorship that would reign in an environment where guns had been confiscated, where helpless citizens were that much more vulnerable. But beside the Democrat-Republican quid pro quo exchange that happens when D's and R's exchange welfare and warfare, is democracy failing in other ways?

1. Inherently, as democracy favors the general consensus and scorns unorganized minorities such as Amishmen who sell raw milk or mothers who refuse to medicate their children with state-mandated drugs. Within the political parties, people with new or differing ideas are often shunned or excluded.

2. Exogenously, as democracy erodes due to a misinformative corporate media and a panem et circensus mentality among the public. For example, FOX News is obsessed with warmongering and airing insignificant tidbits of Republican propaganda.** Entertainment outlets such as "Dancing with the Stars" and NFL football are consuming people's time and consciousness that they might otherwise have leftover to discuss politics.
The pieces in place so far are: not enough leisure time to devote to politics resulting in faltering democracy setting the stage for gun confiscation to weaken citizenry and to become perilous amid a tyrannical government being empowered by the DHS. But remember, in our conjecture, we have yet to address the fact that Americans presently have a lot of wealth and leisure.

The loss of wealth for most voters is happening as follows: In the present, big corporations benefit from deficit spending as they receive government contracts. In the long-run, big banks benefit from deficit spending as they reap the interest on loans the government borrowed in order to run deficits. Eventually, if taxes are raised, the super rich will offshore their funds, and big companies will continue to find ways to avoid paying them, leaving the tax system less progressive--even regressive, and heaped on the moderately rich who will have to forgo creating jobs for the middle class and poor.

As for loss of leisure, mortgages pushed by the federal government's HUD and backed by Fannie, Freddie, and ultimately the Federal Reserve, effectively enslave many Americans to years of serfdom to their homes. Moreover, for people of average education, it takes both parents working for the family to live comfortably. Even when there is leisure, it is often of the mindless sort; ie watching Dancing with the Stars or sports. People spend many hours in transit from their suburban residences to their urban places of employment. The calm leisure necessary to become wise about politics may not be there, and eventually political involvement for many has become a passtime, too abstracted from people's actual lives.

Even if political involvement isn't abstracted, then (in most political cases) it might as well be, because people try to live off the government stealing from everyone else--and people of all income levels do this: the mega-rich by securing federal contracts, the regular rich with local government favors, the middle class with "free" healthcare, and the poor with everything.

Therefore, functional leisure in the sense that it would be used to combat tyranny is not widespread and the nature of voting decisions has declines as everyone is too busy getting favors to vote altruistically to do things like balance the budget.

Critics of this analogy might say that the encroachments of DHS coupled with the losses of civilian power do not necessarily entail that we will continue to move toward a feudal system dynamic or that we will ever end up with a feudal system. In that, they are right. But on the obverse, there seems to be nothing yet to suggest that the slide into a feudal system will stop, as long as the trends here mentioned continue. As long as the next generation's voters shrug off their loss of freedom as TSA expands into subways or as civilians' weaponry is taken away, in other words, if their attitude toward incursions is the same as that held by people of the present, then we can say that the conditions for a further slide toward Feudal America remain, given that DHS has the economic incentive to grow and college-educated people continue to call for gun bans.

One concession to make is that under the feudal system there was little trade and nearly no use of money. Americans have many ways to trade, even if the dollar collapses. The dollar probably won't collapse soon since people are so used to using it as money and since it is highly demanded around the world. We have a complex market economy that was alien to the feudal manor. So obviously we'll probably never reach an environment very much like the feudal system. But moving closer to feudalism is in and of itself a bad thing composed of individual losses of liberty. The problem is that our system is beginning to take on, however slightly, the negative traits of the feudal system.
*Because the chances of death via a terrorist attack are so small, there is probably no justification for any marginal spending increases for DHS.
**FOX News represents the warmongering, pro-DHS, hero-worship side of the GOP, but does not really stand up for fiscal or social conservatives.

No comments:

Post a Comment