1. Misuse the concept of a Top Secret government document (say, the date of D-Day) and extend classification to trillions of mundane documents a year.
2. Classify all government crimes and violations of the Constitution as secret
3. Create a class of 4.5 million privileged individuals, many of them corporate employees, with access to classified documents but allege it is illegal for public to see leaked classified documents
4. Spy on the public in violation of the Constitution
5. Classify environmental activists as terrorists while allowing Big Coal and Big Oil to pollute and destroy the planet
6. Share info gained from NSA spying on public with DEA, FBI, local law enforcement to protect pharmaceuticals & liquor industry from competition from pot, or to protect polluters from activists
7. Falsify to judges and defense attorneys how allegedly incriminating info was discovered
8. Lie and deny to Congress you are spying on the public.
9. Criminalize the revelation of government crimes and spying as Espionage
10. Further criminalize whistleblowing as “Terrorism”, have compradors arrest innocent people, detain them, and confiscate personal effects with no cause or warrant (i.e. David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald)
Presto, what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens and actively helping destroy the planet while forestalling climate activism
Revelations about the breathtaking scope of government spying are coming so fast that it’s time for an updated roundup:
While the government initially claimed that mass surveillance on Americans prevented more than 50 terror attacks, the NSA’s deputy director John Inglis walked that position back all the way to saying that – at the most – one (1) plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone. In other words, the NSA can’t prove that stopped any terror attacks. The government greatly exaggerated an alleged recent terror plot for political purposes (and promoted the fearmongering of serial liars). The argument that recent terror warnings show that NSA spying is necessary is so weak that American counter-terrorism experts have slammed it as “crazy pants”
Degradation rituals are a suggested socio-cultural universal found in tribal to modern societies. In the 1950s and 60s North American sociologists Erving Goffman and Harold Garfinkel illustrated what they called degradation rituals and ceremonies in modern institutions like prisons, mental hospitals, and courts.
They described these ceremonies and rituals as public acts, designed to transform the public identities of people to bring them down a peg or two, shame them and ultimately—if the denunciation were successful enough—to expel them from their status position in the group.
To be most effective, the accusers in a degradation ceremony need to demonstrate, among other things, that the accused has done damage to the community and that the accuser has the righteous weight of the community behind them. As Garfinkel described it: a degradation ritual is a communicative production, “whereby the public identity of an actor is transformed into something looked on as lower in the local scheme of social types.”
In anthropology, a ritual is understood as central to the creation and maintenance of social integration. By publicly identifying a person as negative—not just in their behaviour but also in the motivations behind that behaviour—degradation rituals provoke moral indignation that can enhance wider social cohesion and group solidarity.
In a similar way to rites of passage designed to mark positive personal changes—like a graduation, or two individuals becoming a married couple—degradation rituals can bestow negativity onto a person’s identity that brings people together too. For example, in prisons a strip search is a degradation ritual because it is designed to humiliate the prisoner and socially integrate the prison guards as superior.
And in a court of law a criminal prosecution is designed to not simply punish criminal activity but also to publicly shame the criminal and restore social order.
Another field where degradation rituals are common is politics. In fact there are days when one might assume politics has nothing to do with negotiation and service to the public but rather is all about who can discredit and degrade their opponent best. In politics one available degradation ritual is a motion of no confidence.
It is an opportunity to redefine the moral character of the accused. It is a chance to do this where all can see. And to publicly chastise a government and its members for not acting in the best interest of the social good or maintaining appropriate professional conduct. Now one of the things about degradation rituals is they are not always successful. Alongside the performance of accusation and denunciation, the ritual often provides a space for the accused to face up to their denouncers.
So when Dr Rowley went after the Government with “e-mailgate,” his job was only half done. Yes, he made his denunciation in the name of the public, which, in a ritual of public accountability, is what drives the power of the degradation ceremony. And yes, this sense of righteousness and proper conduct in office also worked to create social cohesion and solidarity among many members of the public.
We might even dare to say that on the Monday his accusation seemed to transform the character of the Government. Because for an afternoon, the Government wasn’t just accused of unacceptable behaviour; in the public court of moral opinion it seemed to stick as moral indignation swept social media and everyday conversations. It was almost as though many people all at once were nodding, “I told you so.”
Yet the accusation and speaking in the public’s name is only a part of the ritual performance. For the moral indignation to stick and for the public identity of the people accused to be transformed and discredited, the accused cannot be allowed to repair the perceived breach. In this sense Dr Rowley failed in making the degradation ritual effective.
By Tuesday morning he seemed to be losing the cohesiveness of public opinion which, like him and some of his colleagues who were now absent from Parliament, didn’t look like returning (although maybe he has more evidence). And by Wednesday afternoon, when he walked out of Parliament with his party in tow, Dr Rowley was no longer speaking righteously for the public as things had fallen back into partisan politics.
As a study in the culture of politics he had lost the moral high ground and with it the degradation ritual fell apart. The public was no longer whole in its moral offence and it might even be said that the Government fought effectively to turn the degradation ceremony back on its author. We wait to see.
• Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence —- nothing at all.
Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing.
It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.
Murdoch has hotly denied ever trading the influence of his market-leading newspapers in return for policy favours. “That was absolutely not News Corporation’s policy and I would not do business like that,” Murdoch repeated in a six-hour appearance before the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday.
But emails published by the inquiry indicate that some in Murdoch’s inner circle were not blind to the political importance of the media group. Frédéric Michel, the head of European public affairs for News Corp and the man tasked with smoothing the way for the BSkyB deal, told Murdoch in an email on 10 January 2011 that Hunt might appreciate some friendly coverage in anticipation that the government would come under fire from those who opposed the $8bn takeover.
"He [Hunt] is keen to meet next Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss our submission. He said he would not be influenced by the negative media coverage but would welcomed [sic] other opeds like Littlewood or Elstein in the coming days," Michel said in the email to Murdoch. Two weeks later Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, issued a statement supporting the bid and David Elstein, former Thames TV and Sky executive, writes two pieces for Open democracy website in favour of the takeover.
There is emerging circumstantial evidence that the Cameron government entered into what looks suspiciously like a Grand Bargain with the Murdoch newspaper empire before the last election. It may have gone like this: the Murdoch press would throw its weight behind the Conservative Party in the 2010 general election, and in return the Conservatives would back known Murdoch policy objectives …
At this stage the evidence is only circumstantial, but the charge that the Cameron government has done commercial favours for the Murdochs in return for political support is very serious. This, if true, would amount to corruption. Certainly, if proven, it would force the resignation of Mr Hunt. But it is not impossible that the Government would fall. Mr Hunt is one of Mr Cameron’s closest friends in the Cabinet, and would never have set out on the course he did without the agreement of the Prime Minister.