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We've Been Stupefied: 4 Reasons Why the Republic Is in Serious Trouble

November 7, 2014 in Blogs

By Jim Sleeper, Salon

How the Republicans subvert democracy, and Democrats fail to do their job.

The American republic didn’t end this week because conservative Republicans captured the Senate. Conservative Republicans captured the Senate because the republic has been ending, as liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans surf four predatory new asymmetries in our national life  – in security, in speech, in investment and in consumer marketing. These immense imbalances of power are submerging the elections, delegitimizing the liberal capitalist republic that promised to give security, speech, investment and marketing deeply different meanings and consequences than the ones they’ve acquired.

Nothing less than a transformation of American citizenship worthy of Nathan Hale, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. (who learned a lot from Gandhi), Vaclav Havel and, yes, Edward Snowden can free us from yet another spectacle of politicians who look like pinheads dancing on pins’ heads.

Security: When American civilian planes brought low the American superpower in 2001, they shook the dollar-driven premise that a massive, militarized national-security establishment can protect an open society. Yet instead of rethinking its premises and policies the “military-industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned against has recovered from the shock of 9/11 to become a global search-and-destroy directorate, nearly independent of democratic governance, that is making American society less conducive to the voluntary civic discipline, candor and trust that alone sustain a republic.

Certainly technological change is driving an Orwellian transformation of “homeland” security through surveillance. Henry Kissinger warns that “The Commander of U.S. Cyber Command has predicted that ‘the next war will begin in cyberspace’” and that it will be asymmetrical. But the prospect that our vast military could be paralyzed by hackers is making the national-security “cure” as dangerous as the disease of terrorism itself. Not only liberals but especially libertarian conservatives, who’ve long mocked the line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,” understand the new “security” danger well.

No wonder that Edward Snowden, 29, a libertarian conservative, has sacrificed so much to warn us that with only a “policy switch,” any administration could use the National Security Agency’s massive database to chill individual Americans’ exercise …read more


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