Sunday, June 30, 2024

American Political Illusions


American Political Illusions

Peter Schultz


                  The following is from the book, The FBI and American Democracy: A Brief Critical History, by Athan Theoharis. It is worthy of quoting at length. It is also worthy of consideration for what it tells us about the political and America’s alleged “democracy.”


                  “The way in which the FBI operated during the 1940s and 1950s differed radically from the way in which it was viewed at the time – as an apolitical, professional, and disciplined law enforcement agency that respected privacy and First Amendment rights and safeguarded the confidentiality of its files. The radical disparity between myth and reality raises serious questions for a democratic political system based on the rule of law, limited and defined powers, and accountability. How could a law enforcement agency violate with impunity the Fourth Amendment as well as laws banning wiretapping and mail opening? How could FBI officials brazenly affirm the confidentiality of FBI files when, in fact, they selectively released their contents to ideologically sympathetic journalists and members of Congress? How could FBI agents monitor the political activities and personal conduct of members of Congress and of the media? Finally, how could FBI officials monitor the personal activities of presidents and, further, how could they preclude discovery of their practice of sharing information that advanced the partisan interests of a president’s political adversaries?” [p. 105]


                  Actually, this passage pretty much tells most of what you should know about the political and about American democracy. As realists claim, politics is about power, not justice. But what the realists do not like to acknowledge, this means that politics is about repression, not freedom, official lawlessness, not the rule of law, and the quest for total social control and visibility, not privacy. Randolph Bourne once wrote that “war is the health of the state;” but he didn’t get to the essence of the political because actually repression is the health of the state. And this becomes quite apparent in times of crises, like war or pandemics or economic dislocations and depressions.

No comments:

Post a Comment