Guest post by Steven Miller and Satish Musunuru
(Part 5 of a five-part post on the corporatization of Internet surveillance.)
The capitalist class deliberately distorts the class nature of the state. This is a scientific question, not an ideological one. Government is the administration of public money and resources in the name of society. The state is different. It is made up of the police, the courts and jails, the army, et al, and of course, the NSA. The capitalist class loves to present the state as a body that somehow stands above society, neutral to class interests, reigning with wisdom. One thing we have learned from Occupy, however, is that the police always seem to defend the corporations. They are hardly neutral. For both government and the state, law is simply the will of the ruling class, written down.
The purpose of the state is to defend the relations of production that are organized and imposed by the ruling class. Thus the state is a function of the relations of production, not the other way around. However, once established, it plays a formative role in organizing the relations of production for the class that rules the state.
In capitalism’s Industrial Era, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI collected dossiers on every politician, movement and individual that might pose a threat to state control. Today digital technology leads inexorably to the Surveillance State, actually only a small part of the entire state apparatus.
The US state has many manifestations: the military industrial complex, the media industrial complex that organizes the world’s most sophisticated propaganda war 24/7, the prison industrial complex, the corporate state, the surveillance state, the Migra, the militarized police we all saw at Occupies, open violations of the Constitution, the Department of Homeland Security, private prisons, secret ops, drones, extraordinary rendition, torture at every level, and so much more. Then of course we have the army, equipped with the world’s largest military budget, armed with some serious hardware, including the world’s largest supply of nuclear weapons. Corporations are inseparable from this. As they merge with the state, corporations today are rapidly developing police powers.
Social movements can sometimes reform the government, but state power does not permit you to reform the state. The idea that somehow the state will sit by passively while workers organize socialism is simply a fantasy. The state is programmed to intervene whenever the relations of production are threatened. Here and there, in relatively small-scale cases – Mondragon workers, for example, Kerala in India, Cuba, Nicaragua at one phase, etc – the nuisance is such that the state chooses not to intervene – but these are few and far between. The job of the state is to identify threats to capitalist control and move on them.
In the US today, the NSA works at one level; at another level, Homeland Security outsources police functions to corporations through contracts for profit. It’s budget for doing this has averaged over $30 billion a year since 2001. During Occupy, across the country, DHS has established “fusion centers”, often in corporations or banks, where police gathered surveillance and advised corporate leaders. Domain Centers (Oakland is the second, after New York City) are required for every port in the country.
The state’s response to the NSA scandal has been to go on a marketing campaign: “Resistance is Futile! We’ve got things coming at you that you can’t even imagine, way beyond Darth Vader!” This is a point worth considering. How can the American people possibly fight this?
The most basic step is to understand that things don’t have to be this way. Code can be changed and architectures can be re-designed. This is really an aspect of the tremendous battle of ideas that is breaking out in society. Every living system on Earth is in decline, except corporations. Corporations can be abolished by popular will if people are on the same accord, just as private property in slavery was abolished 150 years ago. These are historic times.
The American people have a long revolutionary history, but little recent experience with the process. Thus we don’t recognize the critical importance of these essential first steps of the battle that are appearing today. The future world will either be all corporate or all public. We can decide.
Here is how one of America’s great revolutionaries – John Adams, an outstanding exponent of capitalism – explained the process:
“The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?
“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced (emphasis added). The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations….
“The people of America had been educated in an habitual affection for England, as their mother country; and while they thought her a kind and tender parent, (erroneously enough, however, for she never was such a mother,) no affection could be more sincere. But when they found her a cruel bedlam, willing like Lady Macbeth, to “dash their brains out,” it is no wonder if their filial affections ceased, and were changed into indignation and horror.
“This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.” (13)
Background and Notes
13) John Adams to H. Niles, February 13, 1818
Reposted from Daily Censored
Steven Miller has taught science for 25 years in Oakland’s Flatland high schools. He has been actively engaged in public school reform since the early 1990s. When the state seized control of Oakland public schools in 2003, they immediately implemented policies of corporatization and privatization that are advocated by the Broad Institute. Since that time Steve has written extensively against the privatization of public education, water and other public resources. You can email him at email@example.com
Satish Musunuru draws upon his training as an engineer and his experience as a professional in Silicon Valley to understand the relationship between technology and corporate capitalism and how it has brought us to the ecological and societal crisis we find ourselves in. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org