The Ongoing War on Political Protest

The Ongoing War on Political Protest
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So reads the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The establishment of the freedom of political protest was one of the shining features enshrined within the Bill of Rights.  It was supposed to make certain that public officials would always be under the impression that they were beholden to the taxpayers that put them in office.  It was to guarantee a government by and for the people.

In reality, it was little more than a naïve delusion.  Governments lie, cheat, steal, murder, and subtly ground those under its authority into submission.  They inevitably turn from serving those who entrust it with protecting person and property to a mechanism of exploitation and profiteering by special interests.

Even the American Revolution and formation of a centralized national government is often an exaggerated tale of throwing off oppression.  Yes, the colonists were unjustly taxed by Great Britain.  All taxes at all times are unjust.  But what replaced British rule would have the opposite of the desired effect.  Economist and historian Gary North explains:

The colonists had a sweet deal in 1775. Great Britain was the second freest nation on earth. Switzerland was probably the most free nation, but I would be hard-pressed to identify any other nation in 1775 that was ahead of Great Britain. And in Great Britain’s Empire, the colonists were by far the freest.

I will say it, loud and clear: the freest society on earth in 1775 was British North America, with the exception of the slave system. Anyone who was not a slave had incomparable freedom.

The Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776. Some members signed the Declaration on July 4. The public in general believed the leaders at the Continental Congress. They did not understand what they were about to give up. They could not see what price in blood and treasure and debt they would soon pay. And they did not foresee the tax burden in the new nation after 1783.

In an article on taxation in that era, (Alvin) Rabushka gets to the point.

“Historians have written that taxes in the new American nation rose and remained considerably higher, perhaps three times higher, than they were under British rule. More money was required for national defense than previously needed to defend the frontier from Indians and the French, and the new nation faced other expenses.”

So, as a result of the American Revolution, the tax burden tripled.

In the post 9/11 era, the Constitution’s protection of civil liberties, namely the fourth and fifth amendments, have all but been torn to shreds.  It was a century and a half long decaying process set off by America’s grand experiment in imperialism.  The illegal arrests, denial of due process, exile of a sitting U.S. Congressmen (Clement Valladingham of Ohio) for anti-war remarks, and overall empowerment of the federal government that took place during the Civil War came full circle with the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th.  The decade following saw an explosion in the growth of the U.S. security state.  In the past ten years the country has seen at least thirty three new building complexes erected to house the various intelligence bureaucracies tasked with fighting the War on Terror.  This includes roughly 30,000 employed to listen in on phone and other lines of domestic communication according to Fareed Zakaria.

The 2008 campaign of President Barack Obama was filled with the promise of reigning in the excesses of the Bush administration.  Instead, not only has Obama continued much of the same warfare and domestic surveillance abuses of the Bush years, he has exacerbated them.  The drone war continues unabated in countries such as Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen.  Hundreds of civilians have been killed including innocent children. For all of Bush’s war crimes, at least he never had the insolence to declare himself the authority to assassinate American citizens or lock them up indefinitely without the luxury of charging them for a crime.

While the National Security Agency archives trillions of communication transactions, the administration is currently waging what Glenn Greenwald calls an active “war on whistleblowers” despite a campaign pledge to “protect” them.  So far, six whistleblowers have been charged by the Department of Justice under the Espionage Act.  Up until Obama took office, only three individuals were ever charged.  Clearly the idea of citizens rising up to challenge the practices of public non-servants is not so sacred in the days of manufactured terror plots.  The government’s motives and agenda are supposed to go unquestioned.

In another egregious act of late, on Wednesday the President signed an executive order that forcefully relinquishes the assets of anyone who engages

in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provides for a peaceful transition of power in Yemen, or that obstruct the political process in Yemen

The very act of challenging the U.S.’s involvement in a sovereign nation’s presidential election is now punishable by all-out burglary of one’s personal assets.  With U.S. troops now stationed in Yemen, the EO is supposed to ensure the country’s political transition to the administration of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.  Now the citizens of Yemen might want to think twice on challenging the U.S. backed regime they are forced to live under.  Glenn Greenwald asks the pertinent questions:

But what if someone — a Yemeni or an American — opposes Hadi’s rule and wants to agitate for a real election in which more than one candidate runs? Is that pure political advocacy, as it appears, now prohibited by the U.S. Government, punishable by serious sanctions, on the ground that it “obstructs” the transition of power to Hadi? Can journalists who report on corruption or violence by the Hadi regime and who write Op-Eds demanding a new election be accused, as it seems, of “threatening Yemen’s political stability”?

None of this is clear but that is entirely the point.  The Obama administration wants flexibility in enforcement and making sure their guy is put in control.  The political protest has essentially been deemed a crime.

The disturbing part is that such a clampdown on speech and protest is being enforced by governments worldwide.  In Canada, the providence of Quebec is cracking down on students protesting over university tuition hikes.  The interior Minister of Spain has announced plans to reform the penal code in order to impose minimum jail sentences for some protesters who have taken to the streets over unpopular austerity measures.  As Greece continues its inevitable descent out of the Eurozone, protests continue along with bank runs that will, if history is any guide, be shut down with a bank holiday declared nationwide to prevent the fractional reserve system from becoming more insolvent than it already is.  Back in the U.S., Obama signed a bill last March which forbids demonstrations in areas under the jurisdiction of the prostitute loving Secret Service.

These are all the consequence of governments in constant need of more control and domination.  Government “of the people, by the people, for the people” is a child’s fantasy.  To question the state is to question the livelihood of the societal parasites which staff it.  Those who look to politicians as their saving grace are quickly learning a valuable lesson.  As more of the public becomes aware of the massive loss of liberty and wealth it has suffered at the hand of the state, the jackboot of despotism will be pressed down further.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul was accurate when he declared “truth is treason in an empire of lies.”

The truth is serfdom is slowly approaching.  Treason has become speaking out against it.

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James E. Miller is editor-in-chief of Mises Canada and a regular contributor to the Mitrailleuse . Send him mail

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