This Is Not Totalitarianism

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This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Setar » Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:19 am

Truthdig: Redacted FBI Documents Show Plot to Kill Occupy Leaders If ‘Deemed Necessary’

you have the right to protest. you have the right to protest effectively, get media coverage, get popular support...as long as you're on the right, or at least not too harsh on the right. if you're not, and you start being effective, we'll do everything in our power to stop you, right down to entertaining the possibility of assassinating people.

someone please explain to me how this is not totalitarianism in effect. because from my perspective this is yet another occurrence of the US government and its supporting interests actively suppressing popular leftist movements. and only leftist movements. no one has said fucking anything about sniping gun-toting teabaggers, the worst that happened to them was -gasp- the IRS actually enforced 501(c)(4) properly on them.

and don't you dare fucking tell me it's not totalitarian because it doesn't look like Nazi Germany or North Korea or Oceania. because I see a quacking ball of feathers with webbed feet and I'll be damned if I'm not calling that a duck. a totalitarian duck.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Serene » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:30 am

With respect, I think you are making a judgement without full possession of the facts.

All we know about this issue is the FBI had knowledge of such a plot. We don't know if they had any evidence,or even detailed identities so their inaction cannot be be used to say they would have allowed this to take place.

The USA is not totalitarian because state control of public and private life is not total.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Setar » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:26 am

Serene wrote:With respect, I think you are making a judgement without full possession of the facts.

With absolutely no fucking respect, I think you're concern trolling. The US has a long and very well-documented history of repressing dissidents to its oppressive status quo, even in other countries, that no amount of cool, condescending 'you don't know everything' and dictionary definitions cannot fucking erase.

And I say concern trolling, rather than just you being the one who doesn't know everything, because you didn't just have to dismiss me -- you had to do it with condescending flowy rhetoric as though I'm a child who deserves nothing more than "you'll learn as you get older". At the very least, before you post in this thread again you should damn well fucking check your attitude towards people who disagree with your religious belief that the US is somehow a paragon of freedom and righteousness that could never ever ever ever not possibly ever be -gasp- totalitarian. Maybe, y'know, assume that people know what the fuck they're talking about when they say this stuff in a space that prioritizes evidence-based critical thought, rather than just assuming that your preferred narrative is correct and anyone who disagrees is an ignorant child. That might help matters a bit.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Serene » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:50 am

I must say, I find your response quite hostile.

I have no illusions about the saintliness of the US as an imperial power, I do understand the extent to which the US acts as a belligerent and aggressive military and economic force.

My point, re: totalitarianism, is not to put dictionary definitions in the way, but to point out that even if we were to agree the US restricts its citizens, the gulf between this and totalitarianism is really quite large. The fact that people like Alex Jones continue to run anti-government messages without being silenced is - to me - quite a clear example of how the US is not totalitarian.

I do apologise if you found my tone condescending or patronising, that was not my intention. As to your inference that I assumed you didn't know what you are talking about, it was not to dismiss you, but to point out that from the article you posted up you appeared to be making unfounded assertions. Again, sorry if my tone upset you.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby ischemgeek » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:04 am

It was not your tone that upset Setar, Serene, it was your condescension (which is an action, not a tone); your assumption that because Setar disagrees with you in this case, xe must not be in full possession of the facts; and your reliance on superficial dictionary arguments (which, I must point out, are in our list of arguments to avoid for a reason; dictionary arguments pretty much never add nuance or understanding to a discussion). If you wish to make the case that the US is not totalitarian, you must do so with more than an implied, "The dictionary says totalitarianism involves total control, ergo not totalitarian."
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Serene » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:09 am

Ok ischemgeek, thanks for the clarification. And again Setar, my apologies.

I really didn't meant to bring up a dictionary definition, so if I may reiterate my rephrasing: The US allows a great deal of dissent which suggests it is more permissive than a totalitarian state would normally be.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Setar » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:10 am

Serene wrote:My point, re: totalitarianism, is not to put dictionary definitions in the way, but to point out that even if we were to agree the US restricts its citizens, the gulf between this and totalitarianism is really quite large. The fact that people like Alex Jones continue to run anti-government messages without being silenced is - to me - quite a clear example of how the US is not totalitarian.

Except, Alex Jones is very definitely amazingly right-wing. Refer back to my first post, with additional emphasis on a bit you appear to have skipped:

you have the right to protest. you have the right to protest effectively, get media coverage, get popular support...as long as you're on the right, or at least not too harsh on the right. if you're not, and you start being effective, we'll do everything in our power to stop you, right down to entertaining the possibility of assassinating people.

someone please explain to me how this is not totalitarianism in effect. because from my perspective this is yet another occurrence of the US government and its supporting interests actively suppressing popular leftist movements. and only leftist movements. no one has said fucking anything about sniping gun-toting teabaggers, the worst that happened to them was -gasp- the IRS actually enforced 501(c)(4) properly on them.


The United States specifically does not allow more than token leftism to gain a foothold. While it may not look like the dictionary definition of totalitarianism that you keep trying to trot out (while insisting that's not what you're doing), since token left-wing views are allowed and radical right-wing rhetoric is allowed with impunity, the effect creates a chilly climate for those who would criticize the systems of power that support the American empire. See also: the treatment of Occupy versus the treatment of the "Tea Party".

I specifically said to not object to the "totalitarian" label solely on the basis that the US is not Nazi Germany, North Korea, Oceania, or some other Really Actually Totalitarian State. This is about the actual actions taken by the US government, not the propagated mythology where totalitarian states always involve Black Shirts and prison camps and massive surveillance (though, that exists too, we know courtesy of Ed Snowden). That's what you're doing. Stop doing it.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby eirefrance » Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:24 pm

actively suppressing? Certainly the lack of arrests deserve attention, but there isn't enough in either that story or WhoWhatWhy's original story to conclude that a government agency of any kind planned the attack or that the FBI would have let it happen had someone followed through. Arrests don't happen for lack of evidence all the time.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby smhll » Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:59 pm

Heck, I think it smacks of totalitarianism that they won't let people take their cell phones into the Texas legislature and that they are severely limiting the number of people who may speak.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby AlexSeanchai » Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:36 pm

"Smacks of"? It's an attempt to assert state control over the people.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Marsha » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:48 pm

After reading through the document, I fail to see how this implies totalitarianism. All it says is that the FBI was aware of a rather vague conspiracy to kill occupy leaders, which is odd given the group supposedly doesn't have leaders. What is more, I'm not surprised this is the best the FBI could do. With far more evidence and even tips from foreign leaders, the FBI was unable to stop the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I don't think this particular article does much to support an argument that the U.S. government is totalitarian.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Hedonismbot » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:46 pm

Ok, yes, people who are saying this: We do not have guaranteed definite information that whoever was plotting was a government entity. Yes, there's doubt there. Yes, it might have been Joe the Plumber writing in his journal. That's possible.

However, while there is no absolute proof, there's plenty that looks a lot like pretty good evidence. That's the strongest logical assertion. It looks, very much, like one branch of the government was allowing another branch of the government to plan to assassinate innocent civilians for their political views. That is very bad, whether you actually want to call it specifically totalitarian or not. Feel free to put forth a term that you'd prefer, but it'd be nice if you'd discuss the actual topic, too.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Marsha » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:15 pm

Hedonismbot wrote:Ok, yes, people who are saying this: We do not have guaranteed definite information that whoever was plotting was a government entity. Yes, there's doubt there. Yes, it might have been Joe the Plumber writing in his journal. That's possible.

However, while there is no absolute proof, there's plenty that looks a lot like pretty good evidence. That's the strongest logical assertion. It looks, very much, like one branch of the government was allowing another branch of the government to plan to assassinate innocent civilians for their political views. That is very bad, whether you actually want to call it specifically totalitarian or not. Feel free to put forth a term that you'd prefer, but it'd be nice if you'd discuss the actual topic, too.


I reread the article, just to be sure I hadn't missed something that you might have picked up on. What you have just detailed above is a conspiracy theory, no different than the claims that 9/11 was an inside job or that Elvis is still alive. All three may be true, but none have any susbstantial evidence to back them. There is nothing in the actual document to suggest that law enforcement was behind any plot to kill occupy or that they were complacent in investigating. There is no rational reason to conclude anything other than a plot was investigated by the FBI and that nothing came of it. I think it premature to start claiming government involvement here or to claim that they would have acted differently for a right-wing group.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Hedonismbot » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:28 pm

No, I'm pretty sure I didn't assert anything blatantly ridiculous that would count as a "conspiracy theory" as most here would understand it. A theory about a conspiracy? Sure. But it is not unevidenced or held in contradiction to better evidence. It also has the weight of history: as Setar said, the US government has an unfortunate history of doing exactly this sort of thing. All of the language used seems to indicate that an official organization or someone affiliated with an official organization was behind the plot. There's plenty of reason to suspect a government plot here. No one's saying that the Moon Landing was actually filmed using tiny models on the back of a shaved horse. We're saying that there is an FBI document that looks very much like it details a plan by law enforcement to do something shitty that law enforcement has been known to do.

I'm not going to flip out about it until I have better evidence, but this certainly reads like a "Holy shit, that sounds bad! We should try to get it properly investigated!" situation.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Setar » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:37 am

-comes back and reads thread-

Why do I get the feeling that there's a concerted effort to derail this conversation away from concepts like inverted totalitarianism or totalitarian democracy; in other words, that the US has all the trappings of a "free and democratic society" but in reality is not that at all?
"...authoritarian followers feel empowered to isolate and segregate, to humiliate, to persecute, to beat, and to kill in the middle of the night, because in their heads they can almost hear the loudspeakers announcing, “Now batting for God’s team, his designated hitter, (their name).”" -Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby ceepolk » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:57 am

No idea Setar, but while i haven't been posting, I have been reading, and I don't really understand what about your post is a conspiracy theory. I don't think you're saying anything outlandish at all. it's fair to say that the U.S. Government has engaged in covert operations - from illegal surveillance and constitutional violations to assassinations against its own citizens for decades (see Martin Luther King for the assassination example,) and you'd have to be pretty young to not realize how far down the totalitarian drain drain the 21st century US has slid, and Canada following along after.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Setar » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:14 am

ceepolk wrote:No idea Setar, but while i haven't been posting, I have been reading, and I don't really understand what about your post is a conspiracy theory. I don't think you're saying anything outlandish at all. it's fair to say that the U.S. Government has engaged in covert operations - from illegal surveillance and constitutional violations to assassinations against its own citizens for decades (see Martin Luther King for the assassination example,) and you'd have to be pretty young to not realize how far down the totalitarian drain drain the 21st century US has slid, and Canada following along after.

I don't get it either. This comes off to me as...well, mainly two possibilities:

1) The old classic, questioning a key pillar of someone's worldview that they believe rather religiously -- in this case, the belief that the US is a paragon of free liberal democracy.

or...I could be really really fucking cynical and say 2) it's part of a concerted effort to derail such conversations and manufacture public opinion.

and I lean toward 2), because it's definitely a thing in Canada -- the Harper Government is known to do it, as are shills for the tar sands, as are the BC Liberals' PR department. and then there's the efforts that the propaganda PR industry has gotten up to in order to defend all sorts of shit from tobacco to fracking to neoliberal economics. I don't believe for one second that the US government isn't actively trying to derail these conversations, because when they happen without hyperskeptical interference it never goes well for the powers that be.

edit: aaaaand this just came up in my news feed. but I guess that's just conspiracy fearmongering too.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Marsha » Sat Jul 06, 2013 8:27 pm

Hedonismbot wrote:No, I'm pretty sure I didn't assert anything blatantly ridiculous that would count as a "conspiracy theory" as most here would understand it. A theory about a conspiracy? Sure. But it is not unevidenced or held in contradiction to better evidence. It also has the weight of history: as Setar said, the US government has an unfortunate history of doing exactly this sort of thing. All of the language used seems to indicate that an official organization or someone affiliated with an official organization was behind the plot. There's plenty of reason to suspect a government plot here. No one's saying that the Moon Landing was actually filmed using tiny models on the back of a shaved horse. We're saying that there is an FBI document that looks very much like it details a plan by law enforcement to do something shitty that law enforcement has been known to do.

I'm not going to flip out about it until I have better evidence, but this certainly reads like a "Holy shit, that sounds bad! We should try to get it properly investigated!" situation.


So basically we are saying the same thing. It has implications that need to be investigated, but there is very little we can conclude from the document itself. I am sorry that I misunderstood.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Iguananaut » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:28 am

I've been following this story. No time to go into great detail on my thoughts but, while it has potentially disturbing implications I think that many of the reactions to have been, well, reactionary and overblown. I saw this as a full-throated supporter of the Occupy movement.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby eirefrance » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:07 pm

Setar wrote:-comes back and reads thread-

Why do I get the feeling that there's a concerted effort to derail this conversation away from concepts like inverted totalitarianism or totalitarian democracy; in other words, that the US has all the trappings of a "free and democratic society" but in reality is not that at all?


Speaking from my perspective, it's not that the US isn't either of those things (I disagree on a few points with both, especially Wolin, but the general concept I agree with) but rather that this doesn't seem like the evidence of it. The FBI do have a long history of illegal activities against groups seeking to challenge the status quo, but even in the worse days of Hoover, I'm not aware of any attempts to murder American citizens.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Zeitgueist » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:56 pm

The FBI is the secret police of the USA. What confuses people is that it doesn't refer to itself as secret police, and secret police is something that happens "over there, in those countries".
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Jontg » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:26 am

The FBI is the federal-level arm of law enforcement. The country is unspeakably corrupt, so they're unspeakably corrupt. No big conspiracy required.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby qmartindale » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:40 am

Zeitgueist wrote:The FBI is the secret police of the USA. What confuses people is that it doesn't refer to itself as secret police, and secret police is something that happens "over there, in those countries".


The FBI, as a matter of policy, refuses to record interrogations. That's all that needs to be said.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby eirefrance » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:46 pm

qmartindale wrote:
Zeitgueist wrote:The FBI is the secret police of the USA. What confuses people is that it doesn't refer to itself as secret police, and secret police is something that happens "over there, in those countries".


The FBI, as a matter of policy, refuses to record interrogations. That's all that needs to be said.


As cynical as I am (though less cynical than many), this really surprises me. It seems I have to continuously roll back my expectations for accountability from the US govt.
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Re: This Is Not Totalitarianism

Postby Eowyn Entwife » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:19 pm

eirefrance wrote:
qmartindale wrote:
Zeitgueist wrote:The FBI is the secret police of the USA. What confuses people is that it doesn't refer to itself as secret police, and secret police is something that happens "over there, in those countries".


The FBI, as a matter of policy, refuses to record interrogations. That's all that needs to be said.


As cynical as I am (though less cynical than many), this really surprises me. It seems I have to continuously roll back my expectations for accountability from the US govt.

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