“The challenge is to see the whole and all its parts, not just the shiny new device that purports to make one’s individual life easier or sexier — which in itself is a contributor to the making of political disengagement. The whole is a megamachine, with you and your liquid TV, Blackberry, and Prius a necessary cog.”
Surveillance of private calls and emails. Cameras documenting every move. No habeas corpus. Unimpeded entry into personal financial records. Voting machines changing election outcomes with the flick of a switch. Protest defined as terrorism. Many people hope that the loss of civil rights Americans have endured since the onslaughts mounted by Bush Administration II is a political reality that can be reversed through electoral will.
Established mechanisms of political power are, of course, the immediately available means for attempting change. Notions of citizens’ rights, freedom, and democratic participation are compelling paradigms that have consistently stirred the bravery of U.S. citizens – and yet elder political scientist Sheldon Wolin, who taught the philosophy of democracy for five decades, sees the current predicament of corporate-government hegemony as something more endemic.
“Inverted totalitarianism,” as he calls it in his recent Democracy Incorporated, “lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual.” To Wolin, such a form of political power makes the United States “the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed.”
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