Ever since at least the Civil War, America has been heavily into the surveillance and control of its people
And for almost as long, much of the surveillance has been conducted by private agencies, such as the Pinkertons. The Pinkertons (an offshoot of the Union government spy organization) were not only snoops, they were goons. Their activities ranged from hunting and executing criminal suspects to armed strike-breaking and union-busting.
As communication technology advanced, spying technology advanced in like measure. The FBI used wiretaps and other means, both legal and illegal, to track "Commies," bootleggers, civil-rights leaders and similar dangerous and unsavory threats to the Regime for a number of decades.
And now we're in a new age with communication facilities beyond the imagining of the Pinkertons in their heyday, We are in a state of continuous transition as startling advances roll across our cultural landscape, each bringing new opportunities for openness as well as opportunities for governments and corporations to intrude into our lives.
So--those who say there is nothing new about the militarization of domestic police, and surveillance by private or government spies--are they wrong?
Well, yes and no.
Certainly new technologies are yielding up much more information pertaining to each of us, and certainly many of the powerful forces in our world are aligned together to control and use (and misuse) that information as they see fit.
But on the other hand, in all those previous times, the Big Guys were effective in using their spying capabilities as well as main force provided by their goons. They were able to maintain overall control of the system.
Sometimes they found it expedient to compromise. For example, workers were allowed to organize unions and make some gains in pay and conditions, but the unions must be "anti-Communist," and as a token of the agreement Labor Day was moved from May 1 (the internationally recognized Labor Day that Russia had made into a "Communist" holiday) to the end of summer, where it is now.
My point is essentially this: At all times in the past, at least since the Civil War and to some degree before, the US has done some sort of surveillance and exercised some degree of military control over the population. They always built what they needed to quell the situation at hand. There was an era when the Pinkertons could handle the various dissidents. Then there was a time when Hoover was able to do the same with his technologies. The level of totalitarianism was raised to the level necessary to preserve the interests of the Overclass.
Thus today, with our burgeoning Information Age, the People Running Things are simply building the social control structures required to keep us rabble in line. In that sense, it is nothing new. A new level of surveillance and policing possibilities arise is arising naturally to help control a people who now have a profoundly greater set of capabilities for networking, talking to each other, and generally raising hell against the Establishment.
However, a few interesting points strike me.
First, the levels to which they are now going with their social control mechanisms suggest that they are either perceiving or anticipating one helluva uprising on the part of the people. Well, we can see that happening all around the world just now.
And second, we, the 99%, are gaining incredible powers of communication ourselves. At all previous times, communication was one-way, from the powerful with their newspapers and eventually radios and TV's. It is interesting that the first "modern" electrical communication gadget Lenin deployed widely in Moscow was not the telephone, as you might expect. No. It was a system of loudspeakers so the people could hear the State's official messages wherever they were. No need for the people to talk among themselves.
Putting these 2 notions together, I think that something very new is happening--a true worldwide uprising that is scaring the living Hell out of the people who Really Matter.
Things have already popped, from the Arab Spring to Madison to Occupy to EVERYWHERE.
I've been saying it for a couple of years now. Nothing in the intervening months has persuaded me that I am wrong.
The cat is out of the bottle.
The genie is out of the bag.
Nothing will ever again be the same.
The Game is On. Right now.