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Our New America Is Here and Now

11 Sep 2001, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA --- American flag hangs from rubble of the disaster site of the World Trade Center after terrorist attack. --- Image by © Paul Colangelo/CORBIS Flickr/creativecommons

September 11, 2001, Manhattan, New York Image by © Paul Colangelo/CORBIS
Flickr/creativecommons

“Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.”
(Tom Engelhardt of The Nation Institute and TomDispatch.com)

Below are some highlights from Engehardt’s 5 Hallmarks of the New American Order, republished in The Nation magazine, and I urge you to not only read the entire article but print it out and post it somewhere you can see it everyday. If you are an activist who wants to be an agent of change, regardless of your current area of concentration, you will want to recalibrate your tactics, targets, and actions by recognizing that we are, now, operating within a New American Order.

1.  1% Elections: “Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries . . . The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice.”

2.  The Priviatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation: “[Since 9/11] there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization.”

3.  The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency: “[A] growing pattern in which Congress becomes an ever less effective body, except in its willingness to take on and potentially take out the presidency. . . All that “small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats can agree on is offering essentially unconditional support to the military and the national security state.”

4.  The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government: One ‘branch’ of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon—the creation of ade facto fourth branch of government—gets remarkably little attention. . . ” For example, the CIA, once prohibited from domestic spying, works to attack American corporations, for example the years it has spent years trying to break the encryption on Apple iPhones and iPads; and helps the U.S. Marshals Service (part of the Justice Department) create an airborne digital dragnet (using planes) on American cell phones.

5.  The Demobilization of the American People: “After all, a grim new American system is arising before our eyes. Everything we once learned in the civics textbooks of our childhoods about how our government works now seems askew, while the growth of poverty, the flatlining of wages, the rise of the .01%, the collapse of labor, and the militarization of society are all evident.”

For sometime now, I have been railing about #VoteOutTheReligiousRight, and the secretive, profiteering christianist cult behind it, because I see this blob of science-denying, racist, and minority-hating lawmakers as one of the chief obstacles on our way towards restoring human rights in America and abroad. I’ve even come up with a way to do that in one election cycle. But, as Engelhard makes clear, America itself has changed, and all of us are being forced to accommodate these epic changes in how we proceed, no matter what our cause (environmental/climate change, the rights of women, the poor, people of color, immigrants, LGBT folks, etc.).

I remember saying on 9/11/2001, that America would be changed forever, and remember a decade later when Dan Massey concluded that American government was doomed as a result of the Citizens United decision. The intersection of these two events has created the New American Order that Engelhardt is heralding, and we have to understand that the goal posts have moved considerably.

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Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner