Few scholars would deny the suggestion that if the Snowden affair had occurred before the re-election of Obama, he would have probably lost or received far fewer votes. The Snowden affair is not doing Obama much good for two obvious reasons.
The thing reminds one of the Bush era that Obama successfully denounced and which substantially contributed to Obama’s first term victory.
Secondly, the Snowden scandal does not appear to be the kind of thing you associate Barack Obama with. Obama is generally perceived by most people around the globe as a good and unique human being who believes in doing the right thing for the world. In analyzing the fallout of the Snowden saga for Obama, the question that must be asked is if Obama knows everything the large branches of State security do in the US.
The answer is no. Did Obama know that the Prism project was spying on American citizens? The answer is no. So why does Obama come across as a President that is out to get Snowden at all cost and defends the purpose of Prism?
The answer lies in political theory. We begin with the theory of the military-industrial complex (MIC). It goes back to the thirties with the rise of Hitler and German industry that nurtured its war machinery. The term gained widespread usage in academia after the rise of the superpowers and the resuscitation of the West in the sixties.
The MIC is described as the most powerful stakeholder in large industrial societies where gargantuan industrial firms and the powerful directors in the armed forces combine their power to protect the status quo in which the armed forces will receive their machinery from the industrial elites who in term will rely on the generals to ensure that liberal leaders don’t go too far in undermining capitalism or endangering the economy to the point where their wealth is jeopardized.
Critics of the MIC argue that democracy will always be limited in the industrial West because the MIC is the real source of power and will stop at nothing to ensure the war machine remains intact and the profits of giant firms remain solid.
Popular German philosopher, Herbert Marcuse, though he did not specifically deal with the MIC, argued in his seminal work, “One Dimensional Man,” that such is the nature of US society that democracy is literally a sham. Marcuse’s work had tremendous influence on American and European academia.
Despite the power scholars have attributed to the MIC, since 1945, it has not actually shaped the direction of the West. Some argue that the reason for this was because since WW2, no liberal leader has emerged in the West to threaten the status quo. It would appear that the MIC has flexed its muscles in only three instances since the WW2.
The first was John F. Kennedy. Who killed Kennedy remains a mystery, but few researchers would deny a role for the MIC, because they feared that Kennedy was phenomenally liberal and would fundamentally rearrange the nature of American society. It was strange, too, that his liberal brother set to become president was also assassinated.
Next was Labour Prime Minister of the UK, Harold Wilson. Released archival documents revealed the security forces wanted to undermine Wilson because he was soft on communism and was too much left-leaning and sympathetic to socialist economics. Finally, the MIC hounded down Bill Clinton, but in the end failed to topple him.
Two reasons explain this. Firstly, the MIC was split on Clinton’s removal. Secondly, the theory of the French philosopher, Louis Althusser comes in here.
The MIC was divided on Clinton’s undermining, because whereas the super-wealthy section of American society was totally contemptuous of him, seeing him as too liberal, bohemian in style and likely to be also left-leaning. The generals on the other hand, had no beef with Clinton. Clinton never touched the military. On the contrary, he approved military operations in Somalia and Serbia.
We come now to Barack Obama. How did the MIC allow a liberal like Clinton and an African to be elected? Enter the theory of the “relative autonomy of the state.” It was French philosopher Althusser who argued that contrary to Leninist writings on the state in capitalist society, the state is not a total instrument of the ruling class.
Althusserian scholar Nicos Poulantzas popularized the term and wrote profusely on the subject.
It needs to be mentioned in the context of theories of the State that before Althusser and Poulantzas, British philosopher, Sir Karl Popper, achieved worldwide fame with his book, “The Open Society and Its Enemies” in which he launched into a scathing attack on Marx’s theory of class struggle.
Repudiating completely Marx’s theory of dialectics in history, Popper argued that intra-class warfare determined history even more than inter-class battles. For Popper then, the State hardly ruled in the interests of the capitalist classes.
Poulantzas’ main contention is that the state is a referee in capitalist society that regulates the behaviour of societal contents in order to maintain system stability. It is this regulatory function that may not at all times find approval by the MIC and other capitalists.
Respected American sociologist, Fred Block, has taken Poulantzas and admirably stretched him very far. Block argues that the State has evolved in such a way that it has interests of its own that will conflict with the MIC (Althusser, Poulantzas and Block did not mention the MIC in their work; they prefer the term, capitalist class).
Block speaks of a State class that is another actor in society just like the MIC, the working class, the blue collar class, bourgeoisie, etc
An adherent of Block would argue that the complex nature of American class society would not have allowed the MIC to do what it wanted with the dialectical process that led to the election of Clinton and Obama. But Obama is in dire straits.
The Snowden affair directly involves the generals, the armed forces, the security branches. Obama knows that he is not in a position to openly reject the purpose of Prism. Does he have the power to? The Guardian (London) reporter who published the Snowden material gave a hint that the real stuff that Snowden has could seriously damage the US. This has been interpreted to mean that national security was spying on Obama and his Cabinet.
Jul 15, 2019News coming to hand just before press time yesterday shows several Guyanese players moving through to the semi finals in the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Championships (CASA) which started yesterday...
Jul 15, 2019
Jul 15, 2019
Jul 15, 2019
Jul 15, 2019
Jul 15, 2019
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]