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Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Gulag Americana

Super Max

I haven't read Solzenitchen for, oh, fifteen or twenty years, but these things stick in the mind.

Here in the United States of America, as it is now constituted - as it is now effectively divorced from the writ of the Constitution of the United States of America - you or I can be whisked away into the "justice" system upon the thinnest veneer of offense, as long as the warrant can be constructed as an offense against the "national security," to whit, as being some sort of terrorist offense.

What is a terrorist offense? This question will, I have no doubt, be further clarified if, and as when, the burgeoning popular protests compel the interested parties embedded in our government to do something, anything, to quell this unseemly unrest. Aside from this fresh provocation, however, there is a cornucopia of terrors to which a party can be currently accused: If you deal drugs, you are undermining the national security; if you impede the orderly mining of tar sands or coal by chaining yourself to a bulldozer, you are undermining the national security; if you break-and-enter an inhumane animal testing facility to free the innocent victims therein, you are undermining national security; if you place a faux bid in a public auction to monkey-wrench the exploitation of public lands, you are undermining the national security; if you block the foot-traffic on the sacred ground of our national golden calf, Wall Street, you are undermining national security; if you do anything against the machine - you are a terrorist.

(It is ironic, but perhaps naive, to note that the truly heinous crimes against society and humanity, such as pedophilia, rape and serial murder can felicitously escape this designation as "national security" crimes, and as such will most probably continue to enjoy the traditional, but increasingly quaint, journey of due process under the law.)

It is well known how terrorist-suspects are treated in the United States of America, as it is now constituted - as it is now effectively divorced from the writ of the Constitution of the United States of America - indeed it is superfluous, at this point, to designate any as a suspect at all, and we can simply cut to the chase and consider such an arrestee a terrorist, full stop and, considering the pre-trial treatment of such an individual, and safely drop the pretentious appellation of "suspect." "Pre"-trial is, at this point, just as silly a pretense under these circumstances. Indeed, now that the policy of execution without trial, whether by storming special forces, a discreet poisoning, or robotic drones have not only been sanctioned by executive order, but established by executed precedence, actors might reasonably wonder whether they would warrant the relative mercy of incarceration at all.

Indefinite incarceration is a reality here in the United States of America, as it is now constituted - as it is now effectively divorced from the writ of the Constitution of the United States of America. Habeus corpus - the requirement that the government provide compelling evidence before a sworn public court before transacting the most serious action of depriving a human being of his natural liberty - is now easily circumvented. The swift side effect of this is that such deprivation is easily made indefinite - lifelong - as the removal of court review strips us of the oversight that might mitigate a sentence. It is a short road, instantly traveled.

And so I dream of Solzenitchen, with his accounts of the arbitrary justice of the East, and amidst the primary thrust of his work - the powerful admonitions against social injustice - what consoles me is the warming anecdotes of the humanity within the walls of the gulags, a place where the solace of kindness and empathy were permitted to flower, perhaps ultimately the sole province of love.

A greater consolation, to be sure, is that just one too many "terrorists" lay his/her body upon the track, and succeeds in finally stopping this terrible train.

#Occupy! And Spark up a new one, my friends:
Got that ol’ time religion in my brain
And I’m layin’ track just ahead of the train,
With that lucky ol’ sun, sweetly swingin’ low,
I ain’t quite sure just a’ where I’m gonna go.

Someone please please ‘xplain again to me
Just why it is, as it plainly seems to be,
That whenever we all try to spark up some fun,
Them good times are so quick to up and run?

So we’ll spark up a new one again,
Spark up and play “Let’s Pretend,”
Spark up and try
To get you all to fly,
‘Cause we all consider you to be friends.

Some folks here deserve an honorable mention,
For pollutin’ up our lives with fear and tension.
For the love of God, why they raisin’ such a stink?
You don’t take nothin’ with you but your soul, (I think).

(chorus)

Got that ol’ time religion in my brain
And I’m layin’ track just ahead of the train,
With that lucky ol’ sun, sweetly swingin’ low,
I ain’t quite sure just a’ where I’m gonna go.

Yes, we’ll spark up a new one again,
Spark up and play “Let’s Pretend,”
Spark up and try
To get you all to fly,
‘Cause we all consider you to be friends.

- Spark by Michael J. Petro / Seth Mitchell

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