When you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market. See if you can spot the pattern…
#1 – Saccharin
Did you know Monsanto got started because of an artificial sweetener? John Francisco Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Louis, Missouri with the goal ofproducing saccharin for Coca-Cola. In stark contrast to its sweet beginnings, studies performed during the early 1970s,* including a study by the National Cancer Institute in 1980, showed that saccharin caused cancer in test rats and mice.
After mounting pressure from consumers, the Calorie Control Council, and manufacturers of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas, along with additional studies (several conducted by the sugar and sweetener industry) that reported flaws in the 1970s studies, saccharin was delisted from the NIH’s Carcinogen List. A variety of letters from scientists advised against delisting; the official document includes the following wording to this day: “although it is impossible to absolutely conclude that it poses no threat to human health, sodium saccharin is not reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen under conditions of general usage as an artificial sweetener.” (*Read the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s History of Saccharin here.)
#2 – PCBs
During the early 1920s, Monsanto began expanding their chemical production into polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to produce coolant fluids for electrical transformers, capacitors, and electric motors. Fifty years later, toxicity tests began reporting serious health effects from PCBs in laboratory rats exposed to the chemical.
After another decade of studies, the truth could no longer be contained: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report citing PCBs as the cause of cancer in animals, with additional evidence that they can cause cancer in humans. Additional peer-reviewed health studies showed a causal link between exposure to PCBs and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a frequently fatal form of cancer.
In 1979, the United States Congress recognized PCBs as a significant environmental toxin and persistent organic pollutant, and banned its production in the U.S. By then Monsanto already had manufacturing plants abroad, so they weren’t entirely stopped until the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned PCBs globally in 2001.
And that’s when Monsanto’s duplicity was uncovered: internal company memos from 1956 surfaced, proving that Monsanto had known about dangers of PCBs from early on.
In 2003, Monsanto paid out over $600 million to residents of Anniston, Alabama, who experienced severe health problems including liver disease, neurological disorders and cancer after being exposed to PCBs — more than double the payoff that was awarded in the case against Pacific Gas & Electric made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”
And yet the damage persists: nearly 30 years after PCBs have been banned from the U.S., they are still showing up in the blood of pregnant women, as reported in a 2011 study by the University of California San Francisco; while other studies are indicating a parallel between PCBs and autism.
#3 – Polystyrene
In 1941, Monsanto began focusing on plastics and synthetic polystyrene, which is still widely used in food packaging and ranked 5th in the EPA’s 1980s listing of chemicalswhose production generates the most total hazardous waste.
#4 – Atom bomb and nuclear weapons
Shortly after acquiring Thomas and Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto turned this division into their Central Research Department. Between 1943 to 1945, this department coordinated key production efforts of the Manhattan Project—including plutonium purification and production and, as part of the Manhattan Project’s Dayton Project, techniques to refine chemicals used as triggers for atomic weapons (an era of U.S. history that sadly included the deadliest industrial accident).
#5 – DDT
In 1944, Monsanto became one of the first manufacturers of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Despite decades of Monsanto propaganda insisting that DDT was safe, the true effects of DDT’s toxicity were at last confirmed through outside research and in 1972, DDT was banned throughout the U.S.
This chart illustrates how much dioxin an average American consumes per day
#6 – Dioxin
In 1945, Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture with the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T (one of the precursors to Agent Orange), containing dioxin. Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that since become known as one of the “Dirty Dozen” — persistent environmental pollutants that accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. In the decades since it was first developed, Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.
#7 – Agent Orange
During the early 1960s, Monsanto was one of the two primary manufacturers of Agent Orange, an herbicide / defoliant used for chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Except Monsanto’s formula had dioxin levels many times higher than the Agent Orange produced by Dow Chemicals, the other manufacturer (which is why Monsanto was the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States).
(Pictured at left, Anh and Trang Nhan, with their father, when they first arrived at the Hoi An Orphanage; below are the same brothers shortly before Trang’s death. Source: Kianh Foundation Newsletter, Dec. 2011)
As a result of the use of Agent Orange, Vietnam estimates that over 400,000 people were killed or maimed, 500,000 children were born with birth defects, and up to 1 million people were disabled or suffered from health problems—not to mention the far-reaching impact it had on the health of over 3 million American troops and their offspring.
Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange when it sold it to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam. Despite the widespread health impact, Monsanto and Dow were allowed to appeal for and receive financial protection from the U.S. government against veterans seeking compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange.
In 2012, a long 50 years after Agent Orange was deployed, the clean-up effort has finally begun. Yet the legacy of Agent Orange, and successive generations of body deformities, will remain in orphanages throughout VietNam for decades to come.
(Think that can’t happen here? Two crops were recently genetically engineered to withstand a weedkiller made with one of the major components of Agent Orange, 2,4-D, in order to combat “super weeds” that evolved due to the excessive use of RoundUp.)
8 – Petroleum-Based Fertilizer
In 1955, Monsanto began manufacturing petroleum-based fertilizer after purchasing a major oil refinery. Petroleum-based fertilizers can kill beneficial soil micro-organisms, sterilizing the soil and creating a dependence, like an addiction, to the synthetic replacements. Not the best addiction to have, considering the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil…
#9 – RoundUp
During the early 1970s, Monsanto founded their Agricultural Chemicals division with a focus on herbicides, and one herbicide in particular: RoundUp (glyphosate). Because of its ability to eradicate weeds literally overnight, RoundUp was quickly adopted by farmers. Its use increased even more when Monsanto introduced “RoundUp Ready” (glyphosate-resistant) crops, enabling farmers to saturate the entire field with weedkiller without killing the crops.
While glyphosate has been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide and is widely used,concerns about its effects on humans and the environment persist. RoundUp has been found in samples of groundwater, as well as soil, and even in streams and air throughout the Midwest U.S., and increasingly in food. It has been linked to butterfly mortality, and the proliferation of superweeds. Studies in rats have shown consistently negative health impacts ranging from tumors, altered organ function, and infertility, to cancer and premature death; click here to find countless study references to support these statements.
#10 – Aspartame (NutraSweet / Equal)
An accidental discovery during research on gastrointestinal hormones resulted in a uniquely sweet chemical: aspartame. During the clinical trials conducted on 7 infant monkeys as part of aspartame’s application for FDA approval, 1 monkey died and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures—yet somehow aspartame was still approved by the FDA in 1974. In 1985, Monsanto acquired the company responsible for aspartame’s manufacture (G.D. Searle) and began marketing the product as NutraSweet. Twenty years later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report listing 94 health issues caused by aspartame. (Watch a quick video here.)
#11 – Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
This genetically modified hormone was developed by Monsanto to be injected into dairy cows to produce more milk. Cows subjected to rBGH suffer excruciating pain due to swollen udders and mastitis, and the pus from the resulting infection enters the milk supply requiring the use of additional antibiotics. rBGH milk has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer in humans.
#12 – Genetically Modified Crops / GMOs
In the early 1990s, Monsanto began gene-splicing corn, cotton, soy, and canola with DNA from viruses and bacteria in order to achieve one of two traits: an internally-generated pesticide (the corn or soy causes the insect’s stomach to rupture if they eat it), or an internal resistance to Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp (enabling farmers to drench their field with RoundUp to kill ever-stronger weeds).
Despite decades of promises that genetically engineered crops would “feed the world” with “more nutrients,” drought resistance, or yield, the majority of Monsanto’s profits are from seeds that are engineered to tolerate Monsanto’s RoundUp—providing them with an ever-increasing, dual income stream as weeds continue to evolve resistance to RoundUp.
Most sobering however, is that the world is once again buying into Monsanto’s “safe” claims.
Just like the early days of PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Monsanto has successfully fooled the general public and regulatory agencies into believing that RoundUp, and the genetically modified crops that help sell RoundUp, are “safe.” Despite the fact that NO human testing has ever been done on GMO crops!
Meanwhile, Monsanto has learned a thing or two in the past 100+ years of defending its dirty products: these days, when a new study shows the negative health or environmental impacts of GMOs, Monsanto attacks the study and its scientist(s) by flooding the media with counter claims from “independent” organizations, scientists, industry associations, blogs, sponsored social media, and articles by “private” public relations firms—all endorsed, founded, funded or maintained by Monsanto.
Unfortunately, few of us take the time to trace the members, founders, and relationships of these seemingly valid sources back to their little Monsanto secret. (Read more on this page.)
Fooling the FDA required a slightly different approach: click on the below chart compiled byMillions Against Monsanto to see how many former Monsanto VPs and legal counsel are now holding positions with the FDA. And don’t forget Clarence Thomas, former Monsanto attorney who is now a Supreme Court Justice, ruling in favor of Monsanto in every case brought before him.
A Baker’s Dozen: #13 – Terminator Seeds
In the late 1990s, Monsanto developed the technology to produce sterile grains unable to germinate. The goal of these “Terminator Seeds” was to force farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto year after year, rather than save and reuse the seeds from their harvest as they’ve been doing throughout centuries.
Fortunately this technology never came to market. Instead, Monsanto managed to accomplish the same thing by requiring farmers to sign a binding contract agreeing that they will not save or sell seeds from year to year, which forces them to buy new seeds and preempts the need for a “terminator gene.” Lucky for us… since the terminator seeds were capable of cross-pollination and could have contaminated local non-sterile crops.
What’s the Result of our Monsanto Legacy?
Between 75% to 80% of the processed food you consume every day has GMOs inside, and residues of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide outside. But it’s not just processed food—fresh fruit and vegetables are next: genetically engineered sweet corn is already being sold at your local grocer, with apples and a host of other “natural” produce currently in field trials.
How is it that Monsanto is allowed to manipulate our food after such a dark product history? How is it they are allowed to cause such detrimental impact to our environment and our health?
According to the Organic Consumers Association, “There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the U.S. spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.
Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, U.S. factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—backed by farm subsidies—while organic farmers receive no such subsidies.
Monsanto’s history reflects a consistent pattern of toxic chemicals, lawsuits, and manipulated science. Is this the kind of company we want controlling our world’s food supply?
P.S. Monsanto’s not alone. Other companies in the “Big Six” include Pioneer Hi-Bred International (a subsidiary of DuPont), Syngenta AG, Dow Agrosciences (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, BASF (which is primarily a chemical company that is rapidly expanding their biotechnology division), and Bayer Cropscience (a subsidiary of Bayer). The websiteBiofortified.org maintains a complete list of companies doing genetic engineering.
Follow GMO Awareness on Facebook.
Sources for the above embedded links:
Hackers Have Spent Months Trying to Breach America’s Power Plants
Hackers from the group Xenotime, which made news for compromising a Saudi oil facility in 2017, have now targeted American electrical utilities.
For the past several months, Xenotime has been probing power plants in the U.S., looking for vulnerabilities, according to a blog post by Dragos, the cybersecurity firm that first noticed Xenotime’s efforts. Though Dragos didn’t see any evidence that Xenotime had succeeded, the news is a troubling sign that our critical infrastructure could be taken down with some well-targeted keystrokes.
Slow and Steady
Xenotime is known for Triton, malware that can disable safety systems in power plants, nuclear facilities, and other facilities, according to the MIT Technology Review. That’s the code that Xenotime used to attack that Saudi oil plant after spending over a year searching for a way into the system.
And it’s that persistence that’s most troubling.
“While none of the electric utility targeting events has resulted in a known, successful intrusion into victim organizations to date, the persistent attempts, and expansion in scope is cause for definite concern,” reads the Dragos blog.
Dragos recommends that these power plants and other possible targets invest now in systems that will let them reclaim control from a successful hacker and quickly resume business as usual.
“Utilities, companies, and governments must work cooperatively around the world and across industrial sectors to jointly defend lives and infrastructure from the increasing scope and scale of offensive critical infrastructure cyber attack,” concludes the blog.
READ MORE: Hackers behind the world’s deadliest code are probing US power firms [MIT Technology Review]
It Only Costs Google $20 Million A Year To Control The U.S. Government
(Zero Hedge) Google has fired six of its largest lobbying firms in an attempt to overhaul its global government affairs and policy operations amid greater government scrutiny of its business, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Over the last few months, the company has changed its roster of lobbying firms, as well as its Washington policy team, and lost two senior officials who helped build its “influence operation” into one of the largest in the nation’s capital. The company had been paying about $20 million annually for lobbying, and the firms that Google has now let go made up about half of that cost.
The shake up is part of a “continuing modernization” of Google’s influence operation and it comes at a time when government scrutiny has never been more of a factor. The Justice Department is reportedly getting ready to conduct an antitrust investigation into the company and Congress and state attorneys general are also reviewing its practices. Some politicians are even calling for the company to be broken up.
And so Google is taking the paltry $20 million per year that it has been using to control the government and trying to reallocate it. Among those who are no longer working for the company are “Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist, and firms that have relationships with senior Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Off Hill Strategies LLC, which has ties to fiscally conservative Republicans.”
People familiar with the restructuring say that it helps reflect the company’s global reach and will help it deal with regulators and lawmakers across regions and markets. The moves are also seen as a shake up by Google’s new head of policy and government relations, Karan Bhatia.
Bhatia was brought in last summer to serve as Google’s VP of Policy and Government Relations and, since then, he’s been reassessing the company’s lobbying needs. Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman, stepped down as Google’s head of Washington operations last year and the company has yet to name a successor.
Another executive leaving Google during the shake up is Adam Kovacevich, who ran the firm’s public-policy division. He led the company’s campaign to head off a 2012 FTC investigation into anti-competitive tactics and also helped launch several advocacy groups to help promote public policy matters that benefited the company.
In 2006, Google was spending about $800,000 on lobbying and had four firms on retainer. By 2018, the company had 100 lobbyists across 30 firms and spent $21.7 million to lobby Washington. This sum made it the largest spender on lobbying among US corporations, despite the relatively small dollar amount for the massive tech giant.
The company also spends millions on donations to think tanks, political entities, universities and other third-party groups that generate data and host conferences that help Google shape the debate into its business practices.
Meanwhile, Google employees helped the company become one of the largest sources of donations to the Democratic Party and candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In the 2018 elections, Google’s employee funded PAC donated $1.9 million to political candidates in both parties. Employees of the company donated a total of $1.6 million to Clinton’s 2016 campaign and after Obama took office in 2012, Google and its lobbying team “scored a string of victories” in Washington, like fending off the FTC from an anti-trust case.
Google also won favorable net neutrality rulings from the FCC and secured favorable legislation on self driving vehicles.
But over the last few years the company has continued to hit headwinds from both sides of the aisle while its public image has taken a beating over privacy concerns and critics claiming that it fails to police content.
The new lobbying structure has regional leaders in the US, Canada, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and countries that the company views as emerging markets. It also includes teams that will continue to lobby governments in areas like privacy and handling controversial content.
The preceding information is a news update. In general, staying informed as to events taking place is essential as an individual because it helps you navigate the world, and socially because you can gain and maintain rapport with your fellows. This rapport can be used to share information that can help others and improve the conditions of humanity in general. However, one must learn how to exercise discernment and proper critical thinking so they can make effective use of information gained.
Orwell’s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction
“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984
Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.
It’s been 70 years since Orwell—dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm—depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984.
Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, “He loved Big Brother,” we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.
“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”—George Orwell
1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”
We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”―George Orwell
Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”
And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.
What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.
Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.
Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.
Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness—a philosophy that discourages diversity—has become a guiding principle of modern society.
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”―George Orwell
The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm
We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.
What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.
In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.
The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.
Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.
Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.
“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell
How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.
In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.
Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.
In Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.
And in Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
All three—Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell—had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell’s Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984:
The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as “This dog is free from lice” or “This field is free from weeds.” It could not be used in its old sense of “politically free” or “intellectually free,” since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts….
Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.
This is the final link in the police state chain.
“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”—George Orwell
Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights. In fact, the addiction to screen devices—especially cell phones—has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one’s every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, “Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity.”
Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.
We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us—the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” as one official termed it—the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.
“Big Brother is Watching You.”―George Orwell
Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.
The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.
Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any “threatening” words are detected—no matter how inane or silly—the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.
In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.
“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.” ― George Orwell
Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.
Say hello to the new Thought Police.
Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.
No information is sacred or spared.
Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, “citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.”
Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).
Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”—Orwell
So where does that leave us?
We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.
It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.
To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.
Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.
So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?
We’re running out of options.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.
Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited: “Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.”
About the Author
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, where this article (The Omnipresent Surveillance State: Orwell’s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction) was originally published. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.
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