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Greenwald: The Neoliberal war on dissent in the West

'It is, after all, based in the central recognition that there is mass, widespread anger and even hatred toward the neoliberal ruling class throughout the West. Trump, Brexit and the rise of far-right parties in places where their empowerment was previously unthinkable — including Germany and France — is unmistakable proof of that. Rather than sacrifice some of the benefits of inequality that have generated much of that rage or placate or appease it with symbolic concessions, Western neoliberal elites have instead opted for force, a system that crushes all forms of dissent as soon as they emerge in anything resembling an effective, meaningful or potent form.

'So many of the controversies over the last decade, often analyzed in isolation, have been devoted to this goal. The pervasive surveillance systems constructed by the West — revealed during the Snowden reporting but only partially reined in at best since then — are crucial tools, as surveillance powers always are, for monitoring and thus stifling dissent. We have now arrived at the point where the U.S. Government and its security state is officially and explicitly clear that it regards the greatest national security threat not as a foreign power such as China or Russia, and not as non-state actors such as Al Qaeda or ISIS, but rather “domestic extremists.” For years, this has been the unyielding message of the DHS, FBI, CIA, NSA and DOJ: our primary enemies are not foreign but are our fellow citizens who have embraced ideologies we regard as extremist.

'This new escalation of repression depends upon a narrative framework. Those who harbor dissenting ideologies — and particularly those who do not embrace that dissent passively but instead take action to advocate, promote and spread it — are not merely dissenters. The term "dissent,” in Western democracies, connotes legitimacy, so that label must be denied them. They are instead domestic extremists, domestic terrorists, seditionists, traitors, insurrections. Applying terms of criminality renders justifiable any subsequent acts of repression: we are trained to accept that core liberties are forfeited upon the commission of crimes.'

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