First published on July 14, 2012.
What Prof. James Petras described nine years ago as a “highly intrusive and deeply entrenched police state” is unfolding (at a global level) under the corona crisis with the lockdown policies, the digital vaccine passport coupled with the militarization of law enforcement and the repeal of civil liberties.
The United States has experienced the biggest political upheaval in its recent history: the transformation of a burgeoning welfare state into a rapidly expanding, highly intrusive and deeply entrenched police state, linked to the most developed technological innovations.
The ‘Great Transformation’ occurred exclusively from above, organized by the upper echelons of the civil and military bureaucracy under the direction of the Executive and his National Security Council. The ‘Great Transformation’ was not a single event but a process of the accumulation of powers, via executive fiats, supported and approved by compliant Congressional leaders. At no time in the recent and distant past has this nation witnessed the growth of such repressive powers and the proliferation of so many policing agencies engaged in so many areas of life over such a prolonged period of time (a time of virtually no internal mass dissent). Never has the executive branch of government secured so many powers to detain, interrogate, kidnap and assassinate its own citizens without judicial restraint.
Police state dominance is evident in the enormous growth of the domestic security and military budget, the vast recruitment of security and military personnel, the accumulation of authoritarian powers curtailing individual and collective freedoms and the permeation of national cultural and civic life with the almost religious glorification of the agents and agencies of militarism and the police state as evidenced at mass sporting and entertainment events.
The drying up of resources for public welfare and services is a direct result of the dynamic growth of the police state apparatus and military empire. This could only take place through a sustained direct attack against the welfare state – in particular against public funding for programs and agencies promoting the health, education, pensions, income and housing for the middle and working class.
The Ascendancy of the Police State
Central to the rise of the police state and the consequent decline of the welfare state have been the series of imperial wars,