King Henry VI, part 2, act 4, sc. 8
Comment. The kidnapping of the aircraft of the President of Bolivia in concerted action by some European countries has an ominous significance and a range of clear implications.
As we know, Evo Morales’s plane was denied air space by France, Spain and Portugal – this put the plane at risk as it was running out of fuel. And if it was not enough, Austrian officials demanded to “inspect” his aircraft for the “fugitive” Edward Snowden. They detained President Morales, essentially a prisoner against his will and against any standard of ordinary or extra-ordinary diplomacy.
The event constitutes both piracy and state-terrorism.
We can easily imagine the reaction of the media and of the empire acolytes if something similar had occurred to the president of any of the countries who blocked the air space for President Morales.
The immediate significance of the event is the subservience to the empire by sundry European governments. Or even better (worse) the CIA can coerce, dictate, blackmail and control the action of still nominally “independent” and “democratic” countries. And do so with the tacit, clear and unequivocal approval of the corporate controlled media. Among which no one dares call the event what it is, a gangster operation at the behest of the empire.
But the event also shows symbolically, and yet dramatically, the shift in the meaning of “national independence”, the waning concept of nationality itself and the restructuring of the world order in two fractions inimical and antithetic to each other.
It almost goes beyond the Marxist division of society where the bourgeoisie holds the upper ground against the interest of all the others. Or rather, the bourgeoisie of old has been transformed into small elites scattered among subservient nations. In each of the nations (still nominally persisting as such) the elites control all the wealth and the levels of power. The local and dominated majority, even more than in the Marxist vision, is the enemy to guard against.
Among the enemy, the most dangerous are those who, with an act of incredible courage – given the circumstances – attempt to defy the “new world order”. They do it by exposing the extreme evil and the measures that the unelected elites undertake to maneuver and keep the majority in the equivalent of an animal corral, resigned to their fate and ignorant of the experiments of which they are the unconscious subjects.
In this new world order social reform is akin to religious heresy. Those who expose fraud and corruption are implicitly the dangerous instigators of rebellion. Prevaricators, thieves and criminals are very aware of how labile and unstable is their positions – any action that even potentially cracks their standing must be ruthlessly repressed.
In the new division of society, the elites of the empire dictate their rulings to the elites of the colonies. In the circumstances even the most obvious remnants of dignity are sacrificed on the altar of survival. This and only this can explain the subservience to the CIA of France, Spain and Portugal, countries with a history of power and greatness. And Austria too, once queen of the Austria-Hungary empire, with a noble millenarian tradition.
There are some interesting precedents even in American history. In colonial America, it didn’t take long, after the arrival of the first Mayflower immigrants, for power and privilege to be completely monopolized by a new aristocracy based upon enormous grants of land, or ‘manors’ as they were called – less than 50 years, actually. New York City prospered with the fruits of sea piracy, not only tolerated but encouraged by the authorities (echoes of the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan?).
It was a surface prosperity, however, in which farmers, freemen and tradesmen had little share. There was widespread dissatisfaction about the way the magnates arrogantly manipulated the government to add to their own opulence (the word lobbying had not yet been coined). There was demand for an end to monopolies and a bit more opportunities for the average citizen.
The average citizens found their champion in Jacob Leister (1640-1691). His time as governor of New York had overtones of a social revolution. He tried to put an end to the worst aspects of corruption and to break the grip of the great landlords and wealthy traders on the affairs of the province. The legislature enacted laws abolishing the special privileges enjoyed by the merchants of New York City. Some of the more suspect large land-grants were annulled and one prominent beneficiary of the questionable grants was even jailed.
Wages paid tradesmen and laborers were increased and the requirements for becoming a freeman were liberalized. Consequently, independent farmers and small businessmen became staunch Leisler’s supporters.
But the magnates, fearful of being despoiled of their wealth and influence, regarded Leisler as a dangerous rebel and plotted his overthrow. They sent agents to England to circulate horror stories about the excesses of his administration. This happened at the time of the glorious revolution of 1688, when William and Mary ascended to the throne. Appointing a governor for New York was not a priority in Britain, given the Jacobite revolution in Scotland and other issues. In America this British silence gave the impression that Leisler had been confirmed as governor.
Finally a new governor was appointed, by the ominous name of Henry Sloughter. He was sent to America with two squadrons of warships and two companies of regular troops. It happened that the first squadron to arrive was not that of the new governor. Leisler insisted that he would resign his authority only into the hands of the new governor. There was an exchange of gunfire between the British troops and the local militia, on May 17, 1691. One British soldier was killed.
Two days later Sloughter arrived, Leister was arrested, tried in what today we call a kangaroo court (see Bradley Manning’s trial) and Leister was condemned of treason, hanged, cut down while still alive and disemboweled.
To return to our days, after some façade grumbling about the impositions of the empire, every European government has refused Snowden’s petitions for asylum. These are the same European regimes that have, on countless occasions, allowed the CIA to use their airspace for “extraordinary rendition” of prisoners to black sites to be tortured.
These governments have established their own mass spying programs. They function, along with the US government, as political machines in defense of the ultra-wealthy, of dominant banks and of corporations.
All of which proves that we are on the way to a condition when independence of nations will be an anachronism and the world will see transversally two classes, the dominating and the domineered.
For the sake of democracy, of course.
In the play. The rabble roused by Cade listens to the message of Clifford, who quenches their revolutionary zeal by promising opportunity for pillage in France.
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