Dec 15, 2011

"There is no such thing as law, there is only power"

So indefinite detention will become part of US law shortly. Glenn Greenwald provides the background at length here. Andrew sums up:
This soon-to-be-legislated power will also apply to American civilians. It is a legal and indefinite abolition of habeas corpus. And you will find every so-called liberty-lover in the GOP (with Ron Paul as the exception) rushing to vote for it
Greenwald (video above) made the quite true and and relevant point that this is not quite as horrible as it sounds in that it is not new—Obama, like Bush before him, has been claiming this power for years already. But this is still a new step. Most people do not pay attention to the legal arcana that is Greenwald's bread and butter. This total and codified disintegration of the rule of law in this country is now an agreed-upon fact.

Reading up on some Orwell, I came across this passage in "The Lion and the Unicorn," an essay about English culture:
It is not that anyone imagines the law to be just. Everyone knows that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. But no one accepts the implications of this, everyone takes it for granted that the law, such as it is, will be respected, and feels a sense of outrage when it is not. Remarks like ‘They can’t run me in; I haven’t done anything wrong’, or ’They can’t do that; it’s against the law’, are part of the atmosphere of England...Everyone believes in his heart that the law can be, ought to be, and, on the whole, will be impartially administered. The totalitarian idea that there is no such thing as law, there is only power, has never taken root. Even the intelligentsia have only accepted it in theory.

An illusion can become a half-truth, a mask can alter the expression of a face. The familiar arguments to the effect that democracy is ‘just the same as’ or ‘just as bad as’ totalitarianism never take account of this fact. All such arguments boil down to saying that half a loaf is the same as no bread. In England such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in. They may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions. The belief in them influences conduct, national life is different because of them. In proof of which, look about you. Where are the rubber truncheons, where is the castor oil? The sword is still in the scabbard, and while it stays there corruption cannot go beyond a certain point.
Emphasis mine. I felt almost sick reading that this morning. We are now a nation of naked power worship, and the corruption can now go very far indeed.


  1. "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of Rebellion or Invasion the Public Safety shall require it."
    Article I Section 9 of the Constitution of the United States

  2. "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal." --Richard Nixon