In Chicago, for example, a revolt was crushed by the A.B.C.'s airborne blasts of blinding light and unbearable sound.
Two decades later, H.G. Wells, in “Things to Come,” invented a Dictatorship of the Air, a post-apocalyptic place where the ruling survivors were those who controlled air transportation and radio systems. It was a utopian regime, where nations and religions were outlawed, where dissidents were advised to kill themselves.
The core theme is the same in Wells, in Kipling and in Ray Bradbury's “Fahrenheit 451” and George Orwell's “1984.” A secretive ruling elite manages frightened populations through mastery of the tools of snooping.
These authors were not just trying to entertain us. They warned us. Yet few in this country, probably not even Sen. Barack H. Obama of Chicago, could have predicted in 2008 where we are now. With even the Supreme Court ordaining that police can force open the mouth of a criminal suspect and swab away the keys to a person's genetic code, and warehouse it and share it with whomever the cops wish.
With the revelations of recent months, it must be faced that the tools and political systems now exist for ever-encroaching control by the state over the individual. The individual: Remember me? I own my own body; whom I donate to; my home is my castle; where I go; what I watch on my computer; how I drive a car; and whom I text in private; my health details are none of the state's business.
Suddenly, all of this is becoming the state's business. It is tracked at your great expense. How and when the state does it is none of your business. President Obama's heralded “transparency” is abruptly about you, not the state. The president, his attorney general and the most important names in Congress are either mute or defending it.
Obama inherited the Patriot Act, and the technical gear from the Bush-Cheney administration. Yet it is under this president, supposedly steeped in the Constitution, that it has reached an unlooked-for level, maintaining it will spy on any American it wants to. Describing the secret partnerships between Web firms like Google and the National Security Agency, the regime's main electronic spy combine, an unnamed intelligence officer told the Washington Post that the NSA “quite literally can watch you form your ideas as you type.”
The Obama administration has pursued more whistle-blowers under a century-old law than all past administrations combined. It is sweeping telephone lists, and smartphone GPS data, tapping reporters' phones, criminalizing reporters' questions and warehousing search engine transactions. Obama said blithely, “We can have a conversation about this.” In the words of SNL's Church Lady, “Isn't that special!” Joe and Jane Sixpack can't do much about it.
The permanent Senate and House incumbency is in charge. These legislators worry more about getting millions from donors of the military-industrial complex than about your rights. Conservative fixer Karl Rove said the spying is needed to “keep the nation safe.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., agrees.
In Britain, 120-plus of the world's most powerful leaders – including former Clinton and Obama officials, publishers and the heads of Google and Goldman Sachs – are at a secretive meeting called Bilderberg planning your future. Topping the agenda is a seminar on worldwide data mining.