by James Corbett
May 22, 2013
“Tyranny” in the popular imagination is something that exists safely in the past. It’s the stuff of museums and oil paintings of long dead emperors and grainy black-and-white footage of goosestepping Europeans. “Surely there are no tyrants these days,” say the masses. “Not in our modern western democracies.”
This is a perception that is based purely on optics. Tyrants carry scepters and wear crowns. Or they wear military uniforms and scream like madmen. They aren’t the shirt-and-tie wearing, smiling, baby-kissing political candidates in Washington or London or Berlin or Tokyo.
But in the real world tyrants are not identified by sight, they are identified by actions. So are our modern day governments tyrannical?
One of the surest signs that you are living in a tyranny is that there is a two-tier system of justice: one for the tyrants and their friends, another for everyone else. Is this so in America? Of course it is. One need only look at the recent jailing of Lauryn Hill for one somewhat trivial example of this phenomenon. Like Wesley Snipes before her, she was dragged to court and eventually jailed for money allegedly owing to the IRS. The same IRS that recently attempted to cover up its politically motivated targeting of peaceful Americans by a pre-scripted lame duck apology. The hypocrisy is overwhelming: former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was himself a tax evader, having failed to pay over $40,000 in back taxes over multiple years. Yet Geithner was not prosecuted or jailed. His crime was barely even mentioned in the media. And virtually no one batted an eyelash when he was appointed Treasury Secretary.
That, of course, is a relatively trivial example. But it is representative of the deeper problem. The tyrants of our modern age are smart enough not to declare themselves to be tyrants. They simply don’t follow the rules that have been set for the common citizens. The other smart move that they have made is that the real tyrants don’t put themselves in the supposed positions of power. Does anyone really believe that the President is the top of the food chain in Washington? But if the political puppets aren’t the tyrants, then who are? The ones who can’t get prosecuted for their crimes, obviously.
Two months ago, Attorney General Holder made one of the most stunning admissions in the history of the United States. When asked about the too-big-to-jails in the financial sector, the top law enforcement official in the land responded: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”
This is the most blatant admission of tyranny in modern day America that has likely ever been put on record by such a high ranking official. And it even identifies the tyrants.
Nor is this a hypothetical or a matter of conjecture. Over the past five years, not a single senior banker in Britain has been prosecuted for their part in the financial mess that brought the world economy to its knees. In America, only a handful of executives have faced legal sanctions of any kind, and fewer still have been convicted. Two-bit crooks are arrested and jailed every day for petty burglary, but the biggest thiefs in the nation continue to walk free because, in the words of the Attorney General of the United States, prosecuting them would have a negative impact on the economy.
And so we have decisions like the HSBC settlement late last year. After admitting to laundering billions of dollars for South American drug cartels and breaking every landmark banking law on the books, the DOJ elected not to prosecute, instead imposing a fine equivalent to five weeks of income for the bank.
In a tyranny, there is one set of laws for the common person and another for the tyrants. We are living under just such a system.