Posted by: captainfalcon | March 17, 2011

Normalization of the “Surveillance State”

Interesting post. Money quote:

Obama has played the same role with respect to the National Surveillance State that Eisenhower played with respect to the New Deal and the administrative state, and Nixon played with respect to the Great Society and the welfare state. Each President established a bi-partisan consensus and gave bi-partisan legitimation to certain features of national state building.

After the Obama presidency, opponents of a vigorous national surveillance state will be outliers in American politics; they will have no home in either major political party. Their views will be, to use one of my favorite theoretical terms, “off the wall.”

Update: Twenty four hours later, Andrew seems to agree. The picture and question mark really add something.



  1. Dear Lurites,
    Did you know that Bowdoin’s offering a course on The Wire this semester? I’m so unhappy that they were still working with Lord of the Rings when we were in school. Anyway, SOC 220 sounds like something you all would get As in.

    • My jealousy is tempered by the fact that it is offered by the Sociology Department and would, invariably, end up being far less intrinsically rewarding than it might superficially seem. Basically, it would be Arctic politics all over again, but minus Olya.

      BTW, scanning through the course offerings, it is pretty shocking how much airy pap the humanities departments promulgate sometimes. Here is the description for Anthro 220 (Medical Anthropology), which, given its proximity to the natural sciences, one would expect to be the likeliest candidate for some semblance of rigor:

      “Introduces the field of medical anthropology, beginning with an overview of the various theoretical approaches to studying health and well-being in cross-cultural perspective. After this background, remainder of course examines research within the meaning-centered and critically applied medical anthropology traditions. Topics include the phenomenological experience of disability, bipolar disorder, and medical school; global inequalities, local desires, and modern plagues; and biomedicine, authoritative knowledge, and belief. Readings will consist primarily of ethnographies.”

      Holy Jesus. The sad thing is the following offering (The Rise of Civilization) seems, from the description at least, like it would be an exceptionally interesting class, but I suspect whatever contagion caused the preceding course description is sufficiently virulent to ruin the potentially worthwhile classes as well.

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