Repression / General

Constantine, Alex. Psychic Dictatorship in the U.S.A. Published in 1995 by Feral House, P.O. Box 3466, Portland OR 97208 ($12.95 plus $2 postage). 221 pages.

Alex Constantine, a fan of the late parapolitical researcher Mae Brussell, currently hosts a radio program for KAZU-FM in Monterey, California. In this book he has brought together a collection of essays on the following topics: electromagnetic and biotelemetric mind-control experimentation by intelligence agencies (often on involuntary subjects), satanism and ritual cult abuse of children (also with an intelligence connection), and OSS/CIA theft and profiteering for the purpose of funding covert operations. Specific case studies within these areas include the Strategic Defense Initiative as a cover story for mind-control research, the McMartin Preschool molestation case, the Jeffrey MacDonald "Fatal Vision" murders, the Children of God cult, the Larry King case in Omaha, NutraSweet and the dumbing of America, and the secret appropriation of stolen Nazi art by the OSS.

The level of detail is impressive in certain areas, and some chapters include footnotes. This makes the book valuable. But for those who do not share the author's experience of having been victimized by the techniques he describes, it's difficult to accept his occasional suggestion that the various chapters in this book are related at some sinister level.

Pell, Eve. The Big Chill: How the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives Are Subverting Free Speech and the Public's Right to Know. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984. 269 pages.

Eve Pell is a West Coast journalist who writes for progressive publications. In this book she chronicles the anti-free speech climate of the early Reagan years, and how this has affected a broad spectrum of Americans. Her book has four main sections: 1) the federal government as censor (the Executive Order on Classification, Antileak Directive NSDD 84, the weakened FOIA, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the courts, and encroachments on science and high tech); 2) censorship in schools, libraries, and business (book banning and pornography censorship on the right and left); 3) libel (the use of libel law by the powerful to harass the weak); and 4) suppression of dissent (Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, unleashing the IRS and other agencies, and conservative public interest legal foundations).

Pell performs a service by warning us that tolerance in America is on the decline, and accurate when she sees this as a problem on both the left and right, from the national government all the way to the local level. Eight years later the problem is more serious because of an ailing economy that decreases the choices we have, the increasing monopoly of the major media, and the deterioration of the educational system.

Schlosser, Eric. Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. 310 pages.

Three topics are covered in this well-written chronicle of the American underbelly: the war against marijuana, the war against pornography, and the plight of migrant farm labor from Mexico. Nearly half of this book is about the porn empire of Reuben Sturman, who started in 1963 and after countless legal battles, was finally brought down in 1992. He died in prison in 1997.

One might be tempted to describe this book as a cultural study, simply because it's a fascinating read. But the extensive footnoting and bibliography, along with Schlosser's field research and interviewing, qualify it as full-blown investigative journalism of the highest quality. Similar praise was universal for Schlosser's previous book, "Fast Food Nation." His next book will be about the American prison system.

While Schlosser is long on relevant facts and short on moralizing, one is forced to agree with him that America is in decline -- for reasons that deregulation, the free market, and corporate capitalism cannot address. More reasonable regulation (worker protection) along with reasonable decriminalization (ease up on marijuana laws) are vaguely suggested in the tiny last chapter, perhaps because the book required closure of some sort. You cannot expect to find everything you need between just two covers.

Schrag, Peter. Mind Control. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. 327 pages.

Born in 1931, Peter Schrag is an educator as well as a former reporter and editor. His numerous books are critical of American culture, education, and social policy. Schrag is too cynical to be called a traditional liberal, but too well-established to trouble himself with the notion that conspiracies exist in high places. Despite a title that conspiracy theorists will love, this book is a general criticism of the mental health industry and the bureaucracy that supports it. Schrag is worried about the shift from the old punitive methods of social control (as represented by mental hospitals), to the newer and more frightening "therapeutic" methods: psychotropic drugs, behavior modification, and the assault on privacy represented by computers and high-tech surveillance. He's almost a libertarian, except that he believes that full employment and an emphasis on improving social conditions (meaning more government?) will go some distance toward eliminating the need for social control.

Eighteen years later it seems that the biggest narcotic of all, television and our centralized mass media, deserved at least a footnote back in 1978. And Schrag's faith in the possibility of enlightened government seems just a bit old-fashioned. Still, this book is well- researched and well-written, and provides a critical perspective on social issues that are too often ignored.

Wise, David. The American Police State: The Government Against the People. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. 437 pages.

This contribution to the spate of books to emerge out of Watergate was one of the better efforts. Two chapters concern the CIA -- one on domestic surveillance and the other on CIA involvement in Watergate. Additional chapters include the FBI and IRS and their role in suppressing domestic dissent, and the machinations of the CREEP plumbers, Kissinger, and black- bag jobs in general. His final chapter is an editorial against the official methods: "If we accept the values of the enemy as our own, we will become the enemy."

With all of the literature about the CIA over the past two decades, it is easy to forget that for the first half of the Agency's history, almost nothing was in the public domain. Washington journalist David Wise changed all of that with "The Invisible Government" in 1964. CIA director John McCone called in Wise and co-author Thomas Ross to demand deletions on the basis of galleys the CIA had secretly obtained. When that didn't work, the CIA formed a special group to deal with the book and tried to secure bad reviews, even though the CIA's legal counsel had found the book "uncannily accurate." As the unofficial dean of intelligence journalists, Wise is still working on future books from his Washington office.

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