While no doubt there is distinctive explanatory power to each concept, one must conclude that the prison-industrial complex is the term we give to the apparatuses of control when state violence is turned inward towards a racial minority rather than the external ideology at which the military industrial complex takes aim. They are the mirror images of the actions of empire, and the semblance of the reflection is becoming harder to deny.
Over the weekend police departments from around the world attended the Urban Shield Expo and Conference in Alameda, California, where arms manufacturers marketed and trained police officers with military weapons ranging from night-vision scopes and semi-automatic rifles to armored vehicles and FAA registered drones. The UN released a report today noting that US drone strikes in Yemen have killed as many as 40 civilians in the past year, about double the number of Yemen civilians killed by Al Qaeda, the target of the US drone strikes. If the reason for the lack of precision is due to a lack of care for a religious Other in the middle east, we might well wonder about the amount of care that would go towards precise strikes against the racial Other in American. Likely very little.
Law enforcement agencies from as far away as Thailand, Columbia and China were present at USEC. Also over the weekend, it was reported that the journalist and critic of the ruling Thai military junta, Pravit Rojanaphruk, has been missing since he was summoned by the military police for what they called an “attitude adjustment”. The US is nowhere close to engaging in such practices, but the material and tactical support given to authoritarian regimes for the benefit of corporate profits should certainly make us nervous considering our politicians’ seeming obsession with channeling money to the corporate elite.