Exploring Secret Bases
In 1956, the sociologist C. Wright
Mills wrote that ".for the first time in American
history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency'
without a foreseeable end. The American elite does not
have any real image of peace - other than as an uneasy
interlude existing precariously by balance of mutual fright.
[war] is felt to be the normal and seemingly permanent
condition of the United States."
An era of unprecedented secrecy and
militarism took hold of the U.S. in the postwar years,
concomitant with the rise of the so-called Military Industrial
Complex. During this time, the state began to conduct
numerous secret activities and to build secret facilities.
Almost without exception, these facilities were conceived
as "temporary" - only meant to last as long
as a given project or activity remained in effect. But
these infrastructures, social relations, and spaces endured
and even reproduced themselves.
By the 1980's, it had become common
for people in military and defense-industry circles to
speak in cryptic phrases about a "black world"
of classified activity that shadowed the U.S. military.
From the postwar "emergency without foreseeable end,"
a whole "world was spawned. And it is still with
us. At the present time, independent budget analysts estimate
classified spending to be at levels equal to Cold War
As part of a sustained investigation into this "black
world," I have been leading expeditions to view the
numerous secret military installations located in the
remotest corners of the California and Nevada deserts.