Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps

There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today. Read the entire article HERE.

This is adapted from Wolf's forthcoming book "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot."

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree, domestically, as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government -- the task of being aware of the Constitution has been outsourced from citizens to professionals such as lawyers and professors -- we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security -- remember who else was keen on the word "homeland"? -- didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable -- as the author and political journalist Joe Conason has put it -- that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realize.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create a gulag.
3. Develop a thug caste.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens' groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Dissent equals treason.
10. Suspend the rule of law.

(Read about each of these in detail HERE.)

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to Internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: Our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war," a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president -- without U.S. citizens realizing it yet -- the power over U.S. citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still free-looking institutions, and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs."

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