Thursday, April 26, 2007

Creating A Fascist Dictatorship Is Easy

Chilling indeed is Naomi Wolf's recent piece in The Guardian, "Fascist America, in 10 easy steps". (Thanks to Bob in Prague for mentioning it in a comment.)

Here's a quick summary:
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms ... George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all:

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
Ms. Wolf's column gives examples of the Bush administration doing each of these ten things, and I commend it to your attention if you haven't already read it. It is no doubt harrowing, but it probably only tells about half the story. Our position appears to be much worse than Ms. Wolf lets on.

To supplement her case, we can add some of the tactics which, even if they haven't been features of all fascist-enablers throughout history, have been used (and continue to be used) against American democracy:

11. Stage false flag terror attacks

Ms. Wolf doesn't go so far as to call 9/11 a false-flag attack, but I have no such qualms. It was obvious on the day, and the passage of time has made it even more so.

For that matter, the first attack on the World Trade Center (in 1993) was patently false. So too were the London bomb attacks of July 7, 2005, as well as the Madrid train bombings of March 11, 2004.

The constantly-repeated but unsubstantiated official stories of these attacks all make it look as if the entire world is under threat from terrorists. And in fact it is. But the terrorists are not Arabic or Muslim or hiding in a cave.

12. Corrupt the electoral process

Prevent people from voting if you think they will vote against you. If you can't prevent them from voting, prevent their votes from being counted. And if you can't prevent their votes from being counted, prevent them from being counted correctly.

13. Poison the nation's political discourse

Stake out violent, radical positions and call them "mainstream". Refer to your political opponents as "enemies" and call their positions "lunatic fringe", even if those positions were recently identified with mainstream politics.

Fabricate misleading names for your legislation, so people who know nothing about the actual bills will support them.

14. Lie about everything -- constantly!

Even if you get caught lying and are forced to tell the truth once, that's only a temporary setback. Go back to the original lie as early and as often as possible.

Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perrino recently told a news conference that our troops are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. See how easy that was?

15. Attack on all fronts simultaneously

This splits the opposition. Some will oppose your foreign policy; some will oppose your domestic economic policy; some will oppose your domestic social policy. This works in your favor by dissipating their energy, and may even lead to arguments among the opposition as to which issue(s) should be fought hardest. Your main objective is to make sure the opposition never has a chance to unite.

16. Accuse your opponents of the crimes you intend to commit

If they deny the charges, you say "They'll deny anything." If they refuse to dignify your charges with a denial, you say "See! They don't even deny it". And then when you get caught doing it, you can claim it's no big deal -- just something everybody does.

17. Disguise your agenda

If your society is affluent, pretend to be conservative. People who consider themselves conservative are basically very greedy and extremely stupid and they will support you to the hilt, especially if they have no idea what you are doing.

If your society is poverty-stricken, pretend to be socialist. Then the people who have nothing will support you in the hope of improving their lot. It will never happen, of course, but they probably won't find out until it's too late.

18. Engage in selective political assassination

Disguise some of the murders as accidents, but in other cases make it very plain that the victim was deliberately killed. This not only eliminates potentially powerful opposition but it also instills fear in the segment of society that the assassinated leaders represented.

19. Start a war and claim it's a national emergency

Claim special powers because the country is at war. Claim you are doing everything in your power to make the country safe. But don't actually take any steps in that direction, for the safer the people feel the less they will support you.

20. Hide as much information as possible

What they don't know can't hurt you.

21. Wrap your treason in the flag, and hide your sins behind the Bible.

It works like a charm. Doesn't it?

Here's Naomi Wolf again:
Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.
I disagree entirely. We may be just one false-flag attack away from total dictatorship.
Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.
Or perhaps a combination of both ... slow erosion and sudden shocks.

But that's a minor disagreement, in the grand scheme of things. More to the point:
We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.
How can we in fact "stand our ground and fight for our nation"? I hope to explore that question in greater detail in upcoming posts. In the meantime, and as always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.