Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

* Naomi Wolf has an interesting-ish article in The Guardian. Here's the intro:
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all.

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

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 today 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' ownership to being the domain of 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 realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.
Her Ten-Steps follow. There's nothing particularly new - some of us have been writing the same thing for 6 years. My question, though, is 'who did she pitch the article to before she ended at The Guardian?'

Did The Nation turn her down? Who else? Did she self-censor, knowing/presuming that no domestic outlet would publish? Does the fact that she 'needed' to go to the UK to get published prove her point?

I regard the Guardian, and the Independent, as the best English-speaking newspapers on the planet - am I biased by my 'OMG - I hate America and really love terrorists' frame? Consider Greenwald today, on something topical:
"Third, the only real reason that we learned of the pervasive deceit in the Jessica Lynch case is because the foreign press -- principally the BBC and The Guardian -- aggressively investigated the U.S. government's claims. "
That is objectively true - regardless of how much I heart Osama. I haven't yet seen Bill Moyers' piece Buying The War, and the (appropirate) lionizing of Landay & Strobel - but I suspect that it would be totally incomplete if it didn't also include reporting from the Guardian, and the Independent.

In any case, for one reason or other, (American) Wolf's piece about Fascism in America appeared in one of the better papers on the planet - and I doubt that many Americans will read it. Funny, that.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Most of my time since 911 has been spent comparing the Guardian and Independent reporting to the US press spin.
At one point is became so frustrating I started keeping a list of all the US headlines that contridicted the actual content of the article. I guess they know some people in our 2 second society don't read beyond the headlines. A pretty cheap trick.

lukery said...

A pretty cheap trick.
damn effective, too.

some people in our 2 second society don't read beyond the headlines.
i saw the stats on this - something like 80% don't read past the 3rd paragraph... (i cant remember the exact numbers)

noise said...

10 easy steps? I'm not gonna read some article advocating for fascism like a Martha Stewart recipe. Fuck that!

And I resent the notion that Americans only read the headlines!

Anonymous said...

Fascism may be the wrong word. I think we may be something new. Totalarianism all the same, but with a new with a twist.

Anonymous said...

That should be seeing something new.

lukery said...

Noise: funny