Naomi Wolf’s ‘Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot‘ is very timely
America is experiencing what Naomi Wolf calls a ‘fascist shift’. After studying repressive military regimes, totalitarian and authoritarian governments like Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, and a few others, Naomi Wolf has identified ten steps that they all took to close down their societies.
In ‘End of America’ – she outlines these universal steps or stages, and says George Bush’s America is well on its way towards being closed down itself, experiencing a fascist shift right now – hence the ‘warning’ in this 2007 book.
Wolf’s very timely screed is addressed to progressives and conservatives alike, although turning towards the left, she gives us a healthy tasting of the Revolutionary Founders’ values and mores. Wolf says conservatives over-emphasize our ‘roots’ whereas leftists under-estimate them, but she iterates that the revolutionary leaders were very wise in constructing a government with its checks and balances – which by the way -she adds- aren’t working now; the revolutionary leaders had learned important lessons from their recent experiences living under a repressive occupation by King George’s soldiers.
The title stems from her analysis of the state of our democratic principles, values and institutions, which she lays out – are so weakened and fragile, that a repressive government could take-over the country, changing it forever, thus ‘The End.’ Even though the book has been out for over a year, is already made into a movie, it addresses concerns – that are even more important today – that ought to be at the top of any politically-conscious patriot’s list of priorities. Calling on us, her fellow citizens, to step up to our duties and responsibilities, and take back America, she writes in the true fashion of a modern-day Tom Paine.
For each one of her ten steps to fascism, Wolf explains the historical record and compares it to current parallel developments in America, in an argument that at the final page, is very convincing. Here are her ten steps – with my editorial comments:
- invoke an external and internal threat; -on the external threat – DONE. They’re still transitioning to the ‘internal’ threat.
- establish secret prisons; – DONE. Guantanamo – enough said. Bush just announced yesterday (Oct. 20th) that he will keep the prison open for the duration of his administration;
- develop a paramilitary force; – with the rise of Blackwater as a government-funded but private army, and now with the deployment of an Army combat brigade in America for the first time that is answerable only to George Bush – even doubters have to wonder what is going on ….;
- surveil ordinary citizens; – hell- GI’s and their loved ones are being eavesdropped upon – this is currently going on;
- infiltrate citizens’ groups; – during the Republican Convention in St. Paul this past September, peace and student groups were infiltrated by informants;
- arbitrarily detain and release citizens; – this is happening more and more as ordinary citizens get caught up in the security apparatus, whether at airports or borders; the ‘list’ is growing to over a million people;
- target key individuals; – Senator Ted Kennedy has been stopped and searched over half a dozen times in the past few years while flying out of the country;
- restrict the press; – it goes without saying that the corporate media restrict themselves, but when was the last time you saw a photo of the coffin of an American soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan?
- cast criticism as ‘espionage’ and dissent as ‘treason’; – young college students arrested in preemptive raids at their homes before protests began at the Republican convention are being charged with terrorism-related crimes.
- subvert the Rule of Law; – what better example than the firings of Attorney Generals by Alberto Gonzales – all but one in swing states (Carol Lam of San Diego?) with their replacements fitting the GOP party mold more closely, with the overall plan of firing all of the AGs across the country.
All of this is very scary, very serious, and should be taken to heart, soul and brain, and then to action.
One of the only qualms I have with her ‘Warning’ to young and old Americans, is that when discussing previous repressive times in this country, she really glossed over the Sixties and Seventies. Growing up out of stroller that was taken to Central America solidarity demonstrations in San Francisco in the eighties, Wolf missed those heady, exhilarating, liberating – and dangerous times.
Through the revelations of COINTELPRO, sort of like a variety of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ gone domestic, it was disclosed that the FBI and other government agencies used an array of tactics to influence, disrupt, and destroy the various political movements of the Sixties – the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-Viet Nam war movement, and the efforts to democratically reform the electoral arena.
From listening in on phone conversations, to agent provocateurs causing disruptions, to activists being set-up and arrested, with other forms of harassment all the way to assassinations, the American government had a severe impact on the social movements of that era. In many ways, the Nixon era was very repressive. Martin Luther King, Jr. was harassed; the Black Panthers were assassinated; the Berrigan brothers were imprisoned; many activists had their phones tapped (or so they thought, Naomi, good point). Yet, most of us who were activists of those times, did survive – and hence, our survival needs to be worked into Wolf’s fascist paradigm.
Read Naomi Wolf. She is our town-crier, no, better, our Paul Revere. Listen to her, read her. The Redcoats are coming – what do you do?