Friday, September 21, 2007

Naomi Wolf on 10 steps to a fascist America

I just saw Naomi Wolf on The Colbert Report (Wednesday night's show), discussing her new book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. She only had time to list a few of the ten steps on her list, but I found all ten in an article from the Guardian:

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

7 comments:

Hume's Ghost said...

Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism has a number of another warning signs to look out for. Particularly of concern to me is the ability of propaganda to cut the masses off from reality by the creation of parallel institutions (fake journalists, fake science, fake academic bodies, etc)

And in regard to #2 on that list, there's this Arendt quote

"The first essential step on the road to total domination is to kill the juridicial person in man. This was done, on the one hand, by putting certain catergories of people outside the protection of the law and forcing at the same time, through the instrument of denationalization, the nontotalitarian world into recognition of lawlessness; it was done, on the other hand, by placing the concentration camp outside the normal penal sytem, and by selecting its inmates outsdie the normal judicial procedure in which a definite crime entails a predictable penalty."

"Enemy combatant" anyone?

Hume's Ghost said...

This might be of interest, too.

It's the introduction to the book.

Hume's Ghost said...

Arg. Sorry for the triple post ... here's Pt 2 of the intro.

Einzige said...

Apropos number 8, this from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were."

...Sounds very familiar. Anyone seen Penguin lately?

Jim Lippard said...

Hume's Ghost: Thanks very much for contributing the additional pointers--I'm glad to have you as a regular reader.

James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for sharing this. Of course, without #9 it cannot work, but plenty are accused of lack of patriotism in our day, precisely because they ask whether we've departed from the freedoms America's earliest patriots were devoted to.

http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2007/07/whats-wrong-with-being-right.html

RS Sukle said...

The Ten Steps of the Fascist Shift as interpreted by Naomi Wolf and applied to the Bush administration, could equally apply to Presidents in the 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. United States history has been through many worse times and survived.
While researching the 1920’s for my book “The Ragman’s War,” I learned many dark secrets about the Roaring Twenties hidden in union archives, news articles from that time, and in memories of old men.
Applying the 10 steps to the administrations of Wilson, Harding and Coolidge would have made it the 1920’s the worst decade for fascism in US history. Steel and Rail Barons controlled all branches of government and wielded their influence to keep millions of immigrant workers laboring in the mills and mines for little or no wages. Dissidents and union organizers who riled against this serf system of cheap labor that kept the Twenties stock market roaring were branded as anarchists. They were detained, deported, jailed, or murdered.
In the mining towns the mine families were forbidden to bear arms, to assemble, to have free ingress and egress to their towns, to sing hymns, and join unions. During the 1927-28 strike in the western Pennsylvania coalfields, they had their property seized and sold at auction and were evicted from their houses even when the rent was paid. Company agents had free access to invade their homes at whim.
Constitutional abuses in the bituminous coalfields around Pittsburgh were so bad that members of the US Senate decided to visit the area to evaluate the situation. The ACLU did their own investigation and reported their findings in a booklet titled “The Shame of Pennsylvania.”
Don’t believe me then look it up for yourself or read “Bucket of Blood the Ragman’s War,” “The Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of America’s Largest Labor Uprising,” or “Storming Heavan.” Then there was the Red Scare of 1919, the Palmer Raids, and persecution of the IWW (Wobblies)? What about the Red Scare of the late 1940’s under Truman? How many communists and sympathizers were detained, deported, jailed, or went into hiding? Is Wolf an historian or a just sharp cookie out to sell books and bash Bush?

The Ten Steps of the 1928 Fascist Shift:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy (Communists, Wobblies, Labor Unions).

2. Create a gulag ( Captive Coal Towns, Wobbly Interment Camps, Deportation Centers).

3. Develop a thug caste (Coal and Iron Police, Pinkerton Men, American Legion).

4. Set up an internal surveillance system (Paid Stool Pigeons, Mail Interception).

5. Harass citizens’ groups (Company Sheriffs, State Troopers, County Sheriffs, Constables, Coal and Iron Police, KKK, Jim Crow Laws).

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release (union organizers, black lists, civil rights activists, Wobblies, innocent immigrant workers).

7. Target key individuals (scientists, academics, journalists, artists, writers, social activists, movie producers, labor leaders and organizers).

8. Control the press (coal, steel, and rail barons, judges, Hearst Syndicate).

9. Dissent equals treason (Sedition Laws, Red Scare, Palmer Raids, Anti Union Laws).

10. Suspend the rule of law (suspension of Constitutional rights for coal and steel families, Rossitor Injunctions, Coal & Steel companies rule the towns they own, their appointed agents are the law).
OOPS!!! Wolf forgot about suppression of free speech.