From the December 2007 Idaho Observer:
Ten steps to close down an open society
Ten steps to close down an open society
Naomi Wolf gave a presentation at the University of Washington in Seattle Oct. 11, 2007 entitled, "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot." The presentation captured the essence of a book of the same title that Wolf released last September. Wolf illustrates that America, land of the free, home of the brave, defenders of freedom, the greatest country ever—is in the final stages of a transformation. History, Wolf explains, proves that all nations endure the same 10 steps as their leaders close open societies; transform freedom into fascism. Following are the 10 steps as described by Wolf with a brief explanation from The IO. As you will see, all but the last of the 10 steps are in operation in America at this very moment. History warns us what comes next. Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to learn from history because allowing it to "rhyme" will inevitably lead to outcomes that will be regrettable on a scale that imaginations dare not ponder.
Pictured are three of the most infamously ruthless dictators of the 20th century: Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler—and George Bush. At this moment it is hard to see Bush in the same light that history has cast Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler. The die, however, appears to have been cast. Like it or not, the draft-dodging faker masquerading as the U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces has implemented the same, 10-step, boilerplate process to close our open society that der Commissar, il Duce and der Fuhrer implemented to close theirs. The only remaining difference between Bush and his erstwhile ideologues is that their books are closed and Bush has a few chapters yet to be written. "Who will write them?"—that is the question.
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
The events of 9/11 justified the war on (al-Qaeda, Islamist) terror. The U.S. is fighting them abroad with guns and bombs and fighting them at home by being suspicious of everyone and rewarding informants.
2. Create a gulag system
Perhaps the most indicative of all the steps because it causes frightened people to tolerate what would otherwise be intolerable: A prison system outside the rule of law and in defiance of well-settled principles of due process; torture is permissible in this system. At first, the "enemies of the people" are paraded into these houses of horror for all to see. Soon, however, sympathizers, community and opposition leaders, journalists and clergy are sent there—without due process—and subjected to torture.
3. Develop a thug caste
Police power becomes absolute and roving bands of armed, uniformed bullies in the employ of the state are encouraged to maintain order by brutalizing the public.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
Monitor everyone and everything, make people suspicious of one another and make them feel as if their every move is being watched and their every thought recorded—and that their thoughts and actions can and will be used against them.
5. Harass citizens’ groups
By infiltrating and harassing dissenting groups, opposition is stifled and people become too frightened to assemble. Dissidents can be identified, listed and visibly targeted for abuse to further suppress public displays of opposition.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
Journalists, peace activists and others attempting to travel are arrested, then released. Even non-dissidents are arrested on hearsay or on mistaken identity, treated badly and then released, sometimes with petty charges and court dates. This creates a generalized fear among the people that state-sanctioned terror can strike anyone at any time.
7. Target key individuals
Government employees, academics, police, soldiers, artists, journalists who do not toe the line are purged, sometimes violently, and those remaining are kept in line by example.
8. Control the press
The press is controlled by major corporate advertisers who enjoy "preferred customer" status with government. In this environment, a steady stream of lies and deceptions keep people confused, disinformed and distracted.
9. Dissent equals treason
Once the external and internal enemy has been identified, any words or actions (real or imagined) that can be construed as aiding or comforting the enemy is tantamount to terrorism, which is treason, and punishable accordingly
10. Suspend the rule of law
Civil authority is relieved of duty and armed military personnel patrol the streets, enforce quarantines and curfews, police civil conduct, staff detainment facilities conduct tribunals and dispense military justice (This should be the most obvious of the 10 steps, but it is already happening piecemeal in America. At this time, defacto martial authority has expanded from border crossings and military installations to include schools, hospitals, airports, government buildings and areas where disasters and emergencies have been declared. The president now supersedes the authority of the governor in the deployment of national guard units outside their specific states upon the presidential declaration of an emergency).
Let history be our guide
In the article she wrote detailing the 10 steps and in her live presentation last October 11, Wolf provides an excellent analysis of how Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and others closed down their societies and now recent headlines prove the U.S. is flawlessly following this 10-step plan. The term "boilerplate" comes to mind.
Following are Wolf’s words at the end of her 10-steps article.
"It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931.
"Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere—while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster.’
"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’ 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.’
"What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack—say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani—because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.
"What if the publisher of a major U.S. newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.
"Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us—staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody’s help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a U.S. unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.
"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."
Wolf's Seattle presentation is available for free on YouTube—just Google it; the book is available through Amazon or your local bookseller.