Lately I’ve been listening to the offerings at the Canadian left-wing blog Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Podcast. The latest episode features feminist author Naomi Wolf offering a distillation of her latest book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, in which she draws parallels between historical instances of fascism–especially in Europe in the early twentieth century–and proto-fascist tendencies in contemporary America under the Bush Administration. She notes, for example, that the term “sleeper cell” originated in Stalinist Russia as a propaganda term denoting so-called “capitalist terrorists” disguised as good Soviet citizens and hiding among the general population. She also talks about the Bush Administration’s use of the the “no-fly list” against Bush critics, such as Princeton law professor Walter F. Murphy, and even Wolf herself.
Wolf tracks authoritarian trends in Bush America against a ten-step “blueprint,” which she argues was crafted by Mussolini and adopted by leftist and rightist totalitarian regimes throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. She expands upon these steps in this article, but here’s what you need to do in order to close down an open society:
- Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
- Create a gulag
- Develop a thug caste
- Set up an internal surveillance system
- Harass citizens’ groups
- Engage in arbitrary detention and release
- Target key individuals
- Control the press
- Dissent equals treason
- Suspend the rule of law
Do you agree with the comparisons Wolf is making between the drift towards fascism in the twentieth century, and America under Bush (or, for that matter, Australia under Howard)? If so, do you think the results of recent elections in the US and Australia (2006 and 2007 respectively) hint at a trend away from proto-fascism in these countries?
Wolf on The Colbert Report
Interview on Radio4all: