Sunday, December 02, 2007
Sun Tzu and Machiavelli have nothing on the Wolf.
1) Create Fear: Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. Use fake documents to hype a real threat into a hyper-threat. intimidate the voters, use sub-rosa agents to create a tone of false public outrage in favor of your cause. People are weak, fear is natural, opportunity abounds.
2) Establish Secret Prisons: Create a gulag, use torture without accountability, alienate the people at the margins of society. Your enemies will censor themselves. At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well. Anyone want a free trip to Cuba, or Syria?
3) Develop a Paramilitary Force: Create a thug caste. Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".
4) Watch Citizens: Set up an internal surveillance system. The NSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, and others record and search our communications without warrant. The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organizations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.
5) Infiltrate citizens groups: Harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favor of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.
6) Arbitrarily imprison and release citizens: Engage in arbitrary detention and release. In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.
7) Target Key Individuals: Target key individuals - Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Use their family as leverage. You can loosen the bolts on their breaks, or create potential accidents.
8) Dissent equals treason: Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalize certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor".
9) Control the press: You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.
10) Suspend the rule of law: Suspend the rights of citizens, change the law to free your forces. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.
The U.S. experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion. "The Price of Liberty Is Eternal Vigilance"
The End of America - Naomi Wolf