Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove: How American Democracy Relies on Fascism

[A big Brain welcome to Avedon's readers. - F]

Starting with my post below, and expanded on by The Smirking Chimp (pernaps not off his meds like the other guy!), I guess I've got a theme today.

What would you do if you learned that Bush Administration officials wanted to round up thousands of Americans and throw them into concentration camps?

For all we know, there is no slippery slope. It's entirely possible that extraordinary rendition, eliminating habeas corpus, and the torture camps at Guantánamo and elsewhere are exactly what the government says they are--tools for fighting terrorists, not domestic political opponents. But how likely is it?

History is clear: Over and over again, the U.S. government places fascists in powerful positions. Once in office, they exploit wars and national tragedies to roll back hard-won freedoms. They're Democrats as well as Republicans.

Mr. Rall cites several examples. Here's just one:

"Lt. Col. Oliver North, for example, helped draw up a controversial plan to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad," The Miami Herald reported on July 5, 1987.

So why does a democracy need fascist schemes like Reagan's Rex-84 Alpha Explan (a FEMA plan to put American protesters against a planned war against Nicaragua into camps)? Because American democracy is an iron fist in a velvet glove, a glove that's becoming increasingly transparent.

Threats of repression are rarely carried out. They don't need to be.

If potential opponents are afraid, there's little need for concentration camps. The threat of repression (and actual crackdowns, explained away as exceptional excesses and brushed off with a token apology) creates a chilling effect on people who might pick up a rock instead of a sign.

In a country whose legal framework authorizes the government to kidnap, torture and murder them, opponents of U.S. policy must decide whether getting out of line--anything from a letter to the editor to direct action--is worth the risk of getting kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

A good definition of 'government' is 'those with a monopoly on force'. They're not going to throw the rocks back at the rock throwers. They'll use tear gas, machine guns, kidnapping, murder, whatever it takes to maintain status quo and keep power in the hands of the currently powerful. If the citizens of this country, who outnumber the oppressors 10,000 to 1 in terms of both people and guns, ever feel the need to overthrow a U.S. regime, and who amongst us has not, it will need to be a concerted effort by millions of people all at once, led by people that are not afraid to die for their country, for die many will. They can't be afraid to kill other Americans either, for many on the wrong side will have to die as well. The People can prevail, but they have to go after it like they mean it.

Fat fuckin' chance. As long as most Americans have bread and circuses they don't give a shit about freedom and democracy and won't (and are not) even notice it's been taken away from them.

As a youth I took an an oath to defend this country, its citizens, and the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC. I most decidedly did NOT take an oath to defend the government or any particular regime. As yet, I have not un-taken that oath. If I could do it by myself, it would have been done already.

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