Naomi Wolf presents the ideas in her book, The End of America, at the University of Washington. Video is a bit long, but the illuminating introduction explains what drove her to write it, and promises some hope by the end of her talk.
Wolf argues that the language, images, and manipulations that despots used in the past to break down democracies have a consistent pattern, and are being employed here and now. From Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 1930s, and to the present, she finds that all modern despots do the same things. Mussolini created the formula, Hitler followed it, and Stalin studied Hitler – this pattern gets passed down. Wolf summarized this blueprint in ten points:
- 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
In the video, Wolf argues that all of these factors are now underway in the USA. It’s a different take on the popular 14 points of fascism – without invoking the "f" word. Her phrase "shutting down a democracy", gets past the objections associated with "fascism". However, Wolf goes beyond a simple list of features and demonstrates both the predictive nature of her model, and the non-linear nature of change as a democracy weakens. She closes with:
…History shows it’s not enough to impeach criminals and murderers. You have to put them behind bars.
The Founders did not intend for us to delegate the defense of liberty to a professional class of pundits or politicians or constitutional scholars. The Founders intended for us to do it.
What the Founders intended was for ordinary Americans, ordinary people to assume the patriot’s task and lead the fight to restore democracy, and to see themselves as leaders.