Naomi Wolf on “The End of America”

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:

  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
  2. Create a gulag
  3. Develop a thug caste
  4. Set up an internal surveillance system
  5. Harass citizens’ groups
  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Control the press
  9. Dissent equals treason
  10. 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.

8 thoughts on “Naomi Wolf on “The End of America”

  1. Pingback: The General Welfare

  2. A great example of this fascism would be the IMBRA law that Bush signed that got a Republican Judge Thomas Rose to remark “There is no fundamental liberty interest in an American contacting a foreigner”. Trouble is, this was supported by the NOW who insist on making all the decisions for foreign women who don’t know enough how to be paranoid about American men. So NOW has gotten their wish for contact between Americans and foreigners to be regulated. I agree with Ron Paul that the problem is both political parties. Let’s start with the mantra “No Internet Regulation”.

  3. These points should be our new 10 Commandment’s. They all should begin with the phrase –
    Thou Shall Not:
    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

    Until we do this, this country is not ‘a disaster waiting to happen.’ It is a disaster.

  4. By keeping Bush in office the American electorate has proven it is freaking stupid and getting stupider. It is just so sad to watch this decline while people think we are a great and wonderful country. We were a great and wonderful country and may have the potential to become great and wonderful; but, the odds of that are getting slimmer and slimmer as each day goes by.

  5. Here are several observations from this week:
    Last night on Glenn Beck there was a film clip of the Code Pink ladies getting hauled off after confronting Condi Rice. Beck said that while he agrees with the right of free speech, the Code Pink women are obviously “radicals” and were dealt with properly.
    He also said that the student tazered in Florida was dealt with properly.

    There are surveilance video cameras now installed on all major Florida interstate highways and toll roads (mounted atop 100′ or higher poles). Most surface streets have smaller video cameras mounted along side traffic signals.

    At our county courthouse, everyone must pass through a metal detector, regardless of what your business at the courthouse is.
    Contraband includes nail files and steel forks.This was not required the last time I visited the courthouse several years ago.

    I was required to enter the police station in a south Florida city yesterday to file for a permit. In order to enter the police station I was required to pass through a metal detector, show my ID, supply my SS number, and agree to be photographed. None of this was required last year.

    When I tell this to people I know, they see no problem, which is the real scary part.

  6. erinyes – you are right, but I will tell you what has me the MOST frightened, and forgive me for being wordy. I belong to an email ‘list’ for a union I belong to. A few memebers are untra-conservative and I will respond to political horse-hokey though I try not to initiate non-union threads.

    Here’s what’s scarey; the number of people who object to ANY political threads – even if they are identified as political (you have a delete key). Some folks are terrified of being asked to think about the war, the national debt, torture, etc.

    I am still responding to wingnuts, and I get an occasional ‘attaboy’ for something I post, but what I have run into is not apathy when people demand to NOT be told what is happening in this country. If anyone has a word for it, please sent it along.

  7. Doug,
    It is called ignorance. Willfull ignorance. “What I don’t know, can’t possibly hurt me.”
    Not only will it hurt you, it will kill you…

  8. Not that it matters, but the mahablog was once just one of many blogs I read occassionally. Now I stop by at least once every day. I’m even reading the comments regularly! Thank you for all you work and for sharing you insights. (I appreciated the Naomi Wolf video too, I’d never heard her speak before.)

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