“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Obama, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.”
The quote isn’t originally about Obama, although every single part of the statement can be found, explicitly or indirectly, in the government’s defense in the Snowden/NSA scandal.
Replace “Obama” with “Hitler”, and you have the original. It’s from Milton Mayer’s classic They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, and the words are those of a university colleague of the author, explaining “the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people.”
Oh well, maybe the USA isn’t a fascist state after all. We’ll see what happens with the Congress vote about Syria.
Some indices to keep an eye on:
- The manipulation of democatic institutions by a relatively small group of people in power.
- The level of secrecy, including the passing of secret laws to be used by secret courts.
- The close ties between governmental and corporative interests with huge economic resources. As Mussolini put it: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
- The use of police force and judiciary persecution to stifle opposition and critical investigation, e.g. the prosecution of Barrett Brown, Chelsea Manning, and — not yet consummated — Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden.
- The percentage of GNP spent on military and police.
- The skilled use of Orwellian Doublespeak.