The following excerpt comes courtesy of AlterNet and TruthOut.Org, thanks to a link from Amoeba Marc who first spotted this engrossing and unsettling yet must-read interview posted a couple of days ago with Naomi Wolf, author of the book The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. The title gives you an idea of what to expect. Below are just some key excerpts. For the full interview with AlterNet's Don Hazen, click on truthout.org's website, or read just the bits below, especially if you already have major concerns or worries over democracy and the state of the USA today.
If you think we are living in scary times, your worst fears may be confirmed by reading Naomi Wolf's newest book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. In it, Wolf proves the old axiom that history does repeat itself. Or more accurately, history occurs in patterns, and in order to understand where our country is today and where it is headed, we need to read the history books.
Wolf began by diving into the early years leading up to fascist regimes, like the ones led by Hitler and Mussolini. And the patterns that she found in those, and others all over the world, made her hair stand on end. In The End of America, she lays out the 10 steps that dictators (or aspiring dictators) take in order to shut down an open society. "Each of those ten steps is now under way in the United States today," she writes.
If we want an open society, she warns, we must pay attention and we must fight to protect democracy.
Don Hazen: Let's take up a big question first -- your fears about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and what the historical blueprint about fascist takeovers shows in terms of elections.
Naomi Wolf: We would be naive given the historical patterns to have hope that there's going to be a transparent, accountable election in 2008. There are various ways the blueprint indicates how events are much more likely to play out. Historically, the months leading up to the national election are likely to be unstable. What classically happens is either there will be a period of provocation, and we have a history of this in the United States -- agitators who are dressed as or act like activist voter registration workers, anti-war marchers ... but who engage in actual violence, torch property, assault police officers. And that scares people. People are much less likely to vote for change when they're scared, and it gives them the excuse to crack down. In addition, I'm concerned about the 2007 Defense Authorization Act, which makes it much easier for the president to declare martial law.
Don Hazen: Are you saying that they keep on adding coercive laws for no apparent reason?
Naomi Wolf: Yes. Why amend the law so systematically? Why do you need to make martial law easier? Another thing historical blueprints underscore is the hyped threat; intelligence will be spun or exaggerated, and sometimes there are faked documents like Plan Z with Pinochet in Chile.
Don Hazen: Well there's a lot of activity currently in terms of the Justice Department aimed at purging voters ... reducing voter rolls ... that's an ongoing battle to try to keep voters eligible. Conservatives are always trying to reduce the electorate. By the way, are you familiar with Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism?
Naomi Wolf: Yes, and it all makes a lot of sense. And its certainly historically true. We're in this post-9/11 period when there is a lot of potential for these kind of "shock therapy" things to happen, but virtually everything ... has happened previously in history in patterns. It's just the blueprint. It's not rocket science. I could tell last fall when a law was passed expanding the definition of terrorists to include animal rights activists, that people who look more like you and me would start to be called terrorists, which is a classic tactic in what I call a fascist expansion.
Don Hazen: And now in America?
Naomi Wolf: Right. So in some ways it is human nature to be in denial ... but Americans have our own special version, which is profoundly dangerous. Europeans know democracies are fragile, and they could close. They had closed. Bismarckian Germany was not a democracy. But here we're walking around ... we usually have that sense that somehow our air will sustain us, even when no one else's air does. And we don't have to do anything about it. We have this like bubble, that somehow democracy will just take care of us, and we don't have to fight to protect democracy. They can mow down democracies all over the world, but somehow we'll be just fine. But what's so ironic about that is that the Founding Fathers drafted the Bill of Rights in fear. They knew that you had to have checks and balances, because it's human nature to abuse power, no matter who you are. They knew the damage that the army could do breaking into your home... they knew that democracy is fragile, and the default is tyranny. They knew that. And that's why they created the system of checks and balances.
The above are select excerpts from the full interview. To read it in full click here.