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US heading towards fascism?

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Whoisjohngalt
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Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Is this article worth anything?

Although he clearly comes from a leftist perspective, I think the author makes valid points. In particular, I agree with his diagnosis of the cause of these loss of freedoms:

all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Objectivists have made this point countless times. Bush has failed to identify the proper enemy: the countries that sponsor (ideologically and financially) terrorism, chief of which is Iran. He has failed to name the enemy, declare war on the enemy, and defeat the enemy. When a clear enemy is named and defeated, wars have finite durations, clear beginning and ending points. In all three of the major wars the United States fought -- the Civil War, World War I and World War II -- freedoms were abridged, often much more than the exigencies of war called for. Yet in all of these instances, the bulk (but not all) of the restrictions were repealed shortly after the end of the war. In our current "war without end", our gradual loss of freedoms continues. Our government finds it much easier to put the clamps on Americans than to properly defeat our foreign enemy.

As for "Homeland Security," I have always found that name creepy. Homeland is a word with such a nationalistic flavor, like "Fatherland". It evokes love of the (geographical) land rather than love of the idea of individual liberty which, of course, can exist anywhere and is not tied to any particular spot of land. It is not the land itself I love, but the liberty that happens to reside here. If America became totalitarian and a free society emerged elsewhere, this "homeland" would cease being my home as fast as I could pack my bags.

Unfortunately, I cannot think of a more free and secure polity than America in the world today. The freedom of the world depends so much on America remaining free. If America loses its freedom, where does one go? The battle to preserve our freedom is here.

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How did you you gather this? The author of this piece does not pass over the gulags etc of the Soviet Union which most leftists try to ignore.

Personally, I am impressed with the factual accuracy of this article. Or has he got some facts wrong?

Yes, I was pleased that he mentioned the Soviet gulags. I suspect it was from a leftist perspective because of some of the people and groups he mentioned, which are leftist. Also, his article appears in the Guardian, which I suspect is a leftist newspaper.

Regardless of whether he has a leftist slant, I thought he raised valid points. In many ways, the U.S. has been developing the legal and institutional apparatus that could be used by a dictatorship down the road.

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The first clue that the author has a leftist slant is that it comes from the notoriously left-wing tabloid rag known as The Guardian.

I can certainly see an argument that the US is sliding toward fascism but I, personally, think that the UK is closer to it than we are...which is ironic, considering where the article came from.

Britain is, after all, starting to experiment with widespread use of traffic cameras that take pictures of people speeding. I also read an article recently about Britain starting to put cameras in a number of public places to monitor people's behavior, such as littering, etc. But that's not all. The cameras would have little speakers on them, that the camera operators could use to say things like "Please do not litter."

The author does indeed make some good points, but she should pick the log out of her own country's eye before trying to remove the splinter in ours.

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Folk like the author of that article are complaining about a problem to which they themselves are primary intellectual contributors. For starters, the world has bad people who want to hurt others. That author is the type who does not want to take strong action against such bad people within the framework of the law. Instead, when the president tries to fight a war under the constraint of pandering to people like her (and to ideas like that that he himself holds), but sometimes tries to stretch the limits of the word-of-law to do a little more against the bad guys, she complains of his tyranny. Disingenuous.

Yes, it is valid to argue that the president must stay within the strict rule of law, and that he cannot do anything he likes, willy-nilly, in going after violators of rights. However, when this criticism comes from someone who is an intellectual supporter of the bad guys, and would like to see laws weakened further and made less effective against the bad guys, then it is dishonest criticism.

As for the question raised by the title, it appears that the author has no clear definition of "fascism".

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Folk like the author of that article are complaining about a problem to which they themselves are primary intellectual contributors. For starters, the world has bad people who want to hurt others. That author is the type who does not want to take strong action against such bad people within the framework of the law. Instead, when the president tries to fight a war under the constraint of pandering to people like her (and to ideas like that that he himself holds), but sometimes tries to stretch the limits of the word-of-law to do a little more against the bad guys, she complains of his tyranny. Disingenuous.

Yes, it is valid to argue that the president must stay within the strict rule of law, and that he cannot do anything he likes, willy-nilly, in going after violators of rights. However, when this criticism comes from someone who is an intellectual supporter of the bad guys, and would like to see laws weakened further and made less effective against the bad guys, then it is dishonest criticism.

As for the question raised by the title, it appears that the author has no clear definition of "fascism".

I agree with these comments. Any criticism by the Left is disingenuous since the Left is against any form of fighting the Islamo-fascists. As for what government can do in war-time, I do think government can exercise greater powers than it is permitted in peace-time. For instance, in an extreme example, such as the Civil War, habeas corpus was suspended, an action which is permissible under the Constitution (I believe).

The key point, though, is that any necessary expansions of government power occur through a Constitutionally-sanctioned process involving action by the legislature. The most important step is that war is actually declared. Having a declaration of war ensures that the reasons for the war are vetted and the scope of the war is defined. This includes its geographical span and duration. None of those steps have been taken in the current open-ended, vague, ill-defined "War on Terror". In this context, expansions of government power have a more sinister air. They become just as open-ended, vague and ill-defined as the ersatz war they are supposedly designed to fight.

The U.S. should take all necessary and Constitutional steps to win a true war against the Islamic states that sponsor terrorism. That is not the war we are fighting.

A clear rationale for a declaration of war also contains a clear rationale for the ending of that war and the ending of any necessary war-time expansions of power assumed by the government. In the Civil War, World War I and World War II, those end-points were quite clear. Interestingly, when they were achieved, the bulk of the war-time restrictions were removed. Unfortunately, not all of them were removed, which points to the extreme care and limits which must be placed on any expansion of government powers in war-time.

One war-time power that was never removed is the emergency war-time income tax imposed to pay for World War I. I believe the top marginal rate was initially set at 6%!!

Another war-time power never removed were price controls on rental housing in New York City. Those controls were part of the general wage-price controls imposed economy-wide during World War II. The City of New York has kept these temporary, "emergency" rent controls in place ever since.

Income taxes, wage-price controls and other controls, such as the extreme controls on industry placed especially during World War I but also during World War II, are the type of controls that should never be imposed at any time. They are egregious violations of rights and are not necessary to finance or win the war.

Expansions of surveillance of Americans and resident foreigners from hostile countries appears to be an example of a permissible war-time expansion of power. Beyond that, I welcome thoughts from anyone who has given thought to the issue. Certainly, the issue is highly contextual, dependent on the actual facts at hand. For example, during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War, hostile forces were fighting on American soil. That would seem to require more drastic government action since the nation's very survival (or emergence in the Revolutionary War) is in imminent jeopardy. Our other wars were different.

One could imagine a true war against Iran. I would suspect that few restrictions would be needed because that war would end very quickly. Of course, there could be mopping up operations or even lesser, short wars against smaller countries that continue to support terrorism. Residual surveillance and espionage work would probably be necessary for some time after winning such a war.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Britain is, after all, starting to experiment with widespread use of traffic cameras that take pictures of people speeding. I also read an article recently about Britain starting to put cameras in a number of public places to monitor people's behavior, such as littering, etc. But that's not all. The cameras would have little speakers on them, that the camera operators could use to say things like "Please do not litter."

My family was sent a ticket the other day because someone ran a red light (the camera took a picture). The US has started to implement something extremely similar, just minus the sidewalk cameras/speakers. (And for the record, no one in my family actually remembers running the light; whoever it was probably was making a left turn on a yellow, which I admit, I'm notorious for.)

I think the article makes some great points (the arrest of journalists, the slow removal of certain rights). They're all issues we can't turn a blind eye to, even if they are only moderately true. That said, I too agree that the article was poorly written, and lazily organized, and has been written numerous times before (by smarter people).

Edited by Catherine
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