Sun 4 Nov 2007
Naomi Wolf is an outstanding pamphleteer. She makes the case that all ten steps to fascism are in play in America. Her arguments are clear, convincing and persuasive that an an organized plot is afoot to strip us of our freedoms and institute an American fascist state.
The ten steps to fascism, as outlined by Ms. Wolf:
- Invoke an internal and an external threat
- Establish secret prisons
- Develop a paramilitary force
- Surveil ordinary citizens
- Infiltrate citizens groups
- Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
- Target key individuals
- Restrict the press
- Cast criticism as “Espionage” and dissent as “Treason”
- Subvert the rule of law
Unfortunately, she made her case in the first half of each chapter, then filled the chapter out to make book length. This would have been a great 50 or 75 page pamphlet. There is just too much fluff to be Thomas Paine.
This does not mean that Naomi Wolf’s call to action is any less urgent or important, it just means that you can read the first half of each chapter and be fully alert to the danger. Her twelfth chapter – the call to arms – is crisp and succinct. Unfortunately, her expectations that the Christian Right would be an ally in combating fascism are misplaced.
Ms. Wolf illustrates how the present “War on Terror” has provided the fear of a threat, Guantanamo Bay and “Extreme Rendition” provide the secret prisons. Blackwater and other mercenary soldiers are providing security for Katrina and other disasters, and most government buildings are secured by armed private security guards. Homeland Security is the province of giant private contractors, not sworn officers. Recent battles over phone companies turning over their call records, and wiretaps without warrant demonstrate the surveillance of Americans. Each of the other tools have been wielded to a greater or lesser extent by the present regime.
The other bloggers I found that reviewed  or referred  to The End of America also held the opinion that Ms. Wolf had made the case, but a thoughtful review by Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute complains that her use of the term fascism is inappropriate, because the word has been hobbled with historical baggage, and that Ms. Wolf’s argument is unlikely to sway anyone but those already agreeing with her thesis.
I must differ with Mr Clark’s analysis on the use of the term fascism. Mussolini’s definition is precisely the use that Ms. Wolf is referring to, and any historical baggage on the word is appropriate. A state that subscribes to the fascist manifesto is bound to revisit the same historical terrain again.
Unlike investigative journalism, pamphleteering is not designed to dispassionately review the facts – it seeks to focus the attention of people who may be generally aware of a situation. It takes focus to motivate action, as a pamphlet The End of America is successful.
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