Looks Like the Fourth Turning After All

The Idea: Is the US predestined to slide into totalitarianism?
I haven’t written much about US politics lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention. As distraught as I am about the extremist ideology of the party in power in the US, I am far more concerned about the means they are using to try to subvert the will of the moderate majority. These are the means of people with totalitarian aspirations, megalomanic personalities, and undemocratic agendas:

  • Hiding extremist, unpopular and inadequately-explained legislation in ‘omnibus’ bills
  • Bullying and threatening the media
  • Fomenting fear and hysteria and wars against imaginary and exaggerated ‘enemies’ to distract attention from domestic political subterfuge
  • Lying about the ends in order to suppress popular opposition to the means
  • Characterizing flagrantly undemocratic political and electoral abuses like gerrymandering as ‘normal’ outcomes of a partisan political system
  • Mortgaging the future to curry favour with today’s voters
  • Unwillingness to study or learn the lessons of history, almost to the point of taking pride in ignorance and misrepresenting it as populism
  • Orwellian, deceptive misnaming of legislation, as part of a broader, carefully managed propaganda scheme
  • Deliberately stirring up xenophobic nationalism by misconstruing international loathing for a right-wing US regime as anti-Americanism
  • Showing contempt for vital constitutional principles like the independence of the judiciary and the separation of church and state
  • Withdrawal from and subversion of international institutions and agreements
  • Refusing to enforce, and compelling public employees to ignore, laws that are inconsistent with government ideology
  • Deliberately undermining support for public and private institutions whose mandate is to safeguard the rights of minorities, the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised, or to monitor and report on government and corporate abuses

Governments planning to subvert the will of the people and undermine the democratic process almost always masquerade as ‘populists’, using a charismatic or malleable front-man and applying precisely the techniques listed above to manufacture a series of crises and paint its opponents as traitorous, ineffectual or extremist, in order to polarize the population. The objective is make government, constitutional liberalism and democracy look so feeble that the people are willing to at least tolerate corporatism (fascism), abrogation of constitutional rights and freedoms, and totalitarian control of the levers of power. The extremists currently in power do not trust Americans to do what they want done, and all their actions indicate a desperate and broad-based attempt to permanently consolidate power so that elections can be orchestrated and rigged and so that this extreme right-wing cabal can do as it will in perpetuity.

The techniques above work — they have been used by anti-democratic forces that believe they know better than people for centuries. And these techniques are working in America — whether you believe the 2004 election was stolen or not (and it is a tactic of anti-democratic groups to show the electoral process as suspect in order to undermine support for it), a lot of moderate Americans chose to vote for a bloc of decidedly non-moderate candidates at every level in the 2004 elections.

Everything is going exactly according to plan. Everything is being done to manufacture the next crisis — an economic collapse due to deliberate mismanagement of the national finances, by racking up the largest debt in the history of the planet, or a military crisis due to deliberate mismanagement of international diplomacy, on the pretext, this time, of dealing with the Iranian or North Korean ‘nuclear threat’. This has been in the planning stages for a decade — the plan to bankrupt the federal government and the names of the chosen ‘axis of evil’, three countries whose governments everyone loathes and which are convenient targets for whipped up nationalistic frenzy and fear, were decided upon long ago.

With the next crisis, look to see the government ‘test the waters’ by suspending civil liberties more broadly than in the first trial balloon, the Patriot Act. Look to see the government ask for permanent powers in the interest of ‘security’ that will wrench power from an unreliable Congress and an even less reliable electorate — powers that will include the right to launch ‘limited nuclear strikes’ (there is simply no money left for conventional warfare against Iran or North Korea, as it has all been given away as paybacks to the large corporations that bankrolled the right-wing coup). And powers that will include the right to permanently dismantle every part of the federal government except the military and ‘homeland security’ in the interest of restoring government solvency.

It is a shame that in this century where real, long-term global crises are looming, we seem so incapable of learning the lessons of history, and so we keep repeating the same mistakes. America’s slide into totalitarianism is the last thing we need now — it could well distract the world for decades from dealing with global warming, the dangers of bioterrorism, and the acceleration of epidemic diseases, all of which will be much harder to solve than an American dictatorship. What is most telling, and most frightening, is the silence of the media, the ignorance of the population, and the denial by all but a tiny minority that anything is seriously wrong. Take a look at any country that has fallen from democracy to totalitarianism and you will see the same signs. This is the calm before the storm.

Is there anything that can be done about it? Probably not. Impeaching Bush might work, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. America’s democracy has always been fragile — since it was established it has never been seriously threatened so there’s been no need to pay attention to keeping it robust. It will be a useful object lesson for the rest of the world. And it will make the authors of The Fourth Turning look prophetic indeed.

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12 Responses to Looks Like the Fourth Turning After All

  1. I can’t believe that none of the papers in the US have covered that damning memo from the U.K. I had my scandal pants on and… no scandal. What the hell? It’s so bizarre it’s almost unbelievable. What does it take to have a goddamned scandal these days?

  2. rrnwexec says:

    You wrote, “The techniques above work — they have been used by anti-democratic forces … for centuries.” Dave, please cite even one occasion where a bunch of well-intentioned people writing “This is horrible. Look what they are doing” has successfully won back a lost democracy. Sadly, there is no critical number of bytes on the web that will unravel the hairball you describe.

  3. rrnwexec says:

    Renee, to answer your question: “What does it take to have a goddamned scandal these days? “. More than a few people on the web writing about it. Probably a few people (like Dave) willing to make personal sacrifices to fix things. And, what’s the value of a scandal anyways?

  4. baxter says:

    the reactionary death throes of the age of pisces with its christian and islamic archetypes is happening now giving way to the age of aquarius where the mass man is archetype and the collective unconsciousness will have a new pool of ideation and no man and every man will be the hero and the star making machinery will be gone. instead of people wanting other people to revolve around them in a solar/planetary way through gravitational dominance, the aquarian man sees equality of everyone is now a star, influencing but not dominating. the shift of the age to aquarius will activate neural circuits where universal telepathy will be the norm and with it the end of privacy and and also leo individualism, a few downsides, but the illusion of individuality only a veil will be rent assunder. towards a more collective humanity and perfect union. .

  5. Was that last comment for real? Somebody needs a smack upside the head with the big 2×4 of Reason and Logic.

  6. Mike says:

    Oh Reason! Oh Logic! Have you not heard that every man and every woman is a Star?

  7. I wish you were wrong, but I can’t find a single statement you’ve made here that I disagree with.

  8. Indigo says:

    Sometimes things have to get worse, really worse, before they get better. I recall a political psychology class i took in college in which it was shown that the psychological profile of the American populace just before WWII was actually more fascist than that of Germany. We simply lacked our Hitler to fan the flames into fury. Seems like we may have one now, only not on a racial crusade but a different type.

  9. I have felt fora long time that most ofth edomestic and foriegn policy of America has been with the goalof creating enough fear and violence in America so that American citizen’s will BEG fora military state toprotect them.If you look around the world dictatorships and totalitarianism rarely exist in countries where citizen’s can Legally own guns.If you look at American domestic policies like our “Drug War,” I do not think the goal was ever to eliminate “Drug Usage.” The goal wasto criminalize drugs, like alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s, to create violence, as did prohibition in the 1920’s.American foriegn policy primarilly creates hostility toward America by our Imperialist and controling actions, thus fostering “Terrorism.” Just look at Iraq today. Have we actually improved the Iraqui people’s lives ? N, they now live in a totally unstable society where violence is ramant ands completelyunpredictable. This only makes Arab cultures more and more hatefull of America, and more likely to continue to want to bring terrorist actions home to Americans.The recent Bush administration’s methods ofstaying in office, the patriot act, and other actions, are only More Visible and less hidden tactics to totalitarianize America.Sincerly yours,Curtis Seyfried.A native born American. Born in Brooklyn, NYC., NY. 1952.

  10. Jon Husband says:

    Dave, I know you hated that book because of its tone, or pretensions of prophecy, and … I return to it regularly, and so deepen my understanding of what they are saying, and I gotta say .. they did a lot of homework, and have created, in my opinion, a useful source of reference and reflection in these oh-so-worrisome times.

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, everyone. Indigo, I fear you’re right. And in a way, I hope you’re right — I hope it’s enough to pull back from the brink. Has any other national culture wandered this close without going over the edge? Curtis — yes, I’ll have more to say about this in tomorrow’s (Friday 27th) post. Jon: You have more courage than I do. If it’s gonna be that bad I’m not sure I want to know :-(

  12. MBTankersley says:

    9/11 seems to me as only the very first of a series of catalyst events towards the authors’ 4th Turning. I am of the opinion that Hurricane Katrina has been of equal importance. 9/11 shifted the mood of the nation one way, Hurricane Katrina seemed to shift us back to reality. So perhaps 2005 wasn’t so off as we all thought. The new “heroes” and 13er “generals” of the blogosphere are taking to battle in a very different way than their predecessors, though no less “can-do” or communitarian than the GI-gen. The restrictions placed upon our freedoms in reaction to terrorism (bred both far away and closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.) and the Constitutional crises of the near-term future they will cause as we head deeper into “winter” are what really make me shiver. We’re a long way from the resolution of the crisis at this point.MBT

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