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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Closing an open society in 10 easy steps

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As you probably are aware, Walski’s on the road a fair bit. And this is one of those times. As such, he’s decided to re-post some interesting stuff that a friend posted on his blog, called {w a s t e d t a l e n t}.

Image taken from Chromemusic, hosting by Photobucket Now this information you’re about to read actually pertains to the United States of America, looking at the effects of policy changes during the eight years the nation was under Dubya’s presidency.

It originally appeared in a book by Naomi Wolf, entitled The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, published in 2007, and later made into a film the following year.

While the 10 steps are really a critique of what happened during the Bush years, Walski would really appreciate it if you gave the list a read anyway.

Because when he did, initially, Walski could feel a sudden eerie feeling of familiarity wash over him… 
(fascism in ten easy steps, and more, in the full post)

So, without further ado, here are the ten points (with the original commentary in italics, and Walski’s own two bits included in this color):

  1. Invoke an internal and external threatPeople who are afraid are willing to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do
    Think of the constant harping on "protecting Malays rights" and "Malay/Muslim unity" (against what, nobody will say), plus invoking the "evil West" every now and again...
  2. Establish secret (unaccountable) prisons where torture takes place - In a secret system, the government does not have to provide any proof of wrongdoing by those it holds, so it can incarcerate anyone it wants
    Okay, so we don't have secret prisons (but if we did we wouldn't know, would we?), but what Walski thought of when reading this point was the ISA detentions
  3. Develop a paramilitary force - A private military force — under the exclusive direction of the “commander in chief” with no accountability to Congress, the courts, or the public — blurs the line between a civilian police force and a militarized police state
    Rela? Oh, wait – that’s civil defense. Hang on… didn’t UMNO Youth say that they wanted commando-type training modules?(thanks Geekrawk for the memory jog!)
  4. Surveil ordinary citizens - People who believe they are being watched are less likely to voice opposition. To scare a population into silence, the government need only monitor the activities of a few to make everyone fear that they are being surveilled. Every closed society keeps a “list” of so-called opponents it tracks
    Cybertrooper surveillance of online activity comes to mind...
  5. Infiltrate citizen’s groups - Spies in activist groups put psychological pressure on genuine activists by undermining their trust in one another. They may also disrupt legal activities, undermining the effectiveness of group efforts
    Well, don't know about this one, but Walski has heard rumors about infiltrations by the SB into protest groups. But whether true or not... who knows?
  6. Detain and release ordinary citizens - Detention intimidates or psychologically damages those arrested and also lets everyone know that anyone could be labeled an “enemy combatant” and “disappeared”
    A number of people have experienced this during candlelight vigils - arrested for illegal assembly, but not actually charged, and later released on police bail
  7. Target key individuals - People are less likely to speak out when those who are highly visible, like journalists, scholars, artists, or celebrities, are intimidated or have the livelihoods threatened. Targeting those who are especially visible makes it less likely that people will speak out and robs society of leaders and others who might inspire opposition
  8. Restrict the press - The public is less likely to find out about government wrongdoing if the government can threaten to prosecute anyone who publishes or broadcasts reports that are critical of the government
    Does Walski even need to add his comments to this one?
  9. Recast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason - People who protest can be charged with terrorism or treason when laws criminalize or limit free speech rather than protect it
    We've come close to this - like certain personalities accused of being traitors to their race? Same difference.
  10. Subvert the rule of law - The disappearance of checks and balances makes it easier to declare martial law, especially if the judiciary branch continues to exercise authority over individuals but has no authority over the Executive branch
    Again, does Walski need to comment?

Naomi Wolf's contention is that open society, through these 10 steps evolves into a fascist one. And that is something that may have happened had the Republicans managed to secure another 4 years.

And what would Malaysia turn into? Well, we’ve never been as open a society to begin with, but these same ten things would definitely lead to a much more closed society, even bordering a fascist one.

The thing is, though, is Walski the only one that sees the parallels?

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