It finally, really hit me yesterday.
I’ve been reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography, and reading the first person account of the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama was revelatory. The problems had all been there, and then ONE woman was told to move and said, No. Basically, no, no more of the indignity, no more of this bullshit, no more of this injustice. The issues were clear and known: racism.
And it started bothering me that we don’t have a name, like they did in Montgomery (and all over), for what’s going on. What was going on then was racism, and that one word defined and encompassed all of it: how you got pulled over more, could get beaten or slapped, how there was no recourse, how you were less-than, on and on and on.
So I bought Animal Farm, and reread it (for the first time in 25 years), and the book is basically a how-to book for tyranny.
That’s the word. My under-brain already knew it…that’s why I bought the autobiography, that’s why I bought Animal Farm.
We are fighting against this tectonic, implacable march toward tyranny, right here in the United States. And it’s not a conservative thing, not a liberal thing. You can’t lay this at the feet of one party or the other. It’s pervasive, it’s everything.
A checklist for tyranny, off the top of my head:
- Nationalism. Make love of country into a religion as much as possible.
- Enemies. If you’re mad at the people one town over, it takes up a lot of your energy and focus. You’re a lot easier to control.
- Fear. Give the people something to fear, and they will THROW their liberties at you with both hands in exchange for protection.
- Credulity. The more you can un-educate people into forgetting skepticism, the more easily you can push your own agenda.
- Some people are more equal than others. No matter what your excuse, it’s wrong to say “this group gets rights that the other group doesn’t.” See: poor vs rich, LGBTQ vs straight/cis, etc.
- Surveillance and control. Heavy military presence (see: militarized police) and real visibility into the lives of the citizens (see: the INSANE amount of surveillance that’s been normalized since Desert Storm) is another lever for controlling the populace.
A couple of arguments against some of the things you’ll say:
Patriotism at a healthy level is perfectly healthy. Nationalism to me suggests the idea that The Country Is Great No Matter What. Any critique becomes a crime. THAT’S wrong.
Most of these things – and the ones I’ve forgotten so far to list – are on the spectrum of normal behaviors. Of course any government will want SOME information on its citizens, like census and so on. Of course we’ll always have some enemies. That’s what makes the march toward tyranny so hard to find; it’s a gradual move toward very unusual levels of each of these, like a slowly creeping fever.