January 15, 2006

No people ever recognize their dictator in advance.

He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument of the "A Free America," "Service to the Lord," or some other useful, supercilious buzzwords.

You can depend on the fact that our Dictator is one of the boys, and he stands for everything traditionally American. And although nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor call him 'Fuhrer' or 'Duce,' they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'

What's happening in America is the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government has to act on information which the people cannot understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it cannot be released because of national security.

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, is taking place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real security purposes. And all the crises and safeguards (occasionally real safeguards, too) so preoccupy the people that they cannot not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most ever have occasion to develop. Each step is so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one is detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understands what the whole thing is in principle, what all these 'little measures' (that no 'reasonable, patriotic American' could resent) must some day lead to, one no more can see it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. One day, the government can do anything (and does) that it sees necessary, law or no law.

One doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Each Neocon outrage, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a *little* worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in dissenting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? -- Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Britain there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in the U.S., even in the largest cities, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does fascism. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air -- however slight -- or we all become unwitting victims of the darkness.
~ Anonymous said...

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