So, it has come to this

There’s been a sense of dispiritedness in most of my favourite blogs this past weekend. I’ve shared it. Despite several times in the past few years pointing out signs of incipient fascist tendencies in the Bush administration, I always wondered whether I was slipping into hyperbole.

I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I would be writing that the USA has not only legalised torture (while hypocritically denying that coercive interrogation is torture) but also permanently suspended habeas corpus for anyone it cares to define as an “enemy combatant”. Of course the only definition of “enemy combatant” is a catch-all description that means essentially whoever the White House wants to be an enemy combatant. Indefinite secret detention and show trials here we come. (And how far behind will Australia be, when our Attorney General waffles on the new US law and explicitly claims that sleep deprivation is not torture?)

Yet what has most conservatives in the USA up in arms about the GOP? Good old ubiquitous cronyism in a scandal involving a Congressman sending sexually explicit IMs and emails to teenage Capitol male pages. As my friend Terry put it, the perfect example of being able to live down anything but “a dead girl or a live boy”.

The failures of military intervention in Afghanistan (where Taliban insurgents are about to be invited back into the government) and Iraq, the fiddling while New Orleans drowned, the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamao, the continual crony financial scandals: none of them have generated as much grassroots conservative outrage as this sex scandal. Which is just how those creeping into dictatorship want it to be.

Coturnix, a US citizen who lived in Yugoslavia as it disintegrated from a prosperous democracy into a group of authoritarian hardman-led territories fighting a civil war along sectarian and ethnic lines, sees far too many of the same signs in his excellent post We are now officially living in a dictatorship. Read all his paired links to get the full flavour of his argument.

Coturnix notes that Glenn Greenwald is more optimistic. I hope Greenwald’s right about it still being possible to impede and reverse the ravages of BushCo as long as American voters don’t give up hope and refuse to sink into fearful apathy, I really do.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, Politics

Tags: , ,

4 replies

  1. It will be interesting to see the results of the elections in November and how the Republicans react. My cousin travels overseas for science conferences and he no longer tells people he’s an Australian.

  2. We’re travelling OS in December/January. I’ll be interested to see what the reaction to travelling Australians is.
    It’s so easy an error to fall into to stereotype travellers by their country of origin, or even just to have an outmoded view and make faux pas – a while ago now in NZ mr tog and I were having a singsong around the piano in the youth hostel, and we took requests for some national anthems, and when the German tourists asked us to do theirs, I’m sorry to relate that we launched into Deutschland uber alles, because we’d never thought about the (obvious in retrospect) idea that Germany would have spurned the Nazi anthem. They looked distressed, we embarrassedly grokked the problem and would have remedied it except we had no idea what the current anthem was. Thankfully they realised that we weren’t meaning to be political about it, that we just didn’t know. They forgave us our ignorance.
    We just did Beatles songs after that.

  3. I do not share your dispiritedness or cynicism, and do not believe that the US is turning into a dictatorship. So there!
    However, I hope to take a trip to the US in the not-so-distant future, and if I see any incipient dictatorships, I’ll be sure to take note!
    On a slightly more serious note, I do think that the current ‘dispiritedness’ you observe on some blogs is probably the result of the repetition of certain terms and notions over and over again – ie, the equation of the US with the terms ‘fascist’, ‘imperial’, ‘hegemony’, etc. In a way, the RWDB’s – (many of who are simply moderate liberertarian types) – have only exacarbated this, since they’ve gleefully repeated the slogans on their own websites/forums, in an ironic tone.
    So the cumulative effect has been basically that of propaganda. (Propaganda? Hmmm, incipient fascist tendencies, mayhap?)

  4. Some good points there Tim, and I honestly hope you are correct. I’m well aware of how silly I thought various Clinton-haters were for insisting that he was going to cancel the election in 2000 and turn the USA over to the New World Order.
    Despite his many faults though, he was never accused of rigging two elections, nor ever suspended habeas corpus or legislated that evidence obtained from coerced confessions be admissable in court. I don’t think the situations are entirely the same.

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