There are ten steps that are taken in order to close down a democracy or crush a prodemocratic movement, whether by capitalists, communists, or right-wing fascists. These ten steps, together, are more than the sum of their parts. Once all ten have been put in place, each magnifies the power of the others and of the whole. Impossible as it may seem, we are seeing each of these ten steps taking hold in the United States today . (page 11)What are the 10 steps?
- Invoke an external and internal threat
- Establish secret prisons
- Develop a paramilitary force
- Surveil ordinary citizens
- Infiltrate citizens' groups
- Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
- Target key individuals
- Restrict the press
- Cast criticism as "espionage" and dissent as "treason"
- Subvert the rule of law
We tend to think of American democracy as being somehow eternal, ever-renewable, and capable of withstanding all assaults. But the Founders would have thought we were dangerously naive, not to mention lazy, in thinking of democracy this way. This view -- which we see as patriotic -- is the very opposite of the view that they held. They would not have considered our attitude patriotic -- or even American: The Founders thought, in contrast, that it was tyranny that was eternal, ever-renewable, and capable of withstanding all assaults, whereas democracy was difficult, personally exacting, and vanishingly fragile. The Founders did not see Americans as being special in any way: They saw America -- that is, the process of liberty -- as special. (page 25)
. . . The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were set forth not as a flag flying merrily but as a bulwark: a set of barriers against what the Founders and their fellow countrymen and women saw as people's natural tendency to oppress others if their power is unchecked. (page 26)
. . . The authors of The Federalist Papers [Hamilton, Madison, Jay] . . . saw all people as corruptible and so set up the system to keep anyone from having unconfined power. It was a truism to the Revolutionary generation that if the fragile mechanism became unbalanced, American leaders too -- of course -- would revert to brutality. We are so removed from the tyranny that the nation's first patriots experienced personally that we have not only forgotten this crucial insight, forgotten to consider how obvious it was to the fathers and mothers of our country. (pp 28-29)Of course, if we had not abandoned the doctrine of total depravity everyone would know this. Ironically, it's doubful Ms. Wolf would cater to that belief. Or maybe it's more ironic that a progressive would have to be the one to reteach us an appreciatin for this doctrine.