Book Review: The End Of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot
By Naomi Wolf
Fascism: Fast and furious in ten historic steps.
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens’ groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law
Naomi Wolf says: Recent history has profound lessons for us in the U.S. today about how fascist, totalitarian, and other repressive leaders seize and maintain power, especially in what were once democracies. The secret is that these leaders all tend to take very similar, parallel steps.
In the true spirit of Thomas Paine, Wolf takes her slender pamphlet/book (155 pages) to the streets of America. Our job is to read it, write about it and Revere it. Ride through the towns across the land yelling: “The fascists are coming. The fascists are coming.”
That is, if it isn’t too late.
Wolf’s previous books have mostly centered on women’s issues. The Beauty Myth, Fire With Fire, Misconceptions, Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood and The Treehouse. This work, The End of America is completely out of left field. A radical departure, if you will. While not trying to minimize the importance of her previous progressive books, this tome is a major historical piece of non-fiction. I say so because of its simplicity, minimalism, brevity, cohesion and importance.
I’ll tell you what it's not.
It is not highbrow. It is not pompous. It is not longwinded. It is not complicated.
It is simply, the truth.
At once a brilliant indictment of the Bush administration, The End of America, explains in blunt terms how the last 7 years have paralleled the same steps taken during the 20th century that led to the dictatorships of Italy, Russia, China, Germany, and Chile.
Believe me, folks. It can happen here.
The book is not partisan. It is historical. It starts with the premise that ten steps, ten small changes are all that is necessary to move a country from democracy to fascism.
The work demonstrates how the massive escalation of executive power in the White House has eroded the core values that surround our personal freedoms. In her citizen’s call to action, Wolf demonstrates the very real threats that exist to our civil liberties and explains how we can deal with this growing threat. You can start by reading this book.
In the 2006 military coup in Thailand, the leaders of the coup took a number of systematic steps. Within days, the coup leaders declared martial law, sent soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued press restrictions, tightened travel and rounded up the usual suspects. They weren’t winging it. They knew exactly what they were doing. Veteran campers know how to make a fire. There are certain steps you take. The U.S. has already initiated the 10 steps to fascism and they are spelled out above. Wolf illuminates them all clearly and precisely. From the USA Patriot Act to the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, we have seen a breathtaking passage of laws that its own signers now admit they didn’t even bother to read. By the way, in case you are wondering, the Defense Authorization Act allows the President (or his surrogates) vast new powers over the National Guard. He can send Michigan’s militia to enforce what he decides is a “state of emergency” in California over the objections of the state’s governor and its people. This is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which was meant to stop the federal government from using the military as police force. So much for state’s rights. Having seen its citizens beaten by a foreign king’s army, the founding fathers wanted to prevent our own government turning on its own citizens. Apparently the Bush administration finds that to be a restriction on the executive branch and an unconstitutional check on his powers. Question is, what are you gonna do about it? Vote him out? Okay, what about the next president?
As Americans follow the latest turn of events regarding Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus, the people who crave power consolidate it quietly and aggressively. They don’t have time to watch the latest episode of American Idol. They are in the business of creating their own.
Germans still went to the movies in Berlin in 1931.
The Chinese will soon have the Olympics as the Germans did in 1936. The outward structures always appear the same. The point is that fascism doesn’t come as a black and white newsreel any longer. Today, it comes in fuschia and pastels with a yellow smiley face. It is Disneyfied. It wears the same clothing as you do. The hair styles are the same. The shoes are the same. Remember the crazed thuggish gang of Republican operatives banging at the door while the Florida recount was occurring? They all wore white starched shirts and tan khaki slacks, yet they were dressed to kill. Democracy, that is.
This democracy business is a lot of work. Freedom makes you fat and lazy. I mean that in a good way. We used to be able to sit back and let our elected officials take care of business. Well, apparently business has taken care of our elected officials. Now we gotta do it. Ugh. Time to get off the couch. Well, let's get it on. I guess we do have to fight for our right to party.
The End of America by Naomi Wolf serves as a companion piece to her sister-in-arms, Naomi Klein’s work, The Shock Doctrine. Read them both and you will understand everything you need to know about today’s threats to democracy. But read them quick. The clock is ticking, we’re in the 4th quarter of the Super bowl with no time outs.
A WGA screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert is the Senior Film and Book Reviewer for CrooksandLiars.com. As a filmmaker he has produced numerous documentaries for HBO. Groubert is also the former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he currently writes for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications.