From Liberty Street: Tyranny Rising

John Turner

I want never to become an alarmist. All the same, history shows me that at times dire things have happened. And I have no reason to suppose that they cannot happen again.

For quite a few years now, science fiction melodrama has suggested that the future will bring tyrannical governments, controlled by cabals of plutocrats who will use secrecy and advanced techniques of propaganda to manipulate the masses.

Should this become the nature of government, the formation of shadowy groups, driven to fanatical opposition, would be inevitable. Or, to put it another way, the concurrence of Bush-like government and terrorism is not accidental. Every power monger relies on an enemy to retain his status, and, despite their doing terrible things to one another, dictator and terrorist are, over the long run, more allies than opponents.

The news, almost everyday, contains items to indicate that the fiction writers of the recent past are not, entirely, fabulists.

The assault on the New York Times by the minions of government for reporting activities that in the past the government has eagerly bragged about  is simply one incident in a campaign to subdue and suppress a free press. Those of you who can get through the Times Select barrier should read Frank Rich's account about how the attack on the Times has been orchestrated.

If you can access The Times-Argus, my local paper here in Vermont, read Darren Allen's account of how Washington is increasingly closed to visitors. The sign on almost every government building seems to read, "Members Only." I can remember when one could stroll easily along the corridors of the Capitol and go into any committee hearing without restraint. Now, however, the functions of government are increasingly closed off from citizens. The reason given, of course, is security, which is the primary weapon in the alliance between tyrant and terrorist.

In the same paper is a discussion of how the Vermont State Police recently killed a mentally ill man because he would not accede to their commands. The interesting thing is that they felt compelled to go after him not as ordinary law enforcers but got up in combat suits with with their faces camouflaged by black grease paint. More and more the enforcers of executive power, whether police or military, go about their business tricked out in such fantastical gear they appear like invaders from outer space. Obviously, they have been trained to the point that they're psychologically addicted to suiting up in wildly expensive clothes which shout out their difference from ordinary, pathetic human beings who often can find nothing more impressive to wear than tee shirts and jeans.

The Supreme Court made a belated attempt to tell Mr. Bush that the Constitution doesn't permit him to seize any person he wishes from any point on the globe, keep him in prison forever, or, if a trial is thought to be useful, to make sure the outcome is rigged. And Mr. Bush's response was not regret that he had exceeded the Constitution but rather an announcement that ways were being examined to thwart the Court's decree and continue to do exactly as he has done in the past.

The serious question facing us is whether the people will ever assert a demand for limited government. The average guy seems not to to care as long the government is not kicking down his door in the night. And if the time comes when his door is shattered, then it will be too late to protest because he will have become one of those the government says is threatening security, and the guy who has not yet had his door kicked down will say, smugly, "I'm glad they got that so and so."

The truth of government is that if the people do not want a limited government which operates fairly and openly and in accordance with understood principles then they won't have one. Government will always seek to aggrandize power and if there is no force to oppose it, will become, naturally, a tyranny. The people are fools if they think there is something within government that will renounce absolute power. That would be to reject human nature and escape the power of rationalization, which no officialdom has ever done.

The science fiction writers were simply picking up on something that is always striving to be born. And the question for us is whether the birthing room is now within the borders of the United States.

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