The End of America, by Naomi Wolf
In The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
Chelsea Green Publishing,
ISBN: 978-1-933392-79-0, 168 pages, $13.95,
Naomi Wolf says that ten things happen as a country moves from democracy to dictatorship.
• Invoke an external and internal threat.
• Establish secret prisons.
• 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.
Wolf notes that all of these are currently taking place in the U. S. We accept that the voluntary permanent abandonment of essential liberties in the vague and unbounded war on terror would leave the founding fathers spinning in their graves. And we accept, as Benjamin Franklin so famously remarked, that “Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” Hoary chestnuts aside, however, to say that the United States is at a “fragile moment” or approaching a “tipping point” may (or may not) be unnecessarily alarmist. We also accept that Cæsar was right when he said, according to Suetonius, “Meos tam suspicione quam crimine iudico carere oportere.” And the same holds true of our government: If it doesn’t want to be thought of as a duck, it shouldn’t walk like a duck, talk like a duck, swim like a duck, and quack like a duck. The trends and actions cited by Wolf – whether or not one believes they are a stepping stone toward fascism – at best give a bad impression. At worst they mean Wolf is right.
We had expected The End of America would be a book that we wished we had written, yet while one editor found it alarming, another found it naïvely alarmist. We agreed that this was largely a problem with the tone of the book – it had a spirit reminiscent of National Rifle Association exhortations on the dangers inherent in losing the right to keep and bear arms – and we wished Wolf had sent it to us to edit. We hope that the publisher will choose to reedit and re-issue this book.
In spite of our problems with the tone of the book, and independent of whether or not you agree with Wolf’s facts or conclusions, and independent of whether or not the book scares the crap out of you, The End of America provides a cautionary note worth serious contemplation. The bottom line is that loss of liberty strikes at the very foundation of everything we believe as Americans. Any thoughtful discussion of how liberty might be endangered should be taken seriously, and must be examined with care. Thus, The End of America should be read by every thinking citizen. It should be required reading by every politician, so that they can see the potential unintended consequences of their actions and inactions.
Because of the seriousness of the topic, and the care that went into the development of Ms Wolf’s thesis, we feel obliged to add this book, as well as Rediscover Your Native Fitness (PACE), by Al Sears, M.D. to our list of must-read books. Past must-read books are, in alphabetical order:
• All You Need Is Love, and Other Lies about Marriage by John W. Jacobs, M.D
• Better by Atul Gawande, M.D.
• Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier
• Inside the Tornado by Geoffrey A. Moore
• Reinventing the CFO by Jeremy Hope
• Taking Sex Differences Seriously by Steven E. Rhoads
• What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith
• With Winning in Mind by Lanny Bassham