Glenn Greenwald entertains this week for your lecture of the week, explaining how, during the last two presidencies, rule of law has given way to the system that we presently accept as the new normal. No longer is the Bill of Rights an assurance against tyranny, and step-by-step, we are turning toward the policies of some of the countries that have been most feared in the last century…
I am a big fan of defining your terms, and since people have had trouble lately understanding what tyranny is, I StumbleUpon’ed this great rundown. Descriptions, as they always do, have a very small sense of subjectivity, but I believe these hallmarks cover the relevant bases:
- Control of public information and opinion
It begins with withholding information, and leads to putting out false or misleading information. A government can develop ministries of propaganda under many guises. They typically call it “public information” or “marketing”.
- Vote fraud used to prevent the election of reformers
It doesn’t matter which of the two major party candidates are elected if no real reformer can get nominated, and when news services start knowing the outcomes of elections before it is possible for them to know, then the votes are not being honestly counted.
- Undue official influence on trials and juries
Nonrandom selection of jury panels, exclusion of those opposed to the law, exclusion of the jury from hearing argument on the law, exclusion of private prosecutors from access to the grand jury, and prevention of parties and their counsels from making effective arguments or challenging the government.
- Usurpation of undelegated powers
This is usually done with popular support for solving some problem, or to redistribute wealth to the advantage of the supporters of the dominant faction, but it soon leads to the deprivation of rights of minorities and individuals.
- Seeking a government monopoly on the capability and use of armed force
The first signs are efforts to register or restrict the possession and use of firearms, initially under the guise of “protecting” the public, which, when it actually results in increased crime, provides a basis for further disarmament efforts affecting more people and more weapons.
- Militarization of law enforcement
Declaring a “war on crime” that becomes a war on civil liberties. Preparation of military forces for internal policing duties.
- Infiltration and subversion of citizen groups that could be forces for reform
Internal spying and surveillance is the beginning. A sign is false prosecutions of their leaders.
- Suppression of investigators and whistleblowers
When people who try to uncover high level wrongdoing are threatened, that is a sign the system is not only riddled with corruption, but that the corruption has passed the threshold into active tyranny.
- Use of the law for competition suppression
It begins with the dominant faction winning support by paying off their supporters and suppressing their supporters’ competitors, but leads to public officials themselves engaging in illegal activities and using the law to suppress independent competitors. A good example of this is narcotics trafficking.
- Subversion of internal checks and balances
This involves the appointment to key positions of persons who can be controlled by their sponsors, and who are then induced to do illegal things. The worst way in which this occurs is in the appointment of judges that will go along with unconstitutional acts by the other branches.
- Creation of a class of officials who are above the law
This is indicated by dismissal of charges for wrongdoing against persons who are “following orders”.
- Increasing dependency of the people on government
The classic approach to domination of the people is to first take everything they have away from them, then make them compliant with the demands of the rulers to get anything back again.
- Increasing public ignorance of their civic duties and reluctance to perform them
When the people avoid doing things like voting and serving in militias and juries, tyranny is not far behind.
- Use of staged events to produce popular support
Acts of terrorism, blamed on political opponents, followed immediately with well-prepared proposals for increased powers and budgets for suppressive agencies. Sometimes called a Reichstag plot.
- Conversion of rights into privileges
Requiring licenses and permits for doing things that the government does not have the delegated power to restrict, except by due process in which the burden of proof is on the petitioner.
- Political correctness
Many if not most people are susceptible to being recruited to engage in repressive actions against disfavored views or behaviors, and led to pave the way for the dominance of tyrannical government.