11 September 2007

Watching out for an American paramilitary

I finished reading Naomi Wolf's The End of America the other day. Wow, we're screwed.

As I mentioned in my original post on the subject, I'm particularly interested in the paramilitary aspect of a fascist state. The way I see it, the establishment of a paramilitary thug caste is now the most important and most difficult step to further closing American society. Secret prisons, surveillance, infiltration of citizen's groups, and targeting of key public figures are all well and good for scaring citizens into submission. But if there's one freedom that Americans hold above all others, it's freedom of speech. And since America is such a damn big place, the fear of immediate repercussion is still slim for the average American. We know that Washington can't tackle all of us.

Enter the paramilitary. Now your concern is not with far-off DC, but rather with the local MM office. Suddenly, there are real and immediate consequences to speaking out against the government. The paramilitary gets in among the population at a local level and prevents patriots from doing the single thing they need most of all to do on a national level: uniting. The paramilitary is the epitome of divide and conquer. All the more difficult, the paramilitary has the considerable advantage of legality; they need not operate in secret.

So what will an American paramilitary look like? Wolf points out three potential resources for such a force. First, there's Blackwater, a giant private "security firm" that collects some of the toughest thugs from around the world and trains them for professional combat. Blackwater mercenaries are already being employed by the Bush administration in Iraq, and they were used as peacekeepers in New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Mercenary forces haven't walked American streets since the Hessians, but now President Bush has access to his own army-for-hire. Second, there's the National Guard. Under the John Warner Defense Authorization Bill of 2007, the president is authorized to use the National Guard as a police force on American soil whenever he sees fit. Third, young Republican men, like those who volunteered to pressure and bully people at polls and elsewhere in 2004.

But I think Wolf missed a big one: the Religious Right. They're self-organizing, loyal to the Decider, steadfast in their beliefs, and widespread. Even if only a minority of evangelical Christians would take up arms against their fellow citizens, they would still make up a force to be reckoned with.

We already know one role that Christianity will play in the American paramilitary. As was mentioned before, the government is preparing clergy members to use scripture to placate the public in the event of martial law. I don't have difficulty imagining taking that a step further to church-sponsored security patrols. There isn't much difference between saying: "It is God's will that you follow the mandates of the US government," and: "It is God's will that you enforce the mandates of the US government."

Furthermore, history shows that a huge advantage is conferred upon those who believe in what they're fighting for. That means hired muscle like Blackwater (or even the National Guard) might be able to set the stage for a paramilitary force, but they couldn't keep it up indefinitely against Americans passionate about their freedom. A long-term paramilitary force has to be a group that fanatically believes that they're doing what's right. (And frankly, end-times prophecies and a Middle East conflict don't help matters any.)

The Religious Right is already extremely militant in their rhetoric, and occasionally also in their actions (i.e. bombing abortion clinics). But this militancy is currently directed primarily toward moral and cultural issues. It will be interesting to see whether that militancy can be actualized and channeled in a sociopolitical direction. We godless will have to be especially vigilant... fear of an internal enemy will be paramount in mobilizing Christian fundamentalism, and they can only chase jihadist sleeper cells for so long before they start looking for a more tangible threat to their way of life. It's not as if they don't already hate secular humanists; all they need now is an excuse and permission to go for the throat.

I know this is a lot of speculation, but I don't think it's unfounded speculation. We need to be prepared for the worst; our only chance of staving off fascism is to recognize it and speak out against it before it closes our channels of action. So please, be vigilant. If we allow a paramilitary force to take root in America, things will only get worse for all of us, and fast.

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