“When I look at the present, I see a more likely future: a new arbitrariness that is slowly creeping across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at the command post of a corporate-government complex that has slowly developed over many decades. In an effort to expand their own powers and privileges, they stand ready for others to suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurrent recession, overt and hidden unemployment, air, water, soil and body poisoning, and, more importantly, the undermining of our constitution. — Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America
Despotism has become our new normal.
Digital tyranny, surveillance. Intolerance, break off culture, censorship. Bans, mandates, state encroachments. Bottlenecks in the supply chain, inflation. Police brutality, break-ins, martial law. Loss of physical integrity, privacy, autonomy.
These tyrannical acts of an authoritarian government long ago ceased to worry or unsettle us. We are desensitized to the brutality of the government, used to government corruption, and unaffected by the government’s attacks on our freedoms.
This current trajectory is unsustainable. The middle cannot hold.
The following dangers pose some of the greatest threats to our collective and individual freedoms now and in the year ahead.
Censorship. The most controversial issues of our time – homosexual rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, etc. – have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of expression, but only if they share the views and positions who support them. So while we technically speak freely on paper, in reality we can only speak as freely as the government and tech giants like Facebook, Google or YouTube allow. But it’s a slippery path from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing the truth. What we are experiencing is the modern equivalent of the book burning, in which dangerous ideas – legitimate or not – and the people who represent them are abolished. Unfortunately, censorship is just the beginning. Once you allow the government and its corporate partners to determine who is worthy enough to participate in society, anything is possible.
The state of emergency. Now that the government has gotten a taste for its police state powers through a variety of bans, mandates, restrictions, contact tracing programs, heightened surveillance, censorship, over-criminalization, etc with a nanny state that tends to use its draconian pandemic powers, to protect ourselves from ourselves. Therein lies the danger of the government’s Machiavellian version of crisis management, which justifies any form of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security. This is the power grab that is hidden within sight.
Pre-crime. The government is rapidly expanding its police efforts to focus on pre-crime and thought crimes. Precrime, straight from the realm of dystopian science fiction films like Minority report, aims to prevent crime before it happens by combining widespread surveillance, behavioral prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technologies, and neighborhood and family espionage programs to enable police to catch potential criminals before they can cause harm . The intent, of course, is for the government to be omniscient, omniscient, and omnipotent in its preventive efforts to combat domestic extremism.
The surveillance state. This all-seeing fourth branch of government, made up of an indigenous army of government spies, spies, and techno warriors, oversees everything we do, reads everything we write, hears everything we say, and oversees everything we do. Be careful what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go and who you communicate with because it will all be recorded, stored and cataloged and ultimately used against you government choice at one time and place. Even agencies not traditionally affiliated with the secret service are part of the government’s growing network of informers and spies.
Genetic privacy. “Guilt by association” has acquired new connotations in the technological age. But the debate about genetic privacy – and when one’s DNA becomes a public good that is not protected by the prohibition of searches and seizures without an arrest warrant in the Fourth Amendment – is only just beginning. Get ready, folks, because the government – with the support of Congress (which passed a law allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately after arrest), the courts (which have ruled that police routinely use DNA – Can take samples from people who have been arrested but not yet convicted of a crime) and local law enforcement agencies (pulling out this new crime-fighting gadget) – has launched a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects who based on a huge national DNA database.
Physical integrity. It doesn’t matter what your rooting problem is – whether it’s vaccines, abortion, crime, religion, immigration, terrorism, or some other openly politicized touchstone used by politicians as a rally for votes – we should all be concerned when governments and corporations alike (i.e., the corporate state) join forces to compel individuals to sacrifice their right to physical integrity on the altar of so-called security and national security. This debate about physical integrity spans a broad field, from abortion and compulsory vaccination to biometric surveillance and primary health care. Forced vaccinations, forced cave searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, and forced inclusion in biometric databases are just some of the ways that Americans continue to be reminded that we have no control over what is going on with ours Body happened during an encounter with government officials.
Arms Control. After the Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago that citizens have a secondary right to own a weapon for self-defense at home, the Supreme Court has now been tasked with deciding whether the constitution also protects the right to have a weapon outside of the house. Regrettably, the US government has adopted a “do what I say, not what I do” mindset, particularly on gun rights and citizens’ rights as a whole. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in attempts by the government to arm itself to the teeth, suspecting anyone who dares to legally possess a weapon, let alone use one for self-defense. While it’s still technically legal, own a gun in America you now own can stop you, search you, arrest you, subject you to all kinds of surveillance, treat you like a suspect without ever having committed a crime of being shot and killed.
Show your papers company. Every day, more and more private companies and state and federal government agencies are demanding proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to work, travel, shop, go to school, and generally participate in people’s lives in the country. By allowing government officials to conduct a litmus test for individuals to exercise trade, movement, and any other right common to living in a supposedly free society, it lays the foundation for a “show me your papers” society in which you need to identify themselves under any time to any Government employee who asked for it any Ground. Such tactics can quickly escalate into a takeover that allows government officials to force anyone and everyone to prove that they are complying with all of the laws and regulations that are on the books.
Singularity. Welcome to the matrix (i.e. the metaverse) where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as the technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly making humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. In fact, it is no coincidence that Elon Musk announced his intention to implant brain chips in humans sometime in 2022. The digital universe – the metaverse – is expected to be the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one. Remaining uniquely human and maintaining your individuality and dominion over yourself – mind, body and spirit – in the face of corporate and government technologies that aim to invade, invade, monitor, manipulate and control us can be one be the greatest challenges for us.
despotism. Even in the face of militarism, fascism, technotyranny, surveillance, etc., the greatest threat to us as a nation may be despotism wielded by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money. The American kakistocracy (a government led by unscrupulous professional politicians and corporate thieves, indulging in the worst vices of our nature and neglecting the rights of the people) continues to pull the American people into a parallel universe where the Constitution is meaningless, the Government is omnipotent and citizens are powerless to defend themselves against government agents who are stealing, spying on, lying, looting, killing, abusing and in general wreaking havoc and driving anyone and everything in their domain insane.
The prospects for a new year are bleak, but not entirely hopeless.
If hope is to be found, it will be found with those of us who are doing our part at the local level to correct injustice and repair what is broken. I am referring to the builders, the thinkers, the helpers, the healers, the educators, the creators, the artists, the activists, the technicians, the food collectors and distributors, and every other person who does their part to build rather than destroy .
“We the people” are the hope for a better year.
Until we can own this truth, until we can find our own way back into a world where freedom means something again, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War Against the American People and in its fictional counterpart Erik Blair’s diaries, we’ll be stuck in this wormhole of populist anger, petty politics, and destruction that pit us against each other.
In such a scenario, nobody wins.