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Mrs Rodin and I watched Dinesh D’Souza’s Police State on Rumble yesterday. I hope this review, summary, or whatever will not cause you to not watch it yourself. If you have already seen it, or see it after this post, I am interested in hearing how close your thoughts are to mine.
First, is “police state” the correct description of America, today? My initial inclination is to believe that it is true for some and not true for many. That America is now a “surveillance state” is beyond question. It shifts into a police state whenever the apparatus of the state using the surveillance data at hand picks and chooses to harass/destroy “disfavored” persons and cower the remainder into submission.
If one looks at history, the existence of a police state does not require the full quiescence of a people. There will always be dissenters within a police state. We tend to regard dissent’s failure to “move the needle” in such places as evidence of the existence of the police state. And so it is, when viewing an historically free and democratic society, it can be difficult to judge when a police state might exist because there is always some level of sturm und drang reflecting political debate within that society, some level of criminality associated with political belief, and a desire to characterize any failure to gain ideological purchase within the larger society as the result of state machinations.
Nevertheless, Police State does lay out a series of events and actions in the United States that have the hallmarks of a police state. D’Souza recounts the evolution of political thought and action that shifted conservative thinking from freedom absolutism to political support of the Patriot Act surveillance and action to counteract foreign terror threats, and then to an inward shift to “domestic” terrorism. I must here give credit to Mrs Rodin who warned early on that the Patriot Act would give government too much control and that the Covid masking and lockdowns were more about control for the powers that be than public health. I was slower to adopt those positions, crediting our system of checks and balances too much as a means of preserving individual freedoms.
Police State outlines a story well familiar to those of us who have consumed information less curated by the emerging state: domestic spying, no-knock early morning raids, government “partnership” with social media for censorship and narratives, demonization of disfavored political opinion and opinion-holders, government entrapment schemes, and plans for controlling money and social “credit.” One thing that struck me, and of which I would like to hear more about, is the claims of financial incentives to FBI (DHS?) personnel for discovery and deterrence of “domestic terrorism.” I am aware that at certain levels of government management performance bonuses are paid in addition to regular compensation. Police State suggests that there are financial incentives for field offices to compete in claims of higher and higher levels of domestic terror activity. (As I watched this portion of the film, I was reminded of the fairly recent banking scandal at Wells Fargo where employees were paid commissions for “new” business and routinely created fraudulent accounts to “earn” bonuses. The logic of overstating domestic terrorism when you have a personal financial stake is compelling and frightening, and fully credible given that government employees are human and not supra-human moral actors.) Like “noose” hoaxes, the level of actual domestic terrorism is so low, more and more activity must be either created (or constitutionally protected activities redefined) to fill the need for a level of “domestic terrorism” that justifies federal expenditures on its detection, deterrence, and/or interdiction.
One thing is clear, regardless of the extent to which you buy into D’Souza’s thesis, constitutional rights are already destroyed for some and in peril for all. The powers that be (or who assume they are) do not rely on the Constitution for their personal well-being. They rely on the increasing power of the State, and their place in it, to have a sinecure against the life that they are promoting for the rest of us. They aspire to make of themselves as gods and are using our tax dollars with which to do it. Stupid, stupid us!Published in