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October 15th 2013 print

Steve Kates

The crusade against liberty gathers pace

Traditional freedoms are being eroded in the US, where Obama's has made the IRS a tool of political harassment as an aquiescent press debases itself with silence. Sound familiar?

Like the American writer and reformed radical David Horowitz, I grew up in a household in which plotting against the state with other subversives was second nature. In many ways it provided those of us who turned against the left with a clarity and understanding of what are, to others, arguable perspectives. It’s one thing to be well-meaning and wish for an improvement in the human condition, quite another to use everything that is not perfect for tactical advantage to bring your society down.

In this article, The Threat We Face,  Horowitz looks to the  totalitarian world that is forming before our eyes — forming at a speed totally beyond expectation. He makes the central point about the direction in which politics in the US is heading right now, right this minute, and taking us with it.

“Today the Obama juggernaut is systematically bankrupting our country, and undoing our constitutional arrangements. Its contempt for consultative and representative government is relentlessly on display. This week Senate Majority leader Harry Reid defended his refusal to negotiate with Republicans over Obamacare and the debt in these words: ‘We are here to support the federal government. That’s our job.’ End quote. Forget about representing the people whom our Founders made sovereign. Forget what America is about.

“The fact that I had a radical past allowed me to see much of this coming. But even I never thought we would be looking so soon at the prospect of a one-party state. Those words may sound hyperbolic, but take a moment to think about it. If you have transformed the taxing agency of the state into a political weapon – and Obama has; if you are setting up a massive government program to gather the financial and health information of every citizen, and control their access to care; and if you have a spy agency that can read the mail and listen to the communications of every individual in the country, you don’t really need a secret police to destroy your political opponents. Once you have silenced them, you can proceed with your plans to remake the world in your image.”

I have written much the same recently.

“The full resources of the American government are being used in a punitive way against individuals and groups, against American citizens who disagree with the President. In reading not just the American media but even the right-side blogs, the most astonishing part is the absence of expressions of genuine outrage. Maybe with the American media as latently totalitarian as it is there is nothing that can be done, and maybe no one writing a blog wants to be done over by the tax office, but if it doesn’t make you seriously angry, and not just a little frightened, I don’t know what would.”

What can be done I cannot even remotely imagine. The media in the United States are corrupted by their own grossly superficial and far left-oriented understanding of every issue of importance, from foreign policy through economics and down to the constitutional protections of individual rights. That there are more sinister forms of influence is likely, but what we see before us is quite enough. That the use of the IRS to persecute individuals is not universally seen and condemned as absolutely forbidden –- an abuse of power intolerable in anyone’s hands — is more proof than anyone should need that the notion of the Fourth Estate as a guarantor and protector of our freedoms is empty and hollow. They are a major part of the problem, if not the problem, and solutions evade me.

Recognition of Obama for who he is and what he wants is the first place to start, but how will the alarm be sent? How will anyone beyond a handful find out? Who will be the Paul Revere who brings the message that the red press has already arrived and is perverting citizens’ freedoms? Where are the constituencies that can turn that concern into a policy of action?

Liberty’s erosion is not all that obvious, not even to many on the conservative side of politics. On the other side, contentment prevails because, with virtually every means of communication in their hands, they are winning on the politics. If Americans don’t like what the left ids doing andif they  try to do anything about it, tthey must also be prepared to see how much they like being done over by the IRS.

And that is just the start.

 Steve Kates teaches economics at RMIT University. His most recent book is Free Market Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader