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Tripping in Totalitarianism 

The modus operandi of empires throughout history has been to create crisis, generate fear and promote panic. The current empire is no exception.

911 offered the empire the opportunity to rush through the Patriot Act essentially gutting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The attack was a criminal act, not an act of war which is military aggression by one government against another. A declaration of war empowered the empire to attack Afghanistan even though most of the alleged perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia.

Weapons of mass destruction were used to justify the war against Iraq. Fear and panic led to the acceptance of torture, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons, Quantanamo Bay, the elimination of habeas corpus and other practices characteristic of closed societies.

The War on Terrorism led to the expansion of a military/police state both at home and abroad. The privatization of war enabled unaccountable corporations such as Bechtel, Halliburton and Blackwater to profiteer at public expense in rape, pillage and destructive ventures. The War on Terrorism justified surveillance, intimidation, arrest, incarceration and denial of free speech and assembly.

Economic Terrorism, in the form of an economic meltdown, demonstrated the incredible power and control of corporations and bankers. Unaccountable, unelected mercenaries in the Federal Reserve Bank, private financial institutions, Wall Street financiers, predatory lenders and the International Monetary Fund/ World Bank have created a system based on deregulation, mergers into mega-monsters "too big to fail," abdication of oversight responsibilities and privatization of all aspects of the economy. The same mercenaries who created the crisis were then empowered by the Treasury Department to use taxpayer money to bail out the banks and financial institutions conveniently eliminating social programs and destroying the middle class. Financial experts were apparently unable to foresee that unbridled capitalism with its mantra of free markets and free trade would inevitably lead to free fall of the domestic and global economy.

How does a country move from an open to a closed society, from democracy to empire, and what are the consequences? The empire builders must be able to manipulate the minds of citizens and manufacture consent through creation of crisis, fear and panic. A compliant, corporate media is essential. The rule of law and the legal system must be changed to represent the demands of the empire, not the rights of citizens. There must be a consolidation of power establishing a leader who is above the law and unaccountable to other branches of government. A compliant and corrupt Congress, for example, would not challenge authority and a Supreme Court could appoint an unelected leader with no concern for the demise of democracy. Corporations, emboldened by Supreme Court decisions which granted personhood and the declaration of money to buy votes as a free speech issue, would become dominate players in the system of control. Police and military power as well as a vast network of government and privatized security systems would be created and expanded to prevent and crush resistance. Martial law could be declared if necessary to protect the empire and its ruler.

Uninformed and fearful citizens have seldom recognized the suppression and oppression leading to an empire but they have always suffered the consequences. They have learned at great cost that there is no such thing as a benign dictatorship and no such creature as a democratic despot.

Sue Bastian, Bend

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