The Means of Totalitarianism

I’ve said a few times that totalitarianism requires three ingredients: a motive, or a totalitarian ideology; a means, or a strong national security state; and an opportunity, or a liberal establishment too weak to survive a crisis. I’ve talked a lot about the motive on this blog, but recent news stories about police brutality make it prudent to write about the means instead.

The next President of the United States, Rudy Giuliani, has never been a fundamentalist, but he’s certainly authoritarian. A few days ago there was a thread on Majikthise starting from his support for a ban on ferrets to explain his autocratic personality. As Mayor of New York, Giuliani brushed off police brutality, even when it killed many innocent people; as Associate Attorney General, he said there was no political repression in Haiti under Duvalier.

Although Giuliani himself is not a Dominionist, he has no problem supporting Dominionists, and laying the institutional framework that Dominionists can then use to usher in totalitarian rule.

While Bush has a fairly authoritarian personality, he doesn’t fetishize police power to the same degree. In Houston, the police just brutally suppressed a protest by the striking janitors’ union and then sexually harassed arrestees and practiced class warfare against them. Presidents don’t directly control the police, but they can set the tone by appointing pro- or anti-brutality U.S. attorneys and publicly supporting or opposing anti-protester atrocities.

Right now, the choice of President in 2008 seems to boil down to someone who’s going to make sure the police hurts innocent people as much as possible, and someone who supports a constitutional ban on abortion. Thanks to the lack of Democratic heavyweights, there is now also a strong opportunity for totalitarianism in the US.

3 Responses to The Means of Totalitarianism

  1. SLC says:

    Mr. Levy certainly likes to provide a little amusement on a quiet Sunday. For openers, there is very little chance of Guliani even getting the GOP nomination,given his stated attitudes to “values” issues (i.e. abortion, same sex marriage, etc.) and his marital problems all of which will be an abomination to the f****** born agains. Similerly, McCain is considered too independent minded and not sufficiently partisan by the power brokers in the GOP so his chances, although better then Guliani, are not good. Mr. Levy is just in a snit because his favorite candidate, Feingold, who would have been the second coming of George McGovern, declined to run. His evaluation of the situation is 180 degrees out of line with his pal Mr. Packard who thinks any Democrat can win in 2008. Obviously, they both can’t be right. My assessment is that the Democrat with the best chance of winning is Edwards because he has at least a fighting chance of carrying a Southern state or two. It also appears that his populist themes may play well. He sounds a lot like the new Senators elect from Virginia and Montana in this regard.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    I agree with you on Edwards – among the current bunch, he’s probably the most electable. I’ll admit to having a personal aversion to people who campaign as working class populists but are still overall fairly conservative, but Edwards seems to be able to connect to people.

    My position on the primary had always been that Warner was the most electable Democrat and Feingold was the second. For a while before Warner said he wouldn’t run I switched them because I read that Warner won against a very weak candidate in Virginia, but still he had a very high approval rating and managed to raise taxes. I never thought HRC and Obama would get any grassroots support, so I only concentrated on Feingold and Warner, but now I obviously need to evaluate a weaker slate of Democrats.

    The reason I think Giuliani will win the primary is that the people who can play to the Republican base are lightweights. Brownback would be an inverse McGovern (and as with McGovern, he’ll win only if the Democrats make a concerted campaign to make him win the primary). Huckabee sounds like an empty suit. Romney is not conservative enough. Pro-war libertarians like Instapundit have little problem with Giuliani; McCain is tainted to them because of campaign finance reform.

    After all, Kerry wasn’t especially palatable to the Democratic base, either. The Democratic base preferred Dean, who seemed more anti-war and anti-Bush.

  3. SLC says:

    Mr. Levy is underestimating Milt Romneys’ willingness to play to the GOP base. Attached is a link to an article in todays’ Washington Post concerning a Romney broadside against the legality of same sex marriage in Massachusets.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/19/AR2006111900879.html

    Mr. Levy says that Brownback is a lightweight. No argument from me. I think hes’ a whackjob of the first order. However, George McGovern was also a lightweight, and he was able to win the Democratic nomination in 1972 because Muskie and Humphrey split the moderate vote in several primaries. The same thing could happen to Brownback in 2008 if McCain and Guliani split the mainstream GOP vote between them. The f****** born again vote might then be sufficient to allow Brownbeck to win several early primaries.

    Former Governors’ willingness to raise taxes in Virginia is somewhat overrated. He raised the sales tax from 4.5% to 5% but at the same time lowered the sales tax on food from 4% to 2%. The biggest raise in taxes was the cigarette tax which was raised from 2.5 cents per package to 25 cents per package. I doubt that even Robert Novak would complain too much about that.

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