Coming soon!

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Already There

After the Arkansas legislature over three days last week raised the minimum wage, banned smoking in workplaces, then outlawed it in cars when children are present, it occurred to me that we already live in a totalitarian state. If it can do those things, what can't it do? Yes, the state doesn't regulate everything, but that's only because it hasn't gotten around to it yet. There's no legal barrier to its doing so. It's only a matter of time.


Jude Blanchette said...

I beg to differ. In fact, I think calling the USA a totalitarian state NOW puts us in an awkward position when it is, in fact, total. I don't know about you, but I live my life secure in the knowledge that I can do and say just about anything without fear of reprisal from a jackbooted federal agent. This is not to say that our government does not engage in some egregious activities, but on net, it ain't Soviet Russia.

Mark said...

Um, Jude,

So you can have some marijuana or cocaine in your house "without fear of reprisal from a jackbooted federal agent"? Where do you live? The narcs, dressed in black and armed with automatic weapons, will kick down your door in the middle of the night while you're "secure in the knowledge that they won't". Of course, if you're lucky, they may kick down your neighbor's door "by mistake" and gun him down instead of you.

You are either wilfully blind or frightened to death so that you don't see what is going on around you.

Sheldon Richman said...

Knock, knock. Open up this is the police. Are you in there, Cory Maye?

Anthony Gregory said...

I think it's not just a matter of time, Sheldon, but also one of economics. The state cannot be as totalitarian as some of its officials, and the state itself by its very nature, desire to be. For one thing, people will always resist full compliance. For another, if the state is too draconian, it will suffocate the host on which it feeds. The US state, like most fascist ones, appears to have adapted to allow the bare minimum of market transactions, nominal private property rights, and regime certainty in order to allow an economy strong enough for it siphon off the sufficient funds to live fat and conduct its imperial adventures and social engineering experiments. But I do agree that, qualitatively, the state now claims total power over every aspect of our lives. Parents can't smoke in the car with a kid? Such a regulation is more insidious than even some libertarians might think, as it further socializes family life. When the feds started telling kids to turn in their parents if they caught them smoking dope, that was a huge step in this direction. Soon it might be like Communist China, with family members always spying on one another.

The new enemy combatant doctrine—whereby the executive can strip any person it chooses of all due process rights, torture and kill him or her—is also a frightening development in the slide toward totalitarianism.

Yes, we still have more robust freedom of speech than do other peoples, or even Americans at previous times. But if not many people complain, the state doesn't mind so much if they do. Perhaps free speech will be one of the last freedoms to go. (Of course, we don't have full freedom of speech, as is seen in the campaign laws, the pornography laws, the commercial advertising laws, the FCC regulations, and more.)

Vache Folle said...

"but I live my life secure in the knowledge that I can do and say just about anything without fear of reprisal from a jackbooted federal agent"

That's only because you don't matter to the jackbooted thugs at the moment. The point of the post is that if we are going a straight majoritarian route, we are already in principle a total state. THe majority recognizes no limts in principle on what it can do to you.

Kevin Carson said...

jude blanchette,

IMO whether the U.S. is a totalitarian state has more to do with the powers the state claims on paper, than with the extent that it sees fit to exercize them for the time being. The fact that we continue to be allowed to exercise some of our liberties, as a concession of grace from the sovereign, is beside the point.