The Age of Authoritarianism: Government of the Politicians, by the Military, for the Corporations
by John W. Whitehead
May 25, 2013
“[F]orce alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the well-spring of extremism, a perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.” ~ Barack Obama, May 23, 2013
President Obama’s declaration that “America is at a crossroads” in the fight against terror, a fight that is increasingly turning inwards, setting its sights on homegrown extremists, should give every American pause.
We have indeed reached a crossroads. History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a militaristic state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom. Certainly, this is a time when government officials operate off their own inscrutable, self-serving playbook with little in the way of checks and balances, while American citizens are subjected to all manner of indignities and violations with little hope of defending themselves. We have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age, let’s call it the age of authoritarianism.
Even with its constantly shifting terrain, this topsy-turvy travesty of law and government has become America’s new normal. Don’t believe me? Let me take you on a brief guided tour, but prepare yourself: the landscape is particularly disheartening to anyone who remembers what America used to be.
The Executive Branch: Whether it’s the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers, the systematic surveillance of journalists and regular citizens, the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay, or the occupation of Afghanistan, Barack Obama has surpassed his predecessors in terms of his abuse of the Constitution and the rule of law. Despite his prior stint as a professor of constitutional law, President Obama, like many of his predecessors, has routinely disregarded the Constitution when it has suited his purposes, operating largely above the law and behind a veil of secrecy and specious legal justifications.