The Decline of the United States

Doug Casey has repeatedly made the important distinction between America and the US. He denotes the former as the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Meaning the ethos of the classical liberal night watchman state. The latter, he denotes as a run of the mill oppressive state run by the self styled “elites” for their own benefit at the expense of the populace. This is a useful framework, as it allows us to realize that while America was never attained, the US was closer to America in 1776 than it is today. Indeed, the decline of the US can be measured by how far conditions have diverged from the ideal that America represented.

In “Is America a Free Country?“, Justin Raimondo explains in sad detail, the many ways that the US has diverged from America.

‘… America has elections, but how democratic are they, really? There are only two political parties in this country, and both of them are privileged by the state over all other political entities and parties: they get automatic ballot status, while other parties must jump over the most onerous hurdles to be listed on the ballot. “Third” parties are effectively outlawed. Hardly what one might expect of a nation so zealous to export “democracy” to the rest of the world, but then lack of nerve was never an American shortcoming.

Given this electoral duopoly, it is quite easy for the political Establishment to manage the system and make sure it doesn’t go “out of bounds” in nominating – or, worse, electing – a candidate dubbed too “extreme” by the Powers That Be, and so duly labeled by our compliant media.

There is no censorship of the media in the US – because it isn’t necessary. The media censors itself quite willingly. More than that: as the Snowden affair has shown, the “mainstream” media is even more fanatical than US government officials about shutting down dissent.

Of all the key aspects of an authoritarian regime, secrecy is the most vital in effecting the transition from relative freedom to a full-fledged police state. As the foundations of the liberal democratic order are eaten away by political termites operating in the dark, the democratic polity retains its traditional republican form – but is hollow at its center. That’s why the prescient Garet Garrett called the rising statist trend in the United States a “revolution within the form” – superficially, our old republic appears intact, but the old meanings of such concepts as “democracy” and “the rule of law” have been turned on their heads. Beneath the surface, the tyrant lurks, waiting for his moment …

A real innovation of our “democratic” despotism is the introduction of secret law. One of Snowden’s greatest “crimes” was revealing the text of a routine FISA court order authorizing the massive collection of all of Verizon’s meta-data in a given time period: apparently this was one of a series of periodic court orders, issued to other providers as well, giving the government authority to vacuum up all phone records.

The FISA court isn’t really a court in the Western tradition: it is more like something that might have existed in the old Soviet Union, where everything was done in secret and there was no pretense of democratic oversight. The court meets in a special sealed-off soundproof bug-proof chamber, there are only government lawyers present making their case, and there is no public record of the court’s decisions, let alone transcripts of the proceedings. All very Soviet: all that’s lacking is a portrait of Lenin staring down on the participants in this “legal” farce.

Worse, the law itself – or, rather, the administration’s and the FISA court’s interpretation of it – is secret. We aren’t allowed to know the “legal” rationale behind the government’s sweeping data grab. It can’t be discussed in Congress, at least in open session, and can’t be contested by civil libertarians – because they won’t tell us what it is! This is a radical innovation that not even the commissars of Stalin’s Russia imagined: leave it to the US Congress, which passed and amended legislation establishing and strengthening the FISA courts, to surpass even the Soviet Politboro in its ability to fasten the noose of state power ’round the necks of its subjects.

The entire article can be read here.

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