Do We Have To Fear The Possibility Of A Police State?

Authoritarian-minded people, the people that John Dean wrote about in his book "Conservatives Without Conscience". There's a small number of authoritarian leaders, there's a large number of authoritarian followers and most of the people who voluntarily and enthusiastically become police officers or members of the military are authoritarian followers. Not all of them, certainly not all of them, but probably well over half.

And if you look at the history of other countries, when authoritarian regimes came to power, whether it was Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco in Spain, look at all the countries in Central and South America, the history that we see over and over and over again is that when an authoritarian leader comes to power the the structures of power and authority within the country which is principally the military and the police, and secondarily the court systems which Donald Trump is right now as Mike Papantonio just pointed out, 650 federal judges. He's fixing to completely reinvent the entire federal judiciary. Those institutions, being inclined toward authoritarianism to begin with, become more authoritarian.

So the most enthusiastic people at rooting out the Jews in Germany, the most enthusiastic people at finding the Communists in Spain, the most enthusiastic people at finding the trade unionists in Italy and utterly destroying them during the 1930s were the police.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't have police, I'm not saying that the whole thing needs to be changed - the police number one and the military number two. If you look at the military during the Vietnam era when we had a draft, or during World War Two when we had a draft, our military represented a broad cross-section of Americans and so the percentage of authoritarian followers was probably about the same percentage as it is in the general population as a whole, which is around 20 percent.

And in a lot of our police departments it was just a good job, particularly in New York City. Hey, they've got a strong union, you can make a hundred grand a year if you work some overtime, it's a good job, good benefits. Twenty years and you're out with a pension. It doesn't get better than that.

So in those kind of environments you end up with police officers who represent the broad spectrum of America.

But when you start paying really poorly as many of our police departments do, and when you lower the standards for entry as many of our police departments have done because they're paying poorly because Reaganism has just kneecapped the ability of towns and counties and cities to have enough money to pay for municipal services like police and fire, as your standards and your pay drop, more and more, the people who enthusiastically sign up to be police officers, it's no longer people who are looking for a good pay and a pension. It's now people who are looking for the ability to pull out their billy club or their gun and beat the crap out of or kill whoever they want, whenever they want. In other words, the authoritarians.

So this is one of the reasons why I've been saying for years and years and years with regard to the military we need to bring back the draft. There needs to be a non-military option for conscientious objectors, for people who are not fans of being part of the military, so that they can work in a hospital or a school or something like that. But everybody takes one year after after high school and either goes into the military or does public service. It's a rite of passage, something that we have lost and are lacking in our culture. It would be a good thing psychologically and culturally for people.

And with regard to our police and teachers, I've been saying this for decades - our teachers hold our future in their hands, our police hold the quality of life of our present in their hands and we dump on both of them. We don't pay teachers well and we don't give them respect and in most parts of the country we don't pay cops well and we don't give them respect. We don't hold them to high standards.

And both of those things need to change and, as I said, our military.

And until we look at these things, these systemic things, and say, "this is actually a threat to democracy that our military is being filled up with people who are authoritarians, that our police departments are being filled up with people who are authoritarians," which is just laying the ground, seeding the ground, fertilizing the ground, when an authoritarian leader like Donald Trump comes along, everybody's going to snap into line.

We have seen this happen in country after country after country and it would be a terrible, terrible thing if it happened here.

We need to be awake to these possibilities.


Outback 5 years 22 weeks ago

"There needs to be a non-military option for conscientious objectors, for people who are not fans of being part of the military, so that they can work in a hospital or a school or something like that."

So let's follow that train of thought: If we had a draft with the option of working "in a hospital or a school or something like that", in this age of perpetual war, the military would be chock full of "authoritarian followers" AND stupid people! What a wonderful solution. Dumb, authoritarian cops (the percentage of cops that come from the military is high, I would think) and a military packed with idiots being led by authoritarian zealots. Wonderful!

I agree with returning to the draft, but no easy opt-outs. That will be the quickest way to get our ass out of Afghanistan, etc. etc. etc....

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 22 weeks ago

Speaking of Authoritarian-minded people (Thom)...perhaps high school grads would like to decide themselves what to do with their first year of non government structured life.

They just spent 13 years or more being told where to be and what to do. In most states they probably need a year or more of remedial math and reading classes.

Maybe they want to travel and find out about places in the world they were never even told existed with their US education.

They are human beings not tools for the left... right propaganda machine. Perhaps we could let them live just a tiny bit of their own life.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 22 weeks ago

We are sadly witness to a destruction of civil awareness, love of fellow man, democracy, order and rule of law

All this is organized by social engineers and their paymasters

Hail fascism!

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 22 weeks ago

The Police State exists already... it is here and now!

Serve, protect, deter, prevent ethos is GONE... GONE!!!

The draft is a great idea and bring it on in spades

Parents today have been brought up to believe behaviour of their offspring is the reponsibility of others

Sadly, then others get blamed for their own lack of discipline

They then object when a sense of human "rightness" is proferred in place of their dearth

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 22 weeks ago

The Police State has already been used to put down the Occupy Movement. The ever increasing pattern of non-violent left-wing protestors facing excessive force and violence by police has become common place. The 2011 UC Davis incident is a fine example. Crooked Donny certainly encouraged violence during his Putin supported rise to power.

On the other hand Cliven Bundy and his foxmerized gang were allowed to point assault weapons at federal officers in their armed protest and occupation. No tear gas or pepper spray used on them.

So it appears simple minded white guys can get away with collecting welfare by not paying their land rent, and then protest the eviction by occupying federal bulidings armed with weapons and end up with only a mistrial. That's "Merica!" LMAO

I can only imagine the result if Antifa pulled a similiar protest/occupation.

Welcome to Russian style governance.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 22 weeks ago

Hot Coffee: How about you stop helping the billionaire/fascists dictate our lives. Do you really think that unregulated capitalism equals freedom of choice for those high school grads? ....Really??? Freedom to drink polluted water, work at Walmart, face crushing student debt, face climate change disaster, religious beliefs forced on them, all part of non-government structured life. C'mon wake up.

Legend 5 years 22 weeks ago

I am all for 1 to 2 years of mandantory service to your country. I did it. Expand it to areas other than just the military. Border Patrol, Forest Service, National Park Service, Hospitals, Peace Corps, VISTA, and more.

Willy Lohman's picture
Willy Lohman 5 years 22 weeks ago

Hi Thom,

I always appreciate your perspective. It is also refreshing to see thoughtful responses.

The republican party and it's staunch devotees have proven themselves to be more ardent about their aberrant ideological hoax hidden behind a populist rhetoric than the "Ethics and Morality" for citizens stated and consecrated in the Declaration of Independence. The links established between government, the corporate and economic elite, who have nothing but disdain for Democracy and the "Rights of Man", are eerily similar to those during 1930's Europe, the age of "dictatorial FASCISM"

Daily, we are witnessing attacks on the foundations and social pillars of our society by a party whose self-interests have jaded their ability to faithfully represent "ALL" their constituents; their acquiescence and support for the demagogue in the White House only validate their abetment of the perfidies committed by those whose mission it is to "Undermine and Destroy" the Social Contract between the government and it's citizens.

This sanctimonious populist propaganda with it's bread and butter clarion call of “Free Enterprise”, which is nothing but a euphemism for fascism. The outright Machiavellian disregard for American Laws they object to, viewing any person who questions their "ideology" as an "Enemy of the People", and now jailing citizens and reporters for daring to question their authority, are the actions of an authoritarian regime. As dangerous a threat to US democracy our "Dictator in Chief" is becoming, it is only possible through the aegis of an authoritarian congress. These sanctimonious peculators who call themselves "servants of the people", are in fact, acolytes of an economic and political ideology that does not believe in the value of our social pillars of society, nor does it believe in Democracy. This is the attempted "Rise" of a proto-fascist regime in the United States, based on the works of Hayek, Strauss, Friedman, etal. through, quietly and incrementally, vitiating the legal regulations for corporations and downloadinging their corporate employment costs to the taxpayers and workers. This ideology and it's adherents are "TREASONOUS" to the Democracy created by our Fore Fathers.The perfidies of these "TRAITORS to Democracy" need to be exposed for the “Very Real” threat they pose to our way of life!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 years 22 weeks ago

I like the border parrol idea.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 22 weeks ago

Great post Willy Loman! And right on cue to put a punctuation mark on the proof of your post, is none other than Disney Reynolds, post #9.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 years 22 weeks ago

You nailed it, Willy.

The biggest threat to our democracy is from within, as the People cede more and more of their political and economic power to a tiny class of the economically privileged, whose single-minded goal is the ultimate control of the masses to do their bidding and to pay their bills.

And the clearest example of our steep tilt toward runaway fascism is the priority we place on all things military over every other consideration. "Wars and rumors of wars" is the most critical issue facing humankind -- after anthropogenic climate disruption! Why have these two hugely important issues been essentially erased from our political discourse and largely from everyday public consciousness? Scientists and other truth-tellers can barely break the sound barrier.

My personal opinion for what it's worth is that we should not reactivate the military draft until Congress starts fulfilling one of its essential Constitutional duties, which is to debate issues of war and peace on behalf of the interests of the American people instead of what might only enhance the profits of private industry and the donor class, e.g., oil companies, defense contractors, and Wall Street greedmongers. Otherwise, the good citizens will be forced into becoming nothing more than throwaway chaff, expendable cannon fodder in endless corporate warfare for resources and profits.

Violence is learned behavior. And millionaires and billionaires for decades have been steadily cranking up their self-serving propaganda, including mindless and ever-present fear and hate of other people and different cultures, through their wall-to-wall media outlets and their subservient politicians. Why then should a draft, as a way to repay society for its many wonderful benefits and to fulfill our shared civic duties, only include the military whose basic MOS is to destroy things and kill people? Should not our young people emerging as responsible adults have a variety of healthier options from which to choose, an array of programs that are inherently peaceful and beneficial to society as a whole, meaning to as much of the citizenry as possible, and not just to the ruling economic elites?

We are wasting too much of our nation's blood and treasure (trillions every year!) on war matériel, and we have too many hapless soldiers sucking on the government teat -- because we are fighting too many f*cking wars! The ever-expanding U.S. corporate-sponsored war machine and its omnipresent satellite industries have engendered the largest welfare program in history, with most of it going to our filthy rich overlords.

Innocent children, not old white men with authoritarian tendencies, are our most valuable resource. We need to teach them a better way. Homo sapiens are at a critical stage of evolution when all life on Earth is facing the very real possibility of mass extinction and nuclear annihilation. When you peel away the onion, the primary cause for such calamity, indeed the only cause, is the human mind itself. Isn't it time for a mass epiphany, both individually and collectively?

Legend 5 years 22 weeks ago

#9. Too many drinks?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 22 weeks ago

#12 - That's an observable constant

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 22 weeks ago

"There needs to be a non-military option for conscientious objectors, for people who are not fans of being part of the military, so that they can work in a hospital or a school or something like that. But everybody takes one year after after high school and either goes into the military or does public service. It's a rite of passage, something that we have lost and are lacking in our culture. It would be a good thing psychologically and culturally for people."

Is this root of the sentiment?

i think the intent of the article is to instil respect in our young for a concept of civil responsiblity

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