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The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007)

by Naomi Wolf

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The end of America by Naomi Wolf 2007 155p pol
This book is a political type of pamphlet showing that the US government with all the checks and balances placed by the founding fathers to keep it democratic,it can revert to a dictatorship very easily and has had periods in its history when this has happened.
The founding fathers were revolutionary at the time democracy with equality and liberty were considered seditious and this is not appreciated today..There are periods in question like slavery, the cancelation of habeas corpus by Lincoln, the Jim Crow laws and lynching in the south the internment of Japanese, the Mc Cathy purges, and now since 9/11 and Guantoonama Bay.
The book tells of the Blackwater mercenary organization that is a private army available for use and hires the worst thugs and is a law unto itself an insult to a democratic country. They were used to keep order after Katrina.
There are examples of how both Mussolini and Hitler controlled and manipulated the media and even in America at times the press has become self censoring or people are scared to lead opposition group or sign protest petitions. Bush younger took the USA into war in Iraq wth a lie. Lies are a tool used by dictators till the public cannot identify the truth.
The silver lining is that a lot of people must have been aware of what was going on because there was large turnout at the polls and a Democrat was elected in 2008. High voter turnout and regular change not allowing one party to become entrenched is good for democracy. ( )
  MauriceRogevMemorial | Mar 7, 2014 |
A good book for a beginning liberal, but ultimately this book is long on problems and short on solutions. I mostly agreed with Wolf throughout, but lost patience with her arguments after awhile, anxious for solutions that never came. I probably should have known better just by looking at the conclusion, "A Patriot's Task," which is a whopping two pages long.

Wolf presented a lot of valuable information, and a lot of the book works well as a history lesson. Particularly enlightening and frightening to me were chapters 3 ("Establishing Secret Prisons"), 4 ("Develop a Paramilitary Force") and 7 ("Arbitrarily Detain and Release Prisoners," about the disintegration of habeas corpus). In the "Restrict the Press" chapter, she makes some important points about the delegitimization of Truth, as well as making her most effective pitch at a solution when she calls upon bloggers to start taking their jobs more seriously.

But overall, I got tired of the comparisons to Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia, modern China, Pinochet's Chile, and other dictatorships. I don't actually disagree with Wolf's point, they just provoked a "Yeah, yeah, what next then?" response. Preaching to the choir. A big problem I had with the book was my impression that Wolf exaggerates at times. An example would be, when talking about surveillance: One reason dictators demand access to such private data is that this scrutiny breaks down citizens' sense of being able to act freely against those in power.You know what, that may very well be one reason, but I can guarantee you it's not the main reason, at least in the case of the U.S. Call me naive, but I believe that illegal wiretapping probably stems from a genuine desire to catch terrorists. Throughout the book, Wolf assigns this conspiratorial thinking where I'm not sure it exists. Does Wolf really believe that G-Dub thought, "You know what we need to do? We need to break down our citizens' sense of being able to act freely against us."? It is true that many of the tactics she describes lead to abridged freedom, but I don't think she does lefties a service by fabricating this evil right wing empire-in-waiting, when most evidence points to it being a much more organic process, without one or even a group of evil masterminds guiding it. It's scary enough as it is, and we need to discuss it honestly in order to figure out how to stop it. Wolf -- perhaps unintentionally -- injects a fair amount of irrational dogmatism into the conversation. . .

. . . And then her solution is that people should magically become more informed and politically active, and just better in general. And everyone should just magically get along and learn how to cooperate and work together to demand their freedom. Very helpful, Naomi. NOT.

As an aside, the book would have gained much credibility just from a more thorough proof-reading. It's hard to take a book with so many typos seriously. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
Excellent overview of how fascist tendencies are slowly creeping into American society via the morally and every-other-which-way corrupt govt. the country has had under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their ilk. Showing how eerily similar tactics have been perpetrated by dictators and despots in recent history helps drive home her points.Chapters expand on her article in the Guardian in April 2007, "Fascist America, in 10 easy steps" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2063979,00.html ), a good read in itself.This book speaks the facts, transcending political or religious party or ideology. Anyone who cares about the future of the U.S., as well as cares about the threat the U.S. would pose worldwide if it does turns full fascist, should read this book.Originally written on Feb 02, 2008 at 07:55AM ( )
  ceruleandaze | Feb 17, 2011 |
An easily-read primer (see others' notes of errors/omissions) of the responsibility of all citizens to police their government. Immediate past examples may put most of the text into old news, but reminders to the American public with its notoriously short memory, are well advised. ( )
  jocraddock | Jul 26, 2009 |
Having just seen the documentary based on this book, I wanted to read her short original text too. While her intention is admirable, the effort often reads like the one-eyed leading the blind.

Unfortunately, she is often wrong in the details due to her superficial knowledge. When she writes "By 1930 Nazi propagandists referred to Germany not as "the nation", this is simply wrong, as any glance at the National Socialist party name shows. When she quotes Emerson "We began well. No inquisitions, here", she ignores the Massachusetts witch trials. For a work claiming to educate the public, this is a fairly error-laden pamphlet. But then again, her audience in the United States of Amnesia knows even less.

Her basic diagnosis of a creeping totalitarianism in the United States of America is correct. It is wrong to attribute this solely to the Bush administration, though, even if they were especially brazen. The "inalienable rights" were and are often denied from the slaveholder Thomas Jefferson to Proposition 8 bigots. The totalitarian Pledge of Allegiance, the House Committee of Un-American Activities (HUAC), vote suppression and press manipulations are part of America, even American inventions such as gerrymandering or lynching.

Removing the Republicans from office only partially heals this. US totalitarianism is mostly not based on hard action (torture, detainment, military forces) but on the more pernicious soft power. The Obama administration will abolish the most heinous acts of its predecessors but not dismantle the soft measures. The problem of US journalism is not the threat of prison time but the self-censorship of editors and journalists seeking "access". Audiatur et altera pars in US practice means an authoritarian Republican discussing with a center-right Democrat. Her plea for Americans "to publish online, research aggressively, check facts assiduously, expose abuses, file Freedom of Information Act requests, publish 'zines, write op-eds" seriously overestimates and overcharges the nation of couch potatoes. The problem lies in the media-entertainment complex and the dismal state of public education. The second problem is not touched by her at all, the failure of American democracy: Most US elections are not competitive. Incumbents are nearly impossible to unseat due to gerrymandering and the influence of money.

Overall, a worthy effort, mostly for the gallery. After all, Noam Chomsky has been preaching the same message better researched and better written for decades. ( )
  jcbrunner | Feb 28, 2009 |
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I wrote this book because I could no longer ignore the echoes between events in the past and forces at work today.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140010646X, Audio CD)

The Founding Fathers believed that the proper goal of the State was to make men and women free to develop their faculties and to pursue virtue and wisdom. Our Constitution was built around these principles, protecting civil liberties and developing a careful system of checks and balances that protected our freedom from tyranny.Naomi Wolf's latest work, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, exposes how the escalation of executive power has eroded these core values and systems, limiting Congress's ability to make laws and our courts' power to interpret them-a scenario that our Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against. Wolf outlines in this citizen call to action-which is reminiscent of Thomas Paine's revered Common Sense-the real threats to our civil liberties that exist and explains how by working together we can stop the growing threat.The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is the centerpiece to the American Freedom Agenda, a nonpartisan organization of which Naomi Wolf is a founding board member and which asks all Americans to support a "Freedom Pledge" to support only candidates who favor restoring the pillars of American liberty. It combines a wide host of partners, united in their belief that when it comes to the Constitution, we are neither conservative nor liberal; we are all Americans.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:39 -0400)

Author Wolf shows that there are ten classic steps would-be dictators always take when they wish to close down an open society, and shows how each of those ten steps is underway in the United States today. Our Constitution was built to protect civil liberties and develop a careful system of checks and balances which protect our freedom from tyranny. Wolf argues that the escalation of executive power has eroded these core values and systems, limiting the ability of our Congress to make laws, and of our courts to interpret them--a scenario that our Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against. In this citizen call to action, reminiscent of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Wolf outlines the real threats to our civil liberties and explains how we can work together to save our liberty and defend our nation.--From publisher description.… (more)

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