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

por Naomi Wolf

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8022427,436 (3.91)16
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.… (mais)
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I've never been a supporter of the ACLU, specifically because they tend to make news when they've helped free a known guilty party on some flimsy technicality, and it offends my sense of right and wrong. And the ACLU will say, I'm sure, that they perform an essential service in our Democracy and protecting the rights of all citizens by keeping the Government from gradually encroaching upon our Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Naomi Wolf, in her book, seems to make the case of the importance of the ACLU without ever mentioning them. The point of her book, as I see it, is that our freedom and democracy can only be maintained by being vigilant and watchful, and protective against gradual government incursions into our guaranteed freedoms. The book is somewhat dated reading it in 2012, since the target of most of her barbs are directed at the Bush Administration. While sounding something like a Handbook of Paranoia, Naomi Wolf cites example after example of how our post-9/11 government has started on a path of restricting individual liberty through passing the Patriot Act, giving authority to the President to designate anyone, citizen or non-citizen, an enemy combatant and lock him / her away without safeguards, by setting up Guantanamo and secret renditions of suspects, by intimidating professors or political opponents, etc. And she then goes on to show how various totalitarian governments in the past such as Stalin's Soviet Republic, Hitler's German Republic, or Mussolini's Fascist Italy used similar tactics to gradually restrict individual liberty in those countries, and impose their will over the people in their individual power grabs. Her point being that we have to be mindful of these encroachments, not passively accept them, and be vigilant in order to protect our freedom and liberties. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Naomi Wolf's largest problem is her intense laser like focus on all things George W. Bush. Unfortunately, the Patriot Act was not passed by a single party: only one man in the Senate had the bravery to vote no. Otherwise, her ten steps ring particularly true. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Very interesting read on how a government goes wrong - you can recognize a lot of the Bush government, and in South Africa, a lot of the ANC ..... ( )
  rendier | Dec 20, 2020 |
Wolf wrote this during the GW Bush administration. She saw signs of totalitarianism developing, particularly after the events of 9/11/2001. She saw citizens being stripped of their rights for "national security". She saw increases in surveillance of ordinary citizens. She saw restrictions on the press. In fact, she saw the same shifts in our government as the citizens of Nazi Germany saw before WWII, as citizens of other governments saw before their democracies moved to dictatorships.

So she wrote this "letter" to an actual young activist, warning him and us of the dangers of complacency, the need to be aware of the twilight - that time between light and dark, when all seems to be fine, but isn't.

Each chapter addresses a specific signal that the shift is happening in this country. For example: "Invoke an internal and external threat". "Infiltrate citizens' groups". "Arbitrarily detain and release citizens". "Cast criticism as 'espionage' and dissent as 'treason'". There are ten such chapters, ten warning signs. Followed by a conclusion: The Patriot's Task.

Our government, says Wolf, was founded on the requirement that citizens must be alert and involved. If we give up that position we will be giving up our democracy.

Simply and clearly written, this book can be read in a day. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Okay, I'll get it out of the way right up front. I'm beginning to realize that Chelsea Green does not do a good job of editing books. Some of the errors here were so blatant a third grader could have spotted them. Okay, got that off my chest. Now to the book itself. The book was written during the closing years of the Bush 43 administration, amid the writer's concern that we were moving toward fascism. It would be easy to dismiss that idea when the Obama years seemed so much more democratic (but were they?), but now that we are entering the countdown to 2020 with another budding fascist in the White House, it is frightening to look back on the things Congress was doing to give away their power to the president, and in some cases, power that no one is supposed to have because the Constitution forbids it. Most of this happened unnoticed, some of it even in the middle of the night, and only such as were political junkies even knew it happened. Many of us weren't sure what it all meant. The author does a good job of laying that out, of examining the various tools that Congress and the people willingly handed over to a president who has been gaining power for at least a century. Nearly all, if not all, of those tools still remain in place, and can be picked up at any time by a president who lacks integrity and desires absolute power. The author examines other dictatorships around the world, especially those that grew out of democracy like fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - not implying that our country was Nazi Germany, but just looking at the ways in which democracy can be subverted in a very short period of time. Should be required reading in all Civics classes, if only we taught such a thing anymore (and the English teachers could use it to demonstrate how to find sentences missing words or with added words, or with bad punctuation - a double win for a small book). ( )
  Devil_llama | May 27, 2019 |
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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.

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