We all know the cons of Twitter, but one of the pros is discovering new and interesting people.
One of my favorite new follows is Benjamin Carlson, a public relations guru and former editor at The Atlantic. Carlson’s tweets are among the best you’ll find on Twitter, and he clearly has a keen understanding of the intersections between media and government, power and propaganda (both current and historically).
One of his recent tweets caught my eye, and I share an adaptation of it below.
1. Dissent is equated to violence
2. Media is controlled
3. The legal system is co-opted by the state
4. Power is exerted to quash dissent
5. State police protect the regime, not the people
6. Rights—financial, legal, and civil—are contingent on compliance
7. Mass conformity of beliefs and behaviors is demanded
8. Power is concentrated in inner ring of elite institutions and people
9. Semi-organized violence is permitted (in some cases)
10. Propaganda targets enemies of the state regime
11. Entire classes singled out for persecution
12. Extra-legal actions are condoned against internal regime opponents
13. Harsh legal enforcement against unfavored classes
14. Private and public levers of power are used to enforce adherence to state dogmas
The list is a bit troubling. At the very least, some of these techniques are playing out before our eyes. This is certainly not to say that the US is a totalitarian state, however.
There are many definitions of totalitarianism, and I don’t believe one can seriously argue that the United States has arrived there. But authoritarianism is certainly in the air, and it emanates most strongly from our nation’s capital.
While both the political Right and the political Left accuse each other of harboring tyrannical ambitions, the philosopher Karl Popper offered a clue as to when a legitimate government crosses the line and becomes a tyrannical one.