Tyranny on Display
at the Republican Convention
By Chris Hedges
St. Paul is a window into our future. It is a future where, as one protester told me by phone, “people have been pepper-gassed, thrown on the ground by police who had drawn their weapons, had their documents seized and their tattoos photographed before being taken away to jail.” It is a future where illegal house raids are carried out. It is a future where vans containing heavily armed paramilitary units circle and film protesters. It is a future where, as the protester said, “people have been pulled from cars because their license plates were on a database and handcuffed, thrown in the back of a squad car and then watched as their vehicles were ransacked and their personal possessions from computers to literature seized.” It is a future where constitutional rights mean nothing and where lawful dissent is branded a form of terrorism.
The rise of the corporate state means the rise of the surveillance state. The Janus-like face of America swings from packaged and canned spectacles, from nationalist slogans, from seas of flags and Christian crosses, from professions of faith and patriotism, to widespread surveillance, illegal mass detentions, informants, provocateurs and crude acts of repression and violence. We barrel toward a world filled with stupendous lies and blood.
What difference is there between the crowds of flag-waving Republicans and the apparatchiks I covered as a reporter in the old East German Communist Party? These Republican delegates, like the fat and compromised party functionaries in East Berlin, all fawned on cue over an inept and corrupt party hierarchy. They all purported to champion workers’ rights and freedom while they systematically fleeced, disempowered and impoverished the workers they lauded. They all celebrated the virtue of a state that was morally bankrupt. And while they played this con game, one that gave them special privileges, power and wealth, they unleashed their goons and thugs on all who dared to challenge them. We are not East Germany, but we are well on our way. An economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a war with Iran, and we could easily swing into an authoritarian model that would look very familiar to anyone who lived in the former communist East Bloc.