Police State in Slo-Mo
For many years, I’ve forecasted that the US will evolve into a police state; that it will begin slowly; then as more and more freedoms are removed, the creation of the police state will accelerate.
We’re now seeing that acceleration, as more and more Americans are detained, questioned and having their property confiscated than ever before.
As an example, in 2016, some 20,000 travellers in and out of the US were stopped, often at random. Typically, their baggage was searched, their documents photocopied, their access codes to their electronic devices demanded and their files copied. In most cases, no explanation was given, but they were advised that if the search was refused, they would be detained indefinitely.
The following year, in 2017, the numbers of people detained rose by 50%, to 30,000.
It’s important to note that the travelers were not threatened with arrest, which suggests that the authorities were working on the basis that the Patriot Act of 2001 allows all of the above activities, without cause being given, without a warrant being obtained, without access to a phone call or legal representation being allowed, and that the individuals in question may be detained, indefinitely.
This, of course, is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that people have the right, “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
However, people, when travelling are particularly vulnerable, so the travelers in question are extremely unlikely to refuse. They understand that, “indefinitely” means, “until a Supreme Court ruling is passed, overturning the Patriot Act as unconstitutional.” (If it hasn’t happened yet and isn’t under consideration, it’s safe to say that the level of police state allowed under the Patriot Act is permanent.
Police States have been implemented countless times throughout history. They tend to be most prominent where collectivism has already been instituted.
Wherever collectivism is already firmly established, new crackdowns are generally introduced suddenly. In Germany, in 1938, under existing Nazi rule, Kristallnacht took people by complete surprise. Later, in 1961, under existing Soviet rule, the Berlin wall went up with no previous announcement. In both cases, the collectivist tyranny was already in place and the people had already successfully been subjugated. These events were merely further losses of freedom.
But what of a country that still enjoys a few of its former freedoms and is in the process of being transformed into a full-blown collectivist state? Well, in such cases, the loss of freedoms is often done in slo-mo.
Another way of describing this is the old adage of boiling a frog. Since a frog will jump out of a pot of hot water, place him in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat. Before he knows it, he’s being boiled to death.
Likewise, when the intention is to convert a country to collectivism, make the early changes in stages. Get the people to accept that the losses of freedom are for the benefit of their safety. Then, the further along you go, the more you can accelerate the process.
At present, a majority of Americans appear to now understand that they’ve experienced a significant loss of their “guaranteed” freedoms. They’re now worried and, at each new stage of oppression they tend to say, “I’m not happy about this, but I can probably live with it… and, besides, they say that they’re doing it for my own safety.”
However, I think that it’s safe to say that a family returning from a holiday that’s just been isolated from each other, interrogated separately, frisked, had all their belongings pored through and copies of their papers and electronic files taken, without even being told the reason, does not feel as though it’s been done for their safety.
Remember, the 30,000 above were just hoping to reach their destination with no trouble from anyone. A generation ago, they never would have tolerated such a violation to their rights. But now, they submit and accept whatever they’re told to do.
But, upon release, they most likely assumed that the authorities had been looking for something specific. They were not. In recent years, there have been very few actual prosecutions from such Gestapo-like shakedowns, in spite of the copying of documents and confiscation of minor items. The object here is not to prosecute anyone; it is to teach people to submit.
This will be important later on.
What we’re witnessing is loss of freedom in slo-mo. Just as Germans stood by and accepted Kristallnacht; just as they stood by and watched the Berlin wall be built that would close off their freedom of migration, the great majority of Americans ultimately will stand by and watch the last of their freedoms be removed, because they’ve already been trained to submit to whatever indignities and restrictions are placed upon them.
After World War II, Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller was questioned as to how he and other Germans could possibly have simply stood by and watched as freedoms were removed, resulting eventually in total domination of the German people. He said,
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Pastor Niemöller was able to make the above statement in 1976, as he was one of the few survivors of the concentration camps.
But, in addition to the above insight, there’s another very significant lesson to be learned here. Historically, whenever a government is instituting the transition into a collectivist state, one of the early warnings is a limitation on travel outside the country (getting the people used to the idea that they don’t have a right to leave.) The US has now reached that point. The next development will be to teach them that, by traveling outside of the country, they are automatically suspect. The implication will be money laundering, drug trafficking or terrorist activities.
Whether it’s accomplished through the use of a physical barrier, such as a wall, or through the intimidation of random searches and interrogations, as is presently underway in the US, or whether it’s simply the appearance of armed guards in ports of exit (like the armed guard in the photo above), the objective is not to obtain copies of your emails to your friends, or to go through your socks in your luggage. It’s to teach you that your rights have been lost and you are expected to submit to any and all indignities and restrictions imposed on you.
Historically, the end-product is always the same. The final acceptance that you’ve waited too late to leave the increasingly oppressive country – that you’ve been successfully locked in.
Jul 3, 2018
Jeff Thomas is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments as a general principle. Although he spent his career creating and developing businesses, for eight years, he penned a weekly newspaper column on the theme of limiting government. He began his study of economics around 1990, learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion. He is now a regular feature writer for Casey Research’s International Man, Strategic Wealth Preservation in the Cayman Islands and 321Gold.