Original release: December 3rd, 2008
Running time: 73 min.
Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
Writers: Naomi Wolf (novel), Michelle Ngo, Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, Patricia Sunshine
Cast: Naomi Wolf
“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ~ Edward Abbey
Throughout history we’ve seen how governments have crushed their own citizens and stifled a nation’s progress to advance their own agendas and secure their own interests. Yet it always seems to take us by surprise when we read about it after the fact. How could they not have known? How could they not have seen?
No one noticed the carriages taking the Jews away when Hitler came to power. Russia, under Stalin’s rule, saw millions killed as the dictator rolled out his Communist regime. China, Iraq, Iran, Italy, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Serbia and Yugoslavia have also seen their rulers committing acts against their own people.
These changes don’t suddenly happen overnight; they’re a gradual process and in the documentary film, The End of America, author and political consultant Naomi Wolf describes and demonstrates how governments and leaders learn from one another when they want to close an open society and replace it with fascism.
Wolf is no conspiracy theorist; she’s a Yale graduate who’s been writing about political and social issues since the early 1990’s. Her books, The Beauty Myth, Promiscuities and Misconceptions are grounded in a feminist approach. In 2011 she was arrested in New York during the Occupy Wall Street protests. She also writes for The Guardian, Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
What Wolf lays out in The End of America are the ten steps necessary for a fascist group or government to destroy the democratic character of a nation-state and subvert the social and political liberties previously exercised by its citizens. Using historical examples, she tells us these ten steps are now in place in America, and have been since the events of September 11th.
This realisation shocked her, as it would many of us, but she says these are the warning signs we have to pay attention to and rise up to confront as civil liberties are gradually being eroded. The film takes the form of a lecture and there are interviews with journalists, politicians, citizens and former army personnel who’ve all – in one way or another – come up against the government in defending their constitutional rights.
The first step nations follow is to invoke an internal and external enemy. Wolf uses the 1933 burning of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, as an example of this. The fire gave the Nazis the opportunity to suspend the rights outlined in the 1919 Weimar Constitution in order to weed out communists and increase state security throughout Germany.
In America, 9/11 was the first step which then saw the Constitution slowly being stripped away and replaced by new terror laws, unofficial paramilitary and secret prisons where citizens could be held without charge and subjected to torture.
As she then moves on to looking at increased surveillance, the Patriot Act and Homeland Security, Wolf draws on the disturbing similarities with what the Nazis had – Heimatschutz and how important it was in closing an open society. Other steps she highlights include the harassment of citizens’ groups, the use of propaganda to support unjustified war, controlling the press, the treatment of political dissidents as traitors and terrorists and the suspension of the rule of law. These all work towards to creating an atmosphere of fear, silence and docile obedience – and it’s working.
It makes for a chilling scenario for what’s really going on in America today, especially when Wolf discusses Blackwater and its CEO Erik Prince, but if these things are true, why doesn’t everyone see it? How can the murder of civilians be sanctioned in America? Why were there contractors shooting at people in New Orleans after Katrina when they desperately needed aid and water?
It’s easy to look the other way when there are so many things to keep us distracted instead of seeing a bigger and more frightening picture where we actually have to do something.
Here in the UK we can see it happening too. The 7/7 bombings saw new laws rolled in under the pretext of keeping us safe, but what they actually do is reduce our freedom. Meanwhile the other nine steps have also found their way onto British soil as detention centres have sprung up, surveillance has increased, freedom of press has been stifled and dissidence is treated as a form of terrorism. As governments seek to take power away from the internet and harness it for themselves, it’s further proof that we’re now facing a crisis that’s bigger than any one nation. The world is becoming a fascist planet right before our eyes.
While Wolf states there’s still hope, that together we’re strong, change can only happen if we’re brave enough to look and see what’s happening. Governments essentially don’t care who fights the wars they create, who pays for the banks to be bailed out, who gets killed during a terrorist attack they were instrumental in letting happen or what happens to your mind when you live in such fear, silence and docile obedience – but facing that truth is liberating and is the first step we can take in fighting back.
It’s a compelling documentary, and an important one. If you watch it and doubt the validity of what Wolf has laid out, then it’s all there in the history books, in the law books and around you.
Believing in your rights and the rights of others and standing up for that shouldn’t make us thought criminals or terrorists, but today it does.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .