Claire Wolfe has beaten me to the punch for the idea I had for a post today (post here) which is a lovely post on "Dealing with our new totalitarian realities" (if the word "lovely" can be used for such a subject). As with all things Claire, it is worth your time to read but the Reader's Digest version is that totalitarianism has more or less already arrived; it is no longer an anticipatory event.
The definition of totalitarianism (courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica) is a "form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of individual life to the authority of the state". Note that it does not concern itself with a political party or type of government or theory of politics (Red Party, Blue Party, Tyranny, Despotism, Fascism, Communism). All systems can equally use this for their own purposes.
But TB, I hear you cry, we live in the West! We live in the culture of Locke and Rousseau, of the Amendments and limited government and Common Law and Non-fat Soy Lattes! We are not those hateful others that we read about every day that control the lives of their citizens. We are not the Old Horrors like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany or New Horrors like Communist China or North Korea or the "Back For Their Second Appearance", The Orcs.
But just give it some thought.
We have activist governments - not just here in Baja Canada, but through the "West" - that are actively continuing to attempt to dictate or actually dictate where people can go and when they can leave their houses (if you are not otherwise aware, please read up on the recent developments in Australia as sort of a "worst case" scenario). We have governments which, while although not encouraging the suppression of speech, are neither stepping in and defending it as platforms and mediums decide what is allowable and what is not (which never really works, of course; it just drives it underground. Ask the Communist Bloc how the Samizdat experience worked out for them). We have governments currently discussing restricting air travel to certain groups and potentially beginning to monitor (and tax!) movement using motor vehicles. And what is taxed and and controlled is ripe for being taxed and regulated to the point of being taken away.
Even in my lifetime, the amount of things that I cannot do with government intervention has grown. The car I drive is smogged and registered and - in some locales, if they get their way - destined for obsolescence as the government will dictate what sort of car I can own (only electric, but perhaps I get to choose the color still?). In some locales, items I can buy - food, ammunition, computers - are restricted by government diktat. The types of energy I can use are increasingly driven by government goals, not by actual efficiency or true sustainability
As I wrote yesterday, Our Political And Social Betters (OPASB) more and more define the nature of questions and truth. Truth is, apparently, what the government says it should be and those who do not hold to that opinion, while not being forced into compliance overtly, are forced to participate as if they were compliant none the less. Or, if they are on the wrong side of the opinion, are actively sued by the government to bring them into compliance.
This is not a Red Party issue. This is not a Blue Party issue. They are both complicit in the behavior, because both have a deep underlying assumption that more government and more control is better. Because after all, it really is for the best of reasons: to protect ourselves from ourselves.
To use one example - and something I am concerned deeply concerned about - the government presupposes that it knows completely and best about the environment and the way to protect it. In point of fact, there are people throughout the country (Alta Canada too!) that are as or more concerned about the environment than the government and are doing more in their own way to protect it that the government can (some of them post over there to the right). But because it is "Conservationism" instead of "Environmentalism" and because it is the individual making and implementing these actions instead of under government guidance and control, it is effectively not worth considering by governmental standards.
Do I have a solution? Well, of course not. The actual solution, of course, is that government pares down its voracious need to control everything at all times. The actual sub-solution to that solution of course is that if government will not do so, it is forced to do so by its citizens, most preferably peacefully.
But there is a danger for this in governments as well.
By becoming totalitarian, the State risks unflattering comparisons with other totalitarian states. Citizens may look at their lives and say "Wow, it is just like I am pretty much living in a society where thought crimes are real and I am truly limited by what I can do - more so, say, than that other country over there." And those countries that are opposed to ours are fools if they do not take advantage of it, which they do. All of a sudden, the State finds itself very much in the position of creating its own bases of protest and opposition - not for the purposes of reforming the government, but for changing it.
And history, if useful for nothing else, demonstrates that the fall of totalitarian states is almost never without severe crisis and injury.