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valkyrieCM
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Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

[ Edited ]

What do you think?Some people say that we are like Rome,while others say that they never had a true republic and therefor should not be compared to us.

Message Edited by valkyrieCM on 02-19-2009 07:03 PM
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debbook
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

America hasn't been a dictatorship in the past and I don't see that happening in the future. I don't think we should be compared to Rome because that was such a different time. Information is easily accessible, education is available to all. . I certainly can't predict where we will be thousands of years from now, but I see no reason why we should have a dictatorship any time in the future.

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Ryan_G
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

The only way a dictatorship would ever be able to take hold in the United States would be for some massive catostrophe that would wipe out millions of people leaving parts of the country cut off from eachother. 

 

Because of our form of Gov. it would not be possible any other way.

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Choisya
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?

Why do you see America as being immune to this Ryan?  Dictatorships can come about from the inside, as it were, as with Hitler.  A government can be elected with a large majority and decide to cling onto power by changing laws accordingly and by using the army and/or the police force to enact those laws. Of course people would object and civil disobedience would take place but dictatorships use their powers to put down civil disobedience.  Any government which gets in with a sizeable majority could, theoretically, change itself into a dictatorship because initially a large number of the original voters would be on their side.  Or a war could be the catalyst because the people then feel patriotic towards a government. 

 

Although this is a somewhat hysterical thesis based on strong opposition to the Bush administration, it nevertheless poses some interesting arguments as to how a dictatorship might come about in the US.  

 

Just some thoughts for discussion:smileyhappy:

 

 

 

 

NB:  Please do not rank this or any of my posts.  Thankyou.   C. 

 

 

 

 


fforgnayr wrote:

The only way a dictatorship would ever be able to take hold in the United States would be for some massive catostrophe that would wipe out millions of people leaving parts of the country cut off from eachother. 

 

Because of our form of Gov. it would not be possible any other way.


 

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L_Monty
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?


Choisya wrote:
Although this is a somewhat hysterical thesis based on strong opposition to the Bush administration, it nevertheless poses some interesting arguments as to how a dictatorship might come about in the US.

You'll probably enjoy this a lot more, since there's substantially less crazy in it. Also, generals.
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L_Monty
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?


valkyrieCM wrote:
Some people say that we are like Rome, while others say that they never had a true republic and therefor should not be compared to us.

The comparison to Rome really stems from little more than the Founding Fathers' enlightenment enthusiasm for antiquity and for an age without kings. They themselves knew that America was no Rome, but because our new country lacked the pomp, prestige and affectations of established royal courts and aristocratic structures, they affected Roman iconography to give us a kind of instant sense of tradition, ritual and grandeur. At no point has there really been a valid analogy between the two political or social structures. It's a nice idea to give us a sense of place along a historical continuum of liberty and accountability to the people, but trying to prefigure American governmental collapse by looking at Rome is kind of like trying to figure out if your friend who plays in a Beatles cover band will divorce his wife by reading a biography of John and Cynthia Lennon.
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valkyrieCM
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

I hold with those who think that it's possible but not likley to happen for some time.and by dictatorship I meant Imperialism.And in that case america was a bit of an empire in 1898 when it snapped up all of spains colonies but it did not have one man controlling everything.In any event I just wanted to hear thoughts on the matter so thanks for responding to my post
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Ryan_G
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?

[ Edited ]

Because we do have three branches of Gov.  In order for the people in power to change everything they would need to they would need to change the Constitution and since that is a very, very labor intensive process new people would be elected to office in the meanwhile.  Pluse 2/3 of the staes would need to ratify an amendment.  Then the Supreme Court would probably way in on anything going on.  That and the fact we have a vonlunteer military  composed of our sons and daughters would create havoc within the military should anyone try to use them to hold power.  I guess my point is that there are way too many people involved for this to really happen.

 


Choisya wrote:

Why do you see America as being immune to this Ryan?  Dictatorships can come about from the inside, as it were, as with Hitler.  A government can be elected with a large majority and decide to cling onto power by changing laws accordingly and by using the army and/or the police force to enact those laws. Of course people would object and civil disobedience would take place but dictatorships use their powers to put down civil disobedience.  Any government which gets in with a sizeable majority could, theoretically, change itself into a dictatorship because initially a large number of the original voters would be on their side.  Or a war could be the catalyst because the people then feel patriotic towards a government. 

 

Although this is a somewhat hysterical thesis based on strong opposition to the Bush administration, it nevertheless poses some interesting arguments as to how a dictatorship might come about in the US.  

 

Just some thoughts for discussion:smileyhappy:

 

 

 

 

NB:  Please do not rank this or any of my posts.  Thankyou.   C. 

 

 

 

 


fforgnayr wrote:

The only way a dictatorship would ever be able to take hold in the United States would be for some massive catostrophe that would wipe out millions of people leaving parts of the country cut off from eachother. 

 

Because of our form of Gov. it would not be possible any other way.


 


 

Message Edited by fforgnayr on 02-23-2009 09:34 PM
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Choisya
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?

Thanks a lot Monty - that is a very interesting discussion.  The generals start out by arguing that there couldn't be a coup and then seem to talk themselves into thinking there could be!  I will peruse it further and return to the fray.  I hope Ryan, and others, will look at it too. 

 

 

 


L_Monty wrote:

Choisya wrote:
Although this is a somewhat hysterical thesis based on strong opposition to the Bush administration, it nevertheless poses some interesting arguments as to how a dictatorship might come about in the US.

You'll probably enjoy this a lot more, since there's substantially less crazy in it. Also, generals.

 

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Everyman
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Re: Do you think America is going to become a dictatorship at some point or has in the past?

America will become a dictatorship at some point.  It may be a very long way off, but the time will come when the social fabric will deteriorate to the point that a strongman, probably backed by or arising from the military, will take control of the nation.  If it is recognizably the same nation by then -- I predict that before that time comes, the nation will split apart in some way, probably not North-South this time, but more likely with California becoming independent, or perhaps the Midwest separating itself from the two coasts.

 

I'm not talking near term, mind you.  I'm talking many hundreds of years.  But inevitably it will come.  

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Everyman
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?

[ Edited ]

All you need for a non-military effective dictatorship in fact, if not in name, is for one party which is committed to imposing a unified will on the nation to take control by election of the Presidency and the Congress.  We have uniparty rule today, or close to it, but fortunately the Democratic Party isn't (yet?) committed to absolute power (though Pelosi and Reed may not be as far from it as we would wish).  But if the electorate elects an imperial President and an imperial Congress supporting her, we would have dictatorship in fact if not in name.  After all, what power did Hitler have that the Democratic Party, if it were committed to dictatorial rule, wouldn't have today if it had two more seats in the Senate?

 

Keep in mind that most modern dictators have legislative chambers.  You don't need to do away with the three parts of government; as long as you effectively control them, a President can happily co-exist with a compliant Congress and Supreme Court (and yes, it can be cowed; look at Roosevelt and his threat to pack the Court), and be an effective dictator (in fact, FDR came pretty close to absolute power.  It wouldn't be absurd to call him a near dictator.)

 

Message Edited by Everyman on 02-25-2009 11:49 PM
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Everyman
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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?

Ryan wrote:  Because we do have three branches of Gov.  In order for the people in power to change everything they would need to they would need to change the Constitution and since that is a very, very labor intensive process new people would be elected to office in the meanwhile.

 

Why do you think a dictator would have to amend the constitution?  As long as she exerted absolute control over Congress, she could yield effective dictatorial powers and leave Congress comfortably in place -- I believe that there was a legislative chamber under Saddam, wasn't there?  And North Korea has its legislative body in the Supreme People's Assembly, but does that make Kim not a dictator?   Zimbabwe under Mugabe has its Parliament and Court system.  There is nothing that says a President has do do away with Congress or the Supreme Courtin order to yield functional dictatorial powers. 

 

In fact, some people would probably argue that in forcing throughthe Stimulus bill, Obama was exerting as much control over American government as Kim does over North Korean government.  Since I suspect that not a single legislator has read the entire bill or knows what they're voting on,  there could be anything in that bill (and there probably is.)

 

And even a distinguished member of his own party, Senator Byrd, is criticizing Obama for trying to circumvent the Constitutional system of checks and balances.  If Obama succeeds in his plan, is he taking a large step toward consolidating power in his own hands in contravention of the Constitutional protections?  That's not some far right talk show host making this charge; it's the longest serving Democratic senator in the Congress.

 

In such ways does dictatorship creep into our system, without bothering the amend the Constition, just bypassing its protections. 

 

Not that I'm charging that Obama is a dictator.  I'm not.  But he's taking more steps to act like one than any President during my lifetime.  

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Re: Do you think America could become a dictatorship?


L_Monty wrote:


You'll probably enjoy this a lot more, since there's substantially less crazy in it. Also, generals.


Excerpt from article:

 

LUTTWAK: You would sit in the office of the Secretary of Defense, and the first place where you wouldn't be obeyed would be inside your office. If they did follow orders inside the office, then people in the rest of the Pentagon wouldn't. If everybody in the Pentagon followed orders, people out in the military bases wouldn't. If they did, as well, American citizens would still not accept your legitimacy.

 

RICHARD KOHN: It's a problem of public opinion. All of the organs of opinion in this country would rise up with one voice: the courts, the media, business leaders, education leaders, the clergy.

 

LUTTWAK: You could shut down the media-

 

KOHN: You can't shut it down. It's too dispersed.

 

LUTTWAK: No, you could shut down the media, but even if you did shut down the media, you still wouldn't be able to rule. Because, remember, in order to actually rule, you have to have acceptance. Think of Saddam Hussein: he was not a very, you know, popular leader, but he did have to be obeyed at the very minimum by his security forces, his Republican Guards. So there is a minimum group that one needs in order to control any country. But in this country, you could never control such a minimum group.

 

KOHN: I've raised this point before with military audiences: Do you really think you can control New York City without the cooperation of 40,000 New York police officers? And what about Idaho, with all those militia groups? Do you think you can control Idaho? I'm not even going to talk about Texas.

 

I was fairly intrigued by this bit of exchange at the beginning of the roundtable.  It's a theme that's occupied my thoughts, on and off, since I first read Hannah Arendt's "Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship."  Noting the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, Arendt addresses the idea of "obedience as a political virtue" (Responsibility and Judgment, p. 46). That political virtue, according to Arendt, argues that "every organization demands obedience to superiors as well as obedience to the laws of the land."  Without such obedience, "no body politic could survive" (46).  However, Arendt illustrates a fallacy therein.  She argues that because the fallacy grounds itself in the concept, as noted by the Founding Fathers, that "all governments" "even the most autocratic ones, even tyrannies, ‘rest on consent,'" it takes on an air of plausibility.  But the fallacy "lies in the equation of consent with obedience" (46).  Arendt argues that children obey, whereas adults offer consent; "if an adult is said to obey, he actually supports the organization or the authority or the law that claims ‘obedience'" [emphasis original] (46).  Thus, it is imperative to recognize "that no man, however strong, can ever accomplish anything, good or bad, without the help of others" (47).  In autocracies, when accounting for the "leader," Arendt argues that the leader is "never more than primus inter pares, the first among his peers."  As such, those who "seem to obey him actually support him and his enterprise" (47).

 

And I think these concepts, addressed by Arendt, are also fully engaged in the above discussion.  Luttwak immediately notes that, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or at the Pentagon, or at military bases, orders for a coup "wouldn't be obeyed."  And Arendt would probably offer, rather, that in these offices, military personnel would not likely offer their consent to such orders.  Luttwak goes on to state that "in order to actually rule, you have to have acceptance."  And Kohn raises the question of expectation for control of state law enforcement or even citizens.  Going back to Arendt, she argues that no autocratic government can hold power without the support of such people.  Thus, "the non participators in public life under a dictatorship are those who have refused their support by shunning those places of ‘responsibility' where such support, under the name of obedience, is required" (47).  And Arendt gives her reader only one moment to consider the consequences to such a form of government, if "enough people would act ‘irresponsibly' and refuse support, even without active resistance and rebellion" (47).  The question becomes how can an autocratic government work, without those who support such government, under the guise of obedience?  The answer, as visited both by Arendt and the roundtable members above, is that it can't.  Autocracy can only take root (to borrow a phrase from this month's reading) with the consent of the governed.

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Choisya
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Re: Could civil unrest lead to dictatorship?

This article from the French Le Monde is asking: 'Will the economic and financial crisis degenerate into violent social explosions? Tomorrow, will there be civil war in Europe, the United States and Japan? That's the rather alarming conclusion that the experts of European think tank LEAP/Europe 2020 lay out in their latest bulletin dated mid-February.'

 

 

 

 

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Re: Could civil unrest lead to dictatorship?


Choisya wrote:

This article from the French Le Monde is asking: 'Will the economic and financial crisis degenerate into violent social explosions? Tomorrow, will there be civil war in Europe, the United States and Japan? That's the rather alarming conclusion that the experts of European think tank LEAP/Europe 2020 lay out in their latest bulletin dated mid-February.'

 


I saw nothing in this opinion piece indicating that civil unrest could lead to a dictatorship.  Did I miss something?  Or is that some connection that you're drawing?  And, if so, care to demonstrate why you think civil unrest in the situation described would ever lead to a dictatorship? 

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Enough..

Ok let's stop with the personal sniping please and get this back on topic.  Any further posts that are clearly about the poster and not about the topic will be removed.

 

Everyman, I'm curious about this point you raised here.

 


Everyman wrote:

America will become a dictatorship at some point.  It may be a very long way off, but the time will come when the social fabric will deteriorate to the point that a strongman, probably backed by or arising from the military, will take control of the nation.  If it is recognizably the same nation by then -- I predict that before that time comes, the nation will split apart in some way, probably not North-South this time, but more likely with California becoming independent, or perhaps the Midwest separating itself from the two coasts.

 

I'm not talking near term, mind you.  I'm talking many hundreds of years.  But inevitably it will come.   


 

Why do you see totalitarianism as inevitable? 

I agree that it's fairly likely that, hundreds of years from now, what is now the United States will most probably have split into two or - more likely - several different nations.  However why does it seem inevitable to you that either the US or whatever nations descend from the US will be controlled by a military strongman?  
Are you saying this is inevitable because of your feelings on human society and government in general or are you making a comment about American culture and what will become of it specifically?
 
 

 

 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Could civil unrest lead to dictatorship?

Or is that some connection that you're drawing? 

 

Yes.  Civil unrest has led to dictatorships in the past and I thought that folks here discussing what might lead to dictatorship might also be interested in thinking about it in relation to this article.  

 

And, if so, care to demonstrate...

 

No, I am leaving that to others.   

 

 

 

 


RTA wrote:

Choisya wrote:

This article from the French Le Monde is asking: 'Will the economic and financial crisis degenerate into violent social explosions? Tomorrow, will there be civil war in Europe, the United States and Japan? That's the rather alarming conclusion that the experts of European think tank LEAP/Europe 2020 lay out in their latest bulletin dated mid-February.'

 


I saw nothing in this opinion piece indicating that civil unrest could lead to a dictatorship.  Did I miss something?  Or is that some connection that you're drawing?  And, if so, care to demonstrate why you think civil unrest in the situation described would ever lead to a dictatorship? 


 

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Re: Enough..

Everyman, I'm curious about this point you raised here.

 

 

Two basic reasons.

 

One: I see every form of government except dictatorship as being, in the long run,  inherently unstable.   Democracy can be stable during times of prosperity, where the public can in fact afford to vote themselves virtually anything they feel they need, but as we're starting to see in Europe, that process has its limits, and eventually it will collapse and something else will have to arise to take its place.  That may be oligarchy, but oligarchy itself is inherently unstable -- I'm not aware of any oligarchical government which has lasted more than a few generations at most.  Dictatorship is, I would argue, the most efficient form of government; most modern dictatorships have been destroyed from outside, not inside.  Think of Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, Milosevic.  Russia was of course a significant exception, it imploded internally, but even then the pressure on them came from their attempt to compete economically, not militarily, with external forces.  

 

Even in this country, in times of crisis we turn to leaders to whom we give quasi-dictatorial power: Lincoln and Roosevelt as examples.  We had a functioning democracy even during those times, but the real power was in an almost imperial presidency.  (Lincoln suspended the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus, and imposed a form of martial law.  See also. )  And consider Roosevelt's threat to pack the Court to wrest control over the Supreme Court if they didn't accede to his plans. 

 

At some point, our country will face a severe enough crisis that our democratic processes, if they still exist, will be not just suspended or seriously threatened, as in these cases, by a President believing in the need to exercise fuller control over government, but will be cast aside by a President or a usurper who, with the support of the military, does seize full control.  

 

Of course, all this is speculation.  But it speculation that I firmly believe will at some time come to pass, as the Roman Republic itself gave way to dictatorship.  

 

Two,  there will always be certain men (and in a few cases women) whose lust for power is so great and whose personal attributes and political skills so fit the time that, given a reasonable opportunity, they will find a way to seize absolute power.  We have seen several instances of this in the past century; Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Cuba, and perhaps in the making Venezuela, to mention just some of the more prominent.  The US will eventually, I belive, produce both such a person and such an opportunity at the same moment.  (We only avoided such a moment early in our history by Washington refusing to accept either a title or a third term as President; iin the past century, if Roosevelt had lived he might well have been President effectively for life.)  Our time will eventually come. 

 

I can't, of course, prove any of this or even defend it against anybody who wants to disagree with me. But you asked, and there it is.  Much as I love our country and form of government (at least the way it was designed, less so in some case in the way it has turned out), I see no reason why we should be the only country in history spared the natural processes of political development.  


Jon_B wrote:

Ok let's stop with the personal sniping please and get this back on topic.  Any further posts that are clearly about the poster and not about the topic will be removed.

 

Everyman, I'm curious about this point you raised here.

 


Everyman wrote:

America will become a dictatorship at some point.  It may be a very long way off, but the time will come when the social fabric will deteriorate to the point that a strongman, probably backed by or arising from the military, will take control of the nation.  If it is recognizably the same nation by then -- I predict that before that time comes, the nation will split apart in some way, probably not North-South this time, but more likely with California becoming independent, or perhaps the Midwest separating itself from the two coasts.

 

I'm not talking near term, mind you.  I'm talking many hundreds of years.  But inevitably it will come.   


 

Why do you see totalitarianism as inevitable? 

I agree that it's fairly likely that, hundreds of years from now, what is now the United States will most probably have split into two or - more likely - several different nations.  However why does it seem inevitable to you that either the US or whatever nations descend from the US will be controlled by a military strongman?  
Are you saying this is inevitable because of your feelings on human society and government in general or are you making a comment about American culture and what will become of it specifically?
 
 

 

 

 


 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Civil unrest and dictatorship.

Jon:  In the article from Le Monde which I linked to, one of the points made about civil unrest was that that are '200 million guns in circulation in the US and social violence already manifests itself through gangs'.  Do you think that this might increase the likelihood of a dictatorship should civil unrest 'break out' because of the recession/depression?   In the UK we have more problems with the use of knives, :smileysad:although gun crime is on the increase too due to an increase in imported illegally held guns - very few civilians in the UK can legally hold guns - authorised policemen and farmers being the main holders.

 

 

 


 

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Choisya
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Re: From police state to dictatorship?


Marjorie Cohn writes: 'Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the president with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide "legal" rationales for the president to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of US citizens; lock up US citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties.'

 

Perhaps something like this could be a forerunner to a dictatorship?