Much was made by some conservatives during recent elections of the fact that President Obama is actually a communist, a would-be dictator along the lines of Josef Stalin except with a better three-point shot.
While it might be true that the state apparatus has necessarily grown during his tenure as a response to the economic crisis, most regard this charge as an exaggeration. Bailouts and stimuli have worked to restart the economy but, at best, it’s only lumbering along. Liberals call for even more intervention, while the right wing counters with claims that the poor could learn better grooming techniques in unused prisons and that masturbation is a sin.
If an activist federal government is the answer to our current malaise, maybe we just haven’t taken it far enough. Instead of heeding calls to move to the political center, perhaps what is needed is even more control by the feds.
With this editorial, I’m calling for the institution of a complete and brutal autocracy here in the U.S. We’ve tried just about everything else; let’s give totalitarian tyranny a shot.
Total control of all aspects of society by the government has been attempted in the past with limited success. The French monarchs of the late 18th century tried it, but few people could take them seriously, what with their immense powdered wigs and totally gay wardrobes. Hitler eliminated the bad fashion sense and gave it another go in the 1940s, yet he too failed. Stalin in Russia and Mao in China staged purges and cultural revolutions to force their personality cults into every aspect of every citizen’s life, and ultimately all it got them was a lot of headaches.
So why might authoritarian rule suddenly be effective at rebuilding America’s fortunes and getting its people back to work? What is it that we have now that we didn’t have in the past that will suddenly make despotism a practical alternative to democracy?
The answer lies, as it usually does, in computers and online social networking.
Smart phones and Facebook and Twitter and interactive video gaming have given us the infrastructure that will make a dictatorial one-party state work more effectively than it ever could before. Mussolini had to stand on a balcony and rant for hours to get his point across to fascist Italy. President Obama would merely have to post a daily video on YouTube, maybe send out a few threatening tweets and organize the occasional flash mob to inject his agenda into every corner of our daily life.
Imagine, if you can, a utopian paradise where you didn’t have to make any personal decisions for yourself, where you were told what to eat for breakfast, how to get to work and when meet in the central square to worship our mighty leader. You don’t have to decide what shirt to wear today; there’s an email waiting each morning describing which jumpsuit is prescribed for that day. You don’t have to debate the merits of Burger King versus Wendy’s at lunch time; an order has already been placed by a government bureaucrat for your required combo meal. If you need to take a leak, simply consult the appropriate website (WhenToPee.gov) about your appointed schedule in the john.
And it could all be monitored with existing webcams, security cameras, Skype and the awesome new Kinect for Xbox 360.
Unemployment would be a thing of the past, as the government at all levels went on a hiring spree to find enough people to monitor everybody’s every move. Foreign threats would be neutralized when the likes of al-Qaida got an eyeful of what the all-powerful state does to crush its own citizenry. The baser elements of popular culture would be eliminated by fiat. Real Housewives are herded into federally run re-education compounds and entertainers like Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne are given new jobs in the propaganda ministry, writing dancebeat-heavy regulations on the operation of the heavy construction equipment.
True, there might be some opposition to my plan from the more libertarian elements in the new Republican congressional majority. I can imagine the objections they might raise to the perceived assault on certain basic liberties we’ve enjoyed for over two centuries. Too bad for them. They’ll all be rounded up and sent off to the gulag, where they can do all the complaining they want as long as they do it in solitary.
This might seem like a radical proposal to some, but I would counter that it’s the kind of fundamental change needed for desperate times. We might not like it when Big Brother is constantly borrowing our stuff and always getting to sit in the front seat and punching us in the shoulder and holding his hand two inches from our faces while claiming “I’m not touching you”. Yet deep down inside, we know he cares for us and will provide us everything we need, as long as we submit to his authority.
Now that we have the technology to put the total in totalitarianism, let’s give it a try.