My fellow Americans, it’s official now: We live in a fascist nation. Now, the term "fascist" has been thrown around over the last fifty years in a loose way that has drained it of much of its meaning. If someone wanted to cut 5% off of a leftist professor's favourite welfare programme, the professor would call his opponent a "fascist." I’m not using the word like that. I mean honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, 1930s style fascism, featuring such old favourites as: -Secret prisons – they’re back! -Torture – we’re doing it. -Spying on all citizens. -Arrests and indefinite imprisonment without trial. -Rampant militarism. -Secret detention. -Enforced disappearance. -Denial and restriction of habeas corpus. -Prolonged incommunicado detention. -Unfair trial procedures. (This list was compiled partially based on the work of Amnesty International, available here.) An absolutely mind-numbing response to complaints that our traditional legal system is being torn apart is the question, "So, you want to protect the rights of terrorists?" Um, no, I want to protect the rights of non-terrorists who might be falsely accused of terrorism! That was sort of, you know, the whole idea of our legal system. I’m sure there was some neo-con around in the 1700s saying to Jefferson or Madison, "So, you want to protect the rights of murderers and robbers?" but luckily they ignored him. We’ve now gotten to the point where Nazi Germany was, say, in 1934. Remember, at that time, if you had told a typical German what his government would do over the next ten years, he would have looked at you as a madman. After all, his land had been civilized for over a thousand years. His was the nation of Albertus Magnus, Gutenberg, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Bach, Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Fichte, Heisenberg, Reimann, Mann, Lessing, Herder, Handel, Dürer, Leibniz, Gauss, Helmholtz – he could have gone on, but you get the point. His nation could not possibly descend into barbarism! If you tried to tell him he was living in a police state, he would have pointed out that his government had used its vast new powers very judiciously, and only against a few trouble-makers. So far. It is interesting, in gauging the direction we are heading, to look at the proclamations of "respectable" opinion writers who support this administration. For instance, we have people at a "libertarian" think tank proclaiming that Moslems are not entitled to full civil rights in the US. (Perhaps we need to make them wear something special on their clothing like, say, a yellow star, so we know just who they are, hey?) But "conservatives" provide even more stunning examples of purely fascist reasoning. For example, conservative demagogue Ann Coulter has called for the editor of The NY Times to face the firing squad for his part in publicizing this administration's abuses of power. Let’s look at a recent column by Douglas MacKinnon at TownHall.com. MacKinnon considers all of those involved in revealing the sordid collection of secret programmes that have been launched by the Bush administration as "traitors" who have publicized these schemes "purely because they don’t like the policies of the new president." Well, he’s right in that "they don’t like the policies" that they consider unconstitutional violations of our rights. Far from "aiding the enemy," these revelations aided us, the American people, by letting us know what our government has in store for us. Consider what the point of classifying these programmes was in the first place, and who they were being kept secret from. The jihadists no doubt already knew about the secret prisons – their friends are in them! They surely knew that the war in Iraq has been helping their recruiting – it’s their recruiting! ("Praise be to Allah, Abdul, I read in The NY Times that it is the Iraq War that is sending us these thousands of new recruits – who knew?") They no doubt suspect they may be wiretapped – what they didn’t know was that all the rest of us are, as well. No, not one of these leaks helps terrorists, nor was one of them classified to stop terrorists from finding them out. We were the ones who weren’t supposed to find out about them. MacKinnon continues: "And if even one American lost his or her life because of a leak, then I would want that person to be executed for treason." So anyone who reveals our fascist government policies is a traitor who can be executed! This is obviously an attempt to intimidate the opposition so that our police state can be expanded without the annoying work stoppages caused by public outcry when the latest bit of construction is revealed. And just how does MacKinnon propose to show that some American lost his life because a journalist revealed that the US government tortures people across the globe, rather than, say, because the policies he supports have inspired a million new jihadists? Secret trial, perhaps? Or why even bother with trials for filthy traitors? Herr Goebbels – oops, I mean MacKinnon – writes, "Until we severely punish those who leak classified information, then the traitors among us will not only continue to flourish, but will grow more brazen with the secrets they reveal." Yes, what we ought to be able to do, you know, is simply seize anyone who even mentions our government’s "secret" prisons, and, without a trial, throw them in a secret prison! This is the logical conclusion of this fascist’s article, after all, since those who talk about the American Gulag are pretty much terrorists themselves. Folks, this is coming real soon, and, once it does, domestic opposition is pretty much over. One journalist – that will be about all it takes – will be seized as a "terrorist" and thrown in the Gulag. The government may release him, but then another will simply disappear in the night in Iraq or Afghanistan, and rumors will circulate that he is being kept in a cage somewhere and waterboarded. No journalist lacking heroic courage will any longer be willing to seriously protest government policy. America is full of decent people, who could never believe their own government could become fascist. So were Germany and Italy in the 1920s. But they became fascist anyway. They passed laws suspending civil liberties, but the government promised the frightened populace that those laws would only be used against targets like "Communist terrorists." And, a little bit at a time, the target kept getting bigger and bigger, slowly enough that the people who weren’t paying close attention never detected it. And, next thing you know, there were millions of people dead! So, it turns out, it would have been worth paying attention after all. October 4, 2006 Gene Callahan [send him mail], the author of Economics for Real People, is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a contributing columnist to LewRockwell.com.