The Twentieth Century, which congratulated itself on its "modernity," whatever that may have meant, was famously noted for its very regressive police states. But they didn't work.
The Soviet police state was conceived by the Revolutionary Left; gestated in a matrix of philosophical and practical love of collectivist violence; was enforced upon the Russian people through atrocious acts of fear, violence, and mass terrorism; and reproduced itself into about three generations of wholesale death, wholesale misery, and mental and physical depression. It spread itself across half of Europe and much of Asia. Thankfully, the human spirit survived, at least in some people, and the system has largely come apart, especially in those places where it was experienced at its worst. It did not work, because it could not work. Finally, the people, and some intelligent leaders of (more or less) good will, succeeded in dismantling it, after 70 years.
The Nazi police state was developed by the Reactionary Right, apparently as a counter to the Soviet and international revolutionary menace. On the idea that one must "fight fire with fire," or appealing to darker old pagan individual vices (such as "fear of the Other", and deification of War to alleviate that fear) that temporarily masqueraded as civic virtues, the Nazis embraced the same methods of fear, violence, and mass terrorism. They enhanced these evils with "scientific" techniques and unleashed an efficient war machine on their enemies, following up with police and secret-police brutality on the captives and survivors. It lasted for about 12 vicious years, and was decisively ended by defeat in war.
Both of these police states were created by men of great power and subtlety, essentially irreligious and anti-human, believing, or seeming to believe, that Force can substitute for Wisdom and that the human being, body, soul, and spirit, was to be their property, their chattel, the grist for their satanic mills, the means to their great Dystopias. But in the long run, they did not last. They could not last.
Nevertheless, police states have a frequent place in the seamy side of long human history. The supposed "glories" of most empires, ancient and modern, are often little more than the banners and flags worn to cover the shame of naked greed and war-worship that transmutes into tyranny, slavery, and control. Open the history books, read, and think.
Today, interestingly enough, despite the receding of the threat of "revolutionary communism," or "militant atheism," there has been a new resurgence of fresh trust in the police state as a suitable form of national organization; but this new embrace of police state mentality and method comes from a source that surprises me -- that is, from people that imagine themselves to be conventionally and truly religious. I am speaking of Jews and Christians.
It amazes me that Jewish sons and daughters of the death-camp experiencers in Europe could be seduced into erecting what is essentially a martial-law police state in the "holy land," in contravention of their bitter experiences, their larger humanitarian impulses and the traditions of their ancient prophets. But so it is: ask any thoughtful and honest Palestinian, Arab or Jew. Whom do they most fear, or alternatively, respect? The security organs, the military police, and the IDF. Not their sages, not their factory workers, not their farmers. Not even their politicians. No: it is the men with the uniforms, with the guns, with the "authorization."
And it amazes me that Christian grandsons and granddaughters of World War II veterans could be seduced into admiring, and desiring, the development of a police state in the "land of the free and the home of the brave," in contravention of our own national ideals and experience. But so it is. Ask churchgoers and homeschoolers. Whom do they admire and support, pray for, and aspire to be? "The troops," "special ops," and "law enforcement." Not scientists or doctors, not factory workers or managers, not conservationists, not farmers, not inventors or builders. Not even politicians. No: it is the men (or women) with the uniforms, with the guns, with the "authorization."
Well, I know these trends didn't begin yesterday -- they have been going on for years; and they are probably not going to be reversed tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.
But police states don't work. This gives me both comfort, and pause.
Comfort, because I know that my great-grand-children are not likely to live in a police state, because police states don't last. They cannot.
Pause, because I know that my children and I already live in one, and it is not good today, and it is not going to be good tomorrow or the day after, because police states don't work. Even though they exist. And last longer than they should.
Even in the United States of America.
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Your comments are most welcome, pro, con, and otherwise.