I picked up this book in the Borders sell off, it wasn’t one I was desperate to read, but it piqued my interest. End of America, the: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, by Naomi Wolf was first published in 2007 and is already starting to feel a little dated – reading it just 3 years later after a new President and the rhetoric of The War Against Terror (TWAT) is losing it’s appeal. The warnings contained however, are not dated, and will continue to be relevant to both Americans and future societies who aspire to a democratic ideal.
Reading this book brought back memories for me of the last decade and my general disgust with the theme that the world had changed and would never be the same again – that we were entering into a perpetual war. I was against action being taken against Afghanistan, though initially I had always been pro-war when it came to Iraq. Mainly because I believed our leaders when they said we were in danger. I was not naive enough to believe the lie that Saddam was behind the 9/11 terrorist attack – but I felt he was a dictator that deserved to be removed anyway.
It was the 45 minute claim by Tony Blair that first made me question my assumptions – particularly when this 45 minute claim turned out to be completely false. That started me down the path of questioning the government and media as a whole – so much so that from being a ‘just war’ type of person I became vehemently and extremely anti-war. I never did join a protest but I read and took part in blogs and forum discussion anonymously. It certainly shaped a lot of my decisions and mentality towards life and the church since then too – not all negatively – In fact I’d say it’s had a lot more positive effects in raising my intelligence and a reasoning beyond the surface level.
All these feeling were evoked again reading this book, because Wolf has taken much time and effort to document the decline of American freedom and democracy under President George W Bush. The book follows the outline of 10 steps in a slide towards facism. It’s refreshing to hear someone define the word and apply it correctly, not just punting it around in a throw-away manner.
Wolf is careful not to go too far, in declaring that America has already entered into a fascist state, but from her descriptions and real world references it certainly sounds that way. She also maintains the premise that America’s political spectrum is rather like a pendulum, swinging towards democracy and freedom at some points in history, and back towards fascism at other times (Witch trials, McCarthy-ism etc…).
This doesn’t quite wash with me, perhaps because it seems like an excuse, or simply something that is inevitable and not something that should be prevented. But Wolf maintains the importance of the checks and balances put in by the founding fathers, and that is good enough for me.
Speaking of the founding fathers, I am glad that Wolf made a lot of effort to link current times to the times that they made the constitution – there purposes for making the constitution and the importance of the checks and balances that were all but destroyed under Bush. I think the founding fathers would have called for an insurrection by now if they could see the state of America today – it’s plainly not their vision of what the ideal democracy should be.
This is well worth a read, if you have the time or are interested in American history and politics.
Buy End of America, the: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot Now at Amazon.