Friday, July 4, 2008

Is the United States Turning Into a Fascist Country?

posted by Erik @ 10:12

The question above is one we would normally associate with a liberal column (or hysterics) and dismiss with a sigh or a smirk. It is therefore with profound sadness that I confess that the title is mine, with no irony intended.

Indeed, if I were not of the optimistic type, I would have titled this post Has America (Already) Turned Into a Fascist State? Like many conservatives, I assume, I have been more of the optimistic type, thinking that conservatives lovers of liberty were winning the battle of ideas against the liberals statists, or at least doing a pretty good job of holding their own.

It is therefore highly distressing to discover a book that not only says that conservatives are losing — scratch that; that Americans and lovers of liberty are losing the war but that they have hardly been aware of the main battle in the first place, which has swept by under their (under our) noses.

In that respect, I call upon Stephen Baskerville's Taken Into Custody (The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family) which I have been reading for the past couple of weeks, during which time I have been feeling ever more down, pessimistic, depressed, all the while trying not to "tremble for my nation". Just read what Baskerville reports from the trenches (emphasis in bold mine):

Fathers trying to see their children following unproven accusations is described as "further violence" and the "threat of kidnapping"; simply responding to court proceedings is described as "violence."

This is not violence; it is fathers trying to recover their children through the same legal process by which their children were removed and which, in most cases, they themselves did not initiate.…What we confront here is a bureaucratic machine of a kind that has never before been seen in the United States or the other English-speaking democracies. … The implications reach far beyond fathers and even beyond the family itself, for forcibly severing the intimate bond between parents and their children threatens the liberties of all of us. "The right to one's own children … is perhaps the most basic individual right," writes Susan Shell, "so basic we hardly think of it."

By establishing a private sphere of life from which the state is excluded, family bonds also serve as the foundation of a free society. "No known society treats the question of who may properly call a child his or her own as simply … a matter to be decided entirely politically as one might distribute land or wealth," Shell continues.

But it is important to understand that "custody" is not the right to parent one's children; it is the power to prevent someone else from parenting his children and to marshal the penal apparatus — courts, police, and jails — to ensure he stays away from them. [Similarly, it would be more correct to speak of plundered pops than deadbeat dads.

…In the jargon of family law, faithfully parroted by the media and academia, this father has "lost custody," a simple and harmless enough sounding formulation of events, so common as to be mundane. But this jargon disguises far-reaching implications. In plain English, this father's unauthorized association with his own children is now a crime.

…the media will go to any lengths to avoid admitting that we are in a massive epidemic of government-sponsored child stealing

…The growth of this machinery has been accompanied by a huge propaganda campaign that has served to justify punitive measures against citizens who are not convicted of any crime.

… "The overwhelming majority of so-called 'dead-beat dads' are just judicially created," says [an] attorney. "Why all this talk about so-called 'deadbeat dads'? Because there is a lot of money to be made through that myth."

What is taking place here should be made very clear: Citizens who are completely innocent of any legal wrongdoing and simply minding their own business — not seeking any litigation and neither convicted nor accused of any legal infraction, criminal or civil — are ordered into court and told to write checks to officials of the court or they will be summarily arrested and jailed. Judges also order citizens to sell their houses and other property and turn proceeds over to lawyers and other cronies they never hired.

Summoning legally unimpeachable citizens to court and forcing them to empty their bank accounts to people they have neither hired for services they have requested nor received on threat of physical punishment is what most people would call a protection racket. Were any other public officials to use their position of public trust to coerce money out of private citizens, they would likely face indictment. Yet family court judges do this as a matter of routine. This is by far the clearest example I have ever encountered in my professional research of what we political scientists term a "kleptocracy," or government by thieves.

…The regime of involuntary divorce, forcible removal of children, coerced child support, and knowingly false accusations is now warping our entire legal system, undermining and overturning principles of common law that have protected individual rights for centuries. The presumption of innocence has been inverted.

Far from simple violations of particular constitutional clauses, these practices and powers are undermining constitutional government in its most fundamental principles. The power to take children from their parents for no reason is arbitrary government at its most intrusive, since it invades and obliterates all of private life. Yet we have created a governmental machinery that exists for no other purpose.

Men who are truly intent on abandoning their progeny have little difficulty in disappearing; it is fathers who want to see their children who allow themselves to be snared. This may reveal the cruelest and most cynical side of the child-support machine: its willingness to use a father's love for his children to plunder and destroy him.…

…Do these questions matter? Yes, they do matter, because in these questions lies the difference between a father who is pursued because he has abandoned his children and a father who is pursued because he refuses to abandon his children. Courts exist to dispense justice against those who violate the law or agreements. When they abandon this role to become a "social service delivery system" it is much more likely that the justice and penal systems will be perverted to persecute the innocent.


Bubbles said...

Excellent article but what a pity to distract issues with the inappropriate word "fascist" which has NO domestic resonance at all.

Bubbles said...

Please who is Susan Shell when she is at home. References please!

Ray said...

I agree with you, but I did not write the article, there is no way to sugarcoated it. What is happening today in America has to serve as a wake up call for all of us.

Ray said...

Susan Shell is the author of Kant and the Limits of Autonomy (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit, Generation and Community (University of Chicago Press, (1996), The Rights of Reason: A Study of Kant's Philosophy and Politics (University of Toronto Press, 1980). She is also the co-editor (with Robert Faulkner) of America at Risk: Dangers on the Horizon (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming). She has also written on Rousseau, German Idealism, and selected areas of public policy. She has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, and received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Council of Learned Societies, The Bradley Foundation, the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst and the Radcliffe Institute. She is currently Chair of the Department of Political Science.

What are you too lazy to google, what else you want me to do, kick your butt to get yur lungs started!