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Feature Story April 5, 2002
 
HALT! - the eXile Guide To State Repression
 
Page 3 of 4
 
And oh what a wonderfully successful, if deceptive, iron fist America has turned to time and time again. In the 1960s, in response to a budding youth movement that espoused too much personal freedom and race riots seeking too much equality, voters turned to Richard Nixon, the most corrupt, reckless iron-jowled lamprey they could enthrone, on a platform promising more police and less tolerance. Four years--and untold numbers of dead, jailed or exiled American students and dissidents later--Nixon's promised oppression paid off in spades. The hippie, left-wing and black power movements had been crushed. Interestingly enough, the only institution to survive the 60s was the corporation, which came out not only intact, but stronger, meaner and more central to people's lives than before the 60s. Not coincidentally, corporations were also the last American institutions where authoritarianism survived.

In 1972, with the liberty-crazed longhairs and niggers contained, Nixon swept to one of the biggest landslide victories in American presidential history, crushing the candidate who promised more personal freedom, and less autocracy. McGovern may as well have promised gum disease while he was at it--he was speaking to the wrong electorate when he promised them that. After a brief interval came Ronald Reagan, who promised to stomp the liberals much more effectively than Nixon, return the country to the Church-Family-Police order of the pre-1960s, and scare the living shit out of any country who dared to fuck with us or our professed way of life.

And it worked. People responded, both domestically and abroad. The internal liberal threat was crushed once and for all--these days, a liberal is someone who watches Dan Rather. The hippies ditched their egalitarian communes for the conformity of vertically-structured corporations, where they've happily remained ever since. Blacks ditched their 'fros and stopped burning down cities. Unions, with their egalitarian structure and socialist ideas, were ground into irrelevance. God--the worst Dictator of them all--made a comeback. Just as dramatically, the outside world took Reagan's six-gun act seriously and surrendered. The Soviets raised the white flag without firing a shot. Europeans stopped protesting and started working, Third Worlders stopped bashing us around and started begging for money and wearing cheap baseball caps with American flags. Nearly everyone--Americans and foreigners, friends and enemies alike--took Reagan's iron fist seriously, as if they WANTED to believe in it, as if saying, "What took you so long, America? We've been dying to be repressed!"

And speaking of "iron", England's "Iron Lady" came to power, like Reagan two years later, in response to perceived excessive freedom (described as "chaos" or "disorder"). The whole idea of egalitarianism espoused by the Labor Party never sat comfortably with the English. Only two wars and imperial collapse made egalitarianism briefly imaginable. No one wanted to work, only strike. No one felt good about themselves, the future or their country, only whinge about decline. So they elevated an Iron Lady to give them a right good kick in the arse. And Britain responded. Today, English people work, and they like it--they're the only people in Western Europe who know how. Unions are gone. Protest is muted. Conformity is second nature.

Yet in spite of all of this, British journalists routinely deride Putin's popularity as proof positive of the Russian people's unique desire to be ruled by a leader with an iron fist.

One rule about repression is, the only way you can enjoy it as much as your master is if neither you nor master admit the repression--takes all the fun out of it. That's what decimated the incest industry in Appalachia: all the college-educated social workers who swept through in their VW buses to convince the daughters that what their daddies were doing to them was the wrongest thing on earth.

America suffered from hippies, and it turned to Nixon. A little stagflation and a few hostages in Iran, and it elevated Reagan. England got punk rock and striking workers, and the peasants rode Maggie Thatcher into Downing Street on their own backs, imploring her to plant her heel into the isle's grateful neck.


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