The quotation below from Alexis de Tocqueville expresses one of my great concerns about what is going on in our nation -- and my belief that we are not nearly as free as we (or others) would like us to think we are.
It has been my notion that tyranny in the U.S. will not have the look of uniformed, armed police on every corner, with a 'big brother' character overtly watching over your shoulder and then telling you what to do ... and you doing it out of fear of being suddenly hauled away to a re-education camp.
Tyranny in this country will (and already has in many respects) be in a form that is seemingly benign, utilitarian, just a "good business" practice, or something that must be done for 'the children' or for 'national security'.
Those who have read my opinions know that I identify corporatization and consumerism as the number one culprit in the tyranny that already oppresses us. When I talk about corporatization I don't just mean the mega-transnational corporations all by themselves, but the control they exert over governments to acquire more power and markets and money for themselves -- and more importantly -- the mindset, the 'group think' that perpetuates the corporate idea everywhere.
In schools, in churches, in local governments, at the state legislature, among Republicans and Dimocrats, everywhere in America these days is seen the philosophy of the corporation as the guiding force -- that is what de Tocqueville is describing in the quotation below ... it is the practice that is indeed making us less free all the time.
Government, of course, is ideally suited to be the enforcer of laws, rules and regulations that benefit the private corporation, especially in a country where we still cling to the idea that we are a functioning democracy. What could be truer to our concept of ourselves than that it is the "government of the people" that is enacting the very rules that oppress us. The past eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime are the prime example of how government is the tool of corporate power.
Sadly, we see the mindset of corporatization extending itself in the Obama administration particularly in the economic 'rescue' arena. (That's why it is so amusing to see 'conservatives' throwing the term socialist at Obama and the Dimocrat Congress these days -- it wasn't so long ago that 'conservative' Bush could virtually do no wrong and that anything and everything was justified because "we are at war".)
I call this use of government by big business corporations to impose more rules and regulations on us as 'soft' tyranny because it isn't so obvious and because liberals and conservatives can find certain oppressive measures that they like ... it isn't the iron glove smashing us, it is the fuzzy hand of "guidance" and "stability" and "tradition". Liberals like proposing cat-dog equality and conservatives like mandating 'patriotism'.
For corporations, all this micromanagement of our lives ultimately renders most folks as compliant and reinforces the idea that they and government is just doing what has to be done for us to live in a well-ordered society. (I also strongly maintain that overpopulation makes this task much easier for the corporations to justify, a prime reason I want strong immigration control and why I support family planning.)
Tocqueville in the words here describes the situation -- what we do about it is the point of most of my posts and commentaries.
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the government then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence: it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America, Volume II (1840); Book Four, Chapter VI