Do you recognize your own country?

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I’m a fiction writer. If I told you that I was writing a novel of a society where:

  • People wanted to elect a candidate that basically remained hidden, without public appearances or debates,
  • Its government forced people to wear specific items,
  • Its government allowed or worked with corporations to censor and ban all non-dominant narrative speech,
  • Its government encouraged people to report their neighbors for not wearing specific items,
  • Its government wanted to track its citizens,
  • Its government spoke about delaying elections,
  • Its government forced people to stay at home,
  • People were not allowed to congregate unless it was state sanctioned,
  • People had to wait in line for stores, for food, for about anything,
  • The government banned travel outside of one’s own city or state or country,
  • Intellectuals and higher education were routinely disparaged,
  • Its media made up blatant lies that the elected officials spun as fact,
  • Its main law enforcement agency worked with a political party in an attempt to sabotage the other party,
  • Due process was routinely abandoned,
  • Laws were applied and enforced arbitrarily.

You would say, “This would make some interesting fiction, although some people might see it as ripping off George Orwell.” You would say, “This sounds like a banana republic or the worst of fascist states. You would say, “At any rate, I’m glad I don’t live there.”

You would say, “This is not my country.”

Imagine a country ruled by an oligarchy (government by the elite) married to a corporatocracy (economic and political rule by corporations). Imagine a country in which this ruling entity not only controls information and information access, buts reigns over the daily life of citizens. Imagine a government that tells people that curfews, house arrest, distancing from other people, obedience, conformity, non-questioning, acceptance, fear, vigilance, and a distrust of outsiders or viewpoint diversity is good for its citizens.

You would say, “This is not my country.”

Imagine a country described as:

“a political system or form of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism.” (1)

Or described as one of:

“antidemocracy executive predominance, and elite rule….encouraging what I have earlier dubbed “civic demobilization,” conditioning an electorate to being aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy….Citizens are encouraged to distrust their government and politicians; to concentrate upon their own interests; to begrudge their taxes; and to exchange active involvement for symbolic gratifications of patriotism, collective self-righteousness, and military prowess. Above all, depoliticization is promoted through society’s being enveloped in an atmosphere of collective fear and of individual powerlessness.” (2)

You would say, “This is not my country.”


So why aren’t you saying it?


  1. Wikipedia, Totalitarianism.
  2. Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. (2008). Princeton University Press.

Novelist, poet, a post-studio visual artist, and the founder of The Invisible Art Collective International. Recent novels include “Sundre” and “Garbage Head.”

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