Citizen Informants

In 1930's Germany, the new socialist government of Adolf Hitler (NAZI National Socialist Workers' Party) began indoctrinating children in the quasi-military organization, the Hitler Youth, to inform on their parents should they overhear discussions subversive to the policies of the Leader. As the noose was tightened, local community organizers were appointed to watch their neighbors and were told to report subversive comments to the bureaucrats above them. Neighbors informed on neighbors, some for reasons of patriotism or loyalty, some from fear. A modern inquisition ensued; a terror to free thought and expression. Increasingly harsh penalties were meted out to those who dared to dissent.

The socialist governments of the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, N. Korea, Cuba, Yugoslavia, and the People's Republic of China employed the same citizen informer techniques. Citizens of those societies were reduced to either silence or whispered discussion only among those they trusted the most. Of course none of those things would ever occur here in the land of the free. But wait...

Now on the White House website posted by Macon Phillips comes an eerily similar request for citizens to inform on their neighbors. It states,

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to the end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

Read this again carefully. The government of the United States is openly asking citizens to report rumors, the contents of casual conversation, and the contents of emails. They decry the fact that they are unable to "keep track" of the communication between citizens effectively and are asking for help from informers. Of course forwarded emails would contain the electronic addresses of the sender.

Does this sound like the country you know (knew)? Are these the words of people who think of themselves as public servants, or is this something darker? Does a constitutional government tasked with protecting the rights of its citizens ask them to inform on each other to the White House?

Are we now like one of those totalitarian states? No. But we have become more collectivist. Is the move toward appointing unaccountable Czars with enormous authority, the takeover of multiple industries (corporatism), the restructuring of the economy on a socialist-command model, and the request for citizens to inform on their fellows a step closer to that ugly place? Unquestionably, the answer has to be yes. We must be concerned with the direction in which we are headed as well as the breathtaking speed.

Forty years ago, a philosopher named Leonard Peikoff wrote a book (still in print) called The Ominous Parallels. In it he shows the parallels (then scarcely noticeable) between the rise of Hitler's socialism and the trends in the United States. At the time, the book could have been dismissed as the ranting of an over-zealous, though erudite and articulate, conspiracy nut. In retrospect, Peikoff appears to have been quite prescient. Reading it today, it appears like a roadmap of the last half century and how we got to this point. The implications are clear. If the direction of the nation and the philosophic perspective of the populace isn't brought back to the founding principles, the end point is predetermined. Unfortunately, the premises underlying the agenda are shared by both major parties. The opposition party is neutered in that it has accepted the premises of the socialists, a strategy doomed to failure.

My father and several uncles risked their lives in World War II to bring down the socialist threat of the German and Italian Axis powers. They survived. Many of their buddies were maimed or killed in that struggle. That generation successfully destroyed the military threat, but their efforts were blunted by the persistence of the altruist-collectivist philosophical virus which animated those socialists and which has infected the USA. Aside from the anti-Semitism of that time, both Western Europe and the USA are thoroughly imbued with the language and programs of the National Socialist program including its major platforms of National Health care, National Retirement benefits, National business plans, National agricultural plans, social safety nets, politically correct expression expectations, national ministers or Czars who answer only to the Leader, and the endless "we" talk so characteristic of collectivist societies.

Our forebears sacrificed so much to pass on the blessings of liberty. The least that we can do in the shadow of those heroes is to exercise our right to speak, and to do so out loud, not in whispers fearing that someone will forward our thoughts to the Watchers. These intimidating tactics must end.

Contact Bart Willruth.
In 1930's Germany, the new socialist government of Adolf Hitler (NAZI National Socialist Workers' Party) began indoctrinating children in the quasi-military organization, the Hitler Youth, to inform on their parents should they overhear discussions subversive to the policies of the Leader. As the noose was tightened, local community organizers were appointed to watch their neighbors and were told to report subversive comments to the bureaucrats above them. Neighbors informed on neighbors, some for reasons of patriotism or loyalty, some from fear. A modern inquisition ensued; a terror to free thought and expression. Increasingly harsh penalties were meted out to those who dared to dissent.

The socialist governments of the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, N. Korea, Cuba, Yugoslavia, and the People's Republic of China employed the same citizen informer techniques. Citizens of those societies were reduced to either silence or whispered discussion only among those they trusted the most. Of course none of those things would ever occur here in the land of the free. But wait...

Now on the White House website posted by Macon Phillips comes an eerily similar request for citizens to inform on their neighbors. It states,

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to the end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

Read this again carefully. The government of the United States is openly asking citizens to report rumors, the contents of casual conversation, and the contents of emails. They decry the fact that they are unable to "keep track" of the communication between citizens effectively and are asking for help from informers. Of course forwarded emails would contain the electronic addresses of the sender.

Does this sound like the country you know (knew)? Are these the words of people who think of themselves as public servants, or is this something darker? Does a constitutional government tasked with protecting the rights of its citizens ask them to inform on each other to the White House?

Are we now like one of those totalitarian states? No. But we have become more collectivist. Is the move toward appointing unaccountable Czars with enormous authority, the takeover of multiple industries (corporatism), the restructuring of the economy on a socialist-command model, and the request for citizens to inform on their fellows a step closer to that ugly place? Unquestionably, the answer has to be yes. We must be concerned with the direction in which we are headed as well as the breathtaking speed.

Forty years ago, a philosopher named Leonard Peikoff wrote a book (still in print) called The Ominous Parallels. In it he shows the parallels (then scarcely noticeable) between the rise of Hitler's socialism and the trends in the United States. At the time, the book could have been dismissed as the ranting of an over-zealous, though erudite and articulate, conspiracy nut. In retrospect, Peikoff appears to have been quite prescient. Reading it today, it appears like a roadmap of the last half century and how we got to this point. The implications are clear. If the direction of the nation and the philosophic perspective of the populace isn't brought back to the founding principles, the end point is predetermined. Unfortunately, the premises underlying the agenda are shared by both major parties. The opposition party is neutered in that it has accepted the premises of the socialists, a strategy doomed to failure.

My father and several uncles risked their lives in World War II to bring down the socialist threat of the German and Italian Axis powers. They survived. Many of their buddies were maimed or killed in that struggle. That generation successfully destroyed the military threat, but their efforts were blunted by the persistence of the altruist-collectivist philosophical virus which animated those socialists and which has infected the USA. Aside from the anti-Semitism of that time, both Western Europe and the USA are thoroughly imbued with the language and programs of the National Socialist program including its major platforms of National Health care, National Retirement benefits, National business plans, National agricultural plans, social safety nets, politically correct expression expectations, national ministers or Czars who answer only to the Leader, and the endless "we" talk so characteristic of collectivist societies.

Our forebears sacrificed so much to pass on the blessings of liberty. The least that we can do in the shadow of those heroes is to exercise our right to speak, and to do so out loud, not in whispers fearing that someone will forward our thoughts to the Watchers. These intimidating tactics must end.

Contact Bart Willruth.