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The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations Have Made America Like the Soviet Union

Free-market capitalism was supposed to save us from the tyranny of faceless apparatchiks. But that's not what happened.

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And On It Goes

These are just three easy examples. There are plenty more to be had:

* Our modern homes are designed by marketing researchers working for Soviet-style large developers that dictate what The People's Houses should look like.

* Our food supply is dominated by Soviet-style government-mandated (but privately run) monoculture.

* Our voting system is increasingly restricted to people who are acceptable to the party hierarchy, just as the Soviet system limited Communist Party membership to a small percentage of the population; and corporate-owned machines count our votes.

* Our increasingly privatized and militarized law enforcement is starting to owe a lot to the brutal Soviet policing style, too. We have gulags now -- and the corporations are running them, too.

* Our response to climate change is being driven by another form of Lysenkoism -- a science-denial movement driven by corporations that are threatened by any demand that they change their ways.

* And anybody who's dealt with a bank foreclosure can tell you stories that would cross Franz Kafka's eyes about the runaround they get every time they try to contact their lender. Checks and papers vanish, and must be sent over and over. Payments are never posted. And you can never talk to the same person twice. (We used to think the DMV was bad enough, but now we know: it takes a corporation to really screw things up.) This kind of faceless, brutally inhuman bureaucracy used to be the stuff of totalitarian nightmares. Now, it's everyday reality for tens of millions of American homeowners.

This is corporate-sponsored tyranny that comes at a huge expense to the masses. The great irony of our age is that, over the past 60 years, the more energy we put into resisting Communism by raising up the cult of the consumer (and the corporations that serviced it), the more our own corporate overlords were able to seize our resources and energy, and divert them into the goal of consolidating their power and inflicting their own totalitarian, centrally planned hell on us.

The USSR has been a historical dead letter for over 20 years now -- but there are still plenty of earnest Fox-watching Americans for whom "communism" remains the most terrifying of all scare words. They're vigilantly watching the leftward horizon, scanning for signs of government-inflicted socialism, ready to strip their own democracy of its very ability to thwart totalitarians if that's what must be done to stop totalitarianism.

Unfortunately, they're facing the wrong direction. The real threat of dignity-stripping, liberty-destroying, soul-crushing oppression is coming not from government, but from the very corporations those same people believed were the key to our superiority over the Communist menace. Now that the government can't protect us from rapacious businesses any more, the centrally planned authoritarian state they've feared is already coming to pass -- privately, for the profit of the few, free from pesky accountability or oversight, and without a bit of resistance from the would-be patriots who have been on guard for decades to ensure it could never happen here.

Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet's Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

 
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