Naomi Wolf is an author and essayist whose works have appeared in The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She also speaks widely to groups across the country.
Her first book, The Beauty Myth, was an international bestseller. She followed it with Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change The 21st Century; Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood; Misconceptions, critique of pregnancy and birth in America; The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot; and Give me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.
Wolf is also co-founder of the Board of The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization devoted to training young women in ethical leadership for the 21st century. She is a graduate of Yale University and completed her graduate work at New College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Wolf: All it takes to really create a closed society at this point is a handful of [deaths], you know, inadvertent, in self defense, tasered to death, shop accident, you know, and that footage replayed over and over in American television, you don’t need a coup with headlines. You know, after those deaths take place, people will be very much more afraid to speak up as an enraged citizenry and that’s how you, you know, that’s how you witness a society closing down. You know, there are other very dark scenarios and I hope none of them ever play out, but what is disturbing that’s so much legislation has been passed by this White House to make these scenarios possible. The 2007 Defense Authorization Act lets the President declare a state of emergency because he said so. There’s no objective measure. So, if there’s, you know, 25 protesters or 150 protesters upset about the vote in Delaware, the President can declare a state of emergency. And, again, he can then, if he wants to suspend elections, he can suspend elections or if he wants to suspend the count, he can suspend the count. If he wants to say, well, it’s a state of emergency and it’s not safe to transfer power to the incumbent, he can do that. I’m very distressed to see the Bloomberg, I guess, is trying to do an end run around the will of the people, sighting a crisis, the economic emergency to justify his taking a third term or running for third term even though voters have already said term limits. These are worse case scenarios. Am I happy that they passed so much legislation to make this possible? I’m not. And for my study of closing societies, I know that it’s not a good sign when legislations passed making it easier for a leader to declare a state of emergency or martial law. I hope that all of these anxieties are baseless and that will be a smooth transfer of power, there has been for 200 years. Did the founders want us to be vigilant and proactive when our liberties are under threat? Absolutely.
Question: How do you overcome a ‘closing society’?
Wolf: In a closing society, and I’ve studied the histories of closing societies and that’s how I came to argue and my first book that this is a sequel to that we’re seeing the 10 hallmarks of a closing society, it is only the prospect of prosecution that it is a deterrent to the worse case scenario that Bush now capable of with his deployment and with the declaration of an emergency which he’s free to do any day according to laws he has passed. The fourth thing that we can do is refuse to accept homeland security money lobby our City Councils to refuse that money, it’s tainted. Millions of dollars are being sent as I’ve described to militarizing police forces and even creating a kind of cash treasury to pay off lawsuits of citizens who’ve been brutalized or, you know, illegally arrested so that’s no good. We have to not accept that money. And other things we can do are, again, to look at the 55 actions steps at the end that will give me liberty everything from how to write your own [obit], how to become the media, how to do television, do radio, how to place this [obits], how to leak to a reporter, how to frame a story. So, that we can all raise the cry about not justice but other [subversions] of liberty. And, finally, when we stabilize a republic, you know, taking these other actions steps to make sure that these laws are repealed that we have a groundswell democracy movement and you can get listeners to sign up on myamericaproject.org a multimillion citizen democracy movement transpartisan to restore the Constitution, the rule of law.