Origins of Totalitarianism

German political philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote a book in the 1950s, a sobering critique of Nazi Germany called The Origins of Totalitarianism. Fascism, Nazism, whatever the sort of totalitarian government, her book looked deeply into the way whole peoples fell into systems of government that could deprive them of their liberties for the sake of something greater.

I am a state legislator and, for this reason, care deeply about democratic social change. I have always believed in our form of government precisely because it can accommodate a public with raised consciousness to act on behalf of the greater good. But what happens when the greater assents not to good but to totalitarianism?

This past weekend I sat visiting with a couple of friends, married to one another. One is a professor of African history, the other a political scientist focusing on post-Soviet politics. The latter said to me -- with a straight face -- "I've been depressed but have come to accept our totalitarian form of governance under president Bush."

What do you mean, I asked.

Jarrett, she said, all of us who study the former Soviet Union have seen this coming under the current administration--and I don't just mean the Patriot Act. A colleague of mine just changed his voter registration from Democrat to independent because he believed he would not receive federal grant money for his research --and had a list of several other professors who had been denied as proof. When people of good start to act this way, those in power have won complete victory.

She went on to talk to me about how exactly the Soviets repressed the people in their state. Call anyone who disagrees with you a liar, or call them unpatriotic, she said. Sound familiar? While relatively few are actually imprisoned, she said, the fear of losing what little you have remains as a powerful incentive for the large majority to accept the status quo.

I've wondered a lot about whether my reaction -- a strong desire to reject her views -- is simply because I really just want to believe otherwise. I want to believe that we would be preposterous to call this place we've come to totalitarian -- to call those in the administration the New Bolsheviks.

I have little faith in this administration, and wonder what another four years would leave our great country looking like.

Jarrett Barrios, Massachusetts State Senator

Posted by Jessica Falker on September 16, 2004 at 06:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Giving it a shot....

Hello, everyone,

Not sure what will transpire here, but a up early on the West Coast to be a guest author this morning. Hope y'all enjoyed DeanFest (er, Democracy Fest). I know I did! Thanks to all who made it possible, both from an organizational side as well as by attending. It was so great to put faces to people whom I'd had only known through email and blogs. Welcome, here, to speak to any of the issues that were raised at the DF trainings or presentations, or any other subject of current interest.

Speaking of which, did you notice that Dean was the only one willing to come out this week to say that GWB is using the terror alert system for political ends? Now we find out that the data they're touting is several years old. Of course there is daily "chatter", but the impact of the ORANGE alert (sounds like Anita Bryant) was to effectively knock Kerry off the front page....

And does anyone else think it's odd that the Bush campaign is trailing Kerry's bus tour? Wonder how they knew? Yesterday, they were at stops 3 blocks apart... Very strange indeed -- it's a big country, after all.

So, standing by for your questions and comments. Good morning.
Ralph Miller
Latinos for America

Posted by Jessica Falker on August 4, 2004 at 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Welcome to the My Voice is My Vote Coordinator's blog.

We have developed the My Vote is My Voice Coordinator's Blog as a way for Coordinators of Dean Progressive groups and organizations, as well as other Progressive leaders to discuss ideas, topics and event with each other. This blog is located at : This forum not only allows leaders to post, but it allows other leaders and members to comment on their posts. This is one way that My Vote is My Voice is working to bring everyone together through communication. We have been told we
have the power, now we need to coordinate that power. One way is to tell others your ideas and concerns.

How to be a MVMV coordinator:

Join us by going to: and requesting an invitation. You will then need to follow the directions in the response email and join the site.

Join the Coordinator DB:
Add yourself to the coordinator DB. If you are unable to do this, please email us. I will then review the DB every few days and invite leaders that meet the criteria to become authors on the blog. Those that are invited will receive an invitation email with information on how to join the blog and have posting abilities.

The criteria/rules are:
1) Proven leader in the Dean Progressive movement. This can be through Meetups, having your own organization, or having extensive time invested in getting out the word for the Dean Progressive movement.
2) Must be civil in discourse and on topic. Anyone that posts items meant to inflame will have their author privileges revoked. No profanity, no personal attacks, no advertising, etc. This does not mean you cannot be controversial. There is a huge difference between being uncivil and being controversial.

My hope is that this becomes a forum where leaders in the Progressive movement come to express themselves, discuss new and past initiatives, and form bonds with others that have similar ideas.

Posted by Jessica Falker on March 3, 2004 at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)