The Cost of Freedom- Naomi Wolf Style

A friend sent me a worried email, saying Naomi Wolf’s recent lecture, found here on YouTube, caused him a restless night.

In this lecture, Ms. Wolf began her talk warning her audience that she would scare them, but at the end, it would all be okay. Soon, she would offer them solutions. She then outlined her concerns, based on her book research, that the USA is falling into a fascist state, and that the fall will happen quickly, rather than slowly–a drop off a cliff, rather than a slow decline.

She kept pointing to her wrist, devoid of a watch, and saying that she had known what was coming next in the news, because she had learned about how other countries, such as Germany and Italy, fell under a dictatorship.

She told us at what point she, herself, would stop speaking publicly. It would be when those of her social class and occupational group—the media writers and talking heads– were charged with sedition. But, she pointed out she had recently thrown away a tee-shirt she’d been given as a gift, that could be interpreted as seditious, before loading her suitcase for a plane flight. She also recognized that a $30. book she had bought to read on the plane, had classified information in it, although it could be bought in the airline bookstore. This, she also threw in the trash.

She was “on the list” she told us, plaintively, making a joke about her harmlessness based on height, her Jewish ethnicity, and her propensity to shop with her credit card in hand. “I’m not like them,” she seemed to imply. “I’m wealthy and white. This should not be happening to me.” She also appeared to further prove her “just like you” status by assuring us, with a mock plea for discretion, that her daughter watches “America’s Next Top Model.” Imagine, she confided, ‘Me, the author of the Beauty Myth!”

Her solutions were really easy. Give her your email address and vote Democratic. She spent less than five minutes offering them. Republicans have ruined this country and the President and Vice President should be impeached and imprisoned. But, Ms. Wolf, who will do it? Certainly not the Democrats currently in office.

Her easy solutions paled in comparison to the more powerful lessons that that lecture left in my consciousness and what she left unspoken. Why hadn’t she mentioned the democratic role in selling out our freedom? If she mentioned prisons, why not talk about her former employer’s role, Al Gore, in privatizing prisons in his own state of Tennessee? Didn’t he teach us all how profitable it was to put people behind bars? Couldn’t politicians reward friends and jack up their campaign contributions as a result? Weren’t these very same “prison-for-profit’ folks helping pay Ms. Wolf’s $15,000 a month consulting fees? And wasn’t the very nature of credit card debt serving to economically enslave USA citizens, and make them more compliant?

Why hadn’t she mentioned the complacency those of “just like herself”–those powerful shapers of the American consciousness? Why not attack the selectivity that goes into which news will make the “news” and which gets censored? And what about the intimate link between corporatism and fascism? She jokes about, instead of challenges the very mainstream media television network conglomerate that shapes her daughter’s values, as she watches “America’s Next Top Model.” No, she doesn’t mention this, because Ms. Wolf will not bite the hand that feeds her– and she’s not the least bit seditious or insurgent— which is why she’s such a media darling. She’s a billboard for the status quo.

While Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death,” Ms. Wolf tells us that it is better to toss a book than it is to be delayed in her flight plans. And if Ms. Wolf– best-selling author, Yale graduate, consultant to a former President and Vice President–carefully selects her reading material before boarding her flight, what powerful implicit message is she actually leaving us with?

“It’s a scary world out there, so thank goodness we still have the privacy of our voter box to bring the ‘Good’ guys (and gals) into office: The Democrats.”

Cost of Freedom? $30. Being a mouth-piece for the Democrats? Priceless.

About Kathy McMahon

Kathy McMahon Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist who is internationally known for her writing about the psychological impacts of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse. She's written for Honda Motors, and has been featured in American Prospect, Greenpeace International, the Vancouver Sun, Freakonomics, Itulip, Ecoshock Radio, and Peak Moments Television.


  1. dantreecraft says:

    Dear Doctor, et al,

    I presume that your anonymous friend wrote this piece. Whoever you are!! Good scoop!!

    It’s the Jim Jones Syndrome. The rock-star thing. It’s unfortunately [mostly], human nature, I’m afraid. Not exemplary of all of us, but not that far from where I’d land if I made it anywhere near the celebrity big-leagues, I suspect. God forbid if I ever ‘arrived’ [and I’m an atheist]. My take:

    I’m becoming increasingly cynical as the shit keeps whacking the fan. Wouldn’t have thought I could raise my “CQ” – Cynicism Quotient – any higher. Lilly Tomlin says, “NO MATTER HOW CYNICAL I GET, I FIND I CAN’T KEEP UP.” We’re with you Lilly -some of us are keeping up with YOU. But we’re puffing!

    My wife, a remarkably decent person, amazes me sometimes with how cynical she can be, or at least sound. Gives my own cynicism a run for its money. The take-home lesson must be to begin paying more attention to ourselves and each other. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

    Jan’s been reading David Korten’s book THE GREAT TURNING. [ Anyone? ] Seems to think it’s helpfully instructive. [since beginning it, she’s been talking about taking a complete holiday from the presidential-election pony-show coming up] We’ve both been way more politically active during the past six years [some kind of strange syndrome? ], compared to our “previous lives” as passive voters. I was whole hog into a publicly-funded election campaigns project here in Washington State, earlier this year. Then, something “snapped” in me last summer, with regard to my activism, in most everything political. Still haven’t been able to put my finger on any one reason for the air suddenly going out of my tires. It was a cluster of things, I think. I got arrested and jailed when Albero Gonzales showed up here in June. I was charged with “OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE”, and “resisting arrest”. I was the local “Prince of Irony” for a week. About the same time, we both attended a week-end-long session of something called “Democracy School”, which I highly recommend if it gets to your village. It is, for starters, a tutorial on the Declaration of Independence, and what begat it.

    Democracy School was begat by an attorney named Thomas Linzey and a philosopher/writer named Richard Grossman, in response to some very troubling anti-democracy shenanigans going on in some little towns in rural Pennsylvania – between the the towns-people and corporate developers and an ‘industrial’ hog farming corporation – in two respective towns. The townies, some who’s families had been living in these towns for several generations, were flummoxed at every turn, in their efforts to restrict these corporations from setting up shop within the towns’ jurisdictions. This might be familiar to some of you. The story made it onto PBS’s “NOW”, two or three years ago. Through some “creative lawsuit-losing”, Tom Linzey and his clients are setting up the foundations for some future revolutions, by waking up the townsfolk to the state of things in an Amerika run by corporations.

    Lest you get a completely wrong idea about all this, Linzey and Grossman are heroes to the people in these towns. If you’re interested, Google “Democracy School”. Some scales fell from my virgin eyes.

    After Democracy School and my arrest, I think that the Global Warming and Peak Oil spectres began to get to me. I had a hard time forcing myself into my truck to go to work. Thanks to being the boss of a one-pony tree service, there were lots of days during the past several months when I just stayed home. But, you know, the “no-workie-no-eatie” thing can clean you out. [I think I’ve gone off on a tangent] My taste for politics – even the local stuff – is ‘off’, on a non-specified sabbatical, till something finds me.

    As for the presidential circus business, I think my wife’s got the right idea. None of the “stars” are relevant. A couple of years ago, RFK Jr. said: “At the national level of government, the Republicans are 98% corrupt. For the Democrats, the figure is only 78%. They all might as well be Naomi Wolf.


  2. OrwellianNightmare says:

    I will admit, Naomi is a bit shortsighted in thinking getting rid of the bush regime will change things. But can you blame her for not wanting to be put into a 8×8 ft cell for 3 yrs without contact or a lawyer? Both this blogs author and Naomi have more research to do. I will just say that when you finally “wake up”, you will see there is only the illusion of choice. Thats why they cram Hillary and Guiliani down our throats and say the vox populi candidates like Ron Paul and Kucinich have “no chance”. Its because either you’re “on-board” or your “against them”.

  3. Living in a cage is not fun. I, personally, try to avoid it myself. But that’s not the point.

    My point is that her message, far from being “progressive,” is just the opposite. She claims she’s in danger of being caged with the same amount of danger looming as a trust-a-farian fears they’ll run out of cash. It’s a shtick. It’s a gimmick. I’ve got no “Former President” to call, if I do get arrested in some grand media display for walking onto a plane with a popular hardcover.

    And, jeepers, Orwell, maybe YOU need to look at the piece again. Your point about the ‘illusion of choice’ is part of my argument. She warns us how “bad” it’s going to be, while telling us if we vote Democratic, it will all be okay. The whole plate of “choice” is offered by a controlled media that provides Ms. Wolf with her soapbox. You see the Washington Post doing some great expose about Ron Paul’s winning popular sentiment?

    And isn’t she doing the same thing she accuses the fascists of doing? Holding up an “enemy” and promising us if we only vote for her party, the problems will be easily resolved?

    And, Jeez, they say we Doomers are fear-mongering…

    Fight with me, if you must, but not on the matters we agree on…

  4. Hip Hip Hooray for Kathy. For those of you with short memories, let me tell you about the kind of freedom Naomi Wolf is talking about. One of the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for president, just 13 short years ago, came out with this grandiose health plan to cover everybody. One of the provisions was that you had to use the Dr. assigned to you by the government. Failure to do so was punishable by imprisonment. Huh, surely not? Just to go to a Dr. of your choosing? Oh no my friend, this same person never gives up on a direction she has established. It will be back.

    The point is that no polical party or candidate will get us out of this mess. They would have needed to start 30 years ago. The best we can do is to weather it with our local friends and community. The only solution we can expect proposed from a national perspective will be to punish those who try to go it on their own, because they somehow are taking unfair advantage of the folks who stayed in their shop-a-holic, reality TV viewing ways without versing themselves with the obvious going on around them.

    As far as Naomi fearing that she will be locked up for carrying a book through the airport, unless it is a volume on how to make bombs, I doubt anybody will care. Me thinks she has an very inflated view of her importance in the grand scheme of things. And the media is happy to keep inflating her importance, to serve their self interests.

  5. Dan Dashnaw says:

    There is nothing more dangerous to true progressives than the left-wing gate-keepers. They are the purveyors of limited hang-outs and half truths. The privatization of prisons was made possible by the Clinton/Gore administration. Check out just how vital the for profit federal prison industries are to the Iraq war

  6. Dan Dashnaw says:

    Also please note how much Wall Street has made on the privatization of prisons. The fuller they are, the more profitable Who said we don’t have slavery in the US? The Wolf is at the door.

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