Norm Geras takes issue with this post of mine:

Andrew says, 'This country is no longer as free as many others in the world - and unrecognizable compared with the free country I found in 1984. And it's getting less free every day.' But does he really believe it's more appropriate to label the contemporary US as if it belonged in the same category as Nazi Germany, North Korea, the USSR - rather than with the world's other democracies? It's hard to imagine that he would want to. That isn't his usual style.
Could it be that application of the term 'police state' to America today is justified by way of signalling a danger? The trouble is that, even if so, it sounds very much like one of those hysterical claims regularly put about by political loonies of one kind and another. Even in gradual transformations of the kind I alluded to at the beginning of this post, there's usually some decisive turning point, a threshold event which enables us to say that what was once there has been lost - that (for the present case) 'This is no longer a democracy, it's a police state'. I can't believe Andrew really thinks this. He'd be wrong to if he did. It's possible to condemn illiberal measures in a liberal polity without suggesting that that polity is already a thing of the past.

My intent is to protest the creeping growth of police and state power in a republic remade by 9/11. It is not to compare the US with "police states" as such. The increasing incidences of abuse of police power, the staggering incarceration rates in the US (beyond any other democratic society by a mile), the cultural belief that the police are to be obeyed and feared, the draconian measures at the border, the insane protocols on airplane flights, the blithe acceptance of systematic government torture of criminal suspects ... I could go on. But Norm does not live here. My posts are not designed to engage in moral equivalence with the Soviets or Nazis - and I haven't mentioned them. They are designed to raise awareness of government power growing and growing and freedom of the individual vis-a-vis the security state being whittled away.

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