As observed masterfully in The Gulag Archipelago, everything changes after the arrest–rather, everything changes *during* the arrest. I had previously divided my life into “pre-New Hampshire” and after moving to the Granite State, but the arrest, the violence of the FBI threatening to shoot me, and the traumatic reality into which I was thrust that the illusion of safety had been ripped away became the new dividing point for me. While they searched my house for people and weapons, and as I stolld in only panties and a blanket as early morning wintry winds of New Hampshire swept through my house more efficiently than any strike team, I said nothing but held out hope that they were there for my roommate, not for me. This pipedream was soon smashed like my front door, as they escorted me into another part of my house, closed the doors, disconnected my cameras, and told me that I was under arrest.
There are a few subtle, but important ways that my raid and arrest differs from those recounted by Solzhenitsyn. The United States has watched the rise and fall fo empires and ideologies, and has learned from the mistakes of Hitler, Mao, and the USSR. It knows that Americans would never allow the secret arrests, lack of charges, and other silliness of the USSR. Like other Communist rulerships, the USSR wielded uncertainty and terror as its primary weapons, but Americans would never allow tyranny to approach in such a way. The “rule of law” is too critical to the propaganda of the U.S., and such behavior would undermine the one great conceit underpinning the entire monstrous system: because of Democracy, that blessed thing, we are the government, and we create the law, and, as such, we do these things to ourselves; they are not done to us, against our will, by an unaccountable terrorist regime, because we consent to this! Even if you or I don’t, *we* do, and somehow this illusory entity is able to act without our actual consent.
The weapons of the USSR have been replaced by the loaded gun that is the Democracy, “the majority!”, and as long as that illusion is allowed to persist, the Americans will do nothing. Anything so crass as the Soviet display where a captive audience was forced to clap for Stalin for fifteen and more minutes, and Americans would revolt. In the U.S., no leader is supreme, or above any other person, and yet *is* above every person, a priest in this religion called statism, this wretched cult, and any decree they make must present itself as separate from the flesh herald–the priest speaks, but only, we are assured, to relay to us the message from our god, the unimpeachable and unknown Majority. Any display of respect or adoration must be made to the institutions, to the Church, and to the god–to do otherwise, as Trump did (and, indeed, Trump partially shattered this American illusion for millions), is to threaten to derail the entire system, leaving us at the mercy not of a benevolent majority but a corrupt tyrant.
And how could Americans not fall for the ruse? Nearly all childrens’ cartoons and coloring books present the Friendly Policeman, only there to help old ladies cross the street and to protect the children. And really! Is there anything more absolutely absurd in our world than how closely linked in the cultural zeitgeist are police and firefighters? How might we react if firefighters searched around for problems to justify their existence, and campaigned to legislatures for new regulations to make fires more likely (and, thus, their need to exist, and, critically, their *budgets* ever greater)? But we learn as children that these thugs who exist solely to use violence against us, are still somehow our friends, and rare is the person who succumbs to this constant programming for 18 years, and then breaks free.