Growth of State Power and the Assault on Democracy



The American police state, which developed during the George W. Bush administration, has historical roots in post-Revolutionary America. A key theme that emerged during the Revolution was the gulf of interests separating wealthy colonial elites from laborers, servants, slaves, and Native Americans. The possibility of unrest and rebellion concerned elites: if alliances formed, they would be the common enemy. Mass mobilization in support of elite rule had proven useful in ridding the colonies of the British: in a brilliant example of political sleight of hand, colonial upper classes had effectively shifted lower class outrage to their British counterparts. Taxation, which impacted the profits of rich colonialists, was portrayed as harmful to all. From the revolt against taxation to the political revolt, mass mobilization in support of democracy, against the British Empire’s aristocratic principles, made the Revolution possible. In the name of democracy, an armed force was created, consisting mostly of white males deemed reliable, with steady employment and a little land. Indians, Negroes, white servants, and unemployed males were left out. Nonetheless, appeals to mobilize in the name of democracy raised expectations and demands to incorporate novel, political principles—equality, equal representation, and checks and balances on the power of government by establishing legislatures whose membership didn’t favor elites. Still, women, African Americans, and Native Americans were excluded.


Political Movement Military Intervention Elite Rule State Repression State Elite 
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© Andrew Kolin 2011

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