Authoritarianism on the Rise

There has been a disturbing surge in arrests of freedom fighters and activists in recent weeks portending yet more assaults on our values, our freedoms, and our very way of life.

These events have shaken me deeply as I’m sure they will any reader who values liberty, justice, free speech, and the rule of law, as they reflect a decay in our society and our institutions.

Perhaps the better term is rot. Our systems are rotten.

That is the only description suitable to describe the heinous censorship, demonization, and silencing of those who challenge government narratives that has occurred over the past two years and which has now morphed into arresting peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

The message is clear: contradict the establishment norms and you represent a threat to the power and authority of politicians, even the system itself because those speaking out seek to expose the truth and potential wrongdoing of those holding the reins of power.

This development is not unique to any one western nation and reflects an alarming rise in authoritarianism. If there is a silver lining, perhaps it is that by arresting peaceful activists and attorneys, authorities reveal their true colors, which should serve to awaken more to the reality many of us already see closing in on us.

This escalation of pressure and arrests has taken place over the past few weeks against citizens seeking nothing more than truth, liberty, and justice for all.

Willem Engel, a Dutch activist and founder of Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth), was arrested on the charge of sedition and incitement. According to a close contact of Engel’s, this is, “A remarkable charge that goes against the core message of love, patience, connection, respect and non-violence tirelessly propagated by Willem over the past two years. ‘We are the decent people’ has been his constant motto.” 

Engel is being detained for 14 days and is to appear in court in Rotterdam on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

Engel’s group Viruswaarheid had planned two demonstrations in June but both were denied permission. Worse still, an appeal to that decision was denied as well.  An attorney close to Engel concludes that justice no longer exists in the Netherlands.

If government can deny the right to demonstrate, a sacred and protected right in western nations, one must seriously wonder where we are headed as supposed free societies.

In another example of government overreach, French attorney Virginie Araujo-Recchio’s home and office were raided culminating in her arrest in front of her children. She was taken into custody for alleged complicity in attempted acts of terrorism but released without charge three days later.

Araujo-Recchio, has been a vocal critic of France’s COVID measures and the violation of human rights and abuse of power those measures reflect. She has filed lawsuits challenging the legality of COVID measures and represents those seeking the freedom to live their lives according to their conscience and to direct the upbringing of their children.

She has been accused of nothing leaving us to conclude this exercise sought merely to intimidate, frighten, and harm. Chilling as the arrest was, such transparent attempts to silence opponents of COVID measures will be exposed for the unlawful, harassment, and abuse of authority that they are. 

In Germany, several actions signal an increase in pressure on those who question government. A German administrative court has green-lit government spying on a populist opposition party and the German government intends to seize the guns of over 1500 people whom they suspect of extremism. In another action, over 100 activists have been raided for the thoughtcrime of insulting German politicians online. Nicolai Binner, a German comedian, was criminally charged for making a Nazi comparison to the events of today.

Any thinking American must ponder whether these arrests and the escalation of the fight against truth seekers is a harbinger of what is to come in the US.

This question is particularly pertinent in light of the Department of Homeland Services’ recent National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin deeming “The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions” as a domestic terrorism threat. DHS wrote, “For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19.”

While Nineteen Eighty-Four’s thoughtcrime and Minority Report’s precrime may seem like warnings from a dystopian future, these incidents and directives indicate they have arrived in the present all across the west.

These actions against peaceful, law-abiding citizens and protestors by those in authority, backed by the genuine threat of force aren’t just frightening, they suggest an end to what westerners have known as the “free world.”

If you think I’m being sensational, consider what befell the truckers protesting, dancing, praying, and feeding the homeless in the streets of Ottawa – they were trampled with horses, had their truck windows smashed, their bank accounts frozen, their donations stolen – and some were arrested. All these measures contravene the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The protestors and the world watched aghast as Canadian Prime Minister invoked the Emergencies Act, a war-powers style act, against his own citizens for the “crime” of protesting. As if such use of force to deal with peaceable people lawfully protesting their government was not frightening enough on its own, that a western leader would resort to such methods should serve as a wake-up call to us all that the push for more authority and power by government is neither inconsequential nor, likely, temporary.

Concerning as these times are, I believe that while we may lose in the short run, those of us who believe in freedom will win in the long run – there are simply too many of us and too few of them.

I hopefully wait for more who believe in the ideals of individualism, responsibility, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and bodily autonomy to join our ranks and demand that our natural rights be honored.

We are spiraling down into the depths of authoritarianism. We need all hands on deck. Will you stand with us?