and here is a supporting story in Guardian:
I was applying the principles she suggests to current situation in Russia one by one, and surprisingly, they hardly applied:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
Pass. None of those exist in modern Russia. Chechnen terrorists looked like a mixed ex/internal threat once, but then quickly diminished. No external power is considered a threat. There are "me too" kind of reactions to the America-declared global war of terrorism, such as the absurd requirement to take off one's shoes in the airports, but that looks like a totally random acts of power rather than a iron fist lead.
2. Create a gulag.
Well, I wouldn't know. In a country whose leader has invented gulag, I'm sure as hell there are secret prisons, but then they don't have to be secret, any would do. So, I'd say no, there is no gulag in modern Russia in the meaning of the word Naomi Wolf puts in it.
3. Develop a thug caste.
No such thing. Or, multiple such things, depending on what you mean. There is no single dedicated paramilitary force and none are emerging. There is army, state police, corporate security guards, and all sorts of criminal organisations, I'd presume. They all may apply force pursuing their arbitrary goals, but I don't think they orchestrate. This is not to obscure the fact that the police or army could at any point be given any orders.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
There easily could be files on anyone, just as with the mentioned Stasi, but I don't think there is a global network of surveillance and the percentage of informants has hopefully decreased since KGB time.
5. Harass citizens' groups.
Citizen groups ? What citizen groups ? None of active opposition to the power, that's for sure. Groups of political hobbyists and minorities of all sorts may be present, but noone worth mentioning with real power or a threat to power. Therefore there is no reason to persuasively harrass anyone. At any rate, they don't make a show out of it.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
It's not comforting, but I'd guess, yes, it's just like that. The stories of people being detained, kept in prisons, beaten and tortured appear every now and then. And the purpose could very well be the same - to terrorize and intimidate the entire population, even if in subtle way.
7. Target key individuals.
Check. Except, there is no key individuals. There are occassional public executions of someone who is sort of in opposition, but the truth is - there is no opposition. Oh, and nevermind the reporters murders.
8. Control the press.
Check. I mean, absolutely.
9. Dissent equals treason.
I'd answer this question if anyone could tell me what the today's Russia consent is ? Anything sacred ? Take Americans, they worship their democracy and freedom (ahem, given the steps to fascism title, this sounds awkward), but in Russia - what is the true way ? The way I see it, right now Russia is happily doing nothing, basically selling oil for food.
Actually, it's funny how I can't come up with anything that would sound plausible and treasonous at the same time. Brainwashed with no access to the facts - the most likely cause.
10. Suspend the rule of law.
Well, there is no martial law in Russia right now and I hope not to ever see it. We have laws and justice, right ? Although Russians are traditionally very sceptical to the laws and justice, but you can't argue that codices exist and trials work.
So, it sounded not so bad, right ? But wait until it comes to about minute 41 of the speech, and the answer should have been obvious in the context - the closed society doesn't look like one.
To quote Naomi Wolf:
We have this, like, wrong notion of what a closed society looks like. ... A closed society, even a violent military dictatorship, [looks a lot like] civil society, there are still elections, they are just corrupted. ... There is still a judiciary in a closed society, they are just not free to adjudicate freely. ... There's still academics, they're just watching what they're saying. There is still newspapers, you just know how far to push the enquiry.
Duh ! What can I say, welcome to the closed society. We'll have to see how it works out in America. Anyway, the speech was very thought-provocative.