The past year has seen a number of disturbing trends take hold in the United States and in countries throughout the world. Unless reversed, these authoritarian trends promise to usher in a new era of global tyranny and totalitarian government. Many who live in western democratic nations are in denial of these trends. But they should note that elected governments, personal liberty, and freedom are the exception, not the rule. Human history is the story of powerful, centralized governments – governments that trample the liberties of individuals. The freedom and liberty of the recent past is extremely rare, and it’s never guaranteed. Each generation must fight to preserve it. The year 2020 is no exception, and we’ve seen several trends emerge that pose a direct threat to freedom and liberty.
Coronavirus Lockdowns and Restrictions
The first of these 2020 trends is obvious. COVID-19 has dominated headlines all year. And as with any crisis, politicians have taken advantage of the situation to grab more power and control. While complete lockdowns on freedom of movement and economic activity weren’t surprising in Chinese cities like Wuhan, it was a surprise to see similar lockdowns in the western world.
Countries such as Italy, Spain, and France announced nationwide lockdowns, ordering all “non-essential” workers to stay home and shelter in place. Draconian restrictions governed when people could leave their homes and who they could interact with. Police raided private residences to break up illegal parties, and many people turned in their neighbors.
While the deadliness of the pandemic has waned since the spring, the government lockdowns and COVID regulations keep coming. Last month, the Australian city of Melbourne ended one of the world’s longest lockdowns – 139 days. In the United States, some governors have issued shelter in place orders and onerous rules for how and when restaurants and other businesses can operate. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito recently pointed to court cases where coronavirus restrictions “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship.” Nevada, he said, treated casinos more favorably than churches. All over the United States, governors have issued executive orders that violate the First Amendment freedoms to peaceably assemble and freely exercise religion.
In July, over 100 writers, academics, and political and cultural activists published an open letter in Harper’s Magazine on the topic of justice and open debate. The signatories were a diverse list of well-known celebrities, including J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie, Malcolm Gladwell, and Gloria Steinem. In their letter, the authors point out that “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”
They also state, “Censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty,” and “it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”
Why did they write this letter? Because of a “stifling atmosphere” which steadily narrows “the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.” As they point out, justice and freedom “cannot exist without each other.” The willingness of so many people to suppress free speech foreshadows the rise of a dictatorial state. Widespread support for cancel culture and the demonization of opposing points-of-view set the stage for an oppressive government willing to use violence to enforce its edicts. Ironically, many of the people who claim to be anti-fascist are the same people supporting this movement.
For example, Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, published the following tweet in October:
“Me-first capitalists who think you can separate society from business are going to be the first people lined up against the wall and shot in the revolution. I’ll happily provide video commentary.”
Was this terrible call for violence roundly condemned? No. Many people agreed, including Media Matters editor Parker Molloy. His response?
“Thinking about a world where @dickc was still CEO of Twitter and not @jack.”
Keep in mind, these aren’t a few anonymous people making these comments. These are high profile, and in some cases, powerful individuals openly calling for violence against their political enemies. Think this is an isolated incident? It’s not. The U.S. presidential election has given people ample opportunity to show their true colors.
The U.S. Presidential Election
In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, allegations of voter fraud are rampant. With Donald Trump refusing to concede, U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:
“Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future? I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future.”
Michael Simon, a former staff member in the Obama administration, linked to what he called The Trump Accountability Project and replied:
“Yes, we are. The Trump Accountability Project (@trumpaccproject). Every Administration staffer, campaign staffer, bundler, lawyer who represented them — everyone.”
Again, these aren’t anonymous commenters demanding a blacklist of political opponents. These are high-profile individuals. A group of former Pete Buttigieg staffers created The Trump Accountability Project with the express purpose of blacklisting members and supporters of Donald Trump’s administration.
After widespread outrage, they shut down the project (or at least claimed to), saying they did so “in the spirit of the president-elect’s call to build a more united country.” However, the fact The Trump Accountability Project ever existed at all shows how these people think. Their first instinct is to destroy their political opponents, not just defeat them at the ballot box.
Joining the call to ostracize Trump supporters, CNN anchor Jake Tapper issued his own veiled threat, tweeting:
“I truly sympathize with those dealing with losing – it’s not easy – but at a certain point, one has to think not only about what’s best for the nation (peaceful transfer of power) but how any future employers might see your character defined during adversity.”
In other words, if you don’t agree with Jake Tapper, he thinks future employers should turn you away – the very definition of a blacklist.
The Power of Big Tech
Big Tech companies have transformed from neutral platforms to the designated arbiters of free speech, vowing to ban posts that promote or glorify “hate speech.” Of course, that begs the question – what constitutes “hate speech”? Who decides? The Big Tech companies say they do. In a 2019 article titled “Silicon Valley Censorship and the Coming Global Police State,” I wrote:
“But in an age where social media dominates public discourse, access to these platforms is vital to get a message out. What if these platforms flag their political opponents as sources of “hate speech”? What will that do to freedom and liberty?”
Sadly, we no longer have to guess. In October, Big Tech undertook its most brazen censorship act yet. In October, the New York Post published an exposé linking Joe Biden to a series of corrupt financial transactions with foreign governments. Fearing the impact to Biden’s presidential campaign, Big Tech swiftly took action. Twitter suspended the New York Post’s twitter account and blocked users from sharing the link to their story on Twitter. Facebook announced it would reduce distribution of the article pending verification by a third-party fact-checker. In the end, their censorship efforts only brought more attention to the story. But how many stories do they censor that never get noticed?
As technology advances, these platforms will become more and more important. As a political commentator, try getting your message out to a large audience without using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, or Netflix. It’s nearly impossible for someone who doesn’t already have a large following. In the future, it will be even more difficult, if not impossible.
These efforts from Big Tech companies promise a bleak future. Products like Alexa and Siri listen to and record private conversations. Social media captures the most intimate details of private life. We’re living in a world where the Big Tech firms have enormous power. Since the police power of government rules over them, it means we’re heading into an era where governments will be more powerful than ever before.
Think about the information they can access. If you’re on Facebook and you use a smart phone, then companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook probably know more about you than some of your closest friends. They know who you associate with, what you search for on the Internet, what products you buy, what interests you have, what bank you use, who you talk to the most, when you’re awake, where you’ve been, and where you are at any given moment. With facial recognition technology, they can pick your face out of a sea of millions in less than a second. Connect facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence with a growing network of public and private cameras, and they aren’t far from being able to record everything you do at all times.
The Rise of Cryptocurrency
Earlier this month, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), said she believes the ECB will launch a digital euro in the next two to four years. She joins a growing chorus of nations exploring the launch of government-backed cryptocurrency. Among them are some of the world’s most oppressive regimes, including China, Iran, and North Korea. Once they launch these new cryptocurrencies, governments around the world will quickly move to make paper currency obsolete.
This is because the end of paper currency and its replacement with government-sponsored cryptocurrency will put unlimited power at the fingertips of government leaders. Not only does cryptocurrency offer a way to permanently record every financial transaction, but it can also track where you go and what you do. It can track the websites you visit and make note of who your friends are. While most of this information is already available through tracking of credit and debit cards, mobile phones, and social media profiles, a state-sponsored cryptocurrency will provide 100% unfettered access to this information. It will create a closed, government-controlled economic system where you’ll be dependent on the government for every transaction you engage in.
That means if the government decides they don’t like you, they can turn off your access and completely freeze you out of the banking system. They can dictate what you can and can’t buy. They can tell you where you can and can’t go. In essence, cryptocurrency gives them complete control over all people.
The Coming Global Tyranny
None of this should surprise you. Long ago, the Book of Revelation foretold the establishment of a global authoritarian regime. The Bible says a global dictator known as the Antichrist will one day rule over every “tribe, people, language, and nation” (Revelation 13:7). He will have unprecedented power and control over the world population. This control will include the ability to require everyone on earth to receive a mark on the right hand or the forehead (Revelation 13:16). Without this mark, the people of the world will be unable to buy or sell anything (Revelation 13:17). How will this work? It remains to be seen. But the worldwide rush to create government-sponsored cryptocurrencies provides us with a glimpse as to how such a system might work. A global government-controlled cryptocurrency will provide him with such a system.
In addition, Big Tech companies and artificial intelligence will give the Antichrist unprecedented access to personal communications and massive power to decide what news is shared, who receives a platform, and who is allowed to participate in societal debate. The trend toward cancel culture and vilification of political opponents also provides fertile ground for such a dictator.
So, what does all this mean? It means we’re fast approaching a time the prophets warned about. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic (Luke 21:11). Israel is back in the land (Jeremiah 23:7-8). The Jewish people are back in Jerusalem (Luke 21:24-28). And the Gospel is being preached throughout the world (Matthew 24:14). The end times approach. The tribulation, the Antichrist, and global government aren’t far behind. But this means the rapture is also near. So don’t despair. While it appears the world is falling apart, all this is part of God’s divine plan. It’s a plan that should fill every Christian with peace. We know how this ends. It ends with Jesus coming (Revelation 22:20), and He’s coming soon!
Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming, Racing Toward Armageddon, and The End Times. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for free when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.