Unite against Fascism 9

March 6th, 2017

Unite against Fascism 9

 

Final call on Trump:  He won because the Republicans in the very end all broke for him; because rural and uneducated voters switched from Democrat to Republican; because Democrats broke, many going for Sanders or Stein; and because of voter suppression.

Any lingering doubts that this is a straightforward fascist administration are removed by the plan to separate women from their children in repatriation of undocumented immigrants.  This is what Hitler did with the Jews, and Trump’s people surely know that.

High-handed repeal of all of Obama’s last-minute measures is less clear-cut.  But even the most sensible and long overdue and not particularly “liberal” ones are being repealed.  Banning lead shot in federal wildlife refuges is one example; it hurts no one (except a few hunters with old guns) and saves millions of birds and other animals.

 

I have been reading histories of fascism lately, in particular Michael Mann’s Fascists (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Robert Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism (Knopf, 2004).  They remove all doubt that we are facing a full-scale fascist administration and a Republican Party totally dominated by fascists.  Reading Paxton’s book, in particular, I continually had to remind myself that it was published in 2004, before the rise of Trump, and he was not writing with one eye on the Trump administration.

Both books define fascism very narrowly—basically as popular, militaristic movements with wide support across classes and what we would now call demographics, and with paramilitary organizations that glorify, and carry out, violence.  This restricts the term to Germany, Italy, and a few neighboring countries in the 1930s and 1940s, though the authors are quick to see similarities with modern movements like Milosevic’s in Serbia in the 1990s.  I define fascism more broadly: as an authoritarian but mass-based regime based on mobilizing hatred and antagonism in the service of big business, big agriculture, and other rich right-wing interests.  Hitler and Mussolini came rather slowly to make the big-money connections, but depended on them once they were fully in power.  But even by the two authors’ very narrow criteria, Trump’s administration is fascist.

The rise of Mussolini and Hitler was exactly like the rise of Trump, with one major exception—so far:  The Republicans have not (yet) mobilized the KKK and other paramilitary groups to create violence.  Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Hitler’s Brownshirts were critically important.  Ironically, the KKK was the world’s first right-wing uniformed paramilitary group.  It could be—and may be starting to be—a great arm of the Republicans.

These books also provide a lot of hope. Fascist movements did not win except when orthodox politicians were disunited.  Civil society in countries like Hungary and France prevented the rise of fascism until Hitler actually took them over.

Fascist-like regimes include many in which Trump-like figures took over and committed genocide.  Preposterous but highly charismatic leaders in history are rather few, but some Roman emperors who took over in coups certainly qualify.  China lacks such, except for the rather demented first emperor of Ming and a few coup leaders.  A few kings in old Europe might qualify.  Hereditary monarchy makes it difficult for evil clowns to rise.  Brutal, bloody tyrants from Nero to Tamerlane arose regularly, but they had to be competent and clever as well as murderous.  Only in the modern state can bureaucracy run the country, allowing a mentally unstable and incompetent person to rule.

Recently, however, we have a striking range of leaders who combine posturing and grandstanding, a politics of hatred and extremism, and utter irresponsibility and incompetence.  These people may be termed evil clowns.  Mussolini certainly fits the pattern.  Hitler was too sinister and wily, but was certainly populist and extreme enough.  The Communist bosses such as Stalin and Mao were extreme and populist, but eminently successful at controlling the state.

More recent are the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Suharto in Indonesia, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Milosevic in Serbia and his opposite number Tudjman in Croatia, Gaddafi in Libya, Bokassa in the Central African Republic (“Empire”), Idi Amin in Uganda, the Interahamwe in Rwanda, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Rios Montt in Guatemala, Roberto D’Aubuisson in El Salvador, Fujimori in Peru, Pinochet in Chile, and perhaps two dozen other such figures.  Eventually they indulged in mass murder simply to maintain some sort of order; they failed to do that by any other means.  Most of them lasted only a few years before their madness or inability to control themselves (let alone their countries) ended their rule.  A few, such as Rios Montt, were competent enough to survive, though losing their mandate.  Only Mugabe seems to hang on indefinitely.

There are a few cases of democratically elected populist clowns who did not commit mass murder: Berlusconi in Italy, Mahathir bin Mohamed in Malaysia, Narendra Modi so far in India, and a very few others.  Special circumstances existed in these cases.  Almost all these leaders emerged in impoverished former colonies.  Trump is truly unusual in bringing this sort of politics home to the United States.  We have previously exported it, colluding in the creation and rise of Rios Montt, D’Aubuisson, and Pinochet.

 

Trump won by taking advantage of the Democratic party division: he won because so many Sanders loyalists defected to Stein or did not vote at all.  Yes, there were other reasons, but that one was decisive in the end.  If the Democrats reunite, they are unstoppable.  No one except the current Republican elite and hard-right really wants fascism, and many Trump voters are already waking up to realize they did nothing but damage themselves.

On the other hand, if the Democrats do not unite, the fascists will certainly institute dictatorship and begin mass murder, as they did in Italy, Germany, and every other country where fascist or fascist-like authoritarian regimes took over.  I have now studied over 115 cases of genocide and mass political killing, and found there is an invariable order: an extremist group defining itself by hate takes over, declares dictatorship, and promptly starts mass murder to consolidate control.  Several other scholars, including Barbara Harff, Gregory Stanton, and Samuel Totten, have independently found the same sequence.  Fascists are only the most extreme of these murderous regimes; any authoritarian government is apt to do it, and even quite a few elected democratic regimes (most recently Duterte’s in the Philippines).

The Trump campaign, and, so far, the Trump administration have been far toward the extreme end of the hatred distribution.  They have campaigned against Muslims, blacks, Latinxs, LGBTQ’s, women, atheists, liberals, Jews, and a range of other categories—the list seems very open-ended, like Hitler’s.  Very few regimes, even fascist ones, have been so indiscriminate in their hatreds.  This is the worst possible sign.  We are in for catastrophe if they are not stopped.

The likely scenario is for Trump’s economic policies to produce recession or depression—as they would certainly do, if carried out—or for Trump to start a war.  (Indeed, both might happen.)  This would give the administration an opportunity to declare a state of emergency, suspend the Constitution, and begin jailings and then murders.

The suppression of the press and the mass arrests and deportations of immigrants are clear indications that a police state is in the works.  More serious is the utter callousness with which the Republicans are working to eliminate not only Obamacare but also Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, and other programs.  They are well aware that this would lead to literally millions of excess deaths, as well as massive economic disruption—billions of dollars taken out of circulation.  They are not even pretending any more to do this to shrink the government; the money is being diverted to war, to security for Trump’s family, to subsidies for giant firms (especially oil), and to other big-government ends.

The order of genocide is reasonably predictable from what Republicans have been saying.  They will begin with obvious political dissidents, especially the ones that scare them most:  Independent, honest journalists.  Next will be the LGBTQ community, already targeted; Kevin Swanson, a leading Repubican radio preacher, has called for exterminating them.  Next will come the leaders of minority communities, especially Black and Latinx.  Academic leftists and environmental activists will also be high priority, along with activist teachers and educators.  The Republicans, like fascists everywhere, are particularly opposed to education (they want indoctrination only), and desirous of controlling it and crushing educators.

So, unite in peaceful resistance.  It works.  (See Chenoweth, Erica, and Maria Stephan.  2012.  Why Civil Resistance Works.  New York: Columbia University Press.)

Violent resistance is beginning to show up—in Berkeley, of course—and merely makes the situation worse, so far.  Copying fascist tactics against fascists simply gives them the game.

 

A huge problem the Republicans face is that they are now made up of three constituencies:  far-right business interests, overwhelmingly dominated by Big Oil and their financiers (look at Trump’s cabinet); white supremacists; and religious bigots, the far-right-wing “Christian” elements.  Accommodating those three puts the Republican leadership in a difficult position.  The white supremacists and religious extremists do not necessarily love big business.  The businessmen are aware that rule by the other two groups would ruin the economy, and as businessmen they are not enthusiastic about that.  The result seems to be, so far, accommodating all by giving in to their most extreme, damaging wants.

 

More clear announcements of genocidal intent:  Trump’s designated White House aide Sebastian Gorka, who is Hungarian, wore the diagnostic medal and bocskai jacket of the Order of Vitez, of which he is a member.  This was the military order created by the Horthy regime in 1930s-40s Hungary, which collaborated with Hitler, enabled his takeover of Hungary, and directly eliminated 600,000 Jews.  This announces clear and unambiguous sympathy not only with anti-Semitism but with genocide.  It is the first directly pro-genocide statement by actual members of the Trump administration.

 

The biggest losers from Trump’s election will be the ordinary hourly-wage workers.  They will lose unions; the Republicans will pass “Right to Work” bills.  Their medical care will be gutted.  They will lose at least some of Social Security.  They will lose consumer protection, which cuts worst to the working poor—they have to buy things, and they are most at the mercy of the cheap, sleazy sellers, whether it be housing or tools or food that is being sold.

Minorities will be heavy losers, as the government favors bigots and bullies over minority rights.

The unemployed—not just those seeking work, but retired people, children, and so on—will be next, for similar reasons.  They start worse off than the workers and have less to lose, but they will suffer even more.

Next will come farmers, who will lose some large percentage of their labor supply as Trump cracks down on illegal immigrants.  They voted about 4-1 for Trump, and are only beginning to wake up to the fear that they might have destroyed themselves.

Next come hi-tech firms, denied immigrant workers and also suffering from increasingly tight and restricted funding for science.  The Republican war on science is already having a huge impact on forward technologies and the new economy.

Next will be the salaried middle class in general, but they have more cushion and more protections.

No one will benefit, except Big Oil and other primary-production interests that serve the paleoeconomy.

 

My colleague Eric Schwitzgebel (2017) has done a logical analysis of the problems of being factual and unbiased in today’s world.  Briefly, he points out that when a dominant party does little beyond lying, and the media call the party on it, a more and more adversarial relationship develops, leading to claims of media bias and sometimes to very real media bias.  It is hard to deal with a world in which one party has a monopoly of facts and the other lies constantly.

Schwitzgebel, Eric.  2017.  “The Vicious Cycle that Leads to the End of Democracy.”  Los Angeles Times, Jan. 29, A18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unite against fascism 8

February 15th, 2017

Anderson Unite against Fascism 8

 

Stray thoughts from recent weeks

 

Reaffirming American values

It seems to me that the US is losing its traditional values.  Both the right—now ruling—and the more extreme and vocal end of the left have abandoned a good deal of what we agreed on until recently.

I’m starting with free speech, because I’ve had to explain to several “progressive” friends recently why cracking down on hate speech is not necessarily a good idea.

The five best reasons to support freedom of speech, even “hate speech” and the like:

  1. Hate speech is in the eye of the beholder.  No definition can be tight enough to stop people from insisting that what they say is not hate speech, and what their opponents say is always hate speech no matter how nicely phrased.  (Politeness can be a way of subtly maintaining white privilege, for instance.)
  2. You might learn something.  If not from the speech itself, then from the faft that people say it, believe it, and act on it.
  3. Suppressing speech drives it underground, where it spreads like wildfire—as censored things always do—and is attractive simply because it was suppressed.  There is an Arab saying that “if you forbid people from rolling camel dung into little balls with their fingers, they would do it, because if it is forbidden there must be something good about it.”  Moreover, suppressing speech makes the suppressed people into instant martyrs, no matter how unsavory they seemed before.
  4. Since the people in power will naturally be the ones doing the censoring, all opposition to those in power will soon be censored, and everything that supports them will be permitted, no matter how vile it is.  This is, in practice, the greatest reason why censorship is generally bad.
  5. It is just plain immoral to shut other people up because you happen to dislike what they say.  They have a right to their opinions and their mouths.

If what they say is downright libel, or a direct call to violence, or a lie that directly leads to physical harm to people (like the anti-vaxx lies), that is something else.  Freedom is not a matter of absolute freedom; it is a matter of considering others’ rights.  Speech that actually and directly causes physical harmful is not defensible.  However, the wise activist errs on the side of liberty.

All this we learned in the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the 1960s, but it has all been said before, by Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and many others.

 

Second is tolerance, which is also under an astonishing amount of attack from the left as well as the right.

It really should need no defense, but many of the same considerations as those above will apply.

  1. If you don’t tolerate others, they won’t tolerate you.  They may not even if you do tolerate them, but, in general, hate breeds hate, acceptance breeds acceptance.
  2. You might learn something.
  3. You can’t hate everybody, but since everybody is different, there are always reasons to dislike and reject.
  4. We’re all in this together.  A functioning society has to grow, change, and build, and can do that only by unified effort, mutual aid, and solidarity.  The alternative is mutual destruction.  The dominant group may win for a while by doing others down, but it merely hurts itself—first by losing those other groups and whatever they have to offer, but second by starting a spirit of hate and rivalry that inevitably tears up the dominant group itself, in due course of time.
  5. As before, all morality worthy of the name teaches that you shouldn’t shove your biases down everybody else’s throats.

As usual, there are limits.  Obviously, I am not arguing for tolerating rape, murder, or robbery.  I am arguing for tolerating people.  They deserve fairness and consideration.  If they are acting to harm others, they have to be stopped.  Toleration of ideas is a good, but we need to argue and negotiate and work them out.  Toleration of particular behaviors is a different thing: they can be tolerated only in so far as they don’t actively and unnecessarily harm people.  Not all harm to people is bad—Plato and Aristotle were already pointing out 2400 years ago that surgeons “harm” people but it’s for their own good.  One wants to minimize hurt, but some is necessary.  In short, tolerance is a major goal, but has to be qualified by common sense.

All of which does NOT give anyone license to hate or reject anyone on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, language, history, or the like.  No morality can justify that.  Total personal rejection of anyone for any reason is unacceptable.  We may have to kill a person in self-defense, but we are not given license to hate that individual simply for being.

 

 

I have been reading a lot about fascism lately, and the reading is not at all reassuring.  Reading about the rise of Hitler is so exactly like reading about the rise of Trump that it is impossible for me to believe there isn’t deliberate imitation going on.  Bannon is clearly tracking the Nazis.  And such comments as Stephen Miller’s—Trump is “not to be questioned”—and Trump’s attack on the courts are vintage early Nazi.

See: Mann, Michael.  2004.  Fascists.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Paxton, Robert O.  2004.  The Anatomy of Fascism.  New York: Knopf. (Great book by an old college friend of mine)

 

Snyder, Timothy.  2015.  Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.  New York: Tim Duggan Books.

Snyder has been very visible lately, warning us.

 

Now a definition:

“Treason:  The action of betraying; betrayal of the trust undertaken by or reposed in any one; breach of faith, treacherous action, treachery….  High Treason or Treason proper: Violation by a subject of his allegiance to his soverign or to the state.”  Oxford English Dictionary.

 

Lowest blow yet:  USDA forced to take down their website showing animal cruelty sites and investigations.  No way now for the public to find out about evil puppy mills, cruel factory farms, dogfighting, and the like.  This was apparently done at the instigation of factory-farm animal growers.  It does not help anyone significantly.

 

The confirmatioin of Betsy DeVos on an almost pure party-line vote is a good point for saying the US is over.  The 250-year project to build a free society is abandoned.

The majority party, in total control of the federal government and most states, has voted to eliminate public education and to support a candidate whose idea of education is extremist right-wing “Christian” indoctrination.  She has said she wants the churches, not the schools, to do the educating, to advance “God’s kingdom”—her version of it.  The US educational system has plenty of problems, but cutting funding, eliminating work security for teachers, and building a network of minimal-cost “Christian” schools is going in the wrong direction

It shows that the Republican Party is so consumed with hate—hate towards minorities, women, liberals, gays, immigrants of every stripe—that it is willing to destroy the US economy and society to get back at those enemies.  All Republicans in power understand that the US depends on an educated workforce, and  most of them surely understand what DeVos will do to that.

The first thing DeVos did was take down the website for disabled students at the Dept. of Education.  Again, sheer senseless cruelty—more and more the trademark of this administration.

 

The Republicans are held to a difficult “triangulation”:  They have to balance the interests of the religious right, the white supremacists, and Big Oil and its allied far-right corporations.  This has, in practice, meant combining all the hates and negatives.  This will have bad effects:  going the course with racism and corporate selfishness will eventually alienate many religious people, while religious and racist bigotry will ruin the economy and thus Big Oil.  The corporations know this latter point perfectly well.  Even the Koch brothers have spoken out against Trump’s extremism in this regard.  But the Republicans are trapped, and in any case their leadership is so hate-filled that they cannot avoid cruelty.

It will take about a year for the good times produced by Obama’s presidency to run out.  Republican negativity will level the economy down, especially in so far as the Republicans can destroy public schools, labor unions, Medicare, Social Security, and banking and pollution rules.

The problem is wider than hatred.  It is partly due to assessment of whether we can really improve the US by working together.  This meant that US society and politics was assumed to be a positive-sum game: all could win.  That was the overwhelming assumption when I was young, and both Democrats and Republicans held it.  Starting with Nixon but reaching real fruition with Reagan, the tone began to shift.  Reagan spoke of the old ideal, but acted to help the rich at the expense of the rest—playing a zero-sum game.  Starting with Newt Gingrich and reaching a climax with Donald Trump, the US has become a negative-sum game.  The strongest groups maintain their relative position by hurting everyone.  Surely nobody but the truly deluded believe the US can improve by taking down every group in it except rich white males.  The fact is that many poor or worried white males (and others) voted to hurt other groups even more, to slow down their own decline.  The US is collapsing into mutual destruction by ethnic and religious blocs.

People who were not really especially hateful or bigoted wound up voting what hatreds they did have.  Trump and his minions whipped up fear and hate as much as they possibly could, and many otherwise decent people were caught up in it, voting their one hatred and forgetting their good intentions and hopes.

 

Keep the jokes and humor coming:  “The tyrant fears the laugh more than the assassin’s bullet.”  Robert A. Heinlein, in the short story “Our Fair City”

 

What I know of evil is largely learned from life experience, but there is a small but excellent literature on the subject.  We have reviewed most of it in our book:

Anderson, E. N., and Barbara A. Anderson.  2012.  Warning Signs of Genocide.  Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Particularly useful—some new since the book—are:

 

Baron-Cohen, Simon.  2011.  Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty.  London:  Allen Lane.  In US as:  The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty.  New York:  Basic Books.

 

Baumeister, Roy F.  1997.  Evil:  Inside Human Cruelty and Violence.  San Francisco:  W. H. Freeman.

 

Beck, Aaron.  1999.  Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence.  NY: HarperCollins.

 

Snyder, Timothy.  2015.  Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.  New York: Tim Duggan Books.

 

Staub, Erwin. 1989. The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence. New York: Cambridge University Press.

 

— 2003. The Psychology of Good and Evil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Staub, Ervin.  2011.  Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict, and Terrorism.  New York: Oxford University Press.

 

Zimbardo, Philip.  2008.  The Lucifer Effect:  Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.  New York: Random House.

 

The Republican Party has most certainly changed.  In 1900-08 it was the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who started a “Progressive” tradition that lasted for decades but was more or less coopted by his relative FDR in the 1930s.  Eisenhower and even Nixon were moderates.  Reagan brought in a solid conservative administration.  Trump brought in something quite new: a radical fascist administration that could not be more different from earlier Republican incarnations.

This tracks not only the rise of giant corporations, but the death of the folk society—the small-town and rural world—that produced the Progressives (Teddy’s) and the labor movement.  The labor movement has withered away as corporations and suburbs replace bosses and urban or rural workers.  The “greatest generation” voted solidly Democratic or progressive-Republican; the baby boomers started out fairly liberal but have become the backbone of right-wing voting; the rising generations seem not to vote at all.

The change in Republican Party policies has led to a change in voters.  In its conservative days, it got the votes of most educated and well-to-do people.  In the 1950s, especially, average income was the cutoff; people making incomes above that tended to vote Republican; below it, Democrat.  This began to change in the Reagan years, and now it has reversed; educated people vote Democrat.  The Republican shift to fascism has shifted the vote to the classic fascist constituency: backward sectors of the economy combined with the least educated sectors of the working classes.

Worldwide, the shift toward fascism—visible from the Philippines and Turkey to Poland and France—has seen similar voting shifts.  In particular, big oil and the most backward sectors of agriculture have been the consistent supporters and concomitants of far-right-wing regimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unite against Fascism 7

January 29th, 2017

Anderson Unite against Fascism 7

I am seeing and hearing more of the “I’m ashamed to be an American” rhetoric.

  1. Three-fourths of the US did NOT vote for Trump, and a huge number of those who did now regret it.  The US is still the same country—imperfect, far too conservative for many, but still a country with a lot of decent people.

            What elected Trump was disunion on the left, and solidarity on the right.  All the Republicans in the end voted for him.  The left and center split their overwhelming majority of votes among several candidates.  Clinton still won the popular vote, but the Republicans gamed the election and narrowly won the electoral votes.

Withdrawing into shame and self-alienation is the worst possible thing to do now.

If the left and center can unite, we’re unbeatable.  If we don’t, there is no way to stop fascism, dictatorship, and genocide. 

 

The main clues that Trump’s administration might seize dictatorial power are, in order of importance:

The campaign, based entirely on hatred and targeting almost every imaginable group that could challenge white straight older right-wing Christians.

The ban on Muslims and refugees and the planned hunting down of undocumented immigrants.  Even the Koch brothers did not like the Muslim ban, let alone traditional conservatives like John McCain.

The rapid rise of the neo-Nazi Stephen Bannon, who now appears to be close to running the Trump administration.

The constant stream of lies, never corrected.

The concomitant attacks on and threats to the press and media and on honest critics, and now, increasingly, open repression of the truth, beginning with the muzzling of government scientists and agencies.

The confrontational stance toward Mexico and China, and warlike statements about Iran and Iraq.

The picks of truly extremist individuals, from Stephen Bannon to Jeff Sessions, for key posts.

The increasingly tight fusion of Trump’s administration with the Koch brothers, the Republican congressional leadership, and other anti-democratic elements.

The Republican speedup of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

The high-handed and authoritarian rhetoric in regard to oil pipelines and other controversial matters.

The deliberate flouting of major ethical traditions, such as revealing taxes and cutting business ties before taking office.

The increasingly close relations with Putin and other fascist leaders.

There are many lesser clues, but these should be enough.

 

More and more commentators are now spotting the traits of working-class white male culture that made Trump relate to them and Clinton annoy them.  One I can add is that when white working-class males, and indeed many other American males as well, are scared and worired, they tend to go for exactly the sort of bluster, exaggeration, and indiscriminate anger that characterizes Trump.  I have the best source for that: myself and my friends in or from my midwestern and southern childhood.  We do it.  Go into any working-class, largely-white bar in rural America and you’ll hear it.  Trump’s exaggerated statements about the problems of America, and his lashing out at any and every minority or foreign country that looked available, is typical.

 

Most genocides in history have started out with military dictators or local strongmen, and have targeted only their opponents or dissidents in general, or in many cases one or two vulnerable and visible minority groups. This is the usual case in Latin America, for instance, where a strongman rises to power, kills his political opponents and one or two Native American groups, and either relaxes into power or gets thrown out.  Almost every Latin American country has had an episode of this.  It is also common in Africa and has often happened in Asia.

A few have started with not particularly ideological dictators who rose to power through concentrated hatred of one group.  The genocides of Muslims in Serbia-Bosnia-Herzegovina (which ultimately spread to general genocide), of Tutsi in Rwanda, and of Hutu in Burundi are of this type.

A few were far worse.  They were the products of truly extreme ideologies, and targeted a large and open-ended set of groups.  These were the great genocides:  Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s Russia, the Dergue’s Ethiopia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Turkey under the Young Turks in WWI, and a few more.

Trump, so far, is following the pattern of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and other grand genociders.  He has attacked a vast and open-ended range of groups.  He has systematically attacked the media, cracked down on information, and spread lies everywhere.  He has come under the sway of an openly neo-Nazi ideology promoted by Stephen Bannon and the Koch brothers (among others).

 

Here is a likely scenario:

Trump’s economic measures wreck the economy, bringing a huge stock market drop and a sharp recession.

The Republicans try to deal with it by blaming Mexicans, Chinese, Democrats, African-Americans, gays, and other targets.

This fails to help.  The economy continues to deteriorate.

This leads to massive demonstrations and rioting.

Trump, advised by Stephen Bannon, declares a state of emergency and suspends the Constitution.  Surveillance is set up to make sure that every email message and media posting is checked (the Chinese have all the necessary know-how and software).

Massive protests continue, and grow larger each week.

Trump declares martial law and troops begin shooting down demonstrators, meanwhile designating any and all related groups as terrorists and arresting their leadership.

Within a month, genocide begins.

As Republicans get carried away, it escalates to include extermination of gays (called for by several Republican right-wing preachers, such as Kevin Swanson), leading liberals, leading minority figures, leading environmentalists, and other opponents.

Killing spreads to target scientists and teachers in general, as well as more and more minority activists and leaders, Muslims, liberal Christians, many Jews, and more and more leaders of black and Latino communities.

This continues until all conceivable opposition is gone, or until revolution supervenes.

A variant would have Trump declare war to solve the economic problem (a favorite solution—or distraction—since history began), and then declares a state of emergency and a crackdown because of the war effort.  It will be recalled that the great genocides of Hitler, the Turkish government in 1915-22, and Pol Pot were done under wartime conditions.  (On the other hand, those of Stalin, Mao, the Ethiopian Dergue, and many other extremist rulers were done with little triggering.)

 

If previous genocides are any guide, a Republican genocide would kill about six million—significant figure; genocides in a multi-targeted situation like this usually kill about 2% of the population, sometimes more (up to 25% in Cambodia).

All historical genocides have moved very rapidly once started.  Killing escalates within months or days.  We will have no time to stop it if we do not start now.

 

A movement like this, to succeed, has to have:

–Obviously, solidarity first.

–GETTING THE WORD OUT, by conventional media, social media, word of mouth, anything.  Let the light shine.

–resulting grassroots movement and enthusiasm.

–a serious leader,  or leaders, with a clear, consistent ideology, the opposite of Trump’s.

–a firm commitment to grassroots, with the leader mobilizing, drawing from, and learning from the grassroots.

–a firm commitment to truth, and constantly driving it against lies.

–a firm commitment to tolerance and diversity, and driving it against both Trumpist racism and exclusionism and left-wing hyper-puritanical denouncing.  Tolerance, among other things, for genuine Christianity, and willingness to drive it against the horrible perversion of it in the Trumpist movement.

–awareness that we are up against genuine totalitarian fascism, and may have only 3 or 4 years to save democracy in the US.

–Need to DOCUMENT everything, especially deaths from refusal of health care, suppression of the press and media, and job losses from Trumpist policies.  We desperately need good reporters and media.

–Finally, but most important, keep a clear vision in mind of human good, and of the really good people in the world.  Most people are not Trump voters, and many Trump voters were fooled, not evil.  We have to work toward human perfection.  We won’t get there, but it is a process goal (a goal that can never be achieved, but the closer we approximate it the better off we are).

 

Trump was as indiscriminate as Adolf Hitler in the number and size of groups he and his campaign managers attacked:  African-Americans, Mexicans, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, China, women, gays, transgender persons, the poor in general, liberals, Democrats, and more.  He promised to “make America great again” by repressing all these groups.  Evidently, his “America” is confined to white right-wing Christians with traditional gender attitudes.  He has broken with this enough to allow an African-American and a Jewish individual into his cabinet, but he still has a record of not only preaching group hate, but of campaigning on no other real issue.  Outside of a few throwaway lines on infrastructure, he had no suggestions in his campaign that did not involve harming minorities, women, or the Chinese.

This sort of indiscriminate attack on anyone and everyone has always led to attempted takeover and dictatorship.  If dictatorship does follow, the result is always genocide.  I have studied over a hundred cases of this throughout history.  Hatred ideology is remarkably consistent in its effects.

Very few democracies have survived rule by people as extreme as Trump without leading to dictatorship and genocide.  Those few cases of successful saving include Italy voting out Silvio Bernasconi; Nicaragua not competely ridding themselves of Daniel Ortega (he still governs the country) but at least limiting him and voting him out on occasion; Canada voting out Stephen Harper; India voting out an early BJP government (but they are now stuck with a far more extreme BJP leader who will certainly end democracy there unless desperate measures are taken).  In addition, the Philippines threw out Ferdinand Marcos in spite of his assuming dictatorship and exterminating opponent groups; Chile did the same with Pinochet; several other cases exist of dictators being forced by popular risings without actual war.

In all these cases, there were massive protests; there were legitimate, sane leaders from earlier times, who had high credibility and respect; and the middle-of-the-road voters could be convinced, because the anti-totalitarian leaders did not take extreme positions of their own.  There were also credible media reporting the situation.  All these factors also operated in the success of the Democratic successes of the 1930s and 1940s, and of the civil rights and environmental movements in the US in the 1960s and 1970s.  They were also the ways that autocracy was defeated and democratization achieved in South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and elsewhere.

Many autocratic regimes, however, were turned out only through war.  This could be successful rebellion by victimized groups, from Mexico’s civil war to Rwanda’s recovery under Paul Kagame, or international war, from World Wars I and II to the international actions that brought down genocidal regimes in Serbia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the 1990s.  There is, of course, no real chance of either civil or international war displacing Trump.  We will have to rely on the tried-and-true method above.

 

Trump and his group are beginning in the classic dictator style: attacking the media.  Trump spoke to the CIA in mid-January and said “As you know, I have a running war with the media” (Memoli and Bennett 2017:A1).  He has repeatedly criticized the “lying press”—shades of Hitler’s lugenpresse.  Trump’s public relations head Kelly Ann Conway has been speaking of “alternative facts,” meaning lies from Trump’s office.  The fascist nature of this is finally making the public realize that we are dealing with full-scale Hitler fascism here.  Trump is quite clearly following Putin, and probably Recep Erdogan of Turkey, in this.  They have been cracking down increasingly on the press, jailing or—in Putin’s case—murdering reporters and media personnel.

The most dangerous situation will occur if Trump really fails—as I expect him to do—at fixing the economy.  Then he will be more or less forced to heap even more blame on minorities and liberals.  Eventually he will feel so pressured to suppress them that he will start genocidal action.  This has happened before….

 

The current wave of extremist right-wing electoral victories is also very consistent.  Elected extremist regimes now rule the Philippines, India, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, England, Venezuela, and a few other countries.  In all cases, so far as I am aware, the elections were like those in the US: the rural, less educated, and economically backward sections of the populace elected the extremists, often with a plurality rather than a majority.  Moreover, in every case I know well enough to judge, the dinosauric sectors of the economy—oil, coal, mining, agribusiness—funded the extremists and whipped up the hatred among the voters.

Ever since World War II, there has been a widening gap between the more backward-looking primary production sectors, especially oil, and the increasingly hi-tech, high-research, high-skill sectors, especially communications and electronics.  Giant industrial firms usually side with the dinosaurs, out of tradition or out of immediate self-interest (the lo ng run is not so hopeful for them).  This split has affected voting and policy in the obvious ways.  As oil and coal see the threat from solar and wind power, the great oil and coal billionaires wax ever more extreme, anti-change, and anti-democratic, whether in the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, or Sudan.

 

What is happening is a worldwide change from “progress” to ratfight.  In technical terms, we are seeing people shift from seeing politics and economics as at least potentially a positive-sum game to seeing them as a negative-sum game.  A positive-sum game is one in which everyone can win—in this case, political economy can produce a situation in which everyone gets better off.  A zero-sum game is a typical “game”:  One person or team wins, one loses.  A negative-sum game is one in which everyone loses.

In the United States, white right-wingers are hoping they will take down nonwhites, women, and liberals such that white right-wingers will prosper, or at least go downhill less rapidly than they would otherwise.  In fact, Trump’s policies will ruin almost everyone except oil billionaires.  The reality is that the Trump voters, especially the less educated rural and working-class ones who really put him in, will almost all be terribly hurt financially and physically.  Their real hope is to make the “others” hurt even worse.  Worldwide, it seems that negative-sum gaming is now the rule.  With populations rapidly rising and resources rapidly shrinking, this makes all too much sense.  It is, however, a strategy that will do nothing but destroy.

 

One final thing for the far future:  education.  Specifically, education to produce genuinely better people—people who are not hateful bullies, but who actually want to help others.

Trump’s voters were largely much less educated than Clinton voters, and his cabinet is much less educated than Obama’s—only Ben Carson has a doctoral degree, and that in a field irrelevant to his charge.  More to the point, though, most Americans are not getting the type of education they need.  This would be one that 1) teaches civics, including the Constitution and a non-whitewashed US history; 2) teaches actual science and how one can tell falsehoods and investigate truth; 3) actually teach the young about the depth and complexity of human emotions.  Humanistic education these days runs too heavily to comic books and other media that may be well enough in themselves, but do not have the sustained engagement with human feelings and thoughts that one gets from Shakespeare, Cao Xueqin, Dostoievsky, Mann, or Toni Morrison.  Serious music seems to have disappeared from most people’s lives; again, whatever is true or not about “quality,” music of Victoria or Beethoven engages much more deep and complex emotions than the popular stuff.  Whatever one likes or feels is appropriate, people need more insights into humanity than they get from American popular culture.  As noted in earlier posts, it is clear that Trump won and Clinton lost partly because he was a reality TV star and she was a policy wonk.

Formidably important in Trump’s victory was the plummeting level of public and popular culture in the last few decades.  When the level of public awareness and political thought is set by movies about comic book heroes and the like, and when even the “intellectuals” are listening to pop music and reading comics, Trump is inevitable.  His victory over Clinton—and indeed the whole Republican triumph of the last few years—is the victory of reality TV over education, of “celeb” culture over political acumen and real analysis.  A smart, thoughtful candidate like Clinton has no chance.

This means that the “progressives” and “intellectuals” have to shape up.  Pull your minds out of the comic books and TV series and into classic literature and philosophy.  The more deep, analytic, complex, and probing, the more it gives and affirms life.  The more shallow, superficial, and treating humans as expendables, the more it serves death.  Choose life.

 

Trump is a big baby.  He looks, acts, and apparently thinks like a two-year-old.  This seems to have a lot to do with his appeal.  A certain kind of voter seems smitten.  That goes right back to point two above.  If the level of public taste is around the age of two, Trump is to be expected.  The Republicans are deliberately manipulating this—using Trump’s antics to distract the voters, while the Kochs and their congresspersons run the country.  All doubt that this is the case was removed by the cabinet picks—Koch friends and followers—and the way their congressional confirmations were rammed through while other events (such as Obama’s farewell address) were going on.

 

Estimates for deaths per year from repeal of Obamacare are now up to 43,956—the notably exact figure released by David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler of Harvard University on Jan. 23, 2017 (Cartwright 2017).

 

Cartwright, Zach.  2017.  “Harvard Doctors Just Revealed How Many People Will Die from Repealing Obamacare.”  US Uncut, Jan. 23, http://usuncut.com/politics/harvard-doctors-obamacare-repeal/

 

Memoli, Michael A., and Brian Bennet..  2017. “Trump Team Signals ‘War’ with Media.”  Los Angeles Times, Jan. 23, A1, A10.

 

 

Appendix

 

Frederick Turner, Jan. 22, 2017:

A Primer on Trumpism

  1. Set out impossible and terrifying negotiating positions before even the topic of the bargaining has been broached. Let your enemies come… to you. 2. Use the familiar ball-busting language of hyperbole, insult, boasting, ridicule, and above all equality, that one finds in working men’s locales like barber shops, sports bars, and tailgate parties. Make the assumption of cultural superiority and good taste immediately a handicap to those who practice it. Your followers will love you unconditionally for this. If the insultee insults you back, that’s the game, and maybe if they’re good enough at it, put them in your cabinet. 3. Recognize that in a world of unscrupulous and ruthless self-interest the “high road” is just another piece of rhetoric, but one which is deeply and sometimes catastrophically destabilizing to the bargaining medium. Your international rivals, especially the most brutal and selfish ones, will be more comfortable with a predictably extortionate, self-interested, and threatening bargainer than with a truly high-minded, empathetic and generous one whom they do not understand or trust. They’re unnerved by well-meaning honest people, because they’re always wondering what their ulterior motive is, and suspecting that they’re being suckered. Hence they’re less willing to make bargains. They’d rather have another bruiser in the ring than a self-appointed umpire who won’t let them do what they’re good at. They may even do good deals under the table before the bout. 4. Ally yourself with the toughest and most brutal dictators, because (to play on the patriotism of their own oppressed people) they’ll be happy to take on the expensive and bloody business of keeping order in the failed states, civil wars, and messianic theocracies of the world. Stay out of these yourself and make money for yourself and your country from the conflicts, while weakening your unsavory allies and draining their resources by war. 5. Win by “losing.” Pretend to fight for possession of something worthless or harmful to your own side. Then allow yourself to “lose.” With Russia, for instance, hand them the tar-baby of the Middle East, which is of little value (now that fracking has destroyed OPEC) and hugely expensive in terms of money, lives, and prestige. Make this look like a concession to Putin, when actually it’s a poison pill that will destroy him. North Korea is the perfect tar-baby to give to China. 6. Make huge vague promises; wait for your enemies to declare them impossible: then fulfil them in a completely unexpected way. For instance, pay for the “Wall” by creating a massive export tax on moneys sent to Mexico by resident Mexican workers for their families back home. 7. Use the traditional traits of masculinity unashamedly as a reliable signal of what people can expect. If you admit and glory in your incorrectness, you can’t be taken to task for having made mistakes of propriety, since they are not mistakes. 8. Appropriate the policies of your enemies when they look as if they might work. This means choosing a side that will reliably prevent your enemies from enacting those wise policies themselves. Republicans, for instance, blocked all of Obama’s policies for quickly reviving the economy, such as massive infrastructure spending; this provides a terrific opportunity for enacting exactly the same policies and taking credit for them. Republican congressmen who hate the policy will have to grind their teeth and vote for it. (In nineteenth-century British parliamentary politics this technique was called “dishing the Whigs.” Disraeli used it all the time, and so the Tories could take credit for passing beneficial legislation long advocated by the Whigs. Clinton did the same thing with welfare reform, a Republican issue.) 9. Defang any accusations of being a dishonest and coercive competitor in the business world by promising to use the same underhanded means for the interests of the country. 10. Never let any attack go unavenged. Do not consider it beneath you to respond, even to obviously scurrilous and lying provocations: instead, make your response even more scurrilous and mendacious. Deny plain facts if necessary: the denial is a further counter-insult, in that your enemies are being treated as if they don’t even deserve to be told the truth. Always remember: the vilification your enemies heap on you is all to your advantage. Treasure and encourage it. 11. Study to create impossibly bad expectations, so that it will be quite impossible to fall beneath them. Then every act one takes that is not outrageously evil will be greeted with grudging praise, happy surprise, and approval. 12. Arouse your enemies’ furious, apocalyptic, and increasingly unlikely prognostications, so that on the occasions when they do not actually prove to be true your critics will look foolish and hysterical. If they get angry enough, they’ll lose their perspective and get stupid. 13. Stay in the news. All publicity is good publicity. Take the oxygen out of everything except your own message. 14. Use ethnic and religious prejudices without being so foolish as to believe them yourself. Stroke the prejudices of your followers while dealing on good terms with members of discrimination target groups privately on good terms. 15. Be prepared to compromise once the ballfield has been massively tilted in your favor by the means listed in 1-12. 16. Existence before essence. Survival before principle—above all, avoid principle, the clog upon all action.

 

We now learn that up-to-the-minute psychographics helped turn the election for Trump. Cambridge Analytica, a firm the collects all the data available from Facebook “likes,” Google searches, and other on-line sources, is run by far right-wingers, including Stephen Bannon.  It turned its formidable amount of data and its ability to target individual voters over to Ted Cruz and then to Donald Trump (Grassegger and Krogerus 2017).  They can pick out from online data an individual’s personality, political preferences, buying choices, and so on—almost everything about you is now available.  This allowed them to target ads and door-to-door canvassing with surgical precision.

 

Grassegger, Hannes, and Mikael Krogerus.  2017.  “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down.”  Motherboard, Jan. 28, http://motherboard.vice.com/read/big-data-cambridge-analytica-brexit-trumphttp://motherboard.vice.com/read/big-data-cambridge-analytica-brexit-trump

 

Unite against Fascism 6

January 20th, 2017

Unite against Fascism 6

 

The real theme of all these messages is that we have to have full solidarity.  Everyone who is not for Trump has to unite against him.  That means full tolerance and respect for those who are against him, and also for those who will be against him when they know the facts.

I see four pillars of organization:  Caring and respect; tolerance; truth—learning it and propagating it in this time of lies; and responsibility (including accountability), a commodity notably lacking in American politics lately.

So, what to do now?  Clearly by far the most important thing is to unite the opposition.  Democrats are still locked in mutual recrimination, mostly red-hots (the Sanders people who did not follow Sanders himself into support for Hillary) and moderates (basically, Clinton voters).  There are also third-party voters, and the Independents who actually are a plurality of American voters.  Many of them are former Republicans who have found the steady rightward shift of the party more than they can bear, but they reliably vote Republican in elections.  Others are disaffected former Democrats.  Others are genuinely moderate politically.  Others are simply apolitical.  We need to get them on board as much as possible.  Remember that Trump got only 62,000,000 votes to Clinton’s 65,000,000 and another 9,000,000 to third parties and write-ins.  And another 120,000,000 or so didn’t vote at all, many because they did not like any candidates.

To do this, we have to have a program that has wide support but sharply defines the sane majority against the extremists.  Having no program beyond opposition to Trump and his administration simply won’t work.  Neither will having an extreme or exclusionist “progressive” program.  We have to have clear goals.  These should be both immediate and for the farther future.  I think of immediate goals as steps toward utopia.  We won’t get to utopia, but any progress in that direction helps, and if we don’t have a clear vision of the good society, we won’t know where to start or how to evaluate what efforts we do make.

I think the first priority for a reasonable consensus program would be cracking down on tax breaks, offshoring money, and subsidies for the rich.  Everybody except the right-wing rich seems to agree that their tax breaks and special favors are a bad thing.  Extreme inequality is bad enough in itself, but it also gives very disproportionate political power to the rich, especially in this post-Citizens-United world.  Indeed, overturning the Citizens United ruling and getting sane regulations on campaign spending should be another immediate priority.

Then we should go after hatred.  There is a current debate over when opposition to racism becomes pernicious “identity politics.”  I think we have to keep opposing racism and hatred.  Racist, religious, and gender hate is what gave us Trump and his gang, and we have to fight it directly, totally, and first of all.  The majority of Americans are clearly on board with this.  On the other hand, there is a real concern—if politics gets too close to “white vs. black,” we have whites voting racial hate instead of self-interest.  The cure seems to me to be to go after hatred in general.

Next most important is getting the truth out.  Working-class America still listens to Fox News, doesn’t understand climate change, and doesn’t know whom to believe on economic and political issues.  We absolutely have to quit talking only to urban intellectuals.  We have to reach out much more.

After that, or actually at the same time but somewhat less emphasized initially, we can go after the longer-term issues: health and environment.  US life expectancy, infant mortality, and maternal mortality are a disgrace—far worse than in any other developed country, and down with much poorer countries like Cuba, Costa Rica, and China.  Our environmental situation is deteriorating fast.  Global warming threatens to get out of control and devastate the planet.  We have to fight anti-scientific nonsense on all these fronts.

Ultimately, I think all of us can agree we want a society where everyone is reasonably prosperous but neither individuals nor the collectivity are “rich” enough in material goods to wreck the planet.  (No, we do NOT have to live miserable or puritanical lives.  There are plenty of resources left IF we use them reasonably.)  We want an economy that produces jobs but not subsidies, breaks, giveaways, and getting rich through crime, corruption, and cheating.

We want collective goods like free public education, a functioning infrastructure, and a beautiful and healthy environment as well as a sustainably productive one.

We have to have good public health.  One thing conservatives forget is that we can’t have individual good health; it has to be public or nothing.  Epidemics don’t know about race, religion, or, on the whole, gender.  They are worse for the poor but the rich can’t escape them.

Above all, we want, or should want, a society where civil rights and voting rights are real, equal, and enforced.  We want a society where collective goods allow individual “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

All the above is well covered in the Democratic and Green party platforms.  Some points of difference exist but could and should be resolved.

Thus reasonableness instead of hatred, learning and understanding instead of bigotry and extremist lies, and compassion instead of callousness.  We can’t get to Utopia but we can start the road-building.

 

One other thing to do right away is to document everything we can, and get the documentation out of the US to be protected in other countries.  We are in for suppression of the press and legitimate radio and TV.  Trump has already started it.  His ideal, Putin, has killed many reporters, as well as shutting down opposition media.  We can expect that.  The legitimate media are already weak enough in this world of Twitter and Fox News.  They will collapse, leaving us without honest news, if real suppression happens.

George Monbiot (2016) has revealed the web of liars and lying thinktanks, mostly funded by the Koch brothers, behind the Republican political machine.  The article is sobering, to put it mildly.  We have to oppose documented truth to a vast lie machine funded in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

Three things are increasingly obvious about the Trump administration:

First and most important, the rest of the far right is quite delibeately keeping the public eye focused on Trump and his shenanigans, while they calmly dismantle the US while people are focused elsewhere.  All doubt was removed by the Republicans rushing through the cabinet confirmations while the public was focused on Obama’s farewell address, Trump’s imminent incoming speech, and Trump’s ties with Russia.

At first I thought that sheer hatred explained all the Trump vote, but now I realize that passivity and conformity—expressing themselves as shallowness and weakness—were just as important.  Trump the TV star simply outdrew Clinton the schoolmarm.  The Republicans voted solidly for him, but were not a majority; he got his plurality by attracting the less educated and more naïve Democrats and independents.  They voted for someone they could relate to—a reality TV character rather than a highly educated Washington policy wonk.  Fighting Trump will be very difficult in this situation.

Therefore, for the future, the key is to learn and rationally understand instead of hating; act and fight on instead of giving up and falling into passivity; be independent instead of conformist!  These self-disciplines have to underlie and be the foundation for restored tolerance, civility, and solidarity in American life.  It will take hard work for all of us to buck the system and do this.  Just do it.  America and all of us Americans are fighting for our lives now.

 

I personally would also prioritize two other things:  first, a specific attack on the Great Lies—the ones that just go on and on and are apparently universally believed by the right wing:  Racism, religious bigotry (especially against Jews and Muslims), the nonexistence of global warming, and the unworthiness of the poor (the idea that the poor are all lazy—not working, and that because of laziness and stupidity).  Fake news, lies in general, and the Republican acceptance of lies is bad enough, but these four are really especially awful, and they never go away.

The other is civility.  We are getting farther and farther from civil discourse.  Mea culpa: I have a terrible past of inflammatory remarks.  The right wing is usually the leader and always the most successful in extreme, exaggerated, intemperate, and insulting remarks, and we should leave that to them.  We always lose.  In particular, I think it is time to quit using “fuck” as an all-purpose term in what should be serious political discourse.

 

I think all the above is a matter of what I call “process goals.”  These are goals that we will never fully achieve, but should keep trying for, because any progress in that direction is pure good.  We will never be perfectly healthy, but any progress toward health is good.  Sustainability is another such case, though this one has to be qualified with the point that achieving sustainability by drastically reducing incomes and welfare would not be good.  Justice, fairness, truth in politics and public life, and civility are all process goals. (Fairness means giving everyone a fair chance, not making everybody equal in a mindless, mechanical way.)

 

The health gap between rural and urban America is increasing, with death rates declining less rapidly or actually rising in the rural areas (Frostenson 2017).  This is directly due to rural choice: they have been voting more and more consistently for Republicans and against health care.  The greatest gap is in maternal and child mortality, because of the rural bias against abortion and indeed against women’s health care in general.

 

More and more evidence shows a full-scale conspiracy involving James Comey, head of the FBI, and Clinton’s emails (Abramson 2017).

Juan Cole (2017) regards Trump and many other politicians as psychopaths.  He notes that psychopaths by birth are about 1% of the population, another 5% (possibly exaggerated) are rendered psychopathic by brain damage, and 12% are close enough to be easily persuaded to go with psychopaths.  Another 18% are weak or scared or hateful enough to be easily persuaded.  I have no idea where he gets the figures (beyond the 1%, which is standard psychology), but indeed the percentage of the population who will vote for really extreme hatred is about 10-15 %, with another 10-15% going along with it.  The vote for far right-wingers like George Wallace in the old South was about 20%.  In any case, Cole describes the utter lack of conscience of the psychopath and his indifference to sufferers and victims.  (Psychopaths are usually male).

He notes that psychopaths often show less gray matter in the anterior rostral prefrontal cortext—an area of the brain concerned with empathy and socializing—and in the temporal poles, which may be associated with emotion.

He goes on to exaggerate the evidence for psychopathy and to overextend it; for one thing, he does not realize that sociopathy is a different thing, but lumps sociopaths with psychopaths.  (Sociopaths lie and cheat without compunction; they sometimes harm, but do not usually do so.  Psychopaths really like to inflict pain and suffering.)  My psychologist friends are more apt to diagnose Trump as narcissist rather than psychopathic. But some of his supporters are certainly psychopathic, and his cabinet picks are certainly a strange and disorderly bunch.  Cole recommends psychologically testing candidates; would that it were practical.

 

Also, we now learn that the Kremlin reached out successfully to Jill Stein and turned loose its propaganda on the left in the US (Michel 2017).  Stein was brought to Moscow, given the royal treatment, and convinced of a number of preposterous stories about the virtues of Russia (e.g. in the Ukraine).

 

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater—the torture-and-murder-for-hire organization that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney hired to commit the most extreme war crimes in Iraq (see Scahill 2017).  She is married to the heir of the Amway pyramid scheme swindle.  She says she is destroying the public school system in the name of Christianity and Christian education.

 

 

 

Abramson, Seth.  2017.  “The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump the Election Is in Plain Sight.”  Huffington Post, Jan. 17, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-domestic-conspiracy-that-gave-trump-the-election_us_587ed24fe4b0b110fe11dbf9

 

Cole, Juan.  2017.  “Welcome to Psychopathocracy.”  Informed Comment, Jan. 10, http://www.juancole.com/2017/01/welcome-to-psychopathocracy.html

 

Frostenson, Sarah.  2017.  “The Death Rate Gap between Rural and Urban America is Getting Wider.”  Vox, Jan. 13, http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/1/13/14246260/death-gap-urban-rural-america-worse

 

Michel, Casey.  2017.  “How Putin Played the Far Left.”  Daily Beast, Jan. 17, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/13/how-putin-played-the-far-left.html

 

Monbiot, George.  2016.  “Frightened by Donald Trump?  You Don’t Know the Half of It.”  The Guardian, Nov. 30, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation

 

Scahill, Jeremy.  2017.  “Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince is Advising Trump from the Shadows.”  The Intercept, Jan. 17, https://theintercept.com/2017/01/17/notorious-mercenary-erik-prince-is-advising-trump-from-the-shadows/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unite against Fascism 5

January 10th, 2017

Anderson Unite against Fascism 5

 

The only good that can come of the Trump administration would be forcing Americans of the left, center, and traditional right to get together, reaffirm classic values, and fight these fascists down.  That would, however, be a monumentally good thing.  It happened in the Depression.  It could happen now.  Only lack of will prevents it!

The Republicans hit the ground running as soon as Congress reconvened, before Trump’s inauguration.  They are using Trump’s flamboyant rabble-rousing to distract people and the media from the real agenda: a blitzkrieg to repeal not only Obamacare but also Medicare and Medicaid, and a total attack on all environmental protection, from national monuments to pollution laws.  They will also immediately try to dismantle all protection for LGBTQ people, and go after civil rights in general.  They have already passed a bill to value all federal lands and properties at zero (sic), so they can be given away to any private entity with “no cost” to the taxpayers.  Of course the federal lands are actually worth literally trillions of dollars as real estate and for use.

Recent events make it seem uncomfortably likely that the Republicans are actually planning to shut down democracy and install a genuinely autocratic regime. The success of voter suppression, without which they would not have won the presidency, may have emboldened them.  Attempts to block taking office by the Democratic governor-elect of North Carolina were followed by rushing through Cabinet appointments on the day that Obama gave his farewell address.  The Republicans attempted to shut down the independent House ethics investigative body.  Republicans have shut down videotaping in Congress.  They have threatened Planned Parenthood workers at local and national levels.  They have threatened widespread use of the dangerously ill-defined label “terrorist organization”; there is nothing to keep them from labeling the Sierra Club or Planned Parenthood as terrorist organizations.  (One recalls that about ten years ago one George W. Bush appointee semi-seriously referred to the National Education Association as a terrorist organization.)  A “REINS” act proposes to make Congress vote on all federal regulations, even blocking poisonous substances in the food supply.  Several other moves indicate a direct program of undermining standard democratic (small-d) institutions.

We—the rest of us, from radicals to conservatives—can deal with this only by having a clear vision of the alternative and a united front.  Time for Sanders and Clinton partisans to get over it.  Time for any real conservatives left in the US—that is, people who actually want small government, patriotism, and individual responsibility—to join with liberals against big government used to crush the weak, treason masquerading as cooperation (with Russia especially), and refusal to take any responsibility or face any accountability.  Many factors lost the election for Clinton, but certainly one of the biggest was the failure of Sanders and Clinton partisans to unite, while the Republicans, after much initial resistance to Trump, united solidly and enthusiastically behind him.

The Republican party appears to be permanently changed, to fascist rather than conservative, and thus much more popular with a certain share of the voters.  The elitist conservatism of the old GOP is gone, replaced by broad-appeal fascism pioneered by George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and other anti-desegregation activists.  This will be very much harder to beat than the old conservatism.

 

The biggest problem, clearly, is hatred.  Pervasive hate and the ability of the far right to whip it up was the issue in the election and is the most important issue now.  As I have said before in these postings, “progressives’” hatred for everyone they don’t agree with is no improvement over Trumpist hatred of minorities.  We can’t afford it any more.

So, for values clarification, the first values to list are tolerance and valuing diversity.  Tolerance does NOT mean tolerance for intolerance—it means tolerance for other kinds of people and other general views of the world.  To paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to hate is hate itself.

This brings us immediately to the next virtue—maybe not the most important in the great scheme of things, but the make-or-break one right now:  Solidarity.  Mutual aid, mutual support, mutual empowerment and strengthening.

Once that is done, we can move on to what I would call the three C’s—caring, compassion, and considerateness—and the three R’s: Respect, reasonableness, responsibility.  Those last three alone would fix the US’ problems if applied consistently.

Then we go on to the classic Enlightenment virtues: liberty, equality, fairness, justice as fairness, and civil behavior in civil society.  Never mind that the Enlightenment wsa financed by slavery—I know that.  The point is that much of its content was explicitly directed against slavery and class discrimination.  No one in the history of the world had opposed slavery in general until 18th-century religious thinkers, largely Quakers, did so.   Fairness has to mean serious attention to disadvantaged groups, not just even-handed treatment of all.

 

Several studies confirm the obvious point that racism and sexism account for much more of the Trump vote than any economic factors do (Lopez 2017).  In general, traditioinal Republicans and also racist and sexist former Democrats voted for Trump.

 

Simple tips from Michael Shermer (2017) on changing wrong views:  “1.  Keep emotions out of the exchange, 2 discuss, don’t attack…, 3 listen carefully and try to articulate the other position acurately, 4 show respect, 5 acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion and 6 try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.”

 

An anonymous teacher calling herself “bkamr” (2017) writes from Kentucky about the desperation and pain in this heaviest of Trump-voting areas.  She points out, among other things, that no Democrats—not even the state legislator from the area—ever come near the place to help.  People desperately need the services that even the poor get in cities.  She explains the self-destructive anger born of hopelessness.

 

The effects of Republican policies will unfold progressively.  The first round will be voter suppession, right-to-work laws, and eleimination of minimum wage, equal protection of LGBTQ and minority persons, and elimination of worker protection.  These will have an immediate effect on politics and the economy.  Fairly soon, reduction or elimination of ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, and other programs will devastate the consumer economy and thus the total economy.  This will probably lead to crackdown and autocracy.  More slow to show themselves will be the effets of legalizing any and all pollution, removing wildlife and wildlands protection, shutting down government-backed scientific research, and devastating education.  This will lead in a generation to a country heavily polluted, without science or quality education, and with literacy rates around 50% among the young.

 

Rex Tillotson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, not only deals heavily with the Russians, but was head of ExxonMobil during its long period of denying there was any link between human action and greenhouse gases, while its own internal memos showed it knew perfectly well about the links, and decisions made under Tillotson were clearly based on knowing that the world would warm.  Many deal with issues like the rapid decrease of ice in the Arctic Ocean, and similar global-warming issues.  Yet, through it all, ExxonMobil funded organizations denying climate change and attacking legitmate science (Wasserman 2017).

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, has a long record of racism, opposition to civil rights and to civil rights laws, and connection with extreme right-wing white-supremacist organizations.  Full details of his personal closeness to Stephen Bannon, Trump’s openly neo-Nazi head of staff, are reported by Baker (207).  The two have expressed mutual admiration on many occasions, and Sessions has granted several exclusive interviews and other favors to Breitbart’s, later Bannon’s, Breitbart News.  These have involved expectable enthusiasm for Breitbart’s racist and anti-feminist reporting.

 

 

Baker, Marge.  2017.  “Jeff Sessions’ Relationship with Breitbart, ‘The Platform’ for the Alt-Right, Should Be Disqualifying.”  Huffington Post, Jan. 4, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marge-baker/jeff-sessions-relationshi_b_13941372.html

 

“bkamr.”  2017.  “Why Are People Surprised When a Dysfunctional Community Votes Against Their Self-interest?” Daily Kos, Jan. 1. http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/1/1616174/-Why-are-people-surprised-that-a-dysfunctional-community-could-vote-against-their-self-interests?detail=facebook

 

Lopez, German.  2017.  “Study: Racism and Sexism Predict Support for Trump Much More than Economic Dissatisfaction.”  Vox, Jan. 4, http://www.vox.com/identities/2017/1/4/14160956/trump-racism-sexism-economy-study

 

Shermer, Michael.  2017.  “When Facts Backfire.”  Scientific American, Jan., 69.

 

Wasserman, Lee.  2017.  “Exxon First, Earth Second.”  Los Angeles Times, Jan. 3, A11.

 

 

Unite against Fascism 4

December 29th, 2016

Anderson Unite against Fascism 4

 

There is no need for melodrama or giving up.

Psychologists inform us that values clarification makes one happier, healthier, and more successful in everything from exam-taking to courtship.  I will do what I can in future posts.  We need to get serious about restoring American values of liberty, equality, solidarity, and democracy.

Three things to remember:

–Trump will not be a functioning president.  He has made it clear, and “his” cabinet picks make it clearer, that he will be put out to pasture while Ryan, McConnell, and big oil, especially the Koch brothers, run the country.  So don’t bother going after him.

–There IS hope.  Hitler succeeded because of “good Germans,” as Daniel Goldhagen reminds us.  But Pinochet in Chile got constant protests and duly got thrown out in a few years, and even, ultimately, brought to justice, though he died before anything could really be done.

–The bad guys will start right away.  Via their ALEC project, the Kochs have shown what they will do: go for voter suppression, go after labor unions, go after all environmental protection and other restrictions on immoral business.  Be prepared.

 

Recent posts (even by Bill Moyers—shame) express total despair.  I have now participated actively in a lot of political fights, starting with the takedown of Joseph McCarthy and his gang in the 1950s, going on through reforming the University of California in the 1960s, then protesting the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s, and then on to environmental struggles.  McCarthy went down in flames, the Vietnam war was ended by protests and mercilessly honest reporting, civil rights bills and environmental protection acts got passed, and many other good changes have happened.  Most well-planned, doggedly persistent fights for the good actually win.  Loss is due to giving up too easily.  Robert Reich identifies four syndromes:  normalizing, outrage-numbness, cynicism, and giving up (AlterNet, Dec. 20, 2016, http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-4-signs-you-may-have-lost-your-will-fight-coming-tyranny-trump).

Loss also comes from having too broad and vague an agenda—something people can’t relate to.  Supporting “capitalism” or “socialism,” in this day and age when those words are defined any which way, won’t work.  We have to be specific.

The civil rights struggle is perhaps the most relevant, if only because many of the same people—the same individuals—that are backing Trump now were leaders of the anti-civil-rights forces, or were coming of age under them.  Jerry Falwell, for instance, was a vocal opponent of civil rights.  Guns, attack dogs, tear gas, water cannons, and the whole force the south could muster was thrown against the civil rights activists.

Another very relevant case was the labor movement.  From the 1870s and even earlier, workers fought bosses for minimal pay and rights.  Labor largely lost until the 1930s, but the workers kept up the fight, against incredible odds and with many martyrdoms. “ Solidarity forever” was the watchword, and almost 100% of the variance as far as success went, though having a clear and not too unreachable agenda (the eight-hour day, for instance) was also important.  It really is time to revive the old song “Solidarity forever.”

So, what we need is, first, a lot of activists who know exactly what we’re in for:  fighting over the long term, against a full-scale, merciless fascist movement.  The Trump Republicans have shown their hand in voter suppression and gerrymandering, in the savage coup in North Carolina, and in their determined fight to end not only Obamacare but also Medicare and Medicaid—steps that would lead to the deaths of millions of Americans.  Clearly, these people will stop at nothing and are fully able to kill.

On the other hand, all polls agree that the vast majority of Americans, including most Republicans, are not on board with this.  Trump ran an extremist campaign, and has picked the most extreme right-wingers in the United States for his cabinet.  Jeff Sessions, for instance, was regarded as to the right of any other senator.  Betsy DeVos is the most visible of the extreme critics of public education—those that want to eliminate it completely.  It is probably safe to say that only a few Republicans actually want to eliminate public education entirely.  If we stand up to this, Republicans will rally round.

We have to have an actual platform, or at least solid ideas of what we want, and it has to be based on saving America—maintaining democracy and freedom, stopping and reversing the rapid trend toward inequality not only in wealth but also before the law.  We have to get back to demanding real public education, medical care available to all, voting rights for all adult citizens, protection of life and liberty, and other obvious matters on which there is broad agreement.  The Republicans are expert at finding highly controversial issues and exploiting them, and the Democrats fall into the trap, with the result that one blue-collar worker said plaintively that “Hillary seemed more concerned with bathrooms than with jobs.”  She wasn’t really, but I can see where the perception came from.  We have to get back to basics, including jobs.

As I see it, the order of importance now is:

First, unite against hate.  As long as hatred is the real and basic issue, we have to make it the real issue.  This means no more hate within our side.  Keep debates civil and don’t automatically reject Trump voters or any other people.  If we start a hate thread, the right will always be better positioned to take advantage of it.  We have only solidarity to plead.  Look at the long, bitter struggles of labor and labor unions.  Management tried everything to divide and conquer, and when they could divide they did indeed conquer.

Second, recognize the level and depth of the threat, especially the way that cynical and evil people are deliberately whipping up the hate to get votes and support for their side and to divide our side.

Third, stop ignoring working-class and rural whites.  We can’t win without them.  We have to find out how to get them back on board, and reverse their steady shift to the Republicans over the last 60 years.  And they are hurting; the counties that went most heavily for Trump are the ones facing epidemics of substance abuse (especially opiates and meth), obesity, and diabetes.  They are the areas left ruined by job exporting, industrial decline, ripping off all raw resources and leaving nothing to replace them in the local economy, and Republican policies in general.

Fourth, do everything possible to maintain solidarity, including steady advocacy for civil rights and equality before the law.

Fifth, support legitimate media!  Subscribe to a (real) newspaper, support networks that carry real news, support websites that carry real news and expose lies.  The honest media are our best hope, and, if the Trump regime is consistent with other fascist regimes, will be the first target.  The first and hardest battle will be to maintain civil rights and access to truth.  Trump will surely attempt to follow the examples of Hitler, Putin, Erdogan and others, and shut down “hostile” media, i.e. those that report truth.  He will certainly intimidate the media; he is already trying to.  He will probably try to kill reporters.  Our side has to stand firm for equal rights for all and for free media.  Firm advocacy and support for all relevant organizations is absolutely necessary.  Observe the rapidly escalating repression of the press in Russia and Turkey, with more and more murdering and imprisonment of reporters.  Observe similar repression and murder in many other countries.  The legitimate media are are first line of defense, and thus the first to be targeted.  By the same token, avoid and call out the lying media that exist only to serve evil rulers:  Fox News, Breitbart, and the like.  If you are stuck with Fox News (e.g. in the lounge waiting for your car to get fixed), ask the place to turn it off, and explain.

Sixth, join the major civil rights groups and send them money when possible.  In the end, they are probably our next best hope.  The two most stalwart and persistently rights-defending groups in the US are the ACLU, Amnesty International, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  There are other worthy organizations.  Similarly for the environment, where the Sierra Club clearly has the best track record.  Natural Resources Defense Council has also done a consistently fine job.  Beware of “astroturf organizations” (phony grassroots organizations) and don’t waste money on hopeful startups too small to do anything.  Check.

Seventh, hold Republicans’ feet to the fire.  Stop using euphemisms.  This is fascism and hatred, not politics as usual.  The extreme and pervasive anti-Jewish hate speech of Trump, Bannon, and others makes clear the fascist roots of it all; it isn’t “white nationalism” or “populism.”  Confront that.  Force every Republican in Congress to defend or cut loose the anti-Jewish hatred of people like Bannon.  Stop crediting the Republicans with wanting “small government”; they are instituting tyranny.  (Look at voter suppression, the crushing of women’s reproductive rights and other rights, and indeed almost everything the Republicans currently favor.)  Stop saying they want the “free market”; they want subsidies and government/giant firm cronyism and even fusion (that’s what fascism is).   Stop crediting them with wanting to help the poor or the working people or the sick; they want to hold those groups down or cut them adrift.  They know perfectly well that their plans to “help” actually harm.  We have hundreds of years of evidence on the effects of lowering wages, breaking unions, and eliminating public health care.  Democrats and ordinary Republican voters may be fooled, but no congressperson or cabinet member could possibly be under the illusion that such measures do anything but harm.  If they seriously try to repeal Medicare and Medicaid, call them mass murderers.  If they eliminate regulations on banking and finance, tell them they know perfectly well that that leads to depression.  And so on down the list.

Eighth, all the usual things:  Protest unendingly and noisily.  Phone and write your representatives.  Write everybody.  Never let a lie get past; challenge, then carefully, soberly explain.  Above all, NEVER let a hateful statement or act go unchallenged, whether it’s from right or left.  Even if it’s strangers in a store.

That will take some accommodation by the urban intellectuals that currently dominate the party.  The problems will not be solved by the current mix of snobbism (“rednecks,” “poor white trash”) and Big Government as the answer to everything.  We will have to think very seriously of what would actually turn it around for America’s neglected and left-behind groups, both white (whatever that means) and nonwhite.             We need to maintain environmental regulations, but simplify them and involve local people much more in decisions.

We need to double down on going after offshoring of jobs and above all of profits.  Designating headquarters overseas when the actual operations are all or mostly in the US, using numbered bank accounts to hoard vast wealth, escaping all taxation, and similar abuses simply have to be stopped.  Trump is right that offshoring jobs has to be discouraged.

We need to get people to stop seeing American politics as a negative-sum game, in which “my” group hurts itself just to do worse damage to “their” group.  This is clearest and worst in race and gender politics, but it is pretty general, unfortunately.  Obama did an amazing, though far from perfect, job of bringing us together to work together to build.  Trump, Sanders, and Clinton unfortunately ran quite divisive campaigns; Trump made no pretense otherwise.  We can’t win that way and we can’t afford it.

 

A horrible foretaste of the US under conservatives is provided by Guatemala and El Salvador.  The CIA installed dictators trained at the School of the Americas, the CIA’s secret school for autocratic rulers.  The leading ones were Efrain Rios Montt in Guatemala, who was responsible for a genocide that claimed 200,000 innocent lives, and Roberto d’Aubuisson in El Salvador, responsible for politicide that killed several tens of thousands.  A subsequent coup in Honduras in 2009 has added it to the club.  Since these regimes were installed, constant repression and countless further deaths have led to stalled economies with extreme poverty and unemployment, and domination of society by drug gangs, which now rule El Salvador almost totally.  This is the result of regimes installed by American conservatives and faithfully carrying out American conservative policies, including repression, closing of quality public education, repression of private education as well, reducing health care to the bare minimum, pulling back on law enforcement and civil society, and above all allowing giant multinational firms a free hand.  Environmental and economic collapse have ecome irreversible.

 

Clinton ran far worse than Obama did in 2012.  Trump also ran worse than Romney in most places.  The World Almanac for 2017 gives county-by-county totals, making research easy. For a random example, Shawnee County, Kansas, returned 33,074 votes for Clinton, 35,260 for Trump, as opposed to 36,975 and 97,782 for Obama and Romney respectively.  Leslie County, KY, one of the most pro-Trump counties in the US, returned 400 and 4,015 vs. 433 and 4,439.  (This county, with which I am quite familiar, is one of the poorest in the US, with extremely high unemployment, mortality, and substance abuse rates.)  The state of Mississippi ran 457,569/668,987 vs. 562,949/710,748 (reflecting a tendency of Black voters—almost the only Democrats in the state—to stay home in 2016).  Of course there was much voter suppression.  The shift in Wisconsin was about 300,000 total, and that is exactly the estimated number of votrs forced off the rolls by Scott Walker’s fascist policies.  In Michigan, the Clinton shortfall almost exactly equaled the mysteriously missing or misrecorded votes from Detroit.

Sometimes, however, Trump picked up many votes that must earlier have gone to Obama.  To pick a random but typical county, Buchanan County, Iowa, reported 3,966 votes for Clinton, 5504 for Trump, vs. in 2012 5,911 for Obama and 4450 for Romney.  This was a very typical pattern across the northern midwest—the Rust Belt and especially its rural environs.  Even Minnesota, which Clinton carried handily, had voted far more strongly for Obama.  It seems more than unlikely that all these Trump voters were racist, since so many had gone for Obama only four years earlier.  A few urban areas reported more votes for Clinton than Obama, but the increase reflects population increase fairly accurately.

Overall, rural areas, especially in the Appalachians and Plains (where many counties went over 10-1 for Trump), reported lopsided wins for Trump; many urban areas reported lopsided wins for Clinton (Berkely, CA, reported 3% for Trump—even Jill Stein got more).  In Oregon, Multnomah County (Portland) went 4-1 for Clinton (and both candidates got fewer votes than Obama and Romney, respectively, got in 2012); Harney County, in the remote ranching east, more than 4-1 for Trump.  There is an extreme split in the US. The Democrats will never win again unless they reverse the rapid swing of rural and small-town areas away from them.

 

However, Trump most certainly lost the total vote.  The final count was 62,979,879 for him, 65,854,954 for Clinton, and several million for others, totaling 74,074,037 against him.

 

In recent developments:  Trump’s designated national security advisor and a right-wing conspiracy theorist, recently met with Heinz-Christian Strache, head of Austria’s neo-Nazi Freedom Party (Baumann 2016).  That party was founded just after WWII by Nazis, and has maintained its openly fascist agenda since.

The final count shows Clinton got 2,864,974 more votes than Trump, and that’s without rechecking states like Florida and Michigan.

 

This may be of interest—data from World Almanac:

Clinton won more votes than Obama, Trump more than Romney:

FL, IA, NV, TX—basically only states with large population increases, except for Iowa.

Clinton more than Obama, Trump less than Romney:

GA, MA

Clinton less than Obama, Trump more than Romney

AL, AR, CT, DL, HI, IN, KY, LA, MN, MI, MN, MO, NB, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, PA, RI, SD, TN, VT, WV, WY—note this includes most of the old Democratic strongholds, which should absolutely terrify Democrats.  Even New York and Vermont.

Clinton less than Obama, Trump less than Romney

AK (quite huge difference), AZ (also huge but possibly not all votes counted when World Almanac published), CA (but not all votes had been counted when the World Almanac was published), CO, DC, ID, IL, KS, MD, MS, MT, NM, OK, SC, UT (huge drop from Romney to Trump vote because of the popularity of McMillan and Johnson), VA, WA, WI.  Note many of these are solid Red states, where disgust for Trump was widespread, but also several Democrat strongholds.

 

 

Texas’ maternal mortality rate increased from around 17-18 to 33 per 100,000 births as a result of defunding pregnancy clinics as part of a war on abortion and birth control.  Most of the clinics providing pregnancy clinics in the state were forced to close.  Nationwide, not counting California (which reduced its rate) or Texas, the US rate increased from 18.8 to 23.8 from 2000 to 2014.  Texas shared in the national rate, around 18, until 2010, after which it closed the clinics and the maternal mortality rate soared.  Texas now has the highest rate in the developed world, comparable to some African states (Redden 2016).  By contrast, Iceland has had no maternal mortalities for decades.  Rates across Scandinavia are around 1 to 3.

The openly fascist hatemongering Breitbart News is the subject of a long and charitable article in the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, 2016 (Ng 2016).  The spokespersons for the service are quoted extensively; critiques of the service are briefly noted.  Ironically, the service nests in Westwood, arguably the most liberal part of the most liberal urban area in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

Baumann, Nick.  2016.  “Trump’s National Security Adviser Met with Head of Party Founded by Nazis.”  Huffington Post, Dec. 20, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-flynn-freedom-party-nazis_us_5859367ee4b08debb78af7c2

 

Ng, David.  2016.  “Inside Breitbart’s Westside LA Headquarters, They’ve Got Plans for Global Expansion.”  Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-breitbart-news-20161116-story.html

 

Redden, Molly.  2016.  “Texas Has Highest Maternal Mortality Rate in Developed World, Study Finds.”  The Guardian, Aug. 20, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/20/texas-maternal-mortality-rate-health-clinics-funding

 

World Almanac and Book of Facts.  2017.  New York: World Almanac Books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unite against Fascism 3

December 20th, 2016

Unite against Fascism 3

 

Gene Anderson, Dec. 2016

 

The time has come to push the unity and cooperation side of this blog.  I will have one more depressing thing to say—about the economy—below, but otherwise from now on I will stick to finding constructive ways to bring people together and organize.

The oldest trick in the book is to win by dividing the opposition.  The Republican oligarchy used that trick to a fare-thee-well in the election, and the Democrats and left fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  Sanders vs. Clinton, black vs. white, women vs. men, every imaginable division was exploited by the Republican high donorship.  There is a Chinese story of a heron that seized a clam.  The clam clamped its shell on the heron and trapped him.  Neither would let the other go.  A fisherman came and took them both.  That was the 2016 election.  Obviously, we have to get beyond that or the US will have one-party rule forever.  We might even use the trick against them…but the right is always astonishingly solidary.  They closed ranks immediately and almost totally behind Trump the minute he was nominated.  The left never could get behind Clinton, and thus gave us Trump instead.  (They were only one factor, but arguably the biggest and most decisive one.)  The best advice now:  reach out to anybody and anybody, particularly if they are in the crosshairs of the right wing—gay, Muslim, black, transgender, or otherwise directly and immediately menaced.

One way is uniting people around classic conservative virtues: patriotism, loyalty, respect for the Constitution, honesty, personal honor, and courage.  I wonder how these will sit with the urban liberals.  Another way is simple acceptance.  Love is not the opposite of hate; the opposite of hate is acceptance of people as they are.  Tolerance, valuing diversity, and above all mutual respect are the basic values.  This does not mean tolerating or accepting evil behavior; it means evaluating people as human beings, not as representatives of groups.  In particular, they are not merely parts of imagined, invented, or socially constructed groups.  They are not mere fragments of their religion or their ethnicity or their political party.  They are human beings.

Our enemy is hate. It was the reason for the Trump vote—the sole real issue in his campaign.  It takes the forms of bigotry, bias, intolerance, exclusionary ideology, cowardly and fearful resistance, and irrational anger.  The outrageous amoral greed of Trump and his cronies succeeds only because their supporters and voters are motivated by hate to vote and act against their own self-interest.  Most of the hate was directed downward socioeconomically—to the pooor and to poor minorities—but intellectual elites and the Washington “establishment” came in for their share.  The Trump campaign spread the hatred around liberally.  Core supporters apparently think of the United States not as one country where people work together to move forward, but as a set of hopelessly antagonistic blocs, fighting each other in a declining economy, each one surviving only by taking down the others.

The more general case is exclusionary ideology—the idea that “our” group deserves special favors at the expense of others.  This sets bloc against bloc and rewards short-term, narrow thinking.

Thus, the counter is not to be angry or hateful toward Republicans.  That merely leads to remarks like Clinton’s “deplorables” that make the situation worse.  The only counter is solidarity, reasonableness, mutual respect, and personal responsibility.

The election was about hate, with Trump really having no other issue.  Hatred of minorities, Muslims, China, women, Hillary, elites, Washington, mainstream media, and the truth were mixed in a toxic mash.  Trump’s victory shows that, unfortunately, people vote their hate—not really news to many political scientists, but apparently news to the Democratic Party.  Hatred is a far more important motive than any other, at least in politics.  There is a worldwide context, rooted in increasing resistance to democracy because it is associated with globalization and rising inequality everywhere (Fukuyama 2016).

This led to the sad fact that millions of otherwise perfectly good, decent, honorable people—including friends and family of mine—voted for Trump, simply because he tweaked their one weap spot and got them to vote against not only their economic self-interest but also against the 90% of their moral and emotional compass that was not hateful.  Democrats, and especially intolerant liberals, should remember this.  Hatred is no nicer in a liberal who rejects any and all Trump voters than in a “redneck” racist.

Hatred is also the cause of motivated belief in lies.  The astounding propagation of blatant, obvious lies—no global warming, all Muslims terrorists, and so on, things that anyone could see were false—is explained by people believing anything that justifies and shores up their hates.  There is also cognitive dissonance to consider; the more one has personally invested in a belief, the more one believes it when it is disproved.  This will lead many to become even more hateful to minorities and Muslims when Trump’s presidency fails to deliver (as it certainly will).

What the Democrats should have done, and must do now, is constantly appeal to solidarity, mutual support, and mutual aid in progressing onward.  They must also fight lies tooth and nail, always, in every way, at every chance.  Zero tolerance.  The world simply cannot afford more divisiveness.  Hate is the enemy.  To paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to hate is hate itself.

 

Parallels from elsewhere continue to accumulate.  Hungary elected a fascist government recently, under the Trump-like Viktor Orbán.  Hostility to refugees, Muslims, Jews, Roma, and others has increased.  The government is now engaged in a massive suppression of the media, most recently a shutdown of the left-wing paper Nepszabadsag (Johnson 2016).  This follows Turkey’s increasingly savage crackdowns on media and academics, including firing of thousands of academics after the failed coup of 2016.  Turkey under Recep Erdogan has also been moving in a more and more openly fascist direction, whipping up more and more hatred against Kurds and non-Muslims.

 

There has been a major weakening of woking-class white culture in recent decades, as shown in the disappearance of folk society and the rise of obesity, heroin addiction, degenerative diseases, and alienation in general.  Life expectancy has declined.  Working-class whites are less hopeful and more embittered.  This certainly fed into Trump’s victory.  It was, in fact, the major cause of it.  Trump offered hope—or at least anger.

This is grounded in a form of defiance typical of alienated working-class white culture.  Traditionally, the segments of that demographic that upper-class people call “rednecks” and “poor white trash” (Isenberg 2016) talk about public events in the way Trump does: in exaggerated, confrontational style, with overstatements, outright lies, militant attacks, deliberately provocative racist and sexist rhetoric, and denial of uncomfortable truths.  Above all, this discourse style forbids admitting one’s own weakness or wrongness, and forbids giving any credit to opponents.  They have to be called utterly contemptible.  In-your-face reviling of them is the primary way of arguing.  Bullying, showing off, and being tough are the highest virtues.  It should be very obvious that this is all a way of dealing with personal weakness.  These people are on the bottom, and they know it.  The louder the noise, the more obviously they are trying to deal with both their own weakness and social bottom-dog status.  Trump appealed with surgical precision to these voters, using their classic rhetorical styles.  Clinton had absolutely no clue how to deal with it.

But the working-class whites, and most political observers, were fooled.  The real power has gone not to Trump or the workers, but to the giant oil corporations, lobbyists, and campaign donors, and especially the brothers Charles and David Koch.  High Country News looked at 236 leading appointments and transition-team members and found 72 of them had ties to the Koch brothers, including most of the Cabinet appointees as well as Vice-President Pence.  The Kochs are well known for their outright fascism; their father carried out major projects for Hitler, they were raised by a pro-Hitler nurse, and their agenda all their lives has been straight from that playbook (Mayer 2016).  This is no loose use of the term “fascism”—the links to Hitler are numerous and direct.  Their policies are allegedly free-market and libertarian, but actually they have backed (strategically or tactically, at least) every fascist agenda from opposition to birth control and abortion to suppression of minority voting to the real cruch: support for government subsidy, support, and backing of giant firms, especially oil firms.  They now run the US through a figurehead president.

The economy is facing a risk of depression.  Of course there are the immediate risks from bank shenaningans (as in 2008), enormous pollution costs when environmental regulations are repealed, and other upfront problems.  But the real danger is structural.  The giant primary-production firms, especially big oil, big coal, and agribusiness, will now control the US government, via Trump and his organization.  These firms depend heavily on direct and indirect subsidies.  From the average American’s taxes, $4000 go to subsidies, tax breaks, and giveaways, largely for primary-production corporations.  Big oil corporations got $4.8 billion in direct subsidies in 2015, plus $12.5 billion spent by the US government to clear up oil spills, and an uncertain but much larger sum spent by the US on roads, ports, rail, pipelines, etc., for big oil; the total cost of food stamps and US government welfare for the poor I $7.4 billion (American NewsX, Dec. 15, 2016).  And this is without even counting the tax writeoffs and special tax breaks, such as the oil depletion allowance, which are far greater than the direct subsidies.

The enormous profits earned with the help of these heavy subsidies are to a great extent either invested overseas, or simply hoarded there—banked in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland, and similar gopher holes for finance.  Most of this wandering money is not invested in the United States, if it is invested at all.  A great deal of it simply disappeared—taken out of circulation for the indefinite future, which is in practice the same as burning stacks of bills.   This is “low-velocity money”—in fact, it may have zero velocity.  Giant corporations are incentivized to invest in increasing effriciency, productivity, and even in production only when hoarding is taxed heavily.  Otherwise, they will be forced by immediate financial considerations to jack up prices for quick high profit, keep production minimal, and hoard the profits.

By contrast, the fastest-velocity money—that which is most immediately spent and put in circulation in the economy—is money given to poor people for survival needs.  They have to spend it right away.  The people they buy from are usually in need of spending it immediately themselves—for instance, stores that have to re-stock.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, all such income goes out into circulation and recirculation right away, or even before it arrives (thanks to buying on credit).   Recall also that much government transfer payment money goes to active workers who simply do not make enough to live on.  So it is a productive investment, even to those cold-blooded souls who do not see keeping old people and young children alive as productive.

The Republican plan is to give enormous tax cuts to the rich.  They plan to end whole categories of tax (such as inheritance taxes).  They plan to cut corporate taxes to effectively zero—i.e., a level so low that normal deductions will bring effective rates to zero.  They plan to cut income taxes such that few rich would pay.  This will be made up for—partially—by ending the transfer payments.  No more Medicare, Medicaid, or welfare.  Social Security taxes will go to the general fund.

All this would enormously increase the amount of wealth hoarded overseas, while eliminating a huge percentage of the fastest-velocity money in America.  The result would be a collapse of both production and consumption.  Anyone doubting this scenario is invited to examine the recent history of oil-dominated countries from Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea to Bahrain and Brunei.  Wealth is amassed and hoarded by the tiny oil-rich and rentier elite, while the people do poorly and investment stagnates except in increasing oil production.  The governments are also free to indulge in harsh and cruel repression of whole sectors of their population, in ways that would be economically suicidal in a country that needed skilled labor.  Saudi Arabia, for instance, virtually removes women from the work force.  As has often been pointed out, racism, sexism, and similar bigotries are luxuries.  A working economy cannot afford them.  They are found where a rentier elite needs to keep large sections of the population crushed in order to maintain its own predation.  Slave economies like the old cotton south and sugar Caribbean, oil economies, and a few economies based on heavy industry are about the only economies that succeed that way.

The Republicans also plan to eliminate the minimum wage and pass “right-to-work” and other measures that would virtually eliminate labor unions as significant forces.  They also plan to end workers’ protection of all sorts, from anti-discrimination to health and safety rules.  All this would reduce wages across the board.

Meanwhile, housing prices are soaring in most of the US, insurance and health costs are skyrocketing, and people are being forced to buy all manner of electronic gadgets.  It is no longer possible to find public phones, so for emergencies we have to carry cellphones.  A house without a home computer is seriously handicapped in many ways.  Expenses for everyone are thus rising fast.  All this impacts consumption of all the goods and services that are not absolutely necessary.

The effect of falling wages, disappearing transfer payments, and “necessity creep” in a consumption-driven economy can easily be imagined: depression.

The Republicans will probably respond like most economically-illiterate regimes challenged with the bad results of their experiments: by printing money.  The resulting inflation will finish the job of wrecking the US economy.  It will never be able to recover; commitment to primary production in a world of rapidly depleting resources and rapidly rising temperatures is suicidal.

In the long run, the elimination of public education and the defunding of a lot of science will cripple the US economically for the long term.  The new designate for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is not only opposed to public education, but is committed to a “Christian” education that countenances anti-evolutionist, racist, anti-gay and related “Christian” teaching.  She is married to the heir of the classic pyramid scheme Amway, and her brother was the head of the notorious Blackwater firm that indulged in large-scale torture, killing of civilians, and other war crimes in Iraq in the Iraq War (see Edwards 2016).  Clearly she is connected to much more than just opposition to education.  Yet the future of the American economy over the long term may depend on her.

 

 

Edwards, Haley Sweetland.  2016.  “The Schoolyatrd Rebel.”  Time, Dec. 26, 64-65.

 

Fukuyama, Francis.  2016.  “America: The Failed State.”  Prospect Magazine, Dec. 13, http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/america-the-failed-state-donald-trump

 

Gilpin, Lyndsay.  2016.  “Trump’s Cabinet Choices Reflect Deep Koch Influence.”  High Country News, Dec. 16, http://www.hcn.org/articles/donald-trumps-cabinet-choices-reflect-koch-influence

 

Isenberg, Nancy.  2016.  White Trash.  New York: Viking.

 

Johnson, Glen.  2016.  “Fury and Alarm in Hungary over Death of Paper.”  Los Angeles Times, Dec. 18, A1, A4.

 

Mayer, Jane.  2016. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.  New York: Doubleday.

 

I take the liberty of attaching a wonderful statement by my friend Pierce Salguero, from his Facebook posting.

A PROFESSOR’S ACTION PLAN FOR THE POST-ELECTION ERA

Pierce Salguero

In the wake of the 2016 election, the core values I hold as an individual and that I believe are emblematic of the academic professions (e.g., multicultural inclusion, critical inquiry, and pursuit of truth) have come under direct attack. I believe that this situation necessitates a coherent and strategic response from any of us who are in a position to speak out. Below is my own personal action plan for the post-election era. I have arranged these ideas, compiled with the goal of maximizing my impact within the limitations of my power, from the personal to the community to the national level:

  1. MICRO-LEVEL ACTIONS
  2. SELF-EDUCATION. At the personal and individual level, I plan to educate myself about the deep historical roots as well as the more recent factors that have led to the rise of right wing populism in the US and around the world. I plan to reach out to colleagues in history, political science, economics, sociology, and other fields, to ask for help identifying readings and resources. Although this critical inquiry does not necessarily relate directly to my own academic field, I plan to make time for this and to integrate it into my weekly schedule.
  3. INTERROGATING PRIVILEGE. I plan to continue to understand, reflect on, and critically interrogate my own privilege as a white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied male. I need to identify and work to break down my own inherent biases. Where I can, I should leverage my privilege in order to intervene on behalf of those who do not share it. I plan to keep reading, attending workshops at conferences and on campus, and learning from colleagues in who are engaged in this field of study. While these conversations may sometimes be uncomfortable, I need to remain open, engaged, and moving forward in this area.
  4. RESPONSIBLE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Part of my surprise about the results of this election was no doubt due to my being comfortably ensconced in a heavily left-leaning social media bubble. I plan to break out by reading more widely and seeking out a more diverse circle of contacts. Responsible use of social media also means recognizing its limitations. I need to know when to set down the computer and engage in the real world.
  5. SELF-CARE. I’ve noticed that this crisis has weighed more heavily on me than I would have anticipated. Stress, anxiety, and depression are not productive for critical inquiry. I am also finding myself in a very judgmental space right now. I need to be able to cultivate empathy in order to understand other people — especially when I strongly disagree with them. For all of these reasons, I need to continue to tap into my spiritual community, and to engage in activities for physical and mental wellbeing. Although it feels like copping out, knowing when to step away to care for myself will make me a stronger advocate in the long tun.
  6. MESO-LEVEL ACTIONS
  7. CAMPUS ORGANIZATIONS & EVENTS. In addition to my own private life and personal space, I also know I can be an agent for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the communities of which I am a part. On campus, I have the opportunity to engage with these issues through committees and faculty senate. I can also continue to be involved in mentoring for student clubs, organizing or attending multicultural celebrations, and participating in other opportunities that bring me into regular contact with our diverse student body. I can also organize reading groups, small discussion groups, or public lectures on related issues, both on campus and locally where I live.
  8. PUBLIC STATEMENTS. I can draft a declaration opposing hate and bigotry, and propose this to my campus administrators and my faculty senate. I can also work to introduce a similar statement as legislation in the townships where live and where my workplace is located, as well as in organizations with which I have a connection. (Note that I must engage in this activity as a private citizen and not as a representative of the college where I work, cognizant of my employer’s policies regarding engagement in politics or media.)
  9. PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS. I was pleasantly surprised with the proactive stance on dealing with post-election climate taken by several of the professional associations I am affiliated with. Where such efforts are being made, I can support them, and I can utilize the resources and community that such associations provide in order to expand my circle, connect with people who have expertise I need to tap into, and keep myself informed. Where such efforts are not already being made, I can advocate for these issues to be taken up by writing letters to association officers.
  10. BECOMING A BETTER ALLY. I need to challenge myself to learn more about being a trustworthy ally for my most vulnerable friends, colleagues, students, and community members. I need to continue to read up on this, to reach out to colleagues who are more knowledgable than me, and to engage with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on my campus. I can also prioritize mentoring underrepresented faculty, staff, and students on campus, through my professional associations, at conferences, and in other professional settings.
  11. PEDAGOGICAL DEVELOPMENT. As my courses do not focus on the modern period, I do not often have the opportunity to directly engage in classroom discussions related to contemporary politics. When I do, I need to focus on the analytical tools my discipline brings to the discussion, taking pains not to present an unbalanced account or to state my own opinions as fact. I also need to remain cognizant that students have varying viewpoints and backgrounds, and not abuse my position of power at the front of the classroom. I need to continue to develop inclusive pedagogical methods that actively bring all students into the conversation. An openness to all perspectives is especially important since I want my classroom to be a safe space for dialogue and growth — both for students and myself. I need to seek out knowledgable colleagues who can help me to develop pedagogical methods that ensure I am doing this well and responsibly.
  12. MACRO-LEVEL ACTIONS
  13. ENGAGE IN POLITICS. It’s in this arena where I feel the most helpless, but I am recommitting to supporting organizations that promote higher education, multicultural inclusion, civil liberties, and investigative journalism, as well as public academic and cultural institutions. I need to stay involved at the local, state, and national level, and not let myself get complacent in the interim between elections. My support cannot be limited to social media posts, online petitions, and private conversations; I need to contribute materially to the causes I believe in. I am unlikely to be able to support all of these causes financially, but I should do so where I can and seek out other means of supporting where I cannot.
  14. PRIORITIZE PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP. Finally, as a professor, scholar, and author who cares about critical inquiry, multiculturalism, and the future of higher education, I need to reach more diverse audiences, across disciplines, both inside the academy and beyond. In this “post-truth” and anti-intellectual climate, the burden is on me to demonstrate why what I do is relevant and important. With this goal in mind, I can write up my methods and findings in accessible ways in blogs, websites, popular magazines, and other outlets with further reach than scholarly journals. I can contribute to the circulation of academic humanities and social science research more widely, which in the long run may lead to deeper public understanding of critical thinking, the role of education, and the importance of the academic professions for civic life in the US.

 

Pierce Salguero

I am an interdisciplinary humanities scholar interested in the role of Buddhism in the crosscultural exchange of medical ideas. See more at piercesalguero.com.

 

Unite against Fascism 2

December 12th, 2016

Unite against Fascism 2

 

There are two ways for a group to help itself economically: combine with other groups to work for progress for everyone, or work against other groups to beat them out.  Only combining in solidarity can accomplish anything progressive; tearing down others merely makes it worse for all, including one’s own group.  It makes some sense in a world where everyone is declining: one wants to keep one’s own group competitive by doing down the others.  However, this inevitably leads to everyone going downhill.

The key to the world now, not just the US, is that hate and divisiveness are increasingly taking over as the way to manage economic trouble.  Doing down a weaker group seems to have caught on as not just the best, but the only, way to stay afloat.  The rural, suburban, and working-class whites that voted for Trump doomed themselves to losing Medicare, Social Security, environmental protection, free education, and all the other benefits of liberal governance.  They succeeded in making sure that blacks, browns, and non-Christians suffered even worse.  In the end, it will mean disaster for everyone.

Therefore, the need is for unity and solidarity first.  We can stop fascism and reverse our economic and social decline only by uniting every individual and group that is not in the fascist camp.

 

Postmortems on the election continue.  The Los Angeles Times (Lauter 2016) reports that the clearest demographic difference between Trump and Clinton was education: whites without college education broke overwhelmingly for Trump.  No other demographic did.  Young people, as usual, did not vote in large numbers, and given their well-documented support for Clinton, that low turnout itself doomed her.  Blue-collar white voters and counties that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 went heavily for Trump; conversely, relatively conservative educated whites flipped the other way.  The biggest change was in the northern midwest, formerly a solid Democratic stronghold, now—and not only in the presidential race—almost as right-wing as the deep south.  One reason the final result—Trump’s solid win nationwide—was so surprising was last-minute voters breaking for Trump.  These seem to have been partly Republicans who had trouble stomaching the man, and partly traditional Democrats who both disliked Hillary and wanted a more aggressive change agenda.  Part of the context is the decline in manufacturing jobs in the US from 17 million as recently as 2000 (after already huge job flight) to 11 million at the depth of the 2008-9 recession.  It recovered to over 12 million by 2016, but one can certainly see why blue-collar America is disaffected.  The Clinton wing blames automation, but exporting jobs to low-wage, labor-suppressing countries appears to be the real problem.

A long, excellent article in the Washington Post (Hofmann 2016) describes Shannon Monnat research on 3106 counties.  Trump’s vote surpassed Romney’s by 10% in downwardly mobile, largely white counties with high rates of drug, alcohol, and suicide deaths, especially if such deaths have been increasing.  These are counties where farming, manufacturing, and mining formerly provided good livings, but have declined or died out.  Trump did worse by 3% in better-off counties.  Typical was Scioto Co., Ohio: Trump ran 33% better than Romney—and drug, alcohol, and suicide death rates have doubled in that time, as pill-pushing clinics came in and manufacturing went out.  Mingo Co., WV, the drug, alcohol and suicide death rate rose from 53.6 to 161.1 in the years 1999-2014.  In Coos County, NH, Manufacturing shrank from 38% of jobs to 7%, and pay for it from 49% to 9%, from the 1980s.  It went heavily for Trump.  All across the northern Midwest, Trump did better than Romney, especially in rural and small-town counties.

The fact remains that Trump’s campaign was pure hate.  He did not pretend to have any other issues or solutions.  Job flight was to be dealt with by trashing China or at least our trade therewith.  Competition for jobs in the US was to be dealt withg by expelling illegals and, more generally, targeting Mexicans.  Terrorism and war were to be dealt with by hateful bigotry against Muslims—all Muslims, not just the tiny fraction of 1% that are involved in terrorist activities.  Urban problems were to be dealt with by suppressing urban minorities and “out-of-touch” urban elites.  Gender issues were to be dealt with by suppressing gays and returning women to sex-object status.  And everything wrong with the US was to be dealt with by crushing liberals, meaning anyone much to the left of the Ku Klux Klan.  Trump did not make one single honest suggestion that was not simply a matter of hurting minorities (or China).  His campaign was highly negative toward just about every group in the United States except white males.

Clinton should have opposed hatred from the start—hatred in general, across the board.  Instead, she joined in (with her infamous “deplorables” remark) or, at best, protested against hatred of specific groups, notably women.  Clinton could have and should have talked more to economic issues, especially those that concern less educated workers.  Derek Thompson (2016) points out that she did in fact focus on those matters.  However, she did not highlight it.  The media did not cover it, which is yet another proof that the media were hypnotized by Trump and basically elected him; but it is also true, as Thompson argues all too cogently and conclusively, that hatred really decided the election.  It was an election driven almost entirely by hate—and not only right-wing hate, alas.

It appears that total turnout was, in the end, a good deal higher than in 2012.  The main difference from that year was the enormous swing to the Republicans throughout the northern midwest.  The south remained solidly Republican, as it has since Reagan.  California and many urban areas moved more Democrat-ward, but not enough to offset the spectacular red tide in the midwest, which destroyed the “blue wall” Clinton had relied on (far too much).

Debates about Trump’s fascism continue (e.g. Caplan 2016), but there is now no question that his administration will be fascist.  Jeff Sessions and Stephen Bannon alone would be enough to guarantee that, but add Tom Price, Betsy DeVos, Thomas Pyle (energy advisor from the Koch brothers camp), and others, and all question disappears.  As noted before: there is no record of a regime this extreme taking power without mass killing.  All regimes based on this level of exclusionary ideology are genocidal.

Trump is also in league with, and to some extent a pawn, of, Vladimir Putin, who is using fascist politics to weaken the west and especially to weaken NATO and other anti-Russian organizing (see very thorough account in Foer 2016).

The task, then, is how to unite the widest possible coalition to stop this, and how to maintain hope through it all.  Some very good advice comes from Beth Broderick; call up the whole article if you can, but the short form is her advice that we should adsolutely not be vindictive, violent, blaming, or excessive in rhetoric, but we should stay as informed as possible, and keep up the pressure through peaceful protests, free concerts, anything that will get a lot of peopole organized in a peaceful way.

 

Cancelling Obamacare could lead to 36,000 excess deaths, judging from studies of the effects of similar plans (Millhiser 2016).  US life expectancy is declining, and mortality rising, largely because of obesity-related conditions and drug abuse, but also because of an appalling rate of medical mistakes, variously estimated as causing 400,000 to 1,000,000 deaths a year.

 

Umberto Eco listed 14 points that, to him, identified a fascist leader; as an Italian, his experience was largely Mussolini.  The fourteen, as recently listed in AlterNet, include:  cult of tradition; rejection of modernism; cult of action for action’s sake; opposition to analytical criticism—disagreement is treason; exacerbating natural fear of difference; appeal to frustrated middle class; obsession with plots; permanent warfare as natural; sexual aggressiveness.  All fourteen seem relevant to Trump (Holloway 2016).  I would add that more significant are Trump’s constant and deliberate whipping up of hatred of minorities, his flagrantly corrupt links with big businesses, and his constant use of Goebbel’s Big Lie technique.

 

Johan Galtung, a sociologist who correctly predicted the collapse of the USSR and other states from his research on empires, predicts the US will collapse now that Trump has won and begun his program.  Galtung’s research has paralleled mine (I have been aware of it) and comes to pretty much the same conclusions I do, from comparable data (Galtung 2009; Gettys 2016 for his latest views).

 

A scenario for permanently eliminating Democrats from power is clearly taking shape in the GOP:  National right-to-work law and other measures to destroy labor unions, plus gerrymandering and voter suppression.  Unions are not only the biggest single source of Democrat funding and the way to mobilize the working class; they are also the main counterbalance to the rich urban liberals who want to restrict politics to debating “neoliberalism” and “intersectionality.”  We have to get back to uniting for economic justice and stop dividing over meaningless verbiage.  Only the workers can keep the Democrats on that track.

 

Broderick, Beth.  2016.  “The Wizard of Id…Do’s and Don’ts in the Age of the Democalypse.”  Huffington Post, Dec. 5, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-broderick/the-wizard-of-id-dos-and-_b_13429746.html?

 

Caplan, Jane.  2016.  “Trump and Fascism: A View from the Past.”  History Workshop, Nov. 17, http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/trump-and-fascism-a-view-from-the-past/.

Galtung, Johan.  2009.  The Fall of the US Empire—And Then What?  Transcend University Press.

 

Foer, Franklin.  2016.  “Putin’s Puppet.”  Slate, Dec. 7, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/vladimir_putin_has_a_plan_for_destroying_the_west_and_it_looks_a_lot_like.html

 

Gettys, Travis.  2016.  “Here’s How the US Empire Will Devolve into Fascism and Then Collapse—According to Science.”  Rawstory, Dec. 7, http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/heres-how-the-us-empire-will-devolve-into-fascism-and-then-collapse-according-to-science/

 

Hohmann, James.  2016.  “The Daily 202: Trump Overperformed the Most in Counties with the Highest Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Mortality Rates.”  Washington Post, Dec. 10, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2016/12/09/daily-202-trump-over-performed-the-most-in-counties-with-the-highest-drug-alcohol-and-suicide-mortality-rates/584a2a59e9b69b7e58e45f2e/?utm_term=.5fc6eab2b5c0&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

 

Holloway, Kali.  2016.  “Trump Is an Eerily Perfect Match with a Famous 14-point Guide to Identify Fascist Leaders.”  AlterNet, Dec. 6, http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-eerily-perfect-match-famous-14-point-guide-identify-fascist-leaders?akid=14969.317267.tvvane&rd=1&src=newsletter1068417&t=2

 

Lauter, David.  2016.  ‘Clinton’s Big Wins Illustrate Her Weaknesses.”  Los Angeles Times, Dec. 12, A1, A10.

 

Millhiser, Ian.  2016.  “Here’s How Many People Could Die Every Year If Obamacare Is Repealed.”  ThinkProgress, Dec. 7, https://thinkprogress.org/heres-how-many-people-could-die-every-year-if-obamacare-is-repealed-ae4bf3e100a2#.f1mzhgynb

 

Thompson, Derek.  2016.  “The Dangerous Myth that Hillary Clinton Ignored the Working Class.”  The Atlantic, Nov. 29, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/12/hillary-clinton-working-class/509477/?utm_source=fbb

 

 

 

Unite against Fascism 1

December 2nd, 2016

First of what will hopefully be recurring blog postings.

Unite against Fascism

 

Occasional blog by Gene Anderson, Riverside, CA

 

The United States now has an incoming government that is genuinely and totally fascist.  No such government has ever taken power, anywhere in the world, without trying to institute a dictatorship and commit genocide. Almost all have succeeded.  All those known to me that were as extreme as the Trump administration have succeeded.  We can stop dictatorship and genocide only by unity in fighting it.  This will require absolute unity—standing together—among everyone in America who is not fascist.  We can survive only by the big-tent strategy: everyone from far left to moderate right working together.  History reveals that there is simply no other way.  Fascists always try to set their foes against each other—the divide-and-rule strategy—and they almost always win.  They are masters of disunion.

Unfortunately, the liberals and moderates are now playing into their hands.  The blame game is all too predictably well under way.  Thomas Frank is the most visible of several people, right and left, blaming the sophisticated urban liberals—the same people the Republicans most love to hate.  Apparently they are so out of touch that they had no idea how to appeal to anybody except each other.  Others are blaming racism, sexism, right-wing Christianity, better Republican organization, and so on.

I have already mentioned on this blog that the 2016 rout of the Democrats has several causes.  Starting with the most trivial and immediate, it is now clear that the Republicans massively hid or “disappeared” votes, on top of much more massive voter suppression, gerrymandering, closing 868 polling places in poor and largely nonwhite neighborhoods, and so on.  At the other extreme, the entire world has been shifting sharply rightward for years, as shown by recent votes from England and Poland to Turkey and India.  Repressive regimes are getting more repressive, from China to Venezuela.  Liberal democracy is on the wane.  As Ana Friedman (2016) put it after traveling in Europe recently, “popular support for liberal dermocracies around the world is on the decline—and support for autocratic alternatives is rising, even in many stable Western nations long thought to be beacons of freedom.”  What causes this certainly includes dissatisfaction with globalization, but there is obviously much more to it.  Increasing devotion to extremist ideologies, from Chinese Communism to violent right-wing Islam and Narendra Modi’s reactionary Hinduism, is clearly involved.  Interesting is that any extremist ideology seems to do.

Conservatism has been rising in the US since 1968 (the election of Richard Nixon) and especially since 1980, when Reagan was elected.  More to the point, conservatism has been morphing into fascism.  The two are not the same (see earlier posting).  Today, the Republican Party has apparently abandoned conservatism completely, and gone entirely fascist, though a few old-timers like John McCain still hold out.  Conservatives got blanked into invisibility in the 2016 Republican primaries, leaving the purest fascists—Trump and Ted Cruz—to take the overwhelming majority of votes.  The choice is clear:  big government used to crush minorities and women, with minimal concern for the economy, opposed to small government and economic priorities (see e.g. Michael 2016).

The reasons are clear: conservatism goes with a traditional, hierarchic society, with a nobility (as in England) or a world of small and medium-sized businesses that dislike big government (as in the US).  Fascism is the natural result of a world of increasingly dominant giant firms that live more and more on government subsidies, favors, and patronage.  The latter have coopted public discourse, especially since Reagan and above all since the rise of Fox News.  They have turned the general view from the old idea of government as protector of ordinary people from business, to a view of business as a protector of ordinary people from government.

The most extreme Trump support was among evangelical Christians, who voted 81% for him.  He won heavily among whites in general, but breaking it down by age, one finds that he won older whites but not younger ones.  In fact, the young vote across the country was overwhelmingly Democrat, and if they had turned out in numbers comparable to their elders, Clinton would be President.

Next after the evangelicals were the rural and small-town Americans, who went about 3-1 for Trump.  The Democrats have become an urban party over the last 40 years, getting less and less concerned with rural people.  This is clearly a mistake; rural America is declining, but has an extremely disproportionate share of electoral power, because of gerrymandering, electoral college votes, and other built-in factors.  In any case, ignoring them is as immoral as ignoring any other share of voters, especially since rural America—outside of giant agribusiness and oil firms—has been in deepening economic trouble for years.

Working-class whites are often in similarly bad shape, and though they have not been so neglected by Democrats, they respond badly to elitism and banker-dominated politics.  The rural and working-class white voters clearly voted their hate, not their self-interest.  Even the least intelligent of them could have seen what Trump would do, if they had looked.  The farmers who depend on illegal Mexican labor and voted for a man who promised to ban it, the workers who depend on social programs and voted for a party that pledged to eliminate them, the women who voted for a party that pledged to eliminate women’s basic rights, and indeed all the Trump blocs except the super-rich, were clearly voting hate rather than rationality.  This is ominous.  Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that when their rational concerns are betrayed—and they are already being betrayed—they will double down on the hate, and go against minorities and women even more.

So Trump won because the far right and the evangelicals enthusiastically supported him; because other Republicans got on board, rather reluctantly, but Trump seemed better than Clinton; and because rather more than half of working-class whites supported him.  Also, Democrats and minorities did not turn out as enthusiastically as right-wingers.  Also, there was clearly some genuine cooking of the votes (Palast 2016).

There are thus many causes of Trump’s victory, and blaming Hillary is not much help when worldwide currents at the largest scale, and local vote theft and suppression at the local one, are at fault.  Still, one could argue that the Democrats’ loss of the rural and blue-collar votes was critical, not only because it lost the election but because it shows sharply and clearly that the Democratic Party has somewhat betrayed its former core constituency.  The DNC has to change or die.  I think it will change.  Those seeing no hope for the Democrats are simply giving the US to Trump and his neo-Nazis.

The economic drive behind fascism is critically important.  The most reactionary of the giant corporations are always the real architects and backers of it.  In the US, that means especially big oil.  “The big oil companies made over $135 billion in profits last year.  Why are we giving them at least $10 billion in subsidies while we are closing public schools?”  (Storm Is Coming, Nov. 30, 2016).  The Koch brothers, oilmen at heart though Koch Industries is diversified, have been the most consistent and important leaders of the fascist movement.  Other oil, coal, and chemical corporations are on board, as well as the shadiest financial and gambling interests.  Bernie Sanders revealed on his Facebook page that the top 25 hedge-fund CEO’s made 11.6 billion last year, while the total pay of all the kindergarten teachers in the US was 8.5 billion.  Priorities.

We are thus up against a lot of money—but not really very many people.  The number of rich corporate fascists is very small; most of the “1%” are not on board with this.  The number of extremist right-wingers in the US is no more than 10%, with another 10% fairly consistently voting with them.  (That was revealed by the vote turnout for earlier extreme candidates like Strom Thurmond, Orval Faubus, and George Wallace.)  If we can get the other 80% on board, we will win—we’ll be home clear.

That means not falling for the divisive tactics of the far right (and far left, for that matter, though they are numerically insignificant in the US).  We need to devote ourselves to solidarity and as much harmony as possible.

 

 

Friedman, Ana.  2016.  “It’s Not Funny Any More.”  Los Angeles Times, Dec. 2, A17.

 

Michael, George.  2016.  “The Right-wing Movement behind Trump Isn’t Just Breitbart and the White Nationalists—It’s Way Worse.”  Daily Progressive, Nov. 30.  https://dailyprogressive.org/2016/11/right-wing-movement-behind-trump-isnt-just-breitbart-white-nationalists-way-worse/

 

Palast, Greg.  2016.  “The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Vote Recount.”  Truthout, Nov. 30, https://dailyprogressive.org/2016/11/right-wing-movement-behind-trump-isnt-just-breitbart-white-nationalists-way-worse/

 

Storm Is Coming.  2016.  “The Big Oil Companies….”  Nov. 30, https://www.facebook.com/StormIsComingSoon/photos/a.278989962233337.1073741829.263803127085354/919552068177120/?type=3&theater

 

 

Appendix:  course materials from Prof. Jeff Colgan, Brown University.

In General: Some warning signs of democratic breakdown (not in chronological order) are:

  1. Media intimidation and restrictions
  2. Identification of crises or political paralysis to justify emergency measures
  3. Attacks on minorities; scapegoating foreigners
  4. Closing of space for civil society (especially funding restrictions, legal cases, raids and arrests, etc.)
  5. Rhetorical rejection of current political system; discourse shift
  6. Expanding the size of courts or other bodies to stack it with partisan judges/officials
  7. Modifying rules to impose or eliminate term limits on officials, esp. election officials
  8. Weakening of the legislature / intimidation of legislators
  9. Silencing of political opposition
  10. Significant increase in the internal security forces

But the key point to keep in mind: if there were good, reliable signs of democratic breakdown, the breakdown itself would be unlikely to happen. Breakdown mostly happens when it is unanticipated and supporters of democracy fail to mobilize.

 

Still, an expert (Prof Michael Miller, GWU) suggests a general pattern from previous cases: “The key initial steps: violations of free press, cronyism, using political power to starve the opposition of resources, building up the internal security apparatus, and chipping away at horizontal constraints. This is all excused by hyping emergencies and security problems, increasing polarization and us vs. them rhetoric, and hyping nationalism and blaming foreigners. In many cases, this is accompanied by violent civil society or paramilitary forces aligned with the government. It’s hard to see that happening [in the US] on a large scale, but that’s the pattern.”

 

The 2016 Election

November 27th, 2016

1

We have to spend the next four years (or more) working as hard as we can on unity, solidarity, and reconciliation.

This election was basically about hatred, and we can’t afford that. It leads nowhere but to genocide. Trump and the Republicans were the worst, but disaffected Sanders and Stein voters could be as bad (often recycling Republican lies), and Clinton’s “deplorables” remark was clearly one of the things that cost her the election.

The hatred was primarily racial, ethnic, and religious, but there was plenty of hatred for “the establishment,” for Clinton and for Trump personally, and for the increasing closedness and even arrogance of the Democratic leadership. Many disaffected working-class voters simply wanted to express anguish or anger against the whole stacked deck. Many businesspeople hated regulations and the regulation-creating mind,  Many conservatives simply hated the poor, hated “entitlements,“ hated the whole idea of a country where people took care of each other.  The system—American political society in the 21st century—had simply generated so many problems, and its leadership was so out of touch, that many people voted to destroy it.

Substantive issues just got lost.  They will continue to be lost if we don’t act.  Some have said it was all about the economy, or a desire for (generic) change.  No.  It was partly driven by that, but the immediate, operational factor—including the way people chose to get out those concerns—was hate.  The election turned on which candidate and which bunch of followers was the most hateful.  Anyone who doubts this is welcome to re-read the campaign literature, see the videos, count the votes by region and ward.

Two key things to remember. First, it was not just Trump that won.  Republicans swept the country.  Republican senate candidates ran better than Trump in a lot of states.  The Republicans even took the New York state senate!  So whatever is going on here, it is much wider than Trump and Clinton.  It is not even just the United States: democratically elected extremist hatemongering regimes now dominate England, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Turkey, the Philippines, Israel, India, and some other countries.  To that may be added the regimes that are not democratically elected, coming to power by coups (Honduras, Brazil) or by traditional succession (Saudi Arabia) or by sheer brutal dictatorial power (most of the Middle East, China, North Korea, many others).  Most of the world has gone fascist or appears to be going there.

Second, Trump clearly drew on the racists, religious bigots, and outright fascists, but evidence going back for decades shows that those are only about 20% of the voters. The other 27% of voters who backed Trump were a range of social conservatives, disaffected downwardly-mobile whites, and poor lost souls who just wanted to protest.  We need to reach out to them.  We have to call out hatred—wherever we find it—especially racial, gender, and religious hate, but also hate of rival political factions, and ALSO elite-liberal hate of rural and less affluent whites.

Think of South Africa’s reconciliation commissions. We need to do as they did, but proactively.

 

2

Obama in 2008 got seven million more votes than Clinton in 2016.  Even in 2012, when turnout was historically low, he got three million more.  Romney got about as many as Trump.  So the main reason Clinton lost was failure to turn out the vote, in spite of desperate attempts to get out the vote (Barbara alone made over 1000 calls).  Only 55.6% the eligible voters turned out, and Democrats suffered far more than Republicans, as usual.  That means that the 20% of voters who were hateful represent only a bit over 10% of the general population.  (The breakdown as of Day 18 was 62,213,790 for Trump, 64,226,121 for Clinton.)

Men and women were almost mirror image: Men broke 53-41 for Trump, women 42-54. People under 30 voted 37-55, over 30 52-43.  (Other votes went to third party people, with little effect on overall results.)  Whites broke an amazing 58-37, probably a record.  Hispanics were 29-65, blacks 8-88 (!).

Evangelicals broke 81 to 16% for Trump, a record. In all, the GOP constituency turned out in force and was loyal.  There was also a reversal of the recent trend for rich to vote Democratic.  Most of the press and many giant corporations supported Clinton, but the traditional Republican constituency—well-to-do whites, suburbanites, farmers—went as heavily Republican as they did in the 1980s, unlike their shift toward Obama in 2008 and 2012.  The poorer whites broke for Trump, slightly, but overall 52 to 53% of less affluent voters went for Clinton—largely because the number of minorities is so high in that income category.  Even so, Trump got 15% more of the less educated and less affluent (under $30,000/year) white vote than Romney got in 2012.  People under 30 broke heavily for Clinton, but not so heavily as they had broken for Obama.  In all, the pattern was a return to the George W. Bush years.

Trump voters tend to believe that whites are more discriminated against than blacks, Hispanics, or Muslims—in contrast to the US average and especially Clinton voters. A Huffington Post-YouGov poll revealed that 10% of Clinton voters and 45% of Trump voters thought there was” a lot of discrimination” against whites (the US average was 24%).  Clinton voters were far more prone than average to see more discrimination against the other named groups, reaching a high of 88% for Muslims (Edwards-Levy 2016).

Interesting are the huge changes in the last 50 years, even in the last 30. The cities are now so heavily Democratic that, for instance, the whole Los Angeles Basin was a sea of blue when the precincts were counted, with only a few tiny pink (not red—barely carried by Trump) spots in the most traditionally rich and conservative areas.  Even San Marino, former home of the John Birch Society and a city that went approximately 90% for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, was split into a pale pink ward and a blue one.  Pasadena and La Canada-Flintridge, formerly major Republican strongholds, were deep blue.  So were Malibu and the whole westside.  Other cities all over the state, and indeed all over the country, showed the same trajectory.

By contrast, rural areas that were solidly Democratic as recently as 1980, and in some cases even 2012, were solidly red all over the country (except where they were overwhelmingly minority-populated). Idaho was the most liberal-voting state in the country in the 1960s.  It was now the most Republican, after wyoming.  The Dakotas and Montana were solidly Democrat then; they are now Republican strongholds. Of course the deep south switched because the Republicans replaced the southern Democrats as the party of racism, but the border south was generally liberal Democrat through the 1960s; it is now second only to the northern interior west in Republican dominance.  (So much for theories of “innate” and “genetically determined” politics and party affiliation.)

The result was that Clinton carried 88 of the most populous 100 counties in the US, but lost virtually all the 3000 rural and suburban counties (there are 3,141 counties in the US)—essentially all of the ones that were not dominated by nonwhite minority populations.

However, voter suppression since 2010 had a huge amount of effect in this, and several other games were played. Russian hacking of voting machines clearly benefited Trump, to an uncertain degree.  Bill Palmer has noted that there was an astonishing decline in Black turnout even from the primaries, let alone 2012—up to 80% in North Carolina.  There were other mysterious declines of minority voters, mostly in states with voter suppression laws.  He also noted that Clinton arried the early vote in Florida, where most people voted early, but then Trump won the state—requiring a vote of 70% for Trump by the election-day voters.  Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan turned in late-breaking Trump wins with 1% or less of the vote—consistently.  Polls were mysteriously far wrong (with one or two exceptions).  Voter turnout was surprisingly light, and mysteriously much lighter than expected in precisely the states where suppression was already ongoing and registration therefore down.  Any one or two of these anomalies could be chance, or late-breaking changes of mind by the voters, but all of the anomalies put together looked highly suspicious to Palmer.  Further detailed analysis of the numbers by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (2016) and Greg Palast (2016a, 2016b) prove Palmer right, and reveal many other suspicious matters.  It is now clear that Clinton won the election and the Republicans stole it by outright lawbreaking.

Of course the Koch brothers were intensely involved at all levels. They did not like Trump and refused to support him directly, but poured over $750 million dollars into Senate and other races and general build-up of Republican agendas.  They are now poised to tell the solidly Republican congress exactly what to do (Skocpol et al. 2016).

 

3

Many of the Democrat nonvoters were disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders. They refused to vote for Clinton, and that was one of the things that cost her the election.  The rest were divided into simple Clinton-dislikers and ordinary nonvoters.

Democrats often fail to turn out large percentages of their typical “base demographics.” Democrats did better in 2008 and 2012, but their turnouts in 2010 and 2014 were derisory.  Only a very small percentage of registered Democrats turned out in those midterm years.

So, there were many causes of Clinton’s loss. The biggest was clearly the failure of turnout, especially the disaffected voters.  Clinton’s lack of charisma and personal touch, and Trump’s abundant endowment with both, was clearly and heavily decisive.  These two together led to massive loss of working-class white votes (see e.g. Maslin 2016).  Clinton’s one really hateful remark—calling Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables”—may have cost her the election, but Trump’s hundreds of hateful remarks merely fed his rabid supporters.  Also important were decades of Republicans deliberately whipping up racial, gender, and religious hatred, to divide the voters and set them against each other.  Also decisive was Republican voter suppression and intimidation, which certainly cost Clinton Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio, and probably Arizona,.  Some 1,100,000 voters, mostly poor and nonwhite, were disqualified, or their ballots somehow disappeared; reporter Greg Palast traced the story and found out how Republicans had managed it (Palast 2016a, 2016b).  Google counted voter incidents reported to them, and found a clear and enormous pattern of repression and corruption of many kinds, from rigged machines to long wait times, often from closed polling places (Garland 2016). There was also apparent gaming of voting machines.  Lies (especially on talk radio and Fox News) and dirty tricks did the rest.  The Clinton campaign blamed especially the tricks played by James Comey, head of the FBI and a Trump Republican, in the last month of the campaign.  He timed email investigations and his letters about them to do maximal damage.

Part of the back story included progressive distancing of the Democrats from working-class and rural voters over three decades. This has thrown an increasingly desperate and miserable group of people to the wolves.  An excellent account of their problems and the exploitation thereof by the hate-merchants is given by Chris Hedges (2016).  Part of the problem is a hard-to-define but easy-to-see difference between traditional American rural and working-class culture—defiant, independent, but loyal to charismatic leaders—and the urban intellectual culture that dominates the Democratic Party today.

Even worse was the rapid decline of newspapers and serious news magazines, and their replacement by biased and “clickbait” sites, hate propaganda (especially on talk radio), and trash entertainment. The media both eliminated serious coverage of news and set people up to believe any story or to disbelieve all stories, including climate science and other vitally important truths.

Reversal of any one of these many causes would have meant a win for Clinton.

In the days after the election, everybody seized on his or her pet cause as “the” cause, and flayed anyone who thought differently—guaranteeing problems with fixing the situation in future. The leftists and liberals revealed their fondness for what Mother Jones referred to as their typical “circular firing squad.”

The basic fact, though, is that people voted their hate—or hatred of all the alternatives led the not to vote.  Trump and Clinton had the lowest approval ratings of any candidates in the history of polling—Trump was the worst ever, Clinton second.  Trump’s savage hatemongering gave him this reputation; Clinton was the victim of a huge and systematic Republican smear campaign, but if she had been more personable and less connected with big banks and big business she could have blown that off, as Obama did and as her own husband did when they were subjected to similar treatment.  She appeared elitist; that made her connection with the banks and firms seem deadly serious rather than mere ordinary politics.

 

This election is unique in the history of the US, and rare in the history of the world. In most elections, the candidates at least pretend to discuss real issues.  This one was entirely about hate, from Trump’s side—even his “positive” proposals were all things to be done by getting rid of Mexicans, Chinese, Muslims, anyone.  Clinton did not run a very positive or hopeful campaign either.  One kept hoping and expecting her to give a clarion call for national unity and solidarity—everyone standing and working together.  She never did.  She appealed to every demographic in the country except white males.  It didn’t work.  She had no real proposals for major change; she ran far too much on Obama’s record.  Previous US elections—all of them—highlighted solidarity and national unity (even while working cynically against it, as many presidents did).  Even Calvin Coolidge, previously the most right-wing president, ran more upbeat campaigns and made more solid contributions than Trump.  They also invariably included numerous proposals for change and growth—again, often to betray them all later, but the promise was important.  Most of our elections have matched one pleasant stuffed suit against another, with no vast outpouring of hateful rhetoric and no huge difference in programs.  Not in 2016.

Worldwide, elections with this breadth and depth of hate on the part of the winner have been confined to fascist takeovers, especially Germany in 1932-33, of course, but also Mussolini’s victories, and hard-right victories in various Latin American countries over the decades. Modi’s win in India involved much hatred, but had many promises too (still to be fulfilled).

More to the point, all these hate campaigns led to genocide (Modi’s has not, so far, but he has years to go). The only really full-on hate campaign known to me that ended in a peaceful, sane, normal rule was that of Mahathir bin Mohamed in Malaysia in 1972.  He campaigned against the Chinese population of Malaysia, and to some extent against the Indian population too.  He won handily and there was fear of a crackdown, but the Chinese community cooperated with him and produced enormous economic growth, leaving him too contented to do much persecution.  (One who knows Malaysian politics of the day may suspect there was somewhat more direct economic benefit to him from the Chinese.)

 

4

But the hatemongers succeeded. The US was divided and conquered, by extremist right-wing rich people—Charles and David Koch above all, Trump, Gingrich, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell certainly, but many others were involved.  These men lied, circulated fabrications and conspiracy theories, started organizations, and did everything they could to spread hatred and turn elections into competitions to see who could whip up the most hate.

Now we pay for it. The blunt fact is that the US has gone full-out fascist.  I am using the strict definition: an authoritarian regime based on hatred of “other” groups, backed and sustained by close partnership between government and certain giant firms, and sustained by militarism, bullying, and (perhaps most distinctive) the Big Lie.  Fascism involves power-hungry bullies deliberately whipping up hate, and using lies to do it, for the ultimate benefit of their giant-corporate backers.  They often succeed best in downwardly-mobile times, but they do well even when times are very good.  They can always find disaffected failures to appeal to.

This is the mode of governance that Hitler perfected, drawing his financial base from Krupp, Farben, Volkswagen, Thyssen, and so on, just as the Republicans now draw from the Kochs (though even they at first balked at Trump) and the big oil, coal, and chemical companies. Fascism is not the same as nationalism or populism, and of course it is merely trivialized by terms like “grammar Nazis” and “food Nazis” for people who care about good English and good nutrition.

Fascism means dictatorship, and the Republicans have made it clear, with their voter suppression, intimidation, and disqualification, and with their constant attacks on the press and on freedom of religion and assembly, that they want an autocratic regime. They can now have it whenever they want it, with no one to stop them.  By 2018, they will have enough voter suppression in place to make the election a slam-dunk for them, unless everyone who cares about democracy unites now to stop them.  America may have had its last reasonably-free election for the foreseeable future.  Compare the rapid suppression of democracy under Marcos in the Philippines, Erdogan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rios Montt in Guatemala, d’Aubuisson in El Salvador, and many other cases of democratically-elected heads of state who instituted or are instituting fascism.

Fascism and hate-based governance always leads to genocide.  In consideration of every genocide in the world for the last 120 years, my wife Barbara Anderson and I found no case of a government as extreme as ours will now be that did not commit genocide or mass murder of opponents and distrusted groups.  Remember we are talking about a Republican party whose leaders include people openly calling for literal extermination of gays (preacher Kevin Swanson, for one example).  They also support police and even private citizens shooting first and asking questions second (or never) if a person of color looks at all suspicious.  Ongoing repression of Native American protests against the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota are moving in the direction of genocide, though they are not there yet.

We are going to have to get organized, NOW, with a real solidarity movement that is NOT confined to one political viewpoint, and we are going to have to fight hatred and work to get some sense of national unity back, or else we will certainly have genocide by 2020 or 2024.  This is a confident prediction, based on study of dozens of cases.  Trashing “Hillary” or “rednecks” is a luxury we cannot afford, and certainly we can no longer tolerate the Democrat establishment’s writing off working-class whites and rural people in general.  We have to work hard.  If we do, we can win, but otherwise things are going to be a mess.

 

An awful, but perfectly believable, scenario can be imagined. It is based on real cases, ranging from Hitler’s Germany to Argentina in the 1970s, and including CIA-backed and/or CIA-installed regimes in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Chile, so we know the US government is fully capable of doing this.  It goes as follows:  Trump ruins the economy, as he is likely to do.  Faced with rapidly growing protests, he cracks down more and more.  This makes everything worse, so to distract people and get the country loyal to him he starts a war.  Using the war as an excuse, he declares a state of emergency, suspends the Constitution, and cracks down on his enemies.  This leads to more trouble, especially with waging the war and trying to finance it, and he launches a full-scale genocide to solve his problems.  He might not even need a war; he might crack down and then, after protests, launch genocide, simply from economic chaos.

I think this is in fact the most likely future for the US. Another would have economic chaos going directly to such a flurry of voter suppression and intimidation that there would be no need for a war—autocracy and genocide would happen without it.

One of our key findings, confirmed independently by Barbara Harff, was that genocide is most likely (indeed, in hate-based regimes, almost inevitable) in two situations: when a regime first seizes autocratic power, and when it is challenged by a major war or economic crash.

 

Autocracy and mass killing will probably happen unless we take action to stop it NOW. That means a mass unity and mutual support movement big enough to influence Congress.

 

5

Part of the background to all this is the shift of the Republican Party from one of small local businessmen and a few big firms to one based on racism and religious hate.  This was the product of the “Southern Strategy,” developed by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove under Richard Nixon, and used with full success by Ronald Reagan.  Slowly, the racists and bigots took over, partly because small businesses and local firms declined relative to the power of giant centralized corporations.   The small businessman—often community-spirited, and pro-education—was replaced by dinosauric corporations and their bigoted followers.

This is far from total, so far—a fact which gives us hope.  Spending on education is a good tracker.  California built up its world-class university system under Republican governors.  Some Republican-dominated states still spend a lot, per student: Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and a few other high-plains and western states.  Most, however, have devastated educational spending.  Kansas is the most extreme case (as of 2016), but Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, and several other marginal-south states spend very little.

This massive shift on education can stand as a good proxy for attention to minorities, handicapped people, veterans, women—any population that can use some assistance.  Old-time Republicans took some care of these.  New ones throw them to the wolves.

The US has shifted far to the right since the 1940s, especially since Nixon’s victory in 1968. This has been reflected, for example, in falling or stagnant real wages, and steadily increasing tax cuts to the rich, many of whom (apparently including Trump) now pay no taxes at all.  Clinton’s policies greatly resemble Eisenhower’s and Nixon’s; Trump’s are to the right even of Joseph McCarthy, Strom Thurmond, and other extreme right-wingers of the 1950s.

The evolution of the Republicans—and, to a large extent, the whole US—from conservative to fascist tracks perfectly the evolution of big business from competing firms independent of a smallish government to giant corporations relying on huge government subsidies and powerful enough to control government bureaus and policies.  The latter is what we have now, and it is exactly the fascist economic order advocated and created by Benito Mussolini in Italy and then copied worldwide.  It is natural, then, that fascist politics and morality replace conservative ones.  Honor, honesty, patriotism, personal freedom, small government, and the other old-fashioned conservative ideals are repudiated.  They are replaced by lies, treachery, and a huge government that regulates all aspects of life—especially sexuality, gender, and ethnicity.  Fascism lives by whipping up the ancient hatreds: men’s jealous oppression of women, society’s hate of “deviants” (those who violate social norms, especially sexual ones), and hatred of structural opponents—the most visible “other” groups.  These hatreds have always been with us, but fascism survives by driving them to frenzy levels.

It is important to recall that the fascist streak comes largely from the deep south, an area where support for Hitler was strong in the 1930s.  It traces back to the plantation system: rent-seeking owners using slave labor.  The actual conservatives were largely northern businesspeople, living by their intelligence and resourcefulness.  Southern fascist and racist politics expanded nationwide from the 1970s as actual business (including actually working for one’s money) was replaced by monopolies or oligopolies, and by rent-seeking in the form of lobbying for subsidies, tax cuts, and exemptions from laws and rules.  This change is the real driver of the whole shift to racial politics and the rise of fascism that led to Trump.  One major part of it is a shift from class politics—the old poor-Democrats, rich-Republicans model—to race, religion, and gender politics.  The center and left has, unfortunately, fallen for the racialization of politics, increasingly seeing politics as a fight between “whites” and others and between heterosexual males and others.  Of course, in the immediate future, we have to fight hatred and bigotry above all things, but we also have to get back to politics based on actual economic, environmental, and social issues, before politics in the US reaches the stage of actual race war and genocide.

 

Poverty in America is increasing, as wealth concentrates at the top. In the 2% worst-off counties in the US (heavily nonwhite, outside of Appalachia, where they are heavily white), median household income is $24,960.  In the richest 2% it is $89,723.  Smoking is twice as common in the poor ones, obesity 50% more prevalent.  Life expectancy for women is 75.9 years, for mean 69.8; corresponding figures for rich counties, 83 and 79.3.  Fortunately, relatively few people are in the poor counties: only 14,000, vs. 362,000 in the richest 2%.  (Data from Kaplan 2016.)  So all these poor counties are rural: Black in the deep south, Native American in the northern plains, Hispanic on the border, and lily white in Appalachia, where the very poorest and least healthy are concentrated.  Those Appalachian counties voted about 90% for Trump; the other poor counties were largely for Clinton.

 

6

Still farther back in the back story is the huge mistake made by most politicians and economists in thinking people are basically rational, and that economic issues matter most.  The Marxists took this one farther, believing that class conflict dominates society.  At least they allowed for humans being impassioned actors.

The truth is that humans are basically creatures of emotion; reason serves the passions, as David Hume wrote long ago.  Thus the real conflict in society is always tolerance, harmony, and getting along versus hate, intolerance, and rejection.  The extreme form of the latter is seen in the bigotry and hysterical mob hate that dominated the 2016 election (and, recall, it was not wholly confined to the right wing).  Class differences are difficult enough, economics and rational economic concerns are serious enough and motivating enough—we cannot ignore them—but we have to work on them from an underlying platform of unity, solidarity, cooperation, accommodation, and mutual aid.

By far the worst problem facing the world, and the US in particular, is hatred.  When I started my career, I looked for the most serious problem facing humanity, and concluded at the time—the 1960s—that it was food supply.  So I devoted my life to studying food and food systems (production-distribution-consumption).  It’s been wonderful and fun, but I was dead wrong.  The food crisis of the 1940s and 1950s was rapidly solved by agricultural development, and the world is now rolling in food; shortages are due to political causes.

Seeing that, and seeing much else, brought me to realize that the real problem is hate.  After the 2016 election, I see no need to belabor that point.  Hate is fed by lies, the bigger and more obvious the better.  This is Joseph Goebbels’ famous Big Lie technique, not his invention but certainly perfected by him, and used by many since.  Trump has fed white racism, and also a wider white backlash against “political correctness” and apparent favoring of nonwhites by media and liberal Democrats (see e.g Kaleem 2016).

Fascism everywhere depends on divide-and-conquer strategies, splitting people by race, ethnicity, language, religion, class, occupation, place of origin, political opinions, anything—if one divider fails, fascists will simply turn to another set.  There is no way to combat all these hatreds one by one.  We have to preach overall tolerance.  Fascists also love violence, oppression and bullying, so violent protests tend to bring a more violent return and merely make things worse.

After hate and lies, we have to contend with direct and immediate threats to civil rights, the environment, the economy, health, and indeed everything we are concerned about.  The following is a list of things not just proposed by Trump but part of the nationwide Republican platform and to-do list over many years.

Civil rights protection is the most immediate and desperate problem. It is now clear that the real, direct, immediate reason the Republicans won heavily was voter suppression and other dirty tricks.  The Republicans will now go on an all-out national campaign of voter suppression.  This will likely move on to a full-scale suspension of the Constitution and declaration of dictatorship if it is not stopped immediately.

The Republicans are now attacking gays above all, Mexicans and Muslims next, but women, minorities, children, and working people will be next. The Republicans will try not only to bar or expel Mexicans and Muslims, but also to repeal the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act (they have already gutted it), and of course all protection for women and gays.

A related problem is the attack on labor that will certainly come. The Republicans throughout my entire long life have pushed for “right-to-work laws” that would make it hard to unionize.  They will now try for a nationwide right-to-work law, as they have many times before.  They will probably refuse to recognize unions of federal workers and contractor firms.

Environment is the next most serious immediate problem. The Republicans not only refuse to acknowledge or do anything about global warming; they now have weighed in to oppose regulating pesticides and pollutants.  They are trying to repeal the Wilderness Protection Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the rest, and to sell off or give away the national lands.  The movement to privatize national lands is particularly long-lasting and powerful, including things like the “Sagebrush Rebellion” that has been ongoing since the 1970s.

Their economic plans are basically a return to the 1870s, including total deregulation of banks, stopping enforcement of anti-monopoly rules, and repeal of “bothersome” regulations across the board. Most chilling of all is the long-standing Republican attempt to ban, or at least reduce to the vanishing point, class-action suits.

In regard to health, the Republicans now propose not only to outlaw abortion and cancel Obamacare, but to eliminate Medicare. Of course abortion will be outlawed to the greatest extent possible, and birth control removed from any and all federal programs.  They include enough anti-vaxxers to get vaccination taken off public health programs.

They also are at war with science; if they do not shut down NSF, they will certainly eliminate its social science and global climate programs—they voted to do those things in 2016. They have long advocated eliminating NEA and NEH.

Perhaps the least awful thing they will do is cut taxes, but that will be devastating too. Cutting taxes for the super-rich will take that money out of circulation.  Taxes are spent by the government (even before they are collected!) on actual goods and services.  Huge tax cuts for the rich in the last 40 years have been largely squirreled away in overseas bank accounts or sunk in mansions, yachts, and other unproductive investment.  There has been very little actual spending on productive investment.  A dollar squirreled away in a Cayman Islands bank is totally lost to the world.  A dollar spent by the US Government on health care or road repairs yields two to four additional dollars by the end of the year, because of rapid circulation.  Thus tax cuts steadily make the country worse off.

Republicans will also maintain, and probably increase, the huge subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, and similar interests, and huge expenditures on military contracting. This extreme subsidization leads to “rent-seeking”: lobbying for more and more giveaways, rather than doing actual work.  All this, plus deregulation of banks and other corporations, will quickly wreck the economy; look for full-scale depression in a very few years, and then implosion of real incomes.  The government may well try to print its way out of the hole, leading to runaway inflation, which devastates the poor.

 

7

No government as extreme as Trump’s has ever survived long without committing genocide. Trump picked the most extreme right-wing senator, Jeff Sessions, for Attorney General; an open neo-Nazi, Stephen Bannon, for head of staff; the most visible (and rich) opponent of public education (Betsy DeVos; see Tabachnik 2011) for his secretary of education.  Future appointments will surely be similarly extreme.  Nothing like this has been seen in the US before.  The only parallels are Nazi Germany and other fascist states.

Democratically elected governments that were comparable (though many of them were less extreme than Trump’s) included, in addition to Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Marcos’ Philippines, Rios Montt’s Guatemala, Roberto D’Aubuisson’s El Salvador, Fujimori’s Peru, and a few other cases. All wound up in genocide.  Unelected governments, taking over by coup or revolution, included Iran since 1979, Pinochet’s Chile, Argentina under the colonels in the late 1970s, Rwanda  under the Interahamwe, Ethiopia under the Dergue, Uganda under Idi Amin, and the various Communist and extremist-Islamic governments.

The clear predictor in all these is the use of hate as the basis of government. It can be political and class hate, racial and ethnic hate, religious hate, or ideological hate.  What matters is that the government took power, justified its power, consolidated its power, and ran the country on the basis of what Barbara Harff called “exclusionary ideology.”  Trump ran on a ticket of “Make American great again,” but all his specific ways to do that consisted solely of hate and exclusion.  He promised to expel immigrants, stop further immigration, perrsecute religious minorities, start a trade war with China and some other countries, repress gays, crush dissident political movements, and govern through repressive and negative means, in defiance of the United States Constitution.

I am aware of no case of a government that ran on the basis of hate avoided genocide, with the partial exception of Malaysia under Mahathir bin Mohamed.  Mahathir took power on an anti-Chinese platform, but modified his position steadily, and is in fact currently leading a movement for political reform.  Flourishing economy and personal growth appear involved.  In any case, no other government that made ethnic hate a major part of its platform has ever backed away from it successfully.

The worst problem is that a government elected by hate has to deliver. It can deliver only by increasing repression.  Since this does not work very well in economics or war, the government is more and more challenged by reality. Any genuine threat—internal or external war, economic depression, major confrontations in the regime—then leads to genocide, as established independently by Barbara Harff (2012) and Anderson and Anderson (2012) through detailed studies of all recent genocides.

Genocide thus has the advantage of being fairly predictable. In the case of Trump, the most likely scenario is increasing economic hardship.  Hating Mexicans, Chinese, African-Americans, liberals, Muslims, Jews, and a range of others is not an economic policy.  Sharply cutting trade with China and Mexico would be disastrous.  Increasing economic woes will create conditions where protests and public unrest could drive Trump’s government to more and more repressive measures.  Most dangerous would be starting a war to stimulate the economy and take people’s minds off it; this would certainly lead to genocide.  There is no case of a repressive or exclusionary government getting into a war without cracking down politically, and that very soon turns into mass killing. Even the small civil unrest episodes in 1980s Guatemala and Peru led to local genocides.  Conversely, without a war, genocide is much less likely.  Hitler did not start the gas chambers until WWII began to go against him.

While Trump purported to have various other planks in his platform, he actually ran on a ticket of hate. His economic growth was to come from sharply confronting the Chinese and Europeans.  His fighting crime was basically stopping immigration and repressing black and Latino Americans.  His social policies were heavily in the direction of ending LGBTQ rights and other minority rights.  None of his promises were to be fulfilled except on the backs of weaker people.  This is a very standard way to operate in world history, and it always leads to mass killing.  His head of staff, Stephen Bannon, is a fascist by every definition.  (He is not a “white nationalist.” His anti-Semitism and authoritarian attitudes go far beyond white supremacy.)  He has clearly studied Hitler’s rise to power; the similarities in the Trump campaign to those of Hitler in 1932-33 seem awfully difficult to explain except by deliberate copying.  We are dealing with a full-scale fascist takeover of the United States.

Only immediate, concerted action can stop this, and only if it is taken by a unified populace—essentially everyone in the US who is not a fascist. The vast majority of Trump voters were not.  They were ordinary Republicans loyal to any Republican nominee, or poor and working-class people caught up in Trump’s charisma and rhetoric.  The same, of course, was true of Hitler’s votership in 1932-33; it was largely knee-jerk conservatives and alienated, disaffected rural and working-class people, plus the Nazi hard core—almost exactly Trump’s votership.

 

8

Taking a moderate position is sure to get one in double trouble—shot at by both extremes.  This is one reason why so many politicians and ordinary people take extreme postitions: they can expect hostility from only one direction, and they can prepare for it.  Being moderate, especially if done in the hope of being peaceful, leads to being blind-sided by attacks from two (or even more) directions.  Still we have to be moderate and inclusive if the US is to survive. This does not mean we play nice to everyone; quite the reverse.  It means we show zero tolerance for open bigotry and fascism.  However, we stand with everyone who will work with us against those.  We can no longer afford the tribal divisions of the left and center.

Timothy Snyder, a scholar of genocide, has listed twenty extremely good recommendations for action.  They focus on doing as much as possible, as soon as possible—not being a sheep.

We need massive nonviolent demonstrations; constant pressure through phoning, writing, and talking to representatives and other leaders; constant exposure, commentary, thinking; investigative journalism; money; and organizing.  We need to unite around traditional American values of equality, freedom, tolerance, honesty, and justice; yes, America has a bloody record, but rubbing that into people and cynically ignoring the real ideas simply hands everything to the fascists.  We need religious people to be ecumenical, not dogmatic, and atheists to be inclusive, not dismissive.  We need to recognize that America is a mixed-race, mixed-ethnic, immigrant country, not a bunch of clashing “pure races” or “pure cultures” as the fascists maintain.

Above all, we need to maintain hope and to focus on solidarity. We can win only by building the widest possible coalition—to unite the 90% of Americans who are not fascists or hatemongers.  We will have to tolerate working with ordinary Republicans, to say nothing of the unfortunate working-class people tricked into voting for Trump and also centrist Democrats sometimes accused of “neoliberalism” and other imaginary sins.  We have to confront fascist exclusionary ideology with the widest possible inclusionary ideology—a message of tolerance.  We have to drive positive messages against negative ones, and constructive ideas against destructive ones.

The only way to conquer a massive fascist movement is with an even more massive anti-fascist movement.  We have to organize, and include everyone who is not in the fascist camp—everyone from the last few small-government conservatives to the far left.  There is no time left to exclude people.  The fascists are experts at divide-and-conquer strategies.  We have to work to unify.

This means—and is best served by—reaffirming the traditional American values of liberty, justice, equality before the law, public responsibility, and openness.

We have to act, now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix: Snyder’s twenty lessons

 

Yale historian and Holocaust expert Timothy Snyder wrote: “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.” Snyder’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (which includes former Secretaries of State), and consults on political situations around the globe. He says, “Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

  1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
  2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
  3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.
  6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
  8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
  9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
  10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
  13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
  15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
  16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
  19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom. 20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

 

References

 

Anderson, E. N., and Barbara Anderson. 2012.  Warning Signs of Genocide.   Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

 

Edwards-Levy, Ariel. 2016.  “Nearly Half of Trump Voters Think Whites Face a Lot of Discrimination.”  Huffington Post, Nov.  21, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/discrimination-race-religion_us_5833761ee4b099512f845bba?section=politics

 

Fitrakis, Bob, and Harvey Wasserman. 2016.  “Did the GOP Flip the 2016 Election?”  Columbus Free Press, Nov. 18, http://columbusfreepress.com/article/did-gop-strip-flip-2016-selection

 

Garland, Eric. 2016.  “Google Voting Issues Map Shows Disturbing Data about the 2016 Election.”  Google website, http://www.ericgarland.co/2016/11/16/google-voting-map-disturbing-patterns-2016/

 

Hedges, Chris. 2016.  “We Are All Deplorables.”  Truthdig, online, Nov. 20, http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/we_are_all_deplorables_20161120

 

Kaleem, Jaweed. 2016.  “’White Pride’ Awakened.”  Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18, A1, A10.

 

Kaplan, Karen. 2016.  “A ‘Disturbing’ Portrait of Poverty.”  Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18, A7.

 

Maslin, Paul. 2016.  “Democrats Can’t Ignore working-class white Voters.”  Los Angeles Times, Nov. 15, A15.

 

Mounck, Yasha. 2016.  “What We Do Now.”  Slate, Nov. 9, preserve_the_ideals_of_liberal_democracy_in_the_face_of_a_trump_presidency.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

 

Palast, Greg. 2016a.   The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  Web posting, www.gregpalast.com

 

—   2016b.  “The Election Was Stolen—Here’s How.”  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/40246-focus-the-election-was-stolen-heres-how

 

Palmer, Bill. 2016.  You’re not just imagining it: the Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump vote totals do look rigged.  DailyNewsBin, online, Nov. 17.

 

Skocpol, Theda; Alexander Hertel-Fernandez; Caroline Tervo. 2016. “Behind ‘Make America Great,’ the Koch Agenda Returns with a Vengeance.”  TPM, Nov. 21. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/behind-make-america-great-the-koch-agenda-returns-with-a-vengeance

 

Snyder, Timothy. 2016.  “Twenty Lessons.”  Circulating online as of Nov. 19.

 

Tabachnik, Rachel. 2011.  “The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-wingers Working with the Religious Right to Kill Public Education.”  AlterNet, May 6