Anderson Unite against Fascism 7
I am seeing and hearing more of the “I’m ashamed to be an American” rhetoric.
- 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.
Frederick Turner, Jan. 22, 2017:
A Primer on Trumpism
- 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