Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ignorance is Strength

"Ignorance is Strength."
-- George Orwell,  from "1984"
The memory of totalitarianism, with its demand for simplistic answers, intoxication with spectacles of vulgarity, and a desires for strong leaders, has faded in a society beset by a culture of immediacy, sensations and civic illiteracy.

Under such circumstances, it is difficult to underestimate the depth of tragedy that the collapse of civic culture and democratic public spheres has wrought.   The profound influences of a permanent war culture that trades in fear and loathing, along with the ever-present petty consumerism has bred  depoliticization and infantilism throughout the culture. Meanwhile the goose stepping actual fascists in the Trump cabinet (count 'em...there's 3. Bannon, Gorka, and Miller) continually assault the free press.  "The media is the opposition party" they declare.  News media must play a critical essential role in a democracy. We are beyond the very real threat of suppressing dissent, if not democracy itself. What is clear is that the dire times that haunt the current age no longer appear as merely an impending threat. Fascism isn't creeping. It has pounced and seized. Trump and his administration of extremists epitomize the dire dangers posed by those who longed to rule American society without resistance, dominate its major political parties, and secure uncontested control of its commanding political, cultural and economic institutions. The consolidation of power and wealth in the hands of the financial elite along with the savagery and misery that exemplifies their politics is no longer the stuff of Hollywood films, such as Wall Street and American Psycho. Trump's ascent to the highest office in America is already being normalized by numerous pundits and politicians who are asking the American public to give Trump a chance or are suggesting that the power and demands of the presidency will place some restraints on his unrestrained impetuousness and unpredictable behavior. Those members of Congress who railed against both Obama's alleged imperial use of executive orders and later, during the Republican primaries, denounced Trump as unfit for office now exhibit a level of passivity and lack of moral courage that testifies to their complicity with the darkness in the  shadow of authoritarianism.

A range of supine politicians, pundits and right wing talking heads are already tying themselves in apologetic knots while they desperately try to make any of this presidencies absurdities "normal". Trump is not ordinary and his politics are an American version of authoritarianism. This is not normal in any sense. And the second enough people accept that it is, democracy has died.

When news media reported the appointments of White House counselor Steve Bannon and attorney general Jeff Sessions, two men with serious racism in their pasts, as if they were ordinary appointments, democracy began to die.
Modern authoritarianism is based on terror management just as Orwell described,
and so modern authoritarians need terror attacks: real, simulated, or both.

It is just as James Madison noticed long ago, tyranny arises "on some favorable emergency."
The experience of the 21st century, as well as the experience of the 1930s, teaches that it takes about a year to engineer a regime change. The question now is to what, exactly? We cannot deduce, from the Trump administration's destructive chaos and ideological incoherence, what the post-democratic American regime will be. We can be sure, however, that we will miss being free. The prospect of children and grandchildren growing up under heavy tyranny is terrifyingly real.
History reminds us just how fragile fundaments of democracy actually are.

But what follows now is up to you!

It's up to us.

We resist in every way possible, and we must step up to the responsibility of guiding what happens next, after Trump. After the inevitable fall he is causing.
It needn't be a dystopian nightmare. But without your input...without us working together it will be.

Still hope springs eternal.
The future has never been quite in your hands the way it is right now.