Dictators Need Our Cooperation So You Best Pick A Side

by Glenn R. Geist

When we talk about history or world politics, we tend to say things like “The Russians” or “The Germans” in monolithic terms even though we know that populations contain all kinds of various opinions and loyalties.

When we talk about Republicans as Republicans we lump opposites together even though perhaps half of them support the president and half don’t and then only selectively about various issues.

When others think of Americans in terms of what our government says or does (or doesn’t do) they often talk as though there were no resistance, his feeble approval ratings notwithstanding.

We’re hardly anything like a unified people with beliefs and opinions aligned in any way, of course. We’re still at the stage where that diversity is possible, but for those of us who take Orwell and others seriously, the fear is there that will progress along the same skid road as did Fascist Europe or Stalinist Russia and others where the government ‘truth’ is the only truth allowed.

Read: At the Ministry of Truth Only the Lies Are Real

If we do degenerate into an authoritarian state, who will be to blame for what no longer democratic America does?

Michel Foucault is said to have argued that power does not really reside in the state or the rulers thereof but in that society’s institutions and in the population as an active participant.

Terminology is biased, we get biased and invented news from some sources. Reputations are invented and destroyed without reference to reality. Accusations are punished or promoted without facts and believed according to partisan affiliations alone.

No dictator could succeed without our cooperation.  It’s not just Trump as it wasn’t just Hitler or Stalin or any of them. Some were following orders, some believed all the lies. Some always do and sometimes it’s enough.

Language is power. I frequently have to deal with people who “speak Trump”  in that everything is framed in certain terms, wrapped in assumptions and his attempts that seem appalling to some become necessary and laudable to others.

Related: Washed Away By the Tide of Trump

He’s draining the swamp, you see, even if the swamp is invented and all progress is toward corruption, incompetence, and recklessness.

If only 35 to 40% of us support Trump or his aim of a unitary authority, who would be to blame for the consequences? Do we fear that in the commission of some awful thing he would have enough supporters to do what the monsters of the past have done in terms of oppression and even slaughter? Will the military obey illegal orders?

Is Trump to blame for the growing authoritarianism or is it something inherent in our country, something long-simmering but brought to a boil? Can it happen here? Do we have enough supporters in any American state to build camps, transport populations, facilitate purges or do what Hitler and Stalin and Mao once did? Is some metaphorical god of the underworld preparing to weigh our American heart in the balance?

Sure, it’s still premature. Trump’s massive effort to put himself above the law and enlist popular opinion in the fight may fail on its own. Our institutions may prevail, but we can’t pretend the power of the minority, fueled by bigotry, anger, and lies don’t seem to be gaining on us. If the minority becomes the power base, who will go along with it and who will be to blame?

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Posted by on February 12, 2018. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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19 Responses to Dictators Need Our Cooperation So You Best Pick A Side

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    February 12, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I’m a devout student of the Hitler era, and it’s clear Trump is taking lessons from der Fuehrer and his gang of propagandists. As you point out dictators need the support of the people or their efforts at seizing power will fail. Hitler had the overwhelming support of the German Volk, and Trump has the overwhelming support of about 40 million Americans. Hitler did amazing things for Germany’s infrastructure, think Autobahn and Volkswagen. He also revived the nation’s failed economy subsequent to the end of the first war to end all wars. Need I talk about racist policies? Betsy DeVos heading up America’s education system? Think Hitler Youth and the slow but effective propaganda taught in German schools starting at age six. The list goes on and on, and my fear is it could happen again.

    • Mark Willis Reply

      February 12, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Hey Mike seriously? I don’t disagree necessarily but do you really think it could happen again, in this day and age?

      • Michael John Scott Reply

        February 12, 2018 at 7:46 pm

        Mark, I guarantee it can happen, and it can happen in the United States. Minorities can often sweep away the majorities who end up joining them, enthusiastically. That’s what happened in Germany.

      • Bill Formby Reply

        February 13, 2018 at 4:03 pm

        Mark, it is already in the process of happening.

  2. Neil Bamforth Reply

    February 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Another question could be ‘why do this clearly increasing minority believe in him?’.

    I suggest it’s because they’ve felt ignored by a political elite – which may not actually exist but they believe it does which is enough.

    We have Brexit because enough believed an EU political elite existed.

    Belief doesn’t need to be correct – look at religion. It just needs to be strong enough.

    When belief is strong it’s an SOB to combat.

    • Rachael Reply

      February 12, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      They aren’t increasing. As a matter of fact they are decreasing, but slowly, and yes, it’s all about the “political elite” nonsense.

    • jess Reply

      February 12, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Bullshit with this political elite nonsense and the poor fee fees being hurt Neil. It is all about class and racism with most of them, that is all. Most of these goopers that get elected have degrees up the wazoo, then turn around and say a Harvard educated guy is the elite one, should that Harvard educated person be their challenger for the seat they hold. Trump is a “billionaire” but he is seen as one of the guys you could have a beer with because he speaks their 4th grade language. never mind he is a well known for life non drinker, he speaks hate, intolerance and daddy will take care of you so they like this. I am beyond sick of hearing about educated elites being some kind of bad thing, the way they turned liberal into a dirty word. right now there is a chance an actual fucking Nazi could get the nod for a seat in Illinois an actual Nazi read that again, an actual Nazi. These goopers are ok with looking the other way, when it’s their guy in charge and it is disgusting on all levels.

      • Michael John Scott Reply

        February 12, 2018 at 7:49 pm

        I’m educated and teach at a liberal university so I guess that makes me an educated “elite,” even though I’m solidly middle class and not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I loathe these labels, but if I am educated then so be it. I’m fucking proud of it and the message I send to my students. You are right about Trump’s 4th-grade language as well Jess.

        • jess Reply

          February 12, 2018 at 8:07 pm

          Yeah ya durty liberal collij perfessor, you are the worst of the worst, because you are turning young adults brains to mush wit yer libral ways. Why do we never think of the children Mike WHYYYYYY, she says in her Nancy Kerrigan voice.

  3. jess Reply

    February 12, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    If people look the other way this will happen, because many of these dolt45 supporters like and need their daddy telling them what they need to do and or what they like to hear. It’s all fear porn, keep them afraid, give a tiny bit of power and you can get someone to do anything. I talk about the Stanford experiment a lot and how things turned out so badly with that but that is what some in this country would love. I’m not one of them. Like I mentioned the other day, a most magnificent human said and I am changing for my use here…First they came for (insert whatever/whoever here) and I said not this time motherfuckers. Another great human said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing” me, myself and I would hopefully be on the side that fights this with everything I have and then some. I’m not going to be that person that stands by and sees this and does nothing.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      February 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      People are looking the other way. I overheard a conversation between two liberal profs the other day, neither a Trump supporter, but both agreed there was nothing to be done about Brother Pig and we the people just had to wait it out. Makes your point.

      • jess Reply

        February 12, 2018 at 8:13 pm

        I think right now, people just have outrage fatigue Mike and don’t know which way to turn to try and fix everything because it’s a new low every damn day. It only takes that first step to climb/walk up a mountain, make one, then another and soon you are up the mountain. will it take a while, ayup because goopers in charge right now are looking the other way to get their policies enacted. November will be here soon enough and things hopefully will change, when dems are in power and can hold public hearings and investigate his admin.

        • Michael John Scott Reply

          February 12, 2018 at 9:49 pm

          “outrage fatigue.” Yep. Good and I plan on adding it to my lexicon.

  4. Darius Peel Reply

    February 12, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    I’m picking the side that wins.

    • Bill Formby Reply

      February 13, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      With no concern over whether it is the good or the evil. You will make a good Trumpster.

  5. Glenn R. Geist Reply

    February 13, 2018 at 9:06 am

    One thing I would like to re-iterate is that all these traits, like class hatred, racial hatred, anti-intellectualism and mistrust of facts and the people who know them is that these things are an element of the American character and I say American Character only because I can’t speak with any authority about any other culture.

    History rarely repeats itself except in the abstract and when I say it can happen here, “it” refers to things like deportations, internment camps and organized infringements of civil rights, due process and other manifestations of liberty.

    Many outwardly civilized people will act differently when given license. Experiments with students where some pose as prisoners and others guards – and related experiments show this to be frighteningly true. People follow orders despite what they pretend to believe. Americans daydream about anti-government militias, about race warfare and other things, other governments have enlisted for mostly foul purposes.

    • jess Reply

      February 13, 2018 at 10:04 am

      ^^^^THIS^^^^^ a million times this. We can already see the deportations, we can see the civil rights of certain groups being infringed upon right now today when we see a bunch of white male Talibangelicals taking away the rights of women to have have autonomy over their bodies of the LGBT community having equal rights. We fight we fight and we fight but every day it’s a new thing we have to fight. Like I said up there, it’s outrage fatigue because some people get a tad tired of fighting. I think that is what they hope, we just get so tried of fighting on so many different fronts we will just give up.

  6. Bill Formby Reply

    February 13, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    I am in agreement with everyone here and I hate to be the one to point this out but these GOP folks have been at this for a long time. One must give them their due for persistence. The far right have hoping and praying for this windfall. Yeah, they have been preaching about patriotism, but what they really wanted was the power to remake this country in an imaginary vision in their minds. All of the so called good Americans were never good Americans. All along they have been members of the KKK, the John Birch Society, the American Heritage Foundation, and on and on. The so called Tea Party was nothing more than a group of morons that were farther right than the right wingers. They somehow found a way to get someone that thinks like them in the oval office, only they are wrong. Donald Trump does not think like them but he knows how to talk like someone they like to hear. None of them have thought about what Trump has been doing. He has been stacking the White House and the Cabinet with billionaires who do not give a rat’s ass about they country, but they do love the power. We have had more scandals in this administration in one year than we have had in the last three administrations. Other than Trump and his son in law the longest serving person in the administration is like 299 days. Trump will likely end up firing Mueller and the idea that all hell will break loose is a fantasy dancing in someone’s head. I said long ago that Trump’s goal was to take over the country. The only thing stopping him right now is the special counsel investigation. A lot of people who would be on his side otherwise are not real sure where to come down on that because they have to consider their self inflicted damages if the investigation nails Trump to a cross. But, I do not think that if Trump fires Mueller there will be a constitutional crisis immediately. A lot of players will wait on the sideline to see which way the wind is going. If, as I suspect, the House of Representatives accepts this an OK behavior then many, many more will start jumping on their band wagon. The elections in November will become a farce because the golden people will then have its clear opportunity to get its way for the next millenia if they just spend enough money. The only hope we have to start a return to some semblance of normalcy will be to take either the House or the Senate away from Trump in November.

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