Wealth vs. Government

seditious conspiracy

The first convictions of January 6 perps for seditious conspiracy in decades are epically monumental given the history of past efforts. Before the first conviction in November, 2022 of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and the latest round of convictions on January 23, 2023 (in which 4 more seditionists were convicted), there has been little success in the realm of prosecuting coup plotters for seditious conspiracy — and only a handful of trials:

  • No convictions in the Christian Front trial (1940)
  • None in the Sedition Trial of US Nazi sympathizers (1944)
  • None in Fort Smith sedition trial (1988) — Louis Beam and the Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord white supremacist Christian nationalist group
  • None in Hutaree trial (2010)

Does that make this the first successful sedition conviction of white paramilitaries?!

Before January 6, there came these attempts to overthrow the American government.

Christian Front trial (1940-41)

The Christian Front trial of the 1940s was a highly publicized criminal trial in the United States that took place in 1940 and 1941. The Christian Front was a right-wing, antisemitic, and pro-Nazi organization that was active in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Continue reading Forgotten Coups: January 6 wasn’t the first seditious conspiracy
Read more

angry fascist dads

Old Boomers like Donald Trump and Charles Koch just copied their fascist fathers. Donnie inherited racism and eugenics from Old Fred, while Charlie was indoctrinated in the extremist delusions of the John Birch Society and the pseudoscience economics of the Austrian School acolytes.

They are men with little imagination, who seek to exalt themselves by squishing everyone else down into a mass of un-individuated peons. One of many right-wing Big Lies is that fascism is the opposite of communism — not so. Both are forms of collectivism, in which the masses must be relegated to nothingness by the immense, overwhelming pressures of society — such that a few secular gods of Greatness Thinking may shine above all the rest.

Fascists are Dittoheads

The ethos of “copying” is a signature psychological trait of fundamentalist minds devoid of creativity. Both Trump and Koch have fashioned themselves as carbon copies of Daddy — in true Strict Father Morality style. Thus they feel completely anachronistic in modern times — where children are falling farther and farther from the proverbial trees, ideologically speaking.

Continue reading Fascist fathers are pissed
Read more

Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

Read more

Dark money refers to political spending by organizations that are not required to disclose their donors or how much money they spend. This allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to secretly fund political campaigns and influence elections without transparency or accountability.

The term “dark money” gained prominence after the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the Court ruled that corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, as long as the spending was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

This decision opened the floodgates for massive amounts of dark money to flow into political campaigns, often with no way for the public to know who was behind it. Dark money can come from a variety of sources, including wealthy individuals, corporations, trade associations, and non-profit organizations.

Hidden donors

Non-profit organizations, in particular, have become a popular way for donors to hide their political contributions. These organizations can operate under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which allows them to engage in some political activity as long as it is not their primary purpose. These groups are not required to disclose their donors, which means that wealthy individuals and corporations can funnel unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns without anyone knowing where the money came from.

Another way that dark money is used in politics is through “shell corporations.” These are companies that exist solely to make political donations and are often set up specifically to hide the identity of the true donor. For example, a wealthy individual could set up a shell corporation and then use that corporation to donate to a political campaign. Because the corporation is listed as the donor, the individual’s name does not appear on any public disclosure forms.

The money can be used to run ads, create content and propaganda, fund opposition research, pay armadas of PR people, send direct mail, lobby Congress, hire social media influencers, and many other powerful marketing strategies to reach and court voters.

These practices erode at the foundations of representative democracy, and the kind of government the Founders had in mind. One is free to vote for who one wishes, and to advocate for who ones wishes to hold power, but one has no Constitutional right to anonymity when doing so. It infringes on others peoples’ rights as well — the right to representative and transparent government.

Dark money impact

Dark money can have a significant impact on elections and public policy. Because the source of the money is not known, candidates and elected officials may be influenced by the interests of the donors rather than the needs of their constituents. This can lead to policies that benefit wealthy donors and special interest groups rather than the broader public.

There have been some efforts to increase transparency around dark money. For example, the DISCLOSE Act, which has been introduced in Congress several times since 2010, would require organizations that spend money on political campaigns to disclose their donors (the acronym stands for “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”). However, these efforts have been met with resistance from groups that benefit from the lack of transparency — who, somewhat ironically, have been using their influence with the Republican Party to make sure the GOP opposes the bill and prevents it from passing, or even coming up for a vote at all.

In addition to the impact on elections and policy, dark money can also undermine public trust in government. When voters feel that their voices are being drowned out by the interests of wealthy donors and special interest groups, they may become disillusioned with the political process and less likely to participate.

Overall, dark money is a significant problem in American politics. The lack of transparency and accountability around political spending allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to wield undue influence over elections and policy. To address this problem, it will be important to increase transparency around political spending and reduce the influence of money in politics.

Read more

Gerrymandering is a political tactic used to manipulate the boundaries of electoral districts to favor one political party over another. It’s essentially the opposite of what the Founders meant by representative democracy — voters are supposed to choose their representatives, and not the other way around.

The practice is named after Elbridge Gerry, a governor of Massachusetts who in 1812 approved a redistricting plan that created a district that resembled a salamander. The term โ€œgerrymanderingโ€ combines the words โ€œGerryโ€ and โ€œsalamander.โ€

The objective of gerrymandering is to create โ€œsafeโ€ districts for a particular political party or group by concentrating voters who are likely to support that party into a small number of districts, while diluting their votes in other districts. This is done by drawing district boundaries in a way that groups together like-minded voters or separates them from voters who are likely to vote for the opposing party. It’s a way of cherry-picking one’s constituents, and manipulating the outcome unfairly in your favor.

Gerrymandering is typically carried out by state legislatures, who have the authority to redraw electoral district boundaries every ten years after the release of the Census data. The redistricting process is supposed to ensure that each district has roughly the same number of residents, but lawmakers often use this opportunity to manipulate the boundaries in a way that benefits their party.

Partisan and racial gerrymandering

There are two main types of gerrymandering: partisan gerrymandering and racial gerrymandering. Partisan gerrymandering is when district boundaries are drawn in a way that benefits one political party over another. Racial gerrymandering is when district boundaries are drawn in a way that dilutes the voting power of racial minorities — which, in turn, tends to help the Republican Party and hurt the Democratic Party.

Partisan gerrymandering can be carried out in several ways. One common method is โ€œpacking,โ€ which involves drawing district boundaries so that a high concentration of voters who support one party are all in one district. This leaves other districts with fewer voters who support that party, making it easier for the opposing party to win those districts. Another method is โ€œcracking,โ€ which involves breaking up a concentration of voters who support one party by drawing district boundaries so that they are spread out across multiple districts. This dilutes their voting power and makes it harder for them to win any of those districts.

Racial gerrymandering is usually carried out to dilute the voting power of racial minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. This is done by drawing district boundaries that split up minority communities and dilute their voting power by spreading them across multiple districts. Racial gerrymandering is illegal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.

Effects of gerrymandering

The effects of gerrymandering can be significant. By manipulating district boundaries, lawmakers can create a situation where one party has a significant advantage over the other, making it easier for them to win elections. This can lead to a lack of political competition, which can make it harder for voters to hold their elected officials accountable. In other words, gerrymandering can lead to increased corruption in government at all levels.

Gerrymandering also has the potential to create a lack of diversity in government. By concentrating voters of a particular political party or race into a small number of districts, lawmakers can create a situation where the views and interests of some voters are not represented in government. This can lead to a situation where elected officials are not truly representative of their constituents — which is the essence of the American Dream.

Efforts to combat gerrymandering have included legal challenges to redistricting plans, the use of independent redistricting commissions, and the adoption of alternative voting systems like ranked-choice voting. Despite these efforts, gerrymandering remains a significant issue in many states, and its effects can be seen in elections at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress to the White House.

Read more

who owns twitter elon musk and others

On October 27, 2022, the world’s richest man bought the de facto global town square. Elon Musk‘s purchase of Twitter had been brewing since April when the South African-born tech magnate first offered (or threatened?) to take over the struggling social network to the tune of $44 billion.

He later tried to reneg on the deal, or at least made a big public show of trying to back out of it during the summer of 2022, claiming that Twitter had falsely represented the percentage of bot accounts on the platform. Company executives filed suit to force Musk to agree to the share price in his original offer — despite significant stock price losses due largely to Musk’s own disparagement of the site.

Forced to go through with the deal despite admittedly “overpaying for Twitter right now,” Musk and his set of investor backers took the company private and began an uncertain new era for the heretofore arguably closest thing to a public town square in all of history, with the Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur at the helm. A self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” the billionaire immediately began pronouncing ideas wildly unpopular with its power user base of journalists, academics, and public professionals of all stripes, including:

Who actually owns Twitter now?

Amidst the chaos of Musk’s first weeks of ownership, many inside and outside of Twitter have speculated on the potential ulterior motives of the tech oligarch’s purchase. Theories range from intentional sabotage to gross incompetence — or potentially some mixture of the two. There is widespread disparagement of the idea that a billionaire can simply step in and upend what passed for a fledgling tool of democratic influence, and a bulwark against the march of right-wing authoritarianism around the world.

But who actually owns Twitter, outside of Musk himself? Perhaps the laundry list of investors can now or in the future shed some light on probable strategies behind the massive shakeup at one of the world’s most popular tools for the media-industrial class. Given the company’s privatization, it is now far less transparent about its financials — and it will be difficult to know at any moment in time if given investors have come in or out, or increased or decreased their holdings via their relationships with Musk or intermediaries.

As it stands though, this is the list of Twitter backers I have so far been able to find. Do you know of others I’ve missed, or changes to relative holdings? Please do give me a shout over — where else — on Twitter (while it stands — else on Mastodon) and let me know!

Twitter owners list

  • The number one primary owner is Elon Musk himself, who already owned 9.6% in shares of the company before taking it over. During the sale he put in $27 billion in cash from his own fortune, liquidated by selling shares of his Tesla stock
  • Original co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey owned 2.4% in shares and kept them, for about a $1B stake
  • Larry Ellison of Oracle — $1B
  • Qatar Holding, part of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund (Qatar Investment Authority)
  • Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia — transferred 35 million shares to Musk (about $1.9B according to Dave Troy)
  • Binance cryptocurrency exchange — $500M
  • $13B in bank loans from:
    • Morgan Stanley — $3.5B
    • Bank of America
    • Barclays
    • Japanese banks
      • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
      • Mizuho
    • French banks
      • Societe Generale
      • BNP Paribas
Read more

The GOP is 3 cults in a trench coat

One of two major parties in our American first-past-the-post voting system of dual-party reality, the Republican Party, has evolved (or devolved…) into a full-throated authoritarian movement seeking to overthrow our democracy, The Constitution, and the rule of law in order to establish a fascist regime in the United States. It’s been a not-so-secret fever dream on the right for decades and even centuries — and the old guard reflexively senses their time is coming to an end.

The demographic changes underway in America are inexorable — by the 2024 election cycle 8 million new young voters who have turned 18 since the 2022 mid-terms, and 5 million seniors aged 65 and up will have died. The first group will vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while the second group represents the ever-dwindling base of the Republican Party. Although historically older voters have participated at much higher rates than the youth voting percentage, the rate of increase for the 18-24 group is much higher.

Faced with these realities and the census projection of a majority minority population in the United States by the year 2045, the Republican right-wing is struggling to keep piecing together a voting base that can achieve victories in electoral politics. The GOP is now 3 cults in a trenchcoat, having been hollowed out and twisted to the point of trying desperately to hold increasingly extreme factions together for another election cycle in which they can try to capture power forever through gerrymandering and other anti-democratic election engineering — or at least long enough to erase the evidence of their criminal behavior during the Trump years culminating in a coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

The 3 Republican cults

  1. The Wealth Cult — led by Charles Koch and a collection of dark money groups including Leonard Leo’s Federalist Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  2. The Christian Nationalist Cult — led by Mike Pence, Mike Flynn, and others under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP), the New Apostolic Reformation, and other religious organizations involved in politics
  3. The White Nationalist Cult — led by Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, with a parallel intertwined branch led by Peter Thiel and the Dark Enlightenment neo-Reactionaries of Silicon Valley. This group includes dominant private militia groups involved in the January 6 insurrection including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (both of whose leaders have been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the coup attempt — with the Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for his actions).

The Wealth Cult

Led by Charles Koch et al, the mostly aging, Boomer crowd who controls much of the US government either directly or indirectly as a donor or operative is starting to panic for one reason or another: the fear of death looming, existential worries about thwarted or unmet ambition, economic turn of the wheel starting to leave their fortunes in decline (with inflation as a common boogie man since the Wall Street Putsch of the 1930s). Much of this crowd inherited the free market ideological zeal of the Austrian School of economics from their fathers along with their trust fund fortunes that some have squandered (Trump), tread water with (Coors, Scaife), or grown (Koch, DeVos).

Continue reading The GOP is 3 Cults in a Trenchcoat
Read more

Professor Altemeyer has studied authoritarianism and the authoritarian personality since 1966. He first published a refinement of Theodor Adorno’s work on authoritarian personalities, known as the Right-Wing Authoritarian Scale in 1981. In 2006, Bob Altemeyer The Authoritarians was slated to be his last work pending retirement — but in 2020 a new work co-authored with Watergate whistleblower John Dean titled Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers aimed to warn America about the dangers of Donald Trump’s personality to unleash the very worst in the very worst sorts of individuals.

Meanwhile Bob has made The Authoritarians available free of charge here, and I absolutely encourage you to read it — it’s fascinating stuff and he’s an entertaining as well as informative writer. In this post I’ll do my best to summarize the main points of the book, because I know people are busy and not everyone has time to read a whole book much less scrape together hours to volunteer and do activist work.

Bob Altemeyer The Authoritarians

Dr. Altemeyer defines authoritarianism as “something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves.” Followers submit blindly to the leaders and give them too much free rein to do anti-democratic, brutal, and tyrannical things. Power corrupts absolutely, and power seems to corrupt authoritarians most of all.

Bob Altemeyer -- The Authoritarians book review

He classifies the authoritarians into three primary groups:

  1. Authoritarian followers — typically this group follows the established authorities in their society, including government officials, clergy and traditional religious leaders, business leaders, and self-appointed gurus of all stripes. They tend to have a “Daddy and Mommy know best” approach to the government, believing that authorities are above the law. Psychologically, authoritarian followers exhibit a high degree of submission to authorities they accept as legitimate, high levels of aggression in the name of those authorities (if so called upon), and a high degree of conventionalism and conformity. They tend to be bigots, with prejudices against many types of groups.
  2. Authoritarian leaders — tend to be Social Dominators, who long to control people and affect others’ lives. They are overall highly prejudiced, do not believe in the American value of equality, and feel justified in wielding great power over society with little qualification and even less self-reflection. They believe the world is divided into wolves and sheep, and they have no qualms fooling the sheep into opening the pasture gate so they can eat. “Might makes right” is their personal motto.
  3. Double Highs — about 10% of any given sample score highly on both the social dominance test and the right-wing authoritarian scale, which is odd given the social dominator’s otherwise reluctance to be submissive. They exhibit extra prejudice and extra hostility — beyond either the social dominators or the RWAs. They tend to be the “religious” social dominators, who had a fundamentalist upbringing, or had a conversion experience as an adult (George W. Bush, e.g.) and now tend to believe in some form of Strict Father Morality.

More traits of authoritarian followers

  • They tend to feel more endangered in potentially threatening situations that most people do (think: Dick Cheney‘s descent into bunker mentality after 9/11)
  • More afraid than most people; they tend to have overactive amygdalas
  • Were raised by their parents to be afraid of others — both parents and children have told researchers so
  • More likely to issue threats than low authoritarians
  • Most orthodox — were raised fundamentalist and are highly repressed
  • Most hardline
  • Believe “whatever I want is right”
  • Paradoxically, want to “be normal” very badly — they tend to get tugged by the people around them

Authoritarian aggression

Authoritarians prefer not to have fair fights out in the open — they tend to aggress when they believe their hostility is welcomed by established authority, or supports established authority. They also often aggress when they have an obvious physical advantage over the target — making women, children, and others unable to defend themselves as ideal targets. These cowards have the gall to feel morally superior to the innocent victims they assault in an ongoing asymmetrical warfare between supremacists and marginalized groups.

To make matters worse, authoritarians do their dirty deeds in the shadows and scream bloody murder at anyone who dares try and expose their dark secrets to the light. Their theatrical and performative self-righteousness is just an act to avoid accountability and responsibility for what they do — even unto themselves.

Moreover, authoritarians are extra punitive against lawbreakers they don’t like (though exceedingly permissive for lawbreakers they *do* like, which is infuriatingly hypocritical), because they believe fervently in the value of punishment. Many advocate child corporal punishment — spanking and worse — for children as young as 1 year old. Authoritarian followers tended to report feelings of “secret pleasure” when hearing of the misfortunes of high school classmates who had misbehaved, believing they got what they deserved in life.

It would be accurate to think of authoritarians as “little volcanoes of hostility,” almost heat-seeking their way into authority-approved ways to erupt and release their pent-up anger. Many of them do not, and will not ever realize that their fundamentalist upbringing has sadly left their brains underdeveloped, and ill-equipped to navigate the modern world with its rapid changes, accelerating inequality, advancing climate change, and political instability.

Lethal Union

When a social dominator becomes an authoritarian leader, and leads his authoritarian followers down malevolent roads from informing to threatening to vigilanteism, researchers refer to this state of affairs as a “lethal union.” It’s a highly dangerous and volatile time for a democracy, one warranting caution and vigilance from concerned citizens.

Throughout history, these are the situations that tend to devolve further into aggression, political violence, civil war, genocide, and worse. We need to be very damn careful about who we elect as our leaders — we cannot allow our government to be captured by special interests and the narrow, quixotic delusions of old billionaires outshining daddy and staving off death.

More books about authoritarians

If you’ve already read Bob Altemeyer The Authoritarians, or you’re just looking for more resources on authoritarianism — here’s a list to get started:

More resources on authoritarianism

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory โ†—

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates.

Authoritarianism Dictionary โ†—

This dictionary collects definitions and charts the rise of language, ideology, tactics, and historical movements ofย American authoritarians.

Koup Klux Klan: The authoritarian movement trying to take over America โ†—

We are facing an unprecedented crisis ofย democracy under attack by a roster of extremists, hardliners, theocrats, plutocrats, and others of their ilk.

Read more

I’ve been reading John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” and am reminded of the quintessential liberal definition of the term:

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
(emphasis mine)

It seems to me that Libertarian proponents tend to make a systematic error in portraying liberty as only commensurate with the first part of Mill’s description: essentially interpreting it as, “I should be able to do whatever I want, and have no constraints placed upon my person by the government whatsoever.” The idea of “cancel culture” is a reflection of this ideal, whereby the right wing complains that moral constraints that apply to everyone should not apply to them.

This mentality misses completely the essential boundary established by the second part of Mill’s quote: that doing what one wants has limits attached, and that those limits are a proscription on engaging in activities which either harm others, or deprive others of their own rights in pursuit of liberty. An essential part of the social contract, the concern for others’ rights naturally stems from concern for your own — as the collective will bands together to guarantee our rights in common, everyone has a stake in preserving the system.

Harm

Being fixated with avoiding taxation, the Libertarian will proclaim that the government is coercing him out of his hard-earned monies — but this fails to recognize the real harm being done to the lower classes by the deprivation of funds to support the basic level of public goods required to preserve life at a subsistence level as well as social mobility: the essence of the American dream.

In short, Libertarian dogma tends to be singularly focused on the self-interest of the upper classes without any attendant regard to the rights of others that may be trampled on by either class oppression or the capturing and consolidation of political power in the hands of the wealthy. It fails systematically to recognize the perspective of the “other side,” i.e. those who are harmed by the enactment of the Libertarian ideology — much as a narcissist lacks empathy — and with it, the capability of seeing others’ perspectives. You could in some ways consider it yet another form of denialism, as well as a cousin or perhaps even sibling to authoritarianism.

The Libertarian narcissist Venn Diagram is practically a circle.

Libertarianism sees itself in control

It believes its ideology should dominate others despite its extreme minority status. The Libertarian narcissist wants to get the benefits of the social contract and civil society, without having to pay back into the system in proportion to their usage of public resources at scale. The Libertarian political philosophy violates the fundamental, cross-cultural principle of reciprocity — exhibited in societies through the ages.

Read more

oligarchs in the 19th century

Some people like to argue that more economic inequality is a good thing, because it is a “natural” byproduct of capitalism in a world of “makers and takers,” “winners and losers,” “wolves and sheep,” [insert your favorite Manichaean metaphor here]. However, too much inequality is deleterious for both economics and politics — for with oligarchy comes the creep of fascism.

Those who amass exorbitant wealth often increasingly use a portion of their gains to capture politics. While the mythological premise of trickle-down economics is that we must not have progressive taxation, because giving more money to the already wealthy is the only way to spur economic investment and innovation and create jobs — in actual fact the majority of tax cut windfalls go to stock buybacks, offshore tax havens, regulatory capture, political lobbying, and campaign donations in the form of dark money (and regular money). All this is a runaway amplifying feedback loop that tilts the playing field further away from equal opportunity, social mobility, and democratic process — the original American Dream.

In the oligarchy, your vote doesn’t matter

Wealthy elites seek to preserve the power structures that have benefitted them, and keep them (and their descendants) in the ruling class. It is a slow recreation of the aristocratic societies of old Europe that we fought a bloody war of independence to separate ourselves from. Yet the erosion of civil values, public engagement, and collective will — largely as fomented by the conservative elite over the past 50 years in America — and the ascendancy of the myth of “rugged individualism” have conspired to create a perilous condition in which corruption operates so openly in today’s White House [2018] and Wall Street that democracy itself is in great danger. The creep of fascism is felt in the fell winds that blow.

Moreover, we have learned these lessons once, not quite a century ago, yet have forgotten them:

“Where there is a crisis, the ruling classes take refuge in fascism as a safeguard against the revolution of the proletariat… The bourgeoisie rules through demagoguery, which in practice means that prominent positions are filled by irresponsible people who commit follies in moments of decision.”

— Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind
Read more