Right-wing

“Global cabal” is one of several popular conspiracy theories in radical right-wing discourse that refers to a perceived “Jewish conspiracy” behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the UN. There are many euphemisms and alternate names for the same core conspiracy theory alleging the existence of a single group of shadowy people who control world events behind closed doors as clandestine world rulers. It has appeared in many forms, derivatives, and retellings throughout history, from Nazism to one of its latest incarnations: QAnon.

A cabal is a small, usually secretive group that uses its considerable power to establish control over a larger group, or more broadly over society itself. The term is derived from the word kabbalah, a school of thought in Jewish mysticism that is concerned with the essence of God. Thus the concept of a global cabal ruling secretly over the world has deeply anti-Semitic origins, even though a number of its proponents are unfamiliar with the foundations of the idea in anti-Jewish hatred.

the global cabal, by me and Midjourney

Structure and origin of global cabal conspiracy theory

The most basic tenet of the global cabal conspiracy theory genre is that a single group controls everything that happens in the world, but manages to keep that control entirely secret from everyone except those who believe in the global cabal. The identity of the controlling group may be different in different networks of believers: Jewish bankers in the case of the Nazis (emerging out of the anti-Semitic blood libel conspiracy theory), Freemasons, The Illuminati, reptilian lizard people, Democratic pedophiles in the case of QAnon, and so on.

The origins of the global cabal conspiracy trace back to the 18th century, when the Illuminati conspiracy theory began to circulate. The Illuminati conspiracy theory alleged that a secret society of Freemasons was working to overthrow the governments of Europe and establish a New World Order. This conspiracy theory quickly spread to other parts of the world, and it has been used to explain a wide range of events, from the French Revolution to the 9/11 attacks.

Global cabal conspiracies have a predilection for collapsing the distinction between opposites. The Nazis claimed that communism and capitalism were both Jewish plots; conspiracists in America allege that bitter political rivals like the Bushes and the Clintons are actually BFFs in on the “real” story conducted behind the scenes and out of the public eye. The Russian rhetorical tactic of whataboutism is a quintessential manifestation of this phenomenon, wherein the speaker refutes an accusation by stating that other people elsewhere have also done that thing, often people on the accuser’s side or team.

The New World Order, by Midjourney

How to deprogram global cabalists

The staying power and allure of conspiracy theories surprises many people — why would anyone want to believe in these far-fetched, over the top ridiculous ideas about how the world works? People believe in conspiracy theories because they offer simple solutions in a complex, overwhelming world. They also offer a sense of superiority and positive self-image by means of collective narcissism — which likewise makes them fragile and prone to insecurities and doubts.

People going through traumatic or epochal life events are especially vulnerable to the power of conspiracy theories. They find comfort and easy social support in the arms of the group of believers, but buy in to the cultish practice of demonizing and dehumanizing the non-believers. Their abrasiveness can make it difficult to approach them about the topic of their belief in conspiracy theory, even if they’re a close family member — sometimes especially if they’re a close family member.

Often the conspiracy theory believer will refuse to read any information from a source that is not in the right-wing echo chamber. If you think they might, however, send them this essay by Yuval Noah Harrari. It’s the best I’ve found to explain the core essence of the “belief system” and the core con of the wholeย thing.

Media echo chamber, by Midjourney

If they won’t accept information from credible sources, you might find an opening by asking them questions about their beliefs, getting them to talk more about the ideas, and look out for opportunities to ask “frame breaking questions” that address the fundamental flaws of the global cabal theory: that even small numbers of people are difficult to control, much less a whole planet; and that no one can predict the future with a high degree of accuracy.

In reality, there is not one but many conspiracies at work all around us to knit the fabric of history together. James Madison called them factions. Many of these conspiracies work directly against one another, and many work entirely independently but pursue some percentage of similar goals in common.

Global cabal conspiracy theory is totalitarian, in the sense that it collapses all of the immense complexity of human existence into billions of puppets pulled by the strings of a very few puppetmasters. Real life is a multiverse — and that can be overwhelming, and confusing.

The anxiety of the modern world can be intense, and conspiracy theories offer a seductively simple relief. But ask your global conspiracist friend or family member whether or not they think there are some things that are too good to be true: like a story about a handful of people causing everything that happens in the world.

Conspiracy theories, by Midjourney

Global cabal conspiracies list

Global cabal is part of a broader category of conspiracy theories, which often involve secret or hidden groups working behind the scenes to control events or manipulate public opinion. While these ideas can be intriguing, they are often unsupported by evidence and can lead to misinformation, great misunderstanding, and even political violence.

Here’s a list of other belief systems that are related to or often associated with global cabal conspiracy theories:

  • Illuminati: A supposed secret society aiming to control world events.
  • New World Order: A proposed authoritarian world government.
  • NazismAdolf Hitler‘s ideology of fascism was little more than an appropriation of pre-existing global cabal theory and anti-Semitic blood libel
  • Freemasonry: Often linked to various conspiracy theories, though it’s a legitimate fraternal organization.
  • Bilderberg Group: An annual private conference of influential people, often associated with global control theories.
  • Cultural Marxism — a version of the global cabal conspiracy theory revived from the Nazis by Paul Weyrich and William S. Lind
  • Chemtrails: The belief that aircraft trails contain harmful substances.
  • Area 51: Associated with UFOs and government secrecy.
Area 51 aliens chillin' in the desert in the style of a Hunter S. Thompson acid trip
  • False Flag Operations: The idea that governments stage attacks to manipulate public opinion.
  • MK-Ultra: A real CIA program that has spawned various conspiracy theories.
  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theories: Various theories about the September 11 attacks.
  • Moon Landing Hoax: The belief that the moon landings were faked.
  • Reptilian Elite: The idea that shape-shifting reptilian beings control Earth.
  • HAARP: A research program that has been associated with mind control and weather manipulation theories.
  • Vaccine Conspiracy Theories: Various theories about the hidden dangers of vaccines.
  • Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG): Anti-Semitic theories about Jewish control over governments, and a chosen secret cabal of the anti-government white power movement that flourished in the U.S. after the Vietnam War.
  • Flat Earth Theory: The belief that the Earth is flat, not spherical.
  • Big Pharma Conspiracy: The idea that pharmaceutical companies suppress natural cures.
  • Deep State: The belief in a hidden government within the legitimate government.
The Deep State, by Midjourney
  • Satanic Ritual Abuse: The belief in widespread satanic ritual abuse, often linked to elite groups.
  • QAnon: A wide-ranging conspiracy theory alleging a secret plot against President Trump. The latest incarnation of the global cabal casts Donald Trump in the role of savior from the shadowy group of Democratic pedophiles who run the country and — via NATO and the UN — the world.
  • Crisis Actors: The belief that events like mass shootings are staged with actors.
  • The Great Replacement conspiracy theory — white nationalist variant of the global cabal conspiracy, in which the nefarious plot of the shadowy Elites this time is to dilute the white race by allowing sane immigration policy. This stochastic violence strategy is being waged by Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox News via fish stick-heir Tucker Carlson, resulting in directly named ideological inspiration for some of the most heinous mass murders of our time including the Anders Breivik killing of 77 in Oslo, Norway and the assassination of 10 people, mostly Black, in a Buffalo supermarket the shooter chose for its high percentage of Black people. Great Replacement theory is also known as white genocide conspiracy theory.

Going further

Antisemitism โ†—

Antisemitism is a form of discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, or hostility directed against Jewish people.

Why do people believe conspiracy theories? โ†—

Our ability to see patterns in randomness and dissemble stories on the spot, along with numerous other cognitive and psychological biases, make us vulnerable to belief in conspiracy theories.

Blood libel โ†—

Blood libel is a very old anti-Semitic myth that has stubbornly persisted for centuries, one of several conspiracy theories that scapegoat the Jewish people for all of societyโ€™s ills.

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The Council for National Policy is a conservative organization founded in 1981 by far-right Republican activists in the U.S. including Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie, Phyllis Schlafly, and Tim LaHaye to advance a Christian Right agenda in American politics.

Today, the CNP is enormously influential on the right and almost unknown on the left. Its secretive cabal designs policy for federal and state lawmakers to amplify or parrot, and they dutifully do. Members include a who’s who of the Trumpian rogue gallery, from Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to Mike Pence, Jim Jordan, Cleta Mitchell, and of course, Ginni Thomas.

The CNP gave Mike Flynn an annual award. Then-President Trump spoke at their 2020 annual meeting. That tells you pretty much all you need to know about how dangerous and well-connected this organization is, and how great is the extent of the group’s influence on American politics — and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Columbia University scholar Anne Nelson describes the primary impact of the group as โ€œconnecting the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of Western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operativesโ€ in her excellent book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right.

CNP and the Big Lie

They go to great lengths to conceal their activities, membership rosters, and connections within the corridors of Washington as well as in state legislatures and the judiciary. For more than 40 years the CNP has united the deep pocketbooks of right-wing donors with strategists, media campaigns, and activists. The group was deeply involved in both the efforts to overturn the 2020 election, leading up to and including the January 6 insurrection — from funding and planning to propaganda and “legal” challenges.

The CNP continues to press its narrow, historically revisionist ideas about America, including efforts to influence the 2022 midterm elections and, undoubtedly, the 2024 contest. In the quest to understand this fractious moment of bitter partisanship, the Council for National Policy is one of the secret keys to unlocking the true inner workings of the right-wing political machine.

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Project Lakhta is the internal name for the operation that Yevgeniy Prigozhin‘s Internet Research Agency is running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Robert Mueller indictments relating to the Russian attacks on the 2016 election.

The op included/includes bots on social media, fake influencers, paid crisis actors, massive propaganda, financial fraud, old-fashioned spying, and more. There is no evidence this operation has ceased its activities — indeed what would be the incentive, following such Great Success??

In fact, prosecutions are still ongoing.

Project Lakhta and the Internet Research Agency: Russia's troll factory

History of Project Lakhta

Project Lakhta was a covert operation ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin with the goal of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The interference aimed to harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton, boost the candidacy of Donald Trump, and increase political and social discord in the United States. The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, created thousands of social media accounts to support radical political groups and promote events in support of Trump and against Clinton. The operation also involved computer hackers affiliated with the Russian military intelligence service infiltrating information systems of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials, then publicly releasing the stolen files and emails. The U.S. intelligence community, the FBI, and the Senate and House Intelligence Committees conducted investigations into the matter. These investigations concluded that Russian interference was “sweeping and systematic” and “violated U.S. criminal law”, but there was insufficient evidence to bring any conspiracy or coordination charges against Trump or his associates (โ€‹1โ€‹).

Scale of Project Lakhta

In 2018 a Russian national, Elena Khusyaynova, was charged with being a key member of Project Lakhta. Khusyaynova served as the chief accountant of the operation and managed its financial aspects, including paying off Russian political activists posing as U.S. citizens, advertising on social media platforms, and promoting news postings on social networks. Between 2016 and 2018, Project Lakhta’s expenses exceeded $35 million and its operating budget was over $10 million. The operation allegedly involved the creation of thousands of fake social media accounts to aggravate political groups and create divides before the election. The charges were unsealed in Alexandria, Virginia, emphasizing that the complaint does not allege that Khusyaynova or the broader conspiracy had any effect on the outcome of an election. In response to these meddling efforts and a recent data breach, Facebook is reportedly seeking to acquire a major cybersecurity firm to enhance its security measures (โ€‹2โ€‹).

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Oath Keepers

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers paramilitary group, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in a seditious conspiracy to disrupt the electoral count. It’s the harshest punishment so far resulting from the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and is especially significant because Rhodes himself was not present at the Capitol that day. Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, was convicted last November of the politically charged sedition charge and multiple other felonies.

Rhodes’s conduct was found to amount to terrorism by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, a first in a case related to the Jan. 6th attack. This factored into his calculations under the advisory sentencing guidelines. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated that the sentences reflect the grave threat these actions posed to democratic institutions.

Ongoing danger of political violence

Rhodes, who never entered the Capitol building during the siege, was nevertheless described as presiding over the action like a general on the battlefield. Even after his arrest, he repeatedly invoked the prospect of political violence — including during his sentencing hearing. Judge Mehta cited Rhodes’s intelligence and charisma as factors that made him dangerous, as they inspired dozens of people to travel to Washington for the electoral count.

Rhodes plans to appeal his conviction and sentence. He testified in his own defense last year, but this decision backfired after inconsistencies were pointed out in his account of his actions leading up to the Capitol siege and his penchant for conspiracy theories.

Kelly Meggs, a co-defendant also convicted of seditious conspiracy and a former leader of Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The judge heard emotional accounts from police and congressional staffers who continue to suffer from the aftershocks of the assault on their workplace.

Key takeaways from the Rhodes verdict

  1. The Impact of the Verdict: The sentencing of Stewart Rhodes could influence any sentence Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the far-right Proud Boys group, will face on the same charge later this summer. This case sets a precedent for future cases related to the Jan. 6th attack.
  2. The Role of Rhodes in the Capitol Siege: Despite not entering the Capitol building, Rhodes played a significant role in the events of January 6. His leadership and influence over the Oath Keepers were highlighted during the trial.
  3. The Aftermath of the Assault: The emotional trauma inflicted on the police and congressional staffers present during the assault continues to be felt. The sentencing of Rhodes and Meggs is one important step towards holding those responsible accountable for their actions.
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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
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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.

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These days the GOP is just 3 cults in a trenchcoat — nevertheless, it’s helpful to understand some of the ideologies and extremist beliefs that folks on the right engage with. Understanding the psychology can help us make predictions about actions, reactions, and other developments in the political landscape.

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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.

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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.

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We glibly believed it could never happen here even though we’ve been warned again and again. And in some sense, even though it’s been here all along — hiding in plain sight. It could happen here, and it did, because it’s happened here before. This dictionary of American authoritarianism collects definitions and charts the rise of language, ideology, tactics, and historical movements of American authoritarians, to arm us with the knowledge we need to understand the tricks of the trade.

For a long time it was convenient to think of authoritarian personality as primarily a European problem, or in any case, a phenomenon that happened elsewhere. We are still waking up (…again) to the scope and depth of the problem, while anti-government groups organize relatively openly and we have yet to see justice for the January 6 attack on our capital. There is much work to be done, and in the meantime we can always continue to educate ourselves about our nation’s history — and the role of slavery, white supremacy, and racism in the shaping of the country and the future class structure of today’s America.

The myth of white innocence is toxic to this understanding. Those who say they “don’t see” race or “don’t want to talk about” race put their white privilege on full display in demanding their right to opt-out of the discussion on race. They’re not interested in having a discussion on race — they’re interested in silencing events like the Tulsa Race Massacre and ensuring we lack the language even to describe the horrors being visited upon human beings by the silencers. The only “discussion” they want to have about the matter is spoken in the words of Smith & Wesson, Chapter AR-15.

American Authoritarianism

White supremacy, in fact, in part inspired Hitler and the Nazis. In turn, the Nazis inspired the original America First movement at the hands of Charles Lindbergh, a notoriously avowed anti-Semite who vociferously opposed America’s involvement in World War II. Lindbergh and the other early movement conservative extremists lost the battle, and the Allies won the war — thus, fascism as an ideology was defeated in the popular mind for a goodly while.

But prejudice and bigotry are beasts that never sleep — only fitfully slumber and simmer beneath the surface. Bigotry has been rebuilding covertly for years and decades, if it can even be said to have gone away. America has always had its strain of autocratic fascination — and that strain of authoritarianism began flirting with what became fascism in the 20th century. The extremists yearning for a consummation of American fascism have continued to work diligently for almost a century, and have now largely succeeded in injecting a virulent form of nationalism, xenophobia, and isolationism into mainstream GOP politics in the 21st century.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 seemed to unleash these latent forces that have been amassing since the Reagan years, growing more virulent during the 1990s. From Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich of yesteryear to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ron DeSantis today, the American right-wing is more and more overtly appealing to anti-democratic methods and ideologies — and no longer seem to be regarded as the kooks and cranks of the Republican Party as their equivalents were during the John Birch Society era.

Authoritarianism Dictionary

I’ll be adding to this authoritarianism dictionary over time, as I can chip away at it and as new words get added to the lexicon. It’s highly encouraging that the American people were able to throw off the would-be dictator Trump, but the Republican party continues to press their seditious aims in his name. They continue to trade on the Confederate ideals long defeated, discredited, and dishonored in this nation. Let’s educate each other on the techniques being used against us by the powerful to limit our frames, and to inhibit our awareness, our choices, and our awareness of our choices.

The hour is late, and we must act with all haste.

TermTopicDefinition
1st Amendmentgovernment"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
2nd Amendmentgovernment"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
13th Amendmentwhite supremacyThe Amendment that put an end to slavery. It was passed by Congress and ratified by 2/3 of the states in 1865.
14th Amendmentwhite supremacyThe second Constitutional Amendment passed following the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to freed African American former slaves, along with equal civil and legal rights as specified in the Constitution.
15th Amendmentwhite supremacyThird and last of the Reconstruction Amendments, the Fifteenth gave African Americans the right to vote -- and prohibited any type of voter discrimination on the basis of race.
19th AmendmentmisogynyThe woman's Suffrage Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States.
4chanalt-RightA notorious internet message board with an unruly culture capable of trolling, pranks, and crimes.
4GWFourth-generation warfare, a model of hybrid warfare proposed by William S. Lind (of "cultural Marxism" fame)
8chanalt-RightIf 4chan wasn't raw and lawless enough for you, you could try the even more right-wing "free speech"-haven 8chan while it still stood (now 8kun). Described by its founder Frederick Bennan as "if 4chan and reddit had a baby," the site is notorious for incubating Gamergate, which morphed into PizzaGate, which morphed into QAnon -- and for generally being a cesspool of humanity's worst stuff.
8kunalt-RightThe rebranded incarnation of 8chan after being booted offline and haggling with its founder, Frederick Brennan.
abortionreligious extremismThe safe medical procedure for ending a pregnancy.
active measuresRussianA style of political warfare originating in the Soviet Union in the 1920s incorporating spycraft, disinformation, propaganda, sabotage, and destabilization, among other offensive programs targeting the USSR's geopolitical foes including the United States.
ad populumRhetorical fallacy that assumes an opinion shared by the majority is correct -- without consideration of the credentials of the group.
aggrieved entitlementwhite supremacyA term coined by sociologist Michael Kimmel, who documents the perceived emasculation of America's white male uneducated class and their reactionary rage against social justice and marginal groups getting the spotlight.
America's "original sin"white supremacyA reference to the institution of slavery.
amoralabuse & controlWithout morality; without empathy or compassion.
anti-abortionreligious extremismPolitical movement formed in the 1970s to overturn Roe v. Wade, that has become a major pillar of the Republican Party
anti-Communistconspiracy theoryThe Cold War Red Scare was promulgated by Senator Eugene McCarthy with help from lawyer Roy Cohn -- who later famously weaned Donald Trump in his image. The John Birch Society and movement conservatives seethed about ehe enemies within, as middle America set about booming with the Boomers for an entire generation of widely shared prosperity.
anti-intraceptionpsychological warfarePsychologist Theodor Adorno's term for individuals who resist self-reflection and exhibit the absence of looking inward.
anti-racism
anti-Semitism
anti-taxplutocracyGrover Norquist is a little piggie
armed robberyorganized crimeHolding someone or something up at gunpoint.
aryan
Ashe experimentspsychological warfare
ASPDabuse & controlantisocial personality disorder
assassinationparamilitaryThe killing of a head of state or other important figure for political or ideological reasons, as opposed to murder as a crime of passion.
astroturfingpsychological warfarePretending a well organized and financed operation is a grassroots groundswell
authoritarianismgovernment
banality of evilHannah Arendt coined the phrase โ€œbanality of evilโ€ to refer to the confoundingly commonplace motives of the Nazis who perpetrated some of the worst war crimes in history -- they would never have struck anyone as potential mass murderers before the war.
banana republicplutocracypolitically unstable countries whose economies are monocultures controlled by an oligarchy; puppet states
bandwagon
Biblical inerrancyBelief in the literal truth of every single passage of the Bible
The Big LieA giant, obviously false lie repeated over and over again until people start to believe it
birth controlmisogyny
birtherismConspiracy theory started by Donald Trump claiming that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S. and thus, ineligible for the presidency
bitcoinalt-RightThe original cryptocurrency represents an entirely new form of money; a way to store value digitally usig the blockchain.
Black Codeswhite supremacy
black-pilled
BLMwhite supremacyBlack Lives Matter
BLM (US)governmentBureau of Land Management
blockchainalt-RightDigital ledger of events and transactions that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
blood libelconspiracy theory
Blue Checkspsychological warfareReference to Twitter's "verified" feature for certain members, who have satisfied the company that they are who they say they are. Originally the feature was meant to identify the official accounts of news sites and reporters, so it has both an association with -- and a legitimate lineage from -- the media industry.
bolt holeEnd TimesA type of retreat or refuge for those in the survivalist subculture, to be absconded to in case of disaster or apocalypse.
Brooks Brothers RiotSedition Caucus
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)white supremacySupreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of schools. Resistance to the ruling took the form of "states' rights" advocates, among much else.
bugmanNew Right word for liberal men who supposedly lack tangible life skills
bug-out location (BOL)End TimesAnother name for a bolt hole or survivalist refuge location.
CalexitSedition CaucusMovement to split the state of California into East and West states
CalvinismThe ideology of predestination means you can't do anything to change your fate, but you can *act* like you're saved and that's close enough, to Calvin.
capital gains taxplutocracy
carried-interest taxmore significant for private equity than for hedge fundsa subset of capital gains taxationWarren Buffettโ€™s famous complaint that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary: โ€œIt offends our values as a nation when an investment manager making fifty million dollars can pay a lower tax rate on her earned income than a teacher making fifty thousand dollars pays on her income.โ€
the Cathedralconspiracy theory
cathexisA kind of fusion the people of a nation may claim to feel with the fascist leader.
Citizens UnitedA Supreme Court case that opened the doorway wide to the influence of dark -- i.e. untradeable, not transparent -- money in American politics.
civil society
Civil Warwhite supremacy
climate change denialism
clown worldconspiracy theory
CloudFlareBig TechA company that protects websites from cyberattacks, it dropped support for 8chan after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. The shooter had posted his anti-immigrant manifesto on 8chan before the event, another in a series of eerily similar patterned shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand and a San Diego synagogue.
Cluster Babuse & control
collective narcissismabuse & control
Columbine Massacrepolitical violence
Communismgovernment
The Confederacypolitical violence
conscience
conspiracy theorypsychological warfare
convict leasingwhite supremacy
copperheadismwhite supremacyA citizen of the North who was against the Civil War and favored negotiating a settlement with the South was referred to, pejoratively, as a copperhead.
covert narcissistpsychological warfare
Critical Race Theorywhite supremacy
Critical Theoryconspiracy theory
crocodile tears
crying wolf
cultism
cultsabuse & control
cultural Marxism
Dark Enlightenment
Dark MAGA
dark moneyplutocracy
death cult
deep stateconspiracy theoryNetworks of opposition within governments who undermine the official regime
democratic socialismgovernment
desegregationwhite supremacyThe end of segregation between white and Black society in the U.S., ending formally in the 1950s and 60s.
disinformationpsychological warfare
dispensationalism
domestic violenceabuse & control
Doomsday ClockEnd Times
double standardmisogyny
down ballotgovernment
doxingabuse & controlResearching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual
Drain the SwampMAGACampaign slogan of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential contest.
eco-fascist
El Paso Walmart shooting
Emancipation Proclamationwhite supremacy
empathy
estate taxplutocracy
"Eternal Rome"Ideology positing Russia as a geopolitical bulwark of conservatism against a weak-kneed West (part of Alexander Dugin's reformulation of Eurasianism theory)
ethnic cleansing
exfiltrationcybersecurityThe removal or copying of data from one server to another without the knowledge of the owner
extra-Constitutional
facial recognitionsurveillance capitalismTechnology that matches surveillance video and photography with large databases of known subjects' faces to identify them
Fairness Doctrine1949 FCC policy requiring broadcast networks to present controversial issues important to the public in a non-partisan way, that was repealed under Reagan in 1987.
fake newsdisinformation
false flagRussiancovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
fascismgovernment
fellow travellers
fifth column
fifth world warRussiannon-linear war; the war of all against all
filibuster
Financial Crimes Enforcement NEtwork (FinCEN)organized crimeDepartment within the Treasury that handles and maiontains FBAR filings from US persons holding in excess of $10,000 in foreign banks.
FISA Courtorganized crime
FISA warrantorganized crime
fiscal policyplutocracy
flat earthersconspiracy theory
Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)psychological warfareLegal statute requiring those persons lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or other entity to register such with the U.S. government.
foreign bank account report (FBAR)organized crimeRequired disclosure to the US treasury by persons holding in excess of $10,000 in funds in foreign banks.
forensicslaw enforcement
forever wars
The Frankfurt School
Freedmen's Bureau
FreedomFestConservative evangelical event annually in Las Vegas
Free Speech
free tradeplutocracy
fronto-paralimbic areaPart of the brain associated with empathy, along with the anterior insula
fundamentalism
Gabalt-Right
GamerGatealt-Right
genocide
gerrymanderinggovernmentThe practice of selecting voter districts based on party registration lines so as to make it easier to control larger blocks of the elctorate.
gift taxplutocracy
"global cabal"conspiracy theoryeuphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalists
Grand Jury16 to 23 people impaneled to hear evidence from a legal prosecution, and decide if said prosecution has a caseworthy set of evidence to bring charges.
Greensboro Massacrewhite supremacy
Great Awakening
Great Migrationwhite supremacy
Great Societygovernment
greed
Guantanamo
happy talkTim Snyder's term for the ubiquitous affect of technology & unquestionable conviction that tech is helping significantly and never harming.
human traffickingorganized crime
hybrid warfarepsychological warfare
hypercapitalism
incelmisogyny"involuntary celibate" -- a male individual who believes society owes him sex
inflationplutocracy
information warfaredisinformation
integralist
interest ratesplutocracy
internationalistconspiracy theoryAnother word for "globalist" or "cosmopolitanist," all of them also words for Jewish people
interpositionwhite supremacyDubious theory underpinning the idea of states' rights, which is that individual states have veto power over any laws passed by the federal government
Iran-Contra
iron triangleA conspiracy between organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders to turn the state into a kleptocracy -- or "rule by thieves"
Jim Crow Southwhite supremacy
Johnson Amendmentprosperity gospelAllowed televangelists to funnel tax-free riches into luxury goods and political advocacy
Karenwhite supremacy
kayfabeThe "play pretend" convention of presenting a staged performance as if it were spontaneous and authentic -- a trope of professional wrestling.
kleptocracyLiterally, "rule by thieves" -- a system of government in which the people at the top steal wealth from the nation and its people for themselves and their cronies.
KochtopusplutocracyTerm for the sprawling political machinery of the Kansas-based billionaire Koch Industries inheritees, Charles and David.
kompromatRussiancompromising material on a head of state or other important figure; typically used for blackmail purposes
lamestream mediaalt-Right
late Republican periodA way of stating a common belief on the New Right, that America is a kind of late-stage Rome awaiting its Caesar
leaderless resistance
liberalismgovernmentPolitical and ethical framework based on individual liberty via human rights and equal protection
libertines
literacy tests
lobbyinggovernment
"Lock her up!"MAGAChant led by Mike Flynn at the RNC in 2016, referring to Hillary Clinton's email scandal which turned out to be a nothingburger
Logan Actgovernment
Lost Cause religionconspiracy theoryAfter the Civil War, the Confederates never accepted defeat. Instead, they wove a noble victim mythology into white southern Christianity, in an attempt to memory hole the terrorism they'd wrought -- and wished to continue practicing without scrutiny or accountability, thank you very much.
lynchingwhite supremacyExtrajudicial murder, sometimes publicly, of Black men and women -- often for invented crimes
Machiavellian
machine learningBig Tech
Mafia stateorganized crimeA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates.
MAGAMAGA"Make America Great Again" -- one of Donald Trump's campaign slogans.
malignant envypsychological warfare
malignant narcissismabuse & control
"man code"Mentioned by Raffensberger in relation to the Trump extortion call: that if Trump hadn't lied about it in public, he might not have released the tape, just chalking it up to "private criminal attempts between two men" aka "man code"
manospheremisogyny
Marxismgovernment
the matrix
mental predationabuse & control
#MeToomisogyny
microaggressions
micropenismisogyny
micro-propaganda machineThe โ€œmicro-propaganda machineโ€ (MPM) โ€” an influence network that can tailor peopleโ€™s opinions, emotional reactions, and create โ€œviralโ€ sharing episodes around what should be serious or contemplative issues
millennarianismconspiracy theory
minority rule
mirror neurons
misogynymisogyny
MK UltraReportedly a CIA program in the 50s that conducted research into mind control and brainwashing -- its findings were apparently so shocking that the program was shut down and never heard from again.
money launderingorganized crimeAttempts and processes to obscure the sources of funds moving into or through a system
multiculturalism
narcissismabuse & control
narcissistic collusionabuse & control
natalityHannah Arendt's term, and her most hopefuly theory for the future of humankind -- that it will continually be renewed by the literal birth of new generations of humans to reinterpret the human condition and our existence in the world.
national debtplutocracy
national deficitplutocracy
national security
NDANon-disclosure agreement
neggingabuse & control
neomaniaobsession with the new -- a hallmark of American culture
neo-reactionaries
New Dealgovernment
New Jim Crowwhite supremacy
New Right
non-linear warfareRussian
normalcy bias
novichokRussianmilitary-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018
nullificationwhite supremacy
NRxneo-Reactionary, an extremist techophilic ideology popular on the right
obstruction
Oklahoma City bombing
oligarchyplutocracy
one-party stategovernment
open source intelligenceintelligence
oppointelligenceshort form of opposition research
outrage industrysurveillance capitalism
PAC
Palantirsurveillance capitalism
paralipsisdisinformationA rhetorical device in which the speaker feigns ignorance of the thing he or she is saying; "Saying / not saying" -- it offers a thin veneer of plausible deniability in a naked attempt to escape accountabilitty for saying exactly that.
paralogicpsychological warfare
paranoiaExtreme fear to the point of (or beyond) psychological pathology.
pathocracyorganized crime
patriarchymisogyny
peculiar institutionwhite supremacyslavery
peonagewhite supremacy
plausible deniabilityorganized crime
Plessy v. Fergusongovernment1896
plutocracygovernmentPolitical rule by the rich.
political correctness
poll tax
ponerologyThe study of evil
populismgovernment
post-leftist
postmodernismdisinformation
post-truthdisinformation
Potemkin villagegovernmentAny structure or facade built expressly for the purpose of making the situation appear more favorable than it really is
Powell MemoplutocracyLewis Powell's 1970s memo to the wealthy white male elite, in anger over the crackdown against tobacco companies, as a call to arms to organize politically against "anti-capitalist" forces
PRabuse & controlpublic relations
previous question ruleA parliamentary rule present in the initial decades of the Senate, borrowed from British law, that allowed the majority proponents of a bill or measure to call an end to debate about the provision with a short warning period of usually about 5 minutes.
Progressive Eragovernment
propagandaabuse & control
prosperity gospel
prosocial behavior
psychopathabuse & control
psyopsRussianPsychological operations
PUAmisogyny"Pick Up Artist" -- a self-styled lothario who helps train other would-be casanovas in his ways of manipulative charm
Pulse Nightclub shooting
race riotswhite supremacy
race warwhite supremacyThe goal of the accelerationist neo-Nazi idealogues is to start a race war and bring down the American government
RAGEabuse & controlRetire All Government Employees
rape culturemisogyny
Reagonomicsconspiracy theory
the "real economy"conspiracy theoryWhat folks on the New Right consider legitimate parts of the American economy: farm and factory jobs that used to sustain a middle-class income
RedditBig Tech
the regimeconspiracy theory
regression
repression
retweetBig TechWhen a Twitter user amplifies the tweet of another, by "retweeting" it out to her or his network
RICO
Right anterior insular cortexPart of the brain associated with empathy; psychopaths have a deficit here
right-wing authoritariangovernment
Roe v. Wade
Ruby Ridgewhite supremacy
running out the clock
RWDSparamilitaryRight-wing Death Squads -- an acronym used by Proud Boys and worn as patches by some members and branches
sadismabuse & control
sadopopulismgovernment
Sandy Hook school shootingabuse & control
savior complexLike the arsonist who sets the fire and then calls it in to play the hero, right-wingers with the savior complex are constantly holding up the sky as the Evil Democrats try to destroy everything good and holy -- and they want CREDIT for it, dammit!
Second Wave Feminismmisogyny
Section 230Big Tech
senicide
sexual assaultmisogyny
sexual harassmentmisogyny
shadow profilessurveillance capitalismData that Facebook collects on people who are not members of Facebook, via association with their friends who are
sharecroppingabuse & control
shared reality
show trialsRussian
SignalBig Techencrypted messaging app
Silicon Reich
sit-insNonviolent demonstration method used heavily in the 1960s
SJWwhite supremacySocial Justice Warriors -- used as a pejorative by the alt-Right
socialismgovernment
sociopathyabuse & control
sockpuppet accountsdisinformationFake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.
SMSBig Techtexting
special interest groupsgovernment
spearphishingcybersecurityAn email designed to appear as if from a trusted source, to solicit information that allows the sender to gain access to an account or network, or installs malware that later enables the sender to gain access to an account or network
spite votergovernment
stand your ground
stochastic terrorismparamilitary
suffragegovernmentThe right to vote, sometimes referred to as "the franchise."
SuperPACgovernment
supremacy
surveillance capitalism
surveillance stateabuse & control
swattingalt-Righthoaxed reports to emergency services intended to provoke a SWAT team response at the target's home; a form of Internet-based attack used by Gamergate, the alt-Right, and other groups and individuals
symbolic violence
tax avoidanceplutocracy
tax fraudorganized crime
tax havensplutocracy
Third Wave Feminismmisogyny
totalismpsychological warfare
total warRussian
trial balloonpsychological warfareInformation put out or leaked to the media to gauge public reaction.
trickle-down economicsconspiracy theory
truth decayconspiracy theory
The Turner Diarieswhite supremacy
Tulsa Race Massacrewhite supremacyA mob of murderous whites descended on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, dubbed Black Wall Street, and razed it to the ground. They dropped homemade bombs in the first ever domestic aerial attack on American soil. Over three hundred Blacks were murdered and hastily buried or burned. Police and other state officials were complicit; no one was ever charged for the crimes and insurance companies refused to honor Black business owner's claims from the destruction of their livelihood and senseless slaughter of their friends, families, and community.
TwitterBig Tech
Uberman
unmaskingcybersecurityIntelligence protocol redacting American identities from transcripts of foreign intercepts
vast right-wing conspiracy
volcel
Voting Rights Actwhite supremacy
Waco, TXparamilitary
wag the dogabuse & control
wage gapmisogyny
war crimes
Watergate
watering holecybersecurityhacker attacks that infect entire websites
whataboutismRussianClassic debate tactic of old Soviet apologists to deflect criticism of Soviet policy; whenever an American would levy a critique, the response would be, "What about the bad things America does?"
white collar crimeorganized crime
white nationalismwhite supremacy
women's liberationmisogyny
word salad
World War IWWI gave job opportunities to blacks in the North, causing a great migration -- as well as a backlash and resistance from Southern law enforcement.
World War II
Yes CaliforniaMovement to secede from the US entirely, run by Marcus Ruiz Evans, Louis J. Marinelli
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Fascism is a specific type of authoritarianism. Both are forms of government characterized by tightly centralized power, either under a sole dictatorship or a small cadre typically of wealthy oligarchs, where rule is absolute and the vast majority of people have little say in policy-making or national events. Identifying authoritarianism vs. fascism isn’t always a clearcut distinction, particularly given that one of the hallmarks of fascism is often that fascist leaders tend to conceal or hide their ideological aims until they achieve power and sometimes even beyond — so as not to alert the public to their true plans until it’s too late for people to fight back.

Under both authoritarianism and fascism, there is little or no political freedom or individual rights. Authoritarian governments often use force or coercion to maintain control, dissent is typically suppressed, and political violence is tacitly encouraged so long as it is in support of the ruling regime.

Fascism is one type of authoritarian political system

Fascism is a type of authoritarianism with distinct ideological features that emerged in the early 20th century. In addition to the core characteristics of authoritarian government, fascism is typified by extreme nationalism, a belief in the superiority of one’s own race or nation (a form of collective narcissism), and propaganda about both a mythical past and a promised utopian future. Fascist regimes often promote aggressive foreign policies and use violence and intimidation to suppress opposing views. Other key features of fascism include a cult of personality around the leader, a focus on traditional values, and the use of propaganda to control public opinion.

Fascist regimes of the 20th century

  1. Italy (1922-1943): Italy was the birthplace of fascism, and under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, it became the first fascist regime in the world. Mussolini and his National Fascist Party came to power in 1922, and ruled Italy as a one-party state until he was deposed in 1943.
  2. Germany (1933-1945): Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was a fascist regime that came to power in 1933. The Nazi regime was known for its extreme racism, antisemitism, militarism, and aggressive expansionism, which ultimately led to World War II and the genocide of the Holocaust.
  3. Spain (1939-1975): After a bloody civil war, General Francisco Franco established a fascist dictatorship in Spain in 1939. Franco’s regime was characterized by authoritarianism, repression, and a focus on traditional Catholic values.
  4. Portugal (1932-1974): Portugal was ruled by a fascist regime under the Estado Novo (New State) government, led by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, from 1932 until 1974. The Estado Novo government was characterized by authoritarianism, nationalism, and corporatism.
  5. Romania (1940-1944): Ion Antonescu, a military dictator and fascist sympathizer, came to power in Romania in 1940. Antonescu’s regime was characterized by anti-Semitism, political repression, and a close alliance with Nazi Germany.
  6. Hungary (1944-1945): Hungary was ruled by a fascist government under Ferenc Szรกlasi and the Arrow Cross Party from 1944 until the end of World War II. The Arrow Cross regime was known for its extreme anti-Semitism and brutality.

Authoritarian regimes in world history

Authoritarianism is an older and more prevalent form of government than fascism, given its origins over 2000 years ago with the Roman Empire. Some of the most notable authoritarian regimes are as follows:

  1. The Roman Empire (27 BC โ€“ 476 AD): The Roman Empire was a vast and powerful empire that was ruled by an authoritarian government, after Julius Caesar overthrew the Roman Republic shortly before the turn of the millennium in 27 BC. After his son Octavian emerged victorious from a series of civil wars that followed, a succession of Roman emperors who had almost unlimited power ruled the Empire, and dissent was often suppressed with violence.
  2. The Mongol Empire (1206-1368): The Mongol Empire was one of the largest empires in history, and it was ruled by a series of authoritarian leaders who conquered and subjugated vast territories across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East — most notably Genghis Khan.
  3. The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922): The Ottoman Empire was a vast and powerful Islamic empire that was ruled by a series of sultans who held absolute power over their subjects.
  4. The Soviet Union (1917-1991): The Soviet Union was a communist state that was ruled by the Communist Party and its leaders, including Joseph Stalin. The Soviet regime was characterized by totalitarianism, repression, and the suppression of political dissent.
  5. China under Mao Zedong (1949-1976): Mao Zedong was the founder of the People’s Republic of China and the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. During his rule, China was transformed into a socialist state, but the regime was also characterized by repression, mass killings, and the suppression of political dissent.
  6. North Korea (1948-present): North Korea is a communist state that is ruled by the Workers’ Party of Korea and its leader, currently Kim Jong-un. The North Korean regime is known for its extreme repression, propaganda, and human rights abuses.
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The Big Lie about the 2020 Election was hardly the first or even the Biggest of the Big Lies in American history — fomented in vast majority by the right wing. Call it a personality trait, an ideology, or perhaps a financial preference — but Republicans seem to lean towards the disingenuous end of the truth scale.

What are Big Lies?

A Big Lie refers to a propaganda technique that involves repeating a falsehood or exaggeration so frequently and convincingly that people begin to accept it as truth. The term was popularized by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, where he wrote that propaganda must be based on a “big lie” because people are counterintuitively more likely to believe a colossal falsehood than a small one because of its sheer audacity.

The technique of the Big Lie is often used by authoritarian leaders, political parties, and movements to manipulate public opinion and gain power. It relies on the psychological phenomenon known as the “illusory truth effect,” which suggests that people are more likely to believe something if they hear it repeatedly. Ironically, even a debunking of the Big Lie can contribute to the illusory truth effect by keeping the content of the falsehood top of mind in the eye of the believer.

Examples of Big Lies

Examples of the Big Lie include the claim that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, the false assertion that vaccines cause autism, and the Nazi propaganda (blood libel and global cabal theory, among other hateful ideologies) that blamed Germany’s problems on the Jewish people, scapegoating them unfairly and setting up a justification for the horrific murder at scale known as the Holocaust.

The danger of the Big Lie is that it can lead to widespread disinformation, polarization and hyper partisanship, and even violence. It is essential to fact-check claims and resist the impulse to accept information at face value. Instead, critical thinking, fact-checking, and seeking out multiple sources of information can help individuals and society avoid falling prey to the Big Lie.

The following table is a compendium of GOP Big Lies known so far.

MythDefinition
"Antifa did it"This is a pre-planned "reusable" false narrative for right-wing extremist actions. It's a ready-made "false false flag" conspiracy for repeated deployment as white supremacists and homegrown extremists ratchet up the level of political violence.
"government overreach"When Democrats pass a law that Republicans don't like
"Makers and takers"
"National security party"
"Quality" of votes
2nd Amendment"We can't do anything about guns because 2A" (and also because NRA) + "Democrats are coming to take our guns!"
Abu Ghraib
American DreamThey inverted it away from a sense of social justice and equal opportunity (self-governance) to simply embody the venal pursuit of money.
America FirstInvoked by right-wing propaganda campaigns over the past century, starting with Charles Lindbergh in 1939 through to Reagan (1980s), and again with lazy plagiarizing Donnie
American Exceptionalism
Anti-gay
Anti-immigrant
Anti-TaxWhat do you get for the billionaire who has everything? Tax policy.
Be Best
Black and white thinkingLabel anything slightly left of center as socialism or Communism
Blacks are commies
Cancel culture
Christian nationalism
Cities are bad
Climate change is a hoax
Coastal elites
Communists
Confederate statues
Conscience voters
Corporate liberalsAnti-Semitic throwback with a modern twist
Covid is a hoax; covid is overblown
Covid is no big deal
Crime
crisis actor
Critical Race Theory
Cry more, lib
Democrats are Satanic
Drain the SwampRather than rid Washington of its layers of corrupt supplicants as he had promised on the campaign trail, he invited all of his cronies in to benefit from the greatest expansion of corrupt graft under any President we know of thus far.
Economic superiority
Election integrityVoter suppression
elites should rule others
Elite resentment
Enemy of the people
Flawed savior
Free speech
Freedom of religion
George SorosHungarian billionaire whose liberal politics irritate Vladimir Putin.
Government is the enemyThe Reagan-flavored twist on drowning government in the bathtub
Government spendingBlack and white thinking: "all govt spending is bad" (except military)
Great Man theory
Guantanamo Bay
Heroic redeemerThis singular leader who saves the nation has a mystical connection with his people and takes the nation out of all time
HollywoodPart of an "excuse framework" to ignore or dismiss something, by smearing it with vague "Hollywoodness." A cue to tune out and discredit the source. Prominent in the Qanon ideology.
Identity politicsThe right are the ones who often insist on identity politics...
Insults
Jim Crow
Job creatorsRepublicans claim their system of trickle down economics produces jobs and growth, but it inhibits both as compared to a less extreme approach.
Kyle Rittenhouse deification
Law and order"White people should fear Black people, and support other white people who fear Black people (or brown, or women, or gays, or trans, or immigrants, whatever is the hatred du jour)"
Leftist apocalypse
LiberalsIt's like Russia recycled the Greatest Hits of Cold War Lingo and piped it in through every orifice starting (at least) during the 2016 election cycle.
Lost CauseAn American mythology manufactured after the Civil War by the Confederates, to soothe their wounds from the loss and whitewash the role of slavery in fomenting their sedition. In the Reconstruction era and beyond, the retcon held that "states' rights" had animated the southern states to secede from the union when in fact, the bitter contest had been inarguably about whether or not the peculiar institution was to continue in the new nation.
MAGA
Marxism
minority rule
Mueller Report
MuzzledSaying "I'm muzzled!" means "I can't talk openly about how much I hate certain types of people!"
National debtSuddenly out of nowhere (aka, when a Democrat comes to town), the national debt is a pressing problem.
Nostalgiathe role of nostalgia in fascist politics is to harness people's strong emotions to the central tenets of the ideology:* authoritarianism* hierarchy* purity* struggle
Personal responsibility
Poll taxes
Pro-life
QAnon
Racism"We're not racists and it's racist to call us racist, you racist."
Reaganomics
Refuse to recognize the legitimacy of one's opponentQuestion the use of legitimate authority for spurious or unsubstantiated allegations, to create the appearance of impropriety even if there is none.
Religious freedom
Run the country like a business
Sadism
silent majorityLoudly extremist minority
small government1) Grab resources 2) Privatize government functions 3) Cheat 4) Crime
Social Justice Warriors
SocialismAnything Democrats do or want to do is socialist and/or communist
States' rightsA dog whistle for first whitewashing the reasons for the Civil War, and later to rationalize defense of segregation
The Big Lie
The Civil War wasn't about slavery
The New Deal was bad for America
The Swamp...corruption?!
Trickle down economics
Trump "says it like it is"They mean that he agrees with them about saying the racist, sexist, or X-ist quiet parts out loud
Uberman
Venezuelaa dog whistle for socialism
Voting is a privilege, not a right
War on Christmas
Warmongers
Welfare queens
WMDs
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strict father morality

Strict Father Morality is a term coined by cognitive linguist George Lakoff to describe a type of moral worldview that centers on the values of authority, discipline, and individual responsibility. This worldview is often associated with conservative political and social positions, and is often contrasted with a more nurturing and empathetic worldview that Lakoff refers to as the “Nurturant Parent” model — more closely aligned to a liberal and progressive worldview.

At the core of the Strict Father Morality worldview is the belief that the world is a fundamentally dangerous and competitive place, and that individuals must be prepared to compete and succeed in order to survive and thrive. In this worldview, the father is seen as the ultimate authority figure, responsible for providing for and protecting his family, and for instilling the discipline and self-control necessary for success in life.

This patriarchal worldview is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles, where men are seen as the primary breadwinners and protectors, while women are seen as nurturing caregivers. This gendered division of labor is seen as necessary for the survival and flourishing of the family unit, and deviations from traditional gender roles are often viewed with suspicion or even hostility.

Christianity and Strict Father Morality

Central to the Strict Father Morality worldview is the idea that success is the result of hard work, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. Those who succeed in life are seen as having earned their success through their own efforts, while those who struggle or fail are seen as having brought it upon themselves through a lack of discipline or effort. This ideology is a derivative of the Protestant work ethic identified by sociologist Max Weber as one of the core animating worldviews behind fervent belief in capitalism.

Emerging out of Calvinism, the Protestant work ethic extends the idea that constant economic activity can show evidence of one’s eternal salvation. The emphasis on self-blame for one’s low economic condition is often used to justify policies that limit government intervention in areas such as healthcare, education, and social welfare.

Black and white thinking and Strict Father Morality

Another important aspect of Strict Father Morality is the belief in moral absolutes and the importance of maintaining a strong moral code. This includes a belief in the importance of law and order, and the need to punish those who break the law. In this worldview, moral relativism is seen as a dangerous threat to the stability and order of society, and the preservation of traditional values is seen as essential to maintaining social cohesion and stability.

Critics of Strict Father Morality argue that it is overly simplistic and ignores the complexity of human experience. They argue that the overemphasis on blaming individuals for their circumstances is a form of victim blaming, and can encourage a lack of empathy for those who face systemic barriers to success. They note the similarity of the entire ideology to a type of black and white thinking, and also argue that the traditional gender roles and emphasis on hierarchy and authority can lead to authoritarianism and intolerance.

Strict Father Morality is also seen as being aligned with sexism, racism, and bigotry in general. It’s associated with ideas long ago debunked, dispelled, or defeated as poor ways of viewing and interacting with the world — due to basic inaccuracy.

In summary, Strict Father Morality is a moral worldview that emphasizes the values of authority, discipline, and limited government involvement, and is rooted in a traditional understanding of gender roles and moral absolutes. While this worldview can provide a sense of security and stability, it has been criticized for its oversimplification of human experience and its potential to usher in authoritarianism and glorify intolerance.

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Blood libel is a very old anti-Semitic myth that has stubbornly persisted for centuries, one of several conspiracy theories that have scapegoating the Jewish people for all of society’s ills at their core. The heart of the false claim is that Jews murder non-Jewish (or Gentile) children to use their blood for apocryphal religious rituals, during Passover and other prominent Jewish holidays.

Originating from a series of stereotypes about Jews amassed through the ages, blood libel is also intimately related to the global cabal conspiracy theory and was heavily used in Nazi ideology to justify the horrors of the Holocaust. Somewhat ironically, the Nazis claimed that the Jewish people were inherently violent and murderous — and used this baseless claim as justification of their own systematic program of violence and murder of over 6 million Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s and 40s.

The outlandish claims of blood libel have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by scholars, historians, anthropologists, psychologists, and an armada of dedicated truth-tellers — yet the stickiness of the myth persists, even after the consequences of this toxic belief system of antisemitism became apparent during World War II. Today, the blood libel myth has been given new life in the modern revision known as the QAnon conspiracy theory — a movement which contains elements of blood libel, global cabal theory, and a hodge podge of other fantastical and fanatical belief systems that have hooked gullible populations throughout history.

It’s important to remain skeptical of those who make these claims, and to ask who benefits from the deep virulent divisions and bitter partisanship created by the widespread belief in these toxic conspiracy theories.

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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 (NAR), 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).

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