Declining Democracies

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Re: Declining Democracies

#126

Post by RTH10260 »

I dearly would like to return the tweet about "shithole countries" to individual-1, alas I "don't do" Twitter....


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Re: Declining Democracies

#127

Post by Addie »

The Guardian: Strongmen review: a chilling history for one nation no longer under Trump

Ruth Ben-Ghiat delivers a superb examination of how close the US came to fascism – and how it has propped it up before


This terrific history of strongmen since Mussolini makes it clear that despite a horrific pandemic and massive economic disruption, ordinary democratic Americans have more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving than ever before.

Comparing the gruesome, granular details of the reigns of Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, Gaddafi, Pinochet, Mobuto, Berlusconi and Erdoğan to the acts and aspirations of Donald Trump, New York University professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat makes a powerful argument that on the scary road to fascism, America just came perilously close to the point of no return.

Almost everything Trump has done has come straight from the authoritarian playbook. Every dictator, for example, has built on the accomplishments of his predecessors.

“Just as Hitler watched Mussolini’s actions carefully,” Ben-Ghiat writes, “so did Gaddafi learn from Lt Col Gamal Abdul Nasser’s 1952 overthrow of the monarchy in Egypt.” Then in the 1980s and 90s, Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich served as models for Europeans looking for “a more radical form of conservatism”. Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America was echoed a year later by the Front National, with its “contract for France with the French”. Berlusconi’s Contract with Italians followed six years later.

In Egypt, Nasser hired “former Nazi propagandists for their expertise in antisemitic messaging”. In Zaire, from 1965, Mobutu Sese Seko’s media handlers reimagined Leni Riefenstahl’s image of Hitler descending from the sky by opening the television news each night with a picture of the dictator’s face, hovering up in the clouds.

The parallels between Trump and his role models are endless. Ben-Ghiat writes of “watching Trump retweet neo-Nazi propaganda, call for the imprisonment [of Hillary Clinton] and lead his followers in loyalty oaths at rallies seemed all too familiar”– and how it filled her “with dread”.

Before the Putin-Trump bromance there was Putin and Berlusconi, grinning at each other from Zavidovo to Sardinia. The way Trump talked about Mexicans was hardly different from Hitler’s words about the Jews or Berlusconi’s about Africans. The Italian media mogul and prime minister was himself just a pale imitation of Mussolini. In the pre-war period, he was responsible for the deaths of 700,000 Libyans, Eritreans, Somalis and Ethiopians.


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Re: Declining Democracies

#128

Post by Lani »

Good article. Thanks.

I sent the link to two friends who were surprised when I said Trump was attempting a coup. One of those friends is a Black man who grew up in the south. He doesn't think Trump was pushing for a coup. He thinks Trump is promoting a race war, and he sent me this link. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2 ... -politics/

It's both, and more.


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Re: Declining Democracies

#129

Post by Addie »

New York Times - Jochen Bittner: 1918 Germany Has a Warning for America

Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign recalls one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century.


HAMBURG, Germany — It may well be that Germans have a special inclination to panic at specters from the past, and I admit that this alarmism annoys me at times. Yet watching President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign since Election Day, I can’t help but see a parallel to one of the most dreadful episodes from Germany’s history.

One hundred years ago, amid the implosions of Imperial Germany, powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to arguably the most potent and disastrous political lie of the 20th century — the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation. That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter. Among a sizable number of Germans, it stirred resentment, humiliation and anger. And the one figure who knew best how to exploit their frustration was Adolf Hitler. ...

By the time of the Treaty of Versailles the following year, the myth was already well established. The harsh conditions imposed by the Allies, including painful reparation payments, burnished the sense of betrayal. It was especially incomprehensible that Germany, in just a couple of years, had gone from one of the world’s most respected nations to its biggest loser.

The startling aspect about the Dolchstosslegende is this: It did not grow weaker after 1918 but stronger. In the face of humiliation and unable or unwilling to cope with the truth, many Germans embarked on a disastrous self-delusion: The nation had been betrayed, but its honor and greatness could never be lost. And those without a sense of national duty and righteousness — the left and even the elected government of the new republic — could never be legitimate custodians of the country.

In this way, the myth was not just the sharp wedge that drove the Weimar Republic apart. It was also at the heart of Nazi propaganda, and instrumental in justifying violence against opponents. The key to Hitler’s success was that, by 1933, a considerable part of the German electorate had put the ideas embodied in the myth — honor, greatness, national pride — above democracy.


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Re: Declining Democracies

#130

Post by Addie »

Agreed. It's both

Lani wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:23 pm Good article. Thanks.

I sent the link to two friends who were surprised when I said Trump was attempting a coup. One of those friends is a Black man who grew up in the south. He doesn't think Trump was pushing for a coup. He thinks Trump is promoting a race war, and he sent me this link. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2 ... -politics/

It's both, and more.


"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver
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Declining Democracies

#131

Post by Addie »

The Guardian: Decline and fall: what Donald Trump can learn from the Roman emperors


A lot of men have probably wished for four more years. A little under that time after assuming absolute power, Gaius Caesar was dead, assassinated by the men who were paid to protect him. We more usually know him as Caligula: a man who revealed himself to be every kind of monster soon after becoming emperor of Rome.

It probably wasn’t his depravity that did for Caligula, however: if our sources are to be believed, sexual deviance was pretty much par for Roman emperors. Abusing so much power must have been irresistible. Perhaps the reasoning was that when you’re a star, they let you do it. The real problem for the men surrounding him was his unpredictability. At the time of his death, he was pondering giving high political office to Incitatus, his favourite horse.

As the imperial biographer Suetonius tells us, Caligula was fond of teasing the chief of the Praetorian guard, a man named Cassius Chaerea. And Chaerea eventually bit back, stabbing Gaius in the neck. Other guards piled in and Gaius was soon dead of multiple stab wounds. More bodyguards then appeared on the scene and killed some of the assassins and various innocent bystanders. When an autocrat goes down, it seems, the damage can be indiscriminate.

Intriguingly, the emperor’s habit of issuing erratic and deceitful communications meant that many people didn’t believe it when the news of his death was announced. They thought it must be a story Caligula had released himself, to find out what people thought of him. The assumption of falsehood had been embedded into Roman society in a surprisingly short time: you could judge the condition of the times from this, Suetonius adds, rather wearily.

The last few weeks in US politics have looked, to a classicist on the other side of the Atlantic, like an unnervingly familiar story wearing golfing clothes instead of a toga. How do you remove the most powerful man in the world from the position that bestows that power on him if he doesn’t want to lose it? The US constitution is full of checks and balances to make sure a president isn’t a king and that his power has limits. But that is how the Roman principate began too.


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Declining Democracies

#132

Post by p0rtia »

I'll tell you what 45 can learn from the Roman emperors:

Nothing.

Pfff


No matter where you go, there you are! :towel:
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Declining Democracies

#133

Post by RTH10260 »

:confused: the soon to be ex-45 reading history books :?: Did they golf down there in the shithole country that is now Italy :?:


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Declining Democracies

#134

Post by Flatpointhigh »

what thWimp can learn from the Roman emperors: Memento Mori as a reminder to not succumb to hubris


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Declining Democracies

#135

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DW: Austria Seizes Guns Destined For German Right-Wing Militia


Far-right extremists planned to set up an armed militia in the southern German state of Bavaria, Austrian investigators say. The weapons seized included Kalashnikovs and Uzis. Austrian police have seized dozens of weapons and 100,000 rounds of ammunition that were partly destined for building up an extremist far-right militia in Germany, Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced on Saturday.

Authorities found 76 semi-automatic and automatic weapons, 14 handguns, more than 100,000 rounds of various calibers, as well as six hand grenades and various types of explosives during raids this week. The Kurier newspaper reported that the weapons included Kalashnikovs, Skorpions and Uzis.

Vienna's police chief Gerhard Pürstl described the haul as the largest in decades and said the weapons were to be used to set up an armed extremist group in the southern German state of Bavaria. Five suspects have been detained in Austria, including a man who was already known to authorities for his far-right activities. Local media said he was once suspected of being connected to a letter bombing campaign that rocked Austria in the 1990s.

Arrests in Germany too: Two people have been arrested in Bavaria, leading investigator Michael Mimra said. Investigations are also ongoing in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia.


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Declining Democracies

#136

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New York Times - Timothy Snyder: The American Abyss

A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next. ...


People believed him, which is not at all surprising. It takes a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what others around them believe, or what would make sense of their own previous choices. Plato noted a particular risk for tyrants: that they would be surrounded in the end by yes-men and enablers. Aristotle worried that, in a democracy, a wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the minds of the populace. Aware of these risks and others, the framers of the Constitution instituted a system of checks and balances. The point was not simply to ensure that no one branch of government dominated the others but also to anchor in institutions different points of view.

In this sense, the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn an election must be shared by a very large number of Republican members of Congress. Rather than contradict Trump from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to flourish. They had different reasons for doing so. One group of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections with a minority of motivated voters. They have no interest in the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that allows their minority party disproportionate control of government. The most important among them, Mitch McConnell, indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its consequences.

Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They might actually break the system and have power without democracy. The split between these two groups, the gamers and the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10 other senators. More than a hundred Republican representatives took the same position. For many, this seemed like nothing more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.

Yet for Congress to traduce its basic functions had a price. An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow. Members of Congress who sustained the president’s lie, despite the available and unambiguous evidence, betrayed their constitutional mission. Making his fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh. Now Trump could demand that senators and congressmen bow to his will. He could place personal responsibility upon Mike Pence, in charge of the formal proceedings, to pervert them. And on Jan. 6, he directed his followers to exert pressure on these elected representatives, which they proceeded to do: storming the Capitol building, searching for people to punish, ransacking the place.

Of course this did make a kind of sense: If the election really had been stolen, as senators and congressmen were themselves suggesting, then how could Congress be allowed to move forward? For some Republicans, the invasion of the Capitol must have been a shock, or even a lesson. For the breakers, however, it may have been a taste of the future. Afterward, eight senators and more than 100 representatives voted for the lie that had forced them to flee their chambers.
Adding:



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Declining Democracies

#137

Post by Uninformed »

Unsurprisingly “theatrical” but a good message to propagate. Never thought Arnold Schwarzenegger could be a role model. :clap:


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Declining Democracies

#138

Post by pipistrelle »

Uninformed wrote: Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:44 am Unsurprisingly “theatrical” but a good message to propagate. Never thought Arnold Schwarzenegger could be a role model. :clap:
For him, it was understated and low key.


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Declining Democracies

#139

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WaPo: Wealthy bankers and businessmen plotted to overthrow FDR. A retired general foiled it.

The consternation had been growing in the months between Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election and his inauguration, but his elimination of the gold standard in April 1933 infuriated some of the country’s wealthiest men.

Titans of banking and business worried that if U.S. currency wasn’t backed by gold, inflation could skyrocket and make their millions worthless. Why, they could end up as poor as most everyone else was during the Great Depression.

So, according to the sworn congressional testimony of a retired general, they decided to overthrow the government and install a dictator who was more business friendly. After all, they reasoned, that had been working well in Italy.

How close this fascist cabal got, and who exactly was in on it, are still subjects of historical debate. But as the dust settles after the pro-Trump attack on the U.S. Capitol, and as it becomes clearer how close lawmakers came to catastrophe, the similarities to the Business Plot are hard to ignore. ...

Smedley D. Butler was a highly decorated Marine Corps general who had received the Medal of Honor twice. He was beloved by his men before his retirement, and more so afterward when he spoke in support of the Bonus Army’s fight for early bonus payments for World War I service.

“He was wildly popular and was an outspoken critic of fascism and Mussolini at a time when there was really an impulse toward that throughout the world, including in the United States,” Denton said.

Given his opposition to fascism, Butler might not seem like a good fit for the job of coup leader, but his support from veterans was more important to the Wall Street plotters. At the time, there were many more veterans than active-duty service members; if someone could summon them as a force of 500,000 to march on Washington, the government could fall without a shot being fired.


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Declining Democracies

#140

Post by Volkonski »

In 1933-
Security for the inaugural events had been tightened, following the Miami assassination attempt
on Roosevelt, which had resulted in the death of Mayor Cermak of Chicago.
https://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/politics ... istory.pdf


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#141

Post by AndyinPA »

IIRC, Preston Bush, father and grandfather to two presidents, was among the plotters.


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Declining Democracies

#142

Post by Suranis »

AndyinPA wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:10 pm IIRC, Preston Bush, father and grandfather to two presidents, was among the plotters.
There has been accusations on those lines about Prescott Bush for years, but no real evidence of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush
Business Plot

In July 2007, Scott Horton, an American attorney known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict, had an article published in Harper's Magazine claiming that Prescott Bush was involved in the 1934 Business Plot, a failed plan by some of America's wealthy to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[23]

However, no evidence from the source material of the congressional report, or from news reports at the time, make any mention of Bush's involvement.


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#143

Post by AndyinPA »

Suranis wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:27 pm
AndyinPA wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:10 pm IIRC, Preston Bush, father and grandfather to two presidents, was among the plotters.
There has been accusations on those lines about Prescott Bush for years, but no real evidence of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush
Business Plot

In July 2007, Scott Horton, an American attorney known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict, had an article published in Harper's Magazine claiming that Prescott Bush was involved in the 1934 Business Plot, a failed plan by some of America's wealthy to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[23]

However, no evidence from the source material of the congressional report, or from news reports at the time, make any mention of Bush's involvement.
TY.


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Declining Democracies

#144

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Just Security: Ousted Autocratic Presidents and Their Backers in the Legislative Branch

What Other Countries Can Tell the United States About the Road Ahead


Any hope that the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol would generate such a backlash that the president and extremist forces aligned with him would lose their political potency has eroded in the days since. Some of the most revealing signs of that come from within the building they attacked: the votes that same night by 147 Republicans in Congress to embrace Trump’s lies and reject the legitimate victory of President-elect Joe Biden, and the vote on Wednesday to impeach Trump, when 197 of 211 Republicans in the House of Representatives stuck by their man.

The willingness of these duly elected U.S. legislators to prop up President Donald Trump despite his election loss echoes patterns in countries caught in the widening global net of authoritarianism over the past three decades.

The actions of autocrats and hardliners in power or out in countries from Hungary to Colombia, from the Philippines to Sri Lanka to Russia, Belarus, Italy, and on to Chile, carry lessons that illuminate what might lie ahead for the United States, as Trump leaves office by Jan. 20. In each case, the autocrat often relies on and wields influence over hundreds of complicit members of national legislatures, regardless of whether the authoritarian leader is in power or has been ousted, sometimes to return again to office or help install his chosen successor down the line. ...

“Even if a coup fails,” Samarajiva commented, “it still damages your government.” ...

Immediately following the attacks on the Capitol, an open question was whether the members of Congress who had planned to contest Biden’s win would still do so when the Joint Session reconvened. The only Republican defections came from senators, not members of the House, noted William A. Galston, a senior fellow who holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program.

“Many members of the House come from districts where the grassroots support for Trump is particularly strong, particularly among those Republicans who are most likely to participate in party primaries,” Galston said. “So the most fervent and most participatory portion of the party is now squarely in Trump’s camp, and they can leverage their influence through the primary process and the fear that legislators have of being `primaried.’”


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Declining Democracies

#145

Post by AndyinPA »

I can see the call for bringing tp to justice, but I still think a well-placed cardiac event is the best answer.


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