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“Autocracy: Rules for Survival” Essential reading for everyone in Trump’s America

Maximum Leader Trump
Maximum Leader Trump

If there’s a part of you that still holds out hope that, for all his autocratic tendencies, Donald Trump will revert to a sort of political normality as president, you need to read Masha Gessen’s chilling but essential article “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” in The New York Review of Books.

Gessen, a journalist who has devoted much of her career to making sense of Russia under Vladimir Putin, offers a number of hard-won lessons for surviving in the autocracy that we may soon find ourselves living in here in the US.

The first and in some ways most important lesson for those still holding out hope for a more-or-less normal presidency:

Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. 

I think we’re going to have to suspend Godwin’s Law for the length of Trump’s presidency; the comparisons are simply too apt.

He has received the support he needed to win, and the adulation he craves, precisely because of his outrageous threats. Trump rally crowds have chanted “Lock her up!” They, and he, meant every word. … Trump has made his plans clear, and he has made a compact with his voters to carry them out. These plans include not only dismantling legislation such as Obamacare but also doing away with judicial restraint—and, yes, punishing opponents.

Gessen’s other rules:

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. …

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. …

Rule #4: Be outraged. …  [I]n the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. …

Rule #5: Don’t make compromises.

The final rule offers up a little bit of hope:

Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. 

Gessen ends her piece with a call for “resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged.” Thousands of Americans are already taking to the streets in cities across the country to let the world know that Trump — who after all lost the popular vote — is not their president. He’s not mine either. We need to join those in the streets — literally, figuratively, or both — to make clear we don’t want, and won’t stand for, Putinism in the United States.

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Dan Kasteray
Dan Kasteray
4 years ago

I’ve got to get something off my chest.

Trigger warnings for graphic imagery and violence.

___________________________________________________________________

[inappropriate stuff deleted by DF]

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mostly triggering stuff is over.

As a kid I was raised on stories from my mother about life in a dicatatorship, people dissapearing in the night, secret police and utter terror.

From my grandfather I got stories of him being eight years old and living in Nazi occupies Greece.

When I read these posts about these alt-right fuckboys I get the desire to do something that would land me multiple life sentences.

I read stories about an asexual friend on facebook about how she’s afraid of corrective rape by Trump fans and I feel like tearing out someone’s throat with my own teeth.

I really don’t have much to fear from Trump fans compared to others. Hell, I’m a Canadian, but I had foaming at the mouth rabid hatred of Stephen Harper, another UR-fascist, and I’m thinking dark, dark thoughts about President Trump.

Since the election I’ve been consumed by violent thoughts and I have no idea what to do because I’m not even an American citizen.

It’s shameful and probably wrong but I’m so angry on behalf of all the people that Trump and his toadies could hurt. I’m so angry I can’t even see my screen without the edges going black.

I’m sorry if I’m being an asshole or if I trigger people or if I’m being a dick or not taking the high road.

I’m sorry.

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

@Vicky P

http://pinkie.mylittlefacewhen.com/media/f/img/mlfw5366-tumblr_m5hi2vxj011rs7yllo1_1280.jpg

The fact that you’re recovering from your stroke and still find the energy to want to protest is more than enough. Just doing that alone is an incredible contribution. Don’t sell yourself short.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
4 years ago

Thank you, Scildfreja.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ rammerjammer

It’s part of a BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary with the snappy title “Paxman on Trump vs Clinton: America Divided”

BBC Licence Fee payers would no doubt be rightly annoyed if such a documentary appeared on one of those video sites, like YouTube for instance.

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

@authorial alchemy

I learned that people said Hitler would settle the fuck down when he gets into office. He did not.

Hmm. You make a good point.

In my experience with abusive people, they might resort to extreme language and behavior in what looks like an attempt to win one concession in particular.

But once they’ve won that concession, they don’t stop. Why would they — it’s a winning tactic! And they’re abusers. Winning is what it’s all about, no matter the cost to others, who are seen as irrelevant.

Ooglyboggles
4 years ago

@Victorious Parasol
You’re still here and still kicking, that counts as a win in my book.
@Dan Kasteray
It’s very understandable why you’re angry. I hope your friend stays safe in these hellish times.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

Totally gnarly bowmanship, dude! *air guitar*

comment image

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

@Dan Kasteray,

You can’t change what you’re thinking. You can try to guide your thoughts, but the thoughts themselves just sort of happen. So, don’t feel guilty for them.

This said: You’re responsible for guiding them in a way that makes you a better person. I approve of self defense, and a line in the sand has to be drawn with fascists, but going right to violence first-thing is wrong – it’s what they do.

(Violence is not only the provision of the right, though.)

Guide your thoughts to be the person you want to be. Learn to express your anger in other ways. Your habits of thought are made through repetition. Stop repeating the things you don’t like about yourself. Start repeating the things you want to become instead. Move than anger and energy into positive action instead. You said you’re Canadian – check in on your local politics and see whether the alt-right noise is starting to penetrate around you. It’s happening here in Alberta. Reach out to the good voices around you and make sure your local politics can be an example of the successfulness of kindness and compassion, and a defeat of the alt-right.

You’ll beat it, don’t worry. Just don’t panic, don’t rush, don’t guilt yourself. It’ll turn out fine.

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

@Victorious Parasol

I’m going to echo Alan and say that you need to focus on yourself now. If you can send an email or sign a petition, do it. But don’t do anything you’re not up to.

Your body doesn’t lie. Healing is your priority.

rammerjammer
rammerjammer
4 years ago

@sunnysombrera

Thanks for your responses. Living in Alabama, I’m surrounded by people who would support Farage, assuming they know what UKIP is. Although my area is somewhat blue due to being at a large university, most of our state government is made up of people who would support a lot of what he says. One of our senators just got re-elected for a 6th term, and his entire campaign such that it was was based on continuing to fight Obama (even though he is not going to be in office). The other (Sessions) is now in discussion for Secretary of Defense should the electoral college confirm Trump. Even the people who voted for Sessions don’t seem to think highly of him as a senator or as a potential secretary of defense, but unfortunately, people tend to vote for whoever has the R by their name, and we have straight ticket balloting here, so that makes it easier to not have to think about who you’re voting for. The only thing out of this entire last week that I’ve been happy about is the map of the millenial vote that I saw posted somewhere, where the entire US even the Deep South was either blue or light blue.

Dan Kasteray
Dan Kasteray
4 years ago

@Scildfreja

Thank you, I’m a former Alberta boy so I know all too well what’s going on there. I live in BC right now.

Still, the advice is solid and thank you for the reality check.

rammerjammer
rammerjammer
4 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

Thanks. I found it (both on BBC’s website and on youtube). It’s probably a bad sign that searching for Paxman and Farage pulled up a bunch of youtube videos favorable to Farage, and I needed the exact title to pull up the BBC documentary.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@Dan
I very, sincerely hope that none of the advice you’ve given on the optimal ways to commit homicide has been unsolicited. Cos holy shit…

Also, listen to @Scildfreja

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/13/donald-trump-vows-to-immediately-deport-3million-illegal-immigra/

The President-elect hinted that he is prepared to water down his plans to build a “beautiful” giant wall on the border with Mexico, admitting that it may in fact be part wall and part fence.

However he made clear that he plans to push ahead with the deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal records, claiming that there are between 2 and 3million in the US.

He said:“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”

sigh

He’s going to build a border wall, concentration camps and a deportation force. Just like he said. Quelle suprise.

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

Comments policy:

No threats or violent comments. That includes telling someone to “die in a fire” or remarking that so-and-so would probably be better off dead. This rule is in effect even when you are talking about vile misogynistic shitbags.

Herbert West and Dan Kasteray, I’m looking at you.

I understand your concerns. But David has strict rules.

I would email David but I can’t find his email. Where are those photos of the furry mods when you need them!

Can someone email David?

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

well, then, git’er done, @Dan! If you ever want to talk about it, just post here. There’s friendly ears here. (Though, yeah, don’t need the graphic descriptions as much :p )

More fun:

comment image

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Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

@Skiriki

I’m not surprised. I’m pissed as fuck but not surprised.

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

@Scildfreja
Thanks for the graphic — very helpful! As I recall, Obama was able to motivate nonvoters to vote for him.

That’s what we need to do every time!

And the cartoon is all too true.

Ooglyboggles
4 years ago

@Scildfreja Unnýðnes
@Skiriki
The Nazis have truly taken over. What else is there to say? There is no hope other than the chances that maybe, just maybe, enough electors instead put Hillary in Office before it is too late. The people who fought all those years ago are going to die in vain.

Skiriki
Skiriki
4 years ago

I’m utterly sick in my stomach. I can only hope that a miracle occurs.

Alien invasions, the final trumpet sounding, Ragnarök, Lilith’s moon rises and everyone loses their AT fields and burst into LCL, electoral college goes FUCK NO, WE CANNOT CAST VOTES FOR A LITERAL NAZI, Yellowstone goes ELE, a gamma ray burst…

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

@Ooglyboggles, they may have taken over, but it’s not hopeless. It ain’t over yet – even if the electors don’t give the vote to Hillary. The future doesn’t belong to them, it’s ours.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

The people who fought all those years ago are going to die in vain.

We will continue to fight for them. We will not go quietly.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

@Skiriki

If the world’s gonna end, I hope it involves alien invasion. That’s the only thing I’d regret, not seeing aliens before I die.

Just seeing.

rammerjammer
rammerjammer
4 years ago

@Scildfreja Unnýðnes

It looks like the electoral college doesn’t vote until Dec. 19 and the Trump U. trial is Nov. 28. I keep hoping that that has some impact on the electors.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

It looks like the electoral college doesn’t vote until Dec. 19 and the Trump U. trial is Nov. 28. I keep hoping that that has some impact on the electors.

As long as Pince doesn’t have a chance, tbh. Can the VP take over for the president if the president isn’t even president yet?

Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
4 years ago

What’s the reason for the electors’ delay?

Her Grace Phryne: Tool of the Butt-Worshipping, Lesbian-Powered Elite (also cats)
Her Grace Phryne: Tool of the Butt-Worshipping, Lesbian-Powered Elite (also cats)
4 years ago

An excellent article that might be helpful: https://captainawkward.com/2016/11/12/917-how-to-set-boundaries-with-people-who-think-boundaries-and-hurt-are-manipulative-aka-help-implementing-boundary-advice/

You can’t legislate people’s hearts, but you can hack away the culture that normalizes their behavior one plate of mashed potatoes and awkward conversation at a time. The world needs you to be awkward and make it weird.

(bolding mine)

So there’s another approach, or maybe just new ways to implement the same approach. Don’t underestimate how powerful an awkward silence can be.

Ooglyboggles
4 years ago

@ Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
They’re eyeing the popular opinion, and it’s within the US rules to vote in a president at a later date. The remaining electors aren’t bound by law to be permanently locked with x party.

sunnysombrera
sunnysombrera
4 years ago

Living in Alabama, I’m surrounded by people who would support Farage, assuming they know what UKIP is. Although my area is somewhat blue due to being at a large university, most of our state government is made up of people who would support a lot of what he says.

Wow, really? Because he (and his fellow UKIP politicians) have come out with some pretty awful stuff.

The only thing out of this entire last week that I’ve been happy about is the map of the millenial vote that I saw posted somewhere, where the entire US even the Deep South was either blue or light blue.

I’m so so sorry to burst your bubble but I feel you should know the truth. That map was only a pre-election projection based on polls. It’s not actually accurate. I’m sorry.

ramen
ramen
4 years ago

In case it hasn’t been mentioned, change.org is petitioning the Electoral College to give the election to Clinton.

Apparently—ironically—this is not unconstitutional, since the Constitution says the EC can do whatever it wants. Some states “bind” their electors, but usually that’s a matter of paying a fine. So they could cause this undemocratic institution to give an actually democratic result.

I don’t want to hope that it will actually happen, but I couldn’t not sign the petition.

Re: Lars Anderson, his vid is pretty neat, but there are some pretty neat debunkings as well.

Skiriki
Skiriki
4 years ago

@Handsome “Punkle Stan” Jack

Aliens would be very cool, yes… for the brief moment it would last.

Just how bad is this thing then?

You have both Ben Shapiro and Shaun King agreeing that this is bad.

Fabe
Fabe
4 years ago

I’m utterly sick in my stomach. I can only hope that a miracle occurs.

Alien invasions, the final trumpet sounding, Ragnarök, Lilith’s moon rises and everyone loses their AT fields and burst into LCL, electoral college goes FUCK NO, WE CANNOT CAST VOTES FOR A LITERAL NAZI, Yellowstone goes ELE, a gamma ray burst…

If third impact was to happen Rei/Lilith would probably appear to Trump as Trump.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy

What’s the reason for the electors’ delay?

Oogly already addressed this, but I wanted to add that this isn’t a delay. The Electoral College always votes in December. This is the first time that I can recall, however, when there’s been serious questioning of whether faithless electors might change the outcome. Normally the media doesn’t discuss the process past election night, so we don’t normally hear about the actual Electoral College results because we’ve usually moved on by then.

Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
4 years ago

@sunnysombrera:

Even the more up-to-date map is very heartening. I’m confused about what the cyan states mean.

All states went blue or cyan except Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Dakota, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. (Eleven states out of fifty, only five of which were solidly red.) Even historically backward states like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Utah, and Idaho are blue or cyan. It shows Clinton beating Trump 473 to 32. So it’s still a landslide.

Skiriki
Skiriki
4 years ago

@Fabe

I was sort of hoping Rei/Lilith rejects, EVA-01 consumes…

Then again, I was also tooling around ICP/EVA crossover idea, where it becomes Juggalo Instrumentality and people dissolve into Faygo.

(I was sort of drunk at that point.)

Dalillama
Dalillama
4 years ago

@Laugher At Bigots

What’s the reason for the electors’ delay?

Horses. The U.S. electoral process has been only marginally updated over the last couple centuries, and was created in a time when it took weeks on horseback to get anyplace.

Fabe
Fabe
4 years ago

I was sort of hoping Rei/Lilith rejects, EVA-01 consumes

Ohh I like that idea

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

@sunnysombrera, the incorrect map is based on pre-election polling data, yes. But the map of the actual results isn’t far off from it. Also, the specific point still stands – when it comes to young voters, most of the south is still deep blue. There’s a grey midwestern streak, but fewer deep red states.The details are wrong but the overall results are the same – young people are overwhelmingly against Trump.

@Laugher-at-Bigots, you beat me to it

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

Re: Lars Anderson, his vid is pretty neat, but there are some pretty neat debunkings as well.

Ah. Well. Probably should have watch that Lars vid with the sound on then.

EDIT: It’s cooler with Starboy instead of the talking.

rammerjammer
rammerjammer
4 years ago

@sunnysombrera

Yep. Our political leaders may not say it exactly that way (more coded to avoid sounding like what it really is), but when I read the comment stream attached articles on our local online news source al.com, there is a lot of that in the comments. Alabama has a long history of oppressing racial minorities and LGBT. If you ever have time, google Roy Moore Alabama State Supreme court chief justice. His case pretty much represents what is wrong with Alabama politics. He got booted out in the early 2000s due to refusing to remove a statue of the 10 commandments from the state courthouse (violation of church and state). He then went to work for a right-wing organization (Foundation for Moral Law) that fights against gay marriage. He was, unfortunately, re-elected again to the state supreme court as chief justice a few years ago, and he is now suspended for trying to defy the supreme court ruling on gay marriage. He is currently a front-runner for our next governor. Needless to say, I plan to vote against him should he run. It’s unfortunate that the map was created before the actual election, but people are moving to parts of the South for more liberal areas (it’s how my family got to Georgia), and we don’t abandon our beliefs just because we changed location, so hopefully, if I (and others like me) keep voting, eventually Alabama will move at least more to the center.

Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

Also, like, that video has a lot of down votes considering. I might subscribe to the channel out of spite.

sunnysombrera
sunnysombrera
4 years ago

Scildfreja, laugher-at-bigots:

Yay! I didn’t know there was an updated version. Thanks for telling me! The future IS bright.

Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
Laugher at Bigots, Mincing Betaboy
4 years ago

Thus the problem of social justice is reduced to ensuring that we have a future and aren’t boiled, asphyxiated, or nuked out of it.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago
Handsome "Punkle Stan" Jack

@Alan

Accurate. And such eloquence.

rammerjammer
rammerjammer
4 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

That’s how I’ve felt since last Tuesday, and it only has gotten worse when I see how his cabinet is shaping up.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Alan
Very thought provoking.

Belladonna
Belladonna
4 years ago

Mammotheers, I’d like to apologize in advance for going off topic and for some extreme anger. I hope you will forgive my venting.

So here it is. Is anyone besides me nearly as sick of Bernie supporters who are gleefully and smugly crowing “I told you so” as they are of the Trump supporters?

I mean, first of all, they can’t tell me what “would have happened” based on months-old fucking polls. The day before the election, the polls were saying Hillary would probably win. Fuck pretending you can ever know what would have happened.

Here’s what did happen. Donald fucking Trump became the next president of the United States. And what does all their smug, gleeful shouting say to me? It says to me that they are fucking happy about it. All the suffering of minorities and women that may happen under a Trump administration? Totally worth it. The dangers to the Bill of Rights under his administration? Totally worth it. The setback to taking care of our planet? Totally worth it. Why? Because they fucking get to say “I told you so”?

Well fuck them. I’ve been unaffiliated my entire life. I, like 42% of registered voters, am mostly denied from participating in the full election process because I can’t fully stomach the entirety of any party’s platform. But I would have been okay with Bernie as president. I would have been okay with Hillary as president. I am decidedly and spectacularly fucking unhappy with Trump as president.

I am imagining their “I told you sos” being printed on each square of my toilet paper, so that I can figuratively express what I think of them.

Especially the ones who didn’t vote or voted for Jill Stein or wrote in Bernie. If they felt the media was reassuring them of a Clinton victory so they could afford to “vote their conscience,” I do get that. But if they truly felt Clinton was a worse option than Trump or if they helped Trump win by not voting for Hillary and are now just crowing “I told you so” they can go sit in the racist, misogynistic closet with the Trump supporters. That kind of Bernie supporter is complicit in helping Trump win and if they’re saying I told you so now instead of expressing horror over the results, they’re equally complicit in saying all the shit that vulnerable people in society are going to experience is okay or just what we deserve or whatever.

*sigh* Done ranting. Sorry again.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Belladonna
I’m right there with you. I’ve been calling them Bernie Gloaters.