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The Suffocation of Democracy | by Christopher R. Browning | The New York Review of Books
The fascist movements of that time prided themselves on being overtly antidemocratic, and those that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted that their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is that the construction of overtly antidemocratic dictatorships aspiring to totalitarianism is unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation of this new authoritarianism is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence and elections can be held in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another.

Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary, since a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging and the appointment of politically reliable loyalists. Crony capitalism opens the way to a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders. Xenophobic nationalism (and in many cases explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism) as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies.
USA  politics  history  1920s  1930s  fascism  TrumpDonald  nationalism  isolationism  protectionism  authoritarianism  Nazism  Hitler  polarisation  Weimar  democracy  McConnellMitch  KavanaughBrett  judiciary  Germany  Italy  totalitarianism  misinformation  control  funding  lobbying  tradeUnions  illiberalism 
october 2018 by petej
Terrifying Trump | by Elizabeth Drew | The New York Review of Books
In fact, Trump’s hold on power may be more tenuous than it appears. It’s not just that his hubristic dismissal of valid ethical concerns could produce a scandal at any time; he took office under the cloud of at least one investigation into possible underhanded if not illegal dealings with Russia on his part and continuing questions about the relations of some of his political associates with Putin or his associates. The ambiguity of Trump’s election victory complicates his presidency: having lost the popular vote by nearly three million, he started out as a minority president with a large mass of people feeling they’d been cheated and motivated to arise against him. This partly explains Trump’s fixation on the electoral vote and his and his associates’ insistence—incorrect—that he’d won an electoral vote “landslide.”

Trump’s possible mental deficiencies are also a troubling question: serious medical professionals suspect he has narcissistic personality disorder, and also oncoming dementia, judging from his limited vocabulary. (If one compares his earlier appearances on YouTube, for example a 1988 interview with Larry King, it appears that Trump used to speak more fluently and coherently than he does now, especially in some of his recent rambling presentations.) His perseverating about such matters as the size of his inauguration crowd, or the fantasy that three to five million illegal voters denied him a popular vote victory (he got these estimates from a dodgy source who has yet to offer documentation), or, as he told CIA employees, the number of times he’s been on the cover of Time (sometimes inflating the actual number) has become a joke, but it also suggests that there may be something troubling about his mental state. Numerous eminent psychologists and psychiatrists have written about or expressed their concerns about Trump’s mental stability.
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february 2017 by petej

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