Authoritarian Alert

20 Lessons from the 20th Century About How to Defend Democracy from Authoritarianism, According to Yale Historian Timothy Snyder…

 

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From Open Culture

Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale University, is one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. and Europe on the rise and fall of totalitarianism during the 1930s and 40s. Among his long list of appointments and publications, he has won multiple awards for his recent international bestsellers Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin and last year’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and WarningThat book in part makes the argument that Nazism wasn’t only a German nationalist movement but had global colonialist origins—in Russia, Africa, and in the U.S., the nation that pioneered so many methods of human extermination, racist dehumanization, and ideologically-justified land grabs.

The hyper-capitalism portrayed in the U.S.—even during the Depression—Snyder writes, fueled Hitler’s imagination, such that he promised Germans “a life comparable to that of the American people,” whose “racially pure and uncorrupted” German population he described as “world class.” Snyder describes Hitler’s ideology as a myth of racialist struggle in which “there are really no values in the world except for the stark reality that we are born in order to take things from other people.” Or as we often hear these days, that acting in accordance with this principle is the “smart” thing to do. Like many far right figures before and after, Hitler aimed to restore a state of nature that for him was a perpetual state of race war for imperial dominance.

After the November election, Snyder wrote a profile of Hitler, a short piece that made no direct comparisons to any contemporary figure. But reading the facts of the historical case alarmed most readers. A few days later, the historian appeared on a Slate podcast to discuss the article, saying that after he submitted it, “I realized there was more…. there are an awful lot of echoes.” Snyder admits that history doesn’t actually repeat itself. But we’re far too quick, he says, to dismiss that idea as a cliché “and not think about history at all. History shows a range of possibilities.” Similar events occur across time under similar kinds of conditions. And it is, of course, possible to learn from the past.

Authoritarianism: The political science that explains Trump…

 


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Christian Crock: The Chain of Pain…

 
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From Captain Cassidy

It’s more important than ever to peel away Christians’ undeserved authoritarian privilege and power, so we can maybe save the next generation a lot of grief…

Sometimes when I see some enraged, wildly-gesturing, belligerent Christian blustering about whatever’s bugging them right then, I suddenly get this mental image of that person as a young child. The picture I see in my mind reminds me that they weren’t always like they are now–and that I may be dealing with someone who is seriously damaged from stuff that happened to them long ago. If the reports from ex-Christians are anything to go by, this damage is far more common than Christian leaders would like to admit, and it seems to be getting worse as Christians rush to embrace even more punitive and restrictive childrearing philosophies.

Obviously one can’t generalize too much. Christianity’s too big a religion to consider monolithic in any way. But people tend to use the tactics on others that they suspect would work on themselves if they were in that other person’s shoes. Do you imagine that it’s some weird coincidence that it seems like Christians are getting more interested in controlling, shaming, and humiliating the people they’ve identified as their enemies? Does it seem like some weird fluke that the number of Christians acting in condescending, hateful, vengeful, and cruel ways seems to be on the rise?

It might not be a fluke or coincidence, or some trick of our own perceptions, but rather an actual trend that’s happening to a religion whose right-wing fringes have gotten considerably more polarizedpoliticized, and extremist over the years.

As the religion becomes more and more extremist and polarized, we’ll be seeing more and more people damaged by it. Christianity’s leaders have managed to put into place one of the cruelest and most heartless deceptions imaginable, and those adherents’ young people are the ones paying the price.

Down the Rabbit Hole.

Pat Boone Wants To Nail Blasphemers To The Cross…

 

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From PoliticusUSA

Boone says “there should be regulations that prohibit blasphemy” because SNL made fun of Christians pretending to be persecuted. Fuck you, Pat… and the white bucks you rode in on…]

Pat Boone, citing a “vitriol” against believers like himself, told Alan Colmes Thursday that “there should be regulations that prohibit blasphemy” after Saturday Night Live, in a movie parody poked fun at Christianity’s persecution complex – you know, because it’s genuinely funny that the world’s largest religion thinks it’s being persecuted.

“Vitriol,” of course, used in the conservative sense, is a code word for people who don’t think a few people like Boone ought to tell us what we can and cannot do or say. For Boone and Colmes, it is absolutely not vitriol to condemn people who chose not to abide by their rules. An example of this is Boone telling Glenn Beck that the SNL crew are going to hell for their movie parody.

Asked by Colmes if he would “regulate restrictions” on what was said, Boone first said no before saying yes, so when Colmes asked Boone,

“Would you “like the FCC to declare that a show like Saturday Night Live or any other show can’t do that kind of humor?” Boone answered, “You cannot do blasphemy, yes.”

Really? Keep in mind, you can’t blaspheme Boone’s god, but you can blaspheme other gods. Say, Allah, for example. Because Pat Boone’s Bible.

In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote that on the contrary, it is the Bible that is “a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy.”

What Will a Trump Presidency Look Like? The Rise of the Nazis Is a Pretty Good Guide…

 

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From Thom Hartmann
Alternet

Milton Mayer’s book presents an upsettingly familiar formula to fascism and explains how It could happen here, too. 
Editor’s Note: This essay is adapted from Thom Hartmann’s review of They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer.

After watching the rise of Donald Trump and the inevitable protests against his hateful rhetoric, many of us can’t help but recall the warnings we’ve read and heard from those who knew from personal experience what such an authoritarian could do to a great nation.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-’45 is an intensely personal book for me. Although I was born after Hitler was five years dead, the horrible dance between fascism and democracy has fascinated me since childhood. Through a series of odd coincidences, my adult life has been heavily intertwined with those of both Hitler’s Nazis and their victims.

I’ve had several close friends who lost family members in the Holocaust. I’ve spent a lot of time in Israel, sobbed at Yad Vashem, and my wife Louise and I played a role when two of our closest friends, Hal and Shelley Cohen, started Orr Shalom, which is now one of the largest Jewish (and non-Jewish) programs for abused children in Israel. Before I learned English I was speaking Yiddish, learned from our Holocaust-survivor neighbors in Detroit who cared for me when my parents worked, and today I can recite Hebrew prayers and speak German with accents and inflections more characteristic of a first than a second language.

On the other side of the coin, I think back to the days I spent with an old and dear friend, Armin Lehmann, who is no longer alive to witness the rise of Donald Trump and speak out. At the age of 16, Armin was the Hitler Youth courier who handed to Adolf Hitler the papers that caused Hitler to commit suicide two days later. Armin was there when the suicide happened. He was there when Joseph and Magda Goebbels poisoned their six children and then committed suicide. He watched it all. If you see the movie Downfall, you’ll see a teenage actor depicting my friend Armin.

Christian Crock: Why Are Evangelical Christians Supporting Donald Trump?

 

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From Hemant Mehta

In a political season that’s defied every expectation, one of the questions I still can’t quite wrap my head around is why evangelicals — who for so long have pushed the conservative line on social issues — are supporting someone like Donald Trump. Trump doesn’t have an anti-gay background (though he’s playing the part now), he praises Planned Parenthood (while condemning abortions), he says he doesn’t ask for forgiveness, he clearly doesn’t know the Bible, etc.

But evangelicals like the guy in significant numbers. 34% of them supported Trump in South Carolina, 28% felt the same in New Hampshire, and 22% agreed in Iowa.

What’s going on here?

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem…

 

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From Alternet

We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially “cure” anti-authoritarians.

In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.

Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.

Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.

Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness

Life Under Islam…

 

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Trump and his Supporters — Authoritarians…

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From Politico

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.