I am reading an article by a Russian-American journalist, who lived under Putin, titled "Autocracy: Rules for Survival
". It describes why neither we, nor our institutions, should be acting as if this this normal, as many civil servants and institutions have been doing this week. And then gives six rules for surviving an autocracy, and then expanded on/gave explanations for said rules.
I will share a bit of each of the rules, go the link above for the full article.
Rule #1: 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.
We have certainly seen lots of this. I think this human tendency could apply to many subjects.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week... Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm.
Life has boring moments, it will not be four years of sheer terror, but don't let that make you complacent.
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. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.
Of course, the United States has much stronger institutions… Both Clinton and Obama in their speeches stressed the importance and strength of these institutions. The problem, however, is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them—including the ones enshrined in law—depend on the good faith of all actors to fulfill their purpose and uphold the Constitution.
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.
Trump wanted to drain the swamp so he could flood it with raw sewage, as is evidenced by his inner circle and the talk regarding cabinet picks as well as other posts.
Rule #4: Be outraged. If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.
We are adaptable creatures and will become accustom to new norms. We have already seen this campaign normalized increasingly outrageous things. Ensuring that we don't become numb to these things, and maintaining the capacity for outrage, is going to be hard work….
Rule #5: Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz... Republican politicians have fallen into line. Conservative pundits who broke ranks... will return to the fold. Democrats in Congress will begin to make the case for cooperation, for the sake of getting anything done—or at least, they will say, minimizing the damage. Nongovernmental organizations, many of which are reeling... will grasp at chances to work with the new administration. This will be fruitless—damage cannot be minimized, much less reversed, when mobilization is the goal—but worse, it will be soul-destroying. In an autocracy, politics as the art of the possible is in fact utterly amoral.
And people will be called out on it when they do, and those in power will try to silence people by ignoring them, talking over them, talking down to them, insulting them, destroying reputations, and ruining people's livelihoods. Until they have position themselves enough to have the power to do worse.
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. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election.
Edited by sierraleone, 12 November 2016 - 03:05 PM.