SOCIAL CRITICISM REVIEW

SELECTED READINGS

SPECIAL: FASCISM IN AMERICA (2017-)

"These are the times that try men's souls" - Thomas Paine

This is how fascism comes to America

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion." - Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism

A totalitarian movement thrives on the denial and destruction of reality, offering alienated and rootless people a coherent and empowering counter-narrative, a false reality actualized through thoughtlessness, lies, disruption, dehumanization, lawlessness, propaganda, violence, terror, domination, and radical evil. Hence the importance of safeguarding democracy with a free press, good education, critical thinking, and participatory self-government. – "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist." - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

"The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them." - Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Donald Trump - Schoolyard bully, archetypal psychopath, malignant narcissist, ruthless machiavellian, pathological liar, amoral charlatan, antisocial ratcatcher, racist hatemonger, apocalyptic arsonist, unbridled demagogue, mob boss, would-be tyrant, attack dog, crass misogynist, sexual predator, violent, cruel and sadistic, impulsive and reckless, a scared child, driven by instant gratification, unhinged from reality, obviously demented, morally bankrupt. An authoritarian megalomaniac - paranoid and vindictive - with his personality flaws aggravated by power. Mentally unfit for the presidency. – But the real illness is a society that is in denial

Every sane person would agree that a child should not have access to an assault weapon. Nor anyone with mental health issues. So isn't it utterly irresponsible to give this mad and bad child-president sole authority over the launch of America's nuclear arsenal?

"Real power is... fear." - Donald Trump (In Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House)

Free speech and a free press – president Trump attacks the free press as "the enemy of the people" to discredit and intimidate his critics

George Orwell's 1984

Facts, lies and bullying

The know-nothing flip-flop president

"Make America great again" is used as dog-whistle politics: a big tent salesman trick to trigger nostalgia among the general population, with a built-in coded message for racists of fear, rancor, scapegoating, intolerance, divisiveness, inequality, exclusion, dominance, authoritarianism, ruthlessness, violence, destruction, and undoing civil rights Trump as the ultimate con artist essentially suggests "I am the American Dream", making the megalomanic prophecy "I am the only one who can make America truly great again"

A pawn in Russia's hybrid warfare – to disinform, to divide society, to undermine democracy, and thus to destabilize the US, the EU, NATO, and the UN

"Might makes right" versus international law, human rights, and constitutional government

How corporate America bought our democracy After campaigning against the evil bankers, Donald Trump puts Goldman Sachs in control

Impeachment Led astray by the moral void of its president, America faces a moral crisis as a country and as a people

Donald Trump acts like a child. He is mentally unfit for the presidency. His White House is utterly dysfunctional. The president brings nothing but chaos, divisiveness, corruption, and a culture of abuse. He is deranged, amoral, a pathological liar, and a danger to the republic

The president of the United States as a mob boss: "The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth." - James Comey, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership

"A president beholden to Russia had been installed in the Oval Office: the most successful foreign espionage attempt against the United States in the nation's history [...] And from beginning to end, the president's political party rallied to protect him - and itself - from investigation, exposure, and consequences." - David Frum, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic

An age of global confrontation

"Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book." - Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny


War on terrorism

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