When Donald Trump won the election, Polish activist Martin Mycielski freaked out a little. Mycielski is a member of the Committee for Defense of Democracy, an organization that’s currently committed to opposing (or at least slowing down) the Neo-Authoritarian Law and Justice Party that has recently taken power in Poland. After the US election Mycielski believed he saw the same situation happening here in the United States. In an effort to save his American counterparts the confusion he and his friends went through as they watched Poland regress, Mycielski wrote a guide called Year 1 Under Authoritarianism, What to Expect? The guide started as a PDF, but eventually grew into the website LearnFromEurope.org.
The entire site is a great read, but what stood out to me was Continue reading “Consider the Flag”
I’ve been struggling to come up with a way to visualize how the media works in a neo-authoritarian government. One expects the authoritarian to have complete control or almost complete control over the press; active suppression of dissent. Turns out you don’t need to do that at all. If you feed people lies consistently enough, many won’t believe them, but many will, and many more will turn away from any media, which allows the authoritarian to do what they’d like.
Below is a working infographic representing the phenomenon:
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The next version will include pinpointed attributions, but for anyone wishing to know more about the modern method of misinformation, read or watch the below:
A message to my doomed colleagues in the American media
When the Truth Falls Apart
The Purge is a 2013 horror film that explores the idea of an America where all crime is legal for one night a year. Part of the appeal of the films are how they explore the effects such a festival would have on culture and economics. A central theme is that there are positive outcomes of the Purge: there is almost no crime Continue reading “The Hidden Assumption Behind The Purge”
Up until the election of Donald Trump, it was easy for America to tell itself that it was special, that it would never really suffer the crises of liberal government that threaten the rest of the world. But now it seems that we’re just as susceptible to authoritarianism as the rest of the world. Or are we? Continue reading “Exceptional After All”
After perfectly unambiguous campaign promises about bringing back “a hell of a lot more than waterboarding,” we see a leaked draft executive order bringing back enhanced interrogation techniques and re-opening black sites. Since then, Press Secretary Spicer has since disavowed the document, but given that the Trump Administration has already made progress on the other centerpiece parts of it’s platform like the Muslim ban and the Mexico Wall, and given Trump’s praise of the practice to David Muir, I think it’s reasonable not to assume the issue of torture is going away. So, let’s give it a go one more time: Continue reading “How Torture Really Works, and What It Really Is”
Since Trump’s win on November 6th, I’ve seen a lot of stories casting Trump as an authoritarian, an autocrat, a fascist. Most of what’s been written is intended for an audience that’s accepted the premise: what to do, how to take action. Those of us who think this way remind each other to fight normalization with the phrase, ‘This is not normal.’ I can only imagine how that must sound to someone who doesn’t buy in. ‘This is not normal’ makes sense to me, but isn’t terribly specific. So, what exactly do we mean when we say it? Given that quite a lot of people consider what’s taking place as perfectly normal, it’s a question worth answering. I had trouble answering it. As such, I can’t find a lot of fault with people who aren’t on board.
But if I had to choose one thing, it would be the press conference of the President Elect on the 11th of January. This was my major not normal moment, and it came fairly late in the game. Prior to this, I was unhappy with the results, but generally resigned to endure it. After this, I was truly worried. So, to you, my hypothetical citizen who thinks that they are watching a perfectly normal presidency unfold, I say the following: Continue reading “What We Mean When We Say Not Normal”
We’ve all seen or heard about Meryl Streep’s speech at the golden globes:
In it, she criticizes Trump for mocking a disabled reporter in late 2015. Afterward, we got the usual accusations of Streep being an ‘out of touch hollywood liberal’ along with responses that Trump never actually mocked anyone. More interesting is the response from PJ Media (and who knows how many other conservative outlets). They chose to bring up President Obama’s comments comparing his own inadequate bowling skills to that of special olympians during a late night talk show in 2009. This was to expose “liberals” as “having an immense double standard.” Why is this important? It isn’t, other than to demonstrate a common pattern.
Here’s what it looks like: Continue reading “The Captain’s Maneuver”