I have lived in a one-party state for 6 years, in a dictatorship for several months, and been caught in two coups-d’etat. However, one of the worst things I lived through was the time, in the UK in 1971-1973, when one extreme in the political spectrum attempted to make the country ungovernable by their democratically-elected opponents. Everything I loved about land of my birth was under attack, not be a foreign power, but by irreconcilable views about how society should be run and for whose benefit. There were brown-outs, transport shut-downs, shortages, and actual fighting between different groups of workers and between workers and managers. In the UK case the conflict was between the far-Left leaders of several major trade unions and the Government: the unions had genuine economic complaints but they used the strike weapon to bludgeon the government and the public into submission, until they were finally defeated by the landslide election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
Today, in America and around the world, it is the right wing that is in the ascendancy, and using every means at its disposal to achieve absolute power, or as close as it can manage to it.
The rallying cry of the potential dictator is always “Make country VVVia great again!” “Get rid of XXX so that VVVia can be great again”, where XXX is Jews, or Communists, or Armenians, or the Bourgeoisie, or Watutsi, or immigrants. They usually “wrap themselves in the flag”, and rail against “corrupt politicians”, or “the YYY elite”, or the “ZZZ-tards” who are “traitors to everything the country stands for.” Would-be dictators and their followers invent and believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories: everything bad happening to the country is the fault of a “vast Zionist conspiracy which controls the world”, or an “insidious Communist conspiracy which has spies at the heart of our Government,” or an “Imperialist conspiracy that is trying to destroy our country.” In fact, it is almost always the group of fanatics surrounding the would-be dictator who are engaged in conspiracy – they project their own evil thoughts onto their enemies. It was the Nazis who burned down the Reichstag! Dictators in the making encourage crowds at their rallies to act violently against opponents, real and imagined; wannabe dictators are forever calling for their opponents to be jailed, or worse; expectant autocrats always claim that elections are rigged against them, and that they will not accept the results; they try to intimidate judges who stand up to them; they know that “if you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth.” Above all, they try, with their allies, to make democracy unworkable, because then they can claim that they are “the only ones who can solve the country’s problems.”
We have seen this all before, in Germany in the 1930s, in Italy at the same time, in Russia in 1917, in Spain in the late 1930s, in Portugal, in Egypt in 1953, in Libya, in Hungary (in the 1930s and the 2010s), in Turkey in 1921 and in 2016, in Argentina, in Chile: the parade each time has the same floats, the platform the same planks.
The grounds for the present threat in the United States were laid long ago, in the writings of Ayn Rand and her worship of the megalomaniac hero, in the crack-pot theories of the Austrian School of economists, which led to trickle-down economics and unwillingness to pay taxes, any taxes. The cannon-fodder of the right wing army were baptized by so-called religious leaders who refused to allow the teaching of real science in grade schools: the troops were confirmed by the same unholy ministers, who put the rights of fetuses unconditionally before the rights of real live mothers and their real live families, a position that had not been taken by any major religion, because it was not until the advent of modern science that society had any idea of the early stages of fetal development. These pharisees labeled any sexuality but their own a sin.
Opponents were banished from the field of combat by state politicians like Tom DeLay, who disenfranchised me personally, and perhaps a million other Texans, through extreme gerrymandering. They were also kept from voting by the vast expansion of gaol and prison populations as a result of the “Law and Order” movement: the fasces in ancient Rome were the symbols of legal authority, so the law and order movement is literally fascistic. Further superiority of right-wing forces has been ensured by the Congressmen and Senators who have delayed or denied confirmation of the judicial and executive branch appointments made by Democratic presidents, and even now are determined to resist the will of the people by refusing to confirm Supreme Court justices. The intransigent, hatred-filled rhetoric and the frightening actions of all of these groups has already silenced many of us who don’t share their views. Finally, the gun lobby has intimidated almost all political opposition with its insistent claim that “the 2nd Amendment gives us a right to bear arms exactly because we will one day need to rise up against the Federal Government.”
Fellow citizens: if Mrs. Clinton wins the election, especially if her margin is narrow, that day of revolution will be Nov. 9th, 2016. The small group of Nevadan cranks who occupied Federal land in Oregon will soon, if Mr. Trump and his cronies carry on with their present rhetoric, become a vast army of heavily-armed and angry under-achievers who have refused to accept the loss of the election and have begun to drool at the thought of killing government officials and shooting minorities they don’t like. Unfortunately, many of these people will also be members of our heavily armed police forces and security services.
Tea-partiers and Trumpites: what will you do when the United States has lost ten or twenty million people to Canada, Australia and even Mexico; when it is Americans by the thousands dying of thirst in the Mexican desert in an attempt to escape oppression and poverty in the USA? Will you still be screaming about paying taxes when the infrastructure of this country becomes unusable because money for maintenance hasn’t been available for a couple of decades? Will you still think America is the greatest country in the world when the Constitution has been a dead letter for 20 years, and anyone who even mentions its existence mysteriously disappears? When every company and person with money has left for somewhere safer and still under the rule of law? When you are in grinding poverty and it is Canada with the huge military and population and economy that is treating you with disdain, the way you have always treated it – retaliating against any American industry that becomes successful there, and demanding that you make land available for early warning systems in Florida, Louisiana and Texas?
A free country, much less a democracy, cannot continue to exist when a major part of the population tries to permanently deny the right of the rest of the population to partake in government; when one party shuts down the government rather than see the other party’s ideas tried; when any type of minority is persecuted. It is time to calm down the rhetoric, to stop using sexual epithets to describe political opponents, to stop threatening to send armed supporters to “watch” the polls, to stop trying to deny poor, the sick and the maimed the vote, to refer to one’s opponents as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and not “crooked-X” and “Liar-y”: otherwise we are eventually doomed.
Unfortunately I will not be able to join the flood of refugees leaving President Trump’s United States: I have family who need me here and cannot leave. But I will stand and fight: not with weapons, but by refusing to accept evil and injustice, and refusing to do what I am told if it is not compatible with the ideals of a free society.