Not all stories have a happy ending.
The other day, Michelle Obama stated that things could get “much worse.” I have been saying for months now that most Americans either don’t know what “much worse” means or that they cannot imagine it happening here.
I want to share some stories about a few of the authoritarian regimes who have marred our earth and information about what to do.
First let me say, our nation is at imminent risk of it happening here. Additionally, with other vicious authoritarian regimes (either from right or left, the POINT is the theft of assets from the people and power/control, it matters not which “story” they tell) a period of chaos followed by a sudden seizure of power is the modus operandi.
Secondly, because the U.S. is insular most Americans have not traveled abroad and do not understand the pain and toll these periodic rises of authoritarians have caused to nations around the world. They have not seen the wounds on the earth, the buildings or the people’s hearts. This is a problem.
The wounds of these authoritarians often persist for decades or even hundreds or thousands of years in the form of economic depression and chaos, continued swings from far right to far left in the vain hope of a solution, or chronic health, educational, and environmental catastrophe.
I encourage all who have personal experience of what it feels like and looks like to fall to an authoritarian regime to post their stories online. I encourage all who have read good story-telling novels to post them here so others can read and share the stories.
One book I highly recommend to learn what it looks and feels like is “Forty Autumns” by Nina Willner. She tells the story of Post-WWI Germany, where increasingly concerning events (rapes by military, random arrests, food shortages, etc) culminated in the separation of East Germany in ONE DAY when their authoritarian put wire around the country, then replaced it with a wall.
This book outlines the TECHNIQUES used to keep the population in continual submission. In order to get food, jobs, housing, people had to “tell” on their neighbors, often for infractions as minor as a misconstrued statement, resulting in that person being “disappeared.” To eat, to live, one had to play ball.
When the Berlin Wall was built, the citizens of East Germany had no idea what was happening. By the time they figured it out, it was too late. Trump wanted a wall to keep us IN, not to keep others out. In East Germany, DECADES of poverty, violence and separation from the rest of the world was the result. If not for the fall of the Soviet Union and other forces, they might still be there, living a mid-20th century, poverty stricken existence.
North Korea: The people of North Korea never imagined the potential for the horror they have lived in for decades now as the experiences of their Authoritarian takeover happened. Imagine having a corrupt police officer grab your child, throw it to hungry dogs to eat alive in front of you, and then laugh as they pull a cigarette out of their jacket to enjoy while watching. THAT is the level of horror that is not only possible, but probable with at trump takeover due to his inherent personality makeup. He has already demonstrated his predilection for this. He has said so. BELIEVE HIM.
1. Trump is the poster child for what a sadistic authoritarian looks like.
2. Trump is not the brains of this operation, Putin is. DON’T FORGET THAT.
3. There is no “United States” to save us from this. We must save ourselves NOW.
4. Trump is doing everything in his power to create maximal chaos prior to the election. From CREATING violence at peaceful protests and then blaming it on the protesters to create fear (like Putin did with the bombings of apartments), to causing a massive rise in COVID cases to culminate just at the time of the election (overwhelming our medical system), to increasing his daily level of open lies to his gullible followers, to inspiring violence from nutcake followers and police, to attacking our free press, to openly manipulating and distorting our election, he is doing everything in his power (aided and abetted by the Republicans and their corrupt media outlets, FOX, OANN, the Police, White Supremacist organizations, the cultish Evangelical Christian and far right Catholic “pro-life” movement, and others) to try and stop the elections or to influence their outcomes.
When authoritarians take control in this “post war-mediated coup” age, authoritarians take control now by using the levers of democracy against their citizens. Freedom of speech, free and fair vote, and a legitimate justice system are all tools for the authoritarian wannabe to utilize to their advantage.
The lead-up to authoritarian takeover is often a time of political, economic, environmental, or cultural chaos. The more chaos, the easier the takeover.
Then, the authoritarian strikes. Like Hitler, with his Reichstag Fire or Putin with his apartment bombings blamed on Chechen militants, a culminating attack occurs combined with violence, lies, and decisive, planned, military/political action.
Due to the apparent confidence of some of his allies in the face of apparent impending electoral loss, HE HAS SOMETHING VERY BAD PLANNED FOR US.
I would like to give examples of some experiences and outcomes of authoritarian governments.
Uganda: People in Uganda now have large elaborate security fences on even the tiniest homes. Why? They remember politically motivated men going house to house with machine guns and machetes to gun down or hack up all the people.
Hungary: Lands of all the farmers were seized. They were forced to continue farming and turn over nearly all the food to the Russians. They were starving, jailed if they stole some food to eat.
Budapest is littered with historic buildings used for torture. Anyone who spoke out, anyone who committed the slightest violations were taken to these dark and desperate places, often to never be heard of again.
When the citizens of Budapest decided to rise up, a plot by their authoritarian was hatched. They were tricked into coming to the main plaza and when thousands of citizens had jubilantly arrived to protest, the Hungarian Authoritarian military opened fire on the crowd.
Decades of darkness hung over Budapest and Hungary, with minorities taking the hardest blows.
Argentina: The Argentine Great Depression in 1999–2002, which began after the Russian and Brazilian financial crisis, caused widespread unemployment, riots, the fall of the government, a default on the country’s foreign debt, the rise of alternative currencies and the end of the peso’s fixed exchange rate to the U.S. dollar.
Inflation rates were so high, workers were forced to take their day’s pay (workers had to be paid daily due to inflation) and rush out to buy anything of value to hold their money in. Bikes, chairs, anything which would still hold value as their money would not.
Belarus: Adjacent to Russia, Belarus established its own sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union. Alexander Lukashenko served as its president, a Trump-like self-described authoritarian (like trump, “I like nationalism”). He established state ownership of large sections of the economy (STOLE THE BUSINESSES THAT HAD VALUE). Elections were corrupt.
Western governments, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have criticized his authoritarian rule. Lukashenko works with Putin and his blatantly corrupt elections have kept him in rule these decades, siphoning the money of the Belarusian people into his and his friend’s pockets.
During recent protests, one Belarus protester said to the United States citizens: “It is much harder to regain democracy after you have lost it.”
Germany: Hitler, a leader with trump-like adoration of racist, bigoted citizens, viciously killed millions of Jews, Romani people, LGBTQ folks and political prisoners over just a few short years. In that case, there were nations, like the United States and European nations, to come to the aid of earth. If the U.S. falls, there will be no one to save earth.
Cambodia: Like trump, the Khmer Rouge regime was highly autocratic, totalitarian, xenophobic, paranoid and repressive. Many deaths resulted from the policies of the admin, just like trump’s nearly 200K deaths so far from COVID and more to come.
The Khmer Rouge, like Post-WWII Hungary, stole the farms from farmers. They refused to supply medication for even the simplest of illnesses resulting in many thousands dying from treatable illnesses.
The Khmer Rouge, like trump’s regime, was very racist and they murdered hundreds of thousands of their perceived political enemies. They committed genocide on the Cambodian minority population.
Additionally, when this trump-like authoritarian took control, arbitrary executions and torture were carried out in large numbers between 1975 and 1978. The total death toll was 1.5 to 2 MILLION people, about 25% of the total population at that time.
25% of the U.S. population would come to over 81,000,000 people. Dead.
So, commonalities arise:
1. Authoritarian regimes do not relent control once they have achieved it.
2. Corrupt elections, like trump is trying to accomplish with moves such as Post Office manipulation, etc, are a hallmark of Authoritarian regimes.
3. Violence is used to control the populace.
4. Often, original supporters of the regime ultimately recant their support when it is clear what has happened. This is too late.
5. Original supporters thought they were WITH the regime, only to find out they were just more pawns of this struggle for wealth and power by the Authoritarian and his family.
6. The direct and obscene theft from citizens of anything of value, from farms, to businesses, to homes, to bank accounts, to natural resources, to art/gold/other valuables, are a means to an end: More power and more money
7. The disembowelment of any prior justice system, as trump and McConnell have done, is key to an authoritarian regime. Just as Putin recently used a FALSE ARREST AND CONVICTION of his political enemy to stop his candidacy, so trump is malignantly using our formerly intact justice system for his own personal gain. Ultimately, Putin could not stop this man from speaking so just this week, he poisoned him in a murder attempt. NOTHING is beyond the capabilities of these evil regimes.
8. Utilization of fear is a key feature of Authoritarian regimes. Trump’s attempt to get his followers to believe some evil, violent force is at play instead of the rightful protest of democratic citizens, is a classic authoritarian move. Often fake pictures, contrived events and untrue stories are used to raise the level of fear in the populace, the Authoritarian blithely and dishonestly taking credit for being the ’savior’, as trump is doing.
9. Minorities, both religious and ethnic, are usually used as a tool to position for control. Vicious murder and rape of these minorities, along with policies to devastate these communities are key for authoritarians to gain control.
10. I repeat: Once this has happened to a nation, longstanding devastation in every way is often the path.
11. Democracy arose as a tool to protect against authoritarians. It is our shield if we choose to use it and protect it.
12. Things you take for granted, like food security, clean water, clothing, housing, food and product safety, ownership of your assets, trust in banking and economy, a sense of community, freedoms like speech and freedom of religion, the very structure of our nation…. may all become distant memories. Toilet paper was just the beginning (note: Koch Enterprises own nearly all the toilet paper companies).
13. Trump’s railing against the very structure of democracy, including free speech, free press, free and fair vote, freedom of ownership and the value of immigrants to our society should make every good American’s blood run cold.
I have a question for you:
Is it easier to buckle down for 8 weeks and fight this with everything you have, or is it easier to “hope” for the best, and live the rest of your life in a violent nation, your every asset stolen, the goodness of democracy a distant memory?
If you think it’s fight, then Get Up. You should be doing at LEAST 5 or 10 hours a week of civic work for the next weeks. The very future of earth and its citizens rides on your shoulders.
Please like/share this post and share one of two things below:
1. Other stories of authoritarian regimes, to help people comprehend what is happening
2. Stories of how you are engaging to stop this disaster or encouragement to others to do the same.
Please share, especially with young people who may know none of this.