A Delusional Nation In Decline

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The United States Is Coming Apart At The Seams, And No One Seems To Notice.

In recent weeks, the fabricated “Reopen America” movement, funded and focused by Right Wing billionaires and conservative media, has led to protests around the country, including in Michigan, where white supremacist militias have used it to their advantage for the purposes of recruitment and action. These militias have stormed the Michigan state legislature, interrupted business, and, as of this week, shut down the government of Michigan for fear of possible violence.

Any student of history understands the process by which nations slide into authoritarian abyss. It comes, most often, after years of political and social decay, wherein the people lose faith in their corrupted governments and systems, are won over by a budding authoritarian, and watch lawlessness, both in the form of corruption and in out and out fascism, comes into full and unavoidable view. Unfortunately, we’re in one of those moments now, but Americans just aren’t ready to see it.

Michigan is just the first state to experience this problem in this moment. Of course, in Oregon we saw an outlaw group led by the Bundy Clan occupy federal ground and escape consequences, but this new incident is an escalation of a trend that we should become unfortunately accustomed to. As governments and countries fall apart, the appearance of paramilitary forces is to be expected. It is a seizure of authority from citizens with plans and designs to forego democratic institutions in favor of authoritarian measures.

The danger lies not only in the physical threatening, but in the societal repercussions. It feels now almost certain that the stalemate in Michigan, between a governor protecting her constituents from a deadly pandemic and a group of armed men looking to start a race war and install a fascist dictatorship, could lead to violence. That’s what these demonstrations are about. Putting people in pressurized situations and waiting for the tinderbox to ignite. Each march and protest and siege is about upping the ante while awaiting the terrible next act.

But even if there is no violence, the political act of intimidating legislatures, of interrupting the people’s business with weapons and maneuvers intended to terrorize lawmakers, is an affront to the concept of an open and democratic society. Even while no blood has been shed, and hopefully none will be, armed men stalking the statehouse and occupying the halls of a democratically-elected legislature is a symbol of violence as a means of governing.

These moments inspire other actors to do the same, and we will probably see more incidents of mobs of Americans and terrorist organizations occupying public spaces. It is infectious and as it grows it only hastens the decline of a nation and its democratic institutions. This is the case and has always been the case. Meanwhile, the story is largely just a blip on a radar of continued coverage of Donald Trump’s lies, scandals, and conspiracy mongering. And those who should know better show concern, but are slow to admit the growing existential threat lingering over the nation.

We are watching America in decline, an empire coming apart at the seams. We can bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, but it doesn’t make it any less true. As long as criminals go unpunished, whether they be in the White House or engaging in political terrorism in the halls of statehouses around the country, it quickens our slide. This will not simply go away and it will not heal itself.

Jared Yates Sexton is the author of American Rule: How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People, available for pre-order from Dutton/Penguin-Random House. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Daily Beast, Politico, and elsewhere. Currently he serves as an associate professor of writing at Georgia Southern University and is the co-host of The Muckrake Podcast.

  • 0040

    The fascist run Michigan state house and are resident in most American power centers. Those protesting are populists . A Rothbardian misuse of the language is at work hear Orwell would be amused.

  • tttbnr

    America’s gun fetishists resemble Ernst Röhm.

  • Commenter

    Gun mass murder terrorism is also at an epidemic level. And anti-government terrorists continue to capitalize on the constantly occurring and horrific gunning down of children and adults in our schools, churches, mosques, stores, concerts, etc. while the NRA’s sponsors profit exponentially.

  • Tony

    CAN YOU JUST IMAGINE if they were African, Latino, pr Arab American instead? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b76e17d1fd87962f4968e564908eb1626fc8a21362f776760892b0740ecf4dc7.jpg

  • Alan MacDonald

    Yes, commenter, and as you say, “the NRA’s sponsors profit exponentially”— and they profit so greatly because of this one simple and single benefit, which accrues to the tens of thousands of times larger and more profitable self-named “Defense Industry”, global weapons makers, and (if truth be told) by Bernard Russell the “Merchants of Death”.

    All because of the common and synchronized ‘marketing message’ which benefits the nearly bankrupted domestic ‘small-arms’, but also 10,000 times more profitable global “Merchants of Death” with this perfectly paralleled, and strategic narrative of:

    “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a (bigger) gun”!

    That’s the ‘marketing message’ miracle for the global “Merchants of Death” (and looters of our Treasury and taxes) — to be able to deceive and extract TRILLIONS of revenue year after year, and to be able to demand multi, multi-billions of fixed profit loot — all based on that subtle ‘marketing message’ that would sound exploitative, extractive, and vastly expensive — except fro the maketing magic of the little poor NRA’s fabulously valuable patented ‘marketing magic’ fear message of:

    “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a bigger gun” — bomb, missile, tank, nuclear aircraft carrier, gold plated F-35 dog-fighter (for stealth fighting with dogs), etc., etc., et. al. — all available to keep you safe from other deadly and now dead (by dint of spending themselves into a grave) — as the ‘next to the last Empire of earth’ the “Evil Empire” (aren’t they all, Ronnie?).

  • John R.

    I can’t imagine the cops allowing any group but white nationalists to carry firearms around in public. Remember how it played out when the Black Panthers armed themselves ?

  • SCM

    How is telling people to stay home or else not fascist? Have you ever read the first Amendment? Or concept of innocent until proven guilty? The only people that should be forced into lockdowns are those proven sick not everyone.

    Whether this is manufactured is dubious as well. Speak to small business owners who lost life savings with closed doors (and didnt get a PPP loan because hedge funds vacuumed them up) I have and they are not taking orders from the fat cat borg to want this opened up.

    Anyway we’ve lived in a form facism for 30+ years.. Wollen calls it inverted totalitarianism where fortune 500s control all levers of power. So you can bet we are closed because they want it that way. The bailouts mostly going to them to shore up stocks and bonds is probably why. They can consolidate as well. Like when will Bezos at Amazon abd the Walton hiers become the worlds first trillionaires as retail is mostly eliminated? 2021?

  • SCM

    It’s amusing to see fascists calling others fascists. This dude certainly doesnt believe in the 1st or 2nd amendment. Probably none of them. You can just tell he’s itching to put anyone protesting lockdowns in camps somewhere.

  • ANTONIO

    1933- The social turmoil resulting from mass unemployment leads to Hitler’s (Trump’s) installation as Chancellor. Thereafter Germany’s financial system and the economy in general are geared toward rearmament. Conditions for the Jews, anti-Nazis and communists (today’s Muslims, Mexicans, progressives and Blacks) worsen. From its inception, Hitler’s regime moves quickly to introduce racist and xenophobic policies. They are singled out by the Nazi propaganda machine as an enemy within who are responsible for Germany’s defeat in the First World War, and for her subsequent economic difficulties, such as the 1920s hyperinflation and Great Depression. (Today’s 2008 crash) Hitler moves quickly to remove the non-Nazis from the driver’s seat, making the Party the exclusive master of the State, with an authoritarian government and its police ready to carry out the Nazification of Germany. On May Day, the Nazis organize a massive and enthusiastic worker’s demonstration, with the motto, “Honor work and respect the worker.” The next day they occupy all trade union buildings with no resistance. Union funds are confiscated, leaders arrested, even if they have pledged to cooperate with the Nazis, and sent to concentration camps (US privatized prisons, Guantanamo and detention centers). Three weeks later collective bargaining is brought to an end,”labor trustees” are provided by the Party to “regulate contracts and maintain labor peace. (right to work)” On Hitler’s promise that the Nazi government is going to put organized workers in their place and leave management to run as it wishes, and that armaments are needed to defend the Fatherland, Krupp Von Bohlen, Bosch, Schnitzler, Farben and Vögler pour large sums of money into the Nazi coffers. (Koch Bros., Coca Cola, Shell, etc.) Nazi terror is unleashed against all opposition. Fifty-one anti-Nazis are murdered during the electoral campaign of 1933. Göring establishes an auxiliary force of 50,000, most of them S.A. thugs, (Bundy, Joe the Plumber, Trump’s privatized mercenary force, etc.), with orders to shoot anyone who opposes the Nazi State. (police shootings, NRA). The Reichstag fire (911?)is ultimately an excuse to invade the USSR,(Iraq) alleging that Soviet communists had burned it down (weapons of mass destruction). On the day following the fire, Hindenburg suspends civil liberties; free speech, free press, postal privacy, and search warrants, and issues orders for confiscation of property (unpaid mortgages) . (NSA). In spite of the terror and intimidation, on election day the Nazis only get 44% of the vote, short of the two-thirds majority needed by Hitler to establish his dictatorship with the consent of Parliament. By introducing a bill to hand over the power of legislation, control the budget, approve treaties and initiate constitutional amendments away from the Parliament and hand it over to the Reich cabinet, the Nazis gain a majority and bury German democracy.(rigged elections) The Center Party (Republicrats) capitulates and gives the Nazis (tea party) the majority they need: 441 votes for and 84 against. The German National Party, without whose support the Nazis would not have come to power, meekly disappears. The Nazi Party alone remains. The next step is to turn out the provincial state governments and install Nazi regimes. Reich Governors can appoint and remove local governments, dissolve the diets, appoint and dismiss state officials and judges. All new appointees are required to carry out the policies of the Reich Chancellor. Thus the separate powers of the states are subordinated to the central government. Youth are to be trained in the service of a new National State. (charter schools). Students opposite the University of Berlin burn a huge pile of books, under the approving eye of Göbbels. Complaints are equated with treason. Calculated and incessant propaganda takes its toll, and people eventually believe anything they are told, no matter how witless, irrational or deceitful. (Fox News). Judges fear for their lives if they convict a storm trooper even for cold-blooded murder. (Supreme Court corruption). The only class that remains intact is that of big business and finance, the aristocracy, the Junker landlords and the Prussian generals. (Wall St) The lumpen storm troopers believe that the revolution they fight for by brawling in the streets will bring them loot and good jobs in business and government. Now Hitler wants to dissolve the S.A., which is but a mob, in favor of the army and the industrialists. From 1933 to 1939 the Nazis secretly prepare for war while preaching peace. What no one seems to notice is that it kept the people so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that people have no time to think about the dreadful things that are growing, little by little, all around them. (Fox news). Each step is so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, the content, is changed. Now they live in a world of tension, hate and fear. The stress drives everyone a little crazy at times, receptive to the demagoguery from the top.

  • Richard

    The picture above is a good reference to the term “idiots with guns.” Why people armed like this are not in Washington DC protesting a lot of things more important than this BS is beyond me.

  • Southern

    Fascism didn’t just rear it’s ugly head – the US has been fascist for as long as its claims to being exceptional.