Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ NBC News Opinion contributor Impeachment notes: impeachment-trump.com/ Sep. 06, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) Governing by Crisis and Spectacle

The idea is to keep us looping in the present so we can't look ahead.

It's a tactic of reactionary politics.

Background information from @TimothyDSnyder's book, The Road To Unfreedom.

1/ In a liberal democracy, a leader looks for ways to improve the lives of the people.

A fascist (or reactionary, or would-be oligarch) does the opposite.

If a would-be oligarch tries to improve the lives of the people, others can rise up and challenge his position at the top.

2/ OK, so if leaders don’t govern in the usual sense (devising policy to better the lives of the citizens) what do they do all day?

They create crisis and spectacle!

“Rather than governing, the leader produces crisis and spectacle.” Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin

3/ Who the heck is Illyin?

He's the fascist philosopher whose ideas informed the tactics created by Putin.

Trump imitates those tactics. (Trump is a natural at creating chaos and spectacle)

Ilyin was a Russian nobleman who went into exile after the communist revolution.

4/ An admirer of Hitler and Mussolini, he wrote guidelines for Russian leaders who would come to power after the fall of communism. (He died in 1954).

Ilyin believed fascism would eventually replace both communism and democracy.

He admired totalitarianism and hierarchy.

5/ The nation, for him, was like a body, the citizens the cells. Each remained in its place.

Fascism = order.

Democracy & communism = disorder & chaos.

Ilyin disliked the middle class, which always striving for social advancement.

6/ He believed this fractured society and created chaos. He thought the rulers at the top should rule, everyone else must remain in their place.

He thus advocated oligarchy (a few people hold all the power).

7/ The task of the oligarchs to maintain power.

But you can’t tell the people THAT. So you tell them a good story.

You tell them the oligarchs are “redeemers.”

This is overlaps with reactionist politics, that pines to return to a (mythic) bygone era⤵️

8/ They earn loyalty by protecting the people from enemies, and by promising to return to a better, more orderly era.

When an oligarch (or in the case of Trump, a would-be oligarch) goes to work each day, he can't spend his time doing what a leader like, say, Obama did.

9/ He can't spend his time actually governing.

So instead, he creates lots of crisis and spectacle. All ideas in this thread from Yale Profs. @TimothyDSnyder and @jasonintrator

The tactic is extraordinarily effective because it creates what we can call the Outrage Dilemma.

10/ If you don't react, you run the risk of normalizing the behavior.

On the other hand, outrage feeds the cycle, which goes like this:
Trump does something outrageous.
Everyone goes into a spin.
His followers are thrilled to see Trump's critics in an outrage spin.

11/ Each time Trump does something outrageous, he accomplishes 4 things:

He keeps his base excited.
He enrages his critics.
He batters democratic institutions, and
He fulfills his campaign promise, which was to protect his followers from their “enemies.”

12/ Finally, and most important, he wears out his critics until we feel exhausted and helpless and inclined to give up.

When enough people give up, democracy collapses.

My suggestion is to get involved with volunteer work. See my list:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/things-to-do/ 

13/ Example: The weeks I spent volunteering in a detention center (my story here ⤵️) I was elevated from the daily outrage.

I was lifted from the exhaustion of the news cycle while pushing back against the Trump administration in a tangible way.

They invent enemies. Trump does that anyway.

He persuaded people that homeless migrants are enemies.

It's easier and safer to fight imaginary enemies than, say, Korea.

He doesn't have to worry that he or his family might actually get hurt.

This was all taken from former threads here⤵️

My blog has a search function.

All of this started out as research for a book to be called How Trump Happened.

Then I decided just to make my research public as a service.

I've written enough books.

h/t @Portita

This tells me that they love the outrage. It's fun! Look at how angry those libs get when we lie!

I've noticed that Trump supporters enjoy needling me and trying to get me angry. (I don't play. I stay calm.)

This also demonstrates . . .

. . . what I wrote last year in Slate Magazine:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/trump-lies-kavanaugh-khashoggi.html 

Many of Trump supporters know he lies and they love it.

They want to destroy, and the lies are destructive.

Here we come again to the outrage dilemma. They're lying to annoy you. So what do you do?

You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.


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