Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ NBC News Opinion contributor Impeachment notes: impeachment-trump.com/ Nov. 01, 2019 4 min read

(Thread) The Big Bang Theory of Democracy

@errorsim, I'll tell you why I'm optimistic.

In her book, The Future is History, @mashagessen quotes scholar Bálint Magyar: “The conditions preceding the democratic big bang have a decisive role in the formation of the system.”

1/ To take Russia as an example, when the Big Bang happened in Russia (1991) what existed was a “barren intellectual landscape” and an “ideological vacuum.”

Russia had never known democracy. They went from a Czar to Bolshevism.

2/ The Bolsheviks never did create a true communist government: instead they created a totalitarian society which led to Stalin’s reign of terror.

Disciplines like sociology were banned, so Russians didn’t have the tools to understand themselves or their society.

Source ⤵️

3/ Free thinking wasn’t permitted. To be a “critical thinker” in a Soviet university meant spotting where a person deviated from the Party line.

In 1991, the Party had a monopoly on power and resources: All industries were centralized and in the hands of the government.

4/ At the time of the Russian Big Bang, 1/3 believed homosexuals should be liquidated. Only 10% believed they should be left alone.

Researchers thought that 10% was encouragingly high. 20% wanted to liquidate “rockers” (this meant “hippies”)

5/ After the collapse of the Soviet government, attempts to privatize the nation’s industries and distribute wealth created opportunities for corruption.

That was when the oligarchs (thieves) seized control of the nation’s industries.

Democracy never took hold.

6/ The Russian people remained poor with the impression that “crooks, con men” and “criminals” were getting rich.

Russians quickly lost faith in the new government. (Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss)

Putin whipped up the old hysteria over homosexuals . . .

7/ . . . the number of people who wanted to “liquidate” homosexuals grew again.

Most Russians hungered for an authoritarian figure.

Similar stories can be told about Hungary and other countries giving in to authoritarianism.

8/ The conditions at the time of the American Big Bang (1776) were different.

There was no intellectual vacuum. The drafters of the Constitution were well-versed in the classics & philosophy, which they used for guidance.

The states already had working local governments. . .

9/ . . so there was stability.

Wealth and power were entirely in the hands of elite white men—but there were a lot of them and they were spread out.

There was a continent of land and resources (which belonged to someone else—another of the conditions of our Big Bang)

10/ The new Americans were thus not vulnerable to fear-mongering authoritarians.

A kind of representative democracy thus took hold in the U.S.— a democracy in which a certain portion of the population (white men) enjoyed freedom & opportunity.

11/ They established democratic institutions like an independent judiciary, independent prosecutors, a free press, three co-equal branches of government, a tradition of peaceful transfer of power, and universities free from state control and dogma.

12/ Trump has been using the Russian propaganda tools Putin perfected and has been trying his best to destroy our democratic institutions (what he calls the Deep State)

. . . but the institutions are holding out.

13/ The Democrats won by 8 percentage points in 2018

Courts are ruling against Trump

Career diplomats and career law enforcement are marching to Congress to testify against Trump

Democracy is winning.

14/ Lots of people are helping Putin and Trump destroy American democracy, and I don't just mean the GOP.

Remember that one goal of active measures is to destroy people's confidence in democracy, because once people lose faith, democracy dies.

15/ So all the despair mongers saying

"It's all over! We're already an autocracy!"
"They'll win in 2020 by flipping millions of votes!"
"What about the judicial appointments!"

all you're doing is helping Putin and Trump, so stop.

Okay . . . I'll take one despair question.

16/ A right wing reactionary judiciary has been a problem throughout US history.

I'll explain, but first, obvious fact: 6 years of a Democratic president making appointments will balance out Trump's appointments + McConnell's obstruction.

17/ Through most of U.S. history, courts have been right wing.

How far to the right?

In the 1960s judges were confirmed who openly supported racial segregation.

In 1923, SCOTUS ruled minimum wage unconstitutional.

18/ There have been only two truly liberal courts in all of U.S. history: The Marshall court (1801-1835) and the Warren court (1953-1969).

Right wing courts have almost always been a problem.

What we're facing is nothing new.

We should have a rule about despair mongering. . .

19/ For every 10 minutes of democracy-destroying, morale-breaking despair mongering, a person must put in 3 hours of democracy building work.

If enough people put in the work, democracy will survive.

See my list:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/things-to-do/ 

This is what I call a "what if" rabbit hole. I advise people to avoid going down them.

They are energy-draining and demoralizing.

Besides, we tend to worry about the wrong things.

So let's deal with each crisis as it comes.

Good point. Thank you.

It's definitely not inevitable.

The faces on some of those career diplomats as they marched into Congress to testify said it all.

You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.


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