As the Nazis were coming to power in post-economic collapse Weimar, they were met with uniform denunciations from liberal elites. The German novelist Thomas Mann wrote two months into Hitler’s term that the “common scum” had risen to power “accompanied by vast rejoicing on the part of the masses.” These denunciations, as Mann’s sentiment demonstrates, were mere statements of embarrassment that such crude and buffoonish demagogues had entered the palace, with the institutional decay and growing destitution that creates fascism not being addressed. The Nazis used this to demonize the “lying press,” present themselves as saviors, and rapidly cut into those ruined institutions. Within half a year of Hitler’s appointment to head of state, the media had become Chancellor-controlled, all the competing political parties had been eliminated, and the Nazi police forces had been given absolute authority as precedent for their eventual mission.
Our transition into that state isn’t as quick, but the equation of an imploding empire never deviates. Eight months into the Trump presidency, the political and media establishments continue to give their indignant pronouncements. The pundits, celebrities, politicians, and entertainers who constantly denounce Trump do not deserve the praise the media gives them as long as those denunciations aren’t part of a larger goal to overthrow the corporate state. And we shouldn’t be surprised that they almost always aren’t. The power structure only elevates liberal public figures who will attack Trump and his endless scandals without focusing on the larger political crises we’re facing, and if any of those public figures don’t conform they’ll be promptly replaced with others who do. A theater is being put on to hide the rot beneath our dying republic’s shiny gold plating, and elites will try to prolong it as long as possible.
To save our civilization, we’ll need to have a mindset that doesn’t tie singular goals to solving this crisis. We have to not act like removing Trump, or voting Democrats in in 2018, or trying to change the political system from within, can stop the death knell that scientists say will come for the climate in 2020 if drastic change doesn't happen before then. The solution is to destroy the Deep State’s propaganda machine with sustained efforts to get the truth out, to build institutions and movements that fight power from the outside, to stop trying to navigate within a system that one can only be crushed by or be assimilated into.
The political establishment’s attacks on Trump are part of an effort to make us not adopt that mindset, to lead us into serving the old systems by promising savior from one villain at the center of an overall toxic and failing state. This makes the liberal elite not heroic truth tellers, but selective deniers of the very sources of fascism: of the decline in democracy and the integrity of the law, which reached their logical conclusion this week when a judge declared the DNC has a right to rig elections; of the rise in economic kleptocracy, which has left half the country officially poor while the majority are regressing to a third world lifestyle; of the hatred for institutions that’s resulted from the population’s misery, which in modern America is exploited through reactionary “true news” clickbait sites and a narcissistic demagogue who replaces reality with whatever comes into his mind at the moment.
Just like the fascists of past collapsing empires, the Trump administration is using these moral and organizational weaknesses in the political establishment to seize more power. And their chances for a coup grow every day. As ICE officials already engage in newly repressive tactics and some Muslims are already barred from the borders because of their faith, the Trump regime shows explicitly that they’ll exploit the looming financial and geopolitical crises to enact their utopianist vision. This is a future where corporations rule free from the “administrative state” which protects the environment, provides social services for the poor, and gives alternative media sites the same online presence as those of the corporate media; where women, gays, undocumented immigrants, people of color, and Muslims are given a far lower status; where a militarized police, an omnipotent surveillance state, a global military empire, and corporate propaganda outlets are left unchallenged.
Like I said the solutions do exist, but history’s movements into darkness can look too intimidating to overcome. Poverty clouds one’s ability to be hopeful while stealing massive amounts of one’s time with trying to survive. The corporate state can easily cripple people’s ability to mobilize by arresting them and putting them into a lifelong situation of no voting rights, limited employment opportunities, and constant police monitoring. The operations of the military industrial complex can seem like global-scale developments beyond any ordinary person’s control. I’m asking you to keep exposing the Deep State’s propaganda, organizing in your community, and voicing dissent in spite of all that. To be crushed by the system while trying to defeat it, and then keep fighting it anyway.
This is what it means to be a rebel. It doesn’t mean trusting in the liberal elites just because they happen to dislike Trump. Their slick, shiny sound bite sequences and TV studios are part of a great illusion, to stop playing when our old systems break down. Already it’s flickering on and off. Let’s build a better world in its ruins.