The prospect of civil war in the US just got a little closer this week with Donald Trumps’ rally speech last weekend. My last block of blogs included one about the Trump group that is designing his takeover of the country under the guise of producing his plans for consolidating all power in the White House, if he is re-elected. I am glad to report that more and more commentators are sounding similar warnings. It even took up the whole of PBS “Washington Week” on Friday. However, I listened to an analysis from a prominent US historian this week, Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat of New York University, which puts Trump’s moves into a wider, and more frightening, perspective.
The professor looked back at the development history of two fairly recent dictators; Hitler and Mussolini. The processes they went through to become dictators are remarkably similar, and remarkably familiar, when you look at Trump’s development towards the same goal.
The first step, in all three cases, is to gradually promote the idea that violence is necessary to “preserve the country we love”. Hitler started doing that in 1927 and continued until his ultimate demise. However, he didn’t start the next step until “necessary” violence was already established in the minds of the general population, which took around seven years. Mussolini’s progress towards the same goal was about the same.
Once the idea of necessary violence was established, the next step was to de-humanize “the enemy” – the enemy being anyone who didn’t agree with them. Calling those enemies, “pigs” and “vermin” sets them up to be the victims of violence without the general population becoming upset about it: Who cares if a few, or many, pigs or vermin are eliminated? It’s obviously good for the country, particularly if the specific word vermin is used and absorbed in the country’s mental psyche.
One could ask if we are all stupid enough not to recognize what’s happening and stop it in time, but, historically, the answer is yes!
Donald Trump started in 2015 suggesting that “if you want to save your country, you must be willing to fight for it”. His rhetoric slowly became more violent and vindictive. He was preparing, even before he was elected, for his autocratic takeover. You could also say, he was preparing his “persecution platform” in case he lost, which most people expected him to do at that point.
The Capital insurrection in January 6th was the culmination of that “necessary violence” indoctrination up to that point. Trump had succeeded in establishing the first step on the road to dictatorship. He continues to build on that success today…….and it will get worse because he believes the plan is working…….and he is right when you consider the lunatics of his base support……and that’s 35% of Republican voters, a huge number of people.
The “vermin” speech earlier this week may not have been the start of step two on the way to dictatorship, but it did formalize it in a way. That process will continue, grow, and get worse. The progression totally fits historical dictators’ development patterns.
We are headed for civil war, hopefully. I say hopefully, not because I am a supporter of war, let alone civil war, but because the alternative could well be Trump’s takeover as dictator, without the rest of us firing a single shot. Civil war in the US, as unpalatable as it may be, may be the correct solution.
I would add, that if this analysis is even close to correct, then the sooner the better, to get it over with before it becomes impossible to control.
There is a lovely line from the end of the movie “Hunt for Red October” when Captain Ramius says to Jack Ryan, “A little revolution, now and then, is a good thing, don’t you think”. I can’t think of a better battle cry for the dangerous situation in which the US currently finds itself.