Defying evil cannot be rationally defended. It makes a leap into the moral, which is beyond rational thought. It refuses to place a monetary value on human life or the natural world. It refuses to see anyone as superfluous. It acknowledges human life, indeed all life, as sacred. And this is why, as Arendt points out, the only morally reliable people are not those who say “this is wrong” or “this should not be done,” but those who say “I can’t do this.”
The reason impeachment matters — and I think every one of us should remember this in the days and weeks to come — isn’t so that political points are scored. It isn’t so that the “will of the people” is done. That’s got nothing do with it at all. Impeachment matters so that the rule of law matters again. It’s so that we say as a society there are red lines, which nobody should step beyond. It’s so that the phrase “abuse of power” means something again. It’s so that democratic norms and values of equality, justice, and freedom carry hard and real authority again. Impeachment matters so that power begins to flow in the opposite direction again — back from autocracy, and towards a democracy capable of healing its badly broken social contract, institutions, norms, and values.
Wait…wasn’t capitalism supposed to bring freedom and democracy with it? Isn’t that whate every American thinker, economist, pundit, politician argued? Isn’t it why America bombed half the world for capitalism’s sake? So…what happened? Here’s what’s really happening. Capitalism’s imploding into fascism. And now it’s going global. The global economy America built is falling like dominoes. Bang, bang, bang. It’s not a coincidence that China and India are imploding into different kinds of authoritarian-fascism shortly after America did. It is a relationship. China and India were the linchpins of America’s model of global capitalism. They are the two countries that bought into it most heavily after America.And now, my friends, they are paying the price: they are collapsing right along with it.
America’s not just in danger of having a fascist collapse. It’s having one. It’s bang in the middle of one. It’s not in the early phases — but in fact, beginning the later ones. The ones where concentration camps rise, and hatred spews from the head of a state, and papers are checked on public transport. How much more obvious could it get? How many more data points do you need? If this isn’t enough…what could be?
The institutions of bona fide fascism are rising in America. But what else did you think the fascists would do, except use their newfound power, money, and resources, to build them?
America is the canary in the coal mine of global collapse.
It is very regressive for a democratic society to slide towards authoritarianism. One big reason for this change is fear. Donald Trump and Steve Bannon understood the psychological effects of fear and they weaponized it to take power. Consider the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where data got into the hands of Bannon [who] used it to manipulate voters. With Trump’s campaign, it seems like they perfected the a strategy of fear mongering to manipulate people into some other type of reality.
Do you see what I mean a little bit? We are laggards, us Americans. Our definitions of what a high crime is are totally obsolete, way out of date. The fact that we Americans don’t consider modern ideas genocide, torture, hate, and fascism high crimes — but only 18th century concerns like obstruction and collusion — says to the world that we are not civilized people, that we have not really understood history, and that we have not really joined modernity. We are still backwards and behind — and, for us, that also means that our democracy is less robust, more fragile, that we are all the more vulnerable to extremists, lunatic, and fanatics, precisely because their malicious intentions and acts aren’t high crimes.
When I look at America, here’s what I see. A country where the extreme, fanatical right wing takeover of its institutions — all of them — is almost complete. From laws to courts, representation to presidency, norms to rules, from press to public sphere — America is now controlled almost entirely and exclusively by the most fanatical kind of right wingers the rich world hasn’t seen for decades, probably since Nazi Germany. Yes, I mean that. Let me make my case — and you can judge for yourself whether my words carry any weight.
The longer we pretend this dystopian world is not imminent, the more unprepared and disempowered we will be. The ruling elite’s goal is to keep us entertained, frightened and passive while they build draconian structures of oppression grounded in this dark reality. It is up to us to pit power against power. Ours against theirs. Even if we cannot alter the larger culture, we can at least create self-sustaining enclaves where we can approximate freedom. We can keep alive the burning embers of a world based on mutual aid rather than mutual exploitation. And this, given what lies in front of us, will be a victory.