“… perhaps less. What happens in the next few weeks is very important.”
Those are quotes from an interview titled “We have at most a year to defend American democracy, perhaps less“ by Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, with Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University and the author of numerous books of European history. (h/t New Yorker’s John Cassidy in his morning email, Rational Irrationality.)
You history buffs will want to read the entire interview. One theme is the parallels between Germany in the 1930s and America in the 2000s - and how little attention the American public is paying to all that. Another mention is the casting of the press as America’s enemy. A third theme is the aim of Trump and his advisors to destroy the American state. It’s all very scary,
When Bannon calls himself a „Leninist“, do Americans know what is he talking about?
No, they usually have no idea. It is a good question. Americans have this idea that comes from Jefferson and the American Revolution that you have to rebel every so often. And they sometimes don’t make the distinction between a rebellion against injustice and the extinction of the whole political system, which is what Bannon says that he is after. … Most Americans had a rule of law state for most of their lives, … and so most Americans think this will be there forever. They don’t get that a “disruption” can actually destroy much of what they take for granted. They have no notion what it means to destroy the state and how their lives would look like if the rule of law would no longer exist. I find it frightening that people who talk about the destruction of the American state are now in charge of the American state.
This is particularly disturbing because the potential destruction is poised to become reality. Consider the cabinet picks who follow the formula X/antiX. DeVos for education. Pruitt for EPA. Perry for energy. Price for HHS. Those just the obvious examples of picking people as leaders of agencies those same people are sworn to dismantle.
When Bannon calls the press the main „opposition party“ that should make everyone concerned. This is not only intended to cheer up Trump supporters.
When you say that the press is the opposition, than you are advocating a regime change in the United States. When I am a Republican and say the Democrats are the opposition, we talk about our system. If I say the government is one party and the press is the opposition, then I talk about an authoritarian state. This is regime change.
Of course this is a setup. As Cassidy notes in Rational Irrationality this morning, the press is being delegitimized in advance of more stories about Trump’s connections to Russia and pay-to-play at his Florida White House. That is what authoritarians do. More on that in the op-ed cited below.
The NY Times has a comparison between Trump and Putin and how much their authoritarian methods have in common in Our Putin. Don’t worry too much about whether Trump and the Russian leader are working together. Worry about what they have in common.