Tag Archives: Authoritarianism

Lincoln and Trump: Two of a Kind? by James Bovard

Although Lincoln has a nice memorial in Washington, he was a thoroughgoing authoritarian, even more so than Donald Trump. From James Bovard at mises.org;

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President Trump has outraged legions of political opponents with his plan to give a Fourth of July speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A Washington Post columnist frets that Trump’s speech will leave a “stain” that “won’t ever completely wash away.” But before any more teeth-gnashing occurs, we should recognize the surprising parallels between Trump and President Lincoln.

Trump sparked an uproar in 2017 by tweeting derisively about the “so-called judge” who blocked his order severely restricting immigration from seven nations. Twitter was not around in the 1860s so Lincoln never took online swipes at the judiciary. However, when Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled in 1861 that Lincoln had no right to suspend habeas corpus along a railroad corridor, Lincoln ignored his decision. The following year, Lincoln greatly expanded the suspension, resulting in the arrest and military trials of people who had done nothing more than insult the president. Up to 15,000 northerners became political prisoners as a result of Lincoln’s orders.

Trump mortifies the press corps and millions of non-ink-stained wretches when he denounces that the media is “the enemy of the American people.” Lincoln refrained from such rude comments during his four years in the White House. However, on May 18, 1864, Lincoln issued an executive order for “arrest and imprisonment of irresponsible newspaper reporters and editors” after the New York World and Journal of Commerce published an incorrect report on a pending expansion of conscription. Lincoln forcibly shut down 300 newspapers in the North that were insufficiently supportive of military policies and hundreds of editors, publishers, and reporters were tossed into prison without charges.

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The Authoritarian Impulse: Getting What We Really Don’t Want, by Fred Reed

Fred Reed’s warning may well turn out to be prescient. From Reed on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

As a society crumbles, as bitter divisions grow and disorder spreads and nothing seems to work, anger comes and people begin to want a man who will say “Enough!” and slap down the malefactors–by any means necessary. A man who will make the trains run on time. A man who will make it safe to walk in the parks.

This is the authoritarian impulse. As corruption grows, as a coagulated government fails to function, the temptation comes. It is coming.

Recently I read that in Brazil some thirty men gang-raped a young woman, left her emotionally devastated, bleeding, with a ruptured bladder, and laughed as they did it before posting the video online. My first thought was, that they should be rounded up, shot without ceremony, and dropped into a public sewer. I meant this without a trace of hyperbole.

Two questions:

First, what proportion of the general public would agree with me in private? Second, what proportion would say so publicly? That is, say to hell with legal procedure, clotted bureaucracy, years of appeals, plea bargains, the insanity defense, and how they were troubled youth.

The ratio of the first to the second I will call Fred’s Fraction in a lunge for sociological immortality. It is an indicator of a country’s explosive potential, of how much anger exists and how tightly the lid is held on. When a great many are very sick of misbehavior, and government prevents both discussion and remedy, people begin to want someone in power who will forcibly end the detested behavior.

As we read day after day after day of beheadings of priests in Europe, of trucks driven into crowds, restaurants blown up, staffs of newspapers killed, always to the cry of “Allahu Akbar,” how many people begin to think–Send the army to round them up, put them on a ship, and beach it on the African coast? How many dare say it publicly?

To continue reading: The Authoritarian Impulse: Getting What We Really Don’t Want

The Age of Authoritarianism: Government of the Politicians, by the Military, for the Corporations, by John Whitehead

From John W. Whitehead on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

America is at a crossroads.

History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a militaristic state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age—the age of authoritarianism. Even with its constantly shifting terrain, this topsy-turvy travesty of law and government has become America’s new normal.

Let me take you on a brief guided tour, but prepare yourself. The landscape is particularly disheartening to anyone who remembers what America used to be.

The Executive Branch: President Obama, like many of his predecessors, has routinely disregarded the Constitution when it has suited his purposes, operating largely above the law and behind a veil of secrecy, executive orders and specious legal justifications. Rest assured that no matter who wins this next presidential election, very little will change. The policies of the American police state will continue.

The Legislative Branch: Congress may well be the most self-serving, semi-corrupt institution in America. Abuses of office run the gamut from elected representatives neglecting their constituencies to engaging in self-serving practices, including the misuse of eminent domain, earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracting in return for personal gain and campaign contributions, having inappropriate ties to lobbyist groups and incorrectly or incompletely disclosing financial information.

The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court was intended to be an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency, the justices of the United States Supreme Court have become the guardians of the American police state in which we now live.

Shadow Government: America’s next president will inherit more than a bitterly divided nation teetering on the brink of financial catastrophe when he or she assumes office. He or she will also inherit a shadow government, one that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country. Referred to as the Deep State, this shadow government is comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes right now.

To continue reading: The Age of Authoritarianism: Government of the Politicians, by the Military, for the Corporations


Take Your Pick of the “Isms” by Eric Peters

From Eric Peters on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Is this con really going to sell… again?

The neo-con intellectual Francis Fukuyama claimed the “end of history” after the fall of the Soviet Union. The ascendance – in perpetuity – of authoritarian democracy (there can be no other kind) as the new order of the ages.

But based on last night’s political happenings, it appears we’re going back a few chapters for a remedial lesson in other forms of authoritarianism.

Leave-me-be-ism is off the table. Very few takers.

Once again, the populace is presented with – take your pick – strutting, bullying fascism (in the form of America’s business-suited Duce, Donald Trump) or the rumple-suited friendly-sounding socialism of America’s take on Leon Trotsky, Bernie Sanders.

Such a nice old man! He cares about us!

Or (cue the Duce) he will lead us!

Heads or tails, authoritarianism always wins.

Trump promises – and will deliver – order. As his prototype, the Duce did. He will make sure the trains run on time. And many other such things. Thyssen and Krupp… GE and ExxonMobil. We are going to have a time!

Sanders, meanwhile, promises an easy ride and Free Stuff – and will deliver that. By taking more of your stuff. By having other people ride your back. Bernie will hold the reigns.

All for the common good, of course.

It’s what both of them claim – as their historical antecedents always claimed. Give me power and you will not recognize the place ten years from now!


People continue to fall for this. Over and over again. It is astonishing. And depressing.

Doesn’t anyone read anymore?

To continue reading: Take Your Pick of the “Isms”