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Democrats Declare Neutrality
Republicans Accelerate Coup in Response
As this goes to print, Virginia just elected a Republican Governor and gave Republicans a plurality in its House of Delegates. After all we know about the Republican Party, such an outcome should be unthinkable. Coupled with Congressional Democrats’ failure to do absolutely anything to advance the cause of Americans, Justice or Democracy despite complete control of the Federal Government, we must conclude that the Party has declared neutrality in the ongoing existential war over the fate of the Republic, and that it has surrendered much of its Army without a fight.
This event was not a setback, readers. Such talk from the Party and mainstream press is “spin.” It is a catastrophic defeat that indicates a phase transition in the long-running Republican attempt to establish a “Managed Democracy” indistinguishable from an authoritarian oligarchy. Winning this war just become substantially harder; the sacrifices now required cut deeper; the courage now required to win is unlike anything all but a small fraction of living Americans have ever exhibited.
It should be clear to even the most optimistic of progressives that the American Right, including the President and multiple members of Congress, conducted a failed coup in the waning days of Trump’s term of office. Recent Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone January 6, 2021 Coup) and other investigative reporting confirms our worst suspicions that there was a broad and deep conspiracy to prevent the lawful assumption of power by the Biden Administration, that all key elements of the right’s ecosystem were supportive and involved, that the murder of the Vice-president and Members of Congress was an intention of the conspiracy – and that the coup came much closer to ending American democracy than is generally understood.
It should also be clear that legal, political, and social accountability for these actions has been inadequate -- that the right continues to operate with near total impunity because American institutions are failing to act, and American citizens are content to watch this all unfold as if they had no stake in the matter.
Attorney General Garland’s statement that “I’m not going to look backward” perfectly encapsulates the multiple issues we face as a nation. First, there is a statute of limitations on crimes for a reason, and those conducted by the right during the Trump Administration fall within it, so Garland is gaslighting us in that aspect. Second, he clearly believes that because of his position in our government he gets to choose which crimes are worth pursuing, thus his decision to not pursue this set of crimes while vigorously pursuing others of less impact is clearly a case on unequal justice under the law. Third, there is a clear subtext of deference to power that is contrary to the values and principles embedded in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. From our perspective, Garland is wrong on all counts and is either a poor leader or a coward, and likely both.
But the main point is that we as citizens are as culpable as Garland because we allow this situation to persist no matter which party is in power, and this passivity has led us inevitably to the impunity enjoyed by the right, the rich, and their enablers in Government and Law Enforcement.
Sometimes it seems that the U.S. political troubles are the only thing going on in the world. We hypothesize that this feeling is overwhelming the response mechanisms of American citizens, leading to a type of action paralysis. Our intention is to place domestic political events in broader context – historically, geographically, and systemically -- thus enabling more effective individual and collective action towards progressive objectives.
From the progressive perspective, when one looks out across the United States and globally at all the challenges we face, it is easy to posit a massive, Pentaverate-type conspiracy connecting all the discrete conspiracies such as Trump’s attempted coup. Based on our intelligence analysis, we conclude that there is one ‘of sorts.’
But it is less a highly coordinated global conspiracy, and much more about multiple loosely connected groups of bad people armed with similar strategies, limitless money, and impunity enjoying increasing returns for their efforts, leveraging exponential technologies not previously or generally available, creating and accelerating network effects in which small investments in just the right places can generate spectacularly scaled returns, this in turn generating multiple interconnected vicious cycles – and all of this constituting a category of complex problem known in systems science as “wicked.”
They are called wicked not because they are necessarily associated with bad people or outcomes, but because they have no evident solutions, and their very existence dampens the enthusiasm, energy and resources required to address them effectively.
As progressives who would like to reverse these vicious cycles and solve the wicked problems in front of us, we are constrained in multiple ways: the problems are indeed systemic, complex, and propelled by highly invested bad actors; we have never been at this point before in history, so it is of limited utility to view our current situation through a lens of historical analysis; the people with power who could help have mostly been co-opted or neutralized; the progressive army is small and recruiting is tough; and we are not sufficiently armed or prepared to combat the accelerating pace of negative events, trends and outcomes.
There is an air of inevitability to all of this, which, while palpable, is a common objective and intended result of the authoritarians’ strategies. The Soviet Union used to posit the concept of the “correlation of forces,” in which everything that happened in the world was an indication of the continuing shift of balance of power from Western Hegemonic Forces (us, basically) towards the forces of socialism (them, basically). Although this seems laughable in hindsight, it was this very concept that compelled us to develop the domino theory — and from it the doctrine of containment. To operationalize containment, we then developed the military-industrial complex, which after the fall of the Soviet Union we’ve spent 30 years unsuccessfully trying to find a commensurate use for.
The correlation of forces may seem obscure to readers. My point in bringing it up is to begin laying the groundwork — to be developed more fully in subsequent reports -- for the explication of the multiple connections amongst the various authoritarian actors in the global authoritarian network. Rather than constituting a “classic” conspiracy that can be dismantled brick by brick by law enforcement, national policy or even kinetic warfare, the authoritarians have gone to school and learned their lessons. They share proven strategies, tactics, and best practices freely, they all help accelerate the vicious cycles that benefit the network, they co-opt and/or infiltrate all organizations that can challenge them, they take great pains to appear to work ‘within’ their national systems, and, most importantly, they’ve perfected the concept of impunity.
The good news for progressives is also the bad news: the authoritarian network’s entire strategy hinges on the willingness of their adversaries to allow them practical and legal impunity and non-accountability, while pinning themselves down with obsolete interpretations of “the rule of law” and “the right thing to do.”
Why does this analysis matter? As a result of the effectiveness of the long-term authoritarian strategy, the American left has sunk so low – in all meanings of that phrase, that it no longer envisions a better world, it no longer advocates forcefully and broadly for its own ideals, it expends all its energy and dwindling time in power on meaningless sideshows like “infrastructure,” it compromises rather than fights when bullied -- with the result that it rallies few and energizes fewer – and folds when holding the winning hand. There is a ‘learned helplessness” infecting the American left that goes unacknowledged and unaddressed.
The left, and particularly the Democratic Party, has the same type of “losing attitude” that infects sports teams. We posit that it must be “coached” into a winning attitude through the conscious effort of American progressives as part of its own deliberate strategy to begin solving the wicked problems we face.
We also posit that citizens cannot wait for -- or defer to -- the Democratic Party, because the Party has ceded its right to lead due to its incompetence, its failure to advance a coherent progressive agenda, its turning a blind eye to injustice, and its inability to advance a strategy to counter national deterioration. American citizens have provided the Democratic Party the same type of impunity from accountability we extend to Republican wrongdoers. Thus, a turnaround in our fortunes must start with integrity and accountability in our own house.
That said, we must vote for Democrats unless or until we have a viable political alternative. But must stop writing blank checks to the Party – like Republican Party supporters our checks must come with strings attached – the very strings posited by classic political theory and coalition building. We can and must provide the Democratic Party a “spine” that in turn bolsters its willingness to hold its adversaries accountable or choose to fight on ground over which it can win. It is doing neither now.