Liked So What About That (Self)-Coup? by zeynep (Insight)

This clearly wasn’t just politics as usual, and not because of the mob that took over the Capitol. This was a trial run for a self-coup that could very well be tried in the future. An overwhelming majority of the GOP representatives in the house spent the day in lock-down and came back and promptly voted to overturn the election. In a future scenario where the election had come down to PA—for example if Joe Biden hadn’t very very narrowly won Georgia and Arizona by a total of about 23,127 votes out of total of about hundred-and-fifty million cast, or if Trump hadn’t just contributed to the loss of two senate seats in Georgia for the GOP, and thus the loss of the control of the Senate. It’s absolutely plausible to me that even more Republicans would have joined this blatant attempt to overturn the election and that their base would mostly have been fine with that. The (self)-coup train wasn’t something that was just for show; it just wasn’t close enough to work this time.

Bookmarked Love the world anyway by Anand Giridharadas (The.Ink)

Talking to Hannah Arendt’s new biographer about propaganda, evil, forgiveness, hope, and loving the world enough to believe that it can change

Anand Giridharadas speaks with Ann Heberlein about the life and work of Hannah Arendt. The two explore Arendt’s brilliant, yet complex, thinking. Central to all this is a love of the world.

Arendt had been reconciled with the incompleteness of life, with the fragility of the world. She believes that it is a duty to love the world. Amor mundi, “love of the world,” means caring for life so that it can continue to exist. We must be able to love the world as it is, in all its brokenness and imperfection. To achieve that requires hope, hope that change is possible, hope for the future.

Associated with all of this is the importance of responsibility.

The potential to perform evil acts or to accept evil acts by others is present in us all. The antidote is not, as one might think, goodness, but rather reflection. Another concept that is central to Arendt’s thinking is responsibility. Since every individual is free and has the power to influence the world and other people’s lives through their attitudes and actions, they also have a responsibility.

Reflecting upon the current situation, Heberlein says that people like Eichmann were maintaining order, whereas those storming the Capitol were trying to challenge it all. Alternatively, Richard Evans suggests that Donald Trump is not a fascist.

On Arendt, Jenny Mackness provides a different introduction through a breakdown of the book Between Past and Future.

Bookmarked Why Trump isn’t a fascist (newstatesman.com)

The storming of the Capitol on 6 January was not a coup. But American democracy is still in danger.

In comparing rise of Hitler and Mussolini, Richard Evans explains that Donald Trump’s roll as an isolationist is counter to the fascist mandate for war and conquest.

The society Hitler wanted was portrayed in the final minutes of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), with endless serried ranks of uniformed SS troops marching across the screen like well-oiled automata. The reality was different, as the majority of Germans retreated from this dehumanising prospect into their own private lives.

Trump by contrast has encouraged a warped vision of personal freedom: a society in which people aren’t subject to government regulation or supervision, where anarchy and confusion reign, self-restraint is abandoned, violence is unchecked, and self-aggrandising corruption permeates politics.

This makes me wonder the use of the word ‘fascism’.

Bookmarked The American Abyss – A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next. by Timothy Snyder (nytimes.com)

Audio Recording by Audm

Timothy Snyder, the author of On Tyranny, places the current situation in time. He discusses the historical divide in 1877 and how back then it was actually the Democrats who were trying to suppress African-American voters.

Some things have changed since 1877, of course. Back then, it was the Republicans, or many of them, who supported racial equality; it was the Democrats, the party of the South, who wanted apartheid. It was the Democrats, back then, who called African-Americans’ votes fraudulent, and the Republicans who wanted them counted. This is now reversed. In the past half century, since the Civil Rights Act, Republicans have become a predominantly white party interested — as Trump openly declared — in keeping the number of voters, and particularly the number of Black voters, as low as possible. Yet the common thread remains. Watching white supremacists among the people storming the Capitol, it was easy to yield to the feeling that something pure had been violated. It might be better to see the episode as part of a long American argument about who deserves representation.

He then makes the comparison between the lie perpetuated by Trump and that perpetuated by Hitler.

The lie outlasts the liar. The idea that Germany lost the First World War in 1918 because of a Jewish “stab in the back” was 15 years old when Hitler came to power. How will Trump’s myth of victimhood function in American life 15 years from now? And to whose benefit?

Snyder considers what this might mean for the future, especially for 2024.

Trump’s coup attempt of 2020-21, like other failed coup attempts, is a warning for those who care about the rule of law and a lesson for those who do not. His pre-fascism revealed a possibility for American politics. For a coup to work in 2024, the breakers will require something that Trump never quite had: an angry minority, organized for nationwide violence, ready to add intimidation to an election. Four years of amplifying a big lie just might get them this. To claim that the other side stole an election is to promise to steal one yourself. It is also to claim that the other side deserves to be punished.

Ibram X. Kendi approaches the situation differently highlighting that such white terror is not new and to treat it so is to deny both the past and present.

Americans remember and accept the enfranchising of citizens and peaceful transfers of power as their history, while forgetting and denying the coup plots, the attempted coups, and the successful coups. White terror is as American as the Stars and Stripes. But when this is denied, it is no wonder that the events at the Capitol are read as shocking and un-American.

Bookmarked Denial Is the Heartbeat of America by Ibram X. Kendi (theatlantic.com)

We must stop the heartbeat of denial and revive America to the thumping beat of truth. The carnage has no chance of stopping until the denial stops. This is not who we are must become, in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: This is precisely who we are. And we are ashamed. And we are aggrieved at what we’ve done, at how we let this happen. But we will change. We will hold the perpetrators accountable. We will change policy and practices. We will radically root out this problem. It will be painful. But without pain there is no healing.

And in the end, what will make America true is the willingness of the American people to stare at their national face for the first time, to open the book of their history for the first time, and see themselves for themselves—all the political viciousness, all the political beauty—and finally right the wrongs, or spend the rest of the life of America trying.

Ibram X. Kendi suggests that to consider what happened on the 6th January as the death of democracy is to deny all the other injustices that have been lived out through history. He lists a number of past events, as well as Child Gambino’s This is America, and argues that, “This is not who we are must become, in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: This is precisely who we are.”

This is something that Keith Knight captures in the form of a cartoon:

The K Chronicles: Not Who We Are?

Liked Everything Is Different Now by Tom Junod (theatlantic.com)

The unsayable thing—the taboo thing—to say about 9/11 is that, while it might have provided an occasion for Americans to rediscover their patriotism, it was in the moment exactly what it felt like: a defeat. It is the same with January 6, 2021. This was the defeat of a police force, the defeat of a presumption, the defeat of naive faith in the native goodness of our fellow Americans—a defeat made all the more bitter for being an inside job.