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Reich writes: "As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically do these things."

Robert Reich. (photo: Getty)
Robert Reich. (photo: Getty)

20 Signs of Impending Tyranny

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page

09 February 18


s tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:

  1. Demand personal loyalty from all appointees.

  2. Organize military parades and other choreographed shows of force.

  3. Threaten to fire independent prosecutors who get too close to the truth.

  4. Spread conspiracy theories about "deep state" forces seeking to oust the tyrant.

  5. Refer to top-ranking military leaders as "my" generals.

  6. Threaten to jail political opponents.

  7. Claim to have won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.

  8. Stoke tensions abroad, even the specter of nuclear war, to distract from the tyrant's efforts to consolidate power at home.

  9. Circumvent the independent press and communicate directly with followers.

  10. Vilify legislators and judges who are critical of the regime.

  11. Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.

  12. Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize the regime, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”

  13. Repeatedly tell big lies, causing the public to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.

  14. Blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and hatred against them.

  15. Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.

  16. Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.

  17. Appoint family members to high positions of authority.

  18. Draw no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from public office.

  19. Make personal alliances with foreign dictators, but express indifference if not defiance toward leaders of democracies.

  20. Maintain a powerful propaganda arm that claims to be "fair and balanced" but only amplifies the tyrant's lies and accusations. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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+93 # tedrey 2018-02-09 10:04
Yes, but oligarchs handle their political and economic control according to different methods. In our case, get rid of the tyrant by all means, but do realize that the oligarchs will still remain, just as they did before 2016, and that they aren't democratic either.
-9 # Observer 47 2018-02-09 12:06
Excellent point! The corporatocracy neither began nor will end with Trump. He is only a symptom.

And Reich's tailoring of his list to specific Trump actions and utterances is just a bit too precious.
+125 # BetaTheta 2018-02-09 10:23
There is a deep American complacency that "it can't happen here," because we are somehow different and exceptional. Time to wake up. We have hitherto had checks and balances that would impede the ascension of a tyrant, but those are rapidly eroding under the influence of one political party that has an increasingly messianic conviction that it has a monopoly on truth and a right to power. We are in a fight to retain whatever vestige of democracy we had.

Trump's essential nature and inclinations are not traditionally American and Constitutional, but partake of the typical tyrants of history. If he had been a Soviet, he would be Stalin, if a Zimbabwean, he would be Mugabe. He just happened to be born American.
+33 # revhen 2018-02-09 11:36
And Hitler. Been reading Mike Duncan's The Storm Before the Storm that that discusses how the Roman republic collapsed because of the very things Reich states as well as the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots thus paving the way to the dictatorship. Also read Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here which shows how a Trump-like person established a dictatorship -=- written in 1936!
+15 # chapdrum 2018-02-09 13:12
BT, that is spot on. Thank you.
+6 # Robbee 2018-02-09 18:56
[quote name="BetaTheta "] We are in a fight to retain whatever vestige of democracy we had./quote]
- “never hillary!” = “dickhead forever!”

don’t it always seem to go?
that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone? - j. mitchell

“we have seen the enemy! and they are us! - pogo

"Next election, resolve to MAKE OUR VOTE COUNT!” (solid caps original) - bernie
+79 # ddd-rrr 2018-02-09 10:47
"RIGHT ON!", Robert Reich! Thanks for pointing this out!
-48 # Depressionborn 2018-02-09 11:32
fascinating. Trump hasn't broken even one law. (Except to disagree with Robert Reich.)
+19 # economagic 2018-02-09 20:47
Correction: He has not yet been CONVICTED of breaking any law, at least so far as we know. Don't you watch the news? Don't you know ANYTHING about the law?
+15 # Jim Rocket 2018-02-10 00:27
Then he has nothing to fear from the Mueller investigation. But he sure doesn't act like it and neither do the Republicans around him.
+18 # EternalTruth 2018-02-10 05:43
You mean tRump hasn't been convicted of breaking any laws. He's broken plenty. What's fascinating is the number of people who go out of their way to defend this piece of filth.
+2 # kyzipster 2018-02-11 13:33
Well yeah, after nearly 40 years of going over the cliff of right-wing extremism, there aren't many laws or sensible regulations left to break.
+15 # evolver 2018-02-09 11:49
Thank you Robert! I hope this poignant "reality check" gets wide coverage!
+19 # economagic 2018-02-09 11:59
For a more thoughtful list, with amplification of each item and less tailored to our current tyrant, read Yale Historian Timothy Snyder's little book, "On Tyranny." Published last year, brief and inexpensive, Snyder's 20 "lessons" are based on his lifelong study of the tyrannies of the 20th century.
+11 # GDW 2018-02-09 12:00
Sounds like the Trump Presidency to me
+17 # MendoChuck 2018-02-09 12:11
BetaTheta is on the right track but did not mention how technology has focused the next generation into watching their Cell Phones instead of watching Washington DC.
Facebook has their attention and facebook controls the what, how and why they are reading and watching.
My concern is the lack of concentration and the need for something new every 20 seconds that eats away at any possibility of long term learning process.
But then again this is just my perception and I hope that I am wrong. At my age I do tend to see things more from the long term view which may or may not be a good thing.
Only time will tell . . . . .
+1 # Salus Populi 2018-02-10 11:18
Last May, Google, another of the media giants and by far the most-used search engine on the Web, reconfigured their algorithms, supposedly to guard against the proliferation of "fake news." World Socialist Web Site, which provides a Marxist perspective on the news and events, suddenly lost three-quarters of its hits per month. Other dissident and radical-left sites reported similar losses.

As far as I know, Google is not affiliated with the White House; in fact, it has been helpful to the "get-Russia" campaign of the DNC and the secret police agencies, supported by the mainstream media and engineered by the neo-cons. Trying to restrain the campaign against Russia was the only positive policy in Drumpf's election campaign, and it was abandoned with the appointments of neo-con generals to the White House staff.

It would appear to me that it is the mainstream that is deliberately restricting access to contending views and evidence; in their xenophobic fever, even the Republicans who are defending Trump by attacking Clinton have jumped on the bandwagon that paints Russia as the Great Enemy.

Unfortunately, all too many supposed progressives seem to have lost their bearings on this increased threat of nuclear conflict, which began, it should never be forgotten, under Obama and his two Secretaries of State.

The loss of net neutrality is taking away the last avenue of communication among leftists. Just as always, the ruling class has to want fascism for it to happen.
+25 # Wise woman 2018-02-09 12:15
I think many people have begun to understand just how dangerous the trump administration really is. Initially, it was just the fact that he was mentally incompetent but now the entire party is colluding in this reckless and illegal behavior. Every day something new arises from this despicable group. Hopefully, we will see big changes this year with or without the dems.
-35 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-02-09 12:17
Reich has become one of the main bullhorns for democratic party talking points. The utility of these talking points is that they protect the democratic party from any changes following the defeat of Hillary. It is all someone else's fault, so democrats don't need to change.

The people who ran the Clinton campaign were about the worst political managers imaginable. They are now working this losing strategy and very likely they will lose again in 2018. No one believes anything that Reich writes. Nothing he writes about any truth value or any importance for voters. They are just empty bullet points, exactly the same as made up Hillary's campaign.

Fortunately there are genuine progressives or democratic socialists running in 2018. Reich is not helping them, except that he is helping the establishment democrats make themselves irrelevant. They are living in a fantasy world of mirrors. They can only see themselves. They marvel at how great they are.
-2 # wilhelmscream 2018-02-09 12:25
Can we + on Gov. LePage's 8yr BS and vague work requirements 4 Medicaid?
+5 # chrisconno 2018-02-09 13:00
The only test Trump could pass. He hit 100%. Unless there is the chance that there are more qualifications, then he could get a 100% +.
+12 # sweetbabbalou 2018-02-09 13:35
This message has to reach the ones that are blindly following while trusting that "it cannot happen here" and unfortunately they do not read RSN or go to Robert Reich's website or any of the other sites that may share or link to his site.
+12 # brycenuc 2018-02-09 16:41
Nothing impending about it. It's already here.
+9 # draypoker 2018-02-09 17:10
Was Trump born just after the death of Mussolini? Musso is the tyrant he most resembles, though he doesn't control as much power.
+1 # ktony 2018-02-09 18:08
Is tRump's secret identity Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip?
+11 # tomtom 2018-02-09 23:50
Depressionborn; authorizing the bombing and the selling of arms for others to bomb targets with 80% civilian casualties may be legal, but its's the action of a very sick and cruel human.
0 # Lennie 2018-02-09 23:56
I wonder if you are referring to the Marmalade Mussolini?
-11 # 2018-02-10 08:03
Trump is good for America. He demonstrates all the flaws and provides focus on what is wrong in our republic. We must avoid personalization (I like Trump; I hate Trump) and try to analyze what we see dispassionately . The truth, or something resembling it, is out there somewhere.
+8 # David Starr 2018-02-10 10:17
Trump is getting up there with the likes of "Third World" tyrants. Only that he is impeded by the democratic characteristics within U.S. society.
+7 # frank100 2018-02-11 11:52
Here is what is happening. It's from Wiki:

Inverted totalitarianism is a term coined by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in 2003 to describe the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin analysed the US as increasingly turning into a managed democracy (similar to an illiberal democracy). He uses the term "inverted totalitarianism " to draw attention to the totalitarian aspects of the US political system while emphasizing its differences from proper totalitarianism , such as Nazi and Stalinist regimes.[1]

In Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, inverted totalitarianism is described as a system where corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics trumps politics.[2][3] [4][5] Every natural resource and living being is commodified and exploited to the point of collapse, as the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism and sensationalism. [6][7]

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