Monday, July 18, 2016

2. Dissidents in American Politics: 21st Century Political Divisions

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the second in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

In the 21st Century, our nation, if not the world, has clarified how to classify people in the context of the political and economic milieu. People engaged in the political/economics milieu fall into one of two divisions and one of four classifications:
  • An Establishment including
    1. Shareholder Capitalists who run the world's economy, and
    2. Academic Oligarchists who run the national governments;
  • Authoritarian Revolutionary dissidents opposing "The Establishment" including
    1.  Romantic Populists who believe that the "virtuous" citizens are being mistreated by a small circle of elites and favor the "proper" division of economic resources through a government imposed sharing society, and
    2. Mythical Reactionaries who believe that "once upon a time" there was a state of society which possessed characteristics such as discipline, respect for authority, etc., that are absent from contemporary society and favor a government imposed return to that state of society.
Politically disengaged persons, typically about 40% of the adult population in the United States, are not relevant to these classifications. Their disengagement becomes relevant only when a revolution is attempted.

In the 21st Century world through experience (See Arab Spring) we have learned that the likelihood of a successful relatively peaceful democratic - non-authoritarian - revolution is slim mostly because of that disengagement. The likelihood of successful non-authoritarian democratic revolutions through violence offered by the American Revolution is also slim as the French learned when their revolution culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon. What we need to understand is that, in most of the world, positive government change towards a non-authoritarian model is achieved in an evolutionary process such as occurred in the United Kingdom.

As we shall explore later, the division of powers within the American Constitution creating a strong central government was necessary to replace a weak, failing national government established under the Articles of Confederation and one of those divisions created the position of President in which intuitive authoritarian powers were vested.

In response to the rise of Donald Trump, early on in this Presidential Election cycle we began to be offered in news commentary and in-depth articles on the 1990's-2000's research of political scientists who have defined "authoritarianism" as a psychological profile of people. Under the right conditions, people will desire certain kinds of extreme policies and will seek or favorably respond to strongman leaders - demagogues - to implement them.

This year the rabid supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have made it clear that a large number of voters desire an authoritarian revolution, though they are somewhat divided in orientation between over-40 reactionary ultra-nationalists (Trump supporters) and the under-40 populist multi-culturalists (Sanders supporters).

From the beginning it rapidly became clear that the rabid Trump supporters are supporters of authoritarian government. It wasn't until the majority of Democratic Party voters selected Hillary Clinton that the rabid Sanders supporters indicated they are also supporters of authoritarian government when they clearly rejected the democratic outcome in favor of imposing their own sense of order and correctness on the majority.

We also saw that generally the younger the voter age, the more likely a dissident will embrace populist multi-culturalism while seeking economic change through authoritarian actions by a President. Generally, the older the voter age, the more likely a dissident will embrace reactionary ultra-nationalism while seeking economic change through authoritarian actions by a President.

This split is at least partially the result of two terms seemingly with a common root - communications and community. (After all, "commune" has two different definitions: (1) a noun, a group of people who live and work together and share responsibilities; (2) a verb, to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.)

The younger the voter's age, the more likely the voter will have embraced the early 21st Century communications system - the internet and text messaging - which creates a sense of participation in a broad multi-cultural, even international, community, but without actually contacting another human where "contact" is traditionally defined as "the act or state of touching; immediate proximity or association."

In addition, their heavy personal device use reduces direct human interaction within the local geographic community creating a sense of isolation from groups, clubs, organizations, such as the political party system which is structured from local party "central committees" which participate creating the national party.

This has created a misuse of the word "community" where people think a community exists because of interactions on Facebook and the like - where participants have interactions with others for whom they have no responsibility for their well-being as breathing mammals beyond impersonal devices like GoFundMe.

The older the voter's age, the more likely the voter does not use the internet or text messaging, or does not use it as extensively. In the 21st Century these people have continued sense of participation in a geographic community of friends, family, and older co-workers - people they know in person from direct face-to-face interaction.

On the other hand, these older voters are more isolated from. and usually fearful of, the rapidly changing face of the broader American community and the very foreign international community. It creates a sense of isolation from the late 20th Century national political party systems where national leaders in both the national Democratic and Republican parties had a strong sense of internationalism.

Most of these older voters do understand that the grassroots "Tea Party" Mythical Reactionaries have impacted on the Republican Party. However. most Americans do not know that since the 1992  a well-financed sophisticated organization of extremely conservative Shareholder Capitalists - the State Policy Network - has successfully implemented a specific goal of taking over the state governments and Congress using those "tea party" folks.

While age and other factors may tend to divide dissidents into Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries, we need to acknowledge something simply expressed by one American stock market analyst:
There are a lot of angry people almost anywhere you care to look, and that anger isn't simply going to blow over. That's what happened in the late ‘60s and all of the 1970’s, and that is what's happening again now.
Age difference has not created an anger divide; they are all equally angry at "The Establishment" even if for different reasons. An increase in mass anger means an increase in the number of people who become avid Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries as the number of politically disengaged become angry.

This isn't limited to the United States, as observed by a New York Times Editorial Board Opinion Piece which described the Brexit vote results:
It was a cry of anger and frustration from more than half the country against those who wield power, wealth and privilege, both in their own government and in Brussels, and against global forces in a world that they felt was squeezing them out.
The important fact to understand is that most of these angry dissidents are not avid ideologues - most of the large numbers of Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries in the U.S. aren't advocates for some esoteric communist or fascist philosophies which they've studied in detail.

But they do feel the need to immediately and significantly disrupt the complex status quo created by the Shareholder Capitalists who run the world economy as facilitated by Academic Oligarchists who run the national governments. And they want it done by an authoritarian President.

The disengaged really don't care about their country being ruled by an authoritarian President ... until they do.

For ordinary people in Nazi Germany, life was comfortable, and in the period from 1950-1990 many disengaged Germans looked back and remembered accurately their years before 1939 as good years, much better than pre-1932 years. After 1939?  Yes, each day they began to care a bit more when it was too late.

Since many Americans do not understand the historical legitimacy of the authoritarian President, we will explore that subject next.

No comments: