5 min read

An Atlas of Collapse: Authoritarianism in the US Pt. 2

An Atlas of Collapse: Authoritarianism in the US Pt. 2

Imagine two groups of people, supposedly diametrically opposed, spaced out on a football field. Let's call them Red Team and Blue Team. Both groups represent, together, the majority of Americans. We're currently zoomed in on both teams, and the space between them on the field. The whistle blows. Both teams start running right, Red Team faster than Blue but boy is Blue hustling. Then, we zoom out. Both of these fucking teams were crushed into the right-side of the field anyway, and both are mere yards from the end zone.

While this is where we're at between the two ruling parties of US politics, it doesn't mean we should take our eye off the rightmost one, particularly because they are about to come back into power. Trump and the GOP are still gathering their troops and finalizing their plans, and none of them are pretty. It's also becoming increasingly clear that any supposed safety nets we thought we had in 2016 have either ceased to exist or were never there to begin with. We're rawdogging the slide to fascism, as the kids would put it.

So today, let's talk about some of the worst things on the horizon with the presumed re-election of Donald Trump, as well as the rightward slide of all other parts of our wretched government and apparatchiks. There's a lot of big, horrifying stuff to discuss as well as the sort of everyday awful that we got in Trump's last presidency.

The Minutia

I am torn between a certain amount of fatalistic joy in Trump's dismantling of the federal government as an anarchist and an equal amount of fatalistic despair that his doing so in this manner will result in considerable harm. That, in a nutshell, is why people who cheer on the collapse are sympathetic to me but ultimately misguided. This kind of collapse? It's bringing the metaphorical building down on our ears. There is a universe in which we pull off a just and harmless deconstruction of the government, but it is not this one and it is not this way. See the following.

You may recall how Trump took the knees out from under our soft power while he was previously in office. He all but literally evacuated embassies across the globe and it took years of scrambling for those offices to get filled again. This example, in particular, is useless given that Biden has embraced so much of Trump's methods contra world stage, but it exemplifies the approach with which Trump is likely to proceed in a second term. For example, Trump has promised not only to cut funding for critical green initiatives, (which, remember, are a failure but every tenth of a degree matters) but also funding for the World Health Organization and Department of Education. To do so, Trump will bend the constitutionally-bestowed powers of Congress over spending into the executive branch. How this will end up working is that whatever Congress says, Trump will undercut by executive order or "impoundment," and Trump will get his way as he pretty much always has. And if the Supreme Court caves on this issue, which it very well might, this destroys a chunk of the separation of powers that were integral to keeping the branches of government in check.

And, of course, cutting money from these and other programs, despite what Trump says, does not mean tax cuts for you. A predictable plank in Trump's re-election campaign is supporting the police and military, and given the behind-the-scenes planning for control over big-tech companies, we're about to see a huge shift in right-wing governing from the old ways of "smaller government" toward "Father Trump will take care of you and you will like it."

The Big Shit

You might have noticed I kind of already talked about Trump breaking the Constitution in the second paragraph of the section labeled "The Minutia," which hopefully prepares you for the worse things to come. And you might be thinking, "what could be worse than the destruction of the Constitution?" to which I would answer: the harm and death of thousands if not millions of people, both in the United States and across the globe.

With Trump's return to the White House, it's almost certain that Ukraine will not have access to the kind of weaponry it had in the past, and without the United States' nigh-endless bankrolling of conflict (in this particular region–we will of course continue funding other wars), it's unclear how the embattled country, and for that matter, Europe, will proceed. Most probable is that Trump will push some kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia, with Ukraine ceding the land lost to Russia and some kind of permanent barring from possible entry to NATO–with, ideally, the smashing of NATO to come. While this deal is being hashed out, one would guess, if one were pessimistic, that Russia might try to gouge out as much territory as possible before the deal were finalized. And of course, if Trump were truly to get his way, with NATO withered up and US contributions to virtually all other multinational agencies, the world would begin here to quickly descend into isolationism. This, it shouldn't need to be said, is truly awful, as so many countries are in crisis and are in need of international aid.

With the world stage in-shambling, there are folks behind the scenes, lovers of Trump and general powerful pieces of shit are champing at the bit for the destruction of supposed opponents of America. A group chat put together by world-class, I mean truly unparalleled, absolutely-top-of-the-heap-top-ten-first-people-I'd-shoot-into-the-sun Erik Prince, made up of former politicians, oil executives, and other such pond scum-hey-that's-an-insult-to-pond-scum-types, has provided a window into the lives of a broad swath of the people in power. Takeaways from the chat include: they want to bomb multiple countries, and straight up destroy at least a few; they're fucking idiots; they don't believe in democracy as it is practiced in the United States–not the part where we're all essentially disenfranchised by gerrymandering and lobbying, but instead the enfranchisement of the public to begin with. These people would see voting power in the hands of land or business-owning white men, I expect, and that's it.

If that kind of discourse sounds familiar to you, it should. The manifesto on Christian Nationalism I covered a couple months back would inevitably send us back into the 1800s, with voting rights akin to those granted at the country's founding. Project 2025, also, will inevitably curtail voting rights–imposing strict voter ID laws will just be the start. Trump's return to the presidency and his chaotic stumble toward authoritarianism is likely to just pave the way for full-bodied Christian Nationalism as those that follow in his wake hold tight to the crumbling ruins of the country.

The Whole Deal

I don't want to minimize the threat of Trump by reminding you how awful Biden has been for millions of people, but I do think that point needs to be stressed. Biden is funding and advocating for the genocide of Palestinians, who have been colonized, exploited, incarcerated, beaten, starved, and murdered, ever since the first Nakba. Trump, to be clear, will permit this to continue. This is a false choice we're being given in November, and I don't wish to engage with the idea any other way. It's evil versus evil, with Biden pushing forward Trumpian immigration policies and Trump, for his part, stating some immigrants aren't people. This is chilling. Of course it is. But engaging in the system as the system has demanded is not the way out of this situation.

We have got to get serious about organizing and supporting each other outside of existing power structures. For marginalized communities, this could very well become the main method of survival. It will, soon enough, become how all of us survive.