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By Jason Michael
America is in crisis, and of this there can be no mistake. Donald Trump has taken the United States over the line in the sand from democracy to fascism. In doing this he has emboldened far-right movements around the world and made us all less safe.
We do not simply awake one morning to discover that fascism has begun. There is no defining moment or event that signals that the transition from democracy to fascism has been completed. Rather it arises and develops as a series of vaguely authoritarian or fascistic government policy changes, making more and more people feel a little uneasy. There are, however, events that make it clear that the grey area transition threshold from democracy to outright fascism has been spanned, and the moment President Donald Trump sacked acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defending the Constitution of the United States it was obvious the Rubicon had been crossed.
It cannot be denied that democracy is in crisis, not only in the US but in Europe and everywhere around the world where the far-right is once again on the march. Donald Trump’s victory and the speed and boldness of his assaults on democracy and human rights have done nothing but encourage and embolden like-minded demagogues and rightest movements around the world. He has let it be known that he will support and stand with the people who threaten all of our democratic values and freedoms, and with every passing day his hold on power is becoming stronger. What must alarm us the most is that this is only the beginning.
In the States there is a growing popular reaction to the new Administration that has burst forth from a collective sense of shock. It has been energised by Trump’s horrific ban on Muslim immigration and the moves he had made to limit individual freedoms. Fascism has come as something of a surprise to many, but, however good it is to see this resistance, this storm cloud has been gathering for a long time. Donald Trump has merely become the vehicle that has brought this festering amalgam of racist and extremist Christian ideologies to power. Now that they have taken the state the disease becomes much more difficult to treat, and democratic institutions have historically proven too weak to address such a serious threat.
In Europe the strength of the fascist right now threatens the existence of the European Union. Ethno-nationalist movements from Poland to France are gaining ground on the back of a fear narrative of Islamic terrorism, and their goal is to break the unity of Europe and reclaim control of their own borders; keep Muslims out. Yet few supporting this racist and isolationist agenda are paying much heed to the fact that greater European unity has maintained peace on the continent for almost seventy years. Now with mounting fears that Russia will expand into the Baltic states – NATO members – and with Trump prepared to filch on the alliance European unity is more crucial than ever.
Eleven days have been a long time in US politics. All the rules have changed. The former system, as broken and dysfunctional as it was, did guarantee a level of security and predictability. Now what we have is instability and unpredictability; a dangerous combination in international politics. We have at least four years of this up ahead of us, and – provided that things do not deteriorate any further in that time – between now and the end of Trump’s term of office we have an obligation to defend all the lights of freedom that we have so far taken for granted. Our failure to fight for peace and justice, for law and order, for freedom and democracy, will result in their complete destruction. These are fragile things, and their future very much depends on what we are willing to do now.
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