As America enters the Age of Trump, it is important to recognize that what's happening is not just about Trump, and not just about America. Forces kindred to Trump have lately been ascendant around the world.
We see different manifestations of this same ascendant force that has borne Trump into the presidency in Putin's Russia, in Erdogan's Turkey, in Britain's Brexit movement, in right-wing ethno-nationalist parties across Europe (France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, etc.), in Netanyahu's Israel, and in Duterte's Philippines.
Trump himself recognizes this kinship. And one can see a degree of de facto alliance forming among the leaders who embody this dark spirit.* [NOTE below]
The global nature of this rising spirit has important implications for how it can be defeated.
Of course, it is also true that, in each nation, the forces of resistance must do the political work of organizing to win elections within their boundaries. An essential part of the battle, therefore, is at the level of electoral politics within sovereign entities.
But clearly, the very fact of the global nature of the ascendancy of this dark force shows that national politics is not the only level involved. When electorates in very different nations are empowering such a dark force, something has been percolating in today's civilization at the level of ideas and passions.
Accordingly, it is at that level that part of the battle against this force must be conducted. What is needed, in other words, is a transnational movement to win over the "hearts and minds" of the citizenry of the democratic (or once democratic) nations whose future is threatened by that rising dark force.
A global movement at the level of the spirit --dedicated to the values that uplift the human world -- can provide fuel to power the partisan political combat against those in each nation who are channeling this ascendant, dark. transnational force.
To envision the nature of what is required of such a movement, we can begin by asking: What is it that this battle is being fought over? And to answer that, we can start with the question: What is the nature of the force (or spirit) that Trump and these others represent.
Not all the manifestations -- Russia, Turkey, Europe, Israel, Trump's America etc. -- are identical. But they all have a common set of directions:
- Erdogan in Turkey has locked up thousands whom he sees as opposed to him. (Putin, too, has used the force of the state to crush his opposition.) With Trump, there are at this point only hints and threats pointing in such a direction.
- Across Europe, hatreds against the outsiders have been stirred up. Trump's signature issue, of course, was the demonization of Muslims and immigrants from Mexico.
- Duterte in the Philippines -- with his encouragement of vilgilantism -- has discarded the rule of law. With Trump, once again, who has not yet even come to power, we see signs pointing ominously in that direction, what with his continuous display of disregard for what the law, or even the Constitution, says.
- In Putin's Russia -- and now also in Trump's appointments to his Cabinet -- we see a melding of the forces of private wealth with the institutions of public power. The government for and by the people becomes a government of the people but for and by the wealthy and the corporate system.
- And in most of these regimes, truth is if not the first then at least an early casualty. The killing of journalists in Russia connects with Trump's continual stream of falsehoods, and his evident intention to intimidate the press.
(Though each of the different nations show their own mix and degree of such pathologies, the question for all our democracies -- most definitely including the United States -- is how far in the direction of darkness will they evolve in the years to come if the current battle against this rising force is not won. **)
What do these pathologies add up to?
One might call it "The Rule of the Thug." I would suggest that the best single designation for this dark thing we see ascendant around the globe is "The Rise of Fascism." Or "The Rise of the Fascistic Spirit."
(A similar mix of ethno-nationalism, economic distress and insecurity, and an overweening lust for power gave rise to a similar transnational dark force in the 1930s.)
All of which points toward what might be an effective strategy a global movement to help counter the global rise of this dark spirit.
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