Politics Magazine

American History of Authoritarian Coup: Ending the Cycle

Posted on the 25 December 2020 by Andy96

Resisting Our Third Attempted Authoritarian Coup

Authoritarian ideology is destructive and abusive.  Authoritarians, who currently control both our economic and political systems, have and are again threatning our democratic republic with another authoritarian coup attempt.  Voters have again pushed back on this attack in 2020, but not strongly enough.  The “blue wave” lacked adequate concern from those running for office.  The candidates refused to address the abuses and injustices plaguing most voters.  In parallel, the authoritarian oligarchs poured unfathomable billions into dividing the voters to minimize our democratic response – the “blue wave” got no further than the White House.

This is the third attempted coup by our ever-present right-wing authoritarian oligarchs since our founding.  As of this writting, this attempt is still in work.   Ending it will take significant systemic changes in our near future.

Authoritarian coup Led by Southern Oligarchs:

Our first attempted coup started in the early 19th century and grew under the leadership of wealthy slave holders of the South.  They dreaded the loss of their enriching low-cost slave labor.   Fortunately for the slaves, the South lost the struggle on the battlefield.  Unfortunately, the authoritarian ideology, which justified the slave owner’s excessive wealth, their need to control and which drove them to war, survived.  This authoritarian ideology spread as the nation expanded westward.  Idolizing the Western cowboy made promotion of the authoritarian ideology easy.  It infected mostly whites, especially white excessively wealthy industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Another Authoritarian coup attempt by Industrial Oligarchs:

After statehood was extended throughout the cowboy dominated West and the unfettered economy enriched the oligarchs across the nation, America suffered another authoritarian-driven monumental setback: the Great Depression. The oligarchs used our authoritarian economic system to crash this system while trying to maximize their wealth.  Citizens rose up and demanded restrictions on their abusers and wanted direct aid to help them survive the economic disaster.  

FDR heard them and addressed their abuses with massive people over profit legislation.  Unfortunately, white citizens were the primary beneficiaries.  But this was still too much for the authoritarian oligarchs of the time who would lose more wealth as the New Deal progressed.  These oligarchs finally resorted to an attempted coup using disgruntled WWI veterans led by a retired Marine General Smedley Butler.  Congress investigated this coup, but no one paid a price for this treason, just as the South never really paid for their treason.

The liberal consensus pushback on authoritarian domination continued into the 1960s as Republicans Eisenhower and Nixon helped.  Nixon, however, also helped turn back the tide for rising democracy by appointing Lewis Powell to SCOTUS.  In 1976 and 1978, Powell helped define money as speech for both corporations and oligarchs.

Division and Unity Impact the Authoritarian Coup Cycle:

Another element of the first two attempted authoritarian coups was our national psyche during WAR.  

The Civil War was internal and divided the citizenry over slavery.  Those promoting increased equality and liberty, the liberal consensus, won the war, but the ideology of the authoritarian losers persisted.   Nurturing and expanding it westward laid the foundation for our second authoritarian coup attempt.

WWII was external and unity of the citizenry was a major factor for winning.  This unity started with the shared suffering from the Great Depression and was maximized with two key government war policies: anti-racist propaganda while fighting the Nazi racists and large scale replacement of capitalism with rationing to avoid corporate exploitation/division of the citizenry.  The intent was to promote a market, with limited supplies, based on need instead of greed.  The long term impact of citizen unity was a major factor that kept the liberal consensus strong.   It also limited the spread of the deeply embedded authoritarian ideology from the 1860s to the 1960s. 

Third Time – The Cycle Repeats:

The third, or on-going, coup attempt, uses the same authoritarian ideology of Southern slave owners and Western cowboys.  What is new in this cycle is the ideological language of the “Movement Conservative” that reframed the authoritarian ideology and pushed the nomination of Barry Goldwater as their ideal Western cowboy hero.  Goldwater lost the election but the authoritarian ideology staying-power won some southern Democratic states.  

Lyndon Johnson became our president as the oligarchs failed again to take control.  Johnson continued the liberal consensus of FDR and Eisenhower to equally protect and empower American citizens.   However, after the 1964 election loss, Movement Conservative found a new western hero in Ronald Reagan who became the great white hope for the new post-depression oligarchs.  In 1980, Reagan, with Movement Conservative, won the south and the west with the authoritarian ideology that originated in the South and migrated to the West.  The war against the liberal consensus began anew.

Movement Conservative Takes Hold

With the help of William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, The John Birch Society, Pat Buchanan, Grover Norquist, ending the Fairness Doctrine, Doug Coe of The Family  the Moral Majority, David Stockman, all the conservative Think Tanks born out of The Powell Memo, the Christian Coalition, Newt Gingrich, Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, Fox News, Hate Radio, pro-corporate and anti-voter rulings from SCOTUS, growing voter suppression, the Clinton Third Way, telecommunications monopolization, gerrymandering, dog whistles turned into blatant racism, billionaires like the Kochs and Mercers buying politicians, and authoritarian coup leaders blaming others, our third authoritarian coup has slowly advanced for four decades.  Trump is still trying to become our first dictator.

Relative to the previous coup attempts, the current coup is most like the slave owner authoritarian coup.  We are again divided and susceptible to attack from a pandemic or opportunity-seeking foreign power.  At this point, the warring sides are only battling using the wide variety of media tools.  The unity of WWII is no where in sight as hundreds of thousands of Americans are no longer living with their families because we are too divided to defeat the pandemic or anything else.

Expanding Democracy Will End the Authroitarian Coup Cycle:

We need to break this authoritarian driven cycle and stop the current and any future authoritarian coup attempts.  More democracy is needed in both our political and economic systems now.  We need more protection and empowerment of both voters and workers.

Voter registration must be automatic.  Voting must be a right without fear of limination or loss.  Election day must be a national holiday.  Employees must have paid time-off for voting early.  All registered voters who want it must be able to vote by mail.  Delivery of mail-in ballots must never be delayed. The Electoral College must be nullified by the states.

To protect and empower workers, we need to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act.  The National Labor Relations act needs modification to allow domestic and farm workers to unionize. We must pass laws to promote employee-owned businesses and allow employees to take over abusive large corporations.  Employee-owned businesses won’t send their jobs to other countries.  Businesses owned by employees won’t pollute their communities.  Employee-owned businesses will manage work schedules to minimize unemployment.  But most importantly, employee-owned businesses won’t  create (empower and protect) oligarchs to buy our government.

We need to replace corporate personhood with nature personhood.  Congress needs to outlaw corporate rights sanctioned by SCOTUS which enable abuse of citizens and nature.  Citizens and nature need new rights enacted to protect them from corporate/oligarch abuse.

We must attain a national unity by ending the media war with a new Fairness Doctrine.

What you can do to break the cycle

Stay involved, keep the pressure on your elected officials, remain vigilant.  Replace politicians if they remain non-responsive to the abuses you are suffering.  Support efforts to equally protect and empower all citizens.  Learn to recognize the division of authoritarian ideology and reject its hierarchy of inequality. Support unity through maximizing the liberal consensus that “all [people and nature] are created equal.”  

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