Psychology Magazine

Will Our American Democracy Collapse?

By Deric Bownds @DericBownds
An apocalyptic opinion piece by Krugman induces me to ruminations of the sort I’ve been inflicting on MindBlog readers in recent posts (see last paragrapht). But first, a few edited clips from Krugman. He notes:
...our two major political parties are very different in their underlying structures. The Democrats are a coalition of interest groups — labor unions, environmentalists, L.G.B.T.Q. activists and more. The Republican Party is the vehicle of a cohesive, monolithic movement. This is often described as an ideological movement, although given the twists and turns of recent years — the sudden embrace of protectionism, the attacks on “woke” corporations (see Edsall's piece “Is Wokeness ‘Kryptonite for Democrats"?) — the ideology of movement conservatism seems less obvious than its will to power.
America’s democratic experiment may well be nearing its end...Republicans might take power legitimately; they might win through pervasive voter suppression; G.O.P. legislators might simply refuse to certify Democratic electoral votes and declare Donald Trump or his political heir the winner. However it plays out, the G.O.P. will try to ensure a permanent lock on power and do all it can to suppress dissent.
...how did we get here?...the predominance of craven careerists is what has made the Republican Party so vulnerable to authoritarian takeover...a great majority of Republicans in Congress know that the election wasn’t stolen. Very few really believe that the storming of the Capitol was a false-flag antifa operation or simply a crowd of harmless tourists. But decades as a monolithic, top-down enterprise have filled the G.O.P. with people who will follow the party line wherever it goes... So if Trump or a Trump-like figure declares that we have always been at war with East Asia, well, his party will say that we’ve always been at war with East Asia. If he says he won a presidential election in a landslide, never mind the facts, they’ll say he won the election in a landslide...The point is that neither megalomania at the top nor rage at the bottom explains why American democracy is hanging by a thread. Cowardice, not craziness, is the reason government by the people may soon perish...

Does the democratic experiment end? Does the U.S. become an autocracy to protect the wealth and well being of financially secure white men like myself?’ My early childhood experiences of being an outsider  watching from the periphery of groups inclines me to view the current  ‘crisis in democracy’ as another installment of the zig-zag that has resonated throughout history: Autocratic order -> inequality and poverty -> revolution -> more equity and equality but democratic chaos -> new privileged class assumes autocratic power-> repeat. If I were to get excited it would be on the side of democracy, but I am uncertain about whether either a democracy or an autocratic government is up to the task of regulating its human herd in our hi-tech future. Yuval Harari repeatedly makes this point in his writings. As I indicated in another recent rumination, I think it likely that our future lies in the hands of an ill-defined oligarchy of international information technology corporations managed by an educated elite.   ('Ill-defined" because it is hard to imagine a  global cabal - some modern version of the paranoid 'Elders of Zion' fantasy - running the show better than the current autocratic regimes that are botching things up.)


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