How Americans Got Tricked Into Reversing the Rights and Freedoms That Made America Great at First.
How they ended up doling out their own sense of warped justice. Answers to these questions lie partly in the crafty and cunning, though democratic, mechanisms that allow fascists to bully democracies and enable people’s undue suspicion regarding democracy to run wild.
“The incipient, creeping fascism of the past few years has been groomed by many of our ‘ democratic institutions ’. Everyone has flirted with it — Parliament (Congress), the press, the police, the administration, the public. Each time you defend the right of an institution, any institution (including Supreme Court), to exercise unfettered, unaccountable powers that must never be challenged, you move forward fascism.” says Arundhati Roy.
You all must have gathered by now that democracy can be used both as a tool to further the cause of people and as a weapon to undermine the same; it depends entirely on who we choose to handover the responsibility to carry out the righteous task. In case we decide to go with the oppressive leaders, please bear in mind that by doing so, we allow them to use democracy’s most important tools. One of them is freedom of speech. Authoritarian leaders have a knack for exploiting that freedom to the fullest. Once they sense people’s fears, weaknesses and dissatisfactions, they don’t waste an opportunity to feed on them.
Fascists know how to use the mechanism of democracy against itself. Demagogues use free speech to arouse people’s sentiments, which helps them with their nationalist propaganda. We cannot allow the fascists to define what the nation or nationalism is distortedly and, based on that, who are entitled to be part of it. So, whomever we entrust the democratic responsibility to represent us must at the minimum be honest and fearless, no matter which side of the political spectrum the incumbent belongs to. They shall have the urge to fight for your future, especially in these less than ideal circumstances.
All this democratic commotion we create would be justified when we are less confused about how to use our democracy in our best interest. Otherwise, we jeopardize our own welfare by supporting causes, intentions behind which we either fail to see or understand.
Authoritarians despise voices of dissent. They can go to any extent to suppress them or, if needed, replace them with voices that speak only what they want to hear. Well-invested institutions and media houses generally perform the dubious tasks of deviating from the truth. The fascist equilibrium is reached when they either succeed in delegitimizing the dissenters or, at least, in making them pay for their dissenting opinions with dire political implications.
Despotic leaders kill good democratic ideals using other similar ideals manipulatively. It's easy to fall into their trap as they play with and prey on people’s frailties; they make the sufferings of ‘others’ look graver and thus orchestrate us into tolerating our problems better without actually doing much about them. We need to stop them from manipulating us. On the contrary, Americans are allowing this to happen with their eyes open and the cost of consequences well known. They are well aware of what’s coming.
The 21st-century fascists run an ultranationalist agenda. They have taken much more than just our democracy into their grip this time; they attacked science and hence the truth. They fiddle with the truth and turn it into a story that resembles their agenda — an ideological plan of imposing their truth/rhetoric around nationalist lines. Nationalism comes in many forms in varying degrees depending upon the context and the geography; from race and immigrants’ issue in the United States of America, an obsession with religion in India propagated by Prime Minister Modi and his right-wing supporters, to the military rule and ethnic cleansing of minorities in Myanmar. All in the name of saving their nations. While the truth is these people have used nationalism as a weapon to harm their respective nations.
“The most telling symptom of fascist politics is division. It aims to separate a population into an “us” and a “them.” Every mechanism of fascist politics works to create or solidify distinction,” explains Jason Stanley in his book, How Fascism Works.
I am not suggesting idealizing democracy without being acquainted with the difference between the ideals of democracy and its practical substance. To understand that, we must delve deeper into the idea of democracy. It is not merely a political system to govern people. It is much more than that. It is an idea behind which we find many values, virtues, cultures, and traditions. It is a medium through which we get to live with dignity. It is what brings us all on an equal platform, at least politically. It is what makes us more humane, at least pushes us to. The democratic dissatisfaction that we experience regarding not having enough say in decisions that affect us in our daily lives can be measured in proportion to triumph accomplished by the undesirable forces that push us backward democratically and economically.
Let me end with the meaningful lines of Juliane Rebentisch; she says, “ the concept of democratic freedom, therefore, not only refers to the kind of freedom which is realized in political institutions and procedures. Rather, in the context of the critique of aestheticization , democratic freedom in this political sense is grasped as a culture of freedom that concerns the conduct of life as a whole.”
 Stanley, J. (2020). How fascism works: The politics of us and them.
 The phrase ‘aestheticization of politics’ was first coined by Walter Benjamin. According to him, it is an important strategy employed by fascist regimes where only aesthetics are introduced to the political life of the people in the form of a chance for them to express themselves. It's just to give them a semblance of power without ever recognizing their property ownership and other rights.
Taylor, A. (2020). Democracy may not exist, but we’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Rebentisch, J. (2018). The Art of Freedom: On the Dialectics of Democratic Existence.
Roy, A. (2009). Field notes on democracy. London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd.