“Ah I see we are at the ‘debating the exact definition of what a concentration camp is’ stage of fascism,” my friend Jane Natoli recently tweeted.
It’s just so perfect.
Some people are getting through this time by denying what’s happening. I understand that. Others of us, like me, are perfectly aware of what’s going on, willing to call it what it is, and yet we’re doing what about it?
I so admire all those people who are angry about Trump and doing things. Rallying. Raising money. Getting out the vote. Hell, even writing op-eds. I miss the energy I used to get from doing what I felt was fighting tyranny. But today, I’m fucking tired. I fought tyranny for a while and after a minute it got old and was always underpaid.
I spent three years in the libertarian machine fighting fascism and at the end of it we dumbfucks still elected a cheeto-colored 100-IQ tyrant.
There was a time when I would have sworn that by the time my government was putting infants in cages and raping kids in concentration camps because their parents fled certain death I’d have taken up arms.
And yet here I am, mostly pretending it isn’t happening. Focusing on the tyranny of the SF Board of Supervisors because it’s less horrifying, I feel like I can make more of a difference, and I’m curious about how local politics works.
I am why I’m scared of America becoming the Handmaid’s Tale. Because it seems like people usually respond to tyranny by pretending it’s not happening or giving up hope that they can stop it or escape to something better. I’ve done both. I’ve pretended that because the child rape cages aren’t new, just bigger and meaner, it’s just a difference in scope and not kind. And I’ve mostly given up. What’s one more voice saying “This isn’t right?” Of course it’s not right.
People want to mock those of us who are scared of what’s to come by saying how far away we are from living in the worst dystopian fiction. People want to get mad about the definition of concentration camps as if the entire point of remembering history correctly isn’t to stop it before it happens again. “The uniforms don’t have Swastikas on them so this isn’t like that at all!” It never happens exactly the same way, in exactly the same order.
As my friend Adam Bates put it, “‘Never again’ doesn’t just mean opposing death camps. That would be so vapid as to be meaningless. It refers not just to the end state but to the entire process of dehumanization that creates the conditions under which death camps can exist.”
But that’s what we want. We want simple and clean. We’re Nazis, or we aren’t. “Are we the baddies?”
It’s never clear exactly where we are on the path to dystopia. And the closer you get to it, the harder it is to steer out.
I mean sure, yes, I have anxiety. But also the world really is going to hell in a handbasket. Liberal democracy — tolerance, secularism, free trade, open immigration, lightly regulated, competitive markets, civil liberties — is the best system yet for increasing peace, freedom, and prosperity. America is supposed to be the poster child for liberal democracy and yet here we are becoming the poster child for cronyism, protectionism, and xenophobia, with nationalism and theocracy on the rise as well. This seems suboptimal.
We all reassure ourselves that when the time comes, we’ll do what we have to do to stop the machine. I’m not reassured anymore.