Each day brings new news of mandates and lockdowns in America as pressure builds to enact even more draconian controls. Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World morph into non-fiction with each new dictate. But the inexorable march of western societies toward total centralization of power isn’t necessarily a given.
For example, the 2016 election of Donald Trump contradicts the seeming trend toward inevitable authoritarianism. His emergence on the political scene came as a great surprise to the oligarchs. They were caught napping; then they sought to reclaim control of the system. Their subsequent narratives – like golden showers, Russiagate, and Ukrainegate – have exhibited an air of desperation.
Prior to 2016, the deep state had enjoyed a win-win situation for decades. Whether the sitting president was a Republican or a Democrat, alphabet agency agendas would ascend. After 2016, however, their efforts to control have required more of a “gloves are off” approach. Tactics that once worked easily now require larger energy expenditures, greater risk-taking, and taller tales.
Many citizens have noticed that these initiatives often violate centuries-long tenets of the Republic. And a small but determined backlash of public thinkers has brought intellectual firepower into the lower quadrants of the political circle. Many who previously identified solely as liberal or conservative now join forces with one another against common adversaries.
Another counterpoint to the inevitable authoritarianism prediction is seen in the Afghanistan War failure. The twentieth century witnessed greater American control at home and abroad. But a series of inconclusive or failed wars has diminished the U.S. Government’s ability to dictate events overseas.
These actions have accelerated the now-dominant division between centralists and citizens. Conflicts have felt more like “their” wars than “our” wars, with the collective component of “we’re all in this together” gone AWOL. In its place were substituted wonky, fraught discussions of “government policy.”
This diminished support of the citizens did not go unnoticed by the deep state. And their growing insecurity – caused by this shift – manifests as one cause of their redoubled efforts to dictate events at home.
But the home front also exhibits an erosion of confidence. Officials who were formerly protected by an edifice of carefully crafted credentials are now forced to engage in discourse on the public square, where they backpedal in response to growing criticism of questionable judgement. Bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci and Robert Mueller are now viewed as a specific form of partisan …… one who seeks increasing levels of centralized political control.
Centralized Power will always coexist in an ever-changing and uneasy balance with its opposite: citizen empowerment. And the field of battle will always look different tomorrow than it did yesterday.
Throughout the twentieth century, that field appeared to be stable: centralized policies increased slowly and inexorably: control gradually became more concentrated within the oligarchic national institutions of corporate and “federal” America.
Perhaps that trend and its seeming stability will continue. Perhaps it will slowly reverse. Or perhaps the dam of control will break, as a chaotic series of events unfolds.