A Historical Lens on Trump’s Authoritarianism

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S1: To me, it doesn’t feel like impeachment. Last night I said it. I. We had a great time last night. The room was packed. Thousands of people couldn’t get in a section that really is a pretty much 50/50 section in terms of Democrat, Republican. We had every one of those people is voting for Trump pants. Every one of them. And it’s Michigan, an important state. We brought back tremendous amounts of business, tremendous car companies coming in, everything else. And I’ll tell you, I was up there and I was thinking about. I actually said it. It doesn’t feel like impeachment.

S2: This is down rattly related to our security. Trumpet down is undermining that. We’re not paying people. Keep us safe. Let’s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it’s okay not to pay people who do work. I don’t. And my caucus doesn’t either.

S3: Mr. President, pull us together as a country. This joke does not help. It is not funny.

S4: Hello and welcome to Trump Cast. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Mary Impeach, Miss My Mace of the Republic letter opener is set to arrive any day. It’s the closest I can come to the extraordinary shiv brutsch that Nancy Pelosi wore the day she. Oh, I mean, Congress impeached Donald Trump. Did you see that beautiful pin? Nancy Pelosi is such an expert at bella figura and all the chic ness. And may her prayers lift up, Trump casts listeners and all the American households. This impeachment’s. She’s like a Santa Claus. But solemn in black with a long knife in her lapel. But come on. Impeachment has already gotten to commercial. So why am I talking about buying when it’s time for some profundity? In the spirit of the season, my guests today to bring the wide angle perspective on the meaning of these holy midwinter days is Ruth. Ben Gilbert. She’s an historian, a surpassingly brilliant public intellectual who has won every prize. I’m not kidding. And an expert not on congressional cloak and dagger stuff, but rather on the rises and falls of authoritarian and fascist regimes. Did you hear that fall? Yes.

S5: Stay tuned to hear Ruth and I talk about how Trumpism will one day come crumbling down. Ruth, welcome to Trump ghast.

S6: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

S7: As you know, I have wanted you on the show for a long time and you probably as longtime historian, have been surprised, too. I don’t know, but to work at the pace of first drafters, of history, of journalists.

S8: Yes. And I think in two thousand fifteen, I started doing a lot about beds and had already started writing for CNN when Trump came on the scene. So having done probably about 100 duck beds and a lot of interviews, I have become used to bridging that gap between historical approach and reacting to what’s going on now, which can be challenging at times, but also rewarding.

S9: Yes. I mean, who do you look to to do this kind of thing, to make very quick links between the periods you’re expert in the rise of Italian fascism and the rise of American fascism, which seems to happen by the hour.

S8: There’s a group of historians who are working like this and Tim Snyder and other people who have an expertise in the things that seem relevant now. And of course, it’s never a good sign if you’re an expert on authoritarianism and propaganda when it becomes relevant.

S10: Yeah, we’d like to live in an era where it’s just history.

S9: Yes, there was a time when just even speaking of fascism seemed like an antiquarian interest.

S10: Yeah. And one of the most interesting things is how when I started writing CNN, which really reaches a very broad public. Yeah. And this was 2015. So it was early. And I was saying things based on my historical training and an intuition based on that. And that struck people as very alarmist or crazy or even within the profession. I I would get messages that this was unseemly to be do. And it’s been very interesting over these years now to see how attitudes have changed as the national emergency or it’s a global emergency has has unfolded as far as that, the role of.

S11: I’m not sure I like the word public intellectual, but the role of the scholar to speak out.

S9: Yeah, I guess there are some precedents in. I don’t know what it was. Susan Sontag’s training. I don’t know. She did a full on p._h._d. But Susan Sontag and Hannah aren’t working between off the news and putting news into something more than historical context. Let’s go to exactly what you do. So in 2015, when it was a bit of a risk to write this, to use the words authoritarianism, to talk about fascist propaganda. What were you initially alert to in geopolitics?

S11: I was already very concerned with this kind of global spread of this. I called the new authoritarians who ranged from people like Putin, who are repressive and poison people to Viktor Orban in Hungary, who hasn’t used as much violence in order to domesticate the press and judiciary, etc. And then Trump came along and what sparked one of my first pieces on him was seeing a video of him at a rally and seeing him leverage all of these tools of authoritarian demagoguery. The loyalty oath and seeing the reactions of the crowd. And the other thing was when he started to retweet right wing propaganda. Yeah. And evidently false things and his use of the visual. So I realized that here we had somebody who was not going to be a regular candidate for office and posed a great danger.

S9: I’m not trained as a historian, but I know that there was when I was doing academic training, a shift away from a kind of great man theory of history that a lot of us were treated to in high school. And yet would you say Donald Trump appears doing all these things and he doesn’t have some official understanding of the fascists in Italy or how Goebbels worked? And what visual propaganda does. And yet there’s something almost that seems to be in his body or he seems to incarnate the spirit of authoritarianism. And when Bill Barr talks about a unified executive, you know, it’s just like this is just a slightly longer way of saying authoritarian. But don’t you think that men like Trump and Barr, I mean, to the extent that they’re culturally created or that there’s some kind of psychological impact in their brains? I mean, is it worth talking, leaving behind a cultural conversation to use a psychological idiom the way Bandy Lee and George Conway have done? There’s something extraordinary in exceptionalist about them. Or is that just how they see themselves?

S12: It’s all of these things. It’s not either or it is their character. Far and Trump are different cases, although they end up as partners actually, and writing, finishing this book on strong men and a go for their backgrounds.

S13: And the way that Trump did business and his character is extremely similar. Unfortunately for us, to the character and personality of almost all authoritarian rulers who have had success on a moral skirting the boundaries of legal and illegal and the way he did business always and his world view surrounding himself with, you know, mafiosi and all the things we know prepared him very well to have this attempted authoritarian rule.

S14: So it’s who he’s always been.

S13: But it was expressed in the business world. Another more contemporary example is Berlusconi, who’s very there, a lot of similarities, who never suspended democracy but corroded it and actually succeeded in changing the laws to his personal benefit. So there’s that. There’s character, there’s history.

S12: And then really what I’ve found is these individuals come up and are received into the mainstream for a reason, because there’s already been historical climate tending toward a disaffection with liberal democracy. And we can look at all the things of the GOP, all the different strands, and they see in this individual a way to realize their own frustrated ambitions. So it’s a meeting between historical climate and an individual who is somebody who will do anything to get elected and then anything to stay there.

S9: Your pronunciation of mafiosi and invocation of Berlusconi reminds me that Italy is your touchstone. You’ve written a lot about Italy, books about Adley. We do throw around the word mafia in relation to Trump. And people have changed the ethnicity of the mafia in the United States. The Russian mafia in particular seems to figure in to Trump’s orbit. But what do you think we can learn from the Italian mafia that’s relevant to our times? Relatedly, I also thought that the structure of mafias was different from the structure of fascism.

S15: Yeah, well, more broadly, Italy gets the short shrift in history books and Mussolini has gotten a huge pass for his violence and genocide in Libya and elsewhere because Hitler’s always the main personage. Yeah, but Italy is extremely important because not only it was the first experience of ruining democracy and making a dictatorship in the 1920s, it also becomes in the nineteen nineties with Berlusconi, the first time that fascist are brought into a government in democracy. What happened from there? And it was his very brief 1994 government, but it was a door that opened to everything that’s going on now because it mainstream the neo fascists. So in that sense, Italy is extremely important in terms of mafia. I mean, the structure is different, but what is similar? There are authoritarian systems of hierarchy with the capital. And this notion that you need clients in politics that you will do anything to get your way. So it’s a world view and it’s a set of practices that apply to politics. And indeed, there have always been in many countries connections between organised crime and politics.

S9: It seems like fascism has an element of bella figura and organization and contempt for superstitious religion. I don’t know if I’m right about that, but that is exactly the inverse of at least mafias as I understand them. For instance, George Orwell seems to have felt unable to even comprehend as someone who would tyrannize over both other people and money, because the two things are almost at odds with each other that if you want to get rich, you can’t go around murdering people because you’ll end up in jail. But the the mafia does both of those things, but also fails to acquire to completely dominate real power in the Anglosphere at least. Yeah, I remember he’s like kind of contemptuous and bewildered by think. He says, you know, a teenager in Glasgow would worship Al Capone. I just don’t get that. It doesn’t fall under the model of authoritarianism in the same way.

S16: Yeah. And that’s that’s a bit naive given what’s gone on, because for an interesting historical precedent is that when Waslin, you first came to power, like all strongmen, he posed as an anti-corruption writer.

S12: Right. And he was the one who said, I’m going to drain the swamp, literally.

S17: That was this style of rule. And it extended to kind of cleansing that country morally of enemies.

S11: But it was the literal marshes outside of Rome that he was going to drain, which became a metaphor for making a moral revolution, cleansing revolution. So as part of this, he decided to tame the mafia. And he sent. A prefect, a new prefect to Sicily Chislett, a Māori who attacked the Mafia and had international positive press for this. And then he was promptly, after a few years, sent as far away as possible to East istria in the north east because he discovered that the fascist party and the mafia were colluding. So what happened is that the mafia was declared vanquished, but the fascist party took over its methods.

S12: And this has gone on for a century where authoritarian rulers come in saying they’re going to clean up crime.

S13: The recent is Putin and his state, often referred to by Russia experts as a mafia state. So totally have the methods of organized crime blended into the methods of governance.

S8: So a recurring pattern is the anti-corruption fighter. And this includes populists with their moral rhetoric who then takes power and becomes a political form of mafioso.

S9: You know, the talk now of Trump and maybe given this really terrific kind of scaffolding you’ve given to this. It might have been a surprise that Trump, although he did say drain the swamp, is only now presenting himself as a reformer in Ukraine in particular. So the chief kind of empirical defense he has of what he said in that call to President Solecki is that he is asking for a favor, was asking do us a favor, though, meaning us, the American people, because the American people have an overriding interest in reforming the world or something like that. And of course, he has neglected all the reform initiatives that Ukraine is actually invested in, eliminating bribery at the level of education and so on. But he does now say he’s a reformer. I mean, is that in sync with your view of the tyrant of the authoritarian?

S12: Yeah. And in fact, the more corrupt they become, the more they have to use the rhetoric of purity.

S13: Because if they’re successful and the impeachment is very, very interesting of Trump, because it doesn’t just show that working of the democratic process, it shows that he has successfully created a true cult following, not only among his followers, who some are addicted to his rallies and fanatic his fanatic base, but the entire Republican Party has fallen lockstep behind him to an extent never encountered in modern history except under occupation for an occupation where they are actually preferring to defend partnership with a murderous authoritarian Putin to defending and siding with their own national politicians.

S16: Yeah, who are Democrats? This is very exceptional. And it’s almost like a soft occupation of sorts. Mentally. And the goal of authoritarians is to colonize the country, to colonize the minds of their followers, to dominate the nation 24/7 through the media, and to impose their personal desires, goals and needs, including to remain in office so they can have immunity on their followers. And Trump has successfully done a lot of that.

S9: You talk with so much calm about this. It is so ominous. You’ve been noticing this since 2015. Other people in your boat, I think, including Tim Snyder and Anne Applebaum and others who’ve detected this abroad, Bill Browder, you know, sometimes feel like they’ve been screaming into a void. I mean, they’re exhausted from sounding this alarm. I mean, is that something you feel at times that this is happening and we’re taking seemingly no steps to prevent it? Although I would push back a little bit on the Republican Party’s in lockstep with Trump. Unless you’re an officeholder, you, you know, former Republican members of Congress. I saw a bunch of them recently are just appalled. They’re the ones likely using the word cult. And of course, we have all these high profile defections from Michael Bloomberg, one office officeholder, Justin Amash to Rick Wilson and all the favorites on Twitter, the Lincoln Project, people who have turned. And yet it’s the office holders that seem like they are in something like a cult. Is that a good word for it? I’m surprised to hear people use that.

S12: Yes, I did mean the office holders. But they’re the ones who are in power now. Yeah. And call it using the word cult loosely. But what I would I mean is this is another example of what in studies of authoritarianism you call an authoritarian bargain. And when these rulers appear in history, often and usually in a.

S6: Condition of democracy. They have to strike some kind of informal deal with the political elites because it’s the political elites who have to let them in or keep them out. So just as the German conservatives invited Hitler in and the same thing, it already happened in Italy, the GOP had a big decision when it had this kind of violent outsider who was crass and talked about shooting people during the campaign and very improbable way to be to get the nomination.

S8: So they invited him in. And, you know, the rest is our history until now. But the bargain is that once they sign on. And here we refer back to, they see him as an avenue to do what they’ve been wanting to do. This is especially true in the case of the part of the GOP officeholders who are invested in Russia or invested in the evangelical agenda. Very, very important. The once they sign on, it’s almost impossible to get them to defect if they’re in office.

S12: It takes an economic crisis. That’s what got rid of Berlusconi, not his sex parties, not his corruption, not his Putin promotion. It was the eurozone crisis or a war in past times with Mussolini and Hitler losing the war. There can be exceptions, but once they make that bargain, they will stick there no matter what the leader says or does. And it’s a calculated attitude and it’s a party. It becomes a group decision.

S18: And that’s what we’ve seen in the very recent news of voting as a bloc against impeachment.

S4: One thing I can’t seem to understand, and maybe this is also in my picture of Mussolini’s fascism is a kind of I don’t know if I have this exactly right, but a kind of strange reworking of gender so that masculinity becomes framed as obedience and submission to a Dear Leader figure. I have to say, I mean, I never thought that Republican alpha males would let themselves act like this. I mean, some of these are libertarians and they are chanting something, you know, in Congress like their Branch Davidians. You know, they all say exactly the same thing and trumps non-defense on impeachment that the Democrats have been out to get him a long time. And this is a way of calling, I think, Jim Jordan a sad calling us Hicks. They just seem so frightened and they seem so deferential. You know, he’s talking to Eric columbus’ last week. They just seem terrified of nicknames.

S9: I had a very lefty education by a lot of Holocaust survivors and World War 2 vets who put together a curriculum about how much, you know, our goal in life as powerful American individuals was to resist. Never be one of those Milgrim people that commits atrocities and participates in inhumanity just because we’ve been ordered to do so. And we’re always supposed to be pushing back everything from sexist advertising to, you know, of course, anything that smacked of you must follow orders or go kill people in Vietnam. All those things were we were meant to keep our wits about us. And I realized that not all these evangelical Republicans have the same kind of education.

S4: But I am still surprised that they don’t find shame in genuflecting before, as you say, an amoral aging, you know, unimpressive kind of father figure who doesn’t promise a lot and is quite disloyal.

S14: I was chuckling while you were speaking, not because it’s funny at all, because it’s the opposite of funny, but because there are great ironies there.

S12: This is the magic of charisma. In part, yeah, it’s the magic of the leader follower relationship, which some people have a great yearning for. Yeah. Sometimes the most alpha male seeming people take great comfort in having somebody to follow. So you see this over and over again. And in fact, Trump started this very early in the campaign. It’s a cycle where in the act of taking on your associates, you must ritually humiliate them in public. So he did this with Mike Pence when he introduced Mike Pence as his running mate. He kind of turned away from him. I can’t remember exactly what he did, but he humiliated him. And the test was his Mike Pence going to react or not. And of course, he was chosen precisely because he wouldn’t react. And he’s, in fact, perfected the deadpan face. Perhaps he always had that face, but he sat through innumerable things, as they all have. So the ritual humiliation is doled out and it’s a kind of people get aversive to it and they realize also that no one is safe. And unfortunately, although the consequences are very different, when Mobutu of Congo, which you renamed Zaire, did it, you would be sent to prison. The consequences here are light, which personally makes me more upset that they will not resist him because what will happen to them? They will not go to prison right now. They will not be killed.

S7: Yes, they’ll be called little Bob Corker, but for fear of that. Yeah, they. Yeah, remain in this these panicked positions.

S12: And the biggest irony is that the alpha male of all of them, Trump is being mocked by his own superior. Putin regularly on Russian TV. He was described as a puppet on national Russian TV. This is part of the mystery and sadness because the GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell must know that it’s not good for the United States to have its leader mocked on television as a puppet.

S18: So there is a kernel of something that is difficult to understand without knowledge of financial compromise. What ever is going on? Yeah. But it’s remarkable that all of them stay silent when the country is being humiliated in this way.

S9: I want to ask you about your personal experience of tyranny. Like you, you hear George Conway and others play out family conflicts, isn’t it? Put it gently in his descriptions of Trump’s narcissism. We’ve had few. Padnos on the show, who was taken hostage by al-Qaeda for two years, talk about sexual violence in the chain of command that you have if you have a sexual predator as commander in chief, that that filters down through the way that even other countries treat American prisoners and so on. Was your education anything like mine about the you know, the role of an educated person in a way was to filter out tyranny that we had to train students. And this is a public school education to defy the challenges to liberal democracy, you know, to preserve the republic. But I know that other people I imagine you didn’t have an evangelical education, but what put this in your head? This was of paramount importance in your career and your life as a citizen.

S6: It actually stems from where I grew up, which was in a beautiful town in California, Pacific Palisades. Yes, on the beach. And it did not come from my parents who were immigrants from two very different places. My mother is like a royalist from Scotland. She’s very British identified. And my father’s verdict, you from Jerusalem with a report in 1948 war. But neither of them liberals. We can safely say that.

S14: OK, so as I grew up and especially in high school, I became aware that the Palisades had been a place where a lot of refugees from Naziism came there in Santa Monica and other round areas around. And my high school math teacher was the son of the composer Arnold Schoenberg. And I used to speak with him about the toll of exile, the toll of the dictatorship. And this made a big impression on me. This kind of loneliness of exile. And there it could be we we had in my nuclear family know no other family members, you know, less than a kind of 10 to 13 hour plane ride away. But so there was that part.

S19: But it was mostly this hearing from people who were second or third generation of this destructiveness of dictatorship. So I ended up doing when I went to UCLA, I did a kind of honors thesis on Otto Klemperer, who was an exile, a conductor.

S15: So I was I was trained in music. So this was what I chose to do.

S11: And that’s how I got into the issue of cultural adaptation, as well as what they were fleeing from the Palisades, which is a beautiful was then especially a surfer town, is an improbable place to start thinking about dictators and unpleasant things. But that’s how it unfolded.

S9: But also, you had a lot in the Pacific Ocean of time to muse on what freedom looks like. I did. And I mean, that’s I think what the 70s and 80s were that we were being told I was being told that I couldn’t forget how hard won this was. So you had to evoke it. Just stories of the shortfalls and, you know, and Hungarian people fleeing programs and just always in my head that we were so lucky to be in the mountains of New Hampshire, just like this great refuge from all these horrible things that could happen to you in Europe. It just was very interesting to see that diaspora of people who’d fled Europe for one reason or another, coming various places and making lives for themselves and then kind of deputizing us or inspiring us to understand how much freedom we had.

S4: And we hear that now from Democrats who are getting very high minded. Nancy Pelosi, she went to the Declaration of Independence when she announced the impeachment inquiry. I don’t want to lose this before I die.

S15: It’s very moving. One of the liabilities of having had such a robust democracy, but was not a full democracy until the Civil Rights Act allowed blacks to vote. In the 60s. So it’s quite recent. But one of the weaknesses that can come from having had a certain tradition of democracy is you take it for granted. I think that one of my strengths as an analyst is not just that I’m a historian and can have the big picture, but that I. Yes, I grew up in America. But both because my parents were immigrants and had no American friends and were not assimilated and because I chose to do European history.

S11: When Trump appeared, I started looking at not just him, but elected Republican officials and what was going on in the country with the eyes of somebody studying global authoritarianism. By then, I had started thinking about this book, which has Khadafi has Peno Che. It’s a global history. Yeah.

S14: And when I looked at let’s take a low, low level people like Representative John Bennett or allabout the sorrow who were calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution by firing squad during the campaign and many, many other episodes. Of the violent behavior that for I was thinking, well, this is what you do in a military hunter. This this is like Brazil in the 60s. This is not behavior of a democracy. So if that influenced me a lot.

S9: You faced this in 2015 and a face the sense, what do you think about the charges of Trump to re-enrollment syndrome or that some of us are going too far? That Godwin’s Law, although Godwin has said it doesn’t apply anymore because in this case, invoking Hitler is completely appropriate. But that our muscle memory is. Oh, come on. You can’t call someone a soup Nazi because they are angry when they serve your soup. That Dessa creates the memory of the actual Naziism. What do you think about that? I mean, is there some care we should show around would be alarmism.

S11: I did an article in August 2016 for The Atlantic today entitled An American Authoritarian, where I talked about McSweeny and similarities to Trump but didn’t and won’t still call him a fascist because fascism today doesn’t work that way. You don’t have a one party dictatorship outside of certain mostly communist places like North Korea, and it doesn’t take power in a big burst anymore, like in a coup. And it’s more deceptive. It’s it’s more like an or bond situation or Putin has been in power for almost 20 years. He’s had plenty of time. So I like to respect historical circumstance. And so Trump has very many fascistic tendencies. And as I said earlier, his personality and his instincts are unfortunately exactly the same. His management style, exactly the same as all the authoritarians I’ve studied. But the consequences are different. He’s not executing people. He. He gets pissed off that he fires them. It’s a tension between personality and circumstance. Now, I do think it’s important to sound that alarm, though. I just personally try and be careful about the terms.

S20: I used to do it the very first time I came on the show as a guest. And Jacob Weisberg is the host. He wants me to talk about Trump as a host of The Apprentice. And I had as a TV critic watched every episode. So that was my only authority to talk about Donald Trump. And I hope you’ve never seen an episode, but it occurred to me that in his firing sessions, which were the hallmark of the show, you’re fired sessions that he did this thing that I associate with that movie, The Untouchables, where the kind of tyrant is sort of piecing and scanning who he’s going to attack. And again, The Intouchables, he does it with a baseball bat. He’s walking around a table and everybody’s on edge about who he’s going to kill or who he’s going to hurt or what he’s gonna do or whether he’s going to burst into laughter like in Goodfellas. And then finally, he settles on. You think this one person’s in the hot seat and everybody’s shoulders have gone down a little bit. And then he crushes the head of someone with a baseball bat who’s not seemingly in his sights. And that was how Trump would run these sessions. He would seem very, very angry at one person. And then someone would come to his defense in the corner and he would suddenly say, you’re fired. Producers say they had no way to know which way the show was going. That it was the arbitrariness and the Caprice. That was the point. A capricious tyrant. I think that’s a phrase from HUME, a tyrant whose orderly. Maybe like an autocrat is different from a tyrant who might at any moment pick out Dingle from his list of people who’ve been disloyal to him and just savage him in public. And that caprice seemed interesting to me. I don’t know if that was a feature of the Italian fascists or Berlusconi, but is that something you can speak to that arbitrariness?

S10: Yeah, that’s features very prominently in one of my chapters. Their leadership style. Hannah Arrente said I’m paraphrasing. She said of Hitler that his will was so capricious that it put oriental despots to shame. Wow. And the same for Gadhafi, the same for Mobutu, the same for every single one I’ve studied, even those whose historiography have covered it up, like Pinochet, who’s supposed to be the steadfast military general.

S19: He would slam his fist down so hard it broke the glass. He had these sadistic games where he would assemble all his ministers on television and then only some would be invited back. The rest were fired again. Ritual humiliation and the phrase that came up in 2016 for Trump’s version of it was the culture of threat. And this was in response to his attacking individuals by tweet and all the other things he was doing before he got into office. And it’s very effective. And it links to our conversation before about why the GOP is a bunch of cowed, submissive individuals fearing the wrath of the leader. And of course, everyone who does these games knows that the best way to police people is to have them self-police. And this is the dynamic of the abuser, where people walk on eggshells around the abuser. Yeah. So they’re very profound psychological dynamics that get put into place on a national scale, even with the most powerful people fall prey to them, but to connect something you ask me for which I didn’t answer, why can I seem calm talking about it?

S12: Because in doing this book, which goes over a century from SLANEY up to Trump and Putin, you see that they rise and they fall and that sometimes they’re their own worst enemies.

S6: They they leave a huge amount of death and devastation in their wake sometimes. But the history of resistance and protest and internal bureaucratic resistance, there’s an entire world of resistance, which I wish the media in our case would focus more on. Yes. That’s a pet peeve of mine. Because there’s a huge amount of resistance which I’ve come into contact with doing this public work. But it has an effect and they come and they go, these people. And the fact that Trump exhibits so many tendencies and the worst may be yet to come doesn’t mean that you won’t be gone some day among the people who are close to these topics.

S7: That’s something I’ve heard before, too. I remember hearing it from Garry Kasparov. Not in person. He said on stage once that Putin can fall very quickly. It was three days in August that brought down the Soviet Union. And these things come quickly. And part of our idea of whiplash and that we’re confused and there’s somewhat vertigo about how fast this is happening. The demise might happen just as quickly. He didn’t rise with liberal democracy and he won’t fall with liberal democracy with just orderly a fair and free election. And the people are actually heard. That’s not at least as I’ve understood it now from you and Kasparov. That’s not how these guys fall. That’s extremely interesting, because that also means he will be unpredictable. His fall will be also be unpredictable and he won’t get a thousand year Reich. I mean, as I think you and I both agree, A, no one gets a thousand year Reich and B there is extreme pushback on Trump. You hear Russian scholars say stop talking about Putin as though he’s going to be in power forever. He is invested in the myth that he has 70 80 percent support of the people. The people loathe him, the people loathe him. The very first lie of Trump that he keeps reiterating every time he talks about crowd size or whatever. Is that the people love him. Is that he won in a landslide? No, he didn’t win in a landslide. 50 so percent of Americans want him not just to beat, but removed from office. They want him out.

S11: That’s why mass protests are so important. Well, there’s three reasons they’re important. One is the more millions of people and has to be consistent and regular. But the more people are out there, the more the cowardly allies, in this case, the GOP, who the reason these guys fall quickly is it. All of those GOP people know exactly what is going on. They’re just choosing to ignore it, to keep with Trump. So they see that the public is angry. These guys are extremely optics conscious because they’re so prideful. They have hubris. But inside, they’re needy and brittle and insecure and they need to be loved. Yeah. So seeing masses of people who hate them or who just want them out is very effective. And it’s also effective for the people who are protesting the history. Protest is full of people who feel transformed by being together with other bodies in a public space. Yes. When we bent on Twitter, it’s not doing the same thing.

S20: I think that’s absolutely right. Although one thing I will say about Twitter is the relentless, finely tuned immune system to just disinformation and propaganda, which also shows up symbolically on the Internet. So we’re in the same space. Right. But the you know, the kind of hive mind there that is so high strung and is able to say, I think of Daniel Dale at the rallies. You know, I don’t know how he does it, but, you know, this is the guy that threads about the rallies in real time and just bullshit. Bullshit. No, no. You know, like you can almost see him in the crowd just shouting back. You always tell that lie. Let me guess again. It’s gonna be a big guy saying, sir, you know, you these are set pieces. These things have been debunked many times. And he has the facts on hand and it’s happening in real time. And you just are like, he’s one of the heroes of what I think it’s still worth calling the resistance, literally resisting the lies where they land on Twitter. That has been sanity preserving for me. I mean, there has to be an element of self-loathing and people who use Twitter, it’s part of the process to talk about how you do it too much and it’s a cesspool and so on. But I think we’re gonna be very grateful for that because, you know, can you imagine in past during Vimy, during Hitler’s rise, if the resistance had out a newspaper with reflexes as. Does Twitter it’s an anti propaganda juggernaut. You know, in some ways it’s good that there is so much actual Trump propaganda there because then it can be confronted.

S11: I agree. And I’ve learned a lot from you on these subjects, too. And I’m I think that we also have to be conscious that we would not be able to voice such opinions on social media, which is blocked in various forms in other countries, or if we didn’t stand up for our rights, we have to appreciate what we have and use it.

S4: My guest today has been Ruth Ben. She’s an expert on authoritarians fascism and propaganda. She teaches history and Italian at NYU.

S21: She’s an advisor to protect democracy and gives commentary on CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and writes for The Washington Post. Her next book is called Strong Men Out from Norton. Thank you so much for being here, Ruth. Thank you. That’s it for today’s show. What do you think? Find us on Twitter. Let’s connect. I’m at page 88. The show is at Real Trump Cast. Our show today was produced by Delicious Melissa Kaplan and engineered by stalwart Merritt Jacob. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Thanks for listening to Trump cast.