Follow me on TwitterMy Tweets
Copyright 2014-2017 by Jonson MillerLink back to the original article and identify Jonson Miller as the author if you repost an article online.
I think of this as an addendum to my Anatomy of Trumpism series, in which I spend much time denouncing President Trump’s encouragement of violence. We, of course, just saw the lethal consequences of his rhetoric in Charlottesville. Trump claimed that there were many good people in the Nazi rally and that there very bad and violent people among the counter-protestors.
Unfortunately, Antifa and their allies are giving Trump’s supporters just enough cover on that score to allow them to not have to outright denounce Trump’s defense of Nazis and neo-Confederates. And, unfortunately, left-wing violence produces the same dangers as the right-wing violence that Trump encourages.
Here’s a helpful Atlantic article on Antifa and their violence.
One of my concerns about right-wing violence is the way it deligitimizes government institutions. And that is a stated purpose of some of the right-wing groups, like the Three Percenters and the fans of Cliven Bundy, who espouses a belief in the supremacy of county governments and who outright said he rejected the legitimacy of the national government.
Antifa also explicitly seeks to deligitimize government institutions. While I’m sure their base is now broadening, Antifa began in America as an anarchist group. Everyone of the Antifa folks I, as a former anarchist, have known were anarchists. While their stated purpose is to confront fascists now before they gain any real power, they also seek to create revolutionary conditions in which the left overthrows government to presumably leave a stateless, socialist society in its wake.
Liberals and others who, in reaction to new openness of violent white supremacists, now find themselves sympathetic to Antifa should beware. Antifa does not represent your values. They are not trying to create a tolerant, open, and equable society; they are instead trying to eliminate the foundations upon which we might create such a society – the state.
They do not believe in the right to free speech. How could they? You have to have a state to enunciate and defend rights. They’re anarchists; they want to destroy not just our current government, but government in any form. We must defend free speech for all, not just for people we agree with. We certainly cannot allow a group actively trying to destroy government to decide who gets to speak and march and who doesn’t. Maybe they’ll come for you next.
We are right to challenge and denounce fascists, white supremacists, and their defenders – Trump. We do so to defend or promote a free, open, and equable society. If that is our ultimate goal, then we must denounce those on the left who would also undermine that society. Antifa is not our ally.
Findhorn Press is releasing my new book Dream Patterns on Tuesday. I have many upcoming radio shows to discuss it. To find shows to listen in to, check out my new Media and Events page or follow me on Twitter at @IntegralPA.
About Dream Patterns: Revealing the Hidden Patterns of Our Waking Lives:
I’ve been studying my own dreams for almost thirty years now. I was often frustrated in my early years of interpreting my dreams. Back then, I was following the dream-dictionary approach of almost every book on the subject. These books ask you to interpret every element of every individual dream to find the meaning of that particular dream. This usually resulted in incoherent interpretations. I’ve found psychoanalytical approaches, especially Jungian approaches, to be very useful – but for only a small number of dreams.
Dream interpretation finally opened up for me when I realized that the real value of dreams isn’t in individual dreams, let alone individual dream elements; it is in the long-term patterns. By studying the patterns that appeared in my dreams, I am able to recognize and then transform patterns that exist in my waking life. It is this method that I teach in Dream Patterns.
Why did you expect anything else?
I intended to end this series by talking about the inherent instability of democracies (like probably all forms of government). I was going to go back to Plato’s Republic and 17th-century English Republican Henry Care to talk about the ways democracy and egalitarianism tend ultimately towards tyranny.
Then I saw Robert Merry’s article in The American Conservative. There was no point in me writing much more. So, to build on his article…
The stability and longevity of democracies isn’t a given. In fact, quite the opposite. We, like members of any polity, should expect the eventual failure of our government. That failure can mean a shift towards tyranny. It can mean complete collapse and the long-term reconstitution of one or more new states. We might be talking centuries from now – or decades. All we know for sure is that the American experiment is mortal.
Mortality doesn’t mean giving up. But we cannot rely on our “system” to protect us from tyranny or even to govern us decently. Those things occur through constant vigilance and struggle. But – and more importantly perhaps – we must also constantly reinvigorate the legitimacy of our institutions. For the last forty years, it is exactly this legitimacy that the radical wing of the Republican Party has been attacking. Delegitimize the press, the courts, schools, international institutions, and any other institution that might stand as a bulwark against the unrestrained power of capital – all, of course, in the name of freedom.
Of course, our institutions must actually be legitimate. So the legitimacy of our police must not depend on us turning a blind eye to police killings; we must reform our policing so that it is seen as legitimate by all. The legitimacy of the press will come, not just from us resubscribing to newspapers and not talking about the press as the “enemy of the people;” the press must actually be competent, critical, and adversarial. For Congress to be legitimate, the US Senate must, regardless of political party, recognize the authority of a President to nominate judges to the Supreme Court. At the same time, we must all see the benefits of the legitimacy of these institutions as greater than whatever partisan benefits we might gain through the destruction or undermining of these institutions. Otherwise, we put aside our personal and immediate interests for the greater interests of all.
I’m a lousy language learner. I’m probably not supposed to say that if I want to learn a language. But the fact is, I’ve had life-long problems with memorization that have affected my ability to learn music as well as languages. I suspect that I have a truncated phonological loop. Basically, I may have a unusually limited short-term memory capacity and, therefore, a lesser ability to shift things from short- to long-term memory. Nonetheless, here I am ten successful months into learning Welsh.
I tried to learn languages many times before – and failed. But I’m finally succeeding. I’ll post a few tips and principles explaining how I now seem to be succeeding.
Principle 1: Unless you’re a baby, no one but you is going to teach you a new language.
I have a Welsh tutor. We meet online once a week for an hour. He gives us homework, corrects us, encourages us, answers our questions, and gives us an opportunity to engage in conversation. But if I relied on him, I’d never learn Welsh – and that’s not a criticism of him as a teacher. It’s just a fact of life. When you’re a baby, your family may be willing to spend hours every day teaching you your first language, but no teacher can do that. You’re on your own.
I use my tutor as just one part of my self-directed learning. Along with his homework, I spend another hour every day studying. I use flashcards for memorizing vocabulary. I use various online tools. And I study additional grammar books. I also listen to Welsh music and television nearly every day to submerge myself in the sounds of the language.
You are your own language teacher. You have to take responsibility for your own learning.
In his 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism, historian Robert Paxton succinctly defines fascism in a way that emphasizes what fascists do rather than what they say. He defines fascism as
a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. (218)
Community decline: Inaugural speeches are usually occasions for rhetoric meant to unify Americans, reconcile with opponents, and offer a vision of a greater America. What stuck out in Trump’s inaugural speech was his vision of “American carnage.” Not even in the midst of civil war did President Lincoln offer such a bleak view of America. Even he did not offer a vision of “community decline,” but, instead, of a future with “malice towards none” and “charity for all.” But, of course, Trump assures us that he is the only one who can Make America Great Again.
Humiliation: Trump is obsessed with the idea that other countries are laughing at us. China laughs at us for our trade deficit. Mexico laughs at us for accepting immigrants. The “world” laughs at us for the foreign aid we provide and because of Obamacare. Iran, the Taliban, ISIS, Russia, etc. are laughing at us for our military weakness. Of course, Trump is the only one who can stop the world from laughing. His frequent solution is to make other countries pay us. Mexico will pay for a border wall. Germans owe us billions for defending them. Ironically, the world now really does seem to be laughing, not at “us,” but at Trump.
Collaboration with traditional elites: I have already written about how Trump has convinced traditional Republicans to cover for and support him with the hope that they could use Trump and his movement for their own purposes.
Abandons democratic liberties: The decline of our liberties is by no means confined to Trump’s presidency. Our Fourth Amendment liberties in particular have been declining under the national security state even before the PATRIOT Act. This decline has been bipartisan. Thanks to Ed Snowden, we know something of the extent to which the at least the NSA has been spying on us. Privacy is nearly dead. And now these powers are in the hands of Trump, a man with a reputation for wanting revenge against critics. He is attacking the free press by undermining its legitimacy, even calling the press that criticizes him the “enemy of the people.” Now he has assembled a commission to investigate non-existent voting fraud and is doing so in a way that has already scared some people enough to unregister. The leader of this commission Kris Kobach has reveled what was probably the real intention of the commission all along, federal laws to make it more difficult to register to vote and easier for states to disenfranchise eligible, legal voters.
Violence: I have already written about Trump using violence in his campaign and the importance of violence to his supporters.
Internal Cleansing: Trump built his campaign on building “the wall” to keep out illegal immigrants and mass deportation to get rid of immigrants already here. He made various proposals for the barring of Muslim immigrants and refugees and even went to such extremes as calling for the monitoring of mosques and the forcible registration of Muslim Americans. In the context of the Black Lives Matter struggle against police violence, Trump called for removing restraints on police, with the clear implication that they could attack blacks with impunity.
I started this series by saying that Trump isn’t a fascist; he’s too stupid and unread to be able to be one. But I worry that he is making acceptable, for a significant number of Americans, actions, policies, and rhetoric that might allow real fascists or other authoritarian movements (left or right) possible and even powerful. Now is the time to resist every shift in that direction.
I am in an airport. I am unsure of where I’m trying to go. Or did I just come back from somewhere? I finally figure it out. I’m going to a conference. But where is my gate? I search all over. I finally find it, I think. But, wait a minute. I’m in Switzerland. How did I end up here? I’m in the wrong country. I’m supposed to be in America. Oh, forget it. I’ve missed my flight and now I’m not going to make it to the conference on time. Now let’s see if I can just find my way to flight home.
Many times I have dreamt of trying to use some sort of transportation, but can’t find my way. Some years ago, I started to notice more and more dreams expressing confusion and frustration. What did these recurring dreams mean? I finally realized they meant nothing. The confusion was not a meaningful unconscious message. It was the product of my mind trying to grapple with the inconsistencies of the dream world. My mind was acting as it does during normal waking consciousness, even though I did not know I was dreaming.
My dreams showed me that there is no clear distinction between waking consciousness and a pure dream state. Consciousness often functions while we dream. But dream consciousness is a spectrum that ranges from the entirely inactive to active, but unaware of dreaming, to full waking consciousness with awareness of being in a dream.
Non-lucid dreams are what we normally think of as dreams. These are dreams in which our conscious mind is not active. The current of the dream carries us along with the story. We do not question the inherent inconsistencies of the dream world.
I watch a legendary (and dead) jazz musician perform. I’ve never heard such ecstatic music. First he is playing a piano with a small informal group Then when I watch him from another angle, I see that he is playing with a small orchestra. I look closer at him and see that he is now playing a bass guitar.
My consciousness did not interrogate or try to interfere with the impossible changes in setting and instrument. I accepted it all as a coherent story. It was only upon awakening that I recognized the impossibility of the dream.
In sub-lucid dreams, like the one I opened this post with, our consciousness is more or less active, but unaware of the fact that it is dreaming. These dreams are characterized by a sense of confusion or frustration. The confusion results from our conscious mind recognizing that something isn’t right and then trying to make sense of it.
Dream worlds are, in some ways, like theater sets. You might have something that looks like a phone on the stage, but it doesn’t actually work. Imagine being on a stage, but not realizing it. You try to use the prop phone. You would be confused or frustrated when you found that it didn’t work, that it didn’t have all the parts it should, that it fell apart when you touched it, or that the voice on the other end was garbled and unintelligible. That is, in many cases, the dream world. When our consciousness intrudes, we try to make the things in our dreams do things they’re not built for. They’re just props.
Just as with sub-lucid dreams, our consciousness operates in lucid dreams. The difference between the two is that, in a lucid dream, our consciousness is aware of the fact that we’re dreaming. However, just as with sub-lucid dreams, consciousness exists on a spectrum within lucid dreams. Consequently, the extent of control over the dreams varies. I have experienced lucid dreams in which, although I was aware of the fact that I was dreaming, I had no control over the dream. I was carried along by the current just as if I was not conscious at all. That is the other extreme of lucid dreaming.
To take full advantage of our dreams, we must recognize that different parts of the spectrum of consciousness impart distinctive characteristics to our dreams.
- Non-lucid dreams are generally the products of our unconscious minds and our daily experiences. Our consciousness does not interfere with such dreams. Consequently, we can analyze and interpret non-lucid dreams to reveal the contents of our unconscious minds.
- Sub-lucid dreams, on the other hand are distorted by our expectations and our self-direction. While some aspects of our dreams, such as the setting or basic theme might still have interpretive value, we must be careful about interpreting them. Our confusion or the malfunctioning of devices is not of interpretable value. They are not the products of our unconscious mind; they are the product of our attempt to make sense of the dream world. On the other hand, we can cultivate sub-lucidity to bring about lucid dreaming. So it is useful to recognize sub-lucid consciousness when it occurs so that we can recognize signs that we are in fact dreaming. Such recognition is the opening of lucidity.
- Of course lucid dreams, because we direct ourselves consciously, are of no more use for dream interpretation than are the events of our daily lives. Take that to mean what you will. But lucid dreams have their own value. We can use them to, for example, confront fears or just to experience bliss.
Read more about understanding and interpreting your dreams in my book Dream Patterns: Revealing the Hidden Patterns of Our Waking Lives from Findhorn Press.
Dream Patterns: Revealing the Hidden Patterns of Our Waking Lives will be available by August 8. I’ve added a Dream Patterns page to my site. Following the link here or look for the link in the menu bar above.
Thanks again to Findhorn Press for making the publishing process so easy, for being so professional, and for making the book look great.
In his 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism, historian Robert Paxton points out that, since the end of World War II violent, uniformed fascist paramilitary groups have not been able to gain any allies that would help bring true fascism to power. Skinheads, he argues,
would become functional equivalents of Hitler’s SA and Mussolini’s squadristi only if they aroused support instead of revulsion. If important elements of the conservative elite begin to cultivate or even tolerate them as weapons against some internal enemy, such as immigrants, we are approaching Stage Two” (175).
During Stage Two, fascist movements establish themselves as a national political force. Stage three is when fascists actually acquire power.
Perhaps more pessimistically, historian Timothy Snyder argues
When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.
–On Tyranny: Twelve Lessons from the Twentieth Century (42)
Perhaps Paxton is now being proven wrong about the inability of violent groups to gain legitimacy. Consider:
- The Multnomah County (Oregon) Republican Party has invited right-wing paramilitaries to police Republican events.
- Also in Portland, a militiaman assisted federal agents in arresting a man at a anti-Trump protest.
- Candidate Donald Trump allowed Bikers for Trump to join professional security and police at his campaign rallies.
- Candidate and even President-Elect Trump used private security alongside the Secret Service. It is unclear to me what role his private security continues to play now that Trump is President, though it was widely reported before his inauguration that he would take private security with him to the White House. The head of his private security now holds a formal position as an assistant to the President.
President Trump has promoted violence against opponents. He and now the Republican Party around Portland are legitimizing right-wing paramilitary groups. The NRA, which has, until the election of Trump, been an anti-government organization, gives the appearance of becoming a pro-Trump paramilitary group. All of this ultimately undermines the rule of law and the constitutional order. Authoritarianism can ride in on the backs of gangs and paramilitaries.
Yes, there is left-wing violence as well. The Alexandria shooting is the most awful example of political violence since the 2016 presidential campaigns began. But consider the responses of the Democratic Party to such events:
- Democrats immediately and consistently denounced the Alexandria shooting.
- When a man wearing a pro-Sanders shirt participated in a violent disruption of a Trump rally, Sanders immediately denounced that violence.
- Antifa has zero support among Democrats.
- Democrats nearly universally denounced Kathy Griffin for showing a fake severed Trump head. And CNN fired her from the annual New Years show.
While Trump, Portland Republicans, and the NRA promote violence and paramilitaries, the Democratic Party, and liberals and leftists in general, have consistently denounced political violence.
There is no moral equivalence between Republicans and Democrats regarding political violence; it is one-sided. Right-wing paramilitaries and use of violence are undermining the rule of law and the legitimacy of our political institutions. This violence promotes a crisis in the constitutional order, exactly the sorts of crisis that fascists and authoritarian movements have historically exploited to establish authoritarian regimes.