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August 7, 2016


I have just finished reading 1984 for the umpteenth time about the trials and travails of Winston Smith as he resists the freedom-stifling social and economic order enforced by The Party under the iron rule of Big Brother. I was reminded of the total loss of democracy in Oceania as depicted by Orwell in his book following an atomic war and a revolution and its potential for application to our time and day. In my opinion, one of the few flaws of the book is that Orwell assumed that humanity survived after an atomic war in order to usher in the age of Big Brother, though of course we have to cut a lot of slack for novelists to tell their story, and it is a great story, one that should be read by every American. Why?

Well, dictatorship can come to America under different guises. We have seen how dictatorships have arisen from communist revolutions, Nazi seizure of power, military coups and the like, but what if there were a “seizure of power” via a “velvet” revolution, i.e., an electoral process?

For instance, what if Trump is elected by citizens who voluntarily barter away their democracy via a regular constitutional process in return for sloganeering such as “make America great again” and other  meaningless  generalities? What kind of government could we expect with him at the helm? Would our Constitution and other institutional barriers to dictatorship save us from an age of Big Brother? What can we look to in order to guess what the future would hold for us in such a case? What conclusions can we arrive at given the evidence of what could happen if he is elected? In short, what is the evidence today for what can happen tomorrow? Would Trump’s election signal the end of democracy as we know it? Let’s look at what we know or can reasonably infer from the evidence to date.

To be sure, assertions that women are “fat pigs” suggest a childish state of mind (psychiatrists may have a different description for it) and “I will tear up trade agreements, I will build a wall and the Mexicans will pay for it, I will withdraw from NATO” etc. are grandiose statements which he is powerless to see accomplished by the exercise of presidential powers alone, though if elected he might try his luck on one or more of his “campaign promises” (in which case look for mayhem in the Congress and roiling of international markets etc., especially if he chooses “trade agreements” as his target).

In surveying what we know or can reasonably infer so far from what he has said, it may surprise the reader to know that I do not consider such childish and silly insults of anyone who does not praise him to be anything other than springing from the frustrations of a playground bully. My real concern has to do with the possible loss of our democracy when I hear him (on various issues of state) say that “I am the only one in the world who can solve this or that.” That, to me, signals a Big Brother mindset.

That amounts to a step beyond grandiosity into delusion, to be sure, but on a practical level it signals even more. If “I alone” of all the billions of people in the world can “fix specific problems,” then why do I need any help from, for instance, economic or foreign policy advisers? I already have all the answers. Who needs parasitic “advisers” other than for show and a cover for my decisions, a pretense that policy has been considered by experts and that the interests of “the people” have had due consideration.

As an example and In furtherance of this scheme I suspect as outlined above, Trump says the group of economic advisers he named recently will advise him and that this bodes well for the poor and middle classes, whose welfare will be their and his primary concern. Let’s look at who he proposes to appoint for such advice leading to improvement of the lives of those in the lower and middle classes.

They are hedge fund operators, bankers and other titans of industry and finance with no representation from academia. These proposed “advisers” are the people who fleece the lower and middle classes as well as one another, play arbitrage and corporate vulture games, sue poverty-stricken foreign nations’ sovereign funds for full bond payments etc. They are unlikely to be interested in such mundane matters as helping the poor and middle classes. In words of the street, that’s not their thing.

I conclude that such suggested appointment is a show and pretense; that Trump if elected wants lackeys in his administration who actually have no interest in the issues and will rubber-stamp his proposals. I suggest further that such conduct is akin to that of a Big Brother who, pretending to democratic values, is actually engaged in destroying them in favor of one-man rule, which smacks of dictatorship.

The literature lately has talked of how the election of Trump could “bring fascism to America.” I am not sure that what he would bring to America can be called fascism. Indeed, the Big Brother of Orwell’s book was much opposed to fascism.

I finally conclude that whatever “ism” Trump with his one-man rule would bring to America would be inimical to and possibly end our democracy as we know it, and that to the extent of such destruction of this our most important asset, he can in fact be described as Big Brother. I urge readers of whatever political stripe to vote for his opponent since this is not the usual political election but rather one that may decide whether we are to hang on to what’s left of our democracy.   GERALD        E


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