Habeas corpus ad subjiciendum. The Great Writ.
From Donald Trump:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents…
10:02 AM – 24 Jun 2018
When an agent of the government comes up to you and says, “I am detaining you and you will be immediately deported,” what are you going to do without judicial review? How do you prove your citizenship? Show your United States passport to the agent? “Well, that’s a fake, we’re deporting you immediately.”
Robert Bolt – A Man For All Seasons: A Play In Two Acts
…William Roper: So, now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country ‘s planted thick with laws, from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake…
Resistance is the only antidote to Fascism:
Historically speaking the authoritarian playbook is always the same. Their ultimate goal is to consolidate power and they always use the same time tested techniques. First they start by attacking the free press. This is just a way to weaken the media’s ability to hold a ruler accountable.
You can see this dynamic at play when Trump calls any negative coverage of his administration fake news and threatens to take away the media’s credentials.
Next they will usually try to blame the country’s problems on minorities or use other vulnerable populations as scapegoats. This gives the ruler a way to validate people’s concerns while redirecting their anger towards a specific ethnic group. If people start protesting or revolting they will blame the dissent on foreigners or paid protesters. This usually gives a ruler justification to use force against civilians or to strengthen internal police forces.
Next they’ll try to weaken judicial checks on power. They usually do this by publicly discrediting judges or the judicial system, defunding departments that investigate internal criminal activity, and working to remove people from powerful positions that are not loyal to the regime or its ruler.
Which leads us to the value of loyalty. Authoritarians will always reward loyalty over competence because they fear a system that holds them to the same ethical and legal standard as everyone else. This is why you usually start to see very unqualified people running departments that they shouldn’t be running. Under an authoritarian system their loyalty is more valuable than their knowledge or skill.
A lot of these dynamics are already happening in the United States. If we’re not careful the U.S. can slip into a modern version of authoritarianism where elections can and do happen but they have no power to yield any type of social or political change.
The good news is that humanity has had plenty of practice defeating authoritarian leaders.
The one thing that works surprisingly well is nonviolent resistance. In fact, studies show that between 1900 and 2006 campaigns of non-violent civil resistance were twice as successful as violent campaigns in defeating authoritarian leaders around the world. Nonviolent resistance movements are especially effective because they make it harder for the regime to justify using violence on its own people. The same studies also show that no government can withstand the challenge of three and a half percent of its population.
So what can you do? Authoritarians strive on popular fear and collective resignation. The most powerful thing you can do is simply participate in resistance campaigns that are peaceful and nonviolent. Following movements like Indivisible or participating in campaigns by the ACLU are good places to start.
Democracy is more fragile than we think. Let’s put into action this time-tested way to defeat authoritarianism before it’s too late.
“…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide…?”
See you in the streets.