Authoritarian Politics in the USA

Doug Muder:
the Weekly Sift
Doug Muder has been getting a lot of interest with his essay "Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party".  You should read it if you haven't.

People quote Upton Sinclair as saying "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." [No one can actually find when and where he said it, but whatever...]

Muder's argument is that authoritarian and antidemocratic politics will never come to America; they have been here from original European settlements. Authoritarian, antidemocratic politics won't "emerge;" they "persist."

Upton Sinclair wrote [or did not write] back when the rise of Hitler was the model for how dictatorships come to country. A lot of people saw parallels in the Tea Party.

But American authoritarianism is rooted in the high-exploitation, super-cheap labor, huge inequality system of slavery. While slavery itself was abolished, at great cost, the Constitutional structures that protected slavery up until the moment when the slave states themselves decided to forego those protections, still prevent much meaningful progress to true democracy and shared wealth. Just look at what has happened in the current period. The same constitutional restrictions on the power of the Federal government that made slavery impossible to touch before the Civil War still let some states to refuse Medicaid expansion and thwart a national commitment to universal access to health care.

Believe It !
Mudar's essay recounts many examples from the national history: whenever democratic reforms are established, the forces of reaction enter a long campaign to blunt them, and eventually overturn them. Eventually, the South returned to the conditions of slavery; sharecropping was Slavery 2.0. Expanding on Muder, Eventually, the whites-only primary election in South is returning. (The McDaniel challenge in Mississippi is essentially an argument that black voters should not be allowed to vote in the GOP primary.) Reproductive rights are nullified by state legislation. They want to privatize Social Security.

In other words, we are not in the position of preventing antidemocracy, but still trying to dislodge it. And it is persistent, patient and stubborn. And so we fight the same battles over and over again.

That's why the North Carolina's Moral Movement uses this slogan:


  1. Interesting. Happens I am reading the Wars of Reconstruction right now.

    You know your predecessor in Worcester Thomas Wentworth Higginson had quite a bit to say on the subject.

  2. Steve Cook10:43 AM

    I think his analysis is largely correct, I am sad to say. Americans, Right and Left, are happy with "democracy" when they win; when they don't, they begin muttering about republican principles, federalism and the tyranny of the majority, which the Left did a lot of in the "gay marriage" debates of ten-fifteen years ago. Now that the Left is winning that particular struggle, there is lots of happy talk about being on "the right side of history" while the Right mutters about majority tyranny.


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