What would a fascist/authoritarian US look like, and how it would function?

Even if I were a fan of the current administration, which I’m not, enough people these days are talking about this possibility (some as though it’s a done deal) that I’ve been pondering this question for a while.

I, and I think many others raised on the dystopian fiction of the past hundred years, envision such a state to be completely oppressive of all rights and controlling every aspect of every citizens’ lives, possibly as a reflection of attitudes and stereotypes of the Soviet Union. But as someone here pointed out, few real life examples have ever, or do, look like that, which was an intriguing observation, and one that helped inspire this grain of thought.

So what would such a nightmare scenario look and be like, in your opinion, for the average citizen? How would it be different compared to now?

For example (and please don’t fixate on this as the only avenue of thought), what would folks do for jobs? In the dystopian fiction of yore, everyone generally either works for the state or rots away in ghettos with a bare minimum of government provided necessities or something along those lines. Would businesses in general have fled because of uncertainty and fear of encroachment or forcible nationalization? Such a thing is pretty expensive, complex, and very much a last resort. Would the government prevent them, another consideration?

Would there be a Great Firewall of America over the internet, or just no internet at all? To link back to the previous speculation, would the data collected by advertisers and private businesses have been weaponized? How?

What government institutions would still exist, in what form? For example, even the dystopian fiction has (kangaroo) courts. Would there still be states, per se? One of my longstanding thoughts about this is that I don’t think there’s any way this country would enter such a state intact the way it is now. It’s too large and too diverse. So how would the divisions go, if there were any? If somehow it was the entire USA as it exists now, except fascist/authoritarian, how would it be enforced, on a practical level?

Dystopias often have fundamental Christianity and/or racism/homophobia/what have you enshrined as law. Do you see that happening? To what extent?

Would the rest of the world be untouched by this? After all, it’s a joke that in, say, the world of the Hunger Games, the rest of the world is perfectly fine while the US is the only dystopian country. But I wonder if that could or would be the case.

Basically, I’m wondering what the folks mentioned up top envision when they give their warnings, how overt or insidious it would be. Feel free to take another approach if you feel it’s right.

Like the characters in The Stand, umm yeah I get the nightmares.

Donald Trump declares victory, interrupts absentee ballot counting, invalidates some states’ numbers. Supreme Court says yeah he gets to do that, we think the powers of the Exec include such authority. Massive widespread protests are shut down by defining them as anarchy and chaos. Huge swaths of people—politicians and otherwise—are swayed by the notion that it’s a bad conclusion reached by authentic organs of government and they fear scrapping the notion of “legitimate channels” and they’re kind of paralyzed. We wake up one day and realize a period has been put at the end of the American democratic experiment sentence. It’s over.

Not everyone is at all onboard with it but the secret police recruit the ones who are and they are happy to watch people like you and me. Concentration camps are set up. Categories of naughty dissidents are identified and social litmus tests are applied to see if you kind of look like one of them. A few examples are turned into public spectacles. Others are pressured to turn in their friends and associates for an easier time of it.

The standard of living, and the nation’s rank among other nations, plummets because this isn’t efficient. The option of belligerent conquering looks appealing to the guy with the strange hair. He pisses off some international folks and doesn’t make good alliances. Nuclear war.

Somewhere else in this galaxy or a neighboring one, individually intelligent life that is also social makes a successful go of it. So it’s okay in the long run. Good lives are lived, good connections are formed, communities bond and the best of individually free socially connected existence takes root.

Just not here.

I think it would look something like Hong Kong today - a largely functional, even prosperous, high-tech society, but one in which saying the wrong words gets you “disappeared” and protests are met with tear gas and riot police.

There’d be a low-level civil war (not a shooting war, but fought via federal attorneys in federal courts) between the new fascist federal gov’t and the big blue states and big blue cities. NY, Chi, and LA won’t give up freedom easily. We’ll lose, simply by the feds cutting off all school, police, highway, etc. funding. They’ll starve us out monetarily. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and that’s how they destroy us in the end: taxation without representation.

Probably not. The Chinese government is far less religious, far more organized, and far less divided.

The Chinese people are far more homogenous, more obedient/hierarchical/collectivist as a function of Confucianism, and do not have a history of democracy. Freedom isn’t a big Chinese value.

China is kind of a poster boy for a novel, hybrid authoritarian-capitalist model, and their economic success probably can’t be easily copied by more heterogenous societies. Here, we won’t even bake a cake for The Other Guys.

I think the Nazi model would be more applicable: a strongman at the top, enforced through a network of cronies, unjust laws holding the rest of it up, social services for the in-groups (WASPs), death camps for everyone else. America has all the infrastructure – physical and oratory – in place for just such a thing, and the GOP has been actively fomentingaphy racial dissent in a purposeful divide-and-conquer strategy. We even have the same Roman iconography.

(Missed edit)

I think a key to fascism isn’t just authoritarianism, but authoritarianism with strong in-groups and out-groups. There’s gotta be an “us” to unite the in-group around, which you treat relatively well, maybe even better than our current system. Then you rally them against the “them” and use that to justify the relatively limited obstructions of freedom you place upon the in-group, which generally falls under you-shall-not-support-the-enemy-or-even-appear-to kinda laws, like McCarthyism. It’s not the same thing as, say, run-of-the-mill corrupt warlord dictatorships, or the Catholic Church, or Jordan or Thailand or other authoritarian societies.

The racial element, especially, makes it more similar to Nazism and Imperial Japan than other regimes.

Also, specifically in America, I think they’d farm out a lot of the oppression to the private sector.

You know those nice guys who come to your door and ask if you know Jesus? They aren’t asking politely anymore.

Nature abhors power vacuums. A weak US means a weak NATO means the EU is further at risk. China has been steadily building in-roads across the Eastern Hemisphere, and across the global south. I think what they’re going for is “colonialism with Chinese characteristics”, which is to say economic feeder states allied with Chinese interests but otherwise left to their own devices. It’s a copy of the American model in that they’d probably only step in if a national sovereign threatened Chinese interests, the same way the CIA does, while using softer tactics like state-sponsored Chinese investment in local national infrastructure/elite businesses so that they can exert influence through corporate rather than geopolitical reins. Lastly, when it comes to their version of xenophobia, China prefers to assimilate rather than butcher. Whereas our society cannot easily scale because democracies don’t work well with heterogenous populations, their system is designed to assimilate and unite everyone under authoritarianism + economic progress (kinda like the Borg) and can accomodate new societies of people, as long as they’re willing to trade cultural independence for economic gain (and most would). Faced against this new China, with its economic and cultural tentacles everywhere, the only bargaining chip the US has is our military. And not for long.

The USA becomes a footnote, a 20th-century has-been that fumbled on stage and fell gracelessly out of the limelight.

I think it’s a mistake to think that a 21st century “Fascist” America would necessarily see The New York Times and The Washington Post shut down (or forcibly converted into publications that sing the praises of the Leader and his Party) and the Democratic Party outlawed and elections abolished.

The 21st century has seen the rise of “post-modern” authoritarian states. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is one of the best known (but by no means the only example).

I am far from an expert on Russia under Putin, but my impression is that there are still opposition “newspapers” (and perhaps, these days, web sites) because nobody cares much about that sort of niche thing. (Especially not literal dead-tree newspapers.) Let the nerds and losers have their news"papers"! But you’d have a very, very hard time finding anybody saying anything bad about Putin on the television.

In 2012, there was a presidential election in Russia; Putin had at that point been the undisputed Leader of Russia for many years, but he “only” got 63.6% of the vote, which is high, but hardly impossibly high. Turnout was reportedly 65.25%. That adds up to a claim that a bit over 40% of the Russian electorate actually voted for Putin–which claim might actually have even been true, for all I know. Contrast that with, say, the 1936 German elections, where literally everyone in the Reichstag was a Nazi, the Nazis were the only candidates, the turnout was allegedly 99%, and the Nazis allegedly got 98.8% of the votes.

Even after Putin has been in power for years and years, there are still “opposition parties”. They never, ever win, but they exist. For that matter, I’m not even sure–off the top of my head and without bothering to read that page I just linked to–what “political party” Vladimir Putin supposedly represents. I think it’s “United Russia”. Obviously no one ever said “Gee, what political party is in charge of Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany?”

Putin’s Russia unquestionably uses violence–raw, naked force–against the opponents of the regime. Everyone knows that sometimes Putin’s opponents “mysteriously” die from being poisoned with polonium or nerve gas, or maybe they just fall out of a window. But it’s also easy for supporters for the regime to say “No, no, Russia is a democracy! Sure, we have a ‘strong’ leader as President, but there are elections, there’s a free press; every country has unsolved murders sometimes–people who say Russia is a ‘dictatorship’ are just people who hate Russia, that’s all!” And apathetic people who don’t want to think about it too much can sort of shrug and go along with that. That sort of claim really wasn’t possible in a place like Nazi Germany, nor did the Nazis even claim that Germany was a “bourgeois democracy”.

The point is not that a 21st century “Fascist” America will look exactly like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But it also won’t necessarily look like something out of a 1930s newsreel, either.

This. I predict something closer to Italy under Berlusconi or the Phillipines under Marcos. With occasional flare-ups akin to Duterte to appease the hunger for state violence among the rubes.

The main work of the inner circle of the WH and of Congress is naked self-enrichment. Laws & norms are for losers. Collecting a “commission” on every act or non-act of government is for winners. And ensuring they entrench a family dynasty.

The main work of the corporate elite is naked self-enrichment and the ability of their company to ignore any and all law they choose in pursuit of profit. So long as they keep the WH & the ranking Congressmen appropriately sweetened with money. If not, the tax police show up or a hostile takeover suddenly succeeds. Who are they going to complain to?

Farther down the food chain lawlessness develops throughout the government. Any law can be ignored if you pay the right regulator / inspector / LEO. Any judge can be bought for a reasonable fee. The businesses that succeed are the ones that are willing to cheat all day every day versus historical norms. Aggressive brash selfish heedless greed & pursuit of power and profit becomes the one and only business of business and of government workers & elected officials at all levels.

It’s simple one large smash and grab raid on our culture and our collective assets.

There is no central conspiracy implanting stooges in each county tax assessor’s office. It’s simply the case that legal behavior is a pretty thin veneer and the 2% of citizens who are psychopaths and the 20% of citizens who can persuade themselves with sophisticated arguments like “everybody’s doing it” will come boiling out of the woodwork faster than you can say “Putin’s America” to grab all they can. Once this starts it’s the work of decades to slow, stop, and reverse.

For most of us working schlubs, “keep your head down, do your job, and get on with life” will become the accommodation of the day.

Which will work until you have a run-in with a boss or a car crash or have somebody swindle you out of your land or whatever and you discover there’s no functioning legal system to turn to. They’ve been shrunk into immobility versus their backlog and the only cases being decided are being decided by which side paid more.

This dystopia exists today in many, many countries. And has done so stably for decades. It can happen here, and very quickly.


I can certainly see a racist secret police (and public police), mass arrests, “deportations” of non-white citizens, etc. The “social safety net” such as it is simply turned off and lawless shantytowns spring up on on hillsides preyed upon both by cops and by gangs.

But all that isn’t necessary to the true goal of the current crop of WH jerks: they just want to get paid. Hugely.

It’s the next round of RW authoritarians we really need to worry about. They’re the ones whose goals can only be achieved by mass violence aimed at (some of) the citizenry.

The difference is that Nazi Germany and Japan were pretty racially homogenous to begin with. We are rapidly approaching a time when Whites will not longer be the absolute majority of the population.

Plus I also think that the gun nuts are right about one thing. There are a shit ton of guns in the US and people are going to start using them if they feel like the government is becoming too heavy-handed in their oppression. People in this board talk about rednecks facing off against tanks and Apache helicopters. It doesn’t work that way. You will see more of the low-level asymetrical violence we have already started to see. Random wackos taking pot shots at cops and whatnot.

IMHO, what you will likely see is sort of the “Idiocracy” we are seeing now. Mostly you will see people being anonymously harmed by horrible policies by incompetent leaders driven by greed and ideological leanings. i.e. cities poisoned because some politician is using the local reservoir to store Brawndo energy drink or whatever.

like Poland or Hungary. or turkey.

a rural minority support an authoritarian government that mistreats various minorities and out groups, neuters the constitution, stacks the judiciary, suppresses the free press. the urban areas will hate it and the rural areas will like it.

For most people, life won’t change much honestly. we just won’t be able to criticize the government.

non whites made up 30-50% of the population of many southern states in the 19th century but they were still authoritarian, racist states.

Everyone expects that right wingers will try to set up a dictatorship and keeps a close eye on them. Which is why I think an American seeking to set himself up as a dictator would pose as an anti-right. He’d convince people to hand him power by claiming he needed that power to stop the right wing from taking over.

California

There is a very light federal footprint here, so movements toward extreme would probably happen at the state level. If it started to gain traction, look for separatist efforts.

Avocado fascists with their clean air laws and rainbow beach towels!! I can’t think of anything more tyrannical.