Light and Transient Causes is the title of a book I read the other day. It`s written by by Mel Hawkins, both an exciting and entertaining novel and at the same time reading material that`s worth to think about. Mel writes about something, what could really happen in near future. In the year 202X horrific acts of terrorism, unprecedented natural disasters and an economic collapse happen. The election of an authoritarian outsider as President shocks people at home and abroad. The new President moves quickly to criticize and invoke sanctions on the nation’s adversaries; verbally attacks the judicial and legislative branches of the government, undermining the „separation of powers;“ suspends civil liberties at home; takes control of the press, establish military governments in Indiana and other states, and target religious and racial minorities. A divided nation, the president elected by people who wanted a radical change begins to persecute Jews and black Americans on a mass scale. Free press is suppressed. But resistance forms. The story takes place in Indianapolis in the year 202X. Pure science fiction? Unfortunately I wouldn`t be too sure.
The book made me think. There are basically 3 forms of government. Liberal democracies as in the US or Germany, pure dictatorships as in China or Saudi Arabia and forms of government, that call themselves democratic but lack civil liberty and separation of powers, as Turkey or Russia. I wouldn`t call them democracies, even if it`s probably true that the governments are supported by a majority of the people. The transitions from one kind of government to and other are not always clear and concise for the contemporaries. Hitler came to power in a constitutional way, then he used an (possibly pretended) arson attack against German Reichstag to override Civil Rights, Turkey was a real democracy till Erdogan saw a military coup attempt as a „present of God“ to establish an authoritarian rule. Many people thought both times a national emergency would justify drastic measures.
„and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” In fact, history shows that people are more likely to put up with unbearable evil–they even get used to it, than they are to correct the problem.
The people in Germany 1933 and the people in Turkey 2016 didn`t recognize the right time to resist and correct the problem. I`m not sure, what will happen within the next few years in the USA. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt explained in their book „How Democracies Die“ why they are worried about American democracy. If their fear will come true, I hope the people of the oldest democracy in modern times will know the right time to resist.