Comrade Trump

Well who would have thought comrade word being used for a US President!

Prof Nina L. Khrushcheva of The New School in Proj Synd piece:

In 1922, Vladimir Lenin wrote that “Stalin concentrated in his hands enormous power, which he won’t be able to use responsibly,” owing to his rudeness, intolerance, and capriciousness – qualities that Donald Trump has in spades. His acquittal by the Senate was a dark day for American democracy, but his reelection could be lights out.

I am not claiming that Trump is the new Stalin, let alone equating today’s US to the Soviet Union of the 1930s. But I know propaganda when I hear it, and Trump’s words are nothing less than the genuine article. I also know how effective good propaganda can be in terms of creating space for dictatorial behavior – and how vulnerable even the strongest democracy can be to totalitarianism.

Of course, propaganda involves more than just words. Authoritarian rulers use other tools to cultivate an aura of greatness. Architecture is one such tool. From the Egyptian pharaohs to the Roman emperors to contemporary dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, authoritarian leaders have often used (or abused) architecture to manipulate public perceptions, by creating grandiose public spaces that reflect their splendid image of themselves.

Leni Riefenstahl’s controversial 1938 cinematic masterpiece Olympia, based on the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, was shot in a manner intended to emphasize the masculine, domineering air of the stadium – and, by extension, the Nazi regime. Then there was Albert Speer’s early 1930s makeover of Berlin, which channeled the regime’s totalitarian ambition into uniformly imposing and brutal neoclassical architecture.

Stalin replicated Hitler’s imperial model with his own architectural “classicism”: high rises with domes, spires, and other trimmings meant to denote power. Stalin also took inspiration from New York City’s Manhattan Municipal Building, which signified the Empire State’s grandeur in the 1910s.

Now, the Trump administration is circulating a draft executive order called “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” which would have architects adhere to “classical” structures, inspired by Greek and Roman tradition. The order underscores the symbolic value of buildings, and explicitly opposes the 1962 “Guiding Principles of Federal Architecture” – supported by President John F. Kennedy – which called for design to flow from the architectural profession to the government.

….

These leaders have also engaged in another classic form of authoritarian power projection: military parades, which are a tried-and-true method for authoritarian figures seeking to impress supporters and opponents alike. In 2017, Trump could not contain his excitement at a Bastille Day military parade in Paris – there, a ceremony rather than muscle-flexing – held next to the Arc de Triomphe (incidentally, one of Speer’s inspirations for Nazi Berlin). Two years later, Trump held his own, dizzyingly expensive military parade

It may be tempting to dismiss such performances as distractions. But they directly enable a predilection for dangerous or reckless behaviors, including the rejection of all checks on executive power – crucial to a functioning democracy.

Hmm..

 

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