Chris Hedges writes that the election of Donald Trump signals the triumph of a New McCarthyism. The moment has been forty years in the making:
The late Lewis Powell, a general counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and later a Supreme Court justice, in 1971 wrote an eight-page memo outlining a campaign to counter what the document’s title described as an “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” The memo established the Business Roundtable, which generated huge monetary resources and political clout to direct government policy and mold public opinion. The Powell report listed methods that corporations could use to silence those in “the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals” who were hostile to corporate interests.
Powell called for the establishment of lavishly funded think tanks and conservative institutes. He proposed that ideological assaults against government regulation and environmental protection be directed at a mass audience. He advocated placing corporate-friendly academics and neoliberal economists in universities and banishing from the public sphere those who challenged unfettered corporate power—especially Ralph Nader, whom Powell cited by name. Organizations were to be formed to monitor and pressure the media to report favorably on issues that furthered corporate interests. Pro-corporate judges were to be placed on the bench.
Academics were to be controlled by pressure from right-wing watch lists, co-opted university administrators and wealthy donors. Under the prolonged assault the universities, like the press, eventually became compliant, banal and monochromatic.
Looking back, it's easy to trace Trump's rise. The future looms large, ugly and cloudy. But it will not be sanguine.
Trump and his Christian fascist minions, sooner than most of us expect, will seek to shut down the small spaces left for free expression. Dissent will become difficult and sometimes dangerous. There will be an overt campaign of discrimination and hate crimes directed against a host of internal enemies, including undocumented workers, Muslims, African-Americans and dissidents. The Christian right will be given a license to roll back women’s rights, insert their magical thinking into school curriculums and terrorize Muslims and the GBLT community. The Trump administration will hand our Christian jihadists a platform to champion a repugnant religious chauvinism that fuses the symbols and language of the Christian religion with American capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy.
Repressive measures, I expect, will be implemented swiftly. Speed blinds a captive population to what is happening. Already anemic democratic traditions and institutions, including the legal system, the two major political parties and the press, will crumble under the assault. Trump will use the familiar tools that make possible the authoritarian state: mass incarceration, militarized police, crippling of the judicial system, demonization of opponents real and imagined, and obliteration of privacy and civil liberties, all foolishly promoted by the political elites on behalf of corporate power.
What's to be done?
We must begin again. Any hope for a restoration of civil society will come from small, local groups and community organizations. They will begin with the mundane tasks of holding back the expansion of charter schools, enforcing environmental regulations, building farmers markets, fighting for the minimum wage, giving sanctuary to undocumented workers, protesting hate crimes and electing people to local offices who will seek to mitigate the excesses of the state.
It will be, in John F. Kennedy's words, "a long twilight struggle."