Youre fired! Tyrants are often found in the office. Photograph: Blend Images/ Alamy
Comparisons with 20 th-century totalitarianism are not wholly exaggerated. With Trump, the lies are a autocratic affirm of his will to power. I am in control, he tells, in effect, as he conjures imaginary mob at his inauguration or devises millions of illegal voters so he can feign he won the popular vote. You may know I am lying. But if you contradict me, I will stimulate you pay.
No one in the west has insured Trumps kind of victory in politics since persons under the age of the despots. But look around your workplace and perhaps you wont be so surprised by their victories. If you are unlucky, you will see an authoritarian standing over you. The revolutionary economist Chris Dillow once wrote that, while the fall of communism discredited the centrally planned economy, the centrally planned corporation, with the autocratic leader who tolerated no disagreement , not only survived 1989, but blossomed.
Dillow is not alone in worrying about the harm the little Hitlers of the corporation might bring. Since the accident, economists have looked as a matter of urgency at how hierarchies encourage petty tyrants to brag their style to the top. They exhibit all the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder: a desire to dominate, overconfidence, a sense of entitlement, an inability to listen to others or allow others to speak and a passion for glory. If you want to know how they can win the votes of those around them, recollect
Fred Goodwins vainglorious decision to takeover ABN Amro. Perhaps the single worst decision in UK business history, whose repercussions we are still paying for, was not opposed by a single member of the RBS board.
Narcissists in business are more likely to seek macho takeovers and less likely to engage in the hard work of innovating and creating profitable firms, the researchers procured. They are more likely to cook the books to feed their cults of the personality and make, if not America, then themselves look great again. Academics from the University of California have asked the obvious question: why would rational companies let the fascism of the firm survive? Surely they ought to be protecting their businesses, as free market theory dictates, rather than allow dangerous and comprehending men and women to risk their destruction.
They observed what most of us instinctively know to be true: in the right circumstances, compulsive liars can create compulsive disciples, as Trump has done. Overconfident someones reached status because their peers believed the stories they told about themselves. It should not be a astound that Donald Trump, Arron Banks and oligarchs backing the Russian and east European strongmen come from business. The age of the dictators never came to an end in the workplace.
The unrepentant liar: Donald Trump and the Central Park Five
Long before anyone worried about the death of truth, Trump was showing that he might have based his career on the Don DeLillo character in
Underworld , who says: Some people fake their death, Im faking my life.( A motto that are applicable as well to Boris Johnson .) Of all his lies , none to my mind is more revelatory or more ominous for the future than the lies he told when people presumed he was just another loudmouthed tycoon.
In 1989, a white investment banker called Trisha Meili was horribly beaten and raped in New Yorks Central Park. She had lost three-quarters of her blood and gone into a coma by the time the police saw her. The authorities arrested five juveniles, four black and one Hispanic. In one of his first moves from business into politics, Trump told demise was the only punishment they deserved. He took out
adverts in the New York press declaring: Mayor Koch has stated that detest and rancour should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!
Trump dealt with the accusations of racist scaremongering by rehearsing a self-pitying line that would serve him well in the future. Whites were the true underprivileged in American society, he told NBC television. A well-educated black enjoys tremendous advantages over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. If I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black.
You may oppose the death penalty. You may find Trumps language reeked of the Munich beer hall. Cynical New Yorkers noted at the time that Trump was feuding with city boss over taxation abatements for his the progress and was using the rape to attack a mayor who had damned him as greedy. For all that, you could think that this was still a legitimate response to a foul crime.
the sequel. In 2002, a career felon admitted to the rape and DNA evidence demonstrated he was telling the truth. The police, it turned out, had forced confessions from their teenage suspects. The boys , now humen, were released. But Trump refused to concede an inch of ground. He would not accept new evidence had put him in the wrong and the five were innocent. Even in 2014, when New York eventually reached a compensation settlement with the victims of police abuse, Trump was stillinsisting that determining doesnt mean innocence and the taxpayers of New York had been fleeced.
It shows his character, said Raymond Santana, one of the five Trump had smeared. So it does and, after that , nothing should surprise you. Connoisseurs of Don DeLillos American underworld will learn all they need to know about his character when they hear that Trumps first lawyer was Roy Cohn, a grotesque figure from the McCarthy era of the 1950 s. He persecuted real and imagined homosexuals in public life who he claimed could be blackmailed. As so often with obsessive homophobes, Cohn dedicated every appearance of being a closet lawsuit and succumbed of Aids in 1986. Before denying the human race the pleasure of his company, however, Cohn taught the young Trump to always assault and never mollify. Whether Trump needed teaching is open to doubt.
This vision of life as a perpetual war you watch so clearly in the Trisha Meili case is authentically totalitarian. Truth, reason, proof, modesty must all be sacrificed to the greater good of keeping the strongman looking strong. The weapons 21 st-century technology provide for political war stimulate me doubt that stopping Trump and his imitators will be easy. Just as Britains isolated Brexit government has no choice but to compulsively believe that Trumps pragmatism will overwhelm his extremism, so Americans must hope that the checks and balances of the constitution will cage him. No one can see the future and both are correct. But, as I told, there is no evidence that they are. One reason for cynicism is that Trumps character may induce him worthless as a human but a success as a legislator in our time of cyber-charlatanism.
After Trumps victory, Hillary Clintons aide Ronald A Klain
reflected with understandable shock on an election his nominee should never have lost. Trump tore up the rules of politics, Klain told, but still finished in the White House. The old wisdom was to apologise if you were in the wrong and move the conversation on with as much speed as you could manage. If youre explaining, youre losing, Ronald Reagan told, as he stated the commonsensical proposition that legislators should not dwell on their embarrassments. Public relations in the Trump era : brand all media outlets as fake
But Trump understood that Twitter, Facebook and 24/7 news had changed the world. The modern chancer needed to stay with the scandal and limb his supporters with instant rationales. The Trump campaign would not apologise. When caught in a scandal, it doubled down within minutes. It knew its supporters wouldnt care if the experts they hated as exhaustively as Michael Gove dismissed Trumps the purpose of explaining refusing to release his tax returns or feminists said his advocacy of sexual assault was something more than locker-room talk. The phase is, Klain told, Trump supporters were armed with an explanation that
they accepted and could use to defend their nominee on social media.
The same need to instil a party line and protect his supporters from reasonable doubt results Trump and his sidekicks once again to imitate dictators and attack the whole of the free press. Not simply opponent journalists, mark you, but the entire media. The reasoning is obvious. Every one of the many financial and political scandals Trump will surely make will emerge in the media. Every media organisation must therefore be branded as lying and fake before they publish. Journalists need to learn, if they have not learned already, that no accommodation is possible with the alt-right because its ideology and tactics foreclose it from wanting an accommodation. You cannot balance or mollify such people you can only uncover them.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer and a media cohort that is at a loss on how to deal with the new administration. Photograph: Shawn Thew/ EPA
Unless Twitter bans him, which it should if Trump instigates violence, the same tactics can be used against legislators. Republican legislators will think hard about exercising their constitutional right to check a chairwoman if they know that Trump can use social media to elicit their advocates back home to denounce and harry them.
I am sorry if I am being hysterical, but I cannot see how conservatives can argue in conscience that there is nothing monster about the 45 th President of the United States. The Ku Klux Klan has endorsed him. He has brought Steve Bannon, a true postmodern fascist, to the centre of power. Bannon exemplifies the Nazi jurist
Carl Schmitts sinister ideal of a political leader who unites his supporters by creating enemies for them to detest. Bannon and the alt-right have stimulated Islam not al-Qaeda, Islamic State, or the Shia theocrats in Tehran but all Muslims their enemy of selection. They unify their supporters on racial lines against blacks, Jews and Latinos too. As a former journalist on his Breitbart site explained, Bannon believes in a nutshell that western culture is inseparable from European ethnicity.
Nor, and even when all due deference has been paid to the learned objections of Richard Evans and other historians, is it a sign of hysteria to say that western democracies are watching an increase in the indulgence of political violence that echoes the 1930 s. Once, the apologetics were confined to the worst parts in the liberal-left. In the past decades, I could feel the thrill of gratification as they decided that the latest terrorist carnage was a only and righteous penalty for the wars of Tony Blair and George W Bush.
As late as 2015, an article for Jeremy Corbyns Stop the War was saying that the massacre of civilians in Paris was t
he result of deliberate policies and actions undertaken by the United States and its friends, while the National Union of Students was deciding that it would be Islamophobic to criticise Islamic State.( A genuinely racist notion, incidentally, that implies, Bannon-style, that all followers of Islam greet the mass murder of unbelievers and the sex enslavement of captured women .)
Reacting with violence against Trump? Thats exactly what he wants
Just as the far-left has moved from the fringe to take over the once mainstream British Labour party, so the far-right has moved in to take over Americas Republicans. Violence and dread are its fellow travellers. Appear at Trump telling his supporters to knock the crap out of protesters at his rallies, or at the contempt with which the Daily Mail greeted the verdict and sentencing handed to the murderer of Jo Cox, or the
loathing with which Nigel Farage treated her widower. Try, then, to put yourself in the place of a black or Muslim American and imagine how they feel about what is to come.
There are few reasons to be cheerful. But amid the hopelessnes, I hope I am not being naive in sensing new forces-out stirring and the will to fight back hardening. We are now at the start of a new opponent motion, a liberal version of backlash politics, which feels the urgent need to drive the right from power.
It could all go wrong. Trump, Bannon, Farage and the Tory right want to polarise societies. They can look to the instance of Bashar al-Assad and consider a track to victory. The despot won by shooting down the peaceful demonstrators of the Arab Springtime and targeting moderate forces-out in the civil war that followed. By the time he was finished, there was no middle ground left. Assad could turn to the brutalised survivors and say: Insure, its either me or Islamic State now. Thats your only choice. Whats it going to be?
Understand the logic of polarisation and you will understand that Trump wants a violent reaction. He wants to be able to tell white Americans that his foes are
professional anarchists, as he said last week. He wants liberals to treat all his supporters as if they are as devalued as he is. He can then turn to his base and say liberals hate them because they are white; that they watch them as nothing more than stupid, deplorable bigots. Force me from power, he will conclude, and these hate-filled foes will come for you and give the tremendous advantages he was pretending blacks enjoyed in the 1980 s to their favoured minorities.
The alternative, and not only in America, is to go back to the hated and patronised working-class followers of the right. You should try to win them over in elections rather than procession with the already converted at rallies. You should cordon off the true racists and fascists and listen to and argue with the rest with a modicum of respect. If that can happen, then perhaps the world will learn that the best style to objective the power of compulsive liars is to break the compulsion of their followers to believe.