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Chapter 7
When the Weird Get Going, The Pros Run for Cover

The How Democracy Dies Algorithm

You say that democracy is getting in the way of your will to power? You know what's best for the country, sure you do, but not enough of those damn little people who - ugh - vote believe in your vision to give you the power to make it a reality? Is that what's worrying you, friend?

Fear not! In just a few simple steps, you, too, can turn your once robust democracy into a country ripe for fascist exploitation - sorry, I meant, strong leadership! Don't believe me? It's true! Here's how:

1.Can members of your base tell fact from fiction and follow rational arguments?
YES2.Starve the public education system of funding. (Don't worry - your wealthy backers will be able to send the children that matter to private schools.)
NO3.Do your followers accept small lies, distortions, distractions and misrepresentations?
NOGO TO 2
YES4.Is the press independent to the point that it could successful expose your agenda?
YES5.Where you can, have your wealthy supporters buy up established news outlets or create their own. At the same time, attack your most prominent media opponents for their "bias."
NO6.Is your party ready for a radical lurch to the right? [NOTE: try to avoid the term "fascist" in the early stages of the process - it tends to unnerve the weak-minded.]
NO7.Begin purging moderates from your party.
YES8.Do rival politicians oppose your emerging extremism?
YES9.Vilify the shit out of them. Call them weak and corrupt, and claim that they cannot deal with the grave problems facing the nation.
NO10.Do your followers accept big lies, complete fabrications and your own total disregard for the truth?
NOGO TO 5
YES11.Are people in your base fearful for their future?
NO12.Use what power you have to cut taxes for your wealthiest citizens and make trade deals that ship jobs overseas. Promote wars abroad and the militarization of policing at home. In short, make life more miserable for your base.
YES13.Demonize a minority group within your country, blaming them for the members of your base not having meaningful employment, being subject to terrorist violence or whatever other hot button issue will stoke their fears the most. At the same time, promote the idea that the members of your base had better lives at some point in the past. Finally, convince them that the leader of your party is strong enough to overcome whatever it is they fear and recreate the conditions of the (almost undoubtedly fictitious) golden past that were so favourable to them.
14.Does your party control all the levels of government?
NO15.Obstruct the efforts of the other party to enact programmes that would mitigate your agenda.
YES16.Crack down on human rights, rewrite the laws in order to consolidate your power, jail enemies and allow your cronies to begin looting the treasury. In other words: PARTY!

Notes

Although broken down into discrete steps for purposes of illustration, the most effective way of employing the How Democracy Dies Algorithm is to assume that, once initiated, each step intensifies over time. There would be no point in vilifying your opponent, for example, if you let up on the press; contradictory information about the vileness of your opponent might get to your base, confusing it. And, you only want your base confused in the direction that is most conducive to your agenda. Thus, by the time your strong leader appears, all of the different aspects of the algorithm should be working in concert to create the atmosphere most likely to allow him to gain power.

You should also be aware that undermining democracy is not the sort of thing that can be accomplished overnight. In fact, it can take decades. Plan ahead. You may not even be around to see it come to fruition, but at least you can die with the knowledge that you did your part to destroy democracy.

As always, the How Democracy Dies Algorithm is descriptive, nor proscriptive; that is to say, it describes the way things are, not how they should ideally be. The creators of the How Democracy Dies Algorithm are not suggesting that this is the way the world should work. In fact, we're quite terrified by the prospect. They! We mean they! They're quite terrified by the prospect!

We should really check to see if our passports are up to date...

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