On the very first page of a book written by one of my favourite and among the most insightful authors on politics I know, Sheldon Wolin, in his Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism published in 2008, eight years before Donald Trump was elected President, there is this quote at the very top of the page and on its own, which is designed to set the scene:
Robert S. Mueller III [director of the FBI] and Secretary of State Powell read from the Bible. Mr Mueller’s theme was good versus evil. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” he said, reading from Ephesians 6:12-18. (Wolin 2008: 4 – parentheses in the original]
This was taken from an article in The New York Times published on September 12, 2003, page A-19. And in the preface, Wolin helps explain the point of the book and the reason for quoting Mueller.
The concept of totalitarianism is central to what follows…. References to Hitler’s Germany are introduced to remind the reader of the benchmarks in a system of power that was invasive abroad, justified preemptive war as a matter of official doctrine, and repressed all opposition at home – a system that was racist in principle and practice, deeply ideological, and openly bent on world domination. Those benchmarks are introduce to illuminate tendencies in our own system of power that are opposed to the fundamental principles of constitutional democracy. Those tendencies are, I believe, totalizing in the sense that they are obsessed with control, expansion, superiority, and supremacy.” (Wolin 2008: xvii)
It is exactly this that Donald Trump has exposed.
[In previous forms of totalitarian societies] the revolutionaries gained the leverage necessary to reconstruct, then mobilize society. In contrast, inverted totalitarianism is only in part a state-centered phenomenon. Primarily it represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry. (Wolen xvii-xviii)
As with anything like this, even if he has exactly explained what we see, no one will care. But it is interesting all the same to have found this already in print so long before we see it exposed in the way it has now been.