Reading on Thursday 2 February

This, by David Frum writing in the Atlantic, is a good (if terrifying) layout of how autocracy is built in the modern world, not by a paramilitary coup but by the incremental erosion of the institutions that uphold democracy and why America as it currently stands is especially vulnerable.

Meanwhile, in slightly stronger language, this article sees the travel ban as the trial balloon for a coup.  Despite this, it shares a lot of the same features as the Frum piece.  The idea of “resistance fatigue” and the shadow institutions fits quite well with the slow and steady erosion of democratic institutions.  Also, both are convinced that an autocratic Trump government would be a kleptocratic one.  Another person who agrees with this analysis is Simon Wren-Lewis blogging at Mainly Macro.

For a slightly more optimistic view, based on faith in the American people and poor strategy on Trump’s part, see Eliot Cohen in the Atlantic.  Not quite rosy-spectacled enough to be put in the category of Dr Pangloss but definitely leaning in that direction.  A bit more Panglossian is this in the NYT which argues that Trump has stumbled already.

Finally, it is important, for your own mental well-being, to take action to avoid being overwhelmed by the negative news.  The Germans really do have a word for everything – Weltschmerz is the feeling of melancholy caused by the reality of the world.  This blog post by Stephen Waddington is a crowd-sourced list of lots of different ways to switch off.  Find one that works for you and stay healthy.


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