Massa Gessen has written six rules for survival in an autocracy, which I have reprinted below. Gessen lived in Russia when Putin took control and she has written one of the better books about him: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Her other book, Words Break Cement, chronicles the lives and imprisonments of Pussy Riot, Russia’s all-female punk rock protest band that Putin put behind bars.
Speaking of which, where are our punk rock protest bands? Where’s the new Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe & The Fish or (for the older set) the new Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Dylan before he went electric? If nothing else good comes from the Trump years, can this – please, finally – put an end to alt and indie and any group consisting of a guy and a girl in everyday clothes with wispy voices accompanied by shit they loaded on their computer and press buttons to play?
Can we please have music with a little viscera behind it. Some unfiltered emotion. Some outrage. Everyone in the culture – and every part of the culture – needs to revolt against what’s happening. In my generation, musicians led the way.
Trump used his first solo press conference to attack the news. He and his Brietbart boys go after the press every day, which shores up their base (those who watch and only watch Fox) and feeds the resentment we all feel at times when the press covers the wrong things, covers the right things poorly, misses the Big Story.
The Big Story is that Trump’s people are attempting an autocratic takeover of the United States of America. Not only do they want to rule domestically with an Iron Heel, but they also seek to dissolve our traditional foreign alliances such as NATO in favor of an informal collection of fascist or proto-fascist states in Russia, Turkey, hopefully France under Marine Le Pen, Italy, the UK of Brexit, and several South American states. The GOP is letting it happen, picking up loose change along the way and hoping to install Pence if business experiences a turndown and the Market gets shaky.
Putting your head in the sand will not prevent any of this from happening. Or just wanting “to go back to your normal lives.” You don’t have a normal life anymore, sorry, an Assclown got into the White House with foreign assistance and nothing and no one is safe. There is no normal until he’s gone. So stay outraged.
And here – according to Masha Gessen – are a few other things you need to do in order to survive: