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Blowing Things Up

Roger Cohen, on the situation in France:

The inclination to blow up the system has found fertile ground. People have had it with experts. “Ça suffit!” — “Enough!” — is a much-heard cry; and if disruption leads to deluge, so be it.
- ROGER COHEN, France in the End of Days, NYT, APRIL 14, 2017


“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.
Shocked, I asked him what he meant.
“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
- Ronald Radosh, Steve Bannon, Trump's Top Guy, Told Me He Was 'A Leninist' Who Wants To ‘Destroy the State’, The Daily Beast, 08.21.16


...I think some of the aspects of current American government that... people on both sides find frustrating are in part... a function of the inability of people to understand how government can and should function. ...It is... a product of civic ignorance. ... Democracy cannot survive too much ignorance. ...
I don’t worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I’m afraid of a foreign invasion. I don’t worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some other places. What I worry about is, that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, as they might do for example, with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem. That is how the Roman republic fell. Augustus became emperor, not because he arrested the Roman Senate. He became emperor because he promised that he would solve problems that were not being solved. If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people... to demand performance from those responsible. If we don’t know, we will stay away from the polls, we will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and we and the government will in effect say, "Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do." That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.”
- David Souter, speaking (according to Rachel Maddow in New Hampshire "more than 4 years ago") in video played on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, Perils of eroded civic knowledge forewarned by fmr Justice Souter, 10/20/16 (starting at about 3:23)


Interspersed with such narratives, Soufan offers lucid explanations of a worldview that to casual Western eyes may seem mindlessly nihilistic, but is coherent within its own terms of seeking to establish a caliphate — a theocratic state. The coldblooded strategy behind terrorist attacks on fellow Muslims in the Middle East is to create zones “within the Muslim world so lawless and chaotic that the authority of the state would collapse. Al Qaeda could then rush in to fill the vacuum left by governmental failure, providing the people with much-needed services like education, water and electricity and ruling in accordance with its version of Islam.” ...
Soufan himself dismisses the prospect of transforming the Arab world’s tribal patriarchies into “Madisonian utopias anytime soon,” writing that they too often have a “cavalier disregard for education” and “relatively little openness to the wider world,” which in turn produces “legions of young men confused about their identity, angered by the hobbling of their prospects and incapable of critical thought — the kind of people most acutely vulnerable to demagogues....
- CHARLIE SAVAGE, A Counterterrorism Expert Explains How We Got Here and What Lies Ahead, NYT, JUNE 9, 2017


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