In case of authoritarian takeover, break glass

A pile of broken glass with a small butterfly perched in the middle

Reasonable people can differ on whether it is now possible to stop the authoritarian takeover of the U.S. government. If you still have hope, I support your work and optimism and don’t want to change your mind. (I personally wrote the first draft of this post while attending a protest of the upcoming Senate vote to acquit Trump.) But if you are thinking about executing your personal “In Case of Authoritarian Takeover” plan, but are worrying that you are being too dramatic, I want you to know that I am executing my plan.

My personal plan is to emigrate to a country with a healthy democracy and good long-term prospects for keeping it. My fiancé and I love San Francisco and expected to spend the rest of our lives here. We are heartbroken to be leaving but neither of us can tolerate living under an authoritarian government.

The people who most need to emigrate are often those who are least able to do so. This is true in my case; I have an incurable chronic illness which makes it difficult to gain permanent residency in any country with what I need most: reliable accessible health care. I started my first application for a residency visa shortly after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate (in a preview of how the Senate will likely vote on impeachment). Unfortunately, my first visa application failed, but I have hope that my next application will succeed.

I greatly respect all the people who, in the lead up to and during World War II, tampered with Nazi databases, brawled with fascists in the street, and smuggled people across borders. The modern antifa movement is doxxing neo-Nazis, counter-protesting Proud Boys, and generally putting their bodies on the line to protect those targeted by the Trump administration. Others are organizing protests, reporting on corruption, and working behind the scenes to keep everyone fed and cared for. I am grateful for everyone doing this work in whatever capacity they can.

I will be thrilled to be proved wrong, and would love to return to San Francisco if the U.S. somehow manages to head off authoritarianism. But it is now a matter of urgency for me to acquire the right to live and work in a more stable country for the rest of my life. I support other people taking whatever action is best for them based on similar assumptions.

Here are some of the books I read that helped me make this decision:

Defying Hitler, by Sebastian Haffner
One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, by Andrea Pitzer
How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer
The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt
Fascism, by Alan Cassels
The Anatomy of Fascism, by Robert O. Paxton
Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, by Mark Bray

My thinking was also shaped by visiting World War II memorials and museums around the world, with particular emphasis on the Holocaust and the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have also learned a great deal from my Twitter list focusing on U.S. politics. [Update: fixed list link.]

Featured image CC BY P J Lambert

2 thoughts on “In case of authoritarian takeover, break glass

  1. You say your “plan is to emigrate to a country with a healthy democracy and good long-term prospects for keeping it.” What country might that be?

    1. I won’t say which one, but I’ll say what I considered in choosing:

      High ranking on world indices for democracy, lack of corruption, low crime, etc.
      Lots of English speakers
      Good healthcare
      Welcoming of immigrants
      Friendly and open culture
      Unlikely to have civilian casualties if NATO and/or EU collapse and we get another world war

      For example, Germany is great on the first three, okay on the fourth, and fails the last two.

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