January 6 demonstrates how fragile democracy can be and how propaganda and lies can unleash uncontrollable forces. Hopefully all people and especially those in the Republican Party will realise that supporting a President who’s clearly unfit for office and persistently lies can seriously backfire.
We all need to acknowledge that human society, and democracy in particular, is at best in a state of imperfect equilibrium akin to balancing at the top of a peak. Maintaining the position of equilibrium requires constant application of carefully calibrated symetrical forces.
When the system of checks and balances is undermined, society can very quickly move away from the point of equilibrium without knowing where and how to stop the fall.
This point of caution is not just for the United States, but for all countries. In September 2019, the proroguing of the British Parliament was a step, albeit small, on the slippery slope that can move a country away from that fragile point of equilibrium in its democracy.
All autocrats start by pushing the envelope of acceptable behaviour and, unless there is push back, gradually get people to accept new norms of behaviour. Step by step, they move closer to a position where they are capable of unleashing the fury of the mob.
Many decent people become accomplices in this process by condoning this gradual slippage in democratic standards of behaviour without recognising the risks.
In particular, an attack on a nation’s symbol of democracy can have profound destabilising consequences. While the circumstances were fundamentally different, the burning of the Reichstag in Germany in 1933 was a key factor that paved the way for Hitler’s dictatorship. In this instance, Hitler was not the arsonist, but he certainly benefited from the event.
Coming back to the United States, hopefully January 6 will be the end of Trumpism (or will at least it will be pushed into the extremists fringes) and that any talk of Trump in 2024 is dead. Hopefully, the Republican Party will wake up to its responsibilities, will realise that their country needs healing and will be willing to support a modicum of bi-partisanship.
Hopefully, all of us lucky enough to live in democracies will also understand that this is a fragile privilege that can easily be lost.