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‘Try to stop me’ – the mantra of our leaders who are now ruling with impunity

5 600 1716
05.02.2020

It is not a sufficient condition for fascism to take root, but it is a necessary one: the willingness of political leaders not only to break the law but to revel in breaking it is a fatal step towards the replacement of democracy with authoritarian terror.

We see this at work in the United States today, where the Republican party’s blatant disregard for the constitution will allow Donald Trump to escape impeachment.

If Trump is elected for a second term, he will test to the limit the potential for wielding unconstitutional power. But the phenomenon is not confined to the US. Several powerful governments now wear illegality almost as a badge of honour.

Fascist and prefascist governments share, among others, two linked characteristics: they proudly flout the laws that are supposed to restrain them while introducing new, often unconstitutional laws to contain political opponents or oppress minorities.

In Brazil, outrages against indigenous people, opposition politicians and journalists are encouraged and celebrated at the highest levels of government. Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election with the help of a judicial coup in which due process was abandoned to secure the imprisonment of the frontrunner, Luiz Inácio da Silva (Lula). Bolsonaro has been photographed embracing two of the suspects in the murder of the leftwing councillor Marielle Franco, and has sought to block corruption investigations into his son Flávio, who allegedly has close links with members of the paramilitary gang accused of killing her.

In response to democratic protests, Brazil’s economy minister has threatened to impose martial law. Bolsonaro has called for the........

© The Guardian