If you're not familiar with Masha Gessen and you're interested in Russia and how autocracy works, you should be. She's a great writer and journalist. A Russian Jew and dual American citizen, she's lived much of her life in Russia, working as as journalist through the fall of the Soviet Union through Yeltsin and the rise of Putin and the Oligarachs. Her work appears in the Times, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the Daily Beat, the Atlantic and any place intelligent people argue about exactly how the world is ending, fire or water. She's written about Putin based on both her journalistic reporting and one hell of scaring paternalistic intervention into her career; about Pussy Riot and the band's meaning; about the Boston Bombing and aftermath; and a recent book about a well-meaning Stalinist attempt to resettle Jews in Siberia. She's a talented, brave and uncompromising talent and spokesperson.
In a recent article right after the election, Masha published a guide to surviving the Trump whatever the hell the next four years are going to be. I'm writing about Trump and the inter-regnum with a calmer mind after reading her work here. She has basically five rules for surviving the Autocrat with mind, integrity and sanity still in tact. I've used my last two pieces to discuss the first two rules. They are:
1.Believe the Autocrat. A more elegant writer than I, she doesn't put it this way but -- No matter how completely the statement uttered as policy is illiterate, ill considered, at odds with the facts on the ground and the general laws of god, nature, physics, mathematics and aesthetics, doesn't mean the rabid wombat who has taken control doesn't fully intend to do it. Think Mao deciding to make everybody build small blast furnaces in the courtyards of their buildings and thus triple the output of steel overnight...or Stalin, deciding to imprison or execute everybody in the senior ranks of the Army because he had a bad dream and figured he'd let the dialectic sort out the sheep from the goats. Or Trump saying he doesn't want to live in the White House...Fifth Avenue is going to never be the same. I'm not sure where Trump is going to rank on the lunatic-sociopath-psychopath-schizophrenic-bi-polar autocrat scale. I'm thinking of equating him with God in the theory that God is 80% malevolent but only 20% effective.