One way to gain control over institutions and violate laws is to take unprecedented actions to generate societal chaos. Demagogues know that chaos is contagious and susceptible to manipulation through fear and hatred.
We tend to think that a stable society results from the existence of laws and their enforcement by police. The facts are quite the opposite. Laws reflect social stability, to the extent that the people generally honor and follow them. That is because belief in moral and ethical behavior lead to the comfort of predictability, and thereby produce stable social control. Official malevolence, cruelty, and a perverse will to power can institutionalize immoral behavior, as the new normal, even to the extent of abusing children by tearing them away from their parents and locking them in cages, indifeently inflicting trauma that won’t go away.
Sociopaths, fascists, totalitarians, and racists find opportunity in fomenting chaos, fear, anxiety and the hatred they enable. Scapegoating and the denigration of vulnerable groups allows them to manipulate enough of the people to extend their political power.
The will to power knows neither limits nor compassion. Abusers and sociopaths enjoy the suffering of others, even sometimes the suffering of their allies. They escalate their violence to the extent that people tolerate them.
Sociopaths often become racists simply because they have no empathy or compassion. Their will to power is all that matters to them. They take pleasure in creating an enemy to hate. They reserve all empathy for themselves and maybe their closest associates, unless they find it expedient to turn on allies or subordinates despite the loyalty they demanded and received from cronies or underlings.
Fear and loathing are contagious. Authoritarian enabling brings hesitant haters, otherwise constrained by a culture of civility, out into the open. Explicit taunting and calls to discriminate against vulnerable groups is a classic fascist technique for fomenting hatred and mobilizing collective cruelty.
“Throw ‘em out of here!”
“They are all criminals, rapists and M-13 gangsters!”
The resentful victims of the economy of exclusion are easy targets of authoritarian propaganda and are emboldened by such prejudicial, if coded, encouragement of racist hatred.
“This hurt is going to last a long time” lamented Dr. Marsha Griffin, member of the American Academy of pediatrics, practicing along the Texas border.