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What Project 2025 Really Is and Why It’s So Dangerous – Plus, a Blueprint for a Totalitarian Society, and the Spectrum of Collapse America Faces

What Project 2025 Really Is and Why It’s So Dangerous – Plus, a Blueprint for a Totalitarian Society, and the Spectrum of Collapse America Faces
Charlie Neibergall

I’m Umair Haque, and this is The Issue: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported publication. Our job is to give you the freshest, deepest, no-holds-barred insight about the issues that matter most.

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  1. Donald Trump’s 2025 Vision (Vanity Fair)
  2. Democrats subtly start accepting that Biden may be in race to stay (WaPo)
  3. The Rise and Fall of the American Constitutional Model (The Nation)
  4. Extreme heat waves broiling the planet in 2024 aren’t normal: How climate change is heating up weather around the world (The Conversation)
  5. ‘Stark warning’ as global temperatures hit record levels for 13th month (Al Jazeera)
  6. Beryl just made history. It has forecasters concerned about what could happen next (CNN)
  7. American academic freedom is in peril (Science)

Hi! How’s everyone? 

Today we’re going to discuss Project 2025, what it is, how dangerous it is, and increasing severities of democratic collapse.

How Dangerous is Project 2025?

We’ve been talking about Project 2025 for a while. And suddenly, something interesting’s happened. It’s becoming a point of national discussion. People are becoming aware of it, learning about it, and understanding that this sort of weird, sinister thing exists.

That’s in part because it’s become an attack line—a successful one—for the Democrats. Even Trump’s trying to distance himself from it, though his “Agenda 47” is more or less precisely the same thing, and do you see how weirdly Soviet these names are getting, by the way?

So. How dangerous is it, really? By now, you should know that it proposes to deport tens of millions of people. What does that do to a society? Are everyone’s papers going to be checked? But I’ll come back to that, after we learn a bit more about it.

The best summary by far comes to us from the Center for American Progress, and I’m going to quote it extensively, because nobody much can be expected to read a 1000 page document, even if it’s a plan to destroy a democracy, and part of the plan is that nobody will read it. So instead let’s rely on a very, very good, and concise, summary.

Project 2025 would consolidate power in the presidency by weakening the independence of public agencies, preparing to replace tens of thousands of civil servants with far-right loyalists, and gutting the system of checks and balances.

First, Project 2025 calls for reclassifying tens of thousands of civil servants as political appointees, seeking to strip them of civil service labor protections and enabling a president to replace them with political loyalists.

Project 2025 includes a database to help the president replace these independent civil servants with people who have pledged their loyalty to one political ideology instead of to the American people as a whole.

Second, Project 2025 would end the independence of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, weakening the rule of law. 

Even worse, Project 2025 would give the president the power to use all the resources of the federal government to investigate and prosecute whomever he or she wants.

Project 2025 would not stop with politicizing law enforcement. The plan eliminates the independence of agencies that protect consumers and ensure businesses can compete fairly in the economy, such as the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It even proposes using the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a surveillance network to monitor abortions nationwide in order to restrict reproductive freedom in states where abortion is currently legal.

Project 2025’s far-reaching agenda would strip away fundamental rights, affecting everything from reproductive freedoms to civil liberties. The plan would take away freedoms that Americans rely on by implementing nationwide bans on abortion and contraception, curtailing LGBTQ rights, and increasing corporate control over workers. It would redefine personal autonomy and freedom in America. Most alarming, the Project 2025 agenda blatantly disregards individual freedoms in favor of political and ideological control.

Project 2025 and the legislation and budgets it has inspired would directly raise costs on the middle class to give the wealthy and corporations billions in tax cuts. One proposal would let companies stop paying overtime; another would cut Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age.

Even all of that’s barely a beginning. But it’s a pretty good summary. And already, there, you should see plenty that, well, alarms you.

This is about as dangerous as plans to shred democracies get. But why, exactly?

What Project 2025 Really Is

So what is Project 2025? Or “Agenda 47,” which is just the same thing,  under a different name, more or less?

It’s a blueprint for a totalitarian society. We’ve discussed that before, but it’s sort of important to say it again, now that this plan is entering public consciousness.

Let’s think about how many of those aspects work together. Deporting not even millions, but tens of millions of people. How’s that going to work, exactly? Or…a national ban on…forms of contraception? People’s lives are going to be fundamentally changed. Papers will have to be checked. Want to get rid of that many people? You’ll have to enter every home, business, and firm in the country. You’ll probably have to stop people on the street, on trains, on the streets, in cars.

And to do that, of course, you’ll need to do more or less what the Nazis did, which is create Gestapos and SSes. And again, here the elements of the plan work together, because hey presto, the President now directly controls the FBI and Department of Justice, or, more to the point, has the powers to create any new sort of enforcement agency he sees fit.

Which will be made of loyalists so extreme they’ve signed pledges to him, personally, and there’s a database of such fanatics just waiting to be recruited into these new forces.

That’s a pretty extreme scenario, and it might seem outlandish to you, but this is exactly how democratic collapses usually proceed. It’s what happened in any number of countries, from Iraq to Iran to East Germany to Soviet Russia and beyond, and of course, as Weimar Germany became Nazi Germany. History gives us little comfort on this matter.

A Blueprint for a Totalitarian Society

All of this is how you build a totalitarian society. Often, we use the words authoritarianism, fascism, and totalitarianism interchangeably, at least colloquially, but they’re not quite the same thing.

So far, America’s seen the rebirth of neo fascism as a kind of ideological movement. It took political power during Trump’s first term, but not very well, incompetent at using power, mired in its own internal rivalries and conflicts, unsure of how to proceed. So there were plenty of abuses of power, but what there wasn’t a Grand Plan to purge and reshape the entire machinery of government on Day One.

Then came an authoritarian moment, which was Jan 6th. This was an attempted coup, as we all know, but it also sort of makes the distinction between authoritarianism and fascism clear. Having been rejected by democracy, fanatics tried to thwart the peaceful transfer of power—did, in fact, because it wasn’t peaceful—and install their own leader as the strongman. So in this moment, neo fascism and authoritarianism sort of coalesced and collided.

And yet none of this quite got to full-blown totalitarianism. That word means what it sounds like. Total control of a society. The evisceration of basic democratic freedoms, like movement, expression, association, speech—people only really allowed to do, exist, think, be, in ways that are permitted by the mission of social control. Whether that’s theocratic, fascist, nationalistic, or even, in Soviet Russia’s case, ideologically Bolshevik. Doesn’t matter—the point is to understand that here we have a blueprint for a totalitarian society.

To have a totalitarian society thus requires, of course, agencies of extreme, overt control. You can no more have a Project 2025 without ultra invasive enforcement of people’s minutest moments than you can have a rowboat without an oar. And you can no more control people’s smallest choices and actions without agencies like Gestapos and SS’s than you can row a boat without limbs.

So this kind of blueprint—which we’ve seen many times before, in periods of revolutionary social collapse—invokes the need for ways and means to control people’s lives, because of course, if you’re going to take away things like whom they can marry, whom they can sleep with, what kinds of relationships they can have, what books they can read, who they can associate with—then you’re going to have to know every last intimate detail of their lives, and hence, Gestapos and Stasis famously know everything about you, and keep files on everyone.

That’s a totalitarian society, and Project 2025 is dangerous because it’s a blueprint for one. Again, if that sounds outlandish, go ahead and ask yourself what a government of loyalty-swearing fanatics…to an aspiring dictator…who already attempted a coup…is going to do. It’s hardly likely to do any of the jobs of modern, rational governance, from finance to justice to education and so forth. Instead, government is “weaponized,’ as we say these days, but that’s a poor word, in the end, for: totalitarianism.

Severities of Social Collapse

So I’m happy to see people waking up slowly to the danger of Project 2025. It’s a good thing that awareness of it is finally spreading. I hope that it’s understood as what it really is: a blueprint for a totalitarian society. One that’s not just “not a democracy anymore,” but one that can’t be again, because of course once you can control people that intensely, then how are they to regain any of those lost freedoms? That’s why societies that go all the way, from fascist, to authoritarian, to totalitarian collapse—they don’t often recover, for a very, very long time to come.

The subtext there is that this is the hardest and most severe form of collapse. It is. And so everyone should take a moment to understand how deep—bottomless—the risk really is.

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