6 Be wary of paramilitaries.
When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.
Most governments, most of the time, seek to monopolise violence. If only the government can legitimately use force, and this use is constrained by law, then the forms of politics that we take for granted become possible. It is impossible to carry out democratic elections, try cases at court, design and enforce laws, or indeed manage any of the other quiet business of government when agencies beyond the state also have access to violence. For just this reason, people and parties who wish to undermine democracy and the rule of law create and fund violent organisations that involve themselves in politics. Such groups can take the form of a paramilitary wing of a political party, the personal bodyguard of a particular politician—or apparently spontaneous citizens' initiatives, which usually turn out to have been organised by a party or its leader.
Armed groups first degrade a political order, and then transform it. Violent right-wing groups, such as the Iron Guard in interwar Romania or the Arrow Cross in interwar Hungary, intimidated their rivals. Nazi storm troopers began as a security detail clearing the halls of Hitler's opponents during his rallies. As paramilitaries known as the SA and the SS, they created a climate of fear that helped the Nazi Party in the parliamentary elections of 1932 and 1933. In Austria in 1938 it was the local SA that quickly took advantage of the absence of the usual local authority to loot, beat, and humiliate Jews, thereby changing the rules of politics and preparing the way for the Nazi takeover of the country. It was the SS that ran the German concentration camps—lawless zones where ordinary rules did not apply. During the Second World War, the SS extended the lawlessness it had pioneered in the camps to whole European countries under German occupation. The SS began as an organisation outside the law, became an organisation that transcended the law, and ended up as an organisation that undid the law.
Because the American federal government uses mercenaries in warfare and American state governments pay corporations to run prisons, the use of violence in the United States is already highly privatised. What is novel is a president who wishes to maintain, while in office, a personal security force which during his campaign used force against dissenters. As a candidate, the president ordered a private security detail to clear opponents from rallies, but also encouraged the audience itself to remove people who expressed different opinions. A protester would first be greeted with boos, then with frenetic cries of "USA," and then be forced to leave the rally. At one campaign rally the candidate said, "There's a remnant left over. Maybe get the remnant out. Get the remnant out." The crowd, taking its cue, then tried to root out other people who might be dissenters, all the while crying "USA." The candidate interjected: "Isn't this more fun than a regular boring rally? To me, it's fun." This kind of mob violence was meant to transform the political atmosphere, and it did.
For violence to transform not just the atmosphere but also the system, the emotions of rallies and the ideology of exclusion have to be incorporated into the training of armed guards. These first challenge the police and military, then penetrate the police and military, and finally transform the police and military.
People being stripped of their rights or freedoms.
Losing the right to vote in demographic elections, try cases at court, design and enforce laws through the governments access to violence.