Why We Must Cultivate Imagination to Fight the Rise of Fascism

Imagination may be the most important renewable resource we can bring to this fight. (René Magritte)

This week I was in the beautiful city of Brussels, Belgium meeting up with friends and colleagues — many of whom I hadn’t seen in over two years. It was a great opportunity to reset, gain some wisdom, and also learn more about what’s going on in information warfare globally. I attended the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab 360/Open Summit event, which included a wide range of experts including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa.

I was able to synthesize an assessment of where things might go, in combination with my own views and research, and, well… it’s not pretty. But there are things we can do, and reasons to have hope. Here’s a rough overview of what we might expect:

So we are faced now with a dilemma. How do we fight forces resistant to institutional power using institutions? Arguably, we cannot; it is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use every institutional mechanism that we can, but we need leadership that articulates and is almost uncomfortably honest about our current situation.

Imagination: Paintings by René Magritte (Musée René Magritte, Brussels)

You may recall after September 11, many concluded that it was the product of a “failure of imagination.” That is true; we failed to piece together information that could have resulted in the plot being foiled.

But speaking more broadly, it is a lack of imagination that has led us into being vulnerable to attack after attack. To quote the inimitable Hunter S. Thompson, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” We are dealing with so much professional weirdness — which itself is calcifying into a kind of brittle rigidity—it’s time we get as weird as possible in response. As the world melts down, we will increasingly be called to cultivate the strange in opposition to evil.

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For an even deeper dive, check out my other writing here on Medium, and my podcast series, “Dave Troy Presents,” wherever you get your podcasts.



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Dave Troy

Investigative journalist addressing threats to democracy. Public speaker, writer, podcaster. @davetroy on Twitter. See davetroy.com for contact info.