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Not all governments or state institutions are immune to an overthrow of power. Yesterday, at the United States Capitol, we bore witness to the unthinkable, as a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the chambers of Congress in an attempt to subvert democracy. The forceful power-grab failed, inevitably, but it had all the hallmarks of a coup d’etat, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.” The extremists who flooded Washington D.C. yesterday, in addition to a minority of Republican lawmakers who’ve largely encouraged their efforts, have insisted that the attempt to seize power by force was, in fact, not a coup. And therein lies the key: It’s rare that the architects of a coup will outright say that they are attempting one. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the subversive methods by which coups are often carried out, and how you can harness individual and collective power to resist them. Coups thrive off a sense of public uncertainty Every coordinated effort to overthrow an incumbent government needs a message, regardless of whether it’s based in fact. However, there are caveats: The side that appears to have popular momentum may attract more supporters, regardless of how much their message actually resonates with the body politic. As Danny Orbach explained in a 2017 book review of Naunihal Singh’s Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups: Actors don’t join the side they necessarily agree with, but the side they think most other […]