The possibilities for how Trump governs ... runs from ruthless authoritarianism at one end to utter chaos at the other. Under the authoritarian scenario, Trump would act on all his worst impulses with malign efficiency. The media would be intimidated, Congress would be gelded, the F.B.I. and the I.R.S. would go full J. Edgar Hoover against Trump’s enemies, the Trump family would enrich itself fantastically — and then, come a major terrorist attack, Trump would jail or intern anyone he deemed a domestic enemy....
The president-elect’s strong-arming of the private sector, his media-bashing tweets, and his feud with the intelligence community all hint at an authoritarian timeline ahead. Likewise, other fact patterns — that Congressional Republicans are mostly supine, that the stock market has surged — suggest that Trump could be authoritarian, corrupt and politically effective.
As I have pointed out before, history suggests that "ruthless authoritarianism" in no way debars "utter chaos." It is a common misconception that fascism's paradigm, the Nazi regime, was a marvel of bureaucratic efficiency. In reality its Führer, a narcissistic con artist of muddled intellect, surrounded himself with opportunistic gangsters and commonplace cutthroats whose professional vitas were, shall we say, rather devoid of artful governing skills. These were the Peter-unprincipled malevolences (with some experienced exceptions, such as Albert Speer) who guided the Nazi machine in its everyday affairs, which, it shouldn't surprise, often resulted in chaotic governance. What prevailed were self-seeking struggles for the Führer's favor, rather than inner-circle attention to the fundamentals of competent governance.
Nonetheless, although authoritarian and corrupt -- Hermann Göring being the inhuman paradigm within corruption's paradigm -- the Nazi regime was, perforce, politically effective. It was rather easy to achieve Reichstag cooperation when piano wire was the only alternative. The regime also engaged, of course, in the "strong-arming of the private sector," which on occasion strove -- tried, anyway -- to serve as Hitler's more judicious intelligence community. In late 1941, for instance, Germany's leading industrialists sat the Führer down and cautioned him that his war apparatus couldn't endure a long global conflict; the Fatherland and its occupied territories, they explained, simply lacked the material resources to do so -- ultimately, they would be overwhelmed by the allies' superior means. Der Führer, however, being such an intellectually muddled, superbly narcissistic con artist that his con artistry extended to self-deception, brushed off the industrialists' warnings, and assured them that things would work out because of his brilliant negotiating abilities. That, and Nietzschean will, you know. One can imagine that America's private sector, warning the intellectually deficient and seemingly Nietzschean President Trump against the colossal imprudence of nation-damaging trade wars, might be similarly brushed off.
With chaos to follow -- which, as noted, is characteristic of history's authoritarian regimes.