The media are bursting with reports on possible Russian influence — through collusion with the Trump campaign — on our recent presidential election. President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has been under heavy fire for meeting with Russian officials during the presidential run-up; National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was dismissed for allegedly conspiring with the Russians; and the FBI is investigating the whole intrigue.

What’s it all about — and why does Trump seem to be dancing with Vladimir Putin? One simple explanation is that Trump, the ultimate entrepreneur, is using his office to do even more personal business with Russia. Which is probably true. But the connection — and the Russian intrusion into our politics — could possibly be much more nefarious.

It’s eminently clear that the American ruling class, led by the Koch brothers and their fellow billionaires, has been working determinedly for years to turn our democracy into a corporate plutocracy — in short, to establish an authoritarian regime dictated by the wealthy.

Through its money, the elite is responsible for, among other things: the passage of Citizens United that gave a corporation human status; an obstructionist GOP that stonewalled any socially beneficial legislation during the Obama administration; an attempt to destroy public education through privatization; a plan to eliminate or privatize all public health care programs, such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor; a determination to destroy essential regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which was spearheaded by progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren; an attack on voting rights; and an effort to privatize, curtail or end Social Security, which is the sole income of millions of elderly people.

This disposal of government benefits is prelude to the disposal of democratic government itself. Of what use, after all, is a democratic government that offers no benefits to the people it allegedly represents? Once the vacuum is created, it will be instantly filled by a corporate plutocracy — in very much the same way that Russia’s kleptocrats filled the vacuum that was created by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

To refresh memories, it was that collapse that permitted the well-connected Russian managerial class to appropriate to itself all the wealth — productive facilities, land, natural resources and the government itself — that belonged collectively to the people under the Soviet constitution.

The American neo-fascist movement was well under way long before Trump’s election, and he is now helping to advance it. He has already attacked the free press as the “enemy of the people.” At the risk of being branded paranoid or a subscriber to conspiracy theory, there’s a good outside chance that the Putin-Trump embrace is that of teacherpupil in which Putin is imparting the principles of authoritarian governance. The two already have in common a rabid nationalism — short-lived and ill-advised in its futile attempt to buck the irrepressible tide of globalization. It is quite possible that the authoritarian Trump is attempting to transport Russia’s authoritarian plutocratic system to the U.S. Does not everything he says and does— including his incessant deceit — perfectly fit the authoritarian profile?

Sometimes paranoia is justified, because someone really is trying to do you in. The take here is that Trump is even more dangerous than his mental instability indicates.

Andrew Torre is a resident of Londonderry.

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