Is Trump a Fascist?

Posted: December 15, 2015 in Livin' in the USA, Politics
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Donald Trump

 

by Chaz Bufe, co-author The Anarchist Cookbook

 

In recent days, many leftist commentators have suggested that Donald Trump is a fascist. Neglecting that both leftists and rightists routinely and grossly misuse the term — applying it as a pejorative to anything or anyone they dislike — and that most of them have no more understanding of fascism than a dog does of calculus, is there any merit to such accusations?

Before answering that question, we’ll need to look at what fascism actually is. Here, we’ll take the examples of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

  • the government’s stock in trade was patriotic and nationalist appeals, sometimes but not always targeting minorities (Hitler did; Mussolini only did so under intense pressure from Germany);
  • the head of state was a demagogue, a megalomaniacal, narcissistic, pathological liar who attempted to present a folksy image (more so in the case of Hitler than Mussolini);
  • the demagogue frequently cited the nation’s past glories, and promised to restore it to greatness;
  • the economic system was capitalist and dominated by big corporations;
  • the government operated for the benefit of big business (Mussolini proudly referred to fascist Italy as a “corporate state”);
  • civil liberties were systematically suppressed in the name of national security;
  • the government routinely used brutal means to maintain itself in power;
  • the mass media was subservient to the government and  big business;
  • the nation’s wealth was squandered on a huge military machine;
  • military worship was practically a state religion;
  • the nation had an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy;
  • small, helpless countries were the objects of invasion;
  • a majority of the people enthusiastically supported those military adventures;
  • there were huge disparities in the distribution of wealth and income;
  • the rights of working people to organize were severely restricted;
  • the unions served to preserve the status quo;
  • the government routinely intruded into individuals’ private lives;
  • abortion was outlawed;
  • the government embarked on a massive prison-building spree, while locking up millions of its own citizens (far more in Germany than in Italy);
  • and logic, skepticism, and rationality were ridiculed, while mysticism, “spirituality,” and “patriotism” (blind support of the government) were considered the highest virtues.

(Readers interested in the nature of fascism would do well to consult Daniel Guerin’s Fascism and Big Business, William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism.)

Neglecting the many disturbing parallels between fascist Italy and Germany, and the present-day United States, is it fair to label Trump a fascist? He does use patriotic and nationalist appeals; he does target already persecuted minorities; he does routinely cite America’s past glories and promises to make it “great” again; he is a megalomaniacal, narcissistic demagogue; he is the personification of big business and the huge disparity of wealth and income in the U.S.; he’s in favor of an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy; and he’s in favor of exceptionally brutal use of government force (waterboarding those he considers enemies and murdering the families of ISIS members).

But how much does this distinguish him from the other presidential candidates? Almost all of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, use patriotic and nationalist appeals. By definition, they’re almost all narcissistic megalomaniacs–you’d almost have to be to seek the office. Almost all of them–including, very much so, Hillary Clinton–are business-as-usual types backed by the big corporations and by billionaires, who expect–and will receive–something for their money. Almost all of them, with the exceptions of Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, are in favor of curtailing civil liberties in the name of security. Virtually all of them worship at the altar of the military. All of them, with the notable exceptions of Rand Paul and, to a lesser extent, Bernie Sanders, are in favor of an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy. All of them are in favor of government intrusion into the private lives of individuals (except for Rand Paul, they at least tepidly support the “war on drugs” and, including Paul, but not Sanders or Clinton, oppose reproductive rights). And virtually all of them, with the exceptions of Bernie Sanders and, one suspects (though they don’t dare say so) Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton, are confirmed religious irrationalists.

So, taking away Trump’s bigoted comments about Mexicans and Muslims, what is there to set Donald Trump apart from the other candidates? What is there that marks him singularly as a fascist?

Not much. Trump is simply more open about his views than the other presidential candidates. They’re horrified not because they disagree with Trump, but because he’s let the cat out of the bag.

Back in the ’80s, there was a book called Friendly Fascism. It’s an apt term. If you go by the support for, passive acceptance of, or participation in most of the matters mentioned in the bullet list, it’s fair to describe almost all of the Republican and Democratic candidates as “friendly fascists.”

Trump is different. He’s an unfriendly one.

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Comments
  1. Though I do consider Shirer is a good source, and Reich a ridiculous one, there’s another aspect to identifying fascists I was taught in school. The would-be fascist presents as an authoritarian, always suggesting at every opportunity that they PERSONALLY embody the full solution to problems. This means it won’t be necessary to flesh out policies, or even specify them, because the superhero is just going to take care of it. We can all stop worrying. Get on board for the glorious new day of our beloved homeland. If you want to help, burn those who are standing in our way.

    There’s only one candidate who fits this profile and pushes every part of this approach. He’s not like Hitler, though. Hitler had rhetorical skills. Plus, he’s got the “pout” down perfectly.

    Like

    • Good point about the personal embodiment.

      I suspect you’ve never read any of Reich’s earlier works, especially not The Mass Psychology of Fascism, which deals with development of the authoritarian personality structure and how it leads to fascism. He didn’t go over the edge talking about orgones etc. until many years after he wrote Mass Psychology.

      Liked by 1 person

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