No Normalization: All the Fascist Highlights Trump still Hits

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Fascism as a political ideology is difficult to define, in part because it usually contains a big dose of populism, and the content of populism differs from people to people.

In my view Mussolini’s fascism in Italy is a fair exemplar of the phenomenon. One characteristic fascist societies have in common is social hierarchy. Men are better than women, they hold. Men are entitled. Some ethnicity is better than all the other ethnicities. White people are entitled (even if some white supremacists in Anglo-Saxon societies wouldn’t consider Mussolini’s Italians or Franco’s Spanish to be “white.” Hitler put off an alliance with Italy because he was still hoping he could get the white British to join him and they seemed to him a superior race). A corollary is that some ethnicities are sick or polluting to society and need to be eliminated, made to emigrate or diminished in some more sinister way.

Another hierarchy is economic. The wealthy and the middle classes are better than the poor, and the poor should be punished for being poor. Under Mussolini in the 1930s the condition of the poor plummeted.

Yet another thing that is common to fascist societies is militarism. Because they affect a macho and militaristic stance, they glorify war and generals. And they prefer to deal with problems through war rather than diplomacy, which they code as effeminate.

People kept hoping that Trump was only kidding, only playing to some base, and that once he won the generals he would pivot.

He hasn’t pivoted, except further toward fascism.

His shouting match with North Korea, essentially boasting of a bigger nuclear arsenal (and implicitly threatening to use it) is typical of fascist braggadocio.

His budget, which aims to kick 26 million working and middle class people off of health insurance, is punitive to the poor. They shouldn’t get sick, he is saying, and if they do they should try please to die quickly, as a congressman once said.

His bullying of the Palestinians is likewise more authoritarianism and more punishment of the dispossessed (the British and European Jewish settlers kicked a majority of Palestinians out of their homes, and now Trump and Netanyahu are coming after them for what little land and dignity they have left).

Trump’s generals are spoiling for a fight with Iran and the Trumpists are licking their chops over the Iranian protests. They can’t stop to think that people protesting corruption and the screwing over of little people and authoritarianism are not very likely to erect a government favorable to Trumpism.

As for neo-patriarchy and the treatment of women, Trump’s hypocrisy is impenetrable. Despite a wave of disgrace washing over powerful men for behaving in the ways Trump has boasted of behaving, he remains unrepentant and teflon on the issue. He strongly supported Roy Moore for the senate, as did his house organ, the fascist rag Breitbart, just to underline that he approved of taking advantage of teenaged girls.

White grievance is the natural outcome of fascism. If the natural order is racial supremacy, any sign that that supremacy is not being actively performed in all areas of life must be protested. Are we polite to Jews by saying happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas? That is an outrage. Do African-Americans dare protest the governmental scams being run on them by city establishments like Ferguson? That is an outrage.

Not only has Trump not moderated his fascism, but the national media, addicted to ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ journalism, inevitably normalizes it by bringing on Trumpists to model his fascist discourse for the masses.

The US is being pulled to the far right. Many are resisting, but Trump’s capture of the Republican Party means that he has millions of agents for his planned transformation. Only millions of people actively resisting can offset them.

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Related video:

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9 Responses

  1. A MINORITY OF VOTERS managed to elect an aggressive unqualified narcissist, a boyish rich fat man with defective hair and an alarming aversion to the truth to be our President.

    Without the “creeping CEO phenomena” within the Electoral College and multi-pronged FOREIGN INTERFERENCE in our national elections we would ALL not be in imminent danger.

  2. One thing which defines fascism for sure, is a large compliant military because without it, fascists are just foolish men dressed up in black shirts, stomping around the place making absurd salutes etc. Another thing that defines fascism is the desire for total control of people. The ever growing surveillance state, militarized police and complete control of the media and information all fit into the fascist agenda. It seems to me that the US together with numerous other Western nations are fascist states in all but name.

    • Very important observations, Kim. We have to remember that all these features have been in place for years. The NSA surveillance program, possibly the most prolific domestic spying program in human history, reached its peak in the Obama administration. The country has been threatening and destroying other countries for decades. Once again, Mr. Obama helped detonate at least three: Libya, Syria, and Yemen. American hyper-militarism and mindless support for the military have been a problem since at least 1991. Trump is just the bubbling up of American fascism to the surface, not some new trend. Better have it out where we can see it than have it hide under convenient illusions.

  3. So far, Trump does not have a centrally run group of bully boys raising havoc in the streets. (Think, Brown Shirts of 1930’s Germany , Black Shirts (Musollini’s crew, Descmaisados in Juan Peron’s Argentina etc.) Any effort to get American White Nationalist, KKK individualistic-type recruits to organize broadly and work together has to be met with disciplined organization and LOTS of publicity.

  4. The thing that convinced me that Trump is a fascist was his nomination acceptance speech. In it he listed a number of alleged serious problems in the country and concluded by saying that only he could fix it. He said something similar in his inauguration speech. This is central to fascism–the idea that one man expresses the will of the nation . One man, and only that man, is capable of expressing that will and getting done what needs to be done. One of the revelations of Michael Wolf’s book reported today is that one of his aides said that Trump thinks he is the smartest guy in the room and has the right answer, no matter how little he knows about the subject. And this is despite the facts that he rarely reads anything except favorable press clippings, can’t handle briefings of any complexity and one person called him semi-literate. I was watching some journalists trying to address the issue of his tweet about the nuclear button and North Korea and they carefully danced around the issue. Somebody needs to come out and say what is obvious–our President is a nut case.

    • You understand fascism better than 90% of the people who post around here. They’re starting with a hatred of Western bourgeois capitalism in general, and America in particular, so they define fascism to fit that. And they often want to shield the semi-mythical “White working class” from any blame for what they hate about America, so they don’t want any definition of fascism that comprehends the role of White populism. They’re also totally clueless about such tribal virtues as patriotism, religion, and violent self-sacrifice. So they can’t begin to grasp how fascism took the reckless bravery of young men and turned it into a cult of personality.

      They’re as depressingly clueless as the German Communists who failed to stop Hitler because they were so focused on blaming everything on the capitalist class itself that they wouldn’t ally with anyone more moderate.

  5. I tend to see Trump more in the tradition of Falangism than Fascism… given the sense of cultural superiority, an appeal to a national myth of historic greatness, and especially in appealing to conservative (“old-time”) religion (Fascism tends to be militantly anti-clerical) . I recently saw Trumpism defined as “Protestant Falangism” which seems right to me.

    • But Mussolini settled the cold war between the Italian state and the Pope, and clearly had his support. He was a (pioneering) fascist who exploited the pre-existing ideology of Catholic falangism and evolved it into his cult as a national messiah. Hitler had to rule a country that had both Catholic and Protestant populations. But his vague mishmash of Gott-talk and anti-Communism seems to have gotten him plenty of support from right-wing Christians of both stripes. So not so different from Trump. Trump didn’t give one God Damn about clergymen until the minute he needed them in 2016. They chose him, and brought their Protestant Falangism with them in a desperate bid for power without principle.

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