"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)
National Socialist League 1975. Note the date. It isn't 1925. And indeed, .there are good people on both sides..
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Jack Fritscher) Details Source DMCA
Numbers of observers/analysts have been writing about the potential for the development of fascism in the United States for some years now. Journalists who have been using the term to describe the threats coming from the Trump Wing of the Republican Party and its allies even further to the Right include such voices as the liberal columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman and the certainly not-so-liberal-until-rather-recently television political analyst and morning show host (as well as well-known Boston Red Sox fan) Joe Scarborough. Books have been published on the topic too, from Jason Stanley'sHow Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, to Anne Applebaum's Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. In fact, many voices on the liberal-and-further Left have been publishing analyses and warnings of this type for some years now.
Now it happens that a recent article on the same subject has aroused particular attention because, it would seem, the words are not those of a liberal. They are those of one of the original "Neo-cons," Robert Kagan. He began his column in a recent issue of The Washington Post with these words:
"The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial."
Now it happens further that the word "fascism" does not appear once in this column of close to 6000 words, but the word "Trump" appears 119 times. Now while Mr. Kagan may not consider the two words to be inextricably linked but as readers of my writings know, I certainly do. Which is what the bulk of this column is about; that is, the linkage of "Trump" and "fascism." Presumably because of the political background from which he comes, Mr. Kagan's warning of severe troubles for U.S. Constitutional democracy to come if developments in what I have called the Trumpublican Party are not effectively countered and soon, has attracted considerable attention beyond the political boundaries from which such warnings traditionally have come. "People are worried," and so they should be. Some are concerned that it may not be possible to stop the "Republo-fascist Train" that is currently roaring down the track. I do not think that that is necessarily true, but the time is getting close when that train may indeed become unstoppable.
The primary purpose of this column is to offer a summary of my perspective on the dangers which face us from Trump and the current Republican Party in its historical context, going back to the early 20th century, specifically in the context of the oncoming fascist threat. Unlike certain Trump/Republican analysts who use the term "fascism," in most of the columns cited below I have presented a specific definition of the term. My most recent version of it goes as follows:
"There is a single, all-powerful executive branch of government, in service of a capitalist ruling class that controls, for the most part, the functions of production, distribution, finance, and exchange. There is no separation of the principal governmental powers: executive, legislative, and judicial. There are no independent media. There is a single national ideology, based on some combination of racism, misogyny, religious bigotry and authoritarianism, homophobia, and xenophobia. There is a political party supporting the movement. There is a state propaganda machine using the big and little lie techniques. There may be a full-blown dictatorship, a charismatic leader, engagement in foreign wars, and the use of the mob/private armies to enforce governmental control."
And now to the summaries/presentation of the columns, by year.
"Hair Trump or Herr Trump?" was my first on the subject, published in October, 2015. At that time, Trump certainly had fascist tendencies in, for example, his own personality and politics, but he did not have a political party behind him nor did he have a mass base, both essential elements of the fascist leadership of the nations mentioned above. In two columns later that year I dealt with some examples and features of 20th and 21st century fascism (the latter examples obviously not one of the five principal fascist states of the 20th century).
In 2016, I discussed the growing "Republican-Christian Alliance" (which of course had been around since the days of Reagan and the "Moral Majority" in the 1980's). It was becoming an ever-larger force within the Republican Party under Trump's leadership. (It also played a major role in my 1996 novel of "future history" entitled The 15% Solution, purportedly published in 2048 on the 25th anniversary of the end of the 2nd Civil War and the re-establishment of U.S. Constitutional Democracy, in which an entity called the American Christian Nation Party succeeds the Republican Party, as the sole political party of its era, and leads the nation to the full establishment of fascism.)
Later in 2016, I published a column entitled "Donald Trump and the 'Rigged Election:' What's it all About, Alfie?" As is well-known, during the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump actually thought he was going to lose (and likely would have had it not have been for the last-minute interference of then-FBI Director James Comey). Interestingly enough, in 2021, as Trump began to develop and promote his "Stop the Steal" campaign I published a column on it that used, word-for-word, much of the text of that 2016 column. Through the course of his life in the real estate business Trump showed that he was not much of a planner, but when it came to his style of politics, he certainly was. Trump may or may not been aware that his campaign bore a great similarity to the anti-socialist/Semitic "Stab in the Back" theme that Hitler and the Nazis used from early in the 1920s into the mid-1930s, even after they had taken power. But it did, and still does.
In 2017 I published a column entitled "Trump and Gen. Kelly: What is He There For?" This one considered, among other things, Steve Bannon's principal goal of the "deconstruction of the administrative state," always an historical goal of a fascist dictatorship.
It was in this year that I specifically began to hone in on Trump and Fascism, with a two-part series: "21st Century Fascism: Trump Style -- Part I" and "Part II." As I said at the end of the 2nd part:
"Thus, the Elements of Republican/Trumpite 21st century Functional Fascism in the United States, either already achieved or set forth as goals to be achieved are:
"1. The use of the law to promote racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny.
"2. The criminalization of certain religious/non-religious beliefs, as in, for example, LGBT rights and the freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy. This is facilitated by the use of "God's Word" to justify oppression, hatred, and, ultimately, Dominionism. Indeed, for the United States, Dominionism is the hand-maiden of fascism, as were Catholicism in Spain and Italy and Shintoism in Japan.
"3. The repression, then criminalization, of dissent.
"4. The tolerance for, and in certain quarters the promotion of the Doctrine of White Supremacy.
"5. The gradual suppression of the free vote, especially among minorities, the young, and the poor, by the use of gerrymandering, voter-suppression, vote/hacking.
"6. The assault on and the distortion of the use of data, of all kinds.
"7. The evermore widespread use of the Roy Cohn/Lee Atwater doctrine: 'Always attack; never defend; when in trouble, sue.' A variant of it is the old maxim for defense lawyers: 'If you don't have the law, argue the facts; if you don't have the facts, argue the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, argue ad hominem." (Of course, you don't have to be a lawyer to use this one. The Right-Wing propagandists from Hannity and Conway on down (or up, depending upon your point of view) use it all the time.
"8. The solidification of the control of the State apparatus [in the Executive Branch, specifically the White House]."
And then I offered two early attempts at "What Is to be Done?" in order to deal with oncoming Trumpite fascism appeared here and here. A more detailed picture of what Trumpite fascism might look like appeared shortly thereafter.
In 2019, I published another two-parter entitled: "On the Brink of Fascism in the U.S.: The Role of the Ruling Class, Part 1 & Part 2." In this series I discussed the important role that the capitalist ruling class plays in any country in which fascism is established (and recall that fascism is always a feature of the capitalist state). The essential role of the capitalist ruling class in the establishment of fascism in any nation in which it has appeared is a subject which is discussed by few other analysts in the current time.
In 2020, as the election loomed and the threat of a 2nd Trump term was becoming very real, I dealt with the subject of Trump and fascism more frequently. First, I went back to an analysis that I had published in 2016 entitled: "Trumpite Fascism: A view from 2016," and brought it up to date. Later that year I returned to the theme of Trump, fascism, and the role of the ruling class, in a column entitled (surprise) "Fascism, the U.S. Ruling Class, and Trump."
Shortly thereafter, I published a column entitled "Der Fuerherprinzip, the Republican Party, and Leader Trump." Whether he knew it or not, Trump was now moving in a clearly fascist direction. Since the establishment of political parties in the U.S., at election time they have traditionally presented "Party Platforms." These platforms, adopted before the nomination of the candidate (although in recent times the candidate has been known before the convention begins), platforms are the result of months of planning and negotiation between the various parts, geographical and policy, of the party. In 2020, Trump announced that there would be no platform in the traditional sense and that he would simply provide to the party his "Second Term Agenda." He was the Leader and these were his principles, to which the party would adhere. It had the flavor, to me at least, of Adolf Hitler's "Fuerher Prinzip:" what the Leader says goes.
And finally, we come to 2021. An increasing number of observers are seeing an increasing threat to the basic fabric of our nation presented by oncoming Trump/Republican authoritarianism. It is this threat, regardless of the terminology that one uses to describe it that off course stimulated Mr. Kagan to write his column, as it has stimulated an increasing number of other observers to begin to deal with the same reality: the looming Fascist threat, with Trump or without him. (Do note that I noted that while Mr. Kagan described that looming fascist threat, he never did use the word "fascism," while he used the word "Trump" 119 times.) And of course, this is now all in the context of the Trump-insurrection. My particular focus on "Trump/fascism" this year has been on how the drive towards that system of government has spread over the whole of the Republican Party. I call it "Republo-fascism."
So far this year, I have written four columns on that (this column has a particularly good illustration) theme. I now think that the fascist ideology has so infected the Party that as it moves forward, WITH OR WITHOUT TRUMP (and the increasingly fascist leadership of it --- e.g. Abbott --- will be there, with or without [as I just said] Trump), it will become in the relatively near future a modern fascist party. Already there is a battle royal going on for who would succeed Trump as its leader were he to disappear from the scene for one reason or another: Abbott, DeSantis, Hawley, Cruz, Carlson, Noem, and etc.
Conclusion (for now)
And so, this concludes the review of the columns on Trump and fascism that have appeared in this space over the years. But the last paragraph above does reveal a danger that did not exist in any of the principal fascist countries of the 20th century, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Spain. In the first four, fascism came to an end with their defeat in the 2nd World War. In Spain, when Franco died, fascism in that country died with him. Trump will either lead or leave behind a powerful fascist party, which will for certain not disappear when for one reason or another Trump does. This is an especially frightening and challenging reality that all non-Trumpite/non-Republicans will have to deal with. And I will attempt to do so down the road.