The March on Rome: A precursor to the Trumpsurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, just about 100 years ago.
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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)
Along with numerous others, I have been writing about the Trumpian-fascist menace for quite some time now. Political observers, from the former right-wing Republican Joe Scarborough (who, as he tells us, would still be one if there were such a "small government/no-deficit-spending-balanced-budget[!]" party in existence [although who knows what exactly their policy/problem-solving program would be --- always the problem with "traditional" Republicans]) to the liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, have been using the adjective "fascist" to describe the current Republican Party, as well as Trump (who often also gets the adjective "authoritarian" attached to him) with increasing frequency.
Following Trump's loss in 2020, Trump, and increasingly the Republican Party which is increasingly becoming wedded to his persona in particular, and to his program (as limited as it is: the Dems. are commies; "immigration-along-the-Southern-border"-is-the-most-serious-problem-the-country-faces; "the COVID-19 pandemic has been blown all out-of-proportion-and-anyway-I-brought-it-under-control-with-operation-Warp-Speed;" and most important, "I-won-and-it-was-stolen-from-me-by-the-Blacks (while the last is never said out loud, the meaning of "The Steal" is clear)," is becoming increasingly anti-democratic. That is, it is opposed to the institutions of U.S. electoral politics, to the extent that they represent traditional liberal democracy, to the extent that it can exist under capitalism.
As just about every Trump-critic says on a regular basis, Trump won the Presidency once, but then became the first incumbent President to fail re-election since Jimmy Carter (and before him, Herbert Hoover). Along the way, as is well-known, the Trumpublicans lost control of both the House (by a very slim margin, to be sure) and the Senate (by a hairs-breadth, to be sure). And is also well-known, the Dems. maintain their fragile hold on the Senate only through the courtesy of the Center-Rightists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
So, if the Repubs. ran on any kind of a traditional U.S. right-wing program, while stopping as many of Pres. Biden's initiatives as they possibly can (and in a remarkably candid interview Sen. McConnell told us that is exactly what he wants to do, as his only current objective) they might easily take back control of the Congress in 2022 and, with a candidate other than Trump, the Presidency in 2024. But, again as is well-known, the Party is increasingly wedded to Trump. Which means that, as numerous knowledgeable observers such as Presidential historians Jon Meacham and Michael Beschloss have noted, before, during, and after his Presidency, Trump is, in his heart of hearts (as noted), wedded to authoritarianism. The Trumpublicans know that, and increasingly it is alright with them.
And so, the Trumpubs. Continue their clamoring that the "election was stolen," that "voter fraud was wide-spread," and that the first thing that must be done is implement a wide array of future voting restrictions, aimed especially at minority voters of course. (Even though they don't come right out and say that, it is clear that that is what the intent is.) But beyond that, given that Trump is their leader (even from the band-stand at Mar-a-Lago), they have got to also move in the direction of persisting in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 elections (as is now going on in Arizona, under the direction of someone who has been associated with QAnon). In fact, the Republican Party's national program/platform has been reduced to: voter suppression, present and future; (Southern) 'border control;' opposing deficit spending (except when it leads to lower taxes for the wealthy) and any tax (re-) increases on the very wealthy, and fighting the Biden/Commies at every turn, even if that means that fragile bridges in their own districts will eventually collapse.
The authoritarian tendencies of Trump and his acolytes have been well-noted, and not just by progressives like myself. When a former Republican campaign-director, Stuart Stevens ("Morning Joe," May 6, 2021), and a former Democratic Campaign Director, David Plouffe (on "Deadline White House," May 6, 2021), both issue very stern warnings about oncoming Trumpublican authoritarianism/fascism, one definitely needs to get even more worried that one already is. David Plouffe put it succinctly: "If the GOP wins it all in 2024, the U.S. will be[come] an autocracy."
And then here is what one traditional, far-right wing Republican had to say about the situation:
"Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this. The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened we had witnessed it firsthand."
That far-rightist would of course be Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, and owner of a 95% approval rating from the American Conservative Union (at least up to now). So, what is going on here? For me, as I say in the column's title, the central question that we now have to move on to consider is what is the role of the U.S. ruling class in all of this?
Traditionally, that is in terms of the principal 20th century fascist powers, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Hungary, fascism followed this model (or some reasonably similar version of it):
"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 and exchange. There is no separation of powers [one of James Madison's signal contributions to the then-unique form of government established by the Constitution]. Thus, there are no de facto independent judicial or legislative branches, at any level. There is 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 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."
A Trumpite authoritarianism would have many of these features. But the purpose of the balance of this column is not to predict exactly which of the above features would appear in such a Trumpite State and which would not. It is rather to begin an exploration of the role of the U.S. ruling class in its creation/imposition.
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