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Is Trump Fascist?

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David Neiwert, perhaps our nation’s most respected writer on white supremacy and right-wing extremism, says Donald Trump is probably not actually a fascist because he lacks the white supremacist bona fides and because he is a lazy narcissist rather than a coherent thinker. But he’s certainly moving us along the fascist road. It’s both scary and sad. If you haven’t read the whole thing yet (it came out a few days ago), it is well worth your time. You may however want to wait until later this evening when you can more easily justify the drinking it will force onto you.

All of which underscores the central fact: Donald Trump may not be a fascist, but his vicious brand of right-wing populism is not just empowering the latent fascist elements in America, he is leading a whole nation of followers merrily down a path that leads directly to fascism.

Consider, if you will, what did occur in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s remarks about “roughing up” Black Lives Matter protesters: Two nights later, a trio of white supremacists in Minneapolis invaded a Black Lives Matter protest there and shot five people, in an act that had been carefully planned and networked through the Internet.

What this powerfully implies is that Trump has achieved that kind of twilight-zone level of influence where he can simply demonize a target with rhetoric suggestive of violent retribution and his admirers will act out that very suggestion. It’s only a step removed from the fascist leader who calls out his paramilitary thugs to engage in violence.

America, thanks to Trump, has now reached that fork in the road where it must choose down which path its future lies – with democracy and its often fumbling ministrations, or with the appealing rule of plutocratic authoritarianism, ushered in on a tide of fascistic populism. For myself, I remain confident that Americans will choose the former and demolish the latter – that Trump’s candidacy will founder, and the tide of right-wing populism will reach its high-water mark under him and then recede with him.

What is most troubling, though, is the momentum that Trump’s candidacy has given that tide. He may not himself lack any real ideological footing, but he has laid the groundwork for a fascist groundswell that could someday be ridden to power by a similarly charismatic successor who is himself more in the mold of an ideological fascist. And it doesn’t take a very long look down the roll of 2016 Republican candidates to find a couple of candidates who might fit that mold.

Trump may not be fascist, but he is empowering their existing elements in American society; even more dangerously, his Tea Party brand of right-wing populism is helping them grow their ranks, along with their potential to recruit, by leaps and bounds. Not only that, he is making all this thuggery and ugliness seem normal. And that IS a serious problem.

For some time, my internal response to the rise of the Tea Party, the incredible spike in mass shootings, the love of so many in this nation for killing brown people, and the rise in obvious racism, has been that I just hope we as a nation can hold on until the older generation of whites passes on from the political scene and a more diverse nation with a younger generation of more tolerant whites can hopefully turn some of this back. But at the same time, I also know how naive that view is, in no small part because it really takes so little and so few people to seriously derail a democratic state through the use of violence and because I know that there is always another cohort of white people holding onto whiteness as a zero sum game. When you add long-term unemployment and underemployment into that mix, the potential for violence just grows, which is something that the defenders of the globalized economy outsourcing most industrial jobs simply do not consider in their analysis. Am I unduly disturbed right now? Perhaps. But this is indeed a scary time.

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  • brad

    I saw that. Is Trump fascist? No. It’d require him to have actual beliefs.
    Cruz?
    … tbd.

    • Yeah–I think Cruz clearly has that in him. I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t been more openly using that type of language. He may perhaps be waiting for the right time. He’s smart enough to think ahead like that.

      • brad

        We need a strong Daddy to put the bully back in the pulpit, and Ted is the asshole to do it.
        Neiwert’s gist seems to be that Trump is playing John the Baptist here, and it’s hard to disagree.

        • Lee Rudolph

          “Bring me the toupee of Donald the Trump!”

          • njorl

            That’s not a toupee. It’s back hair.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Well, in that case, Trump can put his own bully back in the pulpit!

      • Sly

        It’s because Cruz adheres to a non-white identity, or at the very least one that merely takes on some trappings of whiteness (by which I mean his religion) and not the whole she-bang. I don’t see how his life gravitates toward the ideology of David Duke or George Lincoln Rockwell; Cruz’s politics is about the master class, not the master race.

        Now, this doesn’t preclude a Cruz administration that is reducible to one long scene of President Cruz in a bathrobe ranting about his “destiny” to some horrified general. He’s still a megalomaniacal reactionary who any decent civilization would keep from power.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          How is being part Cuban equal to non-white? Within Cuba there are different races including white people. The whole recent US construction of Latino doesn’t hold together very well when it comes to Cubans. They seem to retain their white, black, and Chinese racial distinctions even a couple of generations in the US rather than merging into a brown Mestizo mass.

          • Rob in CT

            This here is ‘Murica, Otto. The protofacist types under discussion don’t give two shits whether the US construction of Latino holds together very well when it comes to Cubans.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              My point was that Cruz is not non-white as Sly claimed. Many Cubans both in Cuba and more importantly in the US are in fact white in terms of how they identify themselves and others identify them. So yes the construction of people with ancestors from former Spanish colonies as non-white being imposed by Sly on Cruz is problematic.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Cruz is non-white to lots of “real, red-blooded” white Americans.

                To your point, Cruz is lily white as far as he himself is concerned.

          • Sly

            How is being part Cuban equal to non-white? Within Cuba there are different races including white people.

            Ted Cruz is not white to the people who either consciously embrace or uncritically accept the One Drop Rule, and those are the people who we’re talking about. How race and ethnicity actually work themselves out in the physiological sense is immaterial to the American white supremacist.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              Other than you which specific people consider Cruz non-white?

              • Sly

                Oh, Otto, you’re so cute when you’re being intentionally obtuse.

                But, to answer your question, those who accept white people as the master race of the United States of America will not accept Cruz as white. The story that forms the basis of Cruz’s political identity is that he’s the son of a man who fled Castro’s Cuba and became a Christian Reconstructionist. There are certainly elements within that story that appeal to the aesthetic preferences and affinities of white supremacy, but that won’t make him be white to a white nationalist.

                This isn’t to say that white nationalists, of the variety currently supporting Trump, won’t consider Cruz an ally. But he’ll never be one of them.

                • sonamib

                  Anyway, you don’t need to be white to run a white nationalist state. After all, Stalin was both Georgian and a Russian chauvinist> Napoleon was Corsican and a French nationalist.

                • Lurker

                  As a European, I have never before heard anyone considering Napoleon or Stalin non-white.

                  I know that Russians call Caucasians “blacks” but tht is an ethnic, not a racial derogatory name.

                • witlesschum

                  Anyway, you don’t need to be white to run a white nationalist state. After all, Stalin was both Georgian and a Russian chauvinist> Napoleon was Corsican and a French nationalist.

                  Yes, I expect Cruz is probably white enough for all but the most doctrinaire racists and they’re a rounding error. It’s an emotional way of categorizing people and Cruz won’t be categorized in such terms because he won’t challenge these people’s perceptions. Remember, they’ll all tell you they aren’t racist, etc.

                  If he was a Democrat, they wouldn’t think he was white, but if he says all the right things and doesn’t challenge their perceptions about anything, they’ll let him aboard the white bus. He identifies with white supremacy in its soft focus, plausible deniability form, so there’s no reason for people who adhere to it to not stretch their definition of white a little bit.

                • Pseudonym

                  After all, Stalin was both Georgian and a Russian chauvinist> Napoleon was Corsican and a French nationalist.

                  And Hitler was not Indo-Iranian.

            • ThrottleJockey

              I tend to agree with you, Sly, but we’re seeing that change a bit. Cruz wouldn’t have gotten elected with such overwhelming support in Texas if the definition of “white” wasn’t creeping wider.

              Texans are a little more sophisticated than average on this though, arguably. They often prefer the term “Anglo” to “white” just because there are so many white Hispanics in Texas.

              • Sly

                See my response to Otto. A white nationalist will tolerate Cruz because he says a lot of things that they want to hear. But he won’t, or has yet hasn’t said, the one thing they want to hear the most.

                Trump is the candidate saying that one thing, and its why white nationalists are gravitating to him and not to Cruz.

              • Karen24

                Actually, Texas has been treating wealthy Hispanics like white people for a couple of centuries. To use one rather trivial example, the girls presented as debutantes by the Martha Washington Society of Laredo usually have Hispanic surnames now and have always had family from the Mexican upper classes. The tolerance petered out pretty quickly north of I-10, but it has always been there among the big ranching families and the areas near the border. Cruz benefits both from the existence of hildalgo families descended from Spanish grandees and from his expert use of crazoid religion.

                • DrDick

                  Wealthy, light-skinned, English-speaking Latinos are white in much of the Southwest and Califronia. Given his politics, Cruz probably qualifies. I am not sure how well that translates to the rest of the country.

              • DrS

                Yeah, he’s definitely ‘white enough’ for Texas. He’s a conservative from Cuban for one, which gets you much more of a pass than any Mexican.

                Plus, it is an article of faith on the right that there’s an advantage electorally to being a minority. So if the way to get 95% of what you want from that group, they are just fine with it.

                • DrDick

                  Also in Florida, for the same reasons.

                • DrS

                  Definitely Florida.

                  I think he gets enough of a pass for it not to be particularly important for winning the nomination. “Running from commie oppression” goes a ways with those types too.

            • Manny Kant

              I’m not sure Cruz even qualifies as non-white under the one drop rule. That requires non-European ancestry, no?

              • J. Otto Pohl

                Almost all Cubans except those descended of recent immigrants like Fidel Castro or immigrants themselves like Che Guevara have a drop or two of African blood.

                • njorl

                  Cruz’s paternal grandfather was born in Spain, I’m not certain about his paternal grandmother, though I believe she was as well. His mother’s parents are white anglos born in the US.
                  I don’t think there’s any Arawak or sub-Saharan African blood in Ted. He probably has some Arab or Berber ancestors. I suppose the racists might object to that.

        • brad

          I’d honestly be interested in the polling results among Cruz supporters as to whether he’s perceived by them as having a non-white identity, but it’s hard not to presume they’d respond with a strong negative. To a cracker’s eye he looks white, and that’s decisive for most of them, I believe. An American fascist couldn’t actually originate in the “fever swamp” like Duke or Rockwell. He or she would have to be an evangelical flavored sleeper agent.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            Other than Sly I have never heard anybody else refer to Cruz as non-white.

            • DrDick

              As Sly and others have pointed out, for many Americans, all Hispanics are “non-white.”

          • ASV

            Also to the census-taker’s eye.

            • joe from Lowell

              I’m not sure what you mean here. The U.S. Census uses self-reporting as its measure of race, and they don’t “correct” people.

              • MAJeff

                I’d assume it’s because the Census doesn’t use Hispanic/Latino as a racial category. After all, it asks *both* “is this person of Hispanic heritage” and “what is this person’s race.” Cruz could say “yes” to Hispanic and click the box for “white” under race.

        • Lee Rudolph

          He’s still a megalomaniacal reactionary who any decent civilization would keep from power.

          So you’re saying we’re screwed, then?

      • NewishLawyer

        Cruz’s big problem is that he is extremely off-putting and unappealing to almost everyone including his own party. But his politics are more authoritarian.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Even with all the hairs in Trump’s toupe that’s a lot of hair splitting!

      • pianomover

        Cruz definitely with his father guiding him. Rafael is a believer in the 7 Mountains, “those who occupy the mountains have the power”. Rafael has stated that his boy Ted has been anointed by God and sent by him to save the USA. A dominionist Rafael has floated criminalizing apostasy, adultery etc.

    • Denverite

      No way. Cruz is far too soft on the use of military force and far too opposed to economic populism to be considered a fascist.

      • Todd

        The stain of Cuban-Canadianism is upon him.

      • Webstir

        Cruz is neither of those things. Cruz believes nothing beyond his Christian Dominion theology. He is an opportunist and will seize any opportunity to promote his holy cause. He is the embodiment of the “lying for God” idea.

        • Karen24

          Cruz believes in whatever will get him elected, and at the moment that means proto-Fascism. The policies he will support if he’s elected may not fall precisely into the early-20th century Fascist pattern, but the results will be the same for those on the wrong end of them.

    • Webstir

      I think Cruz is the scarier of two as well for exactly the reason you posit … he’s a true “believer.” Coupled with a SCOTUS leaning toward Scalia majoritarian theocratic views, the outcome is unimaginably frightening. See the recent op ed by R. Posner here:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/opinion/justice-scalias-majoritarian-theocracy.html

      But even more frightening (if that is possible) is the Christian Dominion theology to which Cruz adheres. Seriously. Ted Cruz’s theocratic background needs to be widely shared and understood. Chris Hedges recognized it a while back. Johnathon Turley even reprinted it on his blog. But by and large, the media has not recognized the extent of his religious radicalism. You can find Hedges article linked below. Be prepared … it’ll make you shudder.

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_radical_christian_right_and_the_war_on_government_20131006

      • Rob in CT

        Dominionists are absolutely scary and should be considered the lunatic fringe. Should be.

        • brownian

          Ayup. Harper was one. We’ll be working to undo his damage for some time yet.

          • Rob in CT

            Hmm. The Dominion of Canada.

            Harper.

            Cruz.

            My God, South Park had it right. Screw this enemy within bullshit: Blame Canada.

            • The Temporary Name

              For god’s sake don’t put Harper and Cruz together. Harper is an evil and vicious man, a danger to every man, woman and child on Earth, but he’s no Ted Cruz.

              • Rob in CT

                To be clear: not serious.

                • The Temporary Name

                  I will ponder the degree to which either of us is kidding.

          • DAS

            Harper is a Dominionist? I thought he was a standard issue dispensational pre-millennialist, which, among people who take that eschatology outside of its original denominational context, is frightening enough.

            I did find a reference to Harper being a Dominionist: Harper & Evangelical Capitalism, but the writer seems confused

            Regarding the church that Harper has belonged to for nearly three decades – the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church – McDonald noted that its “adherents believe that the Bible is ‘inerrant’ and the Second Coming is ‘imminent’.”

            That would place Harper’s church squarely in the Evangelical tradition called dominionism

            Actually it would not place Harper’s church as Dominionist. Dominionism is a kind of post-millennialism and as such believes the Second Coming is not at all imminent and in fact will take at least a thousand years to happen. In particular, Dominionists believe that we need to establish a Christian theocracy that, if it can last for approximately a millennium, will welcome Jesus’s second coming. Indeed, Hitler himself spoke in post-millenialist and even Dominionist language even if he wasn’t explicitly a Dominionist. So Dominionism and fascism are, at some level, worrisomely compatible given the influence of Dominionism.

            Indeed Dominionism is very, very frightening because it seeks to put in place laws it knows that people cannot follow and will inevitably deserve the death penalty for breaking! Orthodox Christian soterology, which Domionists largely accept, says that whenever you have a system of religious law, all people will invariably break at least some of those laws and sin; and that the wages of sin are death. Let that sink in for a bit … even the strictest Talib or most ardent supporter of ISIS believes that people can actually follow Sharia. If a Talib or ISIS judge finds himself sentencing everyone in his community to death, he’s gonna say “we must be doing something wrong”. But a Dominionist judge would have no problem if a law can be followed by no-one and the punishment for that law that everyone inevitably breaks is the death penalty.

            That being said generally “evangelical” politicians are not Dominionists but rather dispensational pre-millennialists. Dispensational pre-millenialists unmoored from the denominational origin of their eschatology (e.g. those who are not Plymouth Brethren) have belief that they can imminetize the eschaton; they believe that Jesus will come to establish his kingdom on earth (Dominionists believe we need to establish Jesus’ kingdom on earth well before Jesus will come down to rule it) and that we can help this process along by destroying the planet as it exists now for fun and profit (especially by creating a major war in the Middle East).

            And this is itself very frightening (we saw what that accomplished in the US with GW Bush as president). But what makes it even more frightening is that while dispensational pre-millennialists are NOT dominionists, their “activist” stance toward helping bring forth the second coming makes them amenable to accepting dominionist ideas about establishing Jesus’ kingdom on Earth. So even if a country’s leader is not a dominionist but rather a dispensational pre-millennialist, he still might be quite happy pushing even part of a very frightening agenda.

            At the very least, the compatibility between Dominionist post-millennialism and dispensational pre-millennialism and hence their ability to put aside their different eschatologies to work together to establish Jesus’ kingdom on earth is similar to the ability of Catholics and Protestants to put aside their theological differences to work together to oppose social change.

            • brownian

              Thanks for that breakdown. I had also found that article as my source for thinking Harper was a Dominionist. At any rate, I’m not particularly well-versed in those sects of Christianity, so I appreciate the clarification.

              • The eschatology of the CMA church is interesting in how it deviates from the ‘futurist’ dispensationalism that most normally associate with premillennialism.

                (Full disclosure: former attendee of a Reconstructionist-minded Alliance fellowship, now mired in blissful apostasy.)

            • Manny Kant

              Saying that Hitler “wasn’t explicitly a Dominionist” seems a weird way to describe someone who was not a believing or practicing Christian at all.

      • pianomover

        Chris Hedges writes so well yet as he rails against Right Wing Theocrats he clings to and defends his Christian views as the right and proper ones. Problematic at the least.

        • joe from Lowell

          I saw the Executive Director of CAIR and head of the Shura Council that covers Southern California on MSNBC yesterday denouncing the Santa Barbara shootings. There was some talk about such murder being against all the teachings of Islam. Sure, they’re railing against Islamist theocrats, but they still cling to and defend Islam.

          Is that “problematic at the least?”

          • pianomover

            Yes

            • joe from Lowell

              Wow.

              OK.

              • pianomover

                I think that anyone who is reasonably intelligent would at least consider rejecting religion, I would expect that someone who has studied and observed the end result of most religious groups would reject faith entirely.
                So again, yes.

    • ajp

      He has beliefs. Donald Trump believes that Donald Trump is the smartest, awesomest, businessiest, classiest presidential candidate with the yuuuuuuuugest dick.

  • ThrottleJockey

    What is this, stupid question day? Douche-hat raised the same question in his column today. It doesn’t a 5,000 word treatise to answer it.

    Yes, Trump is a fascist. Next question?

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Actually, no. But we should be scared of him, in part because he leads us a further step down the road to fascism. I don’t care what Douthat says about this (in 1 word or 5,000), but I agree with Neiwert, who knows what he’s talking about and is not shy to use the “f” word when it is actually justified.

      • ThrottleJockey

        I don’t care what Douthat says about this (in 1 word or 5,000), but I agree with Neiwert, who knows what he’s talking about and is not shy to use the “f” word when it is actually justified.

        “Fuck” is always justified in relation to Donald Trump :-)

        Its not just Douche-hat, its also Jamelle Bouie.

        • DrS

          I mean, if you’re going to just argue by appeal to authority shouldn’t you go with the authority who has studied the item at hand?

          Or, just go with what Douthat says.

  • Todd

    Agreed that Trump is a fake fascist who woke up some real fascists (mostly in the Republican party). They should recognize that Trump is playing them for suckers to keep himself on television for the next year. They should really form a third party. Get a real fascist on the ballot. That’ll show ’em.

  • sleepyirv

    Hell, half of being a fascist is having no beliefs. There are three characteristics of fascism that I’m concerned about (none of this Jonah Goldberg’s “Hitler was a vegetarian” crap)

    1) “Man on Horseback” syndrome, where a candidate promises to solve the country’s problems not through policies but by standing above the political process and rejecting common norms.
    2) Demonizing and scapegoating unpopular minorities, suggesting a nation’s problems are not a symptom of current policies but by the intentional sabotage of a group of people already considered suspicious.
    3) Refusing to work through the proper legal channels on the basis of popular will, some supposed crisis, or on the inherent weakness and unworkability of the current system.

    With Trump it’s yup, yup, and just you wait.

    • brad

      Dictators aren’t inherently fascist, common an overlap as it may be.
      Hitler was a manipulator, but he was also a believer.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        I actually don’t think the dictator needs to be a true believer (though he can be). The key is an explicit, totalizing ideology that structures the movement. As long as the dictator presents himself as a true believer, that’s enough.

        • brad

          This is true, and part of what worries me about Cruz. They just have to feel he’s one of them, and that he is the king of their tribe. Given the right setting and tools I don’t think he’s incapable of taking the necessary steps, and Trump is in a blundering, mostly unconscious way doing a lot of heavy lifting for that.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Though I’ve yet to be convinced that Cruz can even get enough primary support to win the nomination, I, too, am even more scared of Cruz than Trump. Trump is a narcissistic buffoon who was born on third base and thinks he’s hit a triple. He’s very dangerous because of his racism and his followers. But the party establishment will do whatever it can to make sure he doesn’t get the nomination (not that they’ll necessarily succeed). They don’t like Cruz much, either, but he’s a good deal more acceptable than Trump and imo his surest path to the nomination is to convince movers and shakers in the party that he’s the only viable alternative to the Donald.

    • Robert M.

      Alternately:

      (1) Adoption of violence as a political tool (“maybe he deserved to be roughed up”)

      (2) Developing the mythology of a lost golden era (“Make America Great Again”)

      (3) Developing an exclusive nationalism opposed to an identifable other (literally anything he’s ever said about Mexico or Muslims)

      (4) Explicit anti-liberalism (Cleek’s Law, as noted).

      There are lots of definitions of fascism, but no matter which one your use, a plurality of Republicans are developing a home-grown version of it.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        No, actually. Key missing features (so far at least): an explicit totalizing ideology (Neiwert’s point); a formal, violent paramilitary organization attached to the movement (think the Nazi SA or the Italian Fascist Black Shirts…or the 2nd KKK of the 1920s); the aestheticization of politics; a rhetoric of moving beyond the conventional left and right; and so forth. Not all authoritarian dictators (and would be dictators) are fascist.

        • Robert M.

          You’re right, and clearly my comment wasn’t very clear. I didn’t mean that the four things I set out are an exhaustive and sufficient definition of fascism, but rather that they’re four hallmarks among the larger set Trump’s movement would need to satisfy.

          Basically, we’re not there yet but there are a group of people out there paving the road.

        • Lee Rudolph

          the aestheticization of politics;

          Given Trump’s past form, his aesthetization of politics would knock your eyes out!

        • brewmn

          I think Trump’s pretty clearly got the third and fourth items on your list covered (wtf does the “aestheticization of politics” mean, anyway?), and he’s working on number 2.

          So we’re down to the fact that he doesn’t have an articulated political philosophy. And I don’t think his inability to make his politics cohere rhetorically matter to his supporters; they know what he’s saying, even if he doesn’t say it out loud. And what he’s telling them is that the big strong daddy will get things done by neutralizing the political opposition, violently if necessary.

          In other words, a fascist.

          • Linnaeus

            wtf does the “aestheticization of politics” mean, anyway?

            It’s a concept from Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. It’s been a while since I’ve read it (or the analysis of it), but the idea is that politics in the modern age itself becomes an art form, not just a vehicle for governing a society, mediating different interests, etc., but also an experience in which the participants “consume” the activity of politics that is similar to the experience one has when one stands in front of a work of original art.

            So fascism, for example, employs a distinct set of symbols, iconography, spectacles, etc. that makes its politics a particular kind of artistic experience – it’s not just something that you do, but it’s something that you feel, and fascism emphasizes feeling in particular in its style of politics.

        • DAS

          the aestheticization of politics; a rhetoric of moving beyond the conventional left and right

          Couldn’t the “politics as a game/horse-race” tone of the media be as capable of being a basis for fascism as the “politics as theatre” aestheticization of politics was historically? And aren’t the media and middle-way nitwits already trying to lay the groundwork for an all-encompassing ideology that uses “a rhetoric of moving beyond the conventional left and right”?

          I agree with you and Neiwart that Trump and his movement miss key features of fascism, but the media, with which Trump is very comfortable and of which Trump is, in fact, a part, is already pushing an agenda that includes two of those missing features. IOW, essentially if the Trump movement, the militia movement (the formal, paramilitary organization) and the no-labels movement coalesce, then we would have a very powerful, and very frightening fascist movement.

        • burritoboy

          All of the things not yet fully in place are being put into place as we speak:

          For example: an explicit totalizing ideology

          Dominionism fits that description, white suprematism fits that description, Santorum’s neo-Falange fits that description, etc. Expecting that the fascists will have only one completely rigid and explicit ideology has little historical basis. Most fascists strongly rejected a rigid, entirely explicit, unchanging form of ideology – that’s a thing associated with the Enlightenment and Socialist regimes that they hated. Instead, (in most cases) the Leader is supposed to “feel” the changes in the World Spirit and modify the ideas / actions / ideology accordingly, as necessary.

          Aestheticization of politics: Trump, the leading candidate, is a TV reality star who carefully designs his events, appearance, family life and campaign. Indeed, Trump is especially well known in the real estate community for having a very developed design and publicity sense that successfully appeals to a certain tasteless demographic.

          a formal, violent paramilitary organization attached to the movement:

          already in development

    • Sly

      One and three are somewhat the same. The first premise of fascism is that there was at one point a “golden age” where the body politic was triumphant (an age largely fabricated by the fascist), but it was corrupted by a conspiracy of domestic traitors and foreign interlopers. This is why fascism is inherently reactionary.

      The second and third premises are built upon this. The scapegoating serves to create a fictive national solidarity against the “impure” and have the populace police itself for “impurity.” The Supreme Leader of the third premise is required because the body politic has become so corrupt that only by its constituent members’ willingness to surrender their consciences to the Supreme Leader can the corruption be purged.

  • Robert M.

    For my part, I agree entirely with Niewert: Trump is a vulgar, narcissistic populist. He’s adopted Cleek’s Law because it sells.

    Trump’s supporters are the proto-fascists, which is why if it wasn’t Trump it would be someone else.

    • Thirtyish

      Correct. Trump believes in nothing beyond his own self-aggrandizement. The fact that his supporters bellow in triumphant support for said aggrandizement of their vulgar, dim-witted hero speaks to their own crypto fascism. It can happen here, and it’s because a not insignificant number of our (white) fellow countrymen (and women, but it’s mostly men) yearn for a fascist leader.

  • Spiny

    I honestly don’t see that he’s leading us anywhere. Neiwert spends a lot of time dissecting right-wing populism and finding fascist tendencies in Trump’s ideology, but no time that I can see figuring out how big his support actually is or offering evidence that he is normalizing fascism in America.

    • Robert M.

      …Trump has a plurality of support for the Presidential nomination of one of the two mainstream political parties. What remains to be demonstrated?

      • Spiny

        Read the article. His support now is roughly 6-8% of the electorate – as FiveThirtyEight puts it, that’s about the same share that thinks the moon landings are fake – and on past evidence there’s no reason to believe the people that say they support him actually do. Historically this early in the race the vast majority have not made up their minds.

        30-ish% of Democratic voters lean towards Bernie. Am I to believe the right-wingers who say he’s leading us down the path to socialism?

        • Robert M.

          No, support for Sanders isn’t evidence that he’s leading us down the path to socialism, because his positions and rhetoric as a presidential candidate are mainstream liberal positions.

          Yes, support for Trump is evidence he’s leading us down the path to fascism, because his positions and rhetoric are taking advantage of and endorsing the nationalism, xenophobia, and violent tendencies of his followers.

          And while it’s true that Trump’s plurality among likely Republican voters is indeed merely 6-8% of the electorate, it’s still a plurality among likely Republican voters. The 538 analysis is plausible, but it’s also the same analysis liberals (including me) were using to dismiss Trump six months ago–and because it fails to explain his continuing popularity, I no longer find it persuasive.

          The proper analogy, I think, would be to ask whether Clinton is leading us down the path to technocratic neoliberalism, and I think the answer to that is fairly obvious.

          • Spiny

            No, support for Sanders isn’t evidence that he’s leading us down the path to socialism, because his positions and rhetoric as a presidential candidate are mainstream liberal positions.

            Some positions are, some are not. Free college tuition for all, for example. His rhetoric is also not as mainstream as all that either, or his fans would not be holding him up as a fresh truth-talker.

            Yes, support for Trump is evidence he’s leading us down the path to fascism, because his positions and rhetoric are taking advantage of and endorsing the nationalism, xenophobia, and violent tendencies of his followers.

            I don’t dispute that he appeals to a sector of the electorate that is fascistic. I dispute whether he is leading “us” anywhere. Has his run made those positions significantly more popular? Has he changed the Republican party platform? Have his followers introduced any legislation or policies anywhere? It’s not impossible, I’d just like people to actually cite evidence apart from the existence of people who like him.

            The 538 analysis is plausible, but it’s also the same analysis liberals (including me) were using to dismiss Trump six months ago–and because it fails to explain his continuing popularity, I no longer find it persuasive.

            Why does it fail to explain his continuing popularity? The analysis suggests very few of the polled Republicans are actually paying much attention (which would make it hard to argue Trump is whipping them up into fascistic rage), and there’s no reason why inattention would necessarily mean changing your poll answer frequently. Do you have evidence that Republican voters are actually paying close attention to the race?

            The proper analogy, I think, would be to ask whether Clinton is leading us down the path to technocratic neoliberalism, and I think the answer to that is fairly obvious.

            So we are obviously being led down the path of fascism and technocratic neoliberalism. At the same time.

            • ajp

              I guess the creators of the UC system (tuition-free for CA residents for a good long time) and subsequent UC Boards of Regents were leading California down the path to socialism.

              • Spiny

                Free tuition was my example of a position that is currently not liberal mainstream, although it could be. It wasn’t even just a candidate position, that was an actual socialist policy of the biggest state in the union, but obviously it was not a sign of the socialist onslaught to come. Which I as a UC grad who did not get free tuition can attest to, no matter what retrograde California Republicans say.

                • joe from Lowell

                  So, it was a position that was sufficiently mainstream to be adopted in the biggest state in the union, but we’re supposed to take it as an example of Bernie Sanders holding positions that aren’t in the mainstream of liberalism?

                • Spiny

                  UC tuition hasn’t been free since the 1970s at least. At one time free tuition may have been mainstream among California Democrats, but it’s not part of the state or national platform now. Again, I think it easily could become so.

                • joe from Lowell

                  The debate that is going on right now in the Democratic primary is between free tuition for all, and a more-progressive (in the strict economic sense of “costing the rich more than the poor”) alternative.

                  I think someday is today.

                • Spiny

                  Fair enough, though I think the more-progressive alternative will probably win out.

                • burritoboy

                  Free college was an idea implemented long before and far beyond California. CUNY was tuition-free (for students who had been formally admitted to it) from its founding in 1847 until 1976.

                • joe from Lowell

                  To the larger point about Sanders being generally out of step with mainstream liberalism: the only area where he seems to be further than just the leftish end of the mainstream-liberal spectrum would be top-tier tax rates.

                  He loves this language of socialism and social democracy, but he’s pretty much Ted Kennedy.

                • Spiny

                  Free college was an idea implemented long before and far beyond California.

                  No argument, though nationwide free tertiary education is a bit of a different animal from some state university systems having free tuition for residents, especially in an era where tertiary enrollments were much smaller. Which is why I expect the more-progressive alternative to win rather than us implementing a system of German-style education tracks.

                • Lurker

                  The experience from Europe shows that “free-for-everyone” approach in public services is a better policy than “free-for-poor”. The subsidisation of the poor means that the program is seen as charity, and carries a social stigma. In addition, it is easy to cut.

                  A program where a service is the same for everyone meams that the middle class has a stake in it. It becomes difficult to cut, and receiving the benefit carries no stigma. This is amply seen in Medicare. People think it as an inherent right, not as a government program.

                • Spiny

                  The experience from Europe shows that “free-for-everyone” approach in public services is a better policy than “free-for-poor”.

                  Normally I’d agree, but European countries control their tertiary enrollment more strictly than we do for a reason – they actually do not deliver free higher education to everyone who asks for it.

            • Robert M.

              So we are obviously being led down the path of fascism and technocratic neoliberalism. At the same time.

              Saying “I think the answer to that is fairly obvious” was probably a mistake. The answer I had in mind was “No, because we’ve been walking that direction since at least the early 90s.”

              But moreover, I don’t think it’s problematic to say that Trump is leading the Republicans down the road of fascism–or, at least, that he found the parade and decided to put himself at the front of it–while Clinton is leading the Democrats down the road of technocratic neoliberalism.

              And if “us” means “Americans”, then yes: we are being led down both of those paths at the same time. They’re incommensurable, for sure, but all that means is that as a political body we’re eventually going to have to start making decisions about which set of ideas gets to stay in the mainstream.

    • Joshua

      I clicked on that article and seriously thought it was written in July. Trump has been blowing away his opponents for months in the polls.

      And while it may be true that his support translates to a very small percentage of the total electorate, let’s remember two things: 1, the total electorate doesn’t vote in Republican primaries, 2, if he can win the nomination he has the support of ~40% of the electorate on day one.

      • Spiny

        And 538 wrote that article to tell people (specifically the media) to stop willfully misunderstanding what “blowing away his opponents in polls” means.

        No, the total electorate doesn’t vote in Republican primaries, which is why the article also spends a lot of time arguing that his poll results don’t say much yet about how Iowa/NH will go.

        • Rob in CT

          I thought the key bit in that article was the part about large majorities of primary voters not making up their minds until ~1 week before the primary.

          • Spiny

            Yeah that’s what struck me as well. All of us who are intensely interested in politics find it nigh-impossible to remember that most people don’t think about it most of the time.

    • SatanicPanic

      Niewart was saying the same thing during the Bush years. I think it’s safer to just say that there is and always will be a certain number of fascists in the USA and that their influence will wax and wane but I doubt we’re in danger of becoming a fascist nation.

      • burritoboy

        It’s true that the number of fascists will go up and down. But that tells us essentially nothing. If the number of fascists is 1 person, then it’s irrelevant. If the number is more than 15% of the population, then the fascists have enough support to begin to pressure the rest of the Right to put them in power.

      • DavidNeiwert

        Actually, what I was saying during the Bush years was that the Republicans of the era — particularly given their tendency to demonize Others and anyone who dared criticize the Bush regime — were laying the groundwork for an outbreak of fascism further down the road — say, in 10-15 years or so. I’d say we’re about on schedule, now that the charismatic national leader/figure has arrived.

        • SatanicPanic

          Thanks for the clarification. That was a while back so maybe I was misremembering your timeline.

    • DrDick

      How much does the GOP pay you to sow doubt about the party’s leanings?

      • Spiny

        Of all the things written about the GOP on this blog, it would be strange if their main objection was to having some of their voters called fascist.

        • DrDick

          “Some”? Nice way to dodge the actual question.

          • Spiny

            Were you serious with that question? Grow up.

            • DrDick

              Since I am a long time regular and do not recall ever seeing you in the threads and you seem to be bending over backwards to defend the indefensible Trump, it is a legitimate question.

              • Spiny

                I’ve commented for months, actually. If you read my actual comments on this thread, you’ll notice I do not defend Trump or his supporters, I dispute Neiwert’s/Erik’s assessment of how popular and influential he actually is.

  • Joshua

    Republicans do not believe Democrats have a legitimate claim to govern. The fact that an authoritarian would arise from such a belief is no surprise.

    I admit it’s a bit odd seeing Trump be that man, but maybe not. The other guys, even crazy wingers like Ted Cruz, are indeed politicians.

  • Webstir

    Couple a latent fascist like Trump with the commitment to a war of religions and the climate appears to be ripe for the flag wrapped, cross carrying, fascist storm Sinclair Lewis prophesied.

  • c u n d gulag

    The German Nazi’s/Fascist’s were much more stylish than our American counterparts.

    Full-length black leather coats, gatherings of hundreds of thousands bearing torches, carrying Nazi banners, and marching, singing, and chanting.

    Half of our Fascist followers are ignorant white rubes, wearing cammo, and practicing for their White Volk Revolution prancing about through the woods, acting all macho, and shooting paint-ball guns at one another.

    The other half are ancient white douche-canoe’s, who ride around in their Medicare-scooters, carrying misspelled signs.

    When I remind myself of that, not only does it ease my mind, but brings a smile to my face.
    “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself…”

    And, fear-hate-and-rage junkies that our conservatives are, there’s plenty of fear/hate/rage/bigotry in their supply chain.

    • Rudolph Schnaubelt

      Say what you will about the Nazis. At least they had an ethos. These people are just nihilists.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Plus the Nazis knew how to use apostrophes.

    • DAS
      • c u n d gulag

        Yes, I’m sure that if Fascism gains even more of a foothold here in the US than it already has, some enterprising clothing designers will be more than glad to create all sorts of outfits for the American Fascists.

        And, trust me, I think the shirts will be much closer to brown or black, than they will be any colors of the rainbows
        Too.. too gay…
        (And yes, I am aware that gay people were one of the first targets of the German Fascists to be sent to Concentration Camps or killed, outright – along with Socialists, Communists, and Gypsies. This, despite later proof that many of the Nazi leaders were themselves either fully gay, or bi-sexual).

  • LeeEsq

    Trump uses fascist rhetoric but lacks some of the symbols of fascism. I think pseudo-militaristic uniforms and rituals are an important part of fascism rather than a side show. They symbolize the devotion to the state and nation that is a core part of fascism. Without mass rituals and uniforms, you do not have fascism but authoritarian populism.

    • brewmn

      So, you’re saying that trucker hats don’t qualify as “pseudo-militaristic uniforms”?

      • LeeEsq

        Yes. A real fascist movement requires a uniform color shirt and tie combination.

        • brewmn

          Well, fuck me. These people really are fascists.

    • NonyNony

      I think pseudo-militaristic uniforms and rituals are an important part of fascism rather than a side show.

      Well, they were in the 1920s when pseudo-militaristic uniforms were more generally in the style of the time for conservatives in Europe in general. I’m not so certain that a modern-day fascist movement would all require its members to pretend to be soldiers it that manner. Cammo jackets and matching ballcaps would actually be a very 21st century American aesthetic that American fascists would likely adopt.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Cammo jackets and matching ballcaps would actually be a very 21st century American aesthetic that American fascists would likely adopt.

        We’ve had at least one mossy oak camo prom dress up here, so I think we’re already there.

  • sapient

    When you add long-term unemployment and underemployment into that mix, the potential for violence just grows,

    Okay. With you so far.

    which is something that the defenders of the globalized economy outsourcing most industrial jobs simply do not consider in their analysis.

    A bit of a stretch.

    As to Trump, he’s inciting fascism. His supporters are frighteningly fascist. When they shift their support to Ted Cruz, that’s when I’m going to be really, really afraid.

  • He’s not a fascist, but he plays one on TV!

  • NewishLawyer

    Trump uses fascist rhetoric but the big issue is that he has a lot of fascist supporters who use him as an empty vessel.

    There are lots of anti-Semites who think that Trump is going to stick it to the Jews. This is ignoring that Trump’s son-in-law is Jewish (and his daughter became Orthodox) and Trump is on the record as being pro-Israel. Same with other forms of authoritarians.

    Now Trump is letting to let these people think he is on their side though and that is problematic.

    • LWA

      Its been my personal experience that racial/ ethnic bigotry is transitive- it can easily float from one to the other in a heartbeat.
      Today The Enemy is black people, tomorrow its Mexicans, then the day after its Jews, Muslims, gays, disabled people with their special fancy parking spots, whatever.

      Just never, ever, ever the lord in the manor.

      So the same Palin fans who suddenly started wearing a Star of David necklace yesterday, could easily be a howling mob shattering shop windows tomorrow.

      • Sly

        Its been my personal experience that racial/ ethnic bigotry is transitive- it can easily float from one to the other in a heartbeat.

        I don’t think its transitive in as much as its totalizing. The reason why The Enemy constantly fluctuates, or at least has the appearance of constantly fluctuating, is that The Enemy is anyone who isn’t us. And The Enemy Du Jour, like the soup, is just the type of “isn’t us” who they’ve decided gets special billing on that given day.

      • DAS

        Related to your point: much anti-Muslim rhetoric is essentially old-fashioned anti-Jewish rhetoric with “Jew” replaced by “Islamo-fascist”, “kosher” replaced with “halal”, “global communism”/”global capitalism” (depending on whether the anti-Semite was right or left wing) replaced by “sharia” and “global caliphate”, etc.

        I find it particularly disturbing when Jews like Pam Geller take old-fashioned anti-Jewish rhetoric and just change a few words. Do they really know where they got their ideas from?

        • LeeEsq

          There is also some “yellow peril” elements with anti-Islamic rhetoric because you have the fear of being swamped added in.

          • pillsy

            It’s also pretty reminiscent of anti-Catholic rhetoric from the 19th century and even from when Kennedy is running for President. Some shit never changes.

            • joe from Lowell

              And that anti-Catholic rhetoric was pretty much just a gloss put on standard anti-immigrant rhetoric. If it had been a bunch of Swedish Lutherans imported into Lowell to dig the canals, the WASPy No-Nothings would have fought them just as fiercely, just using slightly different language.

              • LWA

                My Catholic family in the northern Plains actually had genuine fear of the KKK during the 1920s, according to my grandma.

                Which is where I learned the transitive nature I mentioned- the people who want my white-as-a-sheet face to join them in hating on the brown people, will in a moment turn on me as being not-white/Christian-enough.

                Its like a Twilight Zone episode where the paranoia of who is the Other winds tighter and tighter and ever more absurd.

        • Philip

          I find it particularly disturbing when Jews like Pam Geller take old-fashioned anti-Jewish rhetoric and just change a few words. Do they really know where they got their ideas from?

          Yeah. Although Trump et al seem to have been enough to make at least some of the Jewish center-right realize exactly who they’ve been in bed with. I think the “make Muslims register” thing finally crossed a serious line in a lot of minds.

      • brownian

        Today The Enemy is black people, tomorrow its Mexicans, then the day after its Jews, Muslims, gays, disabled people with their special fancy parking spots, whatever.

        You’ve met my dad, then.

        (Though to be fair, he was mostly for the underdog, whoever he perceived that to be, which meant that he could paint a particular ethnic minority as barbarian hordes come to destroy civilized society one day, and then hard-working immigrants come to live in freedom and opportunity the next, depending on the issue. And though he was never shy of using the N-word, I remember he was genuinely crestfallen when he came across racist songs misattributed to Johnny Horton, a musical hero of his, on Napster. People are fucked up.)

        • rea

          Per Wikipedia: Some racist songs have sometimes been incorrectly associated with Horton. These songs are by a singer calling himself “Johnny Rebel,” who did not begin recording until after Horton’s death. The mistake is apparently because Horton recorded the historical song “Johnny Reb.”

          • brownian

            Those are the ones. I wonder if my dad ever found that out. He’d have been relieved to have learned that.

    • Origami Isopod

      There are lots of anti-Semites who think that Trump is going to stick it to the Jews. This is ignoring that Trump’s son-in-law is Jewish (and his daughter became Orthodox) and Trump is on the record as being pro-Israel. Same with other forms of authoritarians.

      See Warren’s anecdote below. Being related to people in ethnic group X doesn’t mean you can’t still have some nasty prejudices about ethnic group X.

    • CP

      Trump uses fascist rhetoric but the big issue is that he has a lot of fascist supporters who use him as an empty vessel.

      Yep. Even if Trump is defeated, this problem will outlast him.

      I had the teabagger movement pegged as, at the very least, proto-fascist back during its rise in 2009/2010 (and I believe Neiwert had things to say about it back then too).

      One of the key things for me was the increasing backlash against not just liberals and “others” but their own party elites. Racism, militarism, authoritarianism, longing for some golden age doesn’t in itself make you a fascist, just like these things existed in Europe long before the 1920s/30s – you can just as easily be a traditional conservative. Fascism seems to happen when the regular bigots stop obediently following conservative elites and go into politics for themselves. (Not that they don’t work with the elites eventually, but they still remain their own movement and not just followers of the elites).

  • LWA

    I’m always wary of using the word fascist, if for no other reason it draws pedants like flies, and devolves into a pissing match between history buffs.

    But I think the notion floated around that its the supporters who are the real scary fascists is right on the money.

    It was never the dictator himself, but his supporters who came up with the ideas and carried them out. Fascist leaders never forced anything on the nation that wasn’t already there, they just used charisma and cunning to unleash it.

    The Trump supports are genuinely scary fucking people, and we need to point that out loud and long.

    • Malaclypse

      Right – the argument over whether Trump is really a fascist is (literally) academic. The critical point is that he has Brownshirts.

      • Matt_L

        No, its not academic. Hitler had to make the Brownshirts and the NSDAP. In fact he had to remake them after the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Donald Trump might have caught the fancy of a bunch of wannabe Brownshirts and fascist personality types, but that is not the same thing as building a Nazi of Fascist movement. Trump is catching a ride on the Tea Party wave, that is not the same as building a movement from scratch like Hitler, Mussolini or Gyula Gömbös.

        I think the term proto-Fascist is useful, but I am also skeptical about how relevant the concept of fascism is outside of Europe. The US is a post colonial society. It doesn’t have the same social structures or face the political crises that plagued Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. By contrast the US has its own legacy of Slavery, Imperial Expansion, and Genocide.

        Whats wrong with using Neo-Confederate or White Supremacist to describe these clowns? Or just stick with Tea Party, that is the name the movement prefers to use when describing themselves.

      • Yes. What’s at stake in deciding whether he has twelve out of twelve criteria for fascism, or only eleven? It’s essentialism that I don’t think is necessary.

    • CP

      I’m always wary of using the word fascist, if for no other reason it draws pedants like flies, and devolves into a pissing match between history buffs.

      But I think the notion floated around that its the supporters who are the real scary fascists is right on the money.

      My only issue with the word “fascist” is the risk of getting excessively hung up on a movement that happened seventy or eighty years ago. It’s probably safe to assume that a modern equivalent would be noticeably different from classic fascism.

      Small objection, though: I generally agree with the gist of all this.

  • AMK

    The whole GOP has been in bed with American proto-fascism for a long time, because that’s what it has to do sell its economic platform. A shit sandwich is a much harder sell without the sweet helping of white victimhood and self-affirming religious crusaderism on the side.

    • AMK

      ….and both of those things–imagined victimization and ethno-national crusaderism–are the core elements of fascism. When you combine them with effective co-opting of corporate elements and weakened political institutions, you have most of the recipie.

    • Webstir

      Bingo!

  • joe from Lowell

    The Skeptical Libertarian’s useful corrective about “corporatism” is good, but it needs its own corrective:

    “Corporations” were not individual businesses. Under fascist corporatism, sectors of the economy were divided into corporate groups, whose activities and interactions were managed and coordinated by the government. The idea was to split the difference between socialism and laissez faire capitalism, letting the state control and direct the economy from the top-down without itself owning the means of production.

    … The bottom line is that corporate groups meant classes of people in the economy, which were allegedly represented through appointments to the Council. The system was not about welfare for private companies, but rather about totalitarian central planning of the whole economy through legislation and regulation. Corporatism meant formally “incorporating” divergent interests under the state, which would resolve their differences through regulatory mechanisms.

    Of course, if the fascists were merely interested in “the state” controlling the economy, they would have put it under the control of some party appointee, like they did with the military or the police. But when it came to the economy, it wasn’t merely “the people” the fascists put in charge, but the captains of industry. It’s the old libertarian trick of treating the existence of state control as if it eliminated, as opposed to functioning as an expression of, economic class power dynamics.

    • keta

      ALEC, we hardly know ya’.

  • wengler

    Trump doesn’t have enough cross draped in the American flag. There’s another one who’s been moving up the polls that sure does though.

  • pianomover

    From Scott Alexander, (because trying to add a link crashes safari every time)

    Senator Cruz:

    You were on your college debate team, and you were good at it. Really good. You won the national championships and you were pretty widely believed to be the best debater in the country. Quite an achievement. But my worry is – which is more likely? That the best debater in the country would also be the best choice for President? Or that he would be really really really good at making us think that he would be?

    Don’t respond yet. Before you answer that question – well, before you answer any question – we’ve got to think about this on the meta-level. There’s a classic problem in epistemology. Suppose that we have a superintelligence with near-infinite rhetorical brilliance. The superintelligence plays a game with interested humans. First, it takes the hundred or so most controversial topics, chooses two opposing positions on each, writes the positions down on pieces of paper, and then puts them in a jar. Then it chooses one position at random and tries to convince the human of that position. We observe that in a hundred such games, every human player has left 100% convinced of the position the superintelligence drew from the jar. Now it’s your turn to play the game. The superintelligence picks a position from the jar. It argues for the position. The argument is supremely convincing. After hearing it, you are more sure that the position is true than you have ever been of anything in your life; there’s so much evidence in favor that it is absolutely knock-down obvious. Should you believe the position?

    The inside view tells you yes; upon evaluating the argument, you find is clearly true. The outside view tells you no; judging from the superintelligence’s past successes, it could have convinced you equally well of the opposite position. If you are smart, you will precommit to never changing your mind at all based on anything the superintelligence says. You will just shut it out of the community of entities capable of persuading you through argument.

    Senator Cruz, you may not quite be at the superintelligence level, but given that you’ve been recognized as the most convincing person out of all three hundred million Americans, shouldn’t we institute similar precautions with you? Shouldn’t your supporters, even if they agree with everything you are saying, precommit to ignore you as a matter of principle?

    • Malaclypse

      Looked at that way, he’s our very own Kilgrave.

  • Does this black armband clash with my brown shirt?

    • pianomover

      Does this brown shirt make my ass look big?

      • joe from Lowell

        Pro tip: “It’s not the shirt” is never an acceptable answer to this question.

        • pianomover

          Bats eyes, leaves room to continue getting ready for book burning.

          • joe from Lowell

            Actually, I’d have guessed more along the lines of “posting my Mohammed drawings and rubbing pork products on things” than a book burning.

            • joe from Lowell

              Sorry, wrong place.

              • pianomover

                ctually, I’d have guessed more along the lines of “posting my Mohammed drawings and rubbing pork products on things” than a book burning.

                Sounds like part of the fascist kiddie meal.

  • keta

    Does Trump fit the nebulous definition of “fascist”? I don’t really care, nor do I think it’s worth arguing about.

    The nut of Neiwert’s piece is in the last two paragraphs. That’s what’s important here, and that’s where light needs to shine.

    • Hogan

      He’ll do until one comes along.

  • AMK

    Full-blown American fascism won’t look like fascism did in Germany or Italy or Spain, because the “anti-government” impulse that has been cultivated among the wingers is too strong for organized goose-stepping and explicit fealty to “the state” as the representative of the Volk/”real Americans.”

    And, maybe more important, most of the corporate players and the elite are far to wedded to the global market to be willingly co-opted for national “Volkish” purposes. If 1930s Daimler and Bosch and Thyssenkrupp made much more money abroad–in France and Britain and America and Russia–than they did in Germany, would there have been a Hitler recognizable as such?

    Instead, American fascism will be a much more explicit, more entrenched version of what we’re already seeing…basically a sort of neo-feudalism where Plutocats in a few islands of prosperty make sure the state is just strong enough to pursue their ends (no taxes, no regulations, a peerage legal system that prevents serfs from holding masters accountable, etc..) and permit a certain level of symbolic winking and nodding at both “democracy” and the anti-democratic”values” of the base elements. I don’t know what an analogy for this sort of thing might be… the late stages of Tsarist Russia? Kaiserite Germany seems like it was too progressive with it social safety net.

    • DAS

      There is also a geographical aspect too. Fascism in Germany and Italy developed in the relatively industrialized and economically advanced regions of their countries. The sort of places where, according to Marx, communism should have taken root. OTOH, while the (post) industrial landscapes of the upper-Midwest have been fertile breading grounds for proto-fascist militia groups, the “heartland” of right wing politics has generally been the South and Southwest. Fascism here would develop as if Hitler’s original core base were primarily in Prussia.

      • LeeEsq

        Germany as a whole was very industrialized, urbanized and economically advanced place by World War I. Prussia had some of the largest cities in Germany like Berlin, Breslau, and Cologne within it’s borders. It also had the most prosperous companies like Siemens and Krupp.

      • burritoboy

        It’s simply not true that German fascism developed in the industrialized or economically advanced regions of Germany. The earliest center of German fascism was Munich – which was a wealthy city, but not one as heavily industrialized or economically advanced as areas like the Ruhr or Berlin or Frankfurt. Further, Bavaria (of which state Munich is the capital) was also the earliest state-level stronghold of German fascism, but was also not as heavily industrialized or economically advanced as multiple other regions of Germany.

        The Ruhr and Berlin were actually the most notably opposed regions to fascism, and the Nazification of Germany was only completed when the NSDAP was able to take over Berlin (and Prussia, of which Berlin was the capital) as the very last step of their revolution in February – April 1933. (Many NSDAP offices remained in Munich or were co-located between Berlin and Munich until the end of the regime. Numerous high-ranking officials of the regime retained substantial powers within Bavaria, even though their main roles had been relocated to Berlin. Himmler retained his post as chief of the Munich police until the regime’s end, for example.)

      • Origami Isopod

        fertile breading grounds for proto-fascist militia groups

        Chickenhawk McNuggets.

    • LeeEsq

      Argentina during the late 19th and 20th century or Brazil in the First Republic or under Vargas is probably a closest analogy to how you see American fascism. Both had some rather feudal employment arrangements and were dominated by wealthy oligarchs. There were some places of prosperity like Buenos Aires in Argentina or Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro but lots of poverty. The political system was a ritualized pseudo-democracy.

  • DrDick

    I always enjoy (if that is the word I want to use) Dave’s take on these things. He really is the go to person for this.

  • Tracy Lightcap

    Ok, this is going to date me.

    We’ve seen all this before and in a much more dangerous context. Trump is another George Wallace, only nowhere near as good a speaker and nowhere near as good a politician. Wallace is the founder of modern US politics in more ways then one. He was the inventor of victimhood, barely concealed racism in political discourse, resentment politics (particularly against political and professional elites), and relentless attacks on a stronger federal government. Like Trump, Wallace was largely independent of party elites and knew it and, like Trump, he worked within one of the major political parties, appealing to virtually the same constituents and the same fears. But Wallace had much more support across party and regional lines then Trump does and a much more favorable environment for his views.

    Trump is a danger, but it is one we faced in the past. That doesn’t mean that we should be complacent, but it does mean that we shouldn’t over rate him either. He’s not a fascist in any reasonable sense of the word; he’s a standard American nationalist populist. He needs to be recognized and combatted as such. There are plenty of blueprints for doing so. And, remember, there’s nobody anywhere near as smart or as ruthless as Richard Nixon (Ted Cruz? You’re joking, right?) running in his party that knows how to cement Trump’s supporters to his efforts.

    • Jay B

      Wallace certainly didn’t invent victimhood, racist politics or resentment. He was a skilled practitioner of them, but so was his direct contemporary Nixon, who was even more successful. And certainly, racism was the standard vernacular for Wallace and his fellow Dixiecrats.

      • Tracy Lightcap

        Of course he didn’t invent them; they were already there in the culture. What George Corley did was mainstream them into American politics in their modern form. Nixon, who was no slouch on the politics of resentment himself, as Rick Pearlstein shows, took the themes Wallace used and morphed them into an extremely successful national political strategy. But Wallace had to put the possibilities for that on the table first.

        And two things: Wallace wasn’t a Dixiecrat; he supported Truman. Also, while Wallace used slightly disguised racism as part of his appeal, he was actually pretty opportunistic about this. After the Voting Rights Act, he campaigned strongly with black Alabamans, apologizing for his past actions and statements and swearing to make amends. And in his second term as governor he did, appointing more African Americans to state office then any governor before him. In short, he was personally racist, but that wasn’t strong enough a force for him to stick with it when he saw a political advantage in dropping it.

    • CP

      Wallace is the founder of modern US politics in more ways then one.

      Yep. Wallace himself had this to say about his campaign:

      “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, but nobody listened. Then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”

      If that doesn’t encapsulate American politics for the last fifty years, I don’t know what does.

  • Warren Terra

    I don’t know if he’s a fascist – I think he’s just an egotist; say what you will about fascism, at least it’s a terrible ideology. Still, it seems maybe he is committed to reviving the politics of the 1930s; after all, he went before the Republican Jewish Coalition 2016 candidate forum today and showed his colors as an antisemite:

    Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition 2016 candidate forum, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump repeatedly returned to a riff about being a good negotiator like “you folks.” He also said the attendees wouldn’t support him because “I don’t want your money.”

    Early in his remarks, he bragged about how little money he spent on his campaign thus far, adding, “I think you, as business people, will feel good about this and respect it.”
    ….
    “Some of us renegotiate deals… is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?” Trump said. “Perhaps more than any room I’ve ever spoken to,”

    • keta

      Is it wrong that this made me chuckle?

      Is it wrong for me to fervently hope Trump addresses the NOW, or a similar organization?

      • Warren Terra

        Is it wrong that this made me chuckle?

        Well, it’s funny until it stops being funny, right?

        I think we could argue that Trump stopped being funny months ago, when repeated incidents as bad as this failed to burst his bubble. Trump may remain inherently ludicrous and risible, but the Trump phenomenon, ie his followers, rather drain the humor from the situation.

        • keta

          Oh yeah. The phenomenon is dire, but the depths to which the clown that’s leading it continues to sink is phenomenal.

    • ChrisTS

      OMG.

  • CatoUticensis

    With all respect to David, I have to say I think he’s wrong here. Fascism is more than explicit white supremacism, and I think what’s forming around Trump is very much the core of a fascist movement. Eco’s essay on the topic remains on point to this day and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for perspective on this. Here’s a pertinent quote:

    Suppose there is a series of political groups in which group one is characterized by the
    features abc, group two by the features bcd, and so on. Group two is similar to group one
    since they have two features in common; for the same reasons three is similar to two and
    four is similar to three. Notice that three is also similar to one (they have in common the
    feature c). The most curious case is presented by four, obviously similar to three and two,
    but with no feature in common with one. However, owing to the uninterrupted series of
    decreasing similarities between one and four, there remains, by a sort of illusory
    transitivity, a family resemblance between four and one.

    Fascism became an all-purpose term because one can eliminate from a fascist regime one
    or more features, and it will still be recognizable as fascist. Take away imperialism from
    fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar. Take away colonialism and you still have
    the Balkan fascism of the Ustashes. Add to the Italian fascism a radical anti-capitalism
    (which never much fascinated Mussolini) and you have Ezra Pound. Add a cult of Celtic
    mythology and the Grail mysticism (completely alien to official fascism) and you have
    one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola.

    • Eco is interested in this kind of argument because it’s structurally identical to how a certain kind of person, whom he’s interested in, concludes there are conspiracy theories controlling history, etc. I think he may take it a little too far here. Nutjobs use something structurally similar to logic, but it would be a mistake to therefore dismiss any given logical argument as equivalent to nutjob reasoning.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Setting aside that Trump will be dropping out in the next 6 weeks (can you be a fascist and a performance artist simultaneously?), I’d say that he pretty clearly fails points 2, 9, 11, 12, and 14, with his failing of point 12 being particularly notable as the Republican party is otherwise all-in on point 12 these days. There’s also the fact that there’s no evidence that Trump is inspiring any sort of movement beyond himself — Republican officeholders aren’t endorsing him, nobody else AFAICT is running for office identifying as a “Trump Republican” or otherwise trying to affiliate themselves with him, conservative intellectuals overwhelmingly produce work product explaining why he’s a terrible candidate and not why he should be a model for other conservative politicians, etc.

    • rea

      Take away imperialism from
      fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar.

      Salazar was obviously an imperialist–Portugal had a bunch of colonies and a dirty colonial war under Salazarism. Franco’s Spain also had colonies in North Africa, which were Franco’s original base in the Civil War, and which he continued to fight to retain until the 70’s

  • Pseudonym

    …the incredible spike in mass shootings…

    Are you disagreeing with Campos and his citation? Do you have different data to back this up?

  • one of the blue

    To me the best historical analogue to Trump would be this guy. Karl Lueger was a man who used anti-semitism in much the same way as George Wallace used explicit racism and Trump uses anti-immigrant falsehoods.

    The problem is not Ted Cruz, really, at least I do not think it is. Instead the problem is some talented young man, like this one who figure out how to use what may be just a political game to a Wallace or a Trump, somebody who really believes the stuff they just spout, on behalf of far more directly sinister ends. What young potential fuehrer is listening right now, about whom folks may have to worry a great deal 20 or 30 years down the road?

  • Ktotwf

    Hasn’t the Right in the US been pushing the line that Fascism is a left wing thing? What exactly are the accusing Trump of being, then?

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Generally they’ve been accusing him of not being a real Republican (if not an outright Democrat) based on the left-of-the-Republican-mainstream parts of his platform combined with his history of donating to Democratic candidates and publicly associating with Democratic politicians.

  • j_kay

    But, isn’t all their Presidential field field running as neocon, that miss Mubarak and Pinochet? For neoconism is covert fascism. They’re in suit-camo, moatly polite and call thenselves neocons inateaed of fascists.

    DeLong wrote that alot of the sane people were open fascists, up to the ’70s.

    And we can’t what they’d do in office, except at worse than Shrub. because all are lybing, evil, and getting worse

    The bigget thing to win in politicss is charisma. That’s how Obama and Reagan got their jobs. That’s why predictably, the biggest charismatics have the lead now. Cruz has positive anticharisma, so why think he win?’ He won Texas by promising to care for the little. Yes, even here. .

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