Donald Trump May Not Be a Fascist, But He is Leading Us Merrily Down That Path

Roundup
tags: election 2016, Trump



David Neiwert is an investigative journalist based in Seattle and a contributing writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

... Scholars of fascist politics have remarked previously that America has been fortunate for most of its history not to have had such a figure rise out of the ranks of their fascist movements. And in the case of Donald Trump, that remains true – he has no background or history as a white supremacist or proto-fascist, nor does he actually express their ideologies.

Rather, what he is doing is mustering the latent fascist tendencies in American politics – some of it overtly white supremacist, while the majority of it is the structural racism and white privilege that springs from the nation’s extensive white-supremacist historical foundations – on his own behalf. He is merrily leading us down the path towards a fascist state even without being himself an overt fascist.

The reality that Trump is not a bona fide fascist himself does not make him any less dangerous. In some ways, it makes him more so, because it disguises the swastika looming in the shadow of the flamboyant orange hair. It camouflages the throng of ravening wolves he’s riding in upon.

There is little doubt that Trump is tapping into fascistic sentiments, which is why so many observers are now beginning to finally use the word in describing Trump’s campaign. From Rick Perlstein and Digby and Chauncey deVega (as well as a number of other writers at Salon) to Thom Hartmann at AlterNet to the typically staid Seattle Times, “fascism” is the word more and more people are using in relation to the campaign that Trump is running. Even some of his fellow conservatives are beginning to use the word.

And they have a valid point, because Trump fills out so many of the key components that collectively create genuine fascism. And while it’s true that, as Josh Marshall suggests, there really is no single, agreed-upon definition of fascism, there’s also no doubt that we can grasp the idea of fascism not just by studying its history, but also by examining the various attempts at understanding and defining just what comprises fascism. And in doing so, we can recognize exactly what it is that Trump is doing.

What it’s decidedly not, no matter what you might have read, is the simple-minded definition you’ll see in Internet memes attributed to Benito Mussolini: “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” As Chip Berlet has explained ad nauseam, not only did Mussolini never say or write such a thing, neither did the fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, to whom it is also often attributed.

For one thing, as Berlet explains: “When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations. He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds.” ...




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