Is Donald Trump a fascist? As of two weeks ago, I would have said no. But his recent statements have me worried, and even his fellow republicans have raised the F-word themselves. But what is fascism? According to Wikipedia:
Fascism /ˈfæʃɪzəm/ is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Influenced by national syndicalism, fascism originated in Italy during World War I, in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism. Fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism”. Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: “(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism and (iii) the myth of decadence”. Fascism is “a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism” built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist “armed party” politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.
Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”
Umberto Eco, Kevin Passmore, John Weiss, Ian Adams, and Moyra Grant, mention racism (including anti-semitism) as a characteristic of fascism; i.e. fascistic dictator Hitler idealized German society as a racially unified and hierarchically organized Volksgemeinschaft.
In 1947 after the 2nd World War, the US Government commissioned a series of films warning about the dangers of fascism. Below is one of the more well known films.
Nowadays, the term fascist has been mainly used as an insult. Let’s check the Donald’s recent statements against the definitions above. The following from Yahoo News:
Trump has never shied away from saying what he described in this instance as the “frankly unthinkable.” His campaign launch included a moment where he described immigrants from Mexico as “not the right people.” Trump would later warn that immigrants from south of the border included rapists and other criminals. These remarks sparked a national firestorm.
Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures. “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.” Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.
Today Trump was interviewed on Fox News, and instead of condemning this physical attack on a protester, he condoned it, saying, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” With the rise of Donald Trump, we’re seeing the descent of the Republican Party into outright fascism and violent Nazi-like behavior. Notice that the Fox News hosts don’t even blink when Trump condones violence against protesters; they just carry on with no reaction.
Here is another summary from RawStory:
Conventional wisdom holds that any one of Trump’s many outbursts would have sunk most politicians without a trace by now.
First there was the time he outraged prisoners of war by doubting the heroism of Vietnam veteran John McCain , because he allowed himself to be captured. Then there was the first television debate, where he appeared to accuse Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly of asking him tough questions because she was menstruating .
If POWs, Fox News and women were not enemies enough, Trump has also accused Mexican immigrants to the US of being rapists ; claimed that a Black Lives Matter protester who was violently ejected from a rally deserved to be “roughed up” ; appeared to mock a New York Times journalist for his disability and then accused the journalist of “ grandstanding ” on that disability in his response; falsely accused Muslim Americans of cheering on the 9/11 attackers; and agreed with suggestions that all such Muslims should have their names tracked on a database .
And just as critics began to argue that such comments about Muslims were brutal, racist demagoguery verging on fascism , Trump’s Twitter account recirculated racially charged but falsified crime statistics from an actual Nazi sympathiser .
And from David Neiwert:
Trump is clearly not fascist primarily because he lacks any kind of coherent, or even semi-coherent, ideology. What he represents instead is the kind of id-driven feral politics common to the radical right, a sort of gut-level reactionarism that lacks the rigor and absolutism, the demand for ideological purity, that are characteristic of full-bore fascism.
That does not, however, mean he is any less dangerous to American democracy. Indeed, he may be more dangerous than an outright fascist, who would in reality be far less appealing and far less likely to succeed in the current milieu. What Trump is doing, by exploiting the strands of right-wing populism in the country, is making the large and growing body of proto-fascists in America larger and even more vicious – that is, he is creating the conditions that could easily lead to a genuine and potentially irrevocable outbreak of fascism.
Personally, I’m not sure the Donald even recognizes that what he advocates is coming close to fascism, or even how unamerican it is. Is he a fascist or simply a right-wing demagogue using white supremacism as a stepping stone to the White House? Or if he is simply espousing fascist rhetoric for the votes and party nomination? Are the his followers the real fascists? What do you think?