Trump, Part 1: Manqué Jughashvili

Let’s tackle that juiciest of cocktail party conversation topics: what makes Donald Trump tick? In the past I have called him a Stalinist, and I said I’d explore that in more detail, which  I intend to do now. It is apropos to call Trump a Stalinist as he has the cult of personality down pat. Likewise, the traditional Stalinist “one country” emphasis bears a strong likeness to European nationalism and current Juche, so comparisons to national palingenesis is apt. There is also a strong tendency to declare another an enemy for rather superficial reasons, like certain other personalities were wont to do.

Yes, I realize that’s Ulyanov and not Jughashvili. As Yakov Smirnoff has probably said: in Soviet Russia agitprop posts you.

However, all that being said, if we listen to the experts:

“Even if Stalin’s techniques of rule often resembled those of fascism, he did not have to concern himself with concentrations of inherited autonomous social and economic power…Fascist rule is unlike the exercise of power in either authoritarianism (which lacks a single party, or gives it little power) or Stalinism (which lacked traditional elites). Authoritarians would prefer to leave the population demobilized while fascists promise to win the working class back for the nation by their superior techniques of manufacturing enthusiasm.” – Robert O. Paxton

Other smart people have said:

“Italian fascism was certainly a dictatorship, but it was not totally totalitarian, not because of its mildness but rather because of the philosophical weakness of its ideology…[because]…by totalitarianism one means a regime that subordinates every act of the individual to the state and to its ideology.” – Umberto Eco

Trump isn’t taking the standard single-party-monolithic-ideology authoritarian route:

“[Bernie Sanders] supporters will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest single issue: trade deals” – Donald Trump, RNC speech

He’s also in support of elites and inherited concentrations of power:

“[My economic plan] will present a night-and-day contrast to the job-killing, tax-raising, poverty-inducing Obama-Clinton agenda.” – Donald Trump, Detroit Economic Club speech

With these things in mind, the Donald does seem to be outside of how one defines Stalinism. As I’ve said before, to paraphrase Susan Sontag, Stalinism is fascism with a human face. So maybe we’d be better served by looking at fascism…



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