Trump, Part 3: Fascist whelp

list of criteria may not be enough for some people. Some are not big on analytical definitions. Maybe you’re some sort of Heideggerian and I need to enter your welt, and only by “doing” can we “be”. Or maybe you’re a dogmatic empiricist and you require falsifiable predictions. Either way, fret not, Robert Paxton breaks fascism down into several stages of activity that will unfold:

Stage 1: A novel mixture of nationalism and syndicalism

This means, some semblance of unification:

“Fascism unites and arms the scattered masses.” – Leon Trotsky

And then some attempt at nationalism:

“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo” – Donald Trump

wolrd_military_spending_barchart_large
“We will completely rebuild our depleted military” – Donald Trump

Despite concerns that he is not militaristic enough, it is truly difficult to argue that Trump is in any way trying to truncate the military’s size or function.

Even so, this nationalism becomes fascist only under specific conditions, such as:

“When the social crisis takes on an intolerable acuteness, a particular party appears on the scene with the direct aim of agitating the petty bourgeoisie to a white heat and of directing its hatred and its despair against the proletariat.” – Leon Trotsky

Or in simpler parlance:

“Important elements of the conservative elite begin to cultivate [nationalism] as weapons against some internal enemy, such as immigrants” – Robert Paxton

Now compare with these non-sequitur Trump positions:

“[I’m] calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” – Donald Trump

“The overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics.” – Donald Trump

Stage 2: The political platform takes root

There are then specific mechanisms for the starting conditions for the movement:

“[Fascism] is a plebian movement in origin, directed and financed by big capitalist powers …Fascism comes only when the working class shows complete incapacity to take into its own hands the fate of society.” – Leon Trotsky

“[Fascist] success depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies seem to condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation.” – Robert Paxton

And there are specific conditions for the continued growth of the movement:

“Conservative leaders who felt threatened by the loss of their capacity to keep the population under control at a moment of massive popular mobilization; an advancing Left, and conservative leaders who refuse to work with that Left.” – Robert Paxton

 

Stage 3: Arriving in power

And there are specific conditions for the eventual success of a movement:

“The only route to power available to fascists passes through cooperation with conservative allies” – Robert Paxton

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“Fascism cannot appeal to the street without risking a confrontation with future allies – the army and the police  – without whom it will not be able to pursue its expansionist goals” – Robert Paxton

The Donald has seemed to have hit a snag at this point. But things may yet turn around. If we do elect Trump, we move on to stage 4 and stage 5. Let’s hope we don’t get there.

As a caveat to all this, we need to return to that old argument that fascism is too eagerly asserted. Aside from the fact that it’s a glib and canned remark, it’s also hard to judge the truth of such sentiments since there are variants as to which concrete form fascism will embody in any given place:

 “Each national variant of fascism draws its legitimacy, as we shall see, not from some universal scripture but from what it considers the most authentic elements of its own community identity. Religion, for example, would certainly play a much greater role in an authentic fascism in the United States than in the first European fascisms… An authentically popular fascism in the United States would be pious and antiBlack.” – Robert Paxton

So, it seems pretty clear. It walks like a duck, it talks like a duck, etc. Part of the problem in broadcasting this message is that those claiming the naked emperor has no clothes are tepid writers. There are better writers writing the same thing, but those are not as easy targets to pick off, so the Straw Men “conveniently” receive more attention. I’ve hinted at this before, and it should really only be shocking if you’ve never heard of Foucault and his ilk, i.e. you have a TV show yet all you’ve read is the Articles of Confederation and so you can’t keep up with your guests.

There are also some who are arguing for a different label, viz. a softer term like “corporate fascism”, in a sloppy argument closely akin to if-the-jack-boot-fits-you-must-acquit. They argue he’s a fascist, but he’s a kinder, gentler fascist so you can trust him. Not a great idea.

One final note on a too frequently heard argument: Trump is “just an act”. So this must mean that when you vote you’re going to evaluate a candidate NOT on their positions? In theory you can still have reasons to vote for someone without positions being those reasons. But in reality what’s left? Is there inner ding-an-sich that all GOP have access to? You need to stop projecting your hopes that if only the political stars align ever so correctly, then the fountain of youth and El Dorado will appear. Stop it. You’re shoving square pegs into round holes. This same logic goes hand in hand with those arguing that “we need someone to break the system”. What makes you think he’ll break it in the way you want it to break? Especially as he has so many contradictory stances through his life. Especially if you consider all of the campaign talk as “an act.” Especially if the risk of such an act entails bringing into power a fascist.

To Be Continued…

 

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