Monday, September 24, 2018

Is Donald Trump a Fascist?

Image result for frankfurt school
Herbert Marcuse                                                                  Angela Davis

Anyone just returned from a visit to Mars or recently awakened from a two-year coma will be shocked to discover that America teeters on the precipice of a Fascist dictatorship. That’s correct. Donald Trump is a Fascist or at least a close approximation. That would be the message emanating from the Illuminati, folks like New York Times columnist, Peter Beinart with the question inquiring minds have been anxiously pondering: Is Trump a Fascist?

The piece opens:  “The list of Trump-era jeremiads keeps growing: ‘The Road to Unfreedom,’ ‘Can It Happen Here?,’ ‘Fascism: A Warning’ and now ‘How Fascism Works,’ a slim volume by the Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley that breezes across decades and continents to argue that Donald Trump resembles other purveyors of authoritarian ultranationalism.” I haven’t read Stanley’s slim and breezy book, but Beinart’s friendly review fails to convince me that it would be of much use in navigating the world of Fascism or be particularly enlightening about the nature of Trump’s plans for building an American Reich.  

Then there is Robin Wright writing for the New Yorker, “Madeleine Albright Warns of a New Fascism – and Trump.”   Fascism: A Warning” Albright wrote with the help of someone named Bill Woodward. The book, says Wright, is “both provocative and scary.” Provocative? I give up. Scary, though, is that someone of Albright’s supposed stature, a Georgetown University professor and a career diplomat who has toiled in the highest regions of world politics, would write something so embarrassingly juvenile and simple minded as the following.

“He [Trump] won the Presidency because he convinced enough voters in the right states that he was a teller of blunt truths, a masterful negotiator, and an effective champion of American interests. That he is none of those things should disturb our sleep, but there is a larger cause for unease. Trump is the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S. history.”

How is one to cope with the Trump-induced sleep disturbance? It is, of course, unprecedented that a politician would run for office, brag about how terrific he is at doing what he thinks the voters want him to do and then it is discovered that he is not quite up to it all. We know that pre-Trump, the guys who got themselves elected President were all straight arrows who did what they promised to do. Sure. At least Trump, unlike his immediate predecessor, confined himself to boasting about how great he would make America and did not promise to “heal the planet.” And, what is one to make of the howling non-sequitur, “Trump is the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S history”? Actually, I think there is a lot of competition for that distinction. FDR would be a top contender. When he ran for reelection in 1940 he promised the electorate, the voters that he knew wanted no part of the off-shore slaughter going on in Europe, to keep U.S. troops out of it, while secretly conniving with Churchill and British intelligence services to get America into the war. When it was over he and Winston gift-wrapped a big chunk of Europe for their comrade-in-arms, “Uncle Joe”, who we all know was a very democratic sort of fellow.

Albright’s “warning” gets even scarier: “He [Mussolini] used the term ‘drenare la palude,’ or ‘drain the swamp.’” Q.E.D. It’s settled: Trump is not only a Fascist but a shameless plagiarist as well. I’ll run the risk of ageism and suggest that Mrs. Albright at 80 years old should find a comfortable rocking chair, some knitting needles and send her ghost-writer, Bill Woodward off to do what he seems better equipped for – churning out term papers for lazy college kids.

The professors, the NYT scribblers, and Madeleine Albright clearly think they are on to something.   They have grasped what escaped the 62 million Americans who voted for Trump. Check that. Actually, Hillary Clinton realized that almost half the country was already flirting with Fascism. Late in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaign Clinton called Trump supporters “irredeemable … thankfully, not part of America.” Now, were someone to attempt to translate candidate Clinton’s slur into German it would not be too much of a stretch to use for “irredeemables” “Untermenschen,” supposedly a term favored by members of a political party in Germany of the 1930s to say of certain sorts of folks that they were “thankfully, not part of Germany.” So much for irony, apparently the grasp on which is not one of Mrs. Clinton’s strong suits.   

But back to the burning question: Is Trump a Fascist? Consider: Trump has never claimed to be a Fascist and most likely resents being called one. Remember that Mussolini (Fascism’s founder), Hitler (the German version), Oswald Mosley (the British version) – the original Fascists, the gold standard to which Trump is constantly compared – proudly announced themselves to the world as Fascists. They strutted around in black and brown uniforms, staged massive parades with banners, made the stiff-armed Roman salute every ten minutes, and bragged about how superior Fascists were to everyone else. While claiming superiority, mainly for himself, Trump has never called himself a Fascist. For a while he called himself a Democrat, rubbing shoulders with the Clintons, for a period he claimed to be an independent, and now he says he is a Republican. Moreover, why in the world would Trump, who worships success, “winners”, identify in any possible way with three colossal losers, guys whose careers terminated with suicide, a firing squad, and prison? Look how it turned out for George Lincoln Rockwell.

Perhaps Trump is secretly a Fascist. Times have changed. These days brandishing your Fascist bona fides is not a good career enhancement strategy, will not move you into many useful or sophisticated social circles and, not to mention, for guys a turnoff for most women. This doesn’t seem plausible either. One could not be a serious Fascist over a long period of time, even secretly, without giving some indications. Trump is 71 years old, and until he ran for President in 2015, no one seemed to have the slightest clue or fear that he was Mussolini redux, plotting the destruction of “our democracy.” And, that was after decades of being a high profile, New York City and media celebrity with a decadent playboy life style that invited national attention. That raises what seems to be an obvious question: after so many years with no indication, just when did Trump become a crypto-Black Shirt? People don’t typically, all of a sudden, become Fascists in their late 60s. Fascism is, or was, a young man’s sort of thing.  Mussolini, Hitler, and Mosley were all combat veterans from the WWI trenches, deeply disillusioned with the outcome, radicalized at relatively early ages in the aftermath and openly hostile to and alienated from their countries’ political establishment. Trump was an ambitious rich kid who skipped Viet Nam, became a workaholic hedonist, got even richer, then bored and turned to politics later in life, never alienated from American society, rather one of its more colorful jet-setters.  

Another possibility is that Trump is a Fascist but doesn’t know that he is one. Which would explain the son-in-law. So, whatever it is Trump thinks he is, he’s is confused, clueless or deluded and is acting like a Fascist without realizing it. Donald Trump doesn’t strike me be as a particularly introspective or self-reflective man, but I happen to opine that being a Fascist is a lot like being a Communist, a Socialist or a Feminist. You think and operate with a tightly (fanatically?) embraced set of priorities because you firmly believe the world is not currently the way it should be and you are determined to fix it. Many unflattering things can be said about Donald Trump, but “fanatic” is not one of them.

So, whatever President Trump is, rest assured, it is a safe bet that he is not a Fascist. He most certainly is a guy deeply unpopular with the smart set, those who best know how the current political fashion shows are supposed to unfold, who set the protocols and select those who get to call the shots. They are cultural snobs and professional moralists and virtue mongers whose favorite word is “democracy” but who actively despise the demos, the “irredeemables” who occasionally, as with Trump’s election, spoil the arranged outcome and defy their betters. “Fascist” is the worst the sophisticates can think of to call those who get in their way and crash their invitation-only parties, a word with powerful imagery connected to long dead men who now live timelessly as ontologized evil. There are many people to blame for getting us into this mess. At the top of my list are the Frankfurt boys who helped wreck the universities: Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, et al. Many of their disciples, unfortunately, are now running the show.