Monday, July 27, 2015

Just Because Trump Espouses Fascism, That Doesn't Make Him Wrong About Scott Walker


According to a new CNN poll, only a third of Republicans wish that Trump would quit the GOP race and he's the candidate most GOP voters say they want to see on the debate stage. 22% of Republicans say they think he'll be the eventual party nominee.
Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, 52% say they want Trump to stay in the race for the party's nomination, while 33% hope that he drops out. Another 15% say they'd like to see him make an independent run for the presidency.

...The majority of those Republicans surveyed that wants Trump to remain in the race includes numbers of those seen as the core of the GOP primary electorate: 58% of white evangelicals, 58% of conservatives, and 57% of tea party supporters.
Not only is Trump still #1 in the national polls, he is leading in New Hampshire and coming in second in Iowa, after Scott Walker. Writing for Newsweek, Jeffrey Tucker makes the case-- without any kind of stretch at all-- that Trump is a fascist and his appeal to the Republican base isn't unlike the appeal Mussolini and Hitler made to conservatives in the 1930s. "I just heard Trump speak live," he wrote. "The speech lasted an hour, and my jaw was on the floor most of the time."
I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety... His speech was like an interwar séance of once-powerful dictators who inspired multitudes, drove countries into the ground and died grim deaths.

Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.

Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.

You would have to be hopelessly ignorant of modern history not to see the outlines and where they end up. I want to laugh about what he said, like reading a comic-book version of Franco, Mussolini or Hitler. And truly I did laugh as he denounced the existence of tech support in India that serves American companies (“how can it be cheaper to call people there than here?”-- as if he still thinks that long-distance charges apply). But in politics, history shows that laughter can turn too quickly to tears.

...Because Trump is the only one who speaks this way, he can count on support from the darkest elements of American life. He doesn’t need to actually advocate racial homogeneity, call for whites-only signs to be hung at immigration control or push for expulsion or extermination of undesirables. Because such views are verboten, he has the field alone, and he can count on the support of those who think that way by making the right noises.
Remember, Mussolini's ghostwriter and ideological philosopher, Giovanni Gentile, once said, "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power," which sounds not just like Trumpism but like what most Republicans seem to believe in.

What Democrats seem to enjoy most about Trump's crackpot campaign are his unprecedented attacks against his GOP opponents. In many cases he's saying exactly what Democrats believe but that their own candidates and elected officials are "too polite" to say out loud. The latest victim of Trump's rage is the man standing between himself and a first place finish in Iowa, the governor of the neighing state, Scott Walker.
On Saturday Trump went for the hat trick, gleefully insulting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker because one of Walker’s fundraisers called the billionaire real estate mogul “DumbDumb.”

“Finally, I can attack!” Trump said at a packed rally at Oskaloosa High School. “Wisconsin’s doing terribly. It’s in turmoil. The roads are a disaster because they don’t have any money to rebuild them. They’re borrowing money like crazy. They projected a $1 billion surplus, and it turns out to be a deficit of $2.2 billion. The schools are a disaster. The hospitals and education was a disaster. And he was totally in favor of Common Core!”

The mention of the state-driven education standards-- from which Walker, like many Republican governors, has walked away-- incited a prolonged boo. That was not enough for Trump, who told a story about Walker giving him a “beautiful plaque” out of gratitude for campaign donations and wondered if “Wisconsin paid for it.”

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At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The responsible, mainstream, liberal media hate Trump. They were sure that his insults of McCain would kill him. They didn't. As Boehlert points out, since the press hasn't taken notice of the GOP's gallop into right-wing extremism and brainless tribalism, this lack of effect - and voter affect - is blowing their minds.

But you know what? Newsweek calling Trump a fascist is several days day late and many dollars short. No two political "scientists" that I know of agree on the definition, so I feel free to point out that an economy based on war and preparation for war, extreme rhetoric about nationalism, the destruction of civil liberties, and a tight alliance between government and large corporations characterized fascist Italy, fascist Germany - and increasingly, the US since World War II, with the piquant qui rehausse la sauce of racism in the German National Socialist Workers' Party and the US Republican Party.

If you read hard enough beyond the Donald's rhetoric the media love to quote, you will discover that Trump is denouncing US politicians' gutless servitude to the moneyed interests as embodied in the lobbying class. Since the US' responsible, mainstream, liberal media are also servants of these interests, they find this alarming. As Bill Curry points out, maybe Hillary and even Bernie could use a little more understanding of this endemic corruption in US politics.

Naturally, they will focus on Trump's failure to properly identify why call centers in India are practical. But his dislike of them - vs. the ones employing South Dakota farm wives who did this work twenty years ago - matches my own and a lot of other people's. It's not based on a dislike of Indians. It's a concern for the fact that they have jobs my fellow citizens used to have - and that hurts me while benefitting the megacorps that moved the jobs to India. Of course they will portray, as pretty much all Democrats do, denunciations of a too-loose border, as racist, but as far as I am concerned, no nation which doesn't control its borders can really be called a nation.
I look forward to the day that all of mankind holds hands and sings kumbaya together. But in the meanwhile, too many Americans are unemployed for me to support the idea of moving all of our productive economy to China, all of our call centers to India and the Philippines, using the H1-B Visa program to undercut America programmers' and nurses' salaries, and permitting foreigners to keep wages at the bottom of the American wage scale low so that agribusiness can make nice profits denying a living wage to American agricultural workers a living wage. The Donald is saying things bombastically that are closely related to things I support. I suppose that makes me a racist or a paleo-nationalist or something. No matter.

At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I sympathize and agree with much of what you've said, but there are a few 'if onlys' I'd like to add. If only Trump were sincere. If only Trump wasn't his OWN best lobbyist. If only Trump actually cared about any of these issues he's partly accurate about. If only if he really intended to do anything about them. If only he weren't a Mussolini- and Berlusconi-scale bully and buffoon. If only he didn't have a temperament barely shy of a rabid raging bull. If only Trump wasn't such a warmongering obsessive.

If you really want a pro-American jobs president, you'd be for Bernie. Cause he's sincere and consistently for the things Trump was deadset against only four years ago. Not that I'm strictly for Bernie, cause I'm not. I'm for whomever can get elected who embodies the best possibility of creating well-paid sustainable American jobs and bringing home the outsourced jobs worth having - and factories!

And speaking of a nation controlling its borders, your dream is a fantasy. There has never been a nation in control of its borders in the history of the world. The closest was East Germany. You'd have to put heads on pikes lining desert trails in this country to 'control the border' here, with machine-gun emplacements, mines, and Predators and Reapers by the 100's night and day, all shooting to kill, and 1,000's of heavily armed patrol boats shooting to kill. I assume you're not a monster who would be in favor of this. If you are, then there's no hope of dialogue with an amoral monster, so goodbye.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Trump isn't sincere. Do you think Hillary is sincere in her current leftward rhetorical swing? Do you think Hillary isn't a warmonger? Not to mention the entire Republican Party? Of course I support Bernie. As to "controlling borders" there is a big difference between Stasi-style 100% control and something much better than the massive and intentional loose borders followed by amnesty which has characterized the last 40 or so years and which consistently undercuts American wages. I am sure even you can see that.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing Tucker gets right is: "The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate. ¶ Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away."

The notion that Trump is the only fascist among current (no to mention prior) presidential candidates is perhaps Tucker's attempt to immediately hide the reality that he blurted out.

It's not clear what Tucker expects from any of the other GOP candidates as president, especially with a GOP-controlled congress. See also Generalisssima Clinton's recent, tortuously garbled, refusal to endorse a bill by Sen Warren to reinstate the essential provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act. She is an acceptable tool to the 0.01% to maintain and strengthen their control of the government.

We have an ever-tightening amalgam of corporate & governmental power. The supreme court installed the "1st CEO president." The capitalists' money is speech and their corporations have been declared persons with (as Ralph Nader explained decades ago) all the privileges of (biological) personhood (in a representative democracy) and virtually NONE of the obligations. Days ago the House passed a preemptive bill forbidding any state from requiring labeling of GMO-conatining food.

After the spineless Dems handed over the 2010 midterm, and a total of 30 GOP governorships, the miracle of "creative" redistricting has swung massive Dem majorities in congress and led to a wave of voter suppression measures. When the SCOTUS gutted the 1960's voting rights act, "law enforcement" has assumed that it was the opening of hunting season on black people, our favorite Jews.

The essence of fascism, as I understand it, is 1) a rabid nationalism as in "We ARE #1" and 2) a sense of "renewal," whether "get rid of the black guy" or "it's time for a woman president - like the black guy worked out so well."

We qualify in the essentials and, reading Britt's*** list, we also indisputably exhibit all "incidental" characteristics of fascism.

We didn't defeat fascism in WWII, we merely performed a shuffling of upper management. Hitler's hell is seeing the military and economic empire that we achieved by pushing him aside.

The issue isn't which candidate is fascist but, rather, is there a candidate who can deliver us from a society that is is fact completely opposite of what it claims to be.

John Puma

*** abbreviated list follows, annotated version follows

Britt’s 14 characteristics of fascism - lifted from a Raw comment

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

4. Supremacy of the Military

5. Rampant Sexism

6. Controlled Massed Media

7. Obsession with National Security

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

9. Corporate Power is Protected

10. Labor is Suppressed

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

14. Fraudulent Elections

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Britt's characteristics of fascism. Items 1-5
(now behind a pay wall -

Edited due to file size limitations and there are three postings.

John Puma

Fascism Anyone?
by Laurence W. Britt

Fascism's principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite "spontaneous" acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists." Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Britt's characteristics of fascism. Items 6-10

Second of three postings.

John Puma


6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the "godless." A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of "have-not" citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Britt's characteristics of fascism. Items 11-14

Third of three postings.

John Puma

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. "Normal" and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or "traitors" was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Dice said...

Chiming in a little late. I live in Wisconsin, and work at Walker-targeted UW-Madison. I have read through this list of criteria many times over the last few years, and I personally, having witnessed the process in minute detail and close up, cannot escape the conviction that there is no other name for it. Call it corporatism or fascism, it's happening from the town council level to the U.S. Congress.

The taint and the damage will likely last for generations.


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