Are we grossly underestimating what we are up against in Trump? Increasingly millions of our fellow citizens are supporting concepts of fascism against which the typical liberal prescriptions have no chance of success.
Given the current state of the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton there is little cohesion between the Clinton wing (which I would describe as Republican Lite) and the progressive Sanders wing of the party. And it seems to me that the intellectual activists of the party are completely out of touch with the common man.
So how best to describe Trump? Shall we call him an authoritarian populist or a fascist – a distinctly American one? Considering Trump’s support for the Republican agenda it is impossible in my mind to consider him a “populist”. And if indeed our democracy, which has eroded over the past 20 years, progresses to outright fascism, what is the mode of behavior for a man or woman of conscience under a dictatorship?
Yes I know. Using the word “fascism” to describe our current situation brands me a “hysterical liberal.” Indeed America is very different from the historical fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
“Italy was a weak state, certainly militarily so, and had been undergoing serious strife between labor and capital in the years immediately preceding Mussolini’s takeover. When Mussolini asserted Italy’s grievances against the so-called “plutocratic powers” (above all Britain and France), he was arguing from a position of weakness. Germany was a much stronger state, obviously, in the military, economic and cultural sense, but Hitler’s aim was also to become the world’s greatest power, even if starting from a position much stronger than Italy’s.”
America, when it started going down the fascist road (which many would say coincided with the termination of the Cold War), was already the world’s undisputed dominant power, arguably stronger than any empires ever were, in relative terms, at their peak. The American right has been whining over “grievances” (against internal and external abusers) in a nation of unparalleled strength. That is a remarkable deviance from past fascist models.
“Modern capitalism has a tendency to fall into the fascist style from time to time, and maybe this became inevitable for us once the Soviet Union fell and there was no ideological check on American capitalism. Europe had been trending strongly toward global cosmopolitanism, which might have ended up being a transitional stage toward worldwide democratic socialism. But America, in resurrecting an imaginary global Islamic enemy (an enemy which can not possibly defeat this country) for the past 20 years has probably done irrevocable damage to the global cosmopolitan agenda.”
While no one on this planet stands a chance of overthrowing the government of the United States anytime soon, millions of our people are running scared as if the Islamic armies of the new Saladin were at the gates of Jerusalem. The answer from Trump is more defense spending and a major upgrade for our atomic arsenal.
“The liberals who so eagerly supported Hillary Clinton, and were so adamant against Bernie Sanders’ meager demands for a modicum of democratic socialist reforms, will be relieved to know that Tom Perez, Barack Obama’s labor secretary and an exemplary neoliberal, has now triumphed over Sanders’ choice, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a true progressive who would have set the Democratic Party on a different path.”
So much for “resistance.” If you don’t accept things as they are you will get something much, much worse. That’s where we are today looking back with nostalgia to the years of Obama, Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush. Neither of the two parties truly represents the people of this country and haven’t for quite some time.
We got Obama and what did we accomplish? At the state and local levels, more overtly fascist politicians are in control in almost unprecedented numbers, recalling earlier segregationist eras. Human rights, particularly immigrant rights, are more compromised by far than they were at the beginning of the Obama administration. The same goes for any measure of democracy or equality. And I had such high hopes eight years ago.
Now there are calls for massive “civil resistance.” Marches and protests are fine, but that is pretty much the level where the liberal activists seem comfortable. General strikes? The strike announced for Feb. 17 encountered immediate resistance from those among the old petty bourgeoisie who, while “fighting fascism” cannot imagine taking a day off from work, which would interfere with their routine “obligations.” How about a weekend of protests with friends?
“In order for civil resistance to work, people have to put their bodies on the line, have to court mass arrests, have to gum up the works and grind down the machinery of fascist oppression to a halt.”
We are not up to the challenge. When the police tell everyone to go home, we all do.
As for the internet, if we are up against a true fascist then the internet is of little help. It makes us feel better to vent; to feel better about ourselves. But that’s about it. Nobody in government gives a rat’s ass what we write about here. Yet.
Fascism now has a charismatic leader and the potential of a fascist militia, the first of which has come true and the second of which now seems a real possibility.
America is on the road to outright fascism but is also the world’s strongest power. We already possesses total capacity to destroy any entity, internally and externally. It is possible that resistance only strengthens the regime. Resistance gives the regime something to fight against. Fascism needs an enemy to build itself against.
In one month Trump has attacked the courts, the media, liberals, immigrants and is now accusing Obama of being behind the recent demonstrations at town hall meetings. He has lied repeatedly and accepts no form of criticism. How can one “resist” when the only political entity available is a Democratic party which began abandoning the working man 20 years ago; a working class itself which no longer possesses identity or solidarity, splintered by identity politics?
Would we have Trump if Hillary had not run? I doubt it. But this is not to blame Hillary. When they had the chance during the primaries, the entire party establishment supported Clinton over Sanders. Though they may be suppressing their true leanings for the moment one senses the Clinton supporters are more than ready to take the fight to the Sanders camp, as soon as the opportunity presents itself again.
Meanwhile urban liberals continue to speak humorously with a smirk as if we all share their upper class urban backgrounds. Culture matters. In fact, in politics, it’s all that matters. That’s why pollsters know who you’re voting for by the music you listen to, the neighborhood you live in and a thousand other elements that have nothing to do with whether or not you read the news.
Hillary and her supporters blamed the poor for her disastrous defeat. Not the urban poor. We blamed hillbillies, rednecks, trailer trash, the prep-school code for poor people. The upper class urban liberals blamed the rural poor. How, we asked, could they vote for someone so opposed to their own interests?”
As if we always had their interests at heart. Or indeed know what their interests are.
At the onset of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s the journalist Slavenka Drakulic warned against the resurfacing of terrible simplifiers. “Once the concept of “otherness” takes root” she wrote sadly “the unimaginable becomes possible.” It is a concept which should kept in mind.
Millions of us, unable to find a way to effectively resist in the most powerful nation the world has ever known, will disengage. We will find our happiness in spite of impending dictatorship as tens of millions of Italians and Germans had to do. Maybe the young, realizing that there is nothing exceptional about this country will leave for Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Europe at the start of the next war and make their lives elsewhere.
We will follow our conscience and disengage from American fascism. Without leadership it is all we can do.