What a real US fascist movement would look like

Donald Trump is not intellectually, temperamentally or morally fit to be President of the United States.  If elected, he would do great harm to the United States and to the world.

Trump_1_21_againagainLike Hitler and Mussolini, he is contemptuous of laws, human rights or restrictions on mob violence.

But I don’t think he has a conscious goal of creating a fascist dictatorship, and, even if he did, he is not backed up by the kind of fascist movement that would make it possible.

A full-blown American fascist movement would have these characteristics:

  1.  A party line and strictly enforced party discipline.
  2.  An armed party militia.
  3.  A covert understanding with Wall Street.
  4.  A parallel structure of authority that superseded the legal governmental structure.


Here’s why Donald Trump and his followers don’t fit that profile..

  • A party line and strictly enforced party discipline.

Fascism in Italy and Germany was based on belief in the infallibility of a leader and a creed, as incoherent and inconsistent as that creed might be.  Donald Trump has a personality cult, but it falls far short of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s.

Trump is happy for people to just vote for him.  He doesn’t demand that they actually believe he will build a literal wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Tea Party movement is an example of a faction that is able to enforce discipline on elected officials.  Republicans fear going against Tea Party demands, no matter how unrealistic they may seem.  I know of no other existing grass-roots American movement that has that power.

To be clear, I am not a supporter of the Tea Party movement, but I don’t consider it to be fascistic.  It is anti-government, which is the opposite of fascist worship of the state.

  • An armed party militia.

authoritarianism9fd18cMussolini had his blackshirts and Hitler had his brownshirts, which beat up their political opponents and worse.  People who say that Hitler came to power through lawful, democratic means overlook this aspect of the Nazi movement.

Donald Trump uses violent language and sometimes people act on it, but he doesn’t have a uniformed, private militia of his own.  The next right-wing populist might well do so.

Right-wing militias in the West have tried to set themselves up as an alternative to government authority, setting up military checkpoints along highways and in general intimidating the citizenry through their armed presence.

Many states have laws that guarantee the right to openly carry firearms.  I can imagine a future right-wing populist leader that recruits gun-toting militia members to be his bodyguard and intimidate the unarmed public.

  • A covert understanding with Wall Street.

One definition of fascism is a coming together of government and corporate power.  Mussolini and Hitler came to power after secretly reassuring bankers and industrialists that, for all their seeming radicialism, they did not threaten their wealth.

American bankers and industrialists do not feel reassured by Donald Trump.  The Koch brothers are sitting out this election, and hint they wouldn’t be displeased if Clinton were elected.  The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is thinking of endorsing Clinton.  She gets more donations from Wall Street than he does.

  • A parallel structure of authority

A would-be dictator who comes to power through a mass movement has the problem of exercising control, especially of the military and the national police—the so-called “deep state”.  Trump is highly distrusted by the leaders of the U.S. “deep state” because of his unpredictability and lack of judgment.

Recall that Richard Nixon’s downfall over Watergate was partly because the CIA and FBI leaders opposed his attempt to engage in covert action on his own.  Bob Woodward’s “deep throat” was an FBI agent.  CIA, NSA and FBI leaders would have many ways to undermine a President Trump if he threatened their power.

Recall that the elected leaders of Germany’s Weimar Republic never were able to control the military or the national police, but the Nazis were.  They did so by placing loyal Nazis in the military, police and other government bureaucracies, and making these Nazis accountable not to their nominal superiors in government, but to the party hierarchy.

There is no organization in the USA with that capability—not yet.  Donald Trump is a lone demagogue, like Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, not the leader of a unified movement.

In the next four years, it is likely that there will be another severe recession, worse than the previous one, and, under either Trump or Clinton, it is very possible that the United States will get bogged down in another unwinnable quagmire war.

Hitler came to power partly on the basis of his promise to end unemployment, and partly on the basis of his claim that Germany lost the first World War because the military was stabbed in the back.  The USA would be vulnerable to a demagogue who made the same kind of promises and the same kind of claim.

I do think we Americans are more vulnerable to fascism than we think.  Donald Trump through his appeals to hate and prejudice has helped prepare the way for a real fascist.  But so have the Bush and Obama administrations, who have led us Americans to accept undeclared wars, extrajudicial killings and warrant-less surveillance.  The most dangerous threat is yet to come.


The Most Important Election of Your Life Is Not This Year by John Feffer for TomDispatch.  It will be the U.S. election of 2020 or 2024 when a really dangerous fascist-like candidate appears.  [added later]


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3 Responses to “What a real US fascist movement would look like”

  1. 61chrissterry Says:

    Reblogged this on 61chrissterry and commented:
    I uphold your reasoned statements and you are most like right about Trump.

    However, should our worst fears come true and Trump is elected, this could be the stepping stone for fascism to really come to the fore as you state.

    If Clinton wins, then depending on her policies, she could reunite America and diminish the rise of fascism.

    Certainly for the continued continuance of America and the world, we all need to ensure fascism is not the winner for this would be detrimental to all of us.


  2. thetinfoilhatsociety Says:

    Why is fascism evil? And can you please define how you are using it?


  3. philebersole Says:

    I go by the Merriam-Webster definition of fascism, which is as follows:

    Fascism: A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

    Some typical characteristics of fascism, as exemplified by Mussolini and Hitler, are:

    > Rule by a single leader through a single legal party
    > Absolute arbitrary power not limited by laws or constitutions
    > A party line to which all subjects are required to pay lip service
    > A party hierarchy, separate from government, business and other institutions, that exercises supreme power.
    > Extreme nationalism, usually accompanied by racism, xenophobia and/or religious persecution
    > Militarism and glorification of violence
    > Cult of the leader’s personality and glorification of the state
    > Contempt for democracy and individual rights.


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