There is a playbook from the 1930s that some people in the presidential administration are following. This includes picking a minority in your country, associate it with a global threat and use the notion of a global struggle as a way to create national solidarity while neglecting the nation’s actual problems.
Posts Tagged ‘Fascism’
For years, I’ve been listening to warnings of the threats of new Hitlers.
Back in the 1950s, Joe McCarthy supposedly was equivalent Hitler. Then George Wallace. Richard Nixon. Dick Cheney. Now Donald Trump is the latest Hitler equivalent.
The problem is that Donald Trump can refute his enemies by simply not behaving like Hitler.
He can run an administration that is more corrupt than the Harding or Grant administrations. He can be the enemy of organized labor, civil rights, civil liberties and women’s rights. He can destroy the social safety net. He can make the government more plutocratic and militaristic than it already is.
But as long as he does not embark on genocide or world conquest, he meets the standard of not being equivalent to Hitler.
I don’t see night-and-day differences between Donald Trump and the mainstream of the Republican Party on most issues. On some few but important issues, such as relations with Russia or pro-corporate trade treaties, I think Trump is better than either the Democratic or Republican established leadership.
If you’re a liberal or progressive activist, there are better uses of your time that reading up on the Weimar Republic or making checklists of the characteristics of fascism.
Telling people that Trump is equivalent to Hitler makes it easy for Trump because (1) it’s unconvincing and (2) it shifts the focus to historical parallels and away from Trump himself.
A few weeks ago, Democrats and liberals ridiculed Donald Trump for saying he might not accept the results of the Presidential election, and hinting of protests and riots if it was rigged against him.
Clinical psychologists in New York City and elsewhere are flooded with calls from people who need help coping with their fear of Donald Trump. Little Hispanic and Muslim children are terrified that Trump supporters are going to come after them.
They literally believe that the election of Donald Trump is equivalent to the election of Adolf Hitler.
I don’t want to make light of these fears. I think people really are afraid.
Trump’s election was a bad thing. A lot of people are going to be hurt because of the Trump administration (for that matter, many would have suffered under a Hillary Clinton administration).
American democracy survived Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy. I am confident it will survive Donald Trump. I highly recommend watching the 12-minute Ian Welsh video above and reading the links below for perspective.
Trying to negate the Electoral College vote is a terrible idea. The effort is bound to fail, and will discredit future demands by liberals and Democrats to respect the rule of law. Even if it succeeded, it would set a bad precedent of setting aside election results by fair means or foul.
The Electoral College has existed for more than 200 years. It is what it is because of a compromise that was necessary to create a United States in the first place. Progressive and liberal presidents have been elected in the past through the Electoral College system and have just as much chance of being elected in the future.
Like 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:
- A party line and strictly enforced party discipline.
- An armed party militia.
- A covert understanding with Wall Street.
- A parallel structure of authority that superseded the legal governmental structure.
Here’s why Donald Trump and his followers don’t fit that profile..
Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas? and other great political books, took the trouble to listen for himself to several hours of Trump speeches (which I confess I have never done).
I saw the man ramble and boast and threaten and even seem to gloat when protesters were ejected from the arenas in which he spoke. I was disgusted by these things, as I have been disgusted by Trump for 20 years.
But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing.
Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about … trade.
It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.
Trump embellished this vision with another favorite left-wing idea: under his leadership, the government would “start competitive bidding in the drug industry”. (“We don’t competitively bid!” he marveled – another true fact, a legendary boondoggle brought to you by the George W Bush administration.)
Lambert Strether, a blogger who helps with the naked capitalism web log, says college-educated liberals are making a big mistake to dismiss Donald Trump’s followers as ignorant, racist or fascistic, and nothing more
He wrote that history – the history of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and the reign of the Ku Klux Klan in the Old South – teaches that people turn to fascist movements when they’ve suffered damage – military defeat, economic devastation and, above all, psychic damage.
Germans and Italians in World War One, and white Southern Americans in the Civil War, suffered military defeat, economic devastation and, worst of all, humiliation. What kind of damage have Donald Trump’s followers suffered?
Speculating freely, I’m guessing we’ve got several overlapping subsets in Trump’s following, with damage common to them all.
- First overlap: The cohort described by Yves [Smith] in this post: “‘Stunning’ Rise in Death Rate, Pain Levels for Middle-Aged, Less Educated Whites”; “488,500 deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013,” had the death rate continued to fall at its previous rate of decline. That’s a lot of organic damage.
- Second overlap: The “working class whites” whose jobs and communities were destroyed by the neo-liberal dispensation that began in the mid-70s, given that “less educated” is a proxy for working class. More damage there.
- Third overlap: Military personnel who were sent, by elites, to fight and lose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many of whom (thanks to the wonders of modern battlefield medicine) came back to their families and communities terribly wounded (not to mention with post-traumatic stress). More damage.
- Fourth overlap: The “bitter”/”cling to” voters (explicitly) thrown under the bus by Obama’s faction when it took control of the Democratic Party in 2008 (with results that we saw in the failure to ameliorate the foreclosure crisis, and the administration’s successful shrinkage of the workforce, as shown by the labor force participation rate). More damage.
So Democratic apparatchiks can recycle 2008’s racism tropes all they want — identity politics is all they know, after all — but at best they’re over-simplifying, and at worst they’re destroying the dream of “uniting lower- and middle-income Americans on economic issues.”
Again, add up the decades of organic damage. My anger would be bone deep. And justified. Wouldn’t yours? Trump, and maybe Sanders, are speaking to that anger. Today’s Democratic establishment is not.
Source: naked capitalism
My friend Hal and I were in a coffee shop the other day. Hal remarked that if somebody set off a car bomb in the parking lot and blew us all to smithereens, that would be an act of terrorism.
But, he went on to say, if somebody dropped a bomb from 15,000 feet into the parking lot and blew us all to smithereens, that also would be an act of terrorism.
And it would be an act of terrorism even if we were foreigners with brown skins and Arabic names.
This is so obviously true that I am continually amazed at how many people I know, including self-described liberals, that are unable to see this.
If killing civilian bystanders is terrorism when Muslims do it at ground level, it is terrorism when Americans and Europeans do it from the air.
An Idiot’s Guide to Why They Hate Us by Paul Street for Counterpunch.
Terrorism: Sayed Ali Khamenei’s Letter to Youth in Western Countries [added 12/23/2015]
Via Notes to Ponder.
Tommy Douglas, as virtually all Canadians know, was the father of Medicare in Canada, which was first introduced in Saskatchewan and then rolled out into Canada as a whole. Canadian Medicare inspired U.S. Medicare, but it covers almost all Canadians while the U.S. plan only covers the 65 and older population.
Douglas was a champion of civil liberties. As a member of Parliament, he had the courage in 1970 to refuse to support the War Measures Act, which, in response to terrorist activity in Quebec, expanded police and military powers and curtailed civil liberties throughout Canada.
In 2004, Douglas was voted the greatest Canadian in a nationally televised CBC contest.
Thrown Out of Court: How corporations became people you can’t sue by Lina Khan for The Washington Monthly.
Individual Americans are losing their right to sue large corporations by means of “terms of service” contracts that customers and employees are required to sign as a condition of doing business. By signing these contracts, individuals give up their right to take their complaints to a judge and jury and instead agree to abide by the decision of a corporate-friendly arbitrator.
Corporations have been complaining for years about the burden of litigation, and, back in the day, I fell for this. But even then, the courts were busier with lawsuits by corporations against each other than they were lawsuits by individuals or by class-action suits.
Owners and managers of corporations already have a privilege denied to ordinary citizens, which is limited liability for their debts and fines. We are getting far beyond the question of whether corporate entities have the same rights as individuals. By means of this 21st century version of the “yellow-dog contract,” they are becoming mini-governments.
Hillary Clinton forgets the ’90s: Our latest gilded age and our latest phony populists by Thomas Frank in Salon.
When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, he ran as the advocate of working people against the corporate interests who didn’t play by the rules. What we got was Ronald Reagan with some of the sharp edges filed off. As Thomas Frank wrote in Salon today, the Clinton Presidency was an era of corporate mergers, financial deregulation, downsizing of government and NAFTA
That’s what we’re likely to get from a Hillary Clinton presidency, too. She voices the same populist rhetoric and has the same corporate allegiances.
The floor is open by Psychopolitik.
How committed are we Americans to democracy? A Gallup poll indicates a “no confidence” vote in the institutions of democracy. The institution in which Americans have the most confidence (74%) is the military and the one in which we have the least confidence is Congress (7%). A majority lack confidence in the Presidency and the Supreme Court, but they have confidence in the police.
If I didn’t know better, I’d take that for a poll of Italians just prior to Mussolini’s march on Rome.
U.S. Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing by Olga Khazan for The Atlantic.
If the U.S. spending per person for medical care were the same as a typical industrial nation, our annual health care budget would be more than $1 trillion less. That’s the equivalent to the gross domestic product of Spain, out of which a nation of 47 million people feed, clothe, shelter, educate and amuse themselves, and, yes, also provide medical care.
I said his policies were failures, but from Mao’s standpoint, maybe they weren’t. Like Stalin’s agricultural collectivization policies in the 1930s, they have have caused death and suffering, but they enabled the government to tighten its grip over the nation’s food supply and its population.
Why, then, does Hitler stand alone as a symbol of evil? I think that one reason is that Hitler is a defeated enemy. If Nazi Germany had won the Second World War, and if there were a powerful government in existence today that was the heir of Hitler’s regime, there would still be apologists for Hitler.
The other reason is the difference between the appeal of fascism and Communism. Fascists for the most part are racists, elitists and thugs. Communists for the most part are defenders of labor rights and civil rights.
Throughout the 20th century, members of the American Communist Party became disillusioned when they discovered that Communist regimes in fact suppress labor rights and civil liberties. I never heard of a member of the American Nazi Party becoming disillusioned because they discovered the Nazis were insufficiently racists and thuggish.
I don’t think that Communists—the ones outside actual Communist countries—are as bad as fascists. Many have fought courageously for civil rights, labor rights and other things I believe in myself. The worst you can say of them is that they have been willfully blind to horrible things.
But Communism is the more insidious ideology. It is one thing to recruit racists and thugs to defend a cruel totalitarian dictatorship. It is a far worse thing to persuade people who believe in democracy and workers’ rights to justify the crimes of a totalitarian dictatorship.
Since there has been a lot of talk about neo-Nazis and fascists in Ukraine, it’s worth remembering that the Nazis killed millions of Ukrainians as well as Belorussians, Poles and other Slavs during the Second World War.
The Nazis regarded Ukrainians and other Slavs as sub-human, and that their long-range plan was to open up Ukraine as “living room” for the German population by killing or starving the majority of Ukrainians and reducing the rest to slaves and serfs.
Ukrainians suffered as much or more than Russians did from the Nazis, because the German army occupied all of Ukraine but only a tiny portion of Russia proper. Ukrainians in the Red Army against the Nazis as valiantly as any of Soviet peoples.
I briefly had a Ukrainian roommate, actually a naturalized Canadian citizen, when I was in college in the 1950s. Lubaslaw was a teenager when the Nazis consquered Ukraine. He ran away to join the partisan resistance fighters, and this enabled him to survive. He told me of watching from a hiding place as German soldiers lined up all the members of his high school and shot them dead in reprisal.
He also told me that many Ukrainians initially welcomed the German invasion. That is because during the 1930s, the Stalin regime also killed and starved millions of Ukrainians. Stalin ordered targeted killings and deportations to force labor camps of prosperous farmers (kulaks) and confiscated Ukrainian harvests and let millions of Ukrainians die in order to force them into collective farms. The government-controlled collective farms were an ineffective system for farming, but a highly effective system for keeping control of the population.
Older Ukrainians remembered the German occupation during World War One as comparatively benign, and were understandably willing to welcome the Germans back. They soon learned they had gone from the devil they knew to the devil they didn’t know.
I find it hard to believe that, in the light of this history, that there is a substantial neo-Nazi following in Ukraine. I have no direct knowledge, and I could be wrong, but I find it hard to believe. Anybody who identifies with the Nazis is ignorant of the historical record and blinded by hate, but this would be especially true of Ukrainians and for that matter Russians.
President Obama has come under attack from the right-wing for pressuring BP into setting up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Yes, they say, it may be a good idea, but President Obama has no constitutional or legal authority to tell the managers of a corporation to do the right thing. According to columnist Thomas Sowell, he is putting us on the slippery slope to fascism.
The other day the Coast Guard announced new rules imposing $40,000 fines and prison terms of one to five years on reporters who come too close to the BP oil spill. I’m not aware of anything in the Constitution or the laws that gives the Coast Guard the power to regulate the press.
This follows many reports of local law enforcement and Homeland Security officials acting as enforcers for BP in restricting news coverage. These reports do not involve public safety or interference with the cleanup work; they’ve even banned planes from flying over the oil spill sites. This suppression of documentary evidence will be important to BP later on when it has to defend itself against lawsuits.
If I was going to draw analogies with fascism, this is the example I would use.