Summary: Campaign 2016 is the most ideological election since 1982, perhaps since McKinley-Bryan in 1896 (our most expensive election). Rather than deal with these issues, and the serious reasons to oppose Trump, the Left prefers to focus on bogus condemnations of him as “fascist”. This preference for cartoon-like fantasy over messy reality is why they have been losing to the Right (& its hard focus on money and power) for generations.
During the past generation the Left has fallen into the lazy habit of attempting to defeat its foes by declaring them as illegitimate — rather than addressing what they say. The Left fires off labels such as racist, deniers, sexists, or fascists — with an increasingly flimsy basis for these accusations. These efforts have become futile through repetition and now only further diminish their influence in America,. The faithful thrill at these chants while they are ignored by the larger public. It’s a way to avoid debating serious issues. it’s another way to lose.
The rise of Trump and populism brings forth another round of knee-jerk claims. Authoritarian! NAZI! Hitler! These words have been drained of meaning by generations of mindless use, an now mask the serious reasons to oppose Trump and conceal the overlap between populism and progressivism that might lead to an alliance capable of winning (which neither can do by itself).
Dylan Matthews consults experts, whose analysis will end this daft comparison in the reality-based community (which unfortunately has little overlap with today’s Left — or Right — in America).
By Dylan Matthews at VOX.
Excerpt; it’s worth reading in full.
To be blunt: Donald Trump is not a fascist. “Fascism” has been an all-purpose insult for many years now, but it has a real definition, and according to scholars of historical fascism, Trump doesn’t qualify. Rather, he’s a right-wing populist, or perhaps an “apartheid liberal” in the words of Roger Griffin, author of The Nature of Fascism. He doesn’t want to overthrow the existing democratic system. He doesn’t want to scrap the Constitution. He doesn’t romanticize violence itself as a vital cleansing agent of society. He’s simply a racist who wants to keep the current system but deny its benefits to groups he’s interested in oppressing.
Griffin, who is a professor of history and political theory at Oxford Brookes University, puts it best: “You can be a total xenophobic racist male chauvinist bastard and still not be a fascist.”
…Matthew Feldman, a fascism expert at Teesside University in the UK, agrees. “He’s still in the democratic family,” he says. “Trump is calling for ethnocratic small-l liberalism. It’s liberalism that’s racially tinged.
…The University of Wisconsin’s Stanley Payne, author of Fascism: Comparison and Definition and A History of Fascism, 1914-1945, emphasizes that fascism is a “revolutionary nationalist project. Not just a nationalist project, but a nationalist project that is revolutionary and breaks down all the standards and the barriers.”Trump and other far-right populists don’t count.
“It’s what you’d call a right-wing populist movement,” he says of the Trump campaign. “They take conservative positions that were very common, say, 75 years ago or 100 years ago, and not at all common now. …You can call them more genuinely reactionary in their discourse. They go back to older kinds of political and social values that have been discarded. That would be a more accurate characterization than calling them fascist.”
…Whatever else can be said about Donald Trump, he is fiercely individualistic. …This runs in sharp contrast to the fascist tradition, which, while emphasizing cults of personality for leaders, is nonetheless fundamentally concerned with the collective, with the state being redeemed and the fascist political organization being built to redeem it. That aspect is foreign not just to Trump but to 21st century American society in general. “People are extremely individualistic. No one would dream of putting them in identically colored shirts and putting them in regimented youth movements, action squads,” Paxton says. “If someone were proposing that I’d take the parallel more seriously.”
…One might think that the relative comfort Trump displays with state intervention in the economy, relative to his rivals, flirts with fascism, especially when this takes the form of nationalist policies like massive tariffs and immigration restriction. This, fascism experts agree, is an inference too far.
“You have left-wing movements that have been anti-immigration,” Payne says. “Fascists did tend to have a nationalist and kind of statist and corporatist economic policy, but all kinds of other movements have had statist and corporatist policies.” In fact, most experts think that it’s hard to identify a characteristically “fascist” economic policy. It was all secondary to other goals, notably preparation for war.
…So if Donald Trump isn’t a fascist, what is he? Well, he’s a right-wing populist. And while fascists are rare in 2015, right-wing populists are not.
—————————— Read the full article! ——————————
Clinton will probably crush Trump in November, much as Johnson crushed Goldwater in 1964 (a win for Wall Street and the military-industrial-complex more than the Left). But the populist forces unleashed this year will continue to gain strength, much as conservatism did in the 2 decades after 1964. They will find a leader more effective than Trump. That might be good or bad for America. Much depends on how we respond to the populist resurgence.
For More Information
See these articles for more analysis, leading to similar conclusions…
- “I Know Fascists; Donald Trump Is No Fascist” by Gianni Riotta (Prof, Princeton) at The Atlantic.
- “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?” by Jeffrey Herf (Prof History, U Maryland) at The American Interest — “The short answer is ‘no,’ but there’s plenty of room for discomfort.”
- Interview with Robert Paxton (Columbia) at Democracy Now. Despite the out-of-context quote in the headline, and repeated pushes from the interviewer, he pours cold water on the comparison.
- What the press won’t tell you about Trump and populism — Walter Russell Mead’s famous essay about Jackson.
- Why the Left is missing the rising populist movement.
- The Right struggles to understand Trump and populism.
- Liberals look at Trump and populism, but see only their prejudices.
- Trump wins because he says some sensible things which journalists can’t conceal — You must not see populism!
- Racism is the dark side of populism. Will it divide and defeat us?
- The Left calls Trump an ‘authoritarian’, a false & futile attempt to suppress populism.