No. ‘Fascism’ is a word that came into being with Mussolini. What was different about him? And later Hitler? What differentiated the one-party authoritarian, aggressively nationalist states that they founded, from traditional rightwing monarchies?
Before the 1920s’ the Right was characterized by reverence for ‘Throne, Altar, Army’. The monarchy, the church, the military. The old Right didn’t want change, period.
Then World War I and Russian Revolution changed everything.
A new tendency emerged on the Right: people who were revolutionaries in their methods, but defenders of the capitalist status quo in their aims.
They didn’t care a fig for the established church, or the monarchy. They did honor the military, but only as a tool for their use. They stole a lot of the clothes of the Left with regard to social program.
Hitler’s Nazis are the best example of this: it was the National Socialist German Workers Party for a reason. Read its program, and you’ll find whole paragraphs that could have been taken from a genuine socialist party.
Their methods were those of the Bolsheviks: a paramiltary ‘combat party’ which saw all other parties – even those on their side of the poltiical divide – as competitors to be eliminated.
But the key to why they were a new phenomenon is their pseudo-left social program, designed to win away a big part of the mass base of the Socialist and Communist Parties.
This has led some people on the Right to call Hitler a Leftist, but that’s silly. However, he was not a traditional ‘rightist’.
Life is complicated:when Franco led a rising against the leftist Republican government in Spain, he was called a ‘fascist’, and in practice,once he won, there was little difference between his regime in power and Hilter or Mussolini’s: a one-party state, and no shyness about imprisoning or even executing his political opponents. But he did not have a pseudo-leftist social program.
I believe that political clarity is more likely to be attained if we reserve the term ‘fascism’ for rightwing paramilitary parties with a fake ‘leftist’ social program. (Note that this would exclude the various military regimes in Latin America over the last sixty years – they were certainly blood-thirsty enough, but they hardly pretended to be ‘leftwing’. And of course although Cuba is a one-party state, which stresses nationalism, and has a ‘left wing’ social program, it would be silly to call it ‘fascist’. The same for Communist China, whose political/economic system is actually very similar to Nazi Germany’s: a one party totalitarian state on top of a capitalist economy.)
Now where does Trump fall in this understanding of ‘fascism’?
There are two important things about Trump: (1) He is remarkable stupid, and ignorant. I don’t understand how he got to where he is – my belief that he is stupid/ignorant would seem to be refuted by the obverse (?) – contra-positive(?) of the famous question, “If you so smart, why ain’t you rich?” but there you are.
(2) What he also is, evidently, is a patriot. He sees what’s happening to America, and wants to reverse it. But this urge doesn’t push his extreme narcissism into second place, unfortunately.
Is he a small-d democrat? A civil-libertarian? No. But then neither are the activists of the Left. (It’s remarkable what an inversion has occured between Left and Right over the last few decades: now the Right defends Free Speech and the Left attacks it, just the opposite of how it used to be. Now the Right woes the non-college-educated, and the Left scorns them, again, a complete switch. Even on foreign policy, the Left is pro-war, while the Right – or many in it – is reluctant to involve the country in yet another foreign war. This change has occured in just the last twenty years.
Has he tried to organize a combat-party? No. He has emerged as the unchallengeable leader of the Republican Party, but has not tried to change the organizational nature of that party.
Now, what about his ‘social program’? Here, there is an analogy, or a valid comparison, to genuine fascism.
The Republican Party was the ‘Chamber of Commerce Party’ before Trump. Whatever the donor class wanted, it got: Open Borders to supply cheap labor to those who used it; free trade, which meant, among other things, American manufacturing jobs going to Mexico or China. That’s how capitalism works. Low taxes, and few environmental restrictions. Some token hollering about cultural issues to satisfy the base. And of course the military-industrial complex got whatever it wanted, after a tense few years following the collapse of the USSR, including outright invasions and occupations.
Then came Trump. He has, so far as I can see, no deep understanding of economics. (Conservatism is best thought of as a disposition, not an ideology; but ideologies are handy, since they greatly simplify having to think about the world, so many self-described conservatives adopt libertarian/minarchist ideas when it comes ot economics and social policy, without really believing in them: none of them want to do away with Social Security or Medicare, for example.)
But Trump’s ‘social program’ is inconsistent and incoherent – ending Free Trade, a gesture towards infrastructure construction … and that’s it. Well, he is a billionaire.
For a good anlysis of what’s happened to America, by a left-leaning professor, see Michael Lind The New Class War – Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite https://www.amazon.com/New-Class-War-Democracy-Metropolitan/dp/1786499576
From a conservative point of view, it’s a good thing that the modern Left despises its own working class, and has gone ‘woke’, which the big corporations can happily accommodate.
Were we facing the old Left – the people who went out and organized the CIO – we might lose a lot of our base to the socialists.
Nor does Trump have a consistent approach to foreign policy. Half non-interventionism, half beligerent sabre-rattling. John Bolton as foreign policy advisor, for cryin’ out loud!
American fascism, should it arise, will almost certainly incorporate white ethnic nationalism as a central component.
But that’s not Trump, nor the great majority of his followers. (I know that Lefties have a deep psychological – dare I say ‘religious’ – need to see their opponents as ‘racists’ and ‘fascists’, but it’s just not true. It might become true, since diversity is not strength. (What an idiotic slogan, refuted by all history and any knowledge of the situation in other countries which are blessed with ethnic diversity.)
But in war, you must demonize your opponents: your enemy is a cruel Jap, or a vicious Nazi, not a frightened teenage conscript. And it’s war. The Right demonizes the Left as paedophilic communists. It’s what you do in war.
However, I don’t think the US will experience straight-out ethnic civil war, a la Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, or various African countries, where each side tries to establish itself on an ethnically-pure homeland, and the sides battle over contested territory.
The whites don’t want it, and the Blacks are not capable of it – too geographically dispersed and too low a cultural level.
Hispanics, if they become entirely dominated by the cartels which are now moving into the US (and which already have great power in Mexico – they can defeat the Mexican army!), might want to do a ‘re-conquista’. If the Right is smart – not guaranteed – they will woe naturally-conservative Hispanics and try to form an alliance with them, should the US begin to disintegrate completely. Or even accept a territorial division, in which the cartels get California and the Southwest.
But no one knows the future. America has lived through a Golden Age. That’s coming to an end. We will soon be Number Two in the world, first economically, and then militarily.
If our ruling class cannot accept this – and many things show that it cannot, from its NATO-expansion policy to Pelosi’s flight to a province of China – then we’re in for interesting times.
None of us have a god to pray to, but if we did, we should be praying to avoid a big stupid war, which will seriously disrupt the astonishing progress our species has made in the last 500 years.
Whoa, a term paper instead of a short snarky reply! But most atheists are readers and won’t be phased by the length.