Home > Uncategorized > Minimizing and missing the fascist threat – posted 10/2/2022

Minimizing and missing the fascist threat – posted 10/2/2022

Around seven years ago, I started raising the question of whether Donald Trump and the MAGA movement he led were fascist. Numerous academics and mainstream journalists pooh-poohed that characterization as imprecise and unfounded. Trump, they argued, was a buffoon, an authoritarian, a xenophobe, a kleptocrat or a con man, but not a threat to democracy.

It seems they operated off of some kind of checklist of fascist characteristics. Trump did not manifest the qualities on their lists. It should be clear by now how wrong they have been.

Not just in America but in numerous countries around the world, democracy is facing a fascist threat. This goes way beyond Donald Trump.

The world is facing a veritable Fascist International where extreme right parties have either come to power or they have contended seriously for power. I would cite Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and now Italy as countries where the extreme right has gained considerable state power. In other countries like Brazil, Sweden, and France, the extreme right is contending aggressively for power.

When a neo-fascist, Glorgia Meloni, recently won the Italian election to become prime minister, the positive reaction on the American Right was extremely revealing. They widely cheered the election of someone on record as praising Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and Hitler’s collaborator. I have to say as a Jewish person I find that response to fascism sickening.

It is extremely dangerous not to see the fascist threat. It is reminiscent of the 1930’s when many in the West failed to recognize the danger represented by the German and Italian fascists. Fascism does not remain static. It evolves depending on local conditions and has some national flavors.

In America, the MAGA Republican movement has evolved in some unexpected directions. Always open to conspiracy theories, their cult leader, Donald Trump, has more openly identified with QAnon.

On his social media site, Truth Social, Trump has been more openly than ever identifying with QAnon, posting images of himself holding a Q playing card along with other Q images. At his rally on September 17 in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump played a song identified with QAnon. He said MAGA is “standing up against sick, sinister and evil people from within our own country”.

Here I think we get close to the demagoguery and grievance-mongering which is central to MAGA. The MAGA movement is fueled by a powerful need to point the finger of blame at others. Opponents are seen as blood-drinking pedophiles, not just another political party on the opposite side of a disagreement.

The need to demonize Democrats is part of the MAGA world view. It is not enough to politically defeat the Democrats. Being so allegedly evil, they must be punished. So Hillary Clinton must be jailed. Or as Ginni Tomas texted Mark Meadows in whack-a-doodle fashion, “the Biden crime family” needed to be put on barges off GITMO to face military tribunals.

To insure victory in what is seen as a war, MAGA Republicans put people in positions to certify elections so they cannot lose. If elections are not in their favor as they still believe about the 2020 presidential race, then their mission is about insuring victory by any means necessary.

Those who insist the MAGA Republican movement is not fascist are not paying close attention. Their playbook is no secret and internationally all the extreme right parties are following a similar script. There is a reason Victor Orban’s regime is held up because it’s the best example of the new model of “illiberal democracy”. It is worth delineating the features.

The extreme right everywhere runs against immigrants who they denigrate as in conflict with their goal of racial purity. They hate black people, brown people and Muslims. As happened when Jews were denied entry into the U.S. and other countries in the 1930’s many countries have made immigration rules much stricter. Asylum seekers and refugees face a wall of opposition. The great replacement theory promoted by Tucker Carlson is invoked as is the spectre of George Soros.

Contrary to mythology, it must be acknowledged that there is much capacity for the United States to accept many more asylum seekers but the political will to allow it is not present in either political party. Our ruling class finds it convenient to scapegoat immigrants. Almost nothing has been learned from the experience when Jews were denied entry to the U.S..

This is history repeating itself. The repression is not on the level of the Nazis but the harm to the immigrants is real. Many die in the desert or drown trying to cross rivers in an effort to get to the U.S. Employers complain they cannot find workers but immigrant workers of color we don’t want and we do not allow them in, at a cost to the economy.

Of course, immigrants are not the only scapegoats of the extreme right. LGBTQ people, particularly trans people, are also in the crosshairs. We see this in Hungary, Italy, and Brazil as well as the other countries where the extreme right is making a push for power. They want to ban abortion, gay marriage, and gay adoption. A little understood minority, trans people, is seen as some kind of menace. The absurd language about groomers and pedophiles is part of their blame game.

In the aftermath of Giorgia Meloni’s victory in Italy, the historian Jason Stanley summarized:

“Fascism is a harshly anti-feminist ideology demanding a world in which women’s choices about their bodies are restricted and patriarchy determines their primary roles – rearing racially pure children and home-making. What better way to sanitize the ideology, to mask its threat to women and its use of violence , then presenting it via a female leader.”

Since January 6, 2021, the embrace of violence by the extreme right has been more clearly demonstrated. To quote Roger Stone two days before the 2020 election “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence”. When you are unhappy with the results, hand it over to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. History shows that once fascist movements gain power, they often quickly resort to the use of violence against all perceived enemies.

The earlier fascist incarnation in Germany took the violence to another level both internally and in trying to achieve world domination. One major difference now is that modern-day fascists have not yet showed this mad aspiration.

Most mainstream journalism remains wedded to the both sides perspective that has been the norm in the past. In their view, political parties may differ in their views but they are essentially the same. I would suggest that time is now past. Today’s fascists are an existential threat to democracy everywhere.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jlewandohotmailcom
    October 3, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Another thing of beauty! At this critical juncture, this needs to be hammered home as much and in as many ways as possible.

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