Is Donald Trump a Fascist ? A short little article today inspired by several people writing in with statements like “Look at the fighting at the Trump rally tonight, he is clearly a fascist“, “What Trump says about muslims is no better than what Hitler said about jews” and so forth.
However. Let us stop for a second. Fascist is such a buzzword these days. It is largely applied to anything we do not like or agree with. Does it apply to Donald Trump?
Fighting At Donald Trump Rally
First. Tonights rally saw thousands of Donald Trump supporters getting into skirmishes with at least hundreds of protesters inside the venue. All of it live on all the network news channels. For a while things were out of control, it seemed like punches were thrown. The protesters were shouting “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie” whilst the Trump supporters replied with chants of “USA, USA, USA”
All such polarized events are cancerous tumors on the democratic process. Obviously. But they do not equate fascism. They indicate high tension, high polarization and perhaps a rhetoric gone too confrontational. It is entirely true that it is classic nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels gospel that skirmishes at political events are to be encouraged as they draw media attention, enthusiasm from supporters and nits the core of followers together. However. It is a tactic seen on all flanks of politics since the beginning of times. It says nothing about the ideology in itself.
In practical terms the events at the rally were actually bad news for Donald Trump. Last nights debate saw Donald Trump trying to be reasonable, amicable and presidential. This morning he had a joint venture event with Ben Carson in a tone of reconciliation, understanding and unity. Riots, violence and cancelled events obviously undermine such efforts.
Is Trump a Fascist ?
Is Trump a fascist ? Basically no.
Trump has far-right views on a number of issues. His suggestion of deporting millions of illegal immigrants is obviously rather radical. His “Muslims hate America” statements are severely divisive. Building walls isolating America from other countries is nationalism and isolationism on a higher symbolic level. But again it does not equate fascism.
Fascism is a merger of conservatism and socialism whereby the good of the state stands above the good of the individual. As such production and industry for instance is allowed to function privately only as long as it serves the purpose of the state. One might say its a perversion whereby socialist thoughts and authoritarian leadership are stuffed inside the traditional conservative thought of the state as an organism.
If we pick out single issues it is possible to paint Donald Trump as a fascist. He has authoritarian views on the role of government. He is clearly influenced by nationalist sentiments and obviously uses divisive us against them rhetoric. Not only when it comes to immigrants but in terms of USA vs other countries, on trade issues and many others.
It is worth noting though that overall he does not fit the picture of a fascist. We have to squeeze him into the box of fascism by picking out issues that fit the picture. But on many other issues Donald Trump stands by liberty rights in the American constitution, he holds more or less libertarian views on plenty of other policy topics and he has a long history of supporting policy positions that would even put him on the left wing of the democratic party.
This is no endorsement of Donald Trump. Being divisive, populist and avoiding specifics of policy positions is not necessarily a good place to stand. It just does not equate being fascist. Calling Donald Trump fascist is about as accurate as calling Bernie Sanders a communist. You can make a facebook meme making it look that way by picking out a few policy issues, but it really does not fit the general picture.
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