[This is a reprint of last year’s Anniversary Post, Fascism. It’s interesting that a year later, we are looking at Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination for president. A lot of people don’t like it when Trump is called a fascist. They claim that he’s more along the lines of a right-wing populist as we see in Europe. But I think these people are being pedantic. They want to confine the word to a very narrow definition. I think it is that after the Nazis, no one wants to use the word fascist to describe anything that is popular in the United States. But what are you going to do? Donald Trump is a fascist. Maybe he’s not exactly Mussolini, but then Hitler wasn’t either. -FM]
On this day in 1919, fascism was born. It seems like only yesterday! Maybe that is because the United States has so many fascist elements to it — and I’m not just talking about the Republican Party. When the head of Whole Foods said that Obamacare was basically a fascist law, he wasn’t wrong. Neoconservatism is entirely in keeping with fascism in terms of nationalism and foreign policy. But neoliberalism has many similarities to fascist economic policies. I don’t know where we ever got the idea that the best way to improve the lives of Americans was for the government to “partner” with the private sector. I think neoliberalism has had a much greater negative impact on Americans than neoconservatism. Of course, the fact that most neoconservatives are also neoliberals (or worse) when it comes to the economy does tilt the argument quite distinctly away from them.
The reason that today is the birthday of fascism is because today is the day that Benito Mussolini started his political movement. Of course, fascism dates back much further than that. In fact, it is hard not to see fascism as fundamentally a movement trying to bring back the Roman Empire. I don’t think we should hold it against the Romans, given that they ruled roughly 2,000 years ago, but they had many of the same kinds of beliefs and policies that we know and despise in modern fascism. I think there will always be fascists, the only question is how much power we will allow them to get.
The American right wing has a lot of fascist elements. The biggest way is in their nationalism. That is probably the single most important aspect of fascism. But there are other aspects: authoritarianism, imperialism, traditionalism, racism, and anti-intellectualism — all of which are alive and well in American conservatism. There is one way that the American right is not like fascism. In its early days, fascism believed in workers being combined as an important part of the power structure of the nation. So basically, you had labor, business, and government all working together. American conservatives are not on board with that kind of thing. In that regard, they are more believers in feudalism. So you can say that American conservatism is very much like fascism, but worse.
Liberals, of course, are not like that. But the New Democrats (who continue to control the Democratic Party) have a number of similarities. But it’s like everything about the politics of America: the New Democrats generally suck, but they are so much better than the Republicans (who have been completely taken over by the conservative movement). A better argument could be made that Democrats are communists, but that doesn’t make much sense either. I think that most people on the American left wing see themselves ultimately as being in favor of a kind of Swedish socialism. And the worst you can say about them is that their markets are not as efficient as they ought to be. I don’t agree with that criticism, but I’ll take it if the conservatives will accept that there really isn’t much they have to disagree with Mussolini.
Happy birthday fascism!
[And welcome to America! -FM]