A fascist forecast

Herb Boyd | 12/29/2016, 10:03 a.m.
Simply defined, fascism is “a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise ...
Donald Trump Shutterstock/CNN Money

Simply defined, fascism is “a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism and militarism.”

Most commonly the concept is associated with the rise and machinations of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, but nowadays it’s a term of currency by many commentators, writers, journalists and organizations outraged by the victory of Donald Trump.

Whether all or any of the elements of fascism apply to Trump and his incoming administration remains to be seen, though this uncertainty has not halted the mounting resistance against him and what many believe is his “incipient fascism.”

Several contributors to Counterpunch, the radical publication, have derided Trump’s policies and given verbal meaning to actions already in motion by a number of political formations, none more vocal than the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Last week, the RCP launched its campaign, “NO! This Fascist regime must be stopped before it starts!” Hundreds turned out for the initial rally at Cooper Union. A month-long series of demonstrations is planned, culminating around the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the nation’s capital.

Commentator Paul Street on Counterpunch.com addressed Trump’s “quasi-fascism,” suggesting it isn’t fake like his so-called populism. “Expect the [Trump] administration’s racist and nativist scapegoating to accelerate in rough proportion to Trump’s service to the wealthy few. The more he makes policy in the interest of his super-opulent upper-class comrades, after all, the more Trump is going to have to try to distract and divide the working-class majority with ugly racist and nationalist finger-pointing.”

Street bolstered his observations with comments from Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely, who deemed Trump’s campaign “unambiguously fascist.” “We are not using the word ‘fascist’ glibly here,” they wrote. “Nor are we referencing only the so-called ‘alt-right’ contingent of his supporters. No, Trump’s entire movement is rooted in an ethnic, racial and linguistic nationalism that sanctions and glorified violence against designated enemies and outsiders, is animated by a myth of the decline and nostalgic renewal and centered on a masculine cult of personality.”

All of this observation being true, it’s hard not think about the dictatorial authoritarianism administered by Hitler and Mussolini.

In this same issue of Counterpunch earlier this month, Henry Giroux weighed in with his admonitions about the dawning of Trump’s fascism in noting that with “the erosion of the social contract and the increasing power of the rich to control both the commanding institutions of society and politics itself, democracy has lost any legitimacy as a counter weight to protest the ever widening sphere of people considered vulnerable and disposable. The result has been the dangerous door to neo-fascism appeals have gained more and more credence. The end result is that large portions of the American public have turned to Trump’s brand of authoritarianism.”

The great revolutionary and philosopher Frantz Fanon was analyzing the situation in Latin America in the following excerpt from “The Wretched of the Earth,” but in many respects he could be talking about the conditions today in the U.S. “There exists inside the new regime … an inequality in the acquisition of wealth and in monopolization,” he wrote. “Some have a double source of income and demonstrate that they are specialized in opportunism. Privileges multiply and corruption triumphs, while morality declines.”

Fanon continued, “Today the vultures are too numerous and too voracious in proportion to the lean spoils of the national wealth. The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed in and immobilized. The party helps the government to hold the people down. It becomes more and more clearly anti-democratic, an implement of coercion.”

Could the fascism Fanon so decisively discussed years ago be the gathering storm on our political horizon?

As many demonstrators prepare to march and rally in Washington, D.C., before, during and after Trump’s inauguration, they are indicators that no matter what we call it—incipient, neo- or quasi-fascism—we wait at our own peril.