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On 2017-08-08 15:52, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:

this article is a
useful reminder of how unlikely it ever was for Trump to be a new
Hitler or Mussolini.

Oh now isn't that about the only reason you ever send us an article about Trump? One after another, only to make the same point but always in the simplistic and binary form such as "Trump to be a new Hitler or Mussolini" without any nuance regarding the possible forms and trajectories of what we might term "fascism" or far-right populism. And wouldn't it be better to argue against ideas that have actually been expressed (such as by many of us who see qualitative and crucial differences between Trump and what had been tolerated even among the right wing of the US Republican and other mainstream bourgeois parties) rather than creating strawmen claiming "new Hitler or Mussolini" (words that I'm quite sure I never used)? I see Lou's repeated attempts to win a non-existent argument in this fashion whenever he spots certain things in print which I suspect he often doesn't read through himself (in at least one case he would have found the article's conclusions quite at variance to the one-liner he attached to it). Each time I have to suppress my urge to respond, because in fact there isn't anything in the article itself I need to address, just the way Louis is employing it.

Likewise this article (which I read through as a matter of courtesy) only goes over matters that are already more or less familiar (though you might still find it worth reading), and indeed does show, not that Trump himself isn't or couldn't be a fascist, but that the US state has not become a fascist dictatorship and isn't heading in that direction. But then it even goes on to present a caveat (did Louis read this far into it?):

"...here is one frightening exception. Trump could regain public standing through the rally-round-the-flag effect that usually occurs following a domestic attack or at the outset of a war."

Let's see: an authoritarian figure gaining increased or dictatorial powers after rallying his nation to war. Do possibilities of that sort not concern readers of this list? Or a campaign against refugees leading to widespread human rights abuse if not further to actual genocide. Is there no historical precedent for such concerns?

I wasn't sure before the US election, but now I will say that Trump surely isn't a fascist: he's shown himself to be too stupid politically to justify an ideological label. But he surrounds himself with fascists (not exclusively) and certainly isn't anti-fascist. The bigger question is whether the state will become fascist, and not even looking into the future asking whether the voters who won the election for him were voting for fascism (thus indicating their future compliance or complicity with a state possessing such characteristics). I'd geusstimate that half of the 2016 Trump voters were in fact "deplorables" of that sort; the other half were just ignorant of the dangers they may have opened the doors to.

It's inaccurate to argue that yes Trump got elected and no we don't have fascism in the US now. That's like if I tell you it's dangerous to cross the highway blindfolded, you do it anyway, and then point out that nothing bad happened so I was wrong. No, I wasn't wrong: I was right and you were lucky! And most times you would be that lucky in that situation, but the stakes are too high to ignore the danger you put yourself in. The dangers entailed by Trump, in addition to the above mentioned scenario of militarism -> war -> fascism, have especially to do with the far-right or fascist component of his base. That includes the ones he invited into government posts (or his personal staff) which is already associated with negative executive policies and legislation, predictably. But moreover I'm thinking of those millions of deplorables, bigots and small business types, who have stated in polls that they would defend Trump in street battles. Does that not sound a bit more like "fascism", more like "a new Hitler or Mussolini," than what currently manifests as disarray and confusion within the government?

My main point is that there was never any exaggeration of the dangers of Trump being elected after promoting typical fascist motifs and mobilizing support among groups that are reminiscent of those that propelled Hitler and Mussolini to power. More than many countries, the US state is carefully stabilized through a separation of powers between the three branches (plus civilian control of the military). This is an essential protection against volatility, especially against the worry of a mass election victory for the far-left. But it also works to prevent a take-over by the far right (when unwelcome by most of the ruling class). To wit, Trump's original Muslim ban was overturned by previously-appointed judges, eventually resulting in a compromise ban (itself an awful precedent!), still facing court action. So no, the US did not become fascist just from an election result (no one ever thought that anyway), nor is fascism a likely outcome from the current turmoil and balance of forces. But that is a lot different from saying that this was like any other election between Democrats and Republicans, that the outcome wouldn't predict any essential difference in subsequent outcomes. Let alone the opinion of some leftists I have heard (including at least one on this list) that his victory was no worse, or even preferable, to a victory for the mainstream Clinton who would have (for instance...) started a war with Russia.

Trump's victory was a tragedy that should have been prevented especially by those who should have known better but were blinded by formulaic thinking and swayed by disinformation from Russia (or "probably from Russia").

- Jeff

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