Playing the Indian Card

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump the Fascist

Stronger together.

More public insanity: here is a web-based comic arguing straight up that Donald Trump is a Fascist.

On what grounds?

1. “Extreme Nationalism.” Nationalism is disturbing. It violates basic morality: we are all brothers. And Trump is a nationalist. But nationalism in the modern world is mostly associated with the left; its current extreme being Juche in North Korea. In Canada and most other countries, especially throughout the Third World, it is the left which has been for protectionism and against free trade.

So voting in Trump was not a clear move towards greater nationalism. After all, Bernie Sanders also ran on trade protectionism, and so, this campaign, did Hillary Clinton.

The slogan “America First,” moreover, hardly counts as “extreme” in terms of nationalism. Did anyone claim Fascism over the UK’s 1968 “I’m Backing Britain” campaign, pushed by the Labour government? How about the Canadian NDP slogan “Close the 49th Parallel”?

Why is is Fascism if Trump does it, but not if the left does it? Why is the alarm being sounded only now?

2. “Disdain for human rights.” The evidence offered is that many will lose health insurance coverage under the new American Health Care Act. Perhaps true, not not an issue of human rights. Health insurance for all may be a desirable outcome, but it certainly is not a human right. One cannot have a human right to something that might be unaffordable, or might not exist.

And, not incidentally, the Nazis had universal health care. Clearly nothing to do with Fascism.

Has Trump actually shown any disregard for human rights? Say, the right to bear arms? The right to life? The right to freedom of conscience? Of religion? Freedom of speech? The right to freedom of association? In fact, all of these traditional human rights have recently been under assault, and under assault from the left. Trump has fairly aggressively supported them. On these grounds, Trump was the anti-Fascist candidate.

3. “Scapegoating foreigners.” This the Nazis generally did not do, at least not conspicuously: they instead blamed “enemies within,” especially the Jews, who were German citizens. Immigration was not the issue. In fact, the Nazis in Germany fairly aggressively recruited foreigners to their SS battalions, and they did not seem too aggressive about scapegoating Japanese or Italians. But scapegoating is always wrong, whether the victims are citizens or foreigners; and they certainly did scapegoat.

Trump could be accused of scapegoating the Chinese, seven Middle Eastern Muslim nations, and Mexicans. It is scapegoating if China and Mexico are not really responsible for the loss of US jobs, if illegal Mexican immigrants are not really a criminal element, and if Muslims from those seven nations are not a particular threat for terrorism. But all of these contentions are not merely debatable: they are reasonable on the face of it.

As for the loss of US jobs to China and Mexico, this is something the left has been claiming for decades. So, again, why is the alarm being raised only now? As for illegal immigrants from Mexico being a criminal element, this is self-evidently true: they entered the country illegally. It is therefore also perfectly sensible to expect them to disregard other laws. As for Muslim immigrants from those seven countries being a security threat, it seems only common sense.

Internationally, it is the left that has tended to blame foreigners for problems. See “post-colonial studies.” In Canada, to the left, and in most Third World countries, everything is America’s fault.

At home, it is true, although they complain about jobs lost to Chinese and Mexicans, the American left, like the Nazis, seems to prefer to blame internal enemies. They scapegoat whites, men, straights, Christians, “capitalists,” “corporations,” “the one percent,” and so forth. Some may recall the fuss about Bush Sr., the Trilateral Commission, and the Skull and Bones Society. Conspiracy theories abound on the left.

In sum, the left seem to be the masters at scapegoating. Trump has only, at most, stolen a few of their moves. Why is it okay when they are doing it, and only Fascism if Trump does? Indeed, I think Trump was voted in by a lot of people wanting to end all the scapegoating.

Graffitto on Trump International Hotel, Washington D.C.

4. “Undermining the free press.” The evidence offered is quotations from Trump criticizing the press. It would be a chilling sort of totalitarianism indeed if one were not permitted to criticize the press. Pravda would love that. Trump’s approach to the press has been a call for a wider range of viewpoints, for letting in the bloggers instead of restricting things to the established media. That is a demand for more freedom of the press, not less.

It has also been common on the left since at least the time of Jefferson to complain about the press. Chomsky made that his chief argument in “Manufacturing Consent.” Why is it okay when the left does it, and the alarm is raised only when someone on the right does the same?

5. “Cronyism and corruption.” The web comic cites Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner serving as unpaid advisors. So I guess to avoid Fascism, the voters should have chosen his opponent, whose main original credential for public life was claimed service as an unpaid advisor to her husband, the president? Doesn’t that seem like a double standard? How about Bobby Kennedy, who served as a highly-paid, not unpaid, advisor to his brother, the president? How about Eleanor Roosevelt?

Again, it is only a problem when the right does it.

Cronyism and corruption are bad things. But Trump seems no more guilty of it than his predecessors, even if this is faint praise. One of the important reasons that Clinton lost and Trump won was a widespread perception that the Clintons were corrupt, and the DNC was rife with cronyism. Not to mention the mainstream media.

So they must be the Fascists, and Trump the anti-fascist candidate, then?

6. “Rampant sexism.” This is pretty dubious, since the very term “sexism” did not appear until the feminism of the 1960s. On that ground, can the Fascists be determined to be either sexist or anti-sexist? Or was it simply an issue that did not exist in their time? As far as I can see, Fascists had no consistent policy or ideology concerning women as a sex. At some times and places, they seem to have urged women to concentrate on motherhood, at others to enter the professions or workforce, depending on their perception of the national need. And as far as the modern “fascists” are concerned, there seems to be no issue of sexism. Margaret Thatcher, Marine Le Pen, Ivanka Trump—weren’t they just complaining about her being given a position of authority?--Sarah Palin, and so forth.

The evidence used by the comic that Trump is “rampant” in his “sexism” is public comments, about Rosie O’Donnell, for example, or Megan Kelly, and his secretly taped, not for public consumption comments about women letting you do anything if you are a celebrity.

In the past election, this perhaps unfortunate choice of words compares to an opponent whose husband is credibly charged with multiple cases of sexual exploitation of women, including allegations of violent rape. Again, why is it all okay so long as the left does it?

Women's march, Washington

Trump has shown himself not to be a gentleman, in traditional terms. But it was feminism who led the charge against good manners. Isn’t a woman who is perfectly prepared to let a man “grab her pussy” fully liberated? Isn’t her drive for power just what feminism called for? Wasn’t it feminism which demanded women be treated just like men, without the traditional deference? So if you can insult men, why can you not insult women? How is that equality?

Trump is giving feminists just what they say they want, but now they say they don’t want it.

And, again, he is doing nothing the left has not been doing all along. Nothing he has said about O’Donnell or Kelly is worse than things people have said about women like Anita Bryant, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, the Bush daughters, Joe Clark’s daughter, and Ivanka Trump for generations. Trump, again, is just taking a page from the left’s playbook. A Fascist playbook, they now inform us.

The larger problem here is that if we do not really know what Fascism is, how do we know we are against it? How do we know why we are against it? Are we against it? Or are we actually promoting it?

I think the author of this comic, and the left generally, deserve great credit here for ignoring Godwin’s Law. Nothing could be more perfectly calculated to reintroduce Fascism than a rule that one is not to discuss what Fascism is in polite company. What we do not recognize, we cannot defend against. In the meantime, the main effect of a rule not to compare anyone else to the Fascists is to protect the Communists, who were as bad or worse. Which is to say, it protects Fascists from criticism.

What is Fascism? I think George Orwell was right; he said both sides were Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Not just Franco’s forces. Otherwise, Fascism is just a name. Fascism is totalitarian government that does not respect human rights. More fundamentally, Fascism is government that violates Kant’s first principle of morality: it treats human persons as means, not ends. The individual exists for the good of the state, culture, or party, not the state, culture, or party for the good of the individuals.

A lot of the opposition to Trump now—for example, Antifa—are fairly openly communist, or at a minimum sympathetic to communist regimes. In other words, they are the Fascists. They do not oppose totalitarianism; they want to be the totalitarians. Trump is in their way. 

Perhaps to a lesser extent, Hillary Clinton's core values are plainly Fascist. Just look at the title of her campaign book: "Stronger Together." This is the essential Fascist collective idea--as symbolized by the Fasces itself. Her earlier boot title, "It Takes a Village," says more or less the same thing: the individual belongs to the collective. So too with "identity politics" generally, the stock and trade of the left. Identity politics is race-based politics. One is a race or a "gender," or a class, not an individual human.

Trump was the anti-totalitarian candidate. Clinton was the totalitarian. The modern left is always in favour of more government, and the modern right wants less government. Who was it who coined the phrase “the personal is political”? A fascist charter. Fascism is all politics all the time. Everything is the struggle for power. Trump, on the other hand, in one of his very first executive orders, required that for any new government regulation, two regulations must be rescinded.

As to human rights, the big three are, according to the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On the right to life, the left has been opposed, and Trump has supported it. On the right to liberty, in the sense of exercising one’s free will, the left has usually been against it, banning smoking, requiring seat belts, banning large soft drinks, regulating what can be put in school lunches, opposing school choice, setting up complex environmental restrictions, and so forth, regulation upon regulation, restriction on restriction. Trump has broadly been for deregulation and freedom of choice. On the pursuit of happiness, it is harder to say. If more and more exotic sex makes you happy, I guess the left is your pal. If religion makes you happy, Trump was your candidate.

I think the framers of the Constitution thought it was more about religion. After all, freedom of religion is the first right cited in the Bill of Rights. Advantage Trump. It has been under growing attack by the left of late.

After that, and still in the First Amendment, the Constitution cites freedom of speech. And here we have what may have been the core issue on which Trump was elected. He was elected in rebellion against speech codes and requirements to be “politically correct,” entirely imposed by the left. This was the tendency Orwell identified as “Newspeak” in 1984, the classic analysis of Fascism.

Shall we move on now to the Second Amendment? Perhaps best not...

Fascism is also, of course, anti-democratic. So which side has been violently protesting the results of the last election, and demanding they not be honoured? Forcible suppression of opposition? Which side is shouting down speakers on campuses, or rioting to prevent them from speaking? Or simply, in debate, relying on ad hominem attacks or refusing to entertain some topics?

This has been entirely a leftist tactic. Let’s hope Trump does not take it up as well.

Hilter’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists called themselves socialists. But unlike the communist fascists, their idea was not direct state ownership of industry, but cooperation—one might say collusion-- between industry and government, to meet state aims.

So, on control of industry and commerce: who wants more regulation of the economy? Who is more wedded to the idea of corporate welfare, to giving some businesses special advantages through government subsidy, loans, and tax breaks? The Democratic Party. It is the left that is corporatist, in the Fascist sense. Trump and the Republicans generally want deregulation, a flat tax, the end of the Export-Import Bank, a free market, and so forth.

The darkest irony in the web comic is the parting question: “What, I wonder, will seem normal to the children of America in the next four years?” Because, over the past four years and more, we have indeed seen obvious evils normalized, without that much or widespread protest. What about abortion? Back in the nineties, Bill Clinton found it prudent to say he wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.” Now it is so normalized that the head of the DNC has said nobody can run for the Democrats who does not endorse unrestricted abortion. The victims are obviously far more innocent than the victims of the Nazi Shoah, there are far more of them, the ideology is far more widespread and has been generally accepted for far longer. The Nazis have nothing on us there.

Of course, you will argue that the unborn, the fetus if you like, is not human.

Indeed. That is just how the Nazis justified killing Jews.

Similarly, the scapegoating of “straight white males” is chillingly similar in almost every way to the way the Nazis scapegoated Jews. The “patriarchy” is the new Elders of Zion.

What about same-sex marriage? By itself, perhaps not an important issue. But in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act passed both houses of Congress with veto-proof majorities, defining marriage as between a man and a woman. When he was elected in 2008, Obama insisted that marriage could only be between a man and a woman. Now, in 2016, it is illegal even to refuse to participate in a gay marriage for reasons of conscience.

When the ERA—the proposed amendment to the US constitution enshrining the idea that men and women were to be equal before the law—was passed by Congress in 1971, it was ultimately rejected by the states. One of the centrepiece arguments of the opposition was that, taken literally, it would require public washrooms to be open to either sex. This “slippery slope” argument was of course rejected as hysterical nonsense, reductio ad absurdum, by supporters.

Yet, now, in 2017, not only has the legal equality of men and women nevertheless been mysteriously tread into the Constitution without the amendment, but it indeed now is argued by its supporters to require that washrooms be open to either sex.

Back before 9-11—I mean right up to the month or two before—I kept receiving emails from lefties demanding that the US invade Afghanistan, to defend women’s rights. Since the Eighties I have been hearing people on the left objecting to the US alliance with Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that the Muslims were not respectful towards women’s rights—wearing the hijab, genital mutilation, and so forth. It cannot have been much more than a year or two ago that I was still hearing this constant anti-Muslim drumbeat.

Now, as of the Women’s march on Washington this spring, it has all been reversed. It is Fascist to object to hijabs, or any aspect of Islam. It is “Islamophobia.” It is Fascism to refer to anyone’s “barbaric cultural practices.” Muslim activists, even convicted terrorists, are leaders of the feminist movement.

So the basic argument that we must be careful that intrinsically immoral or morally objectionable things not be normalized is a good one. People tend to follow the crowd instead of listening to their own consciences, and this is how Fascism happens.

It is just that it has already been happening for some time, in obvious and dramatic fashion. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

And Trump may be a flawed fellow, but he is with us now because enough people made exactly the decision called for by the comic.

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