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The American Version of Fascism is Alive and Prospering

Fascists like military might and power, especially its display. The July 4 parade in Washington this year was a Fascist happening.

A FASCIST HAPPENING: President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and US military leaders stand on stage after President Donald Trump spoke at the "Salute to America" ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. The presentation featured armored vehicles on display, a flyover by Air Force One, and several flyovers by other military aircraft. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The United States, as a whole, is not a fascist country. There are many places in states and localities where democracy thrives. The federal Republican Party, however, has become a fascist institution.

The term “Fascism” gets thrown around too easily. In this case it is not being used casually. Let’s evaluate the Republican Party using the main characteristics of Fascism as it developed in the first half of the 20th century and as it exists now.

Fascism is first characterized by a virulent nationalism, which is often either ethnic or racist. In the case of Trump, other leaders of the federal party, and many other members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, racist tropes are used all the time, most recently against several women of colour in the Democratic Party. Republicans are nationalist, whether it is “America First,” the insistence on the United States as the world’s greatest country, or in a belief in American Exceptionalism, something that sounds as though it is coming out of middle Europe a century ago.

Fascists attempt to neutralize the courts and take away the independence of the judiciary. Republicans have politicized the Supreme Court and the Republican-controlled Senate in the last few years has approved right-wing judges. who do whatever is bidden by the party, many of them found not competent to serve by bar associations.

Fascists like military might and power, especially its display. The July 4 parade in Washington this year was a Fascist happening.There is a pretence to constitutional government, with a manipulation in favour of the ruling party. The Senate, especially, has changed or violated rules regularly. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, is as fascistic as the president.

Loyalty, for Fascists, is to a party that hopes to run the state. This is so for federal Republicans. When their leader, President Trump, makes racist statements, when he vilifies allies, when he calls African countries “shitholes,” when he is clearly not only a misogynist but is accused of being a rapist, there is silence.

The leadership principle — to call it what it was when it began, the Führerprinzip, or the cult of Il Duce, is to give it the emotion it deserves — is everything. Decent men and women — or at least they claim decency — follow behind Trump, whatever happens.

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The tradition of Fascism contains a paradox. Fascists claim to be the party of the people while favouring the upper economic class. Here, there is the Republican tax bill to consider, one that transfers even more wealth to the upper 10 per cent. It is the Republican Party that desires to end Obamacare and throw many millions back onto the mercy of insurance companies.

Fascists not only have an opposition. They like to have an opposition, so they can demonize them. Unlike some Fascist parties, the Republicans need not invent the devil. It is the Democratic Party, Blacks and Hispanics, immigrants and refugees, much of the media. The federal Republican Party is a party of white racists.

Fascists don’t like women who are politically active or aggressive. Fascism, as Virginia Woolf noted in the late 1920s, is a masculine doctrine. Women are supposed to be submissive and obedient. One of the ways Fascists display this belief is their attempt to control women’s bodies — males who pass laws to attack birth control and abortion.

Fascists like to have elections, which give the illusion of democracy. Some weeks ago the Supreme Court approved the idea that gerrymandering was constitutional. The decision was 5-4, with the two most recent appointees, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh in favour. Both appointments are suspect — Gorsuch because the Senate refused to fulfil its constitutional duty under Obama; Kavanaugh because he was a clear political appointee who politicized his Senate hearing.

Fascists like military might and power, especially its display. The July 4 parade in Washington this year was a Fascist happening.

Under Trump, the federal Republican Party has become something other than part of the democratic underpinning of the United States. It was bad enough under Bush and Cheney, but by now the federal party has crossed a line.

That’s what makes the next election so important. If the Republicans win the White House again (with a minority) and control the two houses of Congress, in several years it will be impossible to distinguish the United States from Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Trump’s favourite people are authoritarian rulers — that’s where America is heading on the federal level if the Republicans take control.

Arthur Haberman

Arthur Haberman

Arthur Haberman is professor emeritus of history and humanities at York University in Toronto, Canada. His most recent work is 1930: Europe in the Shadow of the Beast.

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