Donald Trump: We’ve Seen It All Before

The original Donald Trump.

BBC News

Silvio Berlusconi addressing supporters in Rome, 27 November

After years of successfully brushing off sex scandals, allegations of corruption and political setbacks, Silvio Berlusconi’s luck finally out when he was convicted of tax fraud in 2013.

Berlusconi, 77, was sentenced to four years in prison and ejected from his seat in the Senate.

That prison term was converted into a year of community service, which he is serving at a care home near Milan, because of his age.

And he has been sentenced separately to seven years for having sex with an under-age prostitute and abuse of power. This is currently being appealed.

Before the Senate vote, Berlusconi’s political career took a hard knock when his centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party split over support for the coalition government led by centre-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta, and he opted to move into opposition.

It is a rum predicament for a man who, many Italians had come to think, was untouchable.


5 replies »

    • My favorite part of Lyons’ piece:

      Bringing all this back to Trump, there are at least two different ways to read the friendly reception his campaign has gotten from many white nationalist far rightists. One is that these fascists represent the logical endpoint of Trumpism in development, and while he draws the crowds they provide the ideas. This is at least consistent with Alexander Reid Ross’s position quoted above. Another interpretation, however, is that Trump’s campaign is co-opting far rightists into, if not renewed loyalty, at least suspending their disloyalty to the existing political order. JM Wong has argued on Facebook that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric comes at a time when “the legitimacy of the state is increasingly challenged for white people” as “the wages of whiteness are dwindling.” In that context, Trump “is calling for an investment in the state, restoring it to some semblance of ‘america is great’ for folks to continue to have faith in the state apparatus, as long as it is tweaked into more white supremacist overtones.” To the extent that far rightists support this call, they are buying into the system they claim to oppose. Conversely, the defeat of Trump’s candidacy could further intensify the white nationalist far right as an oppositional force.

      I would agree with the second interpretation, that if anything Trump is co-opting the far right into support of the system.

      His discussion on whether or not fascism would be supported by capitalist interests is also interesting. He seems to say that they wouldn’t.

      • “I would agree with the second interpretation, that if anything Trump is co-opting the far right into support of the system.”

        Yes, it’s interesting to see how many “white separatists” and “ethnostate” advocates have become enthusiastic supporters of a billionaire plutocrat who’s politics are basically centrist, and who has close ties to Israel. It’s on the level of the “libertarians” who vote Republican because, “Hey, we’ve gotta keep those ‘socialist’ Democrats out!” LOL.

        This is a decent article on the differences between Trump and genuine fascism: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/12/10/9886152/donald-trump-fascism

        “His discussion on whether or not fascism would be supported by capitalist interests is also interesting. He seems to say that they wouldn’t.”

        Yes, the economic nationalism that is inherent to fascism is not compatible with the neo-liberal “global economy” paradigm on which contemporary capitalism is based. Historic fascism was a kind of revolutionary anti-liberalism that had a tense and uneasy relationship with capitalism. Most of the old classical fascist parties were rhetorically and ideologically anti-capitalist, but they would also make use of capitalism when it was convenient, they would sometimes ally themselves with capitalism against the Marxists, and they often had to make a variety of concessions and accommodations to capitalism when in power. But that was in the context of the older model of nationally-based capitalist classes that were often in conflict with each other. The tension between actual fascism and capitalism would be much, much greater in the era of the globalization of capitalism. For example, the most anti-capitalist parties in Europe (the ones that want to scrap the Eurozone) are mostly from the far right with some small leftist parties thrown in among the mix.

  1. For the most part I have no interest in conventional electoral politics except on an analytical basis, but the two major party candidates I had the most favorable view of, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb, have since dropped out. Chafee would have been my first choice as a major party presidential candidate, because he was the most dovish candidate on either side, and actually switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat out of opposition to the Iraq War. Webb was my second favorite candidate because he opposed the first Gulf War in ’91, and has a pretty good populist record of being a military non-interventionist and opposing corporate plutocracy while not really swallowing the PC line either.

    I suppose Sanders is now the least bad candidate in the race. But the problem I see with him is that expanding the welfare state seems to be his only real issue. My guess is that he would compromise with the military industrial complex and the imperialists in order to get what he wants on economic issues, just as the progressives normally make such compromises to get what they want on social issues.

  2. What I don’t understand is why anyone thinks Trump is any more reactionary, racist, authoritarian, fascist, statist, etc. than mainstream Republican conservatives and certainly the neoconservatives that are their intellectual leadership which are every bit as “fascist” as anything that can be attributed to Donald Trump (if we define “fascism” in the broad sense of statist authoritarianism coupled with national chauvinism).

    The foreign policy that the GOP has pursued since 9-11 is far more militarist than what Trump has suggested thus far. Hysterical warmongering is normal discourse for the mainstream Republican-oriented Right. Arguably, Trump is less militarist than the Democrats as well (he has criticized the war in Libya for example). The Democrats pursue essentially the same foreign policy as the GOP. It’s just that their rhetoric is less unhinged because they’re playing to a different audience. The Republicans are playing to the “USA! USA!” dullards that comprise their “base” and the Democrats are playing to urban cosmopolitans. So the GOP uses incendiary war rhetoric for their audience and the Dems talk about climate change and inclusiveness for their audience, but both groups still reflect the interests and objectives of the power elite.

    Is Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric any different from that of the neocons or “normal” Republicans? Not that I can tell. Ordinary “conservative” talk radio, for example, has always been littered with that, at least since 9-11. I also remember anti-Muslim sentiment being really intense in the US in the 70s and 80s, particularly during the Iranian hostage crisis, and during the era of terrorism by Shiite fundamentalists against Western targets like the bombing of a US Marine base in Lebanon in ’83, after the killing of Leon Klinghoffer in ’85, or during the time of the Lockerbie bombing in ’88. During the Iranian hostage crisis, Iranian women living in the US would sometimes have plastic surgery to alter their appearance so they didn’t look as distinctively Persian.

    There have also been periods since WW2 when anti-immigration law has been much more strictly enforced than it is now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wetback

    Jingoistic nationalism was also just as common during the postwar period as it is now, and even more so. For instance, I don’t see how Trump could be considered to the right of figures like Nixon or Reagan in that respect. When I was in elementary school Nixon was reelected in ’72 with 49 of 50 states. During the campaign he lambasted the McGovern Democrats as the “party of amnesty, acid and abortion.” The “amnesty” part was a reference to McGovern’s plan to grant amnesty draft evaders that had fled to Canada. When I was in my teens Reagan was reelected in ’84 with 49 of 50 states as well. He actually used to say stuff like he was going to send the Dallas Cowboys to fight the Communists in Central America.

    To sum it up, how is Trump in any way a departure from the norm in U.S. politics? How is he any more of a buffoon than many, many other US political leaders, past and present? How are his current GOP rivals any less ridiculous?

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