Is Trumpism Fascism? 10

By Wayne Price

Anarkismo

What is Fascism?

Donald Trump and those who follow him have shown certain specific traits of a fascist movement. Does that make Trump or the Trumpets into fascists? What is fascism? How is it counterposed to bourgeois democracy? Is there likely to be a fascist movement in the U.S.A.? How do we fight fascism?

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Whether Donald J. Trump wins or (more likely) loses the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the movement which he has stirred up will continue in one form or another. A question which is widely asked is, whether this movement—call it Trumpism—is fascist, semi-fascist, or a forerunner of fascism?

Unquestionably, he has been supported by out-and-out fascists, U.S. Nazis, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, and others of the “alternative right” or “alt right,” as they call themselves. He has repeatedly re-tweeted posts from Nazis and Klanspeople, he has quoted Mussolini, and he adopted the slogan “America First” from the pro-fascist-dominated America First movement of the pre-World War II era. He has expressed admiration for dictators and “strong” rulers of other countries. He appointed a notorious anti-semite and racist as a top official (“C.E.O”) in his campaign (Bannon, formerly the main person of Brietbart News).

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10 comments

  1. The only disagreement I would have with this article is that I don’t see anti-authoritarianism as being exclusively the domain of the Left or far Left, which is something Price implies with this statement:

    “Occasionally spokespeople will say that if the “tyranny” of the government continues, then “second amendment remedies” will be called for and “patriots” will have to take to the countryside to defend themselves with guns. In fact there are various groups of armed “militias.” They have various ideologies, but some are preparing to resist the government when it comes to take away their guns (they think). This may be expressed in terms of local democracy or a wacky interpretation of the Constitution, but what is implied is the armed overthrow of the elected government. That is an element, at least, of fascism.”

    I look at anti-authoritarianism as something that is scattered across the political spectrum and shows up in incomplete segments at various points. Factions of the Left are anti-authoritarian in certain ways, and so are factions of the Right or Center. It all depends on the issue in question and the groups being impacted by it. Also, one thing Price doesn’t mention (and would probably dismiss out of hand) is the concept of “authoritarian liberalism” (or what I call “totalitarian humanism”). I see this rather than fascism as being the ideological framework that the Western ruling classes/power elites/states are cultivating in order to legitimize themselves (hence, the near universal support of the power elites for Hillary Clinton)..

    Also, having spent a great deal of time around the alt-right, I think dismissing that milieu as “fascist” is overblown and too great a generalization. There are certainly fascists and fascist sympathizers around the alt-right, but there are lots of other perspectives as well. There’s no consensus among alt-rightists concerning preferred political and economic systems. I’ve encountered everything from an-caps to monarchists to people with leftist economic views in that milieu.

    A less significant potential criticism of the Price article is that he seems to hold to the standard Marxist interpretation of fascism as merely being the strong arm of capitalism when capitalism is threatened by revolutionary socialism, with fascism creating a popular base for itself by appealing to reactionary tendencies among the lower middle class. This is a somewhat limited and problematic interpretation of fascism.

    This is a podcast I did recently with Todd Lewis on fascism. This wasn’t intended to be ideological, just a discussion of fascism within an intellectual and historical context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la4vb3-RYvE

  2. I do not “dismiss out of hand” notions of authoritarian liberalism. Why would you think I would? We anarchist-socialists have *always* rejected liberalism and social democracy (and revolutionary state socialism, such as Leninism) as statist, authoritarian, and centralist.

    However I do not take seriously libertarian or decentralist policy statements of the right any more than the Nazi’s “socialism.” Of course fascists tend to be confused, conflicted, and mixed-up in their political thinking, so their various ideological statements are not worth working through. As to the “alt right,” it was my understanding that they distinguished themselves from the far-right of the “conservative” movement, by their acceptance of white nationalism.

    • Thanks for your comments.

      “I do not “dismiss out of hand” notions of authoritarian liberalism. Why would you think I would? We anarchist-socialists have *always* rejected liberalism and social democracy (and revolutionary state socialism, such as Leninism) as statist, authoritarian, and centralist.”

      The left-wing anarchists may oppose conventional liberalism, social democracy, and Leninism on the grounds that these tendencies are not in favor “workers’ control of the means of production.” However, has the anarchistic left ever said a critical word about the authoritarian nature of what is commonly called “political correctness” (or what I call “totalitarian humanism”)? Not from what I can tell from anything they’ve ever done or written, except for rare individual circumstances. Instead, the left-anarchist milieu seems to have implicitly embraced Herbert Marcuse’ notion of “repressive tolerance.”

      “However I do not take seriously libertarian or decentralist policy statements of the right any more…”

      Why not? As I said above, anti-authoritarian segments tend to be located across the political spectrum in incomplete ways. There are certain forms of anti-authoritarianism that are favored by rightists and some that are favored by leftists.

      “As to the “alt right,” it was my understanding that they distinguished themselves from the far-right of the “conservative” movement, by their acceptance of white nationalism.”

      I would agree that the most distinguishing feature of the alt-right (as opposed to “movement conservatism) is its general embrace of conservative, reactionary, or at least illiberal (they would say “realist”) views on race and gender. But they doesn’t make them fascist per se. Their views on race and gender were “normal” in the US (and most everywhere else) until about 50 years ago, and the US has never been fascist. However, I actually agree with you that authoritarian statism from the right is the most distinguishing and important feature of fascism, and that other aspects of fascism are superfluous.

      • The NSDAP and its government are directly (though not exclusively) inspired by Stalinism, and while you may say that’s “not socialism” I can just add all day that AnComs aren’t ‘real anarchists’. No True Scotsman ever joined a political party.
        The fact is that many non-leftists are radical antistatists, and also affect a bunch of disarmed clowns obsessed with tranny bathrooms. I’ll take libertarians any day over fucking AntiFags.

  3. Opposition to “political correctness” is usually a defense of the right to say nasty and prejudicial things against People of Color, women, LGBT people, etc. However in practice “political correctness” can, and has, gone too far in creating a repressive atmosphere. Anyway, revolutionary anarchists generally reject Marcuse’s notion of “repressive tolerance” (M. was a Marxist, not an anarchist). Certainly I do. In any case, this is a minor issue and a distraction compared to the overall domination and exploitation of the state and capitalism.

    We anarchist-communists are not only against oppressive, bureaucratic, centralized, states but also against oppressive, bureaucratic, centralized corporations. While people on the right may be sincerely against the state, they are not against the corporations (which are creations of the state and are creators of the state). Therefore I do not take their “libertarianism” seriously.

    I did not say that the racism of the alt right is what makes them fascist. As you say, it is possible to be racist and not fascist, as it is possible to be fascist and not racist (as my article points out). However, the alt right is predominantly fascist and racist.

    • “Opposition to “political correctness” is usually a defense of the right to say nasty and prejudicial things against People of Color, women, LGBT people, etc.”

      Yes, that is frequently the case. Although free speech must ultimately include the right to speak like an asshole (of course, others can always offer counter-criticism as well).

      “However in practice “political correctness” can, and has, gone too far in creating a repressive atmosphere.”

      Yes.

      “Anyway, revolutionary anarchists generally reject Marcuse’s notion of “repressive tolerance” (M. was a Marxist, not an anarchist).”

      I am aware of Marcuse’s actual ideological leanings, although I’m not as certain of the commitment of many present day anarchists to rejecting “repressive tolerance” (or comparable practices). Case in point:

      Maybe the behavior demonstrated in the above video shouldn’t be classified as “repressive tolerance” as much as collective mental illness. Still, the alleged libertarian values of many self-proclaimed “anarchists” seems rather dubious at times. For example, this is what one former anarcho-communist says about his experience in that particular milieu (and the author of these comments greatly dislikes me, btw).

      “I used to be an anarcho-communist. Actually, I started out as someone who was vaguely sympathetic to mainstream libertarianism but could never fully embrace it due to the perceived economic implications. I eventually drifted to social anarchism thanks to someone who’s name I won’t mention, because it’s too embarrassing.

      After hanging around them for a while I realized that, for all their pretenses, most of them were really just state-socialists who wanted to abolish the State by making it smaller and calling it something else. After about a year of hanging around Libcom and the livejournal anarchist community, I encountered people who, under the aegis of “community self-management”, supported

      smoking and alcohol bans
      bans on currently illicit drugs
      bans on caffeinated substances (all drugs are really just preventing you from dealing with problems, you see)
      censorship of pornography (on feminist grounds)
      sexual practices like BDSM (same grounds, no matter the gender of the participants or who was in what role)
      bans on prostitution (same grounds)
      bans on religion or public religious expression (this included atheist religions like Buddhism, which were the same thing because they were “irrational”)
      bans on advertisement (which in this context meant any free speech with a commercial twist)
      bans on eating meat
      gun control (except for members of the official community-approved militia, which is in no way the same thing as a local police department)
      mandatory work assignments (ie slavery)
      the blatant statement, in these exact words, that “Anarchism is not individualist” on no less than twelve separate occasions over the course of seven months. Not everybody in those communities actively agreed with them, but nobody got up and seriously disputed it.
      that if you don’t like any of these rules, you’re not free to just quit the community, draw a line around your house and choose not to obey while forfeiting any benefits. No, as long as you’re in what they say are the the boundaries (borders?) of “the community”, you’re bound to follow the rules, otherwise you have to move someplace else (“love it or leave it”, as the conservative mantra goes). You’d think for a moment that this conflicts with An-comm property conceptions because they’re effectively exercising power over land that they do not occupy, implying that they own it and making “the community” into One Big Landlord a la Hoppean feudalism.

      So I decided that we really didn’t want the same things, and that what they wanted was really some kind of Maoist concentration commune where we all sit in a circle and publicly harass the people who aren’t conforming hard enough. No thanks, comrade.”

      “In any case, this is a minor issue and a distraction compared to the overall domination and exploitation of the state and capitalism.”

      Well, the key problem that I see with political correctness is the effort of the state, ruling class, and power elite to incorporate it into their self-legitimating ideological superstructure. It’s not surprising this would be happening. It’s a means of on one hand acknowledging and accommodating a range of cultural, ideological, generational, and demographic changes that have happened in the US and other Western nations in recent decades, and yet bending this towards their own purposes of inculcating ideological conformity and institutional authority. “What was once forbidden is now mandatory, what was once mandatory is now forbidden” and all that.

      “We anarchist-communists are not only against oppressive, bureaucratic, centralized, states but also against oppressive, bureaucratic, centralized corporations. While people on the right may be sincerely against the state, they are not against the corporations (which are creations of the state and are creators of the state). Therefore I do not take their “libertarianism” seriously.

      That’s the chief area of disagreement I have with orthodox American style libertarians as well (the Mises-Hayek-Friedman-Rand-Rothbard axis). Although there are many laissez faire libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, individualist anarchists, market anarchists, left-libertarians, etc who argue that mass corporations of the kind we presently have would be impossible without corporate personhood laws, corporate subsidies, and other forms of state-granted privilege. Maybe they’re wrong in that presumption, but that doesn’t mean they’re corporate apologists (though certain kinds of right-libertarians certainly are).

      “However, the alt right is predominantly fascist and racist.”

      Racist, yes. Fascist? I may hold to a narrower definition of fascism than you do, but I think it’s important to define ideological terms with precision. I agree that totalitarianism of the right is the principal characteristic of fascism. However, I would disagree that all right-wing authoritarian movements or regimes, even anti-democratic ones, are necessarily fascist. Fascism is in a category of extremism that’s unique unto itself, and it’s authoritarianism is beyond that of even the authoritarian nature of traditional right-wing politics (e.g. throne and altar reactionaries, bourgeois conservatives, theocratic religious states, and caudillo-like military regimes). And Nazism is something that is even more extreme. To use an analogy to the Left, a leftist regime can be non-democratic or authoritarian but not specifically or explicitly Marxist-Leninist (for example, the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, Chavismo, or Nicaragua’s Sandinistas in the 80s). And not all Marxist-Leninist regimes were on the order of Pol Pot. Nazism was to fascism what the Khmer Rouge was to Marxism-Leninism.

      • To clarify my last point, I would say that the alt-right/far right is comparable to the far Left in many ways. The far Left includes (broadly speaking) everything that’s outside the Democratic Party. This would include left-liberal or social democratic reformist/electoral groups like the DSA, SPUSA, or the Greens. It would also include revolutionary totalitarians like Maoists, Stalinists, Kimists, Castroists, etc. And it would include left-libertarians like anarchists, anarcho-communists, syndicalists, IWW.

        The far Right includes electoralists like the Constitution Party or Libertarian Party. It includes revolutionary fascists and totalitarians like the American Nazi Party or National Alliance, and it also includes anarcho-capitalists, along with folks who think there shouldn’t be any government beyond the county level, and these sovereign citizens types who think drivers licensing requirements are an egregious violation of liberty.

        The same triangular relationship between totalitarians, reformists, and libertarians exists on both sides.

        This article is the most comprehensive and accurate overview of the alt-right I have seen to date, including my own relationship with the alt-right. The only correction I would add is that I never spoke at an American Renaissance gathering, though I have spoken to similar groups like the National Policy Institute and H. L. Mencken Club. https://thelibertarianalliance.com/2016/08/29/the-rise-of-the-radical-right-the-alt-right-neoreaction-and-the-trump-campaign/

  4. Keith says, “I would disagree that all right-wing authoritarian movements or regimes, even anti-democratic ones, are necessarily fascist. … it’s authoritarianism is beyond that of even the authoritarian nature of traditional right-wing politics ”

    This could lead to a lengthy discussion of the definition of fascism. On the model of Nazi Germany and Fascist italy, fascism requires a mass movement to thoroughly smash all institutions of democracy and workers’ power.

    However, if we include, say, Franco’s Spanish forces, or Pinochet’s Chilean coup, then fascism is a “milder” form of authoritarianism, even if more repressive than the old monarchies or police states. For the purposes of this discussion, let us agree that the alt right is overwhelmingly very authoritarian, anti-democratic, as well as racist. This is enough to condemn it, I should think. And to wonder what you were doing speaking at some of its events. And why there are links and ads for “national anarchism” and such on the sides of your articles.

    Yes, as you say, the Left is predominately statist, authoritarian, hierarchical, and centralist. Nor is the anarchist Left entirely free from such errors. But overall–and certainly in the part I support and belong to–revolutionary anarchists condemn these trends and fight against them.

  5. The best historian/analyst of fascism, and the one that is most commonly recognized as a leading expert on the origins and nature of fascism, is Stan Payne: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_G._Payne

    Paul Gottfried’s work in this area is also quite interesting: http://townhall.com/columnists/jackkerwick/2016/06/07/paul-gottfrieds-fascism-the-career-of-a-concept-a-review-n2174362

    “However, if we include, say, Franco’s Spanish forces, or Pinochet’s Chilean coup, then fascism is a “milder” form of authoritarianism, even if more repressive than the old monarchies or police states.”

    Yes, there’s a longstanding debate between scholars of fascism concerning whether these right-wing military dictatorships of the 20th century actually constituted a form of fascism. I’m inclined to say probably not, although these regimes obviously sucked just the same.

    “For the purposes of this discussion, let us agree that the alt right is overwhelmingly very authoritarian, anti-democratic, as well as racist. This is enough to condemn it, I should think. And to wonder what you were doing speaking at some of its events. And why there are links and ads for “national anarchism” and such on the sides of your articles.”

    Well, for the same reason I have spoken to Russian state media, and Iranian state media, for the same reason I would speak to a gathering of International A.N.S.W.E.R. if asked to do so, or the same reason I used to work with CISPES back in the day. The common thread in all of these is “anti-Americanism,” or opposition to US imperialism.

    I consider national-anarchism to be a legitimate form of anarchism. N-As bring interesting ideas to the table. But no more so than anarcho-primitivists, anarcho-capitalists, anarcho-transhumanists, Christian anarchists, crypto-anarchists, etc etc etc. I am interested in the entire range of anarchist, libertarian, decentralist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-state thinking.

    “Yes, as you say, the Left is predominately statist, authoritarian, hierarchical, and centralist. Nor is the anarchist Left entirely free from such errors. But overall–and certainly in the part I support and belong to–revolutionary anarchists condemn these trends and fight against them.”

    No disagreement there. Although for practical purposes, I’m often more oriented towards meeting people where they are at.

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