Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Trump and the Delusional Left

Most of the US Left seems to have bought into the narrative that Trump is either a literal fascist or a conventional reactionary or right-wing strongman like Putin, Erdogan, Orban, Duterte, Bolsonaro, etc. I think all of this is a misunderstanding of what historic fascism actually was, how the US political and economic system actually works, and the Trump phenomenon itself.

Historic fascism and its similarities tended to appear in countries experiencing early or relatively early stages of industrialization, that were under the direct or indirect domination of external forces, and had experienced some kind of national humiliation (like Versaille), economic disaster (like the Great Depression), war devastation (like Cambodia in the 70s or Afghanistan in the 90s) or merely an archaic ruling class that was impervious to any kind of reform leading toward modernization (like Spain and Portugal in the 30s or Libya in the 60s or Iran in the 70s). That was true of Italian fascism and German Nazism, as well as revolutionary nationalist or religious fundamentalists in the Middle East like Nasser, Qaddafi, Assad, Khomeini, the Taliban,etc. The Pol Pot regime came to power in a similar context.

The USA is a much different kind of society, a highly sophisticated techo-state, with unprecedented wealth, military power, and technology, not a weak Second World/Third World system easily vulnerable to strong men and demagogues. The USA is closer to the Empire in “Star Wars” than postwar Italy. US Presidents are not traditional monarchs or dictators but managers in the employment of a plutocratic-technocratic oligarchy, the same way a CEO is answerable to major shareholders, boards of directors, creditors, and the fickleness of the market.

I think it’s also obvious that Trump’s “popularity” with many if not most of his voter base Americans is rooted in his literal professional wrestling persona. Michael Bloomberg gave the game away back in 2016 when he said that among the plutocratic class Trump is known as a cheat and a conman, and that’s why the power elite and the media worked overtime to unseat him. They view him as an oafish rogue from their own ranks whom the perceived backward peasants like because of rather than in spite of his crudities. Plus, the theme of the Democrats’ last two campaigns has amounted to “Vote for us because at least we’re not that guy.” Trump himself is more a used car salesman than a fascist “man of action” type. To the degree that he has any serious political views at all, he seems to be a standard New York liberal in the Rockefeller Republican tradition who, like Nixon, appeals to the hardhat types even if he has nothing in common with them except a propensity for bad language.

4 replies »

  1. That about sums it up, except for the part where the left believes he’s a fascist/reactionary. To the extent that there IS a left in America, most of it seems to agree with you. It’s the center-right (most Democrats and many Republicans) who are convinced Trump’s a fascist.

  2. It’s not the result of any “misunderstanding of what historic [sic: I think you mean historical] fascism was” or any other misunderstanding. It’s the result of a purposeful multi-year campaign of relentless propagandistic hatemongering and brainwashing by the left and their media for political purposes using classic Goebbels-type big-lie technique.

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