By Roger D. Harris
Posted on August 31, 2015 by the Communications Committee
Agreed, Donald Trump is a supremely unattractive character for folks like us. And that's putting it mildly. He's defiantly not "politically correct" and we hate that. But is he a harbinger of fascism?
Trump certainly fits the Hollywood version of the proto-fascist. He's loud, scowls, has a stiff presence, and is uncomely. But beyond what central casting defines as fascist, does he fit the political definition as some fear (see CounterPunch (August 25))?
Aside from the particularities and indeed peculiarities of Mr. Trump's persona, it is instructive to posit him in the current U.S. historical context.
Fascism historically came about when the working class and its allies (i.e., popular classes) – and their organizations such as unions and left political parties – were so strong and well organized that they threatened rule by the corporate class. That was the case in Spain, Italy, and Germany in the 1930s. What happened under fascism is the corporate class imposed a dictatorship over themselves rather than risk loss of power to the popular classes.
In the US today, unions are at an historical nadir and no socialist party is on the verge of challenging state power. The corporate class can comfortably and confidently engage in the circus known as the presidential primaries knowing that whatever clown emerges at the top will serve their interests and – most importantly – the popular classes will continue to consent to their rule.
That is not to say there are no dangers ahead. US society is becoming more and more repressive. But that is not the same as fascism. There is still a thriving democracy for the elites where they can compete to see which faction captures the White House.
So what is the face of repression? Does it have a comb-over and a grimace or can it be a happy face? An objective look at the march toward a police state in the US may show that Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton (effective death penalty act, end of welfare, etc.) and Barack "hope" Obama (NSA, drones, extension of the Patriot Act, militarization of the police, deporting the undocumented, etc.) have been more terribly effective in eroding our commonweal than the Bush boys.
Playing the Scary Card
In the end, dealing the scary card will surely be the game plan for the Democrats in the 2016 presidential race. The Democrats will be saying, "look how scary the Republican is … vote for me" when in fact the presidential race largely represents a corporate good cop/bad cop routine. Both sides will be equally dedicated to serving the corporate class and repressing any opposition to corporate rule.
Meanwhile after the primary warm-up act is concluded, Bernie Sanders will in all likelihood dutifully encourage his faithful to vote Democrat not withstanding that none of the major substantive issues that distinguished the Sanders campaign from that of Clinton will have been picked up by the triumphant side.
On the contrary, the Democrat platform will move in subtle ways to be similar to the Republican one, although the style and presentation will differ. Both will say "make America strong" (with "strong" meaning in fact more aggressively repressive) and "strengthen American world leadership" (with "leadership" meaning U.S. imperialism and war without end).
Still we will be exhorted to vote for the "lesser of the scariest" appropriately symbolized by the party with a jackass for a logo. Which is really scarier, being stabbed in the belly (Republican) or the back (Democrat)? Perhaps it is time to say none of the above and not being scared of choosing a third party candidate that reflects our interests.
Roger D. Harris is a member of the Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee from Marin County.