Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Politico Targets Democratic "Lurch To The Left"

Much of the corporate press tends to worship at the altar of the political "center," which it always defines as well to the right of the public. Call it the alt-center. In the 2016 presidential cycle, Bernie Sanders found himself on the receiving end of the usual press treatment dished out to liberal or left political candidates who present themselves to the public; news media spent most of a year trying to ignore him to death then when he didn't die, tried to actively destroy his candidacy with relentless attacks. While Democratic politicans have been moving to the right for decades, one manifestations of this alt-center-ism is that mainstream pundits always portray them as too liberal and always counsel them to "move to the right." This has become a rather long-running joke. Liberal media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting has tracked the trend for decades.

The alt-center struck again this morning in a Politico story based on a new Politico/Morning Consult poll:

"Donald Trump begins his presidency facing unprecedented polling headwinds: Roughly a quarter of voters think Donald Trump is the worst president in the last century. Forty-three percent of voters are ready to vote for a nameless Democrat in 2020, while just over a third say they'll vote for Trump."

What possible point could there be, the reader may ask, in polling on a potential 2020 presidential race in February 2017? Well, in his next paragraph, Politico's Jake Sherman tells you:

"But, in the fourth week of Trump's presidency, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that Democrats could be in trouble--and Trump could triumph--if they continues their lurch to the left."

Readers not hobbled by alt-centerist assumptions--or who just pay any more than minimal attention to public affairs--will immediately ask, what "lurch to the left"? In the just-concluded presidential election, Democrats didn't go with the left candidate; they ran the far-too-conservative opportunist. The aftermath of Clinton's defeat hasn't, so far, resulted in any radical changes either. Senate Democrats chose Wall Street shill Chuck Schumer as their leader (to replace the retiring Harry Reid), while House Demos went with the same tired old line-up as before, including Nancy Pelosi at the top, a "leader" who, in the immediate aftermath of the election, went on nationwide television and said she didn't think people wanted a new direction for her party.

But while there is no "lurch to the left," there is a growing debate about the direction of the Democratic party--continue pursuing rightist economic policies in order to suck up to Big Money sources for donations or pursue a more liberal course more in line with the views of the overwhelming majority of the public?

That's the debate on which Politico just weighed in, in an article that is, on this point, editorializing in the guise of reportage. A poll on a potential 2020 presidential contest is meaningless but Politico's presentation of its results, while serving one side of that internal Democratic debate, is also fraudulent. Digging into the actual polling results, one finds that Morning Consult also asked respondents if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Elizabeth Warren; 34% had either never heard of her or had heard her name but as yet lacked sufficient knowledge to have any opinion of her.

In assessing a potential Trump/Warren presidential contest, the fact that over a third of respondents don't even know Warren would seem a rather relevant fact. Politico's Sherman, while attempting to use the result of the head-to-head question to pour cold water on any Democratic "lurch to the left," declines to mention this finding. It seems a much bigger political story that, even with Warren's severe name-recognition deficit, the actual head-to-head question still finds her within 6 points (margin of error 2%) of not only the sitting President of the United States but of a new president, with all the advantages that entails,[1] but that's apparently not an editorial Politico wants to write.



[1] Americans typically extend to new presidents a great deal of good will and this has proven the case with Trump as well--though it never put him above 50%, he started his administration with more people approving of his job performance than disapproving. Once he started doing his job, this changed.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trump & Fascism: Appendices

Appendix I: Speaking Their Language

In "Trump & Fascism: The Basics", I wrote, "Trump is the darling of the 'alt-right,' much of which is overtly fascist. This isn't coincidental or in any way unintentional--he all-but-openly courted these elements during the campaign, often in ways that would have been political suicide for any other modern presidential candidate." As I covered in that earlier piece, Trump speaks the language of fascism. "The ultranationalism, the anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, the opportunistic political syncretism (during the presidential race, Trump freely ran to Hillary Clinton's left on many issues), the lack of any real program beyond Trump as the strongman who promises to cure the liberal democracy that ails the nation, the promise of authoritarian rule and of national renewal to be achieved by it ('Make America Great Again'), the machismo, the militarism, the exaltation of authority, the persistent demonization of his 'enemies,' including helpless minorities, often to justify repressive policies," and so on.

Donald Trump's protofascism has been a key to his success. When he entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he was widely despised within his party. That week in June 2015, RealClearPolitics, which aggregates polls from many sources, showed him with a pathetic 3.6% support among Republicans. But the protofascist rhetoric began with his first speech. He asserted that Mexican immigrants in the U.S. were rapists, drug-dealers, criminals and further, that the Mexican government was involved in a conspiracy to ship such elements to these shores. Challenged on such rot, he doubled down again and again, making it clear he wasn't just limiting his attack to people from one Latin American country but meant "people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they're coming into this country" across the Mexican border. He had a plan to deal with these evil brown people from south of the border too; he promised to "build a great wall" across that entire border, describing it in increasingly grandiose terms, and to establish a "deportation force" which would be assigned the task of removing every illegal immigrant from the U.S.. This sort of rhetoric made Trump's numbers explode; within a month, he went from a low-single-digit also-ran to the head of the Republican field, a position he continued to hold right through to the end of the primary season. Trump called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. He described watching "thousands and thousands" of American Muslims celebrating in the streets of Jersey City, New Jersey on 9/11 as the World Trade Center Towers fell and said because of this, he wanted federal surveillance of mosques in the U.S. He insisted the millions of illegal immigrants were illegally voting in our elections. Such rhetoric has been and remains a cornerstone of Trump's stint in politics.

In reality, immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than the native born. Even if it was possible to deport over 11 million people--and it isn't--the result of doing so would be the complete and spectacular collapse of the U.S. economy. The notion that the Mexican government is involved in a conspiracy to send us their vile, their felonious is ludicrous and baseless and it can't be forced to pay for any wall. Muslims can't be banned from entering the U.S.; no mechanism either exists or could be created to act as a "religious police" in such a matter. Trump's tale of Jersey City Muslims celebrating 9/11 was just a lie he pulled out of an orifice on the spot. Ditto with the illegal immigrants voting.

But subjecting these comments to that sort of empirical analysis entirely misses their point. Trump's rhetoric isn't meant to be an honest, rational assessment of anything. His remarks of this genre are simply lies deployed for their emotional appeal, the standard fascist cult of aggrievement being nurtured. With them, Trump is directly echoing what the white supremacist community in the U.S. has been saying for decades. At one point, he even directly consulted a network of nativist hate-groups founded by a white nationalist, and  made extensive use of their fake "research" on the campaign trail. He tells Americans there are too many brown people with funny accents and strange habits running around and you're being harmed by this. Stoking racial and ethnic fears and, most importantly, resentments. Tearing at the fabric of civilized, liberal society. And that's all it is. When, on the campaign trail, his rhetoric began to attract protests--a healthy liberal society will always strongly react against this sort of thing--Trump spent months encouraging his supporters to carry out violence against those protesting. That's the fascist response to everything the fascist dislikes, to hit it, to kick it, to try to stomp it out. While there are important differences between Trump and real fascists (outlined in the earlier essay), all of this is why Trump is so incredibly popular within the white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture. He speaks their language. He parrots their rhetoric. This is one of the enduring cornerstones of both his campaign and now his presidency.

Appendix II: Nazis, Fascists, Racists

If one sticks around internet locales wherein politics are discussed, one quickly runs into an array of rightist trolls who launch thread after thread insisting, among other things, that today's Democratic party is the party of the Ku Klux Klan and that fascists are, in reality, leftists. These trolls deploy a standard litany of lies and misrepresentations in support of such Orwellian assertions; they've all pretty much been programmed from the same playbook. Seeing these endless threads spill over into the election cycle wherein the white supremacist/Nazi/"identitarian"/fascist subculture was absolutely enraptured by one of the presidential candidates,[*] I decided it would be helpful to create a thread that cut through the squid's ink and made clear who these elements were and who they were supporting. Some are separatists who don't take part in electoral politics. Some have their own small, right-wing parties, usually local. But those who participate in traditional two-party politics had made their political allegiance very clear and it wasn't to the party that elected that black fellow president. That thread was basically a series of links to various relevant items, by no means comprehensive but more than sufficient to make the point. They're reproduced here:

Andrew Anglin, a white supremacist and self-proclaimed fascist, founded the Daily Stormer, which has recently overtaken Stormfront to become the major internet white supremacist site. Here's his endorsement for president:

Anglin doesn't have the rightist trolls' confusion about fascists. As he tells it, Trump "is absolutely the only candidate who is even talking about anything at all that matters," said things that matter being that Trump wants to get rid of those Mexicans, get rid of Obamacare and he's the only candidate "with any chance whatsoever of beating Hillary."

The Daily Stormer is jam-packed with articles promoting Trump and attacking his enemies:

--"Glorious Leader [Trump] Calls for Complete Ban on All Moslems"
--"Media Jews Try to Hoax Trump with Fake Attack on Lying Slut Reporter"
--"Krauthammer Says Trump Train Cannot be Derailed!" (the subheadline for this one: "You gave it a good shot, Jews.")
--"Soros Funds Hispanic Move Against Trump"
--"Vile African Leader of America [President Obama] Again Attacks Donald Trump"
--"Jew Noam Chomsky Says a Trump Presidency Would Destroy Earth"
--"Three Wetbacks Arrested for Pulling Gun on Trump Supporter in Georgia"

And so on.

David Duke, probably the single-most prominent white supremacist in the U.S., has issued a de facto endorsement of Trump. "I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do." Further, he told his followers that "voting for these people [Cruz and Rubio], voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage." He encouraged his listeners to "get active":

"Get off your duff. Get off your rear end that’s getting fatter and fatter for many of you everyday on your chairs. When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers. Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have."

Kevin B. MacDonald is the editor of the Occidental Observer, devoted to "white identity, white interests, and the culture of the West"--a racist who with a particular focus on anti-Semitism who affects the pose of an intellectual. Early on, he saw much hope for white nationalists in the Trump campaign, praising "Trump’s statements on the criminal tendencies and generally low functioning of Mexican and Central American immigrants," which he wrote, "have struck a chord with White America." MacDonald praises Trump for attacking Jewish pundits--"prominent operatives of the Republican Party/Israel Lobby nexis"--and for bringing to the forefront the "issue" of "illegal alien criminality."

MacDonald has become more and more enthusiastic about Trump as the campaign has gone on:

"I certainly counted myself among the skeptics when it comes to Donald Trump’s candidacy. But it’s clear now that he is going full populist on the issues that matter, first with his statements on trade deals, but now—and more importantly—on immigration. Ann Coulter calls his immigration statement 'the greatest political document since the Magna Carta'... I agree--if it can actually end up influencing policy. While other candidates like Scott Walker and Rick Santorum have mumbled things about legal immigration, the immigration issue will now define Trump’s candidacy. White Americans can finally express themselves on what kind of country they want to live in. As Coulter also points out, immigration is the only important issue."

MacDonald has authored perhaps a dozen articles expressing glee that Trump pisses off prominent Jewish commentators.

"The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s... 'Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,' said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. 'He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.'... [White supremacist leaders] consistently say that Trump's rhetoric about minority groups has successfully tapped into simmering racial resentments long ignored by mainstream politicians and that he has brought more attention to their agenda than any American political figure in years. It is a development many of them see as a golden opportunity."

As Politico notes, Stormfront, the biggest white supremacist community on the internet (and before the Daily Stormer came along, the most visited site), is full of excitement over Trump. One can go there and, under the logo "We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!," see thread after thread of enthusiastic white supremacists expressing their delight at Trump.
And on into infinity.

Stormfront is a very effective antidote for the persistent nut-right trolling about fascism being a phenomenon of the left ("The Nazis have the word 'socialist' in their name!"). The Nazis, white nationalists, race separatists of the Stormfront gang has no such illusions about which side they're on or who their enemies are. Trump is god, George Soros is evil, Black Lives Matters are violent thugs, Bernie Sanders is the evil socialist Jew, Hillary Clinton is a felon, and on and on. Remove the overt racial references and much of the political commentary on the site would be indistinguishable from any other right-wing site that allows people to post. A small sample:

Poster Blueearth:

"The enemy is the left, it became clear to even the most moderate whites, with the well organized mob last night and, the bitter vitriol pouring out from Tim Wise the anti white jew. I did not hear Bernie Sanders condemn the violence either, even though today, they are identifying the vast majority as sanders supporters, no surprise really, since sanders has been active in agitation since the early 60's in this same city. This mob was evil and violent, they wanted the war to start last night, they may just get their wish if this continues... The enemy here is the organized institutional left, and every single GOP candidate and surrogate needs to start educating the voters on who they are. This is going to get worse. As I predicted in January:As the newest incarnation of the activist Left, Black Lives Matter will not back down or rest until it is either stopped by someone gutsy enough to call them out or until it gets what it wants: a bloody revolution leading to a socialist/anarchist America."

Volodyamyr states the matter plainly:

"The Left and Jewry are synonymous, because the Jews are the Left."


"...the only way around this is for Trump to take control of the country and explain the media bias to the masses in simple terms. So the best all of us can do right now is hope Trump wins through and is the genuine article, and for the American public get behind and help Trump. I'm not sure that the likes of Trump, The UKIP party in Britain, LePen in France, Vladimir Putin are the real thing, but my God they have to be better than Hillary Clinton and the worldwide libtard movement."


"Jews invented left wing ideology and they still set the agenda for all the leftists."


"Hillary is the problem and Trump is the solution."


"Look back at history. Who created the so called left? The Jew... If you are still on the fence about whether to support white pride groups, I would advise you to go to one of the leftist rallies. Listen to the hate and vitriol they spew at absolutely anyone who disagrees with them. Look around at the people at one of these dog and pony shows. These people have the unmitigated gall to call us haters? They talk about brotherly love and peace and love your fellow man. What that means is love thy spook. Fall down and worship thy Hebe. Never question the liberal agenda. If you fail to do any of these things they will attack you like a pack of rabid dogs."


"We’ve heard the liberal meme over and over that Donald Trump encourages violence among his supporters. Of course the liberals who make this accusation, always fail to note that the problems have always resulted from obnoxious leftists, who show up inside Trump rallies and then try to keep Trump from speaking, forcing Trump and his supporters to throw them out."


"Hungarian Jew billionaire George Soros has announced that he is putting $5 million into a new political action committee designed solely to mobilize Hispanics into a nonwhite anti-Trump voting bloc. The blatant racially-based political mobilization—which Soros would be among the first to call 'racist' if it were done by whites—will take the form of the “Immigrant Voters Win PAC,” and will help to coordinate the effects of a number of nonwhite political groups."

And so on.

Now get a shower.

The New Yorker ran a good piece about, among other things, Trump's extensive fan following among the white supremacist crowd:

The American Freedom Party, a neo-Nazi org, launched a super-PAC, American National, that has been financing robocalls in support of Trump's candidacy:

Jared Taylor, editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance and spokesman for the Council of Conservative Citizens, lent his voice to recording the robocall message:

"Jared Taylor, a leading white nationalist known for his academic-sounding deconstructions of multiculturalism, has been an ardent supporter of Donald Trump since the earliest days of the billionaire's presidential campaign."

"Jared Taylor is a believer in what he calls 'race realism,' a belief system that includes the idea that people are happier when they can live with only members of their race, and that people of color are endangering the majority that white Americans have held for centuries. He has questioned the ability of black people to live in civilized society, and his website, American Renaissance, says one 'of the most destructive myths of modern times is that people of all races have the same average intelligence.' Taylor, a white nationalist, is also an enthusiastic supporter of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

"'He is really the first candidate in many years whose policies are not going to kowtow,' Taylor said of Trump. 'He has taken a very straightforward position on keeping Muslims out, for example. Can you name a single good consequence of mass Muslim immigration to the United States? I sure can’t!'"

The Knights Party is one of several descendants of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organization formerly run by David Duke (it fractured over the years). Thomas Robb, the preacher who has run it since the '70s, knows who he's supporting for president: "As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump is the pick of the litter."

"'The others say they can control the border … they’ve been talking about controlling the border for 50 years,' he said. 'The Knights Party started calling for a wall on our border back in the late '70s. It’s nice to see some other people catching up.'

"While he views Trump as the 'pick of the litter,' Robb said that he would back any Republican against Hillary Clinton in the general election."

Some quotes from Robb, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"When the Negro was under the natural discipline of white authority, white people were safe from the abuse and violence of the Negro, but the Negro was also safe from himself."
–-Editorial in The Torch, April 1990

"Dats when A'hs does what A'hs want. Dat's also when A'hs kin have da white girls, and da free food stamps."
--The White Patriot, 1991

"My name’s not Paul Revere, but one of the things I’d be saying if I was on that stallion in 1775, but I’m not, so in 2009, the Mexicans are coming, the Mexicans are coming!"
--At White Christian Heritage Festival, Pulaski, Tenn., Oct. 24, 2009

Rachel Pendergraft, an organizer for the Knights Party, uses Trump as a recruting tool:

The Knights Party has a platform; with a few overt racial references (and one or two odd items) removed, it would pass muster with much of the American nationalist hard right.

Craig Cobb wants to turn the little town of Antler, North Dakota into a white supremacist enclave and rename it after his hero Donald Trump:

William Daniel Johnson of the white nationalist American Freedom Party once proposed a constitutional amendment revoking the citizenship of every non-white American. He thinks Trump is just hunky-dory:

"'I was not a supporter of the man until the positions made me a convert,' Johnson said, describing how he was swayed by Trump’s promises of a wall separating the United States and Mexico and a new plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country. For the quarter of a century during which Johnson was aware of Trump before these proposals, he wasn’t a huge fan. Now, he said, 'I admire what he’s doing very much.'


"The slight problem for Johnson, in his political capacity, is that the American Freedom Party has its own presidential candidate. The portly, blue-eyed Bob Whitaker is the party's man. He campaigns with the catchy slogan 'Diversity Is a Codeword for Genocide.' Yet as Johnson laughingly told The Daily Beast, Whitaker himself supports what Trump is doing, as do many members of the party.

"Indeed, interest in the American Freedom Party has surged along with Trump’s rise, Johnson said.

"'We have seen a dramatic uptick in support,' he crowed. 'In fact, sometimes I can hardly manage because of this Trump phenomenon.'

"...the American Freedom Party chairman describes his relationship with Trump as 'unrequited love.' He said he has contributed financially to the campaign, created a super PAC to support him, and tries to get the message out about Trump’s near sainthood on the party’s daily radio shows."

Whitaker eventually withdrew as the AFP's candidate and the party endorsed Trump.

Back in the 1960s, the Citizens Councils of America, better known as the White Citizens Councils (and known colloquially as "the uptown Klan"), battled civil rights and racial integration. Those behind it eventually changed its name to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC has all the usual targets--it's anti-black, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-liberal, anti-"race-mixing" (in 2003, the group's website decreed that "Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God)." In 2007, the Citizen Informer, one of the group's publications, offered a "statement of principles" that included things like this:

"We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people... We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."

Dozens of politicians and political officials are tied up with the CCC and, of course, almost all of them are Republicans. Then-Republican leader Trent Lott--the fellow who, a few years ago, praised Strom Thurmond's 1948 "Segregation Forever" campaign--gave at least five speeches to the group and was reportedly a dues-paying member. Then-Mississsippi Governor and former Republican National Committee chief Haley Barbour has addressed the group, as has Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who ran for the Republican presidential nomination again this year. Alabama "Justice" Roy Moore, the reactionary demagogue who fought a long battle over trying to erect and maintain an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument in the state Judicial Building, has addressed the org. The CCC was allowed to participate in the Conservative Political Action Conference year after year until their white supremacist views got a wider airing in the press, forcing CPAC to cut them out.

In 1999, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) introduced a resolution in congress condemning the CCC:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) condemns the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens;
(2) condemns all manifestations and expressions of racism, bigotry, and religious intolerance wherever they occur; and
(3) urges all Members of the House of Representatives not to support or endorse the Council of Conservative Citizens and its views.

All but 13 Republicans in the House lockstepped against the resolution and killed it. Over in the Senate, Lott himself stood opposed to it. Shocking, right?

A few years later, a little right-wing slug happened across the CCC's website. He was amazed by what he found there--as he described it, it really opened his eyes to the world. That slug was Dylann Roof and in 2015, inspired by what he'd found, he entered a black church in Charleston and murdered 9 people.

In the flurry of press coverage the followed the Roof killings, it was brought to light that the CCC's president Earl Holt III, a man who describes black people as "the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world," had given $65,000 to various Republican campaigns in the last few years, including large donations to Mitt Romney in 2012 and, prior to the rise of Trump in the current race, to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.

A breakdown of Holt's donations over the years, which have gone to Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, Steve King, Tom Cotton, Rick Santorum, Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, etc.--all the darlings of the nut right:

Holt switched to Donald Trump in the presidential race, helping finance those American Freedom Party robocalls.

White supremacist Kyle Rogers, the CCC's webmaster, has been a Republican activist in South Carolina for nearly a decade; you can visit ebay where he'll sell you a "Trump 2016" shirt:

Trump recently made a few waves in the press by approvingly retweeting a quote by Benito Mussolini. Getting much less attention is the fact that Trump routinely retweets white supremacists:

"Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused a minor stir by retweeting someone with the Twitter handle @whitegenocideTM, which some saw as making explicit the connection between Trump and American white supremacists. But that’s just one data point, right? A one-off thing that could have been an intern’s mistake? Unfortunately, no: the data shows that 62 percent of the accounts Trump has retweeted recently have white-supremacist connections."

Fortune did an analysis of Trump's social media ties to white supremacists and found them depressingly significant:

"Last night, PBS NewsHour ran a story on the Tilly family of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Tillys do not have a history of being active in politics, but various members of the family—both old and young—are being motivated to vote or work for a campaign for the first time by Donald Trump.

"If you can put aside the fact that the Tillys are rallying behind Trump, this is a small but almost heartwarming story of a family choosing to engage with democracy. That’s also if you can put aside the fact that Grace, one of the central characters in the story, has large white power tattoos on each of her hands."

This became a bit of a controversy and Grace Tilly falsely denied they had any connection to white supremacy:

"A white supremacist radio show was given full press credentials by the Donald Trump campaign, and even managed to snag at interview with Donald Trump Jr... The Political Cesspool bills itself as 'unapologetically pro-White... Even though Whites represented the vast majority of the American population, we had no mainstream voice,' its website laments. 'That would soon change. The Political Cesspool enjoyed a modest launch on October 26, 2004.' [Host James] Edwards has a long history of making disparaging comments about racial minorities, even saying interracial sex was nothing but 'white genocide.'

"Needless to say, Edwards is a big Trump fan. 'Trump is the only candidate who gives us a chance at having a fighter who will put America first. He’s the only candidate who isn’t owned and operated by special interests,' he continued. 'With Trump, America has a chance to regain her identity.'"

When this received some press attention, Trump Jr. claimed he didn't know Edwards held such views and that if he had, he wouldn't have done the interview but a few weeks later, Edwards was given press credentials for the upcoming Republican National Convention and invited to cover it. While there, he interviewed several Trump surrogates, including at least four Republican congressmen, who "promoted Trump’s candidacy to The Political Cesspool audience."

Matt Forney is a virulent white supremacist--hates blacks, hates Jews, hates Muslims, immigrants, gays, Mormons, Latinos and seems to particularly hate women--he advocates regular domestic violence against them, argues against educating them, says "feminists want men to rape them." He endorsed Trump early:

"Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is the closest America will come to redemption, the last triumph of nationalism before the left swamps us with hordes of barely literate foreigners who will vote them into a permanent majority. I’m not going to sit back and pretend that both parties are identical when one of them is presenting a clear alternative to decay and decline."

Forney later covered the Republican National Convention for Red Ice Radio (there's plenty on Forney charming views here as well):

Red Ice Radio is a racist internet radio show where the Holocaust is denied, white supremacy is affirmed and an endless parade of white nationalists/Nazis/fascists find a welcome home. It's produced by Red Ice Creations:

"Their [Red Ice Creations] two primary programs are the podcasts Red Ice Radio hosted by Henrik [Palmgren] and Radio 3Fourteen hosted by Lana [Lokteff]. Here they focus on guests for interviews, which are quickly becoming the 'who’s who' of the broad white nationalist and racist communities. Guests like Richard Spencer, American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, David Duke, Mike Enoch and Seventh Son from the Daily Shoah, various people from the Manosphere and Men’s Rights community, and just about everyone who remains relevant from this growing Alt Right scene."

Billy Snuffer, the Imperial Wizard of the Virginia-based Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, knows who he's backing:

"'You're paying attention to the presidential elections this time? In your own personal opinion, who is best for the job?' I asked the Imperial Wizard.

"'I think Donald Trump would be best for the job,' said the Imperial Wizard. 'The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe.'"

William Daniel Johnson of the American Freedom Party made another appearance in the Trump saga:

"On Monday evening, California's secretary of state published a list of delegates chosen by the Trump campaign for the upcoming Republican presidential primary in the state. Trump's slate includes William Johnson, one of the country's most prominent white nationalists."

When this became public, Johnson stepped down as a delegate.

White nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute is the fellow who coined the phrase "alt-right" as a rebranding of the white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture. When Johnson had the AFP conducting those elect-Trump calls, Spencer had warned him that the association could be hurting Trump's campaign but Spencer himself is a Trump supporter who has become increasingly enthusiastic as the campaign has continued. From Dec. 2015:

By Oct. 2016:

"Spencer has become more enthused as Trump has ramped up his claims about how his campaign represents an 'existential threat' to 'global special interests.' After Trump's widely criticized speech in West Palm Beach last week, during which the GOP nominee alleged a 'conspiracy' against the American people led by a 'global power structure,' Spencer tweeted, 'The shackles are off, and Trump is getting radical. We've never seen a major postwar politician talk like this.' He later amplified his appreciation of what he characterized as Trump 'demystifying "racism" and the financial power structure,' concluding, 'No matter what happens, I will be profoundly grateful to Donald Trump for the rest of my life.'... Spencer reflects on the significance of what he sees as Trump's affinity for white nationalism. 'It's not so much about policy – it's more about the emotions that he evokes,' he says. 'And emotions are more important than facts. Trump sincerely and genuinely cares about Americans, and white Americans in particular.'

"Spencer is ebullient over how Trump has legitimized his movement. 'It's not just about "deport illegals" or "stop illegal immigration,"' he says. 'It's about the sense – the existential sense – of, Are we a nation? He's brought an existential quality to politics.'

"Trump, Spencer believes, has exposed the Republican Party's id. 'The Trump phenomenon expresses a fundamental truth,' he says. 'It's an unspoken truth, and that is that the Republican Party has won elections on the basis of implicit nationalism and not on the basis of the Constitution, free-market economics, vague Christian values and so on. Even a leftist would agree with that statement. Like, Trump has shown the hand of the GOP. The GOP is a white person's populist party.' Unlike Trump, though, the party is 'embarrassed of itself.'"

In July, Trump again retweets virulent racists, this time trashing Hillary Clinton:

"Donald Trump's paid campaign staffers have declared on their personal social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, ridiculed Mexican accents, called for Secretary of State John Kerry to be hanged and stated their readiness for a possible civil war, according to a review by The Associated Press of their postings."'s-online-posts

"The effort to plant the seeds of white nationalism in the political mainstream, where they might blossom into pro-white political coalitions that appeal to a broader swath of Caucasian voters, will not be easy, according to the chairman of the American Nazi Party.

"But Rocky Suhayda thinks there is one political figure who presents a 'real opportunity' to lessen the load.

"Who is it? Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.

"'Now, if Trump does win, okay, it’s going to be a real opportunity for people like white nationalists, acting intelligently to build upon that, and to go and start — you know how you have the black political caucus and what not in Congress and everything — to start building on something like that,' Suhayda declared on his radio program last month.

"'It doesn’t have to be anti-, like the movement’s been for decades, so much as it has to be pro-white,' he added.

"Audio from the radio program was posted Saturday by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, who noted that Suhayda has in the past avoided making statements about Trump out of concern that he might harm the businessman’s candidacy. Yet, Kaczynski reported, in an American Nazi Party report from September, the chairman argued that Trump’s rhetoric revealed the secret popularity of the party’s messages.

"'We have a wonderful OPPORTUNITY here folks, that may never come again, at the RIGHT time,' Suhayda wrote, according to BuzzFeed. 'Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have SHOWN that "our views" are NOT so "unpopular" as the Political Correctness crowd have told everyone they are!'

"Last week, when Donald Trump tapped the chairman of Breitbart Media to lead his campaign, he wasn't simply turning to a trusted ally and veteran propagandist. By bringing on Stephen Bannon, Trump was signaling a wholehearted embrace of the 'alt-right,' a once-motley assemblage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, ethno-nationalistic provocateurs who have coalesced behind Trump and curried the GOP nominee's favor on social media. In short, Trump has embraced the core readership of Breitbart News.

"'We're the platform for the alt-right,' Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon's target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an 'eclectic mix of renegades,' accusing President Barack Obama of importing 'more hating Muslims,' and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of 'political correctness.'

"A Twitter analysis conducted by The Investigative Fund using Little Bird software found that these 'elements' are more deeply connected to Breitbart News than more traditional conservative outlets. While only 5 percent of key influencers using the supremacist hashtag #whitegenocide follow the National Review, and 10 percent follow the Daily Caller, 31 percent follow Breitbart. The disparities are even starker for the anti-Muslim hashtag #counterjihad: National Review, 26 percent; the Daily Caller, 37 percent; Breitbart News, 62 percent."

White nationalist/fascist leaders couldn't have been more pleased with Trump's choice of Bannon:

Trump's crazed, reactionary speech on immigration in August drew tweets of praise from the white supremacist crowd:

The editors of VDARE:
"In a sane country, everything Trump has proposed tonight so far would be regarded as so obviously true it wouldn't even be up for debate."

Jared Tayler of American Renaissance:
"Hell of a speech. Almost perfect. Logical, deeply felt, and powerfully delivered. Now watch how the media twists it."

David Duke:
"Excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight. Deport criminal aliens, end catch and release, enforce immigration laws & America First."

During Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Republicans displayed a tweet by white supremacist "Western_Triumph" on the big monitors around the arena. Earlier in the convention, they'd also displayed a tweet from VDARE:

The Twitter profile for "Western_Triump" makes it rather difficult to write that off as an honest mistake; he describes himself as "AltRight #Pro White #Southern #RaceRealist #Nationalist #SlayCulturalMarxism #Trump2016 #LoveYourRace."

"Originally established in 1999 by the Center for American Unity, a Virginia-based nonprofit foundation started by English immigrant Peter Brimelow, is an anti-immigration hate website 'dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.'

"Now run by the VDARE Foundation, the site is a place where relatively intellectually inclined leaders of the anti-immigrant movement share their opinions. also regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites."

"The extent to which the Trump campaign has legitimized and promoted white supremacism--the real unvarnished version--still boggles my mind. I sincerely can’t understand why people are just sitting back and letting this happen. The media now treat each new revelation of Trump’s outright connections with and sympathy for these racial extremists as a sort of 'ho-hum' routine thing, not very big news, let’s just move on and discuss Ivanka’s designer dress instead.

"But the GOP convention was absolutely lousy with white supremacists, and not just hanging around outside. They were given press passes and convention credentials, and in at least one case actually seated in the luxury box next to the VIP section."

That pic, from the above Little Green Footballs article, is Richard Spencer posing, at the convention, with Chuck Johnson, another white supremacist. During the primary season, after Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson had posed for a photo with Johnson, LGF ran an article outlining his deplorable views:

"Among the small number of American newspapers that have embraced Donald Trump’s campaign, there is one, in particular, that stands out.

"It is called the Crusader — and it is one of the most prominent newspapers of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Under the banner 'Make America Great Again,' the entire front page of the paper's current issue is devoted to a lengthy defense of Trump’s message — an embrace some have labeled a de facto endorsement."

Trump's election was greeted with orgiastic glee by the white nationalist/Nazi/fascist community:

"White Nationalists all over the world," wrote Brad Griffin of Occidental Dissent, "are celebrating like this on the way to work this morning!"

"An historic, quite possibly revolutionary victory," declared Kevin MacDonald at Occidental Observer:

"This is an amazing victory... Fundamentally, it is a victory of White Americans over the oligarchic, hostile elites what have run this country for decades... [Trump]understood the anger in White America far better than anyone else and he was willing to say what they wanted to hear--most of all the White working class (72-23!), but also White women (53-43), and his deficit among White educated women was only 51-45 (CBS exit polls). Looks like quite a few college-educated women ignored what they heard in their gender studies courses and those mandatory credits in Black Studies. While obviously a lot of work needs to be done, this is a glorious day."

"We Won," declared Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer. "All of our work. It has paid off. Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor... History has been made. Today, the world ended. A new world has been born... This has been the best year and a half of my life. We have won so much. And it has led to the ultimate win. The battle is far from over. Much, much, much work to be done. But the White race is back in the game. And if we’re playing, no one can beat us."

Thomas Robb, Knights Party:

"America’s white voting majority, men and women, have spoken by electing Donald J. Trump to the presidency. They have recognized that this was a last chance election. They are sick and tired of seeing our young men and women die in foreign wars protecting other borders, while leaving our own border unsecure. They have been appalled by the leftist attack upon law and order and the hardworking law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk everyday. They are alarmed by the increasing number of Muslims invading America; with a majority who hate America and are anti-women. And they recognize that the liberal agenda, free trade, and over regulation robs [sic] them of jobs and opportunities and harms all communities; white and nonwhite alike. They are beginning to feel like a stranger in their own country. They are beginning to feel like a stranger in their own country. They are saying to the establishment, “Keep your hands off our families, 2nd Amendment and Christian faith."

The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan greeted news of the election by declaring a "Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade" to be held in Pelham, NC in celebration. "Trump’s Race United My People," its website declared.

Shorty after the election, Richard Spencer brought his National Policy Institute conference to the Ronald Reagan Building in the nation's capitol. Addressing the assembled, Spencer declared, ""Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" At which point, attendees exploded in applause and Nazi salutes. Spencer made generous use of racist imagery and asserted, "America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us."


[*] Right in the midst of the general election, the deplorable Dinesh D'Souza put out one of his dreadful "documentaries"--HILLARY'S AMERICA: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY--that tied the Democratic party to the KKK.

Appendix III: Ku Klux Reflux

Ever hear the one about the Ku Klux Klan endorsing Hillary Clinton? Throughout the presidential campaign, rightist internet trolls took great delight in posting--and reposting and reposting--the alleged "endorsement" of Hillary Clinton by California KKK Grand Dragon Will Quigg.

Quigg had been a Trump supporter:

He flip-flopped and made his "endorsement" of Clinton in March 2016. The original Telegraph article on this development noted that:

"'Based on his past statements, it doesn’t appear highly credible that he has changed his effusive allegiance to Donald Trump,' Brian Levin, a former New York police officer who is director of the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, told the Telegraph. 'The timing seems suspect. I think this is a function of not wanting to undermine the Trump campaign.'"

While Clinton stood for everything Quigg and his org despise, Quigg said she has a "hidden agenda" that dovetails with his own, something that will only come out after she's elected. For now, she was just "telling everybody what they want to hear so she can get elected..." Quigg's reasoning for turning on Trump? "We don’t like his hair. We think it’s a toupee."

By April, the tale had grown; Quigg was then claiming to have made an anonymous $20,000 donation to the Clinton campaign. He said the donation was made anonymously. Those at Vocativ seem to have been alone in examining this claim but they did debunk it almost as soon as Quigg had made it:

"According to Schwerin, the campaign has 'not received anywhere close to $20,000 in anonymous donations in total, [so] it is impossible that they are telling the truth.' Vocativ independently verified this through FEC filings."

...which did nothing to slow the roll of the rightists trolls plastering the story of the "endorsement" all over the internet. Other than actually saying, from time to time, that his org endorsed Clinton, Quigg said nothing complimentary of his allegedly favored candidate. His Twitter feed, instead, was full of standard Trumpian far-right ranting. He wrote that Black Lives Matter had issues a statement saying "To kill all Whites esp. White Cops" (17 July). When Trump asserted President Obama was "the founder of ISIS," Quigg tweeted "Trump Does make a good point here" (11 Aug.). In response to a tweet by Obama himself, he wrote:

He tweeted an article about reactionary Arizona "sheriff" Joe Arpaio continuing to "investigate" Obama's birth certificate (25 Sept.). And so on.

Nevertheless, when, in August 2016, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine railed against Donald Trump's white supremacist support, Fox News aired footage of Quigg's "endorsement" of Clinton to rebut his comments. The video was widely circulated throughout the rightist internet.

When Trump won, Quigg finally dropped even the little effort he'd put into his ruse and came clean:

After he'd fessed up, Quigg was a bit irked that some were a little slow to catch on

As of this writing, rightist trolls are still occasionally posting the story about how the KKK endorsed Hillary Clinton. What can you do?


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trump & Fascism: The Basics

An extraordinary thing happened during the recently-concluded election cycle: the rise of Donald Trump inspired some in the mainstream corporate press to utter the "f" word. Not "fornicating" but "fascism." This proved a brief flirtation; a few months later, those in the press have long since dropped this talk and have largely tried to go back to some semblance of business-as-usual while being tasked with covering a "president" who is entirely inexplicable in those terms. Applying the word to him was hyperbolic and arguably even irresponsible but not, as some would have it, because there's any great distance between Trump and fascism. Trying to cover  Trump without reference to fascism is, in fact, like trying to ignore an angry gorilla while crammed into a very small closet with it.

That isn't to say Trump is a fascist, just that the matter was handled indelicately and now needs to be handled with greater care, instead of just being ignored. Trump is the darling of the "alt-right," much of which is overtly fascist.[1] This isn't coincidental or in any way unintentional--he all-but-openly courted these elements during the campaign, often in ways that would have been political suicide for any other modern presidential candidate. Trump has a much larger fanbase among a faction of what's considered the "regular" right that would properly be described as protofascist--not the whole hog but well on its way. And that's Trump himself, a protofascist who, at present, lacks some of the important elements of the real thing.

"Fascism" is one of the most repeated but least understood words in political discourse, perhaps second only to "socialism" in words whose meaning has been almost entirely lost to relentless, politically-motivated misuse. As far back as the 1940s, George Orwell famously lamented that in common usage, it has come to mean merely "something not desirable." For decades, it was hurled as a multipurpose term of abuse, first by both conservative and liberal factions, then, for a long time, by liberals and leftists. In more recent years (in the U.S., at least), it has primarily been conservatives and rightists spewing it like a grudge. Reduced to virtual meaninglessness, its emptiness encouraged people with too much time on their hands to fill it with all manner of nonsense. Thus at a point in history when it has become a more important subject than it has been in decades, people aren't just uninformed about it, they're often very boldly misinformed. This isn't just troublesome, it's potentially dangerous.

Any effort to define fascism as a body of ideas must contend with the fact that one of its defining elements is a seething anti-intellectualism and a fundamental anti-rationalism that sometimes masquerades as a faux-rationalism, travestying the real thing but counterfeiting it in the service of the fascist cause. Fascism prioritizes action over reflection. Its basic antagonism toward serious, informed thought means it isn't so much a cohesive ideology as it is an impulse; reactionary, to use another word that has gone out of fashion in common political discourse. Any discussion of fascism must account for this. Few of those that occur in internet forums ever do.

Oxford defines fascism as "an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization." While correct, that's far too general, as dictionary definitions will tend to be, and to the extent that it feeds that vacuum that has developed around the word, it may do more harm than good.[2]

Fascism is militant far-right sentiment on legs. The fascist is ultranationalistic, which is the most important thing to understand about him and the source from which nearly everything else about him flows. He despises modern liberal democracy, which he insists has failed and betrayed the people, and calls for national renewal by sweeping it aside and replacing it with an authoritarian regime. He holds that radicals, liberals, labor unions, immigrants, democrats, racial or ethnic minorities, sexual "deviants," non-conformists, women who don't understand their place is in the kitchen and bearing male children, those measured as less than patriotic, not of the right ethnicity or religion, those pesky "intellectuals" with all their ideas about things, etc. are, by their mere existence, an attack on the established institutions and traditions (or imagined institutions and traditions) of the particular cultural milieu chauvinistically favored by the fascists--enemies who have no place in society. Fascists foster a cult of aggrievement against these "enemies," who are relentlessly demonized and scapegoated as a rationale for stamping them out in the name of that project of national renewal and are willing to employ an incredible amount of violence and even mass murder to crush them. As Benito Mussolini put it, "The democrats of Il Mondo want to know our program? It is to break the bones of the democrats of Il Mondo. And the sooner the better." All of the fundamental values of the liberal society--freedom, self-determination, democracy, diversity, tolerance, openness, free inquiry--are held in contempt by the fascist, who projects strength, resolve and moral clarity against what he sees as weakness, softness, incompetence, betrayal, decadence, idiocy, relativism, appeasement, impurity, indecision, indecency, bleeding heart-ism and that Great Other--that which is outside that favored milieu. The fascist typically indulges in a perverse Romanticism that revels in the imagined glories of some mythologized past and seeks to recapture them. He embraces martial values, hyper-masculinity and glorifies in war and conquest--means of proving strength, superiority, heroism.

Fascist movements tend to congregate around charismatic demagogues who rise to power preaching this message and presenting themselves, rather than any specific political program, as the living embodiment of it. Because these movements are tied to the cultures from which they emerge, some specific details about the various permutations of fascism will differ but they're a bit like slasher movies; it may not be quite accurate to say of them "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all," but it ain't far off the mark.

That's fascism, a far-right movement that preaches national renewal by means of the destruction of the liberal society, the suppression of the left and the adoption of an authoritarian state run along ultranationalistic lines. Hopefully, this makes clear how much any brief, positivist description--like, for example, the previous sentence--necessarily leaves on the cutting-room floor and helps knock some of the ambiguity out of the subject.

Nearly everything beyond this is merely ad hoc, and the failure to understand this is where the efforts of so many of the internet's amateur lexicographers fail. It's hard to do history and political science when you don't know either, and the matter of fascism is further complicated by the almost-constant presence of politically motivated revisionism that actively seeks to take advantage of the general ignorance of the subject for partisan advantage. In the name of further demystifying the matter, some of the many hashes made of fascism are worth same attention here.

A popular one is an effort to define it via a structural model and this hash's Exhibit A-Z is the following quote by Mussolini:

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

The first big problem: While Mussolini did put forth the idea of a "corporate" or, more typically, a "corporativist" state, this quote isn't real. It appears nowhere in the recorded utterances of Benito Mussolini. The next: Those selling this notion of fascism invariably treat "corporate power" as a reference to modern business corporations, a reading that is entirely alien to fascist corporativism. A repudiation of socialism, the "corporativist" state was one in which sectors of society were organized into corporate entities that made a pretense of representing these various interests but, of course, these entities were created and run by the state and those whose interests they were allegedly to represent usually had no real say in their direction. In practice, the application of corporativist notions under fascism was just another way the state controlled things.

That misperception regarding "corporate power" is often fed by another stream of commentary offered initially by Marxists who presented fascism as a form of capitalism in crisis, proposing a narrative wherein the established Big Money interests, feeling threatened by socialists and other radical reformers, turn to fascism in order to smite these foes and protect their interests. That basic narrative is largely correct. The support of the, broadly, capitalist class is typically critical in bringing fascist movements to power, after which the money-men enter into a mutually profitable arrangement with the regime that develops.[3] Where the cruder Marxists collapse into hash is in suggesting that the fascist states were merely the puppets of that capitalist class, a preposterious proposition. The money-men embraced the fascists movements and were made even wealthier by them but whenever a dispute arose between they and the government, the regime got the last word. While, in practice, these regimes are invariably pro-capitalist, this is usually just part of fascism's larger alliance with traditional conservative elites, not some doctrinal commitment to capitalism itself.[4]

Another hash--one of the most common, in fact--is made by those who attempt to present fascism as an economic doctrine or to examine it as any sort of cohesive economic system. Fascism isn't an economic doctrine and has no economic doctrine. As Hitler put it, "the basic feature of our economic theory is that we have no theory at all." Fascists aren't intellectuals sitting around reading economic texts--certainly not writing them--or putting any real effort into trying to learn how economies work. "Economic policy" under these regimes is ad hoc--whatever it takes at the moment to meet the goals (or perceived goals) of the day. Policy could radically change on a dime with circumstances then change again shortly after. There's no real consistency, either internally or between the different fascisms.[5]

Many-a-hash is made by those who try to explain fascism as one would any other traditional political movement. If its anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism doesn't trip them up, its relationship with doctrine will. If one wants to get a good general picture of the policies for which most political parties stand, one need only consult that party's current platform. Fascists tend to be very opportunistic though, political omnivores who make a show of syncretistically gobbling up bits and pieces from other political movements and parties across the spectrum and deploy propaganda in the worst sense of that word. In their hands, "doctrine" in the programmatic way ordinary political parties conceive it becomes fluid, that which needs to be said from day to day in order to achieve then maintain power. Mussolini had originally been a socialist. He'd been expelled from the Socialist party in 1914 for a growing list of heresies, principally, his support of the First World War, and in March 1919, he founded the Fasci di Combattimento--the Fascism from which we get the word--in order to, as he put it, "declare war against socialism." Initially, he tried to craft a sort of fusion of right and left views--the original Fascist manifesto, though anti-socialist, was quite progressive in many respects, even radical in others but this drew little interest and after being utterly squashed in the 1919 elections, the initial movement largely fell apart. Mussolini simply abandoned--or, more often, directly reversed--most of the left elements[6] and Fascism became a movement of reactionary ex-soldiers who mustered into far-right paramilitaries that were rented out to the industrial and agribusiness elite to physically crush the Italian left. In internet discussions of German fascism, some amateur professional will inevitably pull out the 25-point program of the National Socialist German Workers Party from 1920 as representative of that party. In that platform, there is, to be sure, plenty of the Nazism that would later emerge but the radical planks in it, the items that inevitably prove to be the reason it's brandished in these discussions, were entirely ignored once the Nazis seized power. Likewise, the German fascists' use of socialist slogans and imagery and even the word "socialism" itself amounted to little more than an effort to attract votes (at which it largely failed) and attention (at which it succeeded beyond what anyone could have expected). Those within the movement who took the radicalism seriously were successively purged.[7] The fascist freely adopts doctrines, even those to which he has no real commitment, to serve various ends and freely discards them if they've served their purpose or outlived their usefulness. Fascism doesn't have a traditional political movement's connection to programmatic doctrine. It's about recognizing the authority of the fascist leaders and doing what they say.

This hopefully provides an outline of where the Trump phenomenon is similar to fascism and wherein it differs. It's easy to understand why even reasonably intelligent and informed people would jump to the "f" word to describe him. The ultranationalism, the anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, the opportunistic political syncretism (during the presidential race, Trump freely ran to Hillary Clinton's left on many issues), the lack of any real program beyond Trump as the strongman who promises to cure the liberal democracy that ails the nation, the promise of authoritarian rule and of national renewal to be achieved by it ("Make America Great Again"), the machismo, the militarism, the exaltation of authority, the persistent demonization of his "enemies," including helpless minorities, often to justify repressive policies--it would be far easier to list the few areas in which he differs from fascism than those wherein he echoes it. Nevertheless, some of those points of departure are important. Fascism revels in violence against its perceived enemies and while Trump spent months during the campaign encouraging his supporters to carry out violence against anti-Trump protesters and has always pimped a belligerent foreign policy, this is hardly the same as fielding a paramilitary force who battle opponents in the streets. Trump, likewise, hasn't called for the abolition of liberal democracy. His attacks on its institutions, however, are relentless and, in fact, form the basis of his popularity. While, in this writer's view, these differences rule out "fascist" as an accurate description of Trump,[8] it's also entirely reasonable to see these differences as merely matters of degree, as, if one follows Trump's "logic" on both, one reaches the fascist conclusion.[9] While Trump is no fascist, he's certainly protofascist.

An unfortunate fact of life on the internet is that baseless and stupid fascist comparisons, particularly Nazi comparisons, are, in political discussions, ubiquitous--like air but without any of its beneficial properties. Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Bernie Sanders, Mitt Romney--it doesn't matter who is being discussed, their background, how far removed from fascism they may be, if a conversation goes on long enough, someone will eventually chime in with some entirely inappropriate fascist analogy. It's just a sad reality that while everyone these days has a computer with an internet connection, not everyone has the real tools needed to participate in informed, thoughtful discussion of public affairs.[10] Those toting such understocked toolboxes routinely compare any politician they dislike to Adolf Hitler, frequently even depicting those pols as Hitler. Trump has gotten the same treatment. Here are some things that shouldn't have to be said: Hitler was the leader and, in many ways, the personal embodiment of arguably the most evil regime in human history, a regime that launched the most murderous war in that history and that, in fact, industrialized murder on a mass scale. Comparing any run-of-the-mill pol to Hitler is utterly ludicrous. Comparing Donald Trump to Hitler is utterly ludicrous. There are over 60 million graves between these pols and anything that could possibly justify any such comparison. When someone makes one of these comparisons, he marks himself as a thoroughgoing crackpot who is bereft of sound judgment.

Were that the only effect, there would be no need to do anything more than step back and let the fool cut his own throat. Unfortunately, the pervasiveness of these sorts of comparisons can also have a very negative impact, in that they can lead those bombarded with them to avoid or even dismiss more serious and informed conversations on the topics of fascism, protofascism, the current President of the United States and the movements that brought him to power. At the same time, those who, for partisan reasons, don't want such conversations to go forward will attempt to portray every effort at holding one as nothing more than just another iteration of Trump-with-a-Hitler-moustache memes. We have to be able to talk sensibly on such things. 

As president, Trump is in a position to do incalculable damage to the U.S. and the world and when it comes to items in need of attention, he's likely to suck up most of the oxygen for the immediate future but his rise is representative of what is perhaps an even larger problem. The manufactured disconnect between so much of the American right and reality has been a constant concern of this writer's commentary on public affairs for more than a quarter-century, in which time that disconnect has become more and more profound as right-wing and far-right-wing media have arisen to carefully nurture it.[11] Collectively, I've long referred to that media, after its principal function, as the Rage Machine. Only a few weeks ago, I wrote:

"What lurks behind [Trump adviser Kellyanne] Conway's alt-'facts' is the extraordinary social damage wrought--and nascent fascist movement birthed--by the right-wing Rage Machine. For better or worse, the U.S. is a fundamentally liberal nation. There's simply no significant popular support for conservative policies. To maintain power in the face of this, the American conservative elite have aggressively labored, through their massive media apparatus, to reduce 'politics' and the larger social discourse to the level of a simple good-vs.-evil tale, encouraging their followers to side with them not because their policies are more sound or they have any sort of better argument--any serious examination of such things is, in fact, discouraged--but because they've conjured a pleasing narrative in which they've positioned themselves as the virtuous heroes and everyone else as the evil villains. Nearly every major rightist outlet in the United States has spent a few decades making open war on both reason and on reality itself. Because objective facts would equal an agreed-upon yardstick against which claims can be assessed--and because conservative and reactionary claims can't withstand that scrutiny--breaking down confidence in them has been a major project of the Rage Machine, which attempts to indoctrinate its followers in the belief that the truth or falsity of any proposition can be judged entirely by its temporary political utility. 'Facts,' via this conditioning, become things that can be used as propaganda on the rare occasions when they serve the cause and can be otherwise discarded. The Machine tells its followers they're persecuted, feeds them a steady diet of manufactured outrages and utterly dehumanizes and demonizes liberals, minorities and anyone else who may stand against the hero of the tale. Liberals, in this fantasy, aren't those who may have a legitimate disagreement. They're an evil, lying, cheating, stealing, weak, moronic enemy actively seeking to do you harm, that have control of the levers of power by illegitimate means and that need to be defeated, destroyed, eliminated. When all reason, all serious thinking, all confidence in institutions has been burned away, all that's left are a bunch of fearful, rage-filled reactionaries who have been taught that though they're right, they're good and they represent The People, they're persecuted by this foe, whom they've been taught to despise. The American conservative elite hope those reared in this atmosphere will show up on election day and vote Republican, which is exactly what has, for some years, happened, but this smog has now given rise to something they didn't anticipate and can't control: a Trumpenstein monster, an angry, ambulatory representation of every bad impulse the Rage Machine has ever projected, with the fascist's promise of national renewal by means of the authoritarian dismantling of the liberal society. Trump's hardcore supporters were reared in this environment... For this particular group, there are no facts anymore, just a narrative to which they've been conditioned to respond." 

The Machine has relentlessly bred this protofascist cult, whose adherents are fed up with the liberal democracy with all its tolerance and diversity and built-in procedures that always seem to prevent them from getting their way. They wanted a strongman who promised to do what that liberal democracy wouldn't and in 2016, they allied with conservatives, actual fascists, those who wished to express their disapproval of the incumbent administration and its de facto continuation in the person of Hillary Clinton and others to successfully elect that very thing. While Trump has tapped this cult, it's larger than him, was there long before he came along and is likely to continue well beyond him, as its spawning pool is made up of most of the major institutions of the American right, particularly the media institutions, which show no sign of going away.

Despite the occasional effort by internet liberals to tar them with the label, conservatives aren't fascists. While the protofascists are drawn from the conservatives' ranks, fascists and protofascists are, in fact, as much a threat to conservatives as they are to anyone else. They run all over those principals conservatives profess to cherish. Conservatives don't control the public microphone of the right though. The voices that come through it may call themselves "conservative" but they're largely reactionaries, the protos, and while many of them were horrified by the rise of Trump, nearly all of them had helped create the toxic environment that bred him and that, left unreformed, will breed the next one and the next ten. Collectively, they are the Rage Machine. Like any machine, this one can't run without fuel and what's powering it now is its primary audience: conservatives. This puts conservatives in an unique position to make a difference. The only way these institutions will ever dry up and disappear (and hopefully be replaced with better ones) is if their audience willingly walks away--has a road-to-Damascus moment, turns off Fox News, shuts out Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, stops reading RedState and Breitbart and Coulter and Malkin, casts Glenn Beck into the sea. Confirmation bias can be an intoxicant and feeding it has proven a formula for right-wing media success, as the appetite for it on the right seems insatiable.[12] For a time. Conservatives are going to have to sort out whether their future is conservative or reactionary. At the moment, too many of them think they're sitting at a safe distance and delighting in watching a video feed of that gorilla in that closet raging away. They may soon discover they're actually stuffed in that closet with the rest of us.



 [1] The phrase "alt-right" was introduced by Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, as an effort to rebrand the same old white supremacist/Nazi/fascist subculture.

 [2] Some of the other standard dictionary definitions are even worse. Merriam-Webster defines it as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." calls it "a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism)." The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as "a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control of social and economic life, and extreme pride in country and race, with no expression of political disagreement allowed." And so on. Definitions so devoid of substance that they would cover nearly any dictatorship.

 [3] That doesn't, of course, prevent some of those capitalists from experiencing buyer's remorse. Even if one is becoming fantastically rich via the arrangement, it sucks to live under a dictatorship.

 [4] Nonetheless, this arguably makes fascism a form of capitalism. There's a history of both rightist "Libertarian" capital-C Capitalist ideologues embracing fascism and of fascism embracing them, perhaps most infamously in the Pinochet regime in Chile. This is a large subject that would quickly turn into an overly long tangent here, so I've set it aside.

 [5] In "The Anatomy of Fascism," Robert Paxton, one of the foremost living experts on fascism, wrote:

"This [economic policy] was the area where both fascist leaders [Hitler and Mussolini] conceded the most to their conservative allies. Indeed, most fascists--above all after they were in power--considered economic policy as only a means to achieving the more important fascist ends of unifying, energizing, and expanding the community. Economic policy tended to be driven by the need to prepare and wage war. Politics trumped economics... [F]ascist economic policy responded to political priorities, and not to economic rationale. Both Mussolini and Hitler tended to think that economics was amenable to a ruler’s will."

In a 2015 interview with Vox, Paxton said "it's hard to link those people [the fascists] to any one kind of economic idea."

In "A History of Fascism 1914-1945," historian Stanley Payne, who specializes in Spanish fascism but has written on the broader subject, writes that "economic policy under [Italian] Fascism did not chart an absolutely clear course." Of Germany, Payne concludes "no completely coherent model of political economy was ever introduced in Nazi Germany."

Daniel Woodley, from "Fascism & Political Theory":

" a political innovation, fascism is distinguished by an absence of coherent economic ideology and an absence of serious economic thinking at the summit of the state. Not only are economic factors ALONE an insufficient condition of understanding fascism, but the decisions taken by fascists in power cannot be explained within a logical economic framework."

Stuart Woolf, "The Nature of Fascism":

"No comparative study exists of fascist economic systems. Nor is this surprising. For one can legitimately doubt whether it is appropriate to use so distinctive a term as 'system' when discussing fascist economics... Nor, in the economic field, could fascism lay claim to any serious theoretical basis or to any outstanding economic theoreticians."

He describes fascist economics as "a series of improvisations, or responses to particular and immediate problems" and notes that "the actions of any single fascist regime... [were] so contradictory as to make it difficult to speak of a coherent and consistent economic policy in one country, let alone in a more general system..." And so on.

 [6] When the movement made its sharp rightward turn, Alceste De Ambris, the principal author of the 1919 Fascist manifesto, left it in disgust. When the Fascists rose to power, he opposed them and was eventually forced to flee Italy because of it.

 [7] An element of the fringe right has long gnawed on the farcical notion that fascism is some sort of movement of the left or even a socialist movement and the internet has helped make this . Essentially a form of Holocaust denial, it's the sort of idiocy that could only gain traction in a profoundly historically illiterate population.

 [8] Vox consulted several experts on fascism and they agreed Trump didn't qualify. At least one other has gone on record as saying Trump is a fascist. Some of those experts are, in this writer's view, being overly precious about their subject. Stanley Payne, for example, says fascism literally couldn't exist after the 1940s. Robert Paxton, who says Trump isn't a fascist, nevertheless notes that Trump "shows a rather alarming willingness to use fascist themes and fascist styles." It was a subject of some interesting discussion.

 [9] And Trump does practically nothing to counter this. American conservatives have long used a language of freedom to sell their agenda. That the notion of "freedom" they're peddling is usually a travesty of the real thing (and that language a cynical farce) is, here, secondary to the fact that this is the ideal to which they rhetorically appeal. There's nothing like that in Trump, who works from the usual fascist playbook about the nation in decline and presents America as a besieged and dying failure. Not an uplifting vision of America as the Land of the Free but a dark vision of it as a crazed, reactionary fortress.

[10] The best the rest of us can do is to try to educate them, which is one of the points of this article. 

[11] At least some conservatives seem to be recognizing the problem. Last year, longtime conservative talk-radio host Charlie Sykes offered some observations about the state of the American right. Speaking of conservative media, he said

"We've basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There’s nobody. Let’s say that Donald Trump basically makes... whatever claim he wants to make. And everybody knows it's a falsehood... The big question of my audience, it is impossible for me to say that. 'By the way, you know it's false.' And they'll say, 'Why? I saw it on Allen B. West.' Or they'll say, 'I saw it on a Facebook page.' And I'll say, 'The New York Times did a fact check.' And they'll say, 'Oh, that’s The New York Times. That’s bullshit.'... You can be in this alternative media reality and there's no way to break through it. And I swim upstream because if I don't say these things from some of these websites then suddenly I have sold out. Then they'll ask what's wrong with me for not repeating these stories that I know not to be true... We've created this monster... [W]e have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media... But, at a certain point you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there. And I am feeling, to a certain extent, that we are reaping the whirlwind at that."

Unfortunately, Sykes then retired from the Wisconsin airwaves in December.

[12] On the other hand, the disaster that is Trump in power will probably do significant harm to the Machine and bring it into disrepute.