Friday, August 17, 2018

Does Trumpism = fascism?

Certainly the antifa folks would have us believe so. But a careful consideration of what fascism has historically meant and what Trumpism is today reveals that Trumpism is more usefully thought of as right populism. The fascist label confuses more than it clarifies. Indeed, it can lead the left into unproductive adventurism and a failure to look deeply at the left's own failings in the current political context.
All this is explained quite lucidly in Sheri Berman's recent essay on Vox. She concludes her article:
"Will traditional parties of the left — the Democratic Party in the US, Social Democratic and Labor parties in Europe — be able to reform their organizational infrastructures and appeals so as to be able to recapture the working- and middle-class voters they lost to the populist right? In the US, those worrying signs that a significant number of Republicans will not band together to check Trump leaves the Democratic Party as the most important watchdog or conservator of democracy. Successfully carrying out that role will require a degree of efficacy and cohesion the party has hitherto not exhibited.
In order to be able to check Trump, the Democrats will need to overcome or reconcile their internal divisions over both cultural and economic issues; only then can they hope to build the type of broad, cross-class coalition that would enable them to win elections at the national, state, and local levels and prevent Trump and his Republican enablers from playing different groups of Americans against one another, as they did so successfully in our most recent election as well as in many of the ones proceeding it.
Populism, in short, should not be blithely equated to fascism, nor does 2016 look like 1933. But in politics, as in much of the rest of life, nothing lasts forever, and for democracy to not just survive but thrive, democrats — including Democrats — will need to start doing better."
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A leading expert on 1930s-era politics explains that Trump is a right-wing populist, not a fascist — and the distinction matters.

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