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The American Fascist


The American Fascist

Robert Reich

I’ve been reluctant to use the “f” word to describe Donald Trump because it’s especially harsh, and it’s too often used carelessly.

But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century – lurid figures such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.


Since when has anything uttered by Donald Trump been nuanced?

I'd be curious to know exactly what "fascist tendencies...of the ultra PC crowd" you're talking about.

Perhaps you should revisit the definition of fascism.


I don't see Trump as a fascist, per se, because he's not ideological in the way that Mussolini and Hitler were. He's more like a caudillo, someone like Juan Peron, with a personality cult and a constantly shifting set of "policies" that are dependent only on whatever works at any given moment to rally his supporters and strengthen his power. Underlying that, of course Trump is racist and misogynist, etc. but I don't see him developing and elaborating a doctrine in the way of the Fascists or Nazis.


Yes, during the past three decades the Clintons and their Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) have applied a fascist model to the structure of the US economy and politics, avoiding the theatrics that characterized 20th century European fascists.

Elect Trump and US fascism might advance. Elect Clinton and US fascism WILL advance.

At least the European fascists kept the trains running on time. Not gonna happen in Murka.


"Finally, the fascists created their mass followings directly, without political parties or other intermediaries standing between them and their legions of supporters."

Part of this statement is flatly false. The fascists of Europe most definitely had political parties which supported them; Falangists, Nazis, and Mussolini's party was the Fascist Party itself.

Another part of this statement is curious or questionable. If "they" had legions of supporters, were these "legions" of supporters a majority of the people? And if this would be the case, what does that say about voting? Did the fascists create their mass followings, or was there a mass ready to be led? (Both, eh?)

And what government does not glorify the nation?


Yes, I can read. I read Reich's article and found his observations about the parallels of Trump's campaign rhetoric to fascism persuasive.

No, you didn't say that Trump spoke in nuanced terms. But surely you see the irony in expecting to have a nuanced discussion about any of the simplistic things Trump says at his campaign events.

I asked you to elaborate on your assertion that the "PC crowd" has "fascistic tendencies." You declined to respond.

In a subsequent post, you said you wanted to make it clear that you are a Sanders supporter. So am I. At least we can agree on that.


I think the F-word is appropriate, and fully agree with this paragraph:

"Viewing Donald Trump in light of the fascists of the first half of the twentieth century – who used economic stresses to scapegoat others, created cults of personality, intimidated opponents, incited violence, glorified their nations and disregarded international law, and connected directly with the masses – helps explain what Trump is doing and how he is succeeding."

I'd like to add two things.

Some time ago, a poster frequently shared a list of features that define the typical Conservative person.

One of the items on that list was this need for delineated categories. Conservatives, for the most part, have incurious minds and prefer order and authority to the messiness of actual Democracy... particularly when it's based on genuine diversity.

Trump's simplistic statements: "that this one is bad", "that all that needs to be done is violence to establish order", and that he is the "man for the (boss/authoritarian) job" fit this Conservative recipe.

I do differ from Mr. Reich on this:

"The economic stresses almost a century ago that culminated in the Great Depression were far worse than most of Trump’s followers have experienced, but they’ve suffered something that in some respects is more painful – failed expectations."

As quite a few economists have pointed out, global financial collapse is imminent. Therefore, it's too soon to write off the economic stresses or suggest that they are not on a par with the prior Great Depression. The printing of money to the tune of trillions added to UNSECURED collateral debt bundles into the many trillions, coupled with global commodity prices dropping is HARDLY a recipe for any viable recovery.

The failed expectations component, however, is a profound observation and entirely apt.


You're on to something. Too often commentators on CD spend a lot of time and effort spewing out the same tired old talking points. These amount to unquestioned orthodoxies.Trump has yet to form his own SA, or SS-but the raw material is there in the form of an angry and inchoate mass of backwoods militias, white supremacists, and assorted hate mongers who could be organized with a little help from the top. Might happen.


He said he wants to beef up the military, bomb the shit out of Isis, and bring back water boarding and worse. Add that into the xenophobic references and you certainly have a Fascist minus the jack boots.


Which of Reichs arguments do you find resuasive if I may ask

I find all of them persuasive.


You place the "masses" into a vacuum by leaving out what compels people to "choose" disastrous leaders.

Despair. Financial Depression. Hopelessness.

The parallels between the 1930s (when the aftermath of W.W. I had Germany in ruins) and now (when so much of the world citizenry is wrestling with financial implosion) are striking.

Instead of allowing the less-educated, disaffected masses to recognize that policies created by elites are what cause their suffering, ALWAYS a scapegoat group is turned into the projection screen for all the massing angst and hatred.

Add in media slick with repetitive lies and "audience-tested" propaganda, and a narrative is put in place to direct the growing hostilities.

Add in trained homage to the soldier, oily muscle, or act of brute force...

Then, all that's needed is the charismatic figure to tie these 3 factors together.

It never works on all the people--like those true to the vision of enlightened beings like Christ, Labor Union leaders, leading Leftist intellectuals, basic caring, good-hearted people... but when even a percentage of people can be convinced to take up guns/violence against their fellow citizens, the whole of society begins to come apart.

The ensuing misery often drives more towards the authoritarian agents who promise (often falsely) deliverance.

I find that too many in this forum casually dismiss the masses, voters, all citizens, and/or that great "WE" defined homogenously... without the slightest penetration into cause or the empathy with which to truly recognize how cause drives collective action.


... They are not direct quotes. But one often uses quotation marks to capture the essence of a remark.


This may be splitting hairs, but I think it matters: It seems some online dictionaries equate fascism to authoritarianism, which imo, is incorrect. According to war propaganda at the time, I believe the soviets thought of themselves as fighting The Fascists not so much The Nazis. I think of Stalin not as a fascist but as a socialist dictator. Authoritarianism seem to appeal to many people, especially under certain conditions. (see 'the authoritarians' pdf online), fascism seems to be the right-wing flavor of it. I think Trump appeals to many who realize they got screwed by the right wing shift in America since reagan, but still won't accept the fundamental flaws in conservative ideology which caused it, so they look for a strong man to tell them there is nothing wrong with their beliefs, it's the elites that betrayed them (and 'minorities', etc). If he wins the nomination, and faces Shillary, I think he can tack to the center, bring old-guard repubs onboard, disavow us interventionist foreign policy and the industrial/surveillance complex and win handily.


It's useful to remind readers that Mussolini properly realized that the merger of government with big business interests might better be termed "corporatism." Surely, this nation is run by this merger. Heck, the U.S. Supreme Court seldom does not give a rubberstamp to ANY and EVERY pro-big business decision.

When this govt.-business fusion is supported by shock troops (or any professional army), that's when its fascistic component is made most evident.

The same Libertarians who decry govt. are typically first to profit from govt. contracts; and their spread of business around the world is completely supported by the U.S. military in one branch (covert or otherwise) or another.

They want deregulation when it comes to their profits; but otherwise, they rely on PLENTY of govt. pork and benefits.


I thought Mr. Reich would be defining the American fascist.
The dying middle aged American who he mentions.
Who has been pining for the confederate flag to turn into the Nazi symbol.
Who does not understand that what made America great was the New Deal.
Who longs for the days when military might crushes his next door neighbor with bomb - for having a dark skin tone or a different ideology.
Who has is mouth gaping open to receive Trump's genitalia.
Who endorses Trump's bi-polar duplicity as hope
Who has been denying those that do not look, sound or think like him basic human rights in everyday America
Who have been compromising their own freedom
Who have been blaming the government and the rule of law for their own ills
Who are ready to execute "the other" with stand your ground
who have been endorsing the Fox's corporatism since its inception

Just focus on symptom again, Mr. Reich.
Weill done.


Why do you believe in Trump?


Playing semantics in defense of this thug. And you drag out the fucking PC bullshit.


The whole so called establishment DNC, RNC, pundits trying to hold on to their jobs thru lying, main street media, billionaires, corporatists are what created "the donald" and he is exposing them all as fascists along with himself and who knows what he would become if elected. Would he be killed by the fascists? Probably not as he would fall in line and do as he is told with a little blow back.

Elect Bernie he is not establishment.


Yeah 'cause you Trumpers are all about nuanced conversation! You are a big fat joke.


When discussing the merger of government and big business, it is interesting to note how Hitler achieved the financial backing of his country's 1%. After being elected to office in 1933, Hitler 'invited' the country's top industrialists to a compulsory meeting in Berlin. Almost all of the industrialists who attended wanted to give Hitler a piece of their mind and remind him of where the real power lies. But on their arrival Hitler began the meeting with his call for national unity and how we must all prevent subversive behaviour from undermining the Reich. After Hitler's introductory speech, a group of SS men entered the room, selected the jewish industrialists which represented about 10% of the people in the room, arrested them and subsequently executed them for being jews. He then followed by telling the remaining members that he will require X number of Deutschmarks immediately to finance his rebuilding of Germany and that in the end they would all benefit from their participation. No one voiced their objections and all of them gave the money that Hitler demanded for the movement.
Trump would and could never duplicate this form of strong arming America's wealthiest for a variety of reasons. Instead Trump would find himself at the mercy of the .1% as all of his predecessors have. This point alone separates him from Hitler in a tremendous way. Trump's rhetoric and scapegoating may be typical of many populists in their attempts to get elected, but that hardly clumps him together with the worst fascists of the 20th Century. Instead I would posit that Trump's biggest threat to American government is his profound ignorance of the world around him. His unwillingness to point the finger at corporatism for all of America's ills and instead redirects his hatred towards the usual suspects (immigrants, foreigners, unions, etc.) posing little danger to the existing establishment except in exposing in naked view the methods of corporatism in dividing the electorate to keep intact the establishment he pretends to rail against.
If Trump is elected president, his supporters won't blame him for failing to implement any progressive reforms or lift the poor out of poverty because they will blame the 'liberal agenda' for his lack of success. In fact the extreme right will get even angrier which will probably be reflected in more mass shootings, more people joining 'militias' and more violence towards people who are not "one of us". His foreign policy blunders will be blamed on his predecessors, his economic failings on the Chinese and his verbal mistakes on a liberal media. Besides that, it will appear to be business as usual with the angry whites who placed him in power just as unenlightened as before Trump decided to be the Commander-in-Chief.
It takes not only a strong leader, but a strong movement to replace corporatism with democracy. Trump will only reinforce corporatism under the guise of an anti-establishment representative. Most people won't identify with our latest self proclaimed messiah, but that doesn't mean that Trump won't be our next president.