Words like “fascist” I feel like have been thrown around a lot lately, so much that they’ve begun to lose meaning. What I mean specifically is that of Trump, and all who aide his administration, are called this.
I will admit that Trump is more socially authoritarian than me– so much so I might call him flat-out authoritarian. But I feel like fascist is becoming another overused buzzword. People will keep using it and it will begin to lose all its meaning, to the point where whenever an actual fascist arises, people will be so desensitized to it that they’ll be quicker to shrug it off. (Think I’m wrong? Trump has been called a racist so much, that now people are doing apologia for people who are legitimately on the record for wanting “ethnic cleansing.” The word has lost all its meaning, especially without a greater sense of validation.)
The commitment to paining Trump as a fascist has become so strong that it has inspired groups like Anti-Fascist Action, also known as “Antifa,” to rise up and make themselves known. Antifa parades around calling Trump a fascist, while having some… quite authoritarian tactics of their own. A really cool friend of mine did a blog post of her own about this, and I thought it might be interesting to compare the group Antifa with Trump, to see which of them align more with the defining characteristics of fascism. I do suggest you give her blog a read, it’s quite a good piece.
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
If I were to say that this didn’t apply to Trump, I’d be pulling punches. Everyone has seen the red hat, right? “Make America Great Again?” Trump is one for patriotism to a point where I would call it nationalism. It’s not just a quality he happens to have, it’s a quality he makes as an important part of his character. So, yes, this does apply, I would say.
Trump 1; Antifa 1
Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
Well, as much as it’s sad to say, this does kind of apply. Trump has specifically talked about his approval of places like Guantanamo Bay, where torture and long incarcerations of prisoners are their practice. I am also aware that one of his cabinet picks, Sharif David Clarke Jr., once said that he wanted to put up to a million suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, “for our safety.”
Now, I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t heard more right-wingers speak out about this. Come on, right-wing, whatever happened to “the government can’t even get X right?” Do you trust them to get it right with this? With the most important things ever– your life and your rights? All on a suspicion? The fact is, the government gets it wrong from time to time (even as someone who’s probably about as left as Bernie Sanders, I can admit this to be true), and when it comes to things this important, I don’t think anybody should be allowed to get it wrong.
Trump 2; Antifa 2
Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Well, this is definitely true of Trump. While he tries (or at least has tried at some point) to make us move past the normal labels of race, sexuality, ideology, etc. and just try to support him (a fair thing to do, of course, though it’s equally fair to disagree), he’s also well-known for identification of enemies. Not just terrorists, but he also just recently called the media “the enemy of the people” and “fake news,” all because they put out content critical of him.
Trump 3; Antifa 3
Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
I’d say this one is a bit of a mix. Trump clearly has a lot of respect for the military and the police, and he does seem to be willing to throw them around whenever he feels necessary– I do remember his comment of “federal action” in… Chicago? I hope I’m not getting that wrong, I feel like I am. I also know of his failed first military raid that he played up as successful, when it was anything but…
However, at the same time, he’s not ignoring domestic problems– as he said he wants to do infrastructure building, something really important here– nor does he want to have a supreme military– he’s a staunch supporter of the second amendment, something that was originally meant to allow the people to be a check on the military at all times.
I’ll call this one a mix, and give him half a point.
Trump 3.5; Antifa 4
Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
Aha! This one is definitely characteristic of Trump, right? He said “I grab them by the pussy; I don’t even wait,” after all.
Actually, no, I don’t think that this can be seen as fully applicable. Trump’s cabinet isn’t the most diverse, but there’s no exclusion of females from important roles; Conway, Chao, DeVos, and also, even Ivanka Trump seems to have an influence on him, reportedly. Another thing to note is that he doesn’t seem to want to suppress divorce or homosexuality– Trump seems to be fairly open to the LGBT+ community, and as he’s been through divorces himself, it’s hard to say that he would want to suppress it. He is a Republican president, but he’s not like the average Republican.
Though, I believe suppression of abortion needs some credit, as he apparently wants to overturn Roe v. Wade (which was a moderate ruling). I’ll allow half a point.
Trump 4; Antifa 4
Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
I’d say, I feel like this would be a stretch. He seems to wish that he had more control of the media, but he’s yet to try anything sketchy.
Trump 4; Antifa 5
Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
I feel like I can say this applies. National Security was his inspiration for the “Muslim Ban”/”Travel Ban” (whatever you want to call it), and it was highly poorly executed. Originally, it polled well, but it has lost traction quite rapidly. The fear of terrorists just wasn’t strong enough to overcome the sympathy for innocent people, it seems.
Trump 5; Antifa 6
Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
I’d say that this is hardly true. Trump seems to be a less religious President than Obama– who some people love to call “a Muslim atheist”– was.
Trump 5; Antifa 6
Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Remember the Steven Mnuchin pick? Yeah… he gets a point for this.
Trump 6; Antifa 6
Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Sorry that my sources on this aren’t the best, but I do believe he’s actually a supporter of the Republican party when it comes to anti-union ideas. Since I’m not the most knowledgeable on this, though, I’ll only give him a potential half-point.
Trump 6 (6.5?); Antifa 6
Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
I’d say this doesn’t apply that well.
Trump 6 (6.5?); Antifa 7
Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
The “Law and Order” President, anybody?
Anyway, now, again, I’d say that the idea of a police state isn’t one that Trump seems to be approaching, because of his support of the second amendment. If anything, he gets a half-point again. And I feel rude even delivering this, it honestly feels like a stretch.
Trump 6.5 (7?); Antifa 8
Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Corruption… Steven Mnuchin.
But, Trump hasn’t seized national resources or treasures, I believe? So… I won’t call it a whole point.
Trump 7 (7.5?); Antifa 8
Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
AHAHAHAHAHA, no. There was no three million illegal votes, no Russian hackers, don’t fucking kid yourselves. I don’t like the electoral college either, it’s gay as shit, but he played by the rules and won. Clinton knew the rules, didn’t campaign right, and lost. That’s the end of it. I won’t even entertain the fantasies to be had.
Trump 7 (7.5?); Antifa 8
And, I must say, I honestly feel like I biased this against Trump in a bit of places; if even a resemblance of a characteristic was shown, he received a half-point, even if he wasn’t quite halfway to fully meeting the characteristic. But, anyway, let’s see the results…
Final Tally: Trump 7 (or 7.5) out of 14, Antifa 8 out of 10
The so-called “fascist leader” appears to meet less of the characteristics of fascism than the so-called “Anti-Fascists.” Let that sink in for a moment. This is exactly why I denounced Antifa and organizations of the like. This is exactly why any sane person does the same. Antifa, if it were to meet its goal, wouldn’t be any better than Trump. They would have more authoritarian characteristics, they would be worse. As much as I hate people like Milo Yiannopolous, who recently just said some incendiary comments about transsexuals (proven false, by the way), but I want to challenge his ideas and criticize what he says! Without calling for censorship or making threats of violence! Or doing actual violence!
Oh, and I don’t even want to hear about how I’m being soft on Trump. I know that he’s an authoritarian, hot-headed, immature, impulsive tool. In my opinion, the only actually good thing he’s done since being in office is killing the TPP– something that “progressives” have blindly hated on him for, despite the fact that the TPP is literally the opposite of what anyone who calls themselves a “pro-worker, anti-big corporation” liberal should stand for.
Just, have some fucking perspective, people, please, and don’t just up and drop your principles for the sake of partisan behavior. Because the Anti-Fascist group that’s actually being praised by some people, for some reason, is even worse than the guy they’re against.
I’d like to also mention that Antifa’s “Rampant Sexism” and “Rampant Cronyism and Corruption” sections, being ones that (besides the fact that they are not in power) it could still apply for, yet it is unknown due to the anonymous nature of the group, are actually potential points for it. If we propose that Antifa is a typical American left-wing group, perhaps like ThinkProgress only radical, then there is a suggestion that there might be still Rampant Sexism (in the reverse direction, likely with bias against males and straight people to be compatible with some sort of Revenge Hierarchy ideal of the “progressive stack,” and being so pro-abortion that it’s ten times past insane), and it is also possible that the quality of Rampant Cronyism and Corruption is prevalent among the… vehement Clinton supporters, or at least that they don’t have a problem with it. So, honestly, they have a much higher potential for meeting all of their available characteristics.
I kind of want to point out that this blog post was more of a jab at Antifa, not Trump. Though, now I do feel like it can be interpreted as me shitting on him more than I meant. Trump, even if I reach, doesn’t meet more than 66% of the characteristics of Fascism. Call me lenient or strict, but I think that before I call you fascist, you have to meet at least two-thirds of the characteristics. So, no, he is not a fascist, and, at least as of now, it is by definition wrong to call him one. Saying that he is authoritarian is true, it’s what I say myself, but calling him a fascist is wrong, and it makes the word fascist lose all its meaning. And, when an actual fascist arises, I would like to be able to call them a fascist without someone saying “that’s an overused buzzword.”
So, in summary, again. I’m not a fan of Trump, but he’s better than Pence or Ryan would’ve been (because I doubt either of those two would have gotten rid of the TPP). The methods (and sometimes the goals) of Antifa are at odds with the liberal/progressive values of peacefulness, social freedom, and tolerance, and nobody in their right minds should support it– the ends do not justify the means. Thank you and good day.