We can do better than the "Fascism" meme
All kinds of people hate Donald Trump, and rightly so. Trump is a WWE spectacle who managed to make it to the top of the political pyramid thanks to the political blundering of his election opponent. Those who hate Donald Trump because they are being screwed by government and/or big business are indeed justified. Also, however, the owning class doesn't like it that their actual impolite government (here the topic of a polite complaint by Bernie Sanders in April of 2016) has such an impolite front man. So now we have people such as Madeleine ("it was worth it") Albright telling us that we should be worried about Fascism. And we are the mass audience of potential dupes for this message, being primed for acquiescence, now as during Obama. So we're being invited to join the movement! Sure, we're going to keep the ruling class, with its ongoing crimes against humanity and its ongoing financial insecurity, which will survive Trump as it survived Obama. But look at the glorious compensation! We can harass the baddies at restaurants -- and we'll get court cases in our favor! (Never mind the spooky resemblance of all this to a possible revival of Plessy v. Ferguson. Here's an illustration: imagine that I'm a restaurant owner and that I don't like Black people in my restaurant. Can I claim something about their opinions that will justify my kicking them out?)
Of course, "Fascism" is political hyperbole -- but using terms such as "Fascism" obscures the historical nature of Fascist government. Has Donald Trump yet advocated the abolition of Congress so that he could rule by decree? Should we anticipate an immediate shutdown of Caucus99Percent by gangs of armed thugs? Here is my further question: can't we just call Trump a reactionary asshole while at the same time recognizing that Fascism was something other than what one sees in Trump, something significantly more antidemocratic than what Trump has said and done so far?
I'm okay with the notion of "post-Fascism" argued in this piece, published in the WaPo back in 2017. The piece gets one thing wrong -- Fascism was not "anticapitalist populism." Rather, Fascism was an attempt to save capitalism from its own self-imposed doom, as the piece concedes elsewhere. Nice capitalists like the folks in the Bush family could appreciate that. But it does get right its quotation of Enzo Traverso:
“Trump’s rise is not a sudden return to barbarism, nor is it a meteor crashing down onto a peaceful country,” wrote Traverso. “It is not a resurgence of fascism, but something new and not yet realized.” Traverso, a leftist academic, suggests we call Trump’s politics “post-fascism,” “a capitalism without a human face.”
And I'm fine with Jeffrey C. Isaac, who argues:
Trump is a distinctly American version of a broader global trend: the rise of authoritarian populist leaders who use new media platforms to attack already eroded forms of party politics and mass communication, attack independent judicial, civil service, and media institutions, and incite populist resentment as a way of building a base of political power.
In concluding, Trump sucks, but I don't have a lot of solidarity for the folks who want their human face back but are totally kewl with capitalism as it stands. At this point in the game capitalism will bring further ruin to the planet and the people on it, regardless of the short-term benefits it delivers to its designated winners, and regardless of whether a Trump or a Clinton is at the helm of its political foundations.
Sure, in the short term we will all hope to be capitalism's designated winners, even as the system heads toward the abyss -- we're only human. Perhaps, though, we should do so with a modicum of skepticism toward those telling us that Trump is a Fascist but that the system is otherwise okey-dokey. Meanwhile, let's appreciate the fact that the Rip van Winkles of the political world have finally woken up.