Trump-Palin: Dynamic Duo of Fascistic America


A Trump-Palin ticket (it’s too early to tell whether this is a serious prospect, but it represents an idealized political configuration with significant roots in both major parties) would sweep all before it in this blessedly f***ed up nation because it unites two principal strands in America’s historical political culture and ideology: the veneration of wealth (Trump) and plebeian fascism (Palin), a seemingly unbeatable combination matching the decades-long experience of how US capitalist development evolved into a unilateral global hegemon. For this to occur, it takes, in the words of sainted Ronald Reagan, two to tango, a whirling-dervish kind of dance, nearly out of control in its fast-spinning militarization of policies and values. Upper groups administer (and of course profit from) the social structure, itself built upon the product of their own labor, from war-making to market penetration to, the end-goal, capital accumulation, while working people beginning with the antilabor climate following World War II supplied the shock troops, via their consent to and complicity in furthering a capitalistic-inspired societal process of fascistization, for whom junior partnership (which included support of the Cold War) seemed more attractive than outright suppression. Taft-Hartley, the spiritual and practical undoing of the Wagner Act, pointed to the future, a kept working class, its militancy slowly leeched out in the days of red-baiting McCarthyism, anticommunism reified, fructified, so that it had the stuffing knocked out of it. I recall vividly picketing on Boston Common in the late 1950s, against nuclear testing, and, by unwritten code, on behalf of civil rights, when construction workers piled out of the subway, came by, tore up our signs, roughed us up, no police in sight (or on site), the scene driving home to me that American workers would have built crematoria if it meant better-paying jobs.

Such was America then, and I believe now: entrenched wealth/plebeian fascism. If Trump and Palin never existed, we would have had to invent them (the Sartre analysis, in “Portrait of the Anti-Semite,” holds equally here, the psychological dynamics of Rightist invention) though as it currently turns out, Cruz and Clinton will do as somewhat imperfect analogues, she, of wealth, he, of plebeian appeal (a more guttural fascism), despite having a hand in the till. It seems that candidates and parties no longer matter, how deeply entrenched authoritarianism has taken hold in the national polity and psyche alike, my image of Thanatosean America propelled by a death-wish of increasing nihilism, as the ground, literally, is being despoiled under us, climate change proceeding on a runaway track, social forces of actual and potential radicalism, if not at each other’s throat, then seemingly incapable of unified CLASS–rather than race, ethnic, and gender—action, all encased in a tightly-woven pattern of political-economic organicism, each constituent knowing its place in the Grand Hierarchy, capitalists, lead and profit, workers aspire and hold constant or sink, a diversely composed underclass suited for military duty or lumpen-proletariat functions of, as now, electing and re-electing the corrupted servants of power: so why not a Trump-Palin ticket, poised for success?

Perhaps America could do no worse, the Democratic party long ago self-castrated by fears of Rightist denunciation (from Truman and Kennedy to the present, willing suppliants at the altar of the Cold War) while producing its own share of billionaires equally to the task of mounting an aggressive foreign policy and, for public consumption, giving monolithic capitalism a liberal patina. Upper wealth possesses a common face, as we marionettes, in spasmodic life-step, jerkily respond below, wired to do its bidding. Conspiracy theory? Hardly; instead, a factual diagram of the structure of wealth and power in America, concentration and consolidation of the socioeconomic framework with its corresponding ideological rationale, undeniable reality when one examines decision-making and its results, wherein party differences have little effect, and indeed are ruled out, where both the conservation, nay, sacral nature, of property and the unimpeded drive for imperialism are involved. America, of course, could do better than Trump and Palin for executing the paradigm of fascism (Obama illustrates the co-optative “liberalism” as a means to that end, although himself a dead giveaway, in my reading of his record, of the fascist inclination, i.e., corporatism plus war), but why bother? One dynamic duo is as good as another, with plenty to draw upon in both parties’ pool.

Politics is no longer the art of the possible, if it ever was (save perhaps during the New Deal), but the craft of the cunning and corrupt, whose career ambitions mesh perfectly with the needs of capitalism, which translates wealth into power and fixes both at the core of the polity. Palin is useful to Trump (her speeches are more off-the-cuff muscular than his) in ramming home the value and legitimacy of force in international relations, and not coddling presumed malcontents in America: paradoxically, an all-powerful State, which eschews the role of government in just about everything that pertains to societal welfare, (of course) taxation, the democratization of class and income—everything, that is, except the capability and actuality of war, in which case government is laudable and, along with business, a suitable object of patriotic devotion. When Palin stated that Trump has “been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system,” this “idea” was not establishment-Republicanism (“He’s been going rogue left and right”) but rather the system per se, its protective democratic rights (whether or not honored), its constitutional foundations. The State will do the bidding of its most powerful forces, and offer explanations—if at all—afterward.

America is in process of speedily being reconstructed (“tear[ing] the veil off”) to yield wealth its just deserts, a world system where friendly dictators need fear nothing by way of intervention or criticism, only arms shipments for their loyalty and favorable investment climate, and where US-defined globalization on all essential matters (subject to our definition) is incontestable, if necessary in making it so through facing off against Russia and China. Just as one of his and her themes is, America does not apologize to anyone (the recent reference to Iran, and noted in her endorsement speech of Trump), our dynamic duo carries belligerence/resentment to lengths, if still exceeded by Cruz and Clinton, which pose a danger obviously to world peace but also, less obvious perhaps, to domestic freedoms of expression and association. The Trump-Palin appeal to libertarians, the other side of the coin to evangelicals, is hollow, pure malarkey, as repression (e.g., closing the borders) would take on a self-justifying life of its own. Grimly, there is little assurance things would be better or different in Democratic hands.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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