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Authoritarian Politics: Trump, Clinton, and Neo-Fascism

Confessore’s article, “For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance,” in The Times (July 13), is a well-researched indictment of white working-class ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and psychopathological anxieties and hatreds about the seeming loss of economic, political, racial status in America. Of course, white dominance remains far-reaching, much of the fear is opportunistic (designed to vent aggression with impunity), and is stimulated and guided in some measure by Trump’s carefully planned statements, hints, and innuendoes. The fascistic context of his campaign is half-contrived, half-real, but in both cases testifying to a receptive populace already predisposed to war and reactionary social policy.

Trump would be nowhere, if the country were not supportive of self-debasement and self-pity ready to spring out and be translated into the vilest social ethic of superiority since World War II. How did this come about? Capitalism in America requires nothing less for its identity and performance. The proof of this is that Clinton and her supporters are little better, little to distinguish the two protagonists and the major parties they represent: a muscular world presence by divine right, superimposed on a class-driven society thoroughly intensified by inequality, wealth concentration, a combined ruling group of business-government-military elites integrated through maintaining a common purpose.

Trump and Clinton are each cheek in the Janus-faced Obama, himself the Great Betrayer of what remains of the American democratic spirit, increasingly dormant since the New Deal. Thus, the present impasse affecting America’s humane future could have been easily predicted through tracing the historical course beginning with Truman, with little respite in the internal workings of capitalism and a foreign policy determined on unilateral prerogatives to order the global framework to its liking. Normalcy is repression, turned into gnawing resentment and a call to action—violence ever ready to disgorge its fury. At this point, neither candidate or party offers an alternative to societal decay cloaked in the amassing of unprecedented power to ward off decline from hitherto aggressively-wrought superiority. The world is now multipolar, which the US finds intolerable and the refutation of its exceptionalism.

When we look at Confessore’s article, it becomes apparent how far a white working class is descending into a Nazi-like mindset, covering the usual ground of racial and ethnic hostility to what- and whom-ever is deemed the Other. Trump is the Pied Piper leading them over the cliff, while Clinton in desperation attempts a reversal of course hoping her combined capitalism-militarism goes unnoticed, but not so much as, always giving signs of her studied toughness, to lose a hold on the same constituency. Of the two, she may be the more dangerous (with major war an almost certainty) because drenching herself in liberal rhetoric. Sanders’s endorsement merely adds to the intended swindle and false consciousness directed to the electorate.

Whites, we read, resent blacks, Latinos, immigrants per se, and the list grows, a resentment toward everyone except those responsible for exploiting them, to which they come hat in hand to do their bidding. Anglin’s “The Daily Stormer” spews white nationalism and anti-Semitism, vying with Spencer’s own white nationalism congratulating Trump for “bringing identity politics for white people into the public sphere in a way no one has,” while Trump sarcastically says he disavows them, and the others coming out of the woodwork to savor their popularity. And Trump retweets many of the hate messages. The danger in all of this is the American receptivity to fascism, but perhaps the equal danger lies in Clinton’s liberalization of fascism, spread across a wider terrain, taking in confrontation with Russia and China. Obama has been an excellent instructor for both candidates, with nuclear modernization, massive surveillance, curtailment of civil liberties—so whomever wins in November, the American public will be stepping into the same stream several yards further. There are rough times ahead.

More articles by:

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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