“U.S.A.” Chant: Hegemonic Unity in Global Domination


Hermann Goring Trump and Ilsa Koch Clinton make a charming couple. They are irascible in their protestations of Americanism, variant styles, and temperaments. Nevertheless, they converge in the commitment to patriotic militarism (aka, plebiscitary fascism cum monopoly capital) as the ideological vehicle to national greatness. Their common bond, beyond an inordinate capacity for undifferentiated resentment and hatred, is their capacity, as a function of major-party politics, to mobilize a like mass response at bottom xenophobic (in international politics, Russia, China) and ethnocentric (the dissident, radicals, peace advocates). For Trump, Muslims play the role that Jews did for Hitler; for Clinton, socialists and pacifists perform the same historical function. Working people including labor unions (hence the plebian dimension to fascism), contrary to history and Marxian wish-fulfillment, have become the shock troops thrusting forward both candidates on the political formula, war-readiness and, so far as class interests are concerned, self-castration.

Fascism has never been in finer fettle in America: who needs a guttural Joe McCarthy when the specimens at hand are ready and willing to lead? The conversation has barely changed. The irreducible anticommunism characterizing, by whatever name (now, terrorism, previously, radicalism, anarchism, socialism), the national discourse of insecurity and aggression, is readily converted into a cesspool of generalized phobias. These are supported at all points by concrete actions of US foreign policy, in which intervention and regime change have kept the rest of the world on tenterhooks.

So here we are, awaiting another presidential election, which, truth be told, merely adumbrates and delineates themes prevalent for seventy years, since the close of World War II. There have been few exceptions in leadership in either party to the Leadership Principle (the fusion of person, social structure, political economy), few policy orientations and platform measures to impede the course of impending fascist closure, few if any breakthroughs to the regimentation of social thought now typified in Obama’s promotion of massive surveillance, few courageous, stand-up acts of resistance on the part of labor to war, concentrated wealth, the privileged status of Vested Interests, from banking to oil, to medicine, to pharmaceuticals—and the list creeps on to near-infinity.

Whither America? Democracy, beginning in the 17th century, has never been one of its strong suits. The Marxian dialectic is distinguished by its absence, a monochromatic progression of ever-expanding sameness. The city on the hill extends to the swamps of moral absolutism and indifference to humanity. Stepping back, one sees Trump-Clinton as the singular expression of contempt for the democratization of society, economy, and culture, a process coterminous with the valuing of authoritarian patterns in world affairs. Trump-Clinton is the voice of one when it comes to the articulation and projection of world power, the voice of increased stridency if that were possible when added to such power is the universality of capitalism as the sole legitimate global system.

Try as one might, daylight cannot be forced between them. Ruling groups are sacrosanct, the best citizenry, to be looked up to as the generators and custodians of the national wealth, with Trump-Clinton sharing duple captaincy. Wall Street and Corporate America in general could not be more delighted with these circumscribed political boundaries. Scratch the candidate, either one, and beneath exists the nether world of military power virtually unlimited in scope and size, anxiously waiting to spring forward. Whether autarky is conceived as nationalism (Trump) or internationalism (Clinton), its message of self-sufficiency as the militarization of exceptionalism is heard loud and clear.

What have America’s major political parties become but agents of pacification, canceling out political change while the exercise of power is funneled into an elitist system of Upper Capital in which the military is welcomed with open arms. Trump vies with Clinton in extolling the virtues of strength and National Greatness, which boil down to self-accredited authority to define and regulate international politics to achieve, among other things, global ideological purification. It is as though imperialism, centered on market penetration, has given way to domination for its own sake. And complementing that, we find an arousal of anger to divert attention from the failings of capitalism, thereby disarming criticism and at the same time tightening the screws of a discrepant framework of wealth-and-income distribution.

Come November, Republicans, Democrats, Trump, Clinton, who cares? The political parties have charted the race to the bottom for so long, one more soft landing will hardly be noticed. In prideful affirmation, we term this the normalization of democratic practice. Fewer and fewer Americans, as time goes on, are seeing through the charade. In that light, fascism will meet with little resistance when its time comes, decked out in bunting, even confetti thrown from the rooftops.

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.