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Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race

Simply, we have “reclusive habits or outmoded or reactionary attitudes” (Webster’s) and sophisticated, propagandistic methods initially perfected in modern times by Nazi Germany (Pollack): Trump/Clinton, a race to the rock-bottom of authoritarianism, sans–for now–the concentration camp, but NOT, its foreign policy equivalent, a contest over who is more militaristic and war-like, directed into a confrontational posture in world politics.

Everything is secondary, whether immigration restriction or Wall-Street-favoritism of corporatism, to the ultimate threat to humankind in the visceral belligerence manifested by the two candidates, and the makeover of society to realize their respective visions (not that dissimilar) of unilateral domination of the Global System. Demagogy is not new to American politics; what is increasingly new is its distinctively fascist, as opposed to mere reactionary, cast of mind and projected operations.

Trump is perhaps an iconoclastic expression of what the vast majority of Americans have come to believe, and in that respect is not different from the liberal and conservative variants of the basic theme: a profound antiradicalism embodied in the integrated relationship between government and business (interpenetration of elites into a homogeneous ruling group where the State and Capitalism, with the addition of the Military, are fused into a functioning command system). The system is at once political, economic, and ideological, whose purpose is the tightening and perpetuation of an hierarchical social order composed of invidious class differences.

Fascism should not trip lightly off the tongue, for that trivializes its appearance when it comes. But it is here, or nearly so, with its hard side, an ethnocentric/xenophobic ideational core, and its soft side, the structural encroachment of business on every phase of American life, consumerism the mandate for imperialism and global conquest, the State supplying the planning and necessary hardware. This attitudinal-systemic framework is not the monopoly (pardon the pun) of one party, but represents the primordial impulse representing both—as though there were no alternatives, no turning back, a decadent future seemingly though not really deterministic, only made to appear so.

Scratch a liberal and you have antiradicalism. That is what liberalism has been about since at least the time of John Locke, not redistributive social justice but purging anything to the Left (as in the case of the English 17th century Levellers onward) which might challenge an ever more codified and rigidified capitalist weltanschauung ratified by todays’ American ideological value-oriented consensus. What is to be done? Talk of course is cheap, a self-castration awaiting further political-structural regimentation. Regrettably, I have no solution, at least none that will pass the smell test of massive surveillance already currently practiced. Landmarks are falling. The New York Times is virtually aligning itself with the Enemy by consecutively attacking Trump without a commensurate exposure of Clinton.

Each day the so-called rival camps outdo each other in nailing the coffin of democracy, itself lying on the ground alongside the pit being dug. That the Republicans nominated Trump in the first place, despite last-minute defections to a position not much better, confirms that party’s moral bankruptcy. But how are the Democrats any different? Clinton, following Bill’s example, has been so corrupt and self-serving for so long (with the Vested Interests piling up behind to share in the economic-financial-structural lucre), that the normalization of political criminality is no longer noticed. We have become habituated as a nation to an amoral cynicism justifying as the rightful fruition of exceptionalism a solipsistic obsession with power, gain, world mastery.

The latter words might not be found in either party’s platform, but there is equal subscription to their values, Republicans starting from an internal Fortress America, the Democrats merely assuming that to offer a more articulated paradigm of global domination. In both cases, an increasing deformation of American society, starting with an assault on the social safety net, is required to initiate and realize a tightly-organized class society in the name of classlessness. The poor beware, minorities beware, dissenters beware, no authentic respect for human rights, even civility qua mutual politeness, can be expected, and will come to the vanishing point, when the integral purposes of mature capitalism are achieved.

Alienation is built into the societal edifice, a known factor long before Marx’s Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, which enabled him to write as presciently as he did. The commodity becomes engrained in the human psyche, and from there the merry race commences, codified in the institutions and culture of property, for superiority one over another fellow human being. Is it too late for systemic rectification of what should be regarded as the political culture of oppression and evil? That would make for an interesting starting point for discussion and possible action, not the mealy-mouthed platitudes offered by the candidates, their respective parties, and America as a whole.

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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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