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Fascism Trumps Democracy: America, A State of Impunity

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Notwithstanding my title’s oblique reference to Trump, he is not the greater of the dangers now facing America, but an entirely known factor, representing a gut incipient fascism grounded primarily in capital accumulation, a nymphomaniac drive for ownership, deal-making, undisguised prestige—in short, the very traits becoming to American’s wish for wealth, power, and status on which its system of capitalism is based. Ethnocentrism gives it a psychological heart, sheer ignorance of humane sensibility, a soul, indifference to the humiliation and destruction of others because of capitalism’s workings, a modal personality and societal mental set. We’ve had many examples of The Donald up-and-down the line, from the 10%, 5%, 1%, down to the bottom of the social-class scale, that being how effective false consciousness has been disseminated downward through the American value system. He presently vibrates with what appears to be a significant portion of the working class. So be it; at least the portents and record are there for fighting back.

Not so the Obamas and Clintons in our midst, largely free from serious criticism by a supine, homogenized radicalism, chanting the “lesser-of-two-evils” song on the way, not to the gas chambers (not even Trump has, as yet, gone this far), but a manifestation and structure of liberal fascism, possibly more militaristic, more ensconced deeply in a Cold War mental set, talking a good game on immigration while actively promoting a class-state of monopolism equal to anything Trump favors. We have then a condition of growing fascistization with little internal checks and differentiate primarily by rhetorical flourishes. Obama is the point man, exceeding his predecessors, in global counterrevolution, intervention, regime change, and the steady pressures toward confrontation with, above all, China, but also Russia. Meanwhile, Clinton fits the bill, perhaps more viscerally combative, with Russia, rather than China, the chief ADVERSARY. (Caps. are necessary, because the US cannot exist, much less thrive, without an enemy, whether for the mammoth defense industry, an hegemonic foreign policy, or the social discipline at home, to keep the internal market going, ferret out dissent on policy, favor the already enriched and favored.)

Stealth destroyers, appropriation $4B+, already noticed in today’s Times; the safety net grows more outmoded, environmental degradation and pollution continue apace, the murder rate in Chicago and other major cities climbs, but imperialism is, literally, business-as-usual. And business itself is business as usual: Bank of America last week’s poster boy of questionable behavior. “You break it, you own it” might be the slogan in a small business souvenir shop, but what of the bigger picture? American business, notably, railroads and banking, by the mid-19th century, had already broken the promise of democracy, and fixing the system on democratic lines has grown more remote with time. That is where “fascism” is not an expletive, but reality: the interpenetration of business and government, capitalism and the State, the cozy amalgam of wealth, power, the military, which even the strongest chisel could not pry them apart.

Germany had its form, Italy, its, Japan, its, all signifying cultural and linguistic differences, but not systemic ones, capitalism in each case, and the social structure of hierarchy it created, the determinative factor in shaping the polity and its purposes of Order, deservedly the dirtiest word in the political lexicon. Everyone knows his/her place in a fascist social order. Substantive protest is muted, whether through repression or indoctrination. America now joins the 20th century’s historical Big Three of fascist persuasion, relying more on indoctrination than explicit, overt repression. Fly-over military jets at football games is the Pavlovian reminder of requisite patriotism to be considered, and consider oneself, the Good American. (Trump merely echoes the man-in-the-street, his difference being a silk shirt for a denim work shirt.) But it is Clinton who deserves, and has earned the respect, of all right-thinking Americans, parroting the vitriol of the defense intellectuals, propaganda masters (even Axelrod in today’s paper seems to have become critical), her controlled shrillness, backed by her husband’s man-of-destiny complex, posing more serious risks for putting nails into the coffin of democracy.

Why choose either, Trump or Clinton? Elections are rigged, not by corruption, but, more profoundly, by the political culture and class structure of the society, the candidates merely the façade for several centuries of political-economic-ideological development, cumulative, self-renewing, above all, hubristic, i.e., exaggerated pride, the Chosen, backed by the military force to cram it down the throats of all and sundry, where “friends and allies” become, for these purposes of unilateral global dominance, indistinguishable from adversaries and enemies in successfully maintaining claims of leadership and greatness.

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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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