FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Becomes Fascist: Trump Revealed

Trump is the real thing. His budget proposal, now made public, is perfectly expected, an increase of 10% for military spending, 7%, homeland security, 6%, veterans, and the largest cuts, -31% EPA, -29% State department and development agencies, -21% agriculture. This of course tells us little about the deformation of government allocations and still less about overall purpose. On its face, we see militarism crushing down government’s welfare functions, and this should be a clue as to what’s at stake.

As NYT reports, “The proposal would also eliminate funding [I stress, eliminate] for nearly 20 smaller independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which finances legal aid groups.” The list (more below) is instructive. The reason is given to be, avoiding deficits while increasing the defense budget necessitates pruning the tree. The preeminence of defense requires nothing less, if the Homeland is to remain safe. Trump is the ultimate protector of American democracy and freedom.

At a minimum, from recent polls, 40% of the American public buys in—totally and completely, as the response to Trump’s speeches make clear, with probably another 20% on the borderline, sharing the nativist biases and xenophobic fears. This leaves a scant 40% as an opposition force (and even there, a Democratic party weak, patriotism-saturated, hardly confrontational with standards of contemporary political discourse, as on defense per se, the Cold War, toleration of dissent). In this case, predisposition to fascism, a uniform political-cultural trend since the end of World War Two, renders Trump practicable, intelligible, and for a near-majority of the public desirable. Fascism as a top-down affair cannot succeed without the underlying groundwork of receptivity.

Nevertheless, Trump has crossed the Rubicon, a recipient of history in America but also self-propelled in taking over. A healthy America never would have tolerated his advancement and acquiescence in his ideas. For they are harsh, repulsive to a democratic sensibility and belief-system, one-dimensional in the veneration of stripped-down national power combined with, and meaningless without, unrestrained capitalism, achievable by whatever means. That alone qualifies for consideration of fascism, not simply the militarist cum monopoly capital core of society, but the underlying means for achievement, the interpenetration of government and business as the polity’s defining mode.

America since 1945 has overstressed expansion, both geopolitical and market-oriented, as much co-responsible for the inception of the Cold War as the Soviet Union, and with the Korean War (which came remarkably early, 1950), its leading architect and beneficiary, so that by Vietnam, anticommunism, the operative catchword all those years, had been fully actualized as the move for unilateral dominance. This has not changed, the impulse only intensified in the interim. Perhaps instability and under-performance are integral to advanced capitalism, yet something more sinister is involved, a self-fulfilling motivation—a preservation-instinct (?)—which transcends economic ambitions and political fears, directed to a hardening personality structure contemptuous of, even frightened of—human needs and feelings. This corresponds to the requisite mindset sanctioning attitudes toward war, fortress-building, intolerance, and setting America straight on the course of global counterrevolution, none of which would be existing, possible, acceptable under an authentic expression of political-economic freedom.

I would like to look here at the proposed budget, for it indicates my thesis: beyond militarism and capitalism, but deriving from their consequent integration in today’s America, there is an eradicative disposition, absolutistic in character, to eliminate all traces of presumed softness (as defined by a growing majority, including, regrettably, the working class) from American life, that which pertains to peace, reduction of class differences thereby approaching a condition of equality, realization of respect for the individual, at bottom, an ethos of caring through meeting the health needs, as a matter of right, of society’s members, broadly interpreted beyond decent jobs and housing to the environmental well-being, protection, replenishment of the planet.

America is in the forefront of its desecration. My concern is not the big-ticket items, which are transparent to all, starting with the military, encouragement of capital accumulation, and the weakening of EPA, but the microscopic items, which are a telling guide to the settling mood of antihuman deep-seated conviction. Even the meager list thus far: why eliminate NEA or NEH unless the intuitive fear of reaching a true flourishing human identity has taken hold? I once more than a half-century ago wrote an essay for Agricultural History entitled “Fear of Man.” Add to that “Woman,” as at bottom the fear of human emancipation from the thralldom of institutionalized repression, glaringly evident in the machinery of foreign and domestic policy, and you have the picture: a vindictiveness toward anyone or anything not only threatening but also questioning the established verities, imperialism and extreme wealth-differentiation.

Let’s look closer at this nihilistic (denial of any objective ground of moral truths, destruction as desirable for its own sake, definitions offered by Webster’s Collegiate) mindset, as it translates into Trump’s proposed budget, the hatred of human potentiality wherever humankind, and here America in particular, becomes awakened, realized, or even begins to rear its head. EPA is easy in the account: elimination of one-fifth of the agency’s personnel, funding for the Clean Power Act, and climate change research. What kind of small mind tears apart what is beneficial to society, down to research? On State and development programs, we see in The Times chart and explanation, an attack on the UN: “Climate change initiatives … would lose all their U.S. funding,” other programs manhandled, as meanwhile “Israel’s $3.1 billion in annual military aid would be untouched.”

And so on (again, NYT throughout for information). Agriculture—I stress the vicious cutting out of humanly-deserving programs, here a reduction in the National Forest System and elimination of “loan and grant programs for water and sewage systems.” Next, Labor: scaling back “on a number of job training programs, including those aimed at helping seniors, disadvantaged young people and unemployed Americans.” Justice: budget cutting (-$4B), “even as he [Trump] steps up border enforcement, hires more immigration judges and slightly increases the F.B. I. budget.” Here things become grizzly from any democratic standpoint, Health and Human Services: “eliminating $4.2 billion in community service programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program,” and cuts of 18% to the National Institutes of Health, in both of these cases, needing a mad Dr. Frankenstein with sharpened scalpel to ferret out such cuts.

Commerce, like the others, fares poorly: “The budget eliminates the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s grants and programs for coastal and marine management, research and education and eliminates the Minority Business and Development Agency, which supports minority-owned businesses.” Education: emphasis on school-choice programs, “while eliminating funding for before- and after-school and summer programs,” along with eliminating “the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant” for college students “with the greatest need for financial aid,” a further instance, if one were needed, for contempt shown the poor—and designed to make them remain that way. Transportation: initiating “privatization of the nation’s air traffic control operations,” as well as reducing subsidies to Amtrak.

The list is long and suggests a thoroughness leaving little untouched that benefits the public, a merciless dissection on Trump’s part (I use him as responsible, but much of this is scraping the barrel of reactionary figures, in every case favorable administrators, appointed for that reason, and expected to follow in the same vein as the butchering of social welfare continues). Thus, pointedly, Housing and Urban Development: “The budget would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant Program, which funds local improvement efforts and anti-poverty programs, and cut funding for rental assistance and homeownership programs and affordable housing initiatives.” Interior, simplicity itself: “increase funding for programs that drill for oil and gas on public lands and cut funding for programs such as the National Heritage Areas and the National Wildlife Refuge Fund.”

All to increase funding for the military? Of course, but also, as the examples testify, the urge to despoil, ruin, pillage, liberate the darkness of vitriol built-up through the institutional influence and development of war, intervention, militarism, and the fragmentation of human feeling (alienation) associated with capitalism. Energy: some budget cutting, but “an increase of $1.4 billion, or 11 percent, to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is focused on managing the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.” (Hardly a peaceful pursuit.) In addition, “the budget would cut or eliminate programs to support research of breakthrough clean energy technology….” Treasury: the IRS would be “the main target,” although I should have liked more coverage to taxation and fiscal policies. Veterans Affairs: a hefty 6% increase, as in extending the Veterans Choice Program (choosing options outside V.A. facilities).

And finally, Homeland Security and Defense. The former is cut-and-dried: $2.6B for “border security and technology, including the early stages of a wall between the United States and Mexico.” There would be a budget set aside for more Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. Also, “another $1,5 billion would go toward supporting the detention and removal of illegal immigrants.” And the latter, faced with a budgetary increase of $52.3B, The Times throws up its arms in despair of accurately enumerating, the increase being still left vague by Trump. What is not vague, however, is the drift of policy making. In every case, America is internally stripped down, impoverished of its national heritage. To say, this is all for the sake of budget balancing (the better to serve military needs) is only partially true; what we are witnessing as well is a punitive thirst, the urge to punish, even among large portions of the population struggling in present economic circumstances, and wholly in defiance of their objective class interests, i.e., punishment for being a free people.

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.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail