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When editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg asserted that “the struggle in Charlottesville is a struggle within our own civilization, within Trump’s own civilization,” and that in the wake of such events “an American president should speak up directly on behalf of the American creed, on behalf of Americans who reject tribalism and seek pluralism, on behalf of the idea that blood-and-soil nationalism is antithetical to the American idea itself,” who, exactly, can place his logic?
It reads nicely, and it seems a conscionable thought to have after a woman dies fighting Nazis on American soil. But, really, what history books has Mr. Goldberg been reading?
“Our civilization’s” ongoing genocide against indigenous groups and the violently enforced systematic oppression of Black Americans notwithstanding, the US government – of which Trump is now Commander-in-Chief – has a storied and bloody history of assassinating foreign heads of state precisely because, democratically, a body of citizens or voters “seeking pluralism” elsewhere in the world had commenced down an antifascist political path that did not suit Washington’s interests.
Ariel Dorfman, for instance, reminisces of the 1970s presidential inauguration of Salvador Allende in Chile: “[A]lmost three years later, a few days after the Hawker Hunter planes under the control of General Pinochet attacked the palace on September 11, 1973. Their bombs left a black yawning gap where the balcony stood. Where the president once waved his handkerchief, there is nothing. Allende is dead. And we can sense that outside the frame, below where the balcony jutted out, there is only emptiness…”
Oh, were it so easy to condemn Trump for failing to say the “right thing” at the “right time” and to have that be the end of it. Is this what the Liberal pluribus desires from America’s much-detested Caesar? It may be enough to keep Rachel Maddow employed, but, unfortunately, the reason for the president’s neutrality on fascism is much more serious than this—and let there be no doubt that he, especially, is unaware of the profound impetus for his proven Nazi-sympathizing.
As we are thoroughly living in an oligarchy, we should turn to Deleuze to elucidate a root cause of the Oval Office’s reigning fascist bent: “The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control…”
Clearly, the rightward-leaning have shown a distinct susceptibility to every brand of hate-driven politics—and we should recall that the colonial residence of bigoted pilgrims did not predate the arrival of slave ships on American shores but followed one year later (1620 and 1619, respectively). Nevertheless, Liberals have their work cut out for them if they expect to right the ship of American democracy simply writing lukewarm editorials about “the American idea” and babyishly debating whether it is “ok” to punch Nazis in the face. In fact, our democracy is a ship that has always been listing! It has hardly been a democracy! And those who cry wolf because they think our political vessel is only now foundering really must have little-or-no experience with political organizing beyond the soothing environs of the yoga studio. Luckily for them, there is a very toothsome radical history they can get on board with.
Nearly a century ago, Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti offered very valuable advice during an interview he gave with the Toronto Star: “No government in the world fights Fascism to the death. When the bourgeoisie sees power slipping from its grasp, it has recourse to Fascism to maintain itself. The Liberal Government of Spain could have rendered the Fascist elements powerless long ago. Instead it compromised and dallied. Even now at this moment, there are men in this Government who want to go easy on the rebels… We want revolution here in Spain, right now, not maybe after the next European war. We are giving Hitler and Mussolini far more worry with our revolution than the whole Red Army of Russia. We are setting an example to the German and Italian working class on how to deal with Fascism.”
Our fight against fascism requires that we also set an example for the world. Huffing and puffing about what Trump says or fails to say is superficial. Of course, it is much easier than mounting a revolution to fight fascism to the death. And just how many bourgeois liberals are willing to pony-up?