A year ago, the idea that Trump was a fascist was whispered. Today, after the dispatch of Homeland Security shock troops to Portand, it’s shouted. But what kind of fascist is he? The answer so far is an incompetent one: His popularity is tanking and he’s losing control of the media and the masses. But wait, wasn’t Hitler a failure too (mocked and belittled) until he wasn’t?
In order to determine just how successful Trump has been at establishing fascism, we’ve created an analytic tool based on three historic precedents: 1) the U.S. during the era of segregation when white supremacists terrorized and lynched Blacks; 2) Mussolini’s Italy when political opposition was crushed and war was celebrated; and 3) Hitler’s Nazi Germany, which extolled the myth of Aryan, racial superiority, and committed genocide against Jews, Roma and LGBTQ people.*
Readers may measure Trump’s progress toward fascism by assigning one to five points for each of the following:
Bringing government agencies (State, Interior, Justice, etc) into conformity [ ]
Using violence to cripple opposition parties and control elections [ ]
Intimidating and then controlling the press and other media [ ]
Sponsoring mass rallies and military parades [ ]
Upholding the Fuhrer (leadership) principle [ ]
Mocking the rule of law [ ]
Rescinding women’s political, reproductive, and property rights [ ]
Prohibiting the expression of any non-reproductive sexuality [ ]
Denigrating science and promoting lies (what Hitler called “the big lie”) [ ]
Endorsing “White” or “Aryan” superiority, and making it the basis of policy [ ]
Using the armed forces to arrest or abuse dissidents and migrants [ ]
5-10 = Just another asshole
11-20 = Racist, sexist and maybe a bit fascist too
21-30 = Quite fascist
31-40 = It can happen here!
41-50 = Successful fascist.
The point of scoring fascism is to understand the dangers we face and prompt action to avoid them. Resistance may include street protests, mass strikes, and voting. That Trump can still be voted out is a sign that fascism has not yet been fully established. After fascists consolidate power, fair elections are the first things to go. As of now, Trump remains a bad fascist, too stupid or undisciplined to accomplish his worst designs. But would an election victory in November sharpen his focus?
History never repeats itself. Comparing policies from the segregated U.S. South, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany to contemporary ones and claiming equivalence, is an act of selective memory. What about the many utterances and events for which no contemporary parallel exists?
Nevertheless, the impact of current, neo-fascist policies is real, as Sue Coe illustrates. When migrant children are kept in cages they are scarred. When the facts of COVID 19 and climate science are denied, people die and the planet warms. When racists are described as good people, they enact their hatred with violence, When sexual abuse is tolerated, it grows. When the rule of law is undermined, impunity reigns. And when the press is denigrated as an “enemy of the people” they are no longer trusted, and may be censored – free speech is dead.