Frontal attack on the State: Fascist March on Rome Revisited Almost a Century Later 1922-2021

This brazen attempt at a coup confirms what has always been evident but which some refrained from affirming. Trump is not simply an exponent of a ‘new fascism’ with Bolsonaro and others. He is Fascist pure and simple. A person who supposedly denounces fake news, he and his cronies are past masters at creating it. Sling mud as some of it will stick and give you the pretext to flout any semblance of democratic practice.

You can then use thuggery and whip your lumpen supporters and worshippers into a frenzy and have them engage in a frontal attack on Capitol Hill. The one thing that was lacking was the wearing of black shirts as I suppose this colour is detested by the white supremacists in their ranks. This stage managed attack, reminiscent of the Fascist march on Rome in 1922, assumes the state in the US is gelatinous. Thankfully it is not. Despite its historical reliance on brutal force at home and definitely abroad – Latin America and the Monroe Doctrine- there is still some vestige of democratic posturing and procedure on the home front. I would like to think a successful ‘war of manouvre’ (frontal attack on the state) is still a trifle wishful thinking in that place, though I am not that sure.

However, there were clear signs that Fascism is alive and well in the USA and Trump embraces it. He sees himself as the new Caesar who can flout all forms of democratic semblance to assume the single personification of the State, often referred to as Caesarism or Bonapartism. He might then take a leaf out of the history books to demand a plebiscite to secure that. Now this is no real surprise as he is the culmination of years of authoritarian practices spawned globally by the state he represented. This is a state that rides roughshod over democratic aspirations of people abroad and home, a state which engineers coups, direct (Chile, Argentina, Brazil) and pseudo legalistic ones (see the White coup against Dilma Roussef in Brazil) and which spawns massive inequalities at home. Ask Blacks, Latinas/os and Indigenous if the process is democratic for them..or the early immigrants from Spain and Italy shot at by forces hired by the bosses invoking the anarchist bogey. Now it takes one person to exacerbate these tendencies. In my view if the USA is serious about its democratic credentials, he should be impeached and arrested for sedition. I suspect however that Trump continues to excite and arouse so much ‘White Supremacist’ tendencies with his speeches and actions against non-whites that he is not one to be suppressed easily. Who is to say this attempted coup was not abetted by some whose duty it is to prevent it? Am I playing dumb in posing this question? Imagine if this were a BLM attack against the racist state. They have a million more reasons to attack a system that has suppressed Black lives in the US for years. All hell would have broken loose and the area around Capitol Hill would be strewn with corpses as if we were watching the end of a Shakespeare tragedy.

Had this been Renaissance Florence there would have been calls to have Trump hanged in one of his towers as with Jacopo dei Pazzi by the Palleschi inside his family chapel at Santa Croce, following the failed coup against the Medici. Luckily we have come a long way since then and I would not wish this on anyone. But impeachment and charges of sedition are not out of order. As singer and activist Graham Nash, of CSN/CSNY fame, once said, well before Trump was elected President, this is a dangerous man. He is more than that. Beside being a swaggering and ranting bully, he remains a Fascist threat to any semblance of democracy. A sinister straw in the wind.

Peter Mayo is Professor at the University of Malta and author of Higher Education in a Globalising World: Community engagement and lifelong learning (Manchester University Press, June 2019).