In the 1950's, I wrote a college paper that compared and contrasted the propaganda and rhetoric of the 1930's and early 1940's in Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Stalin's Soviet Union. I even made mention of the rise of a new European-style social democracy (the term I used), now more often called democratic socialism.
Discussions during the Cold War led many people to call each other “communist” or 'socialist” or “fascist” interchangeably. My paper dealt with the differences among them. I wish I had the original paper with all of the footnotes to show the evidence of the real distinctions among the three political and economic philosophies. But the issue with Trump is fascism, yes, or no.
Today, I was blocked from a nation run by Big-City-Stone-Fruit for comparing the rhetoric and behavior of Trump and his supporters to the fascist dictator Mussolini. She accused me (falsely) of attacking her personally by attacking Trump and referencing fascism.
Fedja Buric, an assistant professor of history at Bellarmine University, certainly thinks relating Trump to Mussolini's fascism is appropriate in her piece. But by providing the link to the article below, as support for my contention, I was booted out of Big-City-Stone-Fruit's nation with the comment deleted. So I thought I'd write the article providing more detail and add to the multitude of articles making such comparisons. http://www.salon.com/2016/03/11/trumps_not_hitler_hes_mussolini_how_gop_anti_intellectualism_created_a_modern_fascist_movement_in_america/
So, what is Fascism and is Trump Fascist? I do not think Trump fits the model of Hitler's Nazi subset, but I do think Trump fits the more general mold of Fascism, especially the Italian kind under Mussolini.
Umberto Eco describes Italian fascism as “fuzzy” in its philosophical base as opposed to the very strict adherence of the Nazi's. He says Italian fascism was “a collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions.” But he does outline the general features that all Fascists states have used, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, South American countries, and others. http://www.pegc.us/archive/Articles/eco_ur-fascism.pdf
Below is a paraphrased list of the ingredients for fascism defined by Eco in 1995, based on history, not as some thought piece on current political events.
I think Trump fits all the criteria. I'll leave it up to commenters to present agreement or disagreement and any examples for support or disagreement.
1. Cult of conservative traditions. All learning is suspect; all change is suspect. Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and thinking on one's own is punished, while repeating the tenets of the cult are rewarded. We have become weak because we have rejected the ideals of some mythological past.
2. Progress in culture and science is rejected except for technology used to further the power of the leaders. Fascists worship technology while traditional conservatives, especially religious ones think technology impedes spiritual values. Fascists reject The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, and these are seen as as the beginning of modern depravity. Fascism equals irrationalism.
3. Action is preferred over thinking or planning. Thinking is a form of emasculation. The intellectual is distrusted and ridiculed. The liberal intelligentsia are effete and have betrayed traditional values.
4. Disagreement is not tolerated; disagreement is treason.
5. Fascism is racist by definition. Fascism seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The “other” is ridiculed, attacked and humiliated, especially if they disagree. Diversity is not tolerated; even minorities must bend to the majority will at all times and strive to fit in.
6. Fascism derives from individual or social frustration by those suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation
7. Fascism has an obsession with nationalism. Xenophobia and conspiracies, real or imagined, against the nation are exploited to focus the nation on these perceived threats to make rule by fear easier. Plots from outside and from within the nation are used to build more power, control and authority.
8. Fascists are convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies with greater force. By a continuous shifting of rhetoric and propaganda, the nation is currently too weak and its might must be strengthened, but at the same time, simple force can defeat the enemy because they are too weak to stand up to the might of the Fascists.
9. Negotiation with the enemy is forbidden; seeking mutual peace is trafficking with the enemy. Life is permanent warfare against one enemy or another. Armageddon is sought, either literally among some, or figuratively, where there is a great battle and a Golden Age can come only after all enemies are defeated with force.
10. Fascist leaders know that their strength is based on the weakness of the masses and how easily they are led. There is contempt for the masses, but people are told they can be part of the elite by joining forces with the leaders and the leaders' party.
11. There is a cult of heroism. Anyone who stands up to the forces in opposition is a hero. Fascists begin to think any act is heroic if it furthers the cause of fascism, even if it was formerly thought of as criminal or immoral. Death wishing and actual violence leading to the death of opponents and enemies is a sign of moral superiority.
12. Machismo is the standard, including boasts and actual feats of sexual prowess to show strength. There is an overt or implied disdain for the weak, especially women, as well as intolerance and condemnation of alternate sexuality. Weapons, especially firearms, are substitutes for male domination and their worship becomes part of the cult of strength and power.
13. The leader is the interpreter and the pretend example of the popular will. Power and decision making is voiced as the “Common Will” even if a majority of individuals do not subscribe to the leader's version. Fascist politicians cast doubt on the legitimacy of democratically elected officials and parliamentary bodies as not representing the “Will of the People”.
14. “Newspeak”, the invention of Orwell in his work 1984, is the linguistic norm. Memes and propaganda shorthand are repeated as wisdom and truth, while commentary and factual analysis are disparaged and finally eliminated.
Trump – fascist or not?