Friday, January 22, 2016

Trump's fascist theatre

Is Donald Trump a fascist? The Philadelphia Daily News thinks so. When Trump called for Muslims to be banned from entering America last month, the Daily News covered its front page with a photograph of the billionaire giving a Hitleresque salute, and added the headline 'The New Furor'.

As Trump maintains his poll lead over other contenders for the Republican nomination for president, an increasing number of journalists and scholars are debating whether he deserves the adjective fascist.

In the 1920s and '30s fascist leaders like Mussolini and Hitler promoted extreme forms of nationalism, denounced various minorities as a threat to the purity of their nations, won the allegiance of impoverished workers as well as some opportunistic capitalists, and raised streetfighting armies.

Those who consider Trump a fascist, like historian Richard Steigmann-Gall and journalist Jeffrey Tucker, insist that he is preaching a twenty-first century version of the ideology of Mussolini and Hitler, and leading an increasing militarised movement. Others, like the Berkeley sociologist Dylan Riley and the Washington Post's Rachel Orr, disagree. They suggest that Trump's rhetoric is opportunistic and incoherent, that his followers are an erratic rabble, and that he lacks any support from America's economic elite.

Trump's main campaign slogan is 'Make America Great Again'. He looks back fondly on the bellicose United States of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with its imperial conquests in Asia and Latin America, its usurpation of Europe, and its supposedly harmonious class and race relations. He laments the fact that his country 'doesn't win victories anymore', and names a series of scapegoats for America's economic and geopolitical decline. Freeloading foreign allies have relied upon American troops and loans to protect them, draining the imperial coffers; violent and sexually deviant Mexicans have breached the Rio Grande in huge numbers, breaking laws and taking natives' jobs; and African Americans have made parts of many American cities no-go zones with their gangs and guns. All of these forces have been encouraged by anti-American liberals and an anti-American media. Now Muslim invaders are entering an almost fatally weakened America. In mosques across the country they are forming terror cells and preparing to impose sharia law on their Christian neighbours.

According to Trump, the Democratic Party is controlled by liberals, and therefore in league with America's enemies, and the leaders of the Republican Party are hypnotised by the regulations and rituals of representative government, and afraid to act boldly in defence of the nation. An outsider needs to take control of the state, and use it to crush America's enemies. The mass internment and deportation of aliens, the extrajudicial killings of the families of terrorists, the registration of every Muslim living in America, the closure of large parts of the internet: all of these measures and more may be necessary. 'We're going to have to do things that we never did before', Trump warned last November.
Few of the commentators on Trump's campaign have discussed the unusual and sinister structure that his rallies have taken. Some of the features of a Trump rally - the ubiquitous American flags, the drawn-out introductions by faded country music stars and B-movie actors, the prayers and the national anthem - are familiar from other presidential campaigns.

What is remarkable, though, is the role that Trump's adversaries have come to play in his rallies. In arena after arena, protesters have risen from their seats to challenge the billionaire, waving placards and shouting slogans and attempting to distribute leaflets. Rather than ignore or speedily dismiss these hecklers, Trump has made them the focus of a series of extended denunciations. He has branded them agents of the Mexican government, supporters of ISIS, and liberal journalists in disguise, and encouraged his audiences to confront them. At a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump denounced a black protester; the man was soon knocked to the floor and beaten. In Vermont Trump told his security personnel to throw a group of hecklers out into the cold without their coats, as his audience cheered. In Las Vegas Trump supporters shouted 'Sieg Heil' and 'Light that motherfucker on fire' when several protesters were dragged away. On the rare occasions when his rallies have not attracted hecklers Trump has seemed disappointed.

It is hard to watch footage of Trump's rallies without thinking about Oswald Mosley, the Anglo-Saxon world's most successful fascist. At the rallies that Mosley's British Union of Fascists held in the 1930s, protesters were treated to a meticulous violence. As Mosley denounced Jews, reds, and liberals from his podium, his uniformed private army of 'blackshirts' would aim a spotlight on anyone who shouted or held up a placard during their leader's speeches. As Mosley paused and his supporters cheered, protesters would be beaten and dragged away by blackshirts. At an infamous rally in London's Olympia stadium in 1934, the blackshirts injured dozens of dissenters, one of whom lost an eye.
In her essay on Hitler's film maker Leni Riefenstahl, Susan Sontag suggested that fascist aesthetics involved a 'contrast between the clean and the impure...the incorruptible and the defiled'. Fascism relies, Sontag said, on an  'irresistable leader' to enforce and maintain purity.

The promise of ruthless, ritualised violence helped to draw huge crowds to Mosley. For the ten thousand angry Britons who filled the Olympia, the men and women who were spotlit and beaten by the blackshirts were the embodiment of all the evil forces - Jews, communists, socialists, race mixers - responsible for their country's malaise. By beating the protesters, the blackshirts were taking a sort of symbolic revenge; by removing the protesters from the audience, they were performing a symbolic act of purification.

Like Mosley's events, Trump's rallies are a sort of fascist theatre where an imagined national community purifies itself by identifying, punishing, and expelling pollutants.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Trump has done is wink, nudge, and generally encouraged spontaneous violence as a response to his critics. This includes his winking and nudging at those "enthusiastic supporters" who committed anti-Latino hate crimes, his encouragement of the people at a campaign appearance who assaulted a Latino protester, and most recently, his endorsement of the people who "maybe should have roughed up" the "disgusting" Black Lives Matter protester who interrupted his speech.

That's a clearly fascistic response. It also helps us understand why Trump is an extraordinarily dangerous right-wing populist demagogue, and not a genuine, in-the-flesh fascist.

A serious fascist would have called upon not just the crowd to respond with violence, but also his paramilitary allies to respond with retaliatory strikes. Trump didn't do that.

That, in a tiny nutshell, is an example of the problem with Trump's fascism: He is not really an ideologue, acting out of a rigid adherence to a consistent worldview, as all fascists are. Trump's only real ideology is the Worship of the Donald, and he will do and say anything that appeals to the lowest common denominator of the American body politic in order to attract their support - the nation's id, the near-feral segment that breathes and lives on fear and paranoia and hatred.

There's no question these supporters bring a singular, visceral energy to the limited universe of the GOP primary, though I don't know anyone who expects that such a campaign can survive the oxygen and exposure of a general election. Indeed, it is in many signs an indication of the doom that is descending upon a Republican Party in freefall, flailing about in a death spiral, that it is finally resorting to a campaign as nakedly fascistic as Trump's in its attempts to secure the presidency.

This is why Trump has never called upon the shock troops of a paramilitary wing for support, and why he has always kept an arm's-length distance from the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who have become some of his most enthusiastic backers. He isn't really one of them.

What he is, as Berlet has explained elsewhere, is a classic right-wing nativist populist demagogue: "His ideology and rhetoric are much more comparable to the European populist radical right, akin to Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front, the Danish People's Party or Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. All of them use the common radical right rhetoric of nativism, authoritarianism and populism."

12:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Olympia was nearly full – tier upon tier of the curious and the enthusiastic, and the enthusiastic in great majority. In every open space, at the end of every row, stood black-jerseyed stewards with hands on hips, complacent and menacing. The seats had been full for many minutes before hidden trumpets sounded a fanfare, and the Leader strode into the arc-lights. He was flanked by four blond young men, and a platoon of flag-bearing Blackshirts followed in their wake . . . Sir Oswald had stood at the rostrum for at least two minutes of this din, before his own arm rose, formidably, to command silence.”

7:47 pm  
Blogger Doug1943 said...

I suggest the following experiment: go to a rally organized by Al Sharpton, and try to disrupt it by shouting or holding up a sign which the people at that rally don't like.

10:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important --- a very important part --- of this."

This statement wasn't made in secrecy behind closed doors. It wasn't said outside the jurisdiction of the United States of America. None other than Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo spoke it in Chicago on July 23, 1997.

Speaking before the National Council of La Raza, Zedillo went on to say, "For this reason, my government proposed a constitutional amendment to allow any Mexican with the right and the desire to acquire another nationality to do so without being forced to first give up his or her Mexican nationality."

This amendment is significant for more than just the obvious reason. It is nearly impossible to obtain Mexican citizenship unless you can prove you are Mexican or are of Mexican descent.

If you are neither, you must prove that you have completely adopted Mexican culture and lifestyle. Yet a Mexican citizen can, in essence, acquire another nationality and remain a Mexican. Is this a double standard?

im the U.S. Southwest, how will it be done?

12:10 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Doug 1943 "I suggest the following experiment: go to a rally organized by Al Sharpton, and try to disrupt it by shouting or holding up a sign which the people at that rally don't like."

So does this mean that Trump is a good guy for raving like Hitler etc?
I think that if you disrupt any political rally they are likely to throw you out. It happened here in NZ when we disrupted both National and Labour Party meetings in 1970. We were thrown out by police. But I think the rhetoric of your mate Trump is a different kettle of fish to the old black guy whose meetings you want to disrupt.

9:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'So does this mean that Trump is a good guy for raving like Hitler etc? '

Do you not agree that Obama = Hitler.




“Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.” Psalm 52:2 (KJV)

I first heard about Barack Obama from my two sons, who had heard him speak at the DNC in 2004. I had listened to some of his speech, but my sons watched the entire thing. My boys had never shown any interest in politics, so it did surprise me when they spoke of this “amazing guy” they had just heard make a speech. They went on and on about him.

In 2008, during the primary campaign, I noticed that there was something about the way that Mr. Obama spoke; something different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Whatever it was that made me take notice, only intensified during the pre-election speeches.

I remember telling my husband that there was something that wasn’t normal about the way he talked. It became so oppressive to me, that I had to leave the room or turn off the TV. I knew that I did not like the man, and that I categorically disagreed with him, but not being able to even hear him was bizarre.

It absolutely shocked me when one of my sons told me that he was driving up to Philadelphia to see Obama in person. I felt sick. My children knew how I felt about this man, and they knew that his close ties to Planned Parenthood was a major factor in my dislike of him. But my son was determined to see him. I prayed that the Lord would break this power that Obama had over my boys. I had no idea that there really was a power at work, and it had to do with his voice.

I watched a video back in 2008 which exposed what Obama was doing to the masses during his speeches. I think that the Lord showed me clearly that something was happening, when I could not listen to him. The video was about an article by AAPS – Association for American Physicians and Surgeons.

AAPS has since taken the article down, no doubt as a result of pressure from Obama’s minions. But as nothing is ever lost on the Internet, we have it here to show you right now. It will be well worth your time to view it and consider what’s being said:

Now I could go into detail about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) but you can look it up and see how powerful this covert form of hypnosis really is. But I’m thinking that this unethical technique of mental manipulation is more evil than people realize. I believe it is Satanically inspired.

9:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So in short Richard you have probably been hypnotised.

9:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is not just using subliminal messages, but textbook covert hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming techniques on audiences that are intentionally designed to sideline rational judgment and implant subconscious commands to think he is wonderful and elect him President. Obama is eloquent. However, Obama’s subconscious techniques are shown to elicit powerful emotion from his audience and then transfer those emotions onto him, to sideline rational judgment, and implant hypnotic commands that we are unaware of and can’t even consciously question. The polls are misleading because some of Obama’s commands are designed to be triggered only in the voting booth on November 4th. Obama is immune to logical arguments like Wright, Ayers, shifting every position, character, and inexperience, because hypnosis affects us on an unconscious and emotional level. To many people who see this unaccomplished man’s unnatural and irrational rise to the highest office in the world as suspicious and frightening and to those who welcome it, this document uncovers, explains, and proves the deceptive tactics behind true “Obama Phenomenon” including why younger people are more easily affected.

9:24 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I have been hypnotized by Obama!! I think you have serious problems. But Obama is, in my view, just another US President. He is highly educated and I believe that a book he wrote is very good. It is a positive thing that someone, who is Afro-American, is a President. It is a kind of break through. How has he done as a President? In International politics I think he is, more or less, a moderate. The US economy has stayed intact it seems. But of course everything he does that some group find "good" another thinks is "not good" which is the way of politics.

Has his faults but, in relative terms, he has achieved some progress, although a lot of what he might want to do has been blocked by the (mostly very right wing if not quite fascist) Republicans. The deal with Iran is good in principle.

A strong left allied with Obama might acheive more for the working people of the US.

Trump is a millionaire (or billionaire) businessman who represents the right wing power groups and big business as well as tuning into militarists, those keen on guns and so on, paranoia about various ethnic groups. The comparison with Hitler and Mosely has some similarity.

If Trump gains power and tries to institute his policies he is likely to create and atmosphere where there is MORE violence, MORE "terrorism" (as if "terrorism" was something new to the world), and even a civil war in the US. The results, ultimately could be catastrophic. It is hard to imagine the US seeking Lebensraum etc and marching and fighting as Hitler's Wehrmacht and the SS were able to. They were highly trained, fit, and real fighters. Those who support guns in the US are not like that: most of them are hopelessly overweight, rather stupid, and, well, not likely to want a real war. But the psycho ratio might increase in the US if that is possible.

Some unkind friend of mine commented: "The US is a nation of psychos." I knew what he meant, but it was, perhaps, not quite cricket, rather un-British in fact.

But things aren't looking good when the candidates (and Trump isn't the worst, Marco Rubio is a bit of a worry) for the Republicans are (mostly) playing of racism and paranoia.

Clinton, on the other side, might have a chance. The US wont be a paradise if she becomes a President, but we wont have too much extremist stuff from her.

It is hard to tell how much of Trump's stuff is (trumped up?), or so much rhetoric (of course rhetoric is always used) and how much he would implement, but it isn't looking good in Madland.

10:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donald Trump faced a tough crowd last night in Iowa City, leaving the stage early after constant boos, whistles, and even tomatoes thrown by protesters.

The tomatoes were thrown after the billionaire Republican front-runner called Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders a communist, according to Daily Iowan reporter Brent Griffiths.

The man who threw the tomato at Trump was apparently arrested on the spot, and University of Iowa police say a press release on the incident is forthcoming. As of this writing, the press release has not yet been posted on the police department’s website, and their arrest docket has not yet been updated to reflect last night’s arrest of the Trump tomato-thrower.

In one particularly telling question posted on, someone seeking legal advice asked what would happen if someone were to throw a tomato at Donald Trump during one of his campaign rallies. A former criminal prosecutor told the person posing the question that their action would likely result in criminal charges and financial ruin:

10:02 am  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

How, we asked ourselves, had we been taken in by a madman? If there was an answer, it could only have been that in some degree we had shared Volkner's madness. C. K. Stead "Smith's Dream" p.49.

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