“Fascism: an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.” Oxford English Dictionary.
Fascism originated in Italy during WWI and spread throughout Europe with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Great Britain struggled against Germany with awful losses until the U.S. intervened after Pearl Harbor. German fascism was destroyed, but fascism is rising in Europe again. It is a cancer of fear.
Americans have never believed we could succumb to fascism with our long traditions of liberal democratic institutions enshrined in our Constitution—free speech, freedom of the press and a broad commitment to social justice. We believe with certainty that our relative prosperity has insulated us from fascism. But a review of how fascism has taken hold in Europe gives us a glimpse of how it is rising here. Hallmarks of fascism are a cult of personality around an authoritarian leader, suppression of free speech and the press and the consolidation of power in an oligarchic economy. Trumpism is becoming fascism.
Trump’s appeal to nativism and nationalism is the siren song of fascism. His success in securing the adulation of followers through lies and blatant mythology exploits the fears of Americans who see the world changing beyond their control.
Hitler’s rise to power was fueled by economic collapse and international humiliation. Trump’s rise is based on the myth of “Making America Great Again,” the transformation to a global and automated economy and the demonization of establishment institutions that embody the checks and balances of our governing system. Hitler succeeded because the Establishment believed they could control him rather than oppose him. It is ominous to see mainstream Republicans embrace Trump because of his populism. Soon, after he is inaugurated, there will be an onslaught of policies that reverse the security of millions of Americans, many who either have been disenfranchised from the electorate, who voted for Trump or “voted for someone else,” never believing Trump could win the Presidency.
There will be shrill and forceful opposition to Trumpism from the Left and Mainstream Media, but both will be marginalized by Trump’s call for their suppression and the acquiescence of “moderates.” The Tea Party movement that replaced moderate Republicans with radical ideologues laid the groundwork for Trump. It will be the challenge to these same moderates to take back their Party from Trump and the Tea Party.
When Trump ascends to power each of us must ask, where were you?
by Tim Urban
Photo via Gage Skidmore