Thursday 26 January 2017

Only A Matter Of Time: American Fascism Awaits Its Marching Orders.

Trump's Angry Acolytes: That the vector of American fascism would be a cross-class alliance of marginalised white workers and anxious suburban conservatives has been obvious since 1968, when hundreds of working-class “Hard-Hats” marched off their New York construction sites to beat up young anti-war protesters – and “the great silent majority” of small town and suburban USA cheered them on.
LAST FRIDAY, on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington, a Trump supporter shot a Trump opponent. The (non-fatal) shooting took place during a violent protest against the presence of Milo Yiannopoulos – the tech editor of Breitbart News. Violence erupted after Yiannopoulos’s opponents formed a picket-line and physically obstructed the Alt-Right commentator’s followers from entering the auditorium where he was speaking.

In a nation where “the right to bear arms” is constitutionally protected, it can only be a matter of time before such clashes escalate into a ferocious firefight – and fatalities.

What happens then is all-too-easy to predict. President Trump will denounce his political opponents as enemies of free speech and democracy. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies will crack down hard on anti-Trump agitation. More ominously, the President’s most vociferous supporters will militarise themselves into special protection squads. Presented to the American public as “self-defence” organisations, the actual purpose of these goon squads will be to intimidate and/or terrorise progressive individuals and groups into silence.

Thus will President Trump pay homage to his mentor Vladimir Putin – whose use of “patriotic” organisations (often comprising a hard core of former soldiers and secret policemen) to shut down his political opponents is well documented. The appearance on American streets of an aggressive political militia will be the strongest proof yet that the United States has fallen under the sway of a fascist regime.

The arrival of these political thugs will force Trump’s opponents to make a choice. Either: fall quietly into line with the new realities of American political life. Or: put your own personal safety (not-to-mention the safety of your friends and family) at risk by continuing to speak out against the policies of the Trump Administration.

This choice will likely be an urgent one for members of the journalistic profession. If the Putin comparison holds true, it will not be long before at least one reporter, columnist or blogger pays the ultimate price for exposing the sins of Trump and his supporters.

If fearless journalism leads directly to murder, as is currently the case in the Russian Federation, America’s editors will feel torn between the duty-of-care they owe to their employees, and their democratic duty to defend freedom of expression. Their decision-making will, almost certainly, be simplified by their publishers, America’s huge media corporations, making it clear that the shareholders’ dividends (and the CEO’s bonuses!) are not to be jeopardised by Quixotic editors sanctioning crusades to rescue the First Amendment.

With the consequences of opposition clearly evident to the by-now-thoroughly-cowed news media, Trump’s people will invite the Fox News Network to assume the role played by the state-owned broadcasters of the Russian Federation. Fox will receive the Administration-approved editorial line on matters political and cultural, and all the other mainstream media organisations will be expected to follow its lead.

The quiescence of the American working-class during any such period of political co-ordination will likely be secured by the Trump Administration’s skilful co-optation of the American trade unions. Already, Trump has received praise from the leader of the US trade union movement, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, for nixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trumka hailed the President’s actions as “just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy.”

Further union backing is to be anticipated as Trump ramps up his “American jobs for American workers” infrastructure programme. Few union leaders – and especially not the leaders of the steelworkers, auto and construction unions – will be willing to kill Trump’s golden, job-creating goose by standing in solidarity with the environmentalist and Native American opponents of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines – both of which were restarted today (25/1/17) by Executive Order.

Hard-Hat Riot - New York 1968
That the vector of American fascism would be a cross-class alliance of marginalised white workers and anxious suburban conservatives has been obvious ever since 1968, when hundreds of working-class “Hard-Hats” marched off their New York construction sites to beat up young anti-war protesters – and “the great silent majority” of small town and suburban America cheered them on. Nixon eulogised these voters. Reagan primed them. Trump has set them in motion.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 26 January 2017.


David Stone said...

Hi Chris

You'r going out on a limb now demoniseing Trump aren't you. Plenty of company though, but I still admire you'r courage.

I think he could be terrible but just like my attitude to a god ,there are only two certainties; Firstly I don'r know : and secondly nobody else knows either.

He will be unconventional , but he may yet make America great again ,in a sense we all can identify with. It won't be good for us economically in the short term, but if he does make America great again the rest of the world may follow.

The Globalists and the neo-liberals will not like it at all.

Cheers David J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

This might be a bit of a confusing post. I've been listening to the to-ing and fro-ing on Donald Trump, from just about everyone who seems to have a direct line to the man predicting what he's going to do.
And I can't believe what I'm hearing. Because no one really knows what Trump is going to do. Because Trump keeps changing his mind.
But what he HAS done is pretty terrifying yet we seem to be losing sight of it. He is reducing women's access to abortion and birth control, not only in the US but all over the world. But none of this seems to matter to some people – beside the huge problem of migration.
He is facilitating the overreliance on dirty fuels, and quite possibly going to put out a list of approved fuels that government departments or whatever can use – quashing renewables. Which if I remember correctly he was in favour of some years ago.
He is preparing to publish lists of crimes committed by migrants, taking the jobs away from honest American criminals. But he’s not going to be able to make any inroads into the migrant problem by building a wall.
He is "investigating" voter fraud – in spite of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence for it – only thirty-one prosecutions in the last God knows however many years. Many of them Republicans. And in the process is making it more difficult for poor citizens to vote.
He is looking for ways to bring back torture. He is threatening to impose martial law on Chicago – due to a personal vendetta against the mayor.
And he's faffing around with Americans'medical care which will almost certainly lead to millions of them losing any right to medical insurance.
He has probably broken the law a number of times with regards to his business interests, which he hasn't given up.

BUT -the comparisons to Hitler. In some ways Trump is like Hitler. Narcissistic, lazy, feckless, overly sensitive, suspicious, surrounding himself with yes-men. But he hasn't yet figured out how to set his underlings against each other so they have to come to him to settle problems though. He hasn't figured out how to divide and rule quite yet. He's got the divide, but not the rule. Hitler however had a single-mindedness and a sense of purpose that makes Trump look like a child. Which in comparison he is. He would have called it 'will' probably. If Hitler had been in charge of the US in the last few weeks Mississippi and Georgia wouldn't still be waiting for help from the federal government to cope with the results of huge storms.
Anyway perhaps a little bit more constructive criticism of what he's actually doing from everyone, rather than predictions about what he's going to do. Which given his vacillating probably shouldn't be attempted to often.

I think the points I'm trying to make are these.
JH – Trump's policies on immigration will not make up for all the terrible things Trump is doing in other areas. They were certainly not make Americans lives any better.
Chris – Trump is not Hitler. Some of his personality traits are, but he's almost certainly not going to turn the USA into a police state, though others might. Trump simply doesn't have the will.

And I think I'll make a prediction myself being as everybody else is having a crack. Trump will not last his first term. He will find that running the USA is an actual job – not a series of deals. It's hard work, often unrewarding, and you have to do lots of stuff you don't like doing. So either he will do something really, really stupid and be impeached. Or those around him will depose him when he becomes too erratic. Or he’ll die.

As I said a little confusing, but just at the moment it is the middle of my night. "And so to bed" as Samuel Pepys said.

Alan said...

On the frightening button…

“There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. Arguments must therefore be crude, clear. and forcible. Appeals must be made to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth is unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.” Joseph Goebbels. Nazi Propaganda Minister.

“I have stopped all the talk and nonsense. I am a man of action. Democracy is beautiful in theory, but in practice it is a fallacy.You in America will see that some day.” Benito Mussolini.

All this of course prior to nuclear weapons and global warming!

That day seems to have arrived.
Alan Rhodes

peteswriteplace said...

Interesting future in the short term.

Polly said...

Chris, these are dire predictions indeed, the statement made by Trump spokeswoman Kellyann Conway to a CNN reporter that Trumps press secretary was stating "alternative facts" in his press briefing sent a shiver down my spine. I reminded myself of the saying that "the first casualty in any conflict is the truth". I now firmly believe that he will get the police, the National guard in rounding up known criminals amongst both legal and non legal immigrants, then deport them, this will boost his popularity and coupled with the 'alternative facts statements' to any excesses claimed by them and/ or supporters.
He will become a leader without the shackles of democracy
The world will become his oyster and bomb shelters will, once again, become a talking point.

Chris a very good piece of writing, I sincerely hope you are wrong and what I have said is fantasy.

Nick J said...

Having read this column again I cant help thinking, "Why are we only talking these things now Trump is in the Whitehouse? What has really changed?"

So to quote Christian Parenti from (a leading US Left wing publication) At its heart, the new American repression is very much about the restoration and maintenance of ruling class power. This was written about American justice before Trump, one has to ask has Trump merely ramped up what was already institutionalised?

Michael Parenti (the US leading Left wing historian and speaker) has since I began reading his work maintained that the USA is in effect a mainly (but not always) a velvet glove authoritarian dictatorship that regularly extinguishes threats to capital by extreme violence. Where it cannot win with the threat or use of violence it co-opts the leadership of the threat into the system. With the long history of class and race struggle against repression in the USA why are we reacting so much against the threat of Trump? Where was our activism before? Why the hell did we think that Hillary would represent a different core constituency than Trump (i.e both ultimately are ruling class, fully paid up members)? Very much a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The struggle enters a new day, the battlefield is the same. The enemy commander may be a different individual, the tactics are known.

Wayne Mapp said...


You have now made quite a few posts of Trump as Hitler. Is this intended as a call to action, or do you actually believe the analogy?

I personally think your analogy is completely overwrought. The US is not the Weimar Republic. I simply do not believe that one man can overturn centuries of US democracy.

While Trump's policies are at the outer edge of what we would expect of a democracy, have they tipped into Fascism?

It seems to me he would have to do vastly more to get into that space. Somehow he would have to fundamentally undermine the independence of the courts, his administration would have to start acting unlawfully, that is in deliberate breach of the law. But when that happens impeachment beckons.

Now I appreciate you could use a boiling frog analogy. But it seems to me the opposition to Trump is already mobilised.

The Democrats only have to get the turnout at the next election up to the levels of Obama in a few key states and Trump will be a one term president. You along with many others considered Clinton to be a fatally flawed candidate. Perhaps in terms of electoral appeal she was.

It seems likely that the next Democrat candidate will be more appealing than Clinton, it would be hard to imagine how he (and it will be a he) could be less appealing than Clinton.

So the Democrats are well positioned to win, or perhaps more accurately they are are in a good position to build up their base. From there they can win.

jh said...

Facism is a means to an end not an end in itself. If progressives have imposed a society on Americans they don't want they will rebel. Trump is like a Kiwiblogger who has gotten his own way, but i don't think support will be universal for all his policies. One thing that is important (I think) is push back against the insufferable idea that you cannot have your own national identity in your own space. On RNZ today they are pushing the Chinese again: there were 5000 Chinese here during the gold rushes, therefore Chinese are New Zealanders, therefore migrants from China are New Zealanders etc.
Some years back Keith Locke was taunted for supporting Pol Pot. Of course that was before the real Pol Pot came to light. Associating the right wing with Hitler is just as bad. Not all Nazis were as bad as Hitler.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Wayne Mapp.

I despair sometimes, Wayne, I really do.

I do not equate (and have not equated) Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler.

What I have done is draw comparisons between the circumstances which allowed Hitler to be appointed Chancellor and those which propelled Donald Trump into the White House.

I am by no means the first, nor the only, person either here in NZ or around the world to have drawn such comparisons.

Your knowledge of the Third Reich is slim, Wayne, if you think the imposition of Nazi rule was a matter of acting unlawfully. Hitler wielded powers granted to him by the German parliament. As he had done ever since his release from prison in 1924, he used the law to subvert the law.

A fascist America is entirely possible within the US Constitution - providing one has the support of the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court.

Donald Trump looks set to secure all three within a very short space of time.

You really should try to avoid the fate of those British and American politicians who spoke up repeatedly for Hitler and his government in the years prior to the outbreak of World War II.

It takes a lot of living down.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Facism is a means to an end not an end in itself."
And we all know what that and was don't we?

"Not all Nazis were as bad as Hitler."
Shit I really don't know what to say here. I see where you're coming from now. You're actually a Nazi – but a good one. Except that I'm not sure that we really can do GRADATIONS of Nazis. It depends whether we're talking about leaders or just odds and sods I suppose, and I imagine that there were some people that joined because everyone else was doing it, or to get on their job or something like that. But some of them weren't as bad? Wow.

But this is one of the reasons I can't bring myself to condemn that bloke who punched the Nazi on camera. Or Shia la Boef who punched one of them that said "Hitler did no wrong." Because I can't see gradations of Nazis either.

jh said...

JH – Trump's policies on immigration will not make up for all the terrible things Trump is doing in other areas. They were certainly not make Americans lives any better.
Pat Buchanan: Trump’s Wall Says to the World “This Is OUR Country, WE Decide Who Comes Here”Yet something deeper is afoot here. The idea of a permanent barrier between our countries goes to the heart of the divide between our two Americas on the most fundamental of questions.

Who are we? What is a nation? What does America stand for?

Those desperate to see the wall built, illegal immigration halted, and those here illegally deported, see the country they grew up in as dying, disappearing, with something strange and foreign taking its place.

jh said...

In 1960, we were a Western Christian country. Ninety percent of our people traced their roots to Europe. Ninety percent bore some connection to the Christian faith. To the tens of millions for whom Trump appeals, what the wall represents is our last chance to preserve that nation and people.

To many on the cosmopolitan left, ethnic or national identity is not only not worth fighting for, it is not even worth preserving. It is a form of atavistic tribalism or racism.

The Trump wall then touches on the great struggle of our age.
In New Zealand "we" "celebrate diversity". - Michael Woodhouse.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ah VDare. An organisation named after an immigrant. Yet another of those neo-Nazi groups you are so fond of. Why would anyone in their right mind take what anyone writes on that site as evidence of anything? "This is our country, we decide who comes here?" And they show again, the irony of having taken a country from an indigenous people (who probably should have excluded them – or at least made them learn one of the local languages) and now deciding that it is theirs and they get to figure out who is allowed in and who isn't. Designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, arguing that black Americans have lower IQs and intrinsically poor judgement. You see, this is why I find it difficult to condemn anyone who punches a neo-Nazi.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"In 1960, we were a Western Christian country. "

In 1860 we were a Polynesian country.

Victor said...

"Not all Nazis were as bad as Hitler."

Who do you have in mind, jh?

Heydrich? Eichmann? Himmler? Mengele? Frank? Barbie? Goebbels? Kaltenbrunner? Jodl? Keitel? Seys-Inquart? Streicher?