Trump and the Spectre of Fascism

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1865 ... July 25, 2019
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Trump and the Spectre of Fascism

Chris Schenk

As a long-time educator and researcher in the Canadian labour movement, I think it is imperative at this moment that we reach out to our members and communities on the politics that has been emerging on the hard right. This includes hard right populists like Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and Andrew Scheer in the Conservative Party in Canada, but also the People’s Party of Canada of Maxime Bernier and fascist and racist groups appearing on our streets like the Soldiers of Odin, the Proud Boys and many others. Our members need to also know something of the growth of the hard right in Europe, in countries like Poland and Hungary, but also in Brazil, India, the Philippines and elsewhere. And, of course, there is Donald Trump in the US, and the growing xenophobia, anti-immigrant, Islamaphobic, and racist forces he has been empowering and encouraging, with the open racist chanting at his election rallies.

This article speaks, therefore, to issues fundamental to public life today and that... we need to bring to our educational work in the trade union movement and in our community groups. We need to debate and think hard about free speech, freedom of assembly, and democratic rights versus authoritarian regimes that often attempt to deny such rights. We have to debate the ways we need to bring anti-racist, and anti-fascist work into our work, the alliances and fronts we need to form in our communities, and the platforms and politics we need to demand our union leadership develop and mobilize around. We need to help our members examine the politics of Trump in the US and compare it to the rise of German fascism in the 1930s. What is similar about them and what is different? Where does the US fit today with respect to authoritarian and militarist states? How do we understand concepts such as neoliberalism, white supremacy, populism and fascism? What strategies and tactics do we need for confronting the various mutations of the hard right today?

Our contemporary world faces a number of challenges not the least of which is the rise of Donald Trump to the American presidency. This has unleashed a range of conservative forces, inclusive of far-right groups. But is he a fascist as some people claim? It is the answer to this question that we intend to explore.

We begin by examining the latest writing of Henry Giroux, a world-renowned educator, author, and public intellectual who has written numerous books and articles. His latest papers at the time of writing are entitled "The Nightmare of Neoliberal Fascism" and "Neoliberal Fascism and the Echoes of History." Both are worth our attention as they outline a new and unique perspective of Trump’s America.

According to Giroux "a distinctive economic-political formation has been produced" one he calls "neoliberal fascism." He continues: "Neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible project and movement that connects the worst excesses of capitalism with fascist ideals;…" After years of neoliberalism, Giroux believes that "the mobilizing passions of fascism have been unleashed unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s and 1940s."

Further, he holds that neoliberalism "creates an all-encompassing market guided by the principles of privatization, deregulation, commodification and the free flow of capital." Promoting such an agenda he argues "weakens unions, radically downsizes and weakens the welfare state and wages an assault on public goods."

From such economic changes neoliberalism moves to influence social life. Society itself is restructured to the dictates of profit commercializing all social interactions. The realities of competition come to the fore. Social interactions become more and more about winners and losers. Issues of equality and democracy are sidelined.

Despite Giroux’s radical critique of neoliberalism there remains a huge gap between such policies and a fascist state.

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