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Q & A re: Fascism et al

Q and A: Fascism et al

By Dennis Loo (9/2/17)

Material added 2 pm and 4:45 pm PST

I spoke with a friend about my last two articles here and we discovered that going through some of these matters in a Q & A manner broke down some relatively unfamiliar matters, making them much easier to cope with. I’m going to do that now.

Q: What is fascism?

A:  You will find a number of different interpretations out there about how to define fascism. This is no agreement between commentators on its occurrence nor conceptual agreement on what is and isn’t fascism. For such a slippery variable to then be applied “scientifically” is difficult. It would appear, nevertheless, that the following traits tend to be present:  bourgeois rule but with an extreme variant of bigotry, xenophobia, patriarchy, militarism, a strong man as the leader, fear of “The Other,” worship of the corporate state to the point where corporate power completely eclipses any citizen rights (the latter with no rights), public gender roles being very polarized with no variant in between, women as breeders, contempt towards the “weak,” “fragile,” and any nuance.

Where the normal, most comfortable, best concealed ways the bourgeoisie rules – through universal suffrage normally where they monopolize the nomination process, thus the final slate they can live with either major nominee, their superficial differences a matter of taste – is suspended and any dissent is now criminalized, even among the ruling class. Armed bands of thugs, both official and unofficial, effectively terrorize others with their actions. Guilt by accusation takes the place of due process. Separation of powers are replaced with dictatorial rule by the executive and science is seen as subversive of the strong man’s declarations. Truth and reason are seen as unnecessary and/or a nuisance and replaced by subordination to the leader. Reporting by the press becomes a pure extension of the state rather than a competing center for finding out what is true.

The US ruling class, while it has been skating towards fascism for some time, especially by undermining the difference between what it is doing versus what it is saying, is far too invested in the idea that they are too “enlightened” to adopt fascist rule overall. A key part of its legitimacy to rule is the widespread belief of separation of powers, due process, and at least some semblance of tolerance towards differences. Abolishing these things would be necessary for fascism to rule. The reaction against trying such a thing would be too much.

Q: What is the social base for fascism?

A: The traditionally understood social base for fascism is the dissatisfied middle and lower strata. But a closer examination of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Trump followers shows that their strongest supporters are among some better educated and comfortably prosperous and even wealthy segments who want to protect their positions against those they see as class and/or ethnic rivals. Trump hard core supporters, whatever their class origins, have in common most of all a strong anti-black sentiment.

Q: Do Trump and Pence have a large enough social base for fascism to rule?

A: Since the 2016 election, Trump support continues to fall, with his most equivocal followers peeling off first. He is flirting with the possibility of being even more unpopular than Nixon was when he resigned (24%). A social base for fascism does exist in this country, but it is relatively small – perhaps 20% at best - and not large enough, popular enough, skilled enough, and/or well-positioned enough even with their existing apparatus for this White House to stay relatively intact for very long, let alone stay coherent enough under even Pence.

Q: Do Trump or Pence have what US imperialism needs?

A: As bad as it’s been, the worst is still to come for the profoundly unhappy and paper-thin skinned Trump and this pro-Russian regime. Consider the spontaneous response at airports against the immigration ban that strikes at the very heart of what most people in this country believe in: a nation of immigrants. This is not to say that everything the public believes is right and will stay that way, but Trump and Pence do not march at the head of an army that can possibly govern this country. Trump himself is too lazy, does not learn, is stupendously stupid, and gave up an easy life for this job that he never wanted or expected in the first place.

Q: What about a foreign or domestic emergency?

A: Imagine Trump or Pence declaring an emergency (e.g., around N. Korea or an apocalyptic hurricane). They have already used too much credibility to take measures very far. No one of any dignity will go to the mat for them.

Q: What about his power to pardon?

A: Imagine Trump firing Mueller. Mueller knows his firing is all very probable and so is in the process of bringing state charges too. Trump et al have no power (e.g., presidential pardon) against state charges. The Russian connection is too extensive to go away, let alone all the other reasons why US imperialism cannot tolerate so stupid, unpredictable, and intolerant a figure at its head. Do the voices from every leading segment of society imaginable saying he’s unfit suddenly change their tune simultaneously? Do the media suddenly become pure mouthpieces for state propaganda?

Q: Is there a basis for the grassroots to act?

A: This system is having a credibility crisis. Hardly anyone believes what Trump says and the only ones taking him seriously don't pay attention to the news and so they think Trump, because he is president, must know what he's doing. The distance between facts and Trump's statements are far apart and this is both a credibility crisis and an operational crisis since Trump and his team know little about what they're doing and are consequently screwing up a lot. This has real implications and real world consequences, about which I will have much more to say soon.

Q: What can we organize around, if it's not their fascism?

A: Trump and Pence are certainly fascists but their initiatives are not "a juggernaut." It seems silly to have to even point this out. But that by itself does not answer the question of what you organize around since the people must play a pivotal role if this is to have a satisfactory conclusion. You have to base yourself on what is objectively true, otherwise whatever gains you may make in the short run will not be sustained. The problem at its heart is not Trump and Pence's fascism itself but that they are acting as capital personified and as such they are truly jeopardizing the planet's future. They are capitalist-imperialists and their every act is to support that system. That is what you organize around, not that fascism is qualitatively different than bourgeois democracy or that fascism will soon be consolidated if we don't prevent that by driving Trump and Pence from power soon.

Q: But the right-wing has lots of guns and will use them. 

A: Yes, they brandish lots of weapons and have already begun to use them. Does that mean they are going to prevail? I don't see that, as if the right escalates their violence, including taking us into another civil war, do you think that the left-wing will sit on its hands? We already have Antifa developing and others to come, so just because the Christian Fascists have been talking, writing, and preparing for their take-over does not mean that they will prevail. Just because someone says something does not necessarily mean they can back up their words. Intent does not equal a fait accompli. Some are making the mistake of confusing the two with each other, or exaggerating the fascists' influence. 

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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12