by Viktor Sukov
A lot of hype and misinformation surrounded the past presidential election not to mention a good dose of “fake news.” All of this “fake news” is really nothing new as it used to be called “Propaganda.” Now that Donald Trump has been elected POTUS many Americans are trying to sort through the propaganda in an effort to find truth and one of the things some people are trying to figure out is if America is now a fascist state.
Fascism is a broad term and many people don’t even know what it means. So what is “fascism”? When we think of fascism we typically think of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis which was one sort of fascism but the fascism exposed by Italian dictator Mussolini was another sort of fascism and the fascism exposed by Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco was yet another sort of fascism. Here are some core tenets of fascism but keep in mind that not all fascists or fascist regimes embrace all of these tenets.
Nationalism is s big thing when it comes to fascism and what we are seeing now in America is the rise of “populism” which can be taken as a form of nationalism but this is only one tenet of fascism and it does not mean America is now a fascist state. Further, simply taking pride in one’s own country and/or ethnicity or culture can also be considered a form of nationalism but that doesn’t mean you are a fascist. Totalitarianism (dictatorship) is another tenet and fascists regimes who embrace this tenet most often have dictators such as German, Italy, Spain, and Argentina’s Juan Peron during WW2. The US does not have such a dictatorship. Our Constitution is still in tact even though it’s been badly battered for the past 8 years under the Communist Barack Obama (and yes I consider Obama to have been a Communist). Our democratic institutions remain in tact as well and the powers of the presidency remain limited so America does not have a totalitarian regime.
Anti-democratic ideology and a one party system are two more tenets of fascism that fascists may or may not embrace. Like I said, our democratic institutions remain in tact and America doesn’t have a one party system so, again, America has not embraced these two tenets of fascism. Another tenet of fascism is what is known as a “personality cult.” That is, the nation rallies around some prominent public figure usually the leader. Germany rallied around Hitler. Italy rallied around Mussolini. Spain around Franco and Argentina around Peron. Hitler ha a personality cult going on as did the others but to a lesser extend I think. In America it is rather difficult to rally around some public figure including the president. Yes, Trump supporters tend to rally around him and likely see him as a “savior” of our nation and that would be a sort of “personality cult” but many Americans do not feel this way about him. However, he does have a bit of a personality cult going on but nowhere near that seen with Hitler, Franco, or the others during WW2.
Militarism is another tenet of fascism. Most of the time this militarism is demonstrated via large military parades and leaders dressed in military style uniforms such as was the case with Peron, Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini. Trump isn’t wearing such a uniform, however, he has let it be known that increasing the military is one of his top priorities. This will be something to watch. Direct action is yet another tenet of fascism in which a group takes an action intended to reveal a problem or highlights an alternative or solution. Typically, a certain group of people is targeted as in the case of Hitler targeting the Jews. Mussolini did not target them and neither did Franco. In fact, Mussolini had a Jewish mistress! But, like I said not all fascists embrace all tenets of fascism. In the case of present America, Trump has targeted illegal immigrants and Muslims. This could be viewed as him embracing this tenet of fascism but more likely it is a response to two major problems America is facing. That is a huge influx of illegals and the threat of radical Islam and sleeper cells. It is likely more a thing of strengthening national security than it is of embracing fascism.
Having a mixed economy is yet another tenet of fascism. A mixed economy is a mixture of markets or economic planning, having public and private ownership, an economy with strong regulatory oversight and government provision of public goods. America does have a mixed economy today but this mixed economy is more a result of the free market in my opinion rather than an act of embracing fascism.
Class collaboration is another tenet of fascism. Class collaboration is a principle of social organization based on the idea of having different social classes. Mussolini said class collaboration (cooperation between the various social classes) “affirms the irremediable, fruitful, and beneficent inequality of man.” Thus, fascists such as Mussolini believe in preservation of the social hierarchy in the interest of all classes and they believe all social classes should collaborate. Lower and higher social classes should accept their roles and perform their respective duties without hesitation as far as fascism is concerned. This is in opposition to the Communist Marxist idea of “class struggle” which sees war between the classes. Fascism sees collaboration and cooperation between the social classes rather than a struggle or war. The idea of class collaboration is present in America and has been fostered and supported for many decades now so in the case of this tenet, yes, America embraces the fascist concept of class collaboration even though the Marxist Communist among us have tried to turn it into “class struggle.”
Third Position is yet another tenet of fascism in which the fascists present themselves as the alternative between Communism and capitalism. Advocates of this tenet typically present themselves as beyond left or right (ultra-left or ultra-right). I think in the past election Trump did present himself as ultra-right and the democrats as ultra-left. If that was his intention then it worked well as it got him into the White House.
Another tenet of fascism is something called “New Man” which is basically a Utopian concept. This tenet involves the creation of a new human being or citizen. The meaning of this New Man concept has varied widely. This Utopian concept is not limited to fascism as it has also played in Communism, Marxism, Liberalism, and other ideologies including religion. Trumps push for Americans to be patriotic could be seen as a variation of this tenet along with his “America First” ideology but that doesn’t mean America has become a fascist state. At least not just yet. Additionally, in terms of religion the Christian concept of a new man is yet another variation of this concept. St Paul spoke of the New Adam and Old Adam referring to the fallen old man and the resurrected new man who follows Christ. He also spoke of those who embrace Christ as becoming a “new creation.” Also, in fascism the concept of the Fascist New Man refers to the creation of a New Man who is a figure of action, violence, and masculinity committed to seeing himself as part of the group and just not an individual. A variation of this is the “Political Soldier.” The Political Soldier has an almost fanatical devotion to the cause of Nationalism which is viewed as being necessary to bring about social change.
Imperialism is yet another tenet of Fascism. This involves a country extending its power over another which is similar to colonialism. “Empire building” which the US is often accused of can be seen as Imperialism. Finally, “social order” is another fascist tenet. It refers to social structures, social institutions, customs, values, traditions, national history, etc. Fascists view the social order as important and as something to be maintained.
Finally, symbolism is a highly important tenet of fascism. Symbols are deemed all important especially national symbols such as a flag. Symbols are used to get people to rally around them and to instill a sense of power and pride in the masses. Symbols can be very powerful and fascists know how to use them to create that power. Hitler did an excellent job at using symbols and in Nazi Germany symbols were virtually everywhere. This was no accident! Hitler and his henchmen understood well the power of symbols.
Additionally, I want to say something about racism. Hitler persecuted and killed the Jews. He used them as scapegoats for all of Germany’s woes especially economic woes. Ironically Hitler had Jewish blood in him! He also persecuted Jehovah Witnesses, gays, the disabled, and other groups. However, Mussolini and Franco didn’t and neither did Argentina’s Juan Peron. Racial or religious persecution do not always go hand in hand with fascism. America’s Neo-Nazis seek to persecute Blacks and Jews but not all people who hold to some or all tenets of fascism condone this. Those that do tend to be radical Fascists and there is a movement among some fascists to distance themselves from the racist element.
Ideologies are seldom clearly defined as in being black and white, this or that. Most ideologies are not pure but are mixtures of one or more ideologies. This is why I say fascism is a very broad concept as is Capitalism, Communism, and the rest of humanity’s ideologies. Yes, we can see elements of fascism in America today but we can also see elements of Capitalism, Marxism, Communism, Socialism, etc. America today does seem to adhere to SOME ideologies and policies that could be termed as fascism but for the most part I’d say America is NOT a fascist state. Rather, America is a mixture not only of people and faiths but also of varied political and economic ideologies.