Wednesday, July 04, 2018

.45, Double-O, And The True Nature Of Facism...,


Counterpunch |  Clinton lost to Trump, not because millions of poor people were mobilized by a fascist message; but because millions of poor people didn’t turn out to vote; they understood that Obama was a friend of war, a guardian of Wall Street, and a keeper of the neoliberal status quo. They didn’t require more of the same in Clinton.  But the actual facts of Obama’s presidency are increasingly drowned out by the howls of ‘fascist’ which are hurled at Donald Trump week by week, month by month.  This is nothing new, incidentally. Every single thoroughly reactionary Republican president of the past fifty years has had this charge levelled at them: Nixon, Raegan, both Bushes and now Trump.  They were all fascists in their day.

But in allocating to an administration the label fascist – even if it is headed by a person with clear fascist ideological tendencies – we run the risk of underestimating not only the everyday run-of-the-mill racist and war mongering policies enacted by the ‘respectable’ parties of the parliamentary mainstream; we also fail to comprehend the symbiotic connection which opens up between the period of Obama and the time of Trump.  Trump’s regime is, for the most part, more reactionary, and more overtly and rabidly racist than the Obama administration ever was; this cannot be denied.  Trump’s accession marks a truly awful period in American politics.

But it reached its fruition precisely because the Obama administration had exhausted its facile promises of hope and change in the flames of international war and the unrelenting economic oppression of the poorer layers of the domestic population.  It is the continuation of such politics by more extreme means, with the ideological veneer of progressivism set aside, born from the thickening disillusionment of the poorer layers in a decaying political system and their increasing lack of interest in the ballot box (for very good reason).  It has the features of ineptitude and corruption which are the product of such a development.

But is not a fascist administration.  It does not mark a qualitative break in what has come before. The latest farrago involving immigrant children is unutterably awful, but its closest parallel in US history – if not the immigration policies of Obama himself – might be something like the locking up of the families of Japanese Americans in WW2.  That policy was carried out by the Democratic Party headed by Roosevelt.  The same party which, by the way, supported slavery, used nuclear weapons against Japanese cities and escalated the war in Vietnam to a shrieking crescendo.

In describing the Trump administration as fascist we subscribe to a liberal logic which separates out the material realities of fascism from its ideological expression. This helps whitewash the reality of the Democratic Party as a party of war and the financial elite, and instead recasts it in the type of morality play where the beleaguered and high minded liberals like Obama and Clinton become the last bastions of reason and humanity against an ever encroaching darkness – only their tragic struggle against barbarism is doomed to founder on the rocks of the prejudices and the whims of an easily excitable and unsophisticated mob.  It is a vision which combines hatred of the lower classes with a drooling sycophancy toward the elite.  As tragedy goes, it is more Vanity Fair then Shakespeare.
Don’t buy into it.