Wednesday, January 25, 2017

America's Mango Mussolini

The similarities between the rise of fascism in the 1930s and the political wasteland of the US have much in common. Mussolini originally coined the term "fascism" (some say his speechwriter did, but that has no bearing here) and he defined it as the combination of state and corporate powers. Today, on the White House's official government website there is a plug for the current Mrs. Trump's brand of perfume. Need I say more?
He’s just a funny and quirky man who’s not afraid to speak his mind.  Nobody even took him serious as first.”  That’s what people have been saying about Donald Trump — but that’s also what people once said about Adolf Hitler. The similarities are and should be frightening.
America’s increasingly sick abnormal politics have surrendered to complete dystopia.
Donald Trump, a proven serial liar, utter narcissist, failed businessman turned reality show clown, con artist, adulterer, a braggart about being a grabber of women’s genitals without their permission, a man who does not read, a proud ignoramus, admirer and fan of despots and dictators, a cheerleader for vigilante violence against innocent people, actor in a porn video, person who stiffs his employees, member of the Vladimir Putin fan club, racist landlord, the preferred candidate of neo-Nazis and other fringe racists, professional wrestling villain, and candidate who incites violence against his political opponents, is now the 45th president of the United States of America. 
Donald Trump is also a fascist authoritarian controlling the world’s most powerful and influential “democracy.” No this isn't fake news and it isn't satire.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, the American news media desperately avoided using such language to describe the Mango Mussolini. They did this largely because the advertising revenues, as well as an inability to accept how Trump had gamed obsolete journalistic norms of “fairness,” “balance” and “objectivity.”
In doing so, the American news media facilitated Trump’s rise to power. They labeled Trump as a “populist” who was “unconventional.” The American news media kept suggesting that Trump would “pivot” for the general election in order to win more “mainstream” and “centrist” voters. There were some bold voices who said that Trump had “authoritarian tendencies.” But very few commentators had the courage to plainly state that Donald Trump was a fascist — even though the evidence was readily available, and now undeniable.
  • Donald Trump does not believe in or accept freedom of the press.
  • Donald Trump threatened his political enemies with violence and/or prison.
  • Donald Trump used ethnocentrism, bigotry, nativism and racism to mobilize his voters.
  • Donald Trump does not believe he should be held to the long standing norms of democratic governance or tradition.
  • Donald Trump is a misogynist.
  • Donald Trump is obsessed with “strength” and his own “virility.” Promising massive military buildup in an age where a 200 dollar drone can take out a military base...when a 200 million dollar stealth plane is absolutely useless against some asshole setting a shoe on fire in a plane.
  • Donald Trump promises to bring“law and order.”
  • Donald Trump is a militant nationalist.
  • Donald Trump traffics only in conspiracy theories and lies.
  • Donald Trump admires and praises authoritarians and political strongmen.
  • Donald Trump’s press conferences are conducted exactly like Putin's.
  • Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a cabal that consists of family members and self-interested Cabinet appointees, who — like him — stand to enrich themselves through the agencies they are supposed to administer in the public interest.
Ultimately, the American news media were and are like the troglodytes in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” comforted by the dark because their eyes would be hurt by the light of the truth. Or, to borrow from a more contemporary example, the media did not want to face the situation Morpheus explains to Neo in “The Matrix”: “Standing there, facing the pure horrifying precision, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth.”
Political liberals and progressives belong to a centuries-long tradition with origins in the Enlightenment, they are unprepared to deal with the primitive thinking and irrationality that drives Donald Trump’s political movement and contemporary conservatism more generally. In reality, the Republican Party abandoned any semblance of normal politics beginning with their assaults on Bill Clinton in the 1990s. There has been a long decline which culminated with the absurdity of Republican reaction to Barack Obama and now the rise of Trump. Americans have become numb to the extremism and lack of truthfulness in politics due to constant bombardment with it..there are generations that know nothing else.
In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait  offers a classic example of how dangerous liberal reasoning has become to itself:
"It is impossible to know what course American democracy will take under Trump’s presidency. The fears of authoritarianism may prove overblown, and Trump may govern like a normal Republican."
This assumes there is a “normal Republican,” and that Trump is something else. Yet Trump won more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history. Research shows that authoritarian attitudes have increased among the American public over the last 20 years, especially among Republicans. The Republican Party is the country’s largest white identity organization: It mobilizes anti-black and anti-brown animus for political gain. Since the 1960s at minimum, conservatism and racism have been functionally identical in this country. Trump leveraged those forces to maximum effect in order to defeat Hillary Clinton and win the White House.
In short, Donald Trump is a normal Republican. Pretending otherwise is what led the chattering classes to underestimate Trump’s appeal to angry, authoritarian-minded voters willing to pretend fascism is acceptable or even desirable.

What can be done?
What do good people who believe in fairness do now?
Protest marches are great. They are a cathartic release.
And they can, if sustained make a difference.
Run for office on the local and state level.
Practice political consumerism: Refuse to spend money at stores, banks, and other businesses that work with Trump, his administration or his enterprises.
Target Republican officials with phone calls and emails. Let them know that if they support Trump's fascist agenda there will be negative consequences at the ballot box.
Borrow from the obstructionist strategy that Republicans used against Barack Obama.
Turn the metaphorical map upside down and practice political Aikido.
Especially we must learn from those groups and individuals who have been actively fighting fascism.

Donald Trump and his movement are not normal. Do not make the mistake of treating them like they are. There is no room for negotiation or compromise. Nor burying your head in the sand if you didn't like Clinton either. That's over. All that matters if you want to see any sort of reasonable future is to band together with any and all anti-fascists. Whatever other squabbles one may have, and maybe one person's issues are not yours or vice versa; it doesn't matter. FDR & Churchill certainly weren't in agreement with Stalin on many matters...but I'm glad they opposed Hitler together.
I'd be writing this in German if they hadn't.

America is your country. Donald Trump and his supporters represent the tyranny of minority opinion. They are the worst example of  the "ugly American". And this movement is a real threat to the world.
Don't care about the world? History teaches us that it's a real threat to you personally.
Not a woman? Not on the list of people Trump hates?
You will be.
Want to equate all this with the usual left v right bickering over taxes?
It's not. There is absolutely nothing "usual" about this.
Want to write opposition to Trump's fascism off as partisan chicanery?
It's way beyond that.
America, quite likely the world actually; as you have known it... will not survive a full frontal fascist regime like this.

Now is the time to reclaim the United States’ fundamental character.
The will, spirit and character of this nation is NOT to be found in fascism.
 Shouting “Not in my name!” is a fine beginning, but not an ending. Resistance to Donald Trump and everything he represents must be the new normal.

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