Fourteen features of fascism

Army unit at the parade

I’m beginning to think Republicans in general, and Trump supporters in particular are intellectually incapable of recognizing Trump’s burgeoning fascism until one of his enablers pistol-whips them. In the hope that it’s not too late yet and at least some Republicans are capable of following an intellectual argument, I offer Italian philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco’s defining characteristics of fascism, or as he put it Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. For the sake of brevity, I include only some of the fourteen features.

Thinking is a form of emasculation.

A Cult of Traditionalism expressed most obviously in the slogan Make America Great Again. Sure it’s a longing for a past that never existed, but it is obviously backward looking not forward looking.

Rejection of Modernism expressed as a distrust scientists and other educated elites as well as an appeal to irrationality.

Action for Action’s sake:

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation…

Trump has released a series of executive orders that are shockingly inept both intellectually and pragmatically. The Muslim travel ban is paradigmatic. It makes no sense from a practical standpoint since the terrorism we have experienced has never been associated with individuals from the banned countries, but rather from their neighbors who are not banned. Nonetheless, Trump supporters praise it as action even though it is doomed to be entirely ineffective.

Disagreement as treason:

Trump’s fired Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates because she refused to carry out what she viewed as unconstitutional Muslim travel ban. The firing was legal but the language was extraordinary.

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States…

Yates owes no allegiance to the Justice Department. She owes allegiance to the Consitution.

Trump’s reaction to a Federal judge who halted enforcement of the travel ban is even more outrageous:

IMG_1867

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country is ridiculous and will be overturned.

Trump appears to reject the great system of American jurisprudence designed by the Founding Fathers and based on checks and balances. The Judiciary is charged to serve as a constraint on the action of Congress and the President not to rubber stamp it.

The Demonization of Difference:

…Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus … Fascism is racist by definition.

Trump has grounded his Presidency in bigotry and xenophobia.

An Appeal to Social Frustration:

…[O]ne of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.

The slogan Make America Great Again has nothing to do with making America great and everything to do with assuaging the social frustration of white, blue collar workers and returning them to the center of American life.

A Racialist Nationalism:

…[A]t the root of the … Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside …

The Muslims are purportedly threatening America from the outside and Mexicans, African-Americans and liberals of all races are purportedly threatening America from the inside.

A Sense of Humiliation:

…[F]ollowers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

The Erosion of Individual Rights:

For … Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter…

Orwellian Newspeak:

Trump and his minions have a new name for this type of propaganda: alternative facts.

Thus, in the face of photographic evidence that Trump’s inauguration was poorly attended, thePress Secretary Sean Spicer could claim with a straight face:

That was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — PERIOD!

As George Orwell himself famously wrote in 1984:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it… [T]he logic of their position demanded it… [T]he very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.

For anyone with the wit to see it, Trump’s embrace of these fascist principles is chilling. But many people don’t want to see what is right in front of their faces. As Eco concludes:

…It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple… Our duty is to uncover [fascism] and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world…

That’s what I intend to do and so do millions of other true American patriots, those who love our country and its values of freedom and toleration.

  • Linden
  • LibrarianSarah

    Dr. Bob Altemeyer, a former social psychology professor at the University of Manitoba wrote an excellent if not bone chilling book on his research into Right Wing Authoritarianism called “The Authoritarians.” It is specifically written for a non-academic audience and you can read it for free with the author’s permission here:

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  • attitude devant

    I am tearing out my hair here. The NYT reports today that he didn’t even know he had put Bannon on the National Security Council. He doesn’t read the Executive Orders before he signs them.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      oh god, i hope they’ve made a mistake but its the NYT and they do try to fact check. God help us.

      • Roadstergal

        I am in agreement with Sam, here. I mean, I don’t think Trump 100% can’t read, but he just has no ability/patience/attention span to read anything longer than a summary or a Tweet. So it makes 100% sense to me that he not only doesn’t write his EOs, but doesn’t read them.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LFkN7QGp2c

        • D/

          The idea that Trump 100% can’t read — whether he’s functionally illiterate or just blind and too vain to wear glasses– is actually less of a stretch of my imagination than what every day’s ‘what the hell did he do now’ update since that itty bitty inauguration of his has been.

    • Pck

      It must be true if the NYT says so. They are completely impartial.

      • LibrarianSarah

        Okay Pck, I am curious. Where do you get your news from?

  • Squillo

    OT: Did y’all see this: “Children exposed to complications at birth at risk of autism, study finds”. The largest correllations were with birth asphyixia and pre-eclampsia.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170131124140.htm

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    If there’s a problem with the Trump/Hitler comparison it’s that Trump isn’t up to being Hitler. Consider his “pray for The Apprentice” comment recently. That’s not something Hitler would have said. That’s something Caligula or Nero would have said.

    For any “breast is best” advocates who might be reading, I’ll point out that Trump’s immigration/visa policy recently prevented an 11 month old baby from being fed by her mother because one was a US citizen, the other not and they were forcibly separated at the airport. For the rest of us, there was also a 5- year-old boy who was handcuffed and separated from anyone he knew for hours. And by “5-year-old” I mean “child who had turned 5 that day”. Lovely birthday for the child, I’m sure. And we’ve already had the ban result in scientists not taking positions at US universities, tourists going elsewhere, businesspeople investing elsewhere…in short, the economy and science are both taking major hits. But, hey, we’re safe from terrorist babies, right?

    • MaineJen

      He is making an absolute mockery of the American presidency. With every new tweet, I want to sink down into the #$% floorboards. I’m thoroughly disgusted.

  • Gatita
    • Heidi

      Oh yeah, I think Mike Adams is a birther.

    • Roadstergal

      Mike Adams is Alex Jones in a second-hand lab coat.

      • Nick Sanders

        I thought he got it at a costume shop.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
  • Heidi_storage

    OT: I visited the Alpha Parent’s blog for the first time. Hooooly cow! Our respected host can be–please excuse me, Dr. Tuteur–a bit waspish at times, but ultimately this site has a positive message and is very affirming to women who come here having been sucked down the rabbit hole of NCB and other parenting dogmas. The Alpha Parent, on the other hand, seems to devote at least 90% of her site to denigrating formula feeding mothers, and I cannot imagine the brutal effect her posts could have on a vulnerable mother who may be suffering postpartum depression or anxiety.

  • Squirrelly

    It’s funny, Trump’s policies themselves could have come from any Republican hardliner. It’s the way he does it that smacks of fascism. The gaslighting, the fearmongering, the nationalism…I mean, questioning the legitimacy of the judge who halted the ban? Really? And still no tax returns amid a Putin bromance? None of this is subtle. I have a few pro-Trump friends/relatives who I otherwise consider rational people and it blows my mind they are not bothered by any of this.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Sincere questions here:
      I hear there are going to be protests to try to get Trump the release his tax returns. Do people really think this will be effective? The reason I ask is because when Trump says that the people who voted for him don’t care, I think he is right. If he doesn’t release his returns, the people who voted for him won’t care. Even if they do get released, and show conflicts of interest or no money paid or any other thing, I don’t think they will care. Their point of view is “If the IRS doesn’t have a problem with him, then it’s his own business.” I think a protest to try to get him to release the returns will #1 be ineffective and #2 be counterproductive at this point.

      But I’m very interested in hearing alternative viewpoints.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Apparently, the IRS does have a problem with him, since they seem to audit him a lot.

        • Nick Sanders

          I thought after the election one of the higher ups on his campaign staff admitted there was no audit and they just claimed such to avoid releasing his returns? Or was that just a rumor?

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Who knows. #altfacts.

      • MaineJen

        Oh…but we do care. And #winteriscoming

        • fiftyfifty1

          “If he doesn’t release his returns, the people who voted for him won’t care. Even if they do get released, and show conflicts of interest or no money paid or any other thing, I don’t think they will care. ”

          “Oh…but we do care.”

          So to be clear here, are you saying that you are a Trump voter who would change your mind and vote for someone else depending on what happens with the tax info?

          • MaineJen

            Oh. Nope. Not a trump voter. LOL…it was late and I had been at work for a long time.

            I was saying we DO care about seeing his taxes, but I missed the part about “people who voted for him” because lack of sleep.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I understand that you, and others, DO want to see the tax returns. But my question is Why? Why expend all the time and energy to try to get him to do something that he has no legal obligation to do, and certainly won’t do, that wouldn’t sway anybody’s opinion even if he did do it? I guess I see no point. Am I missing something?

      • Sean Jungian

        I think a lot, if not most, of his non-supporters DO care.

        We already know his supporters won’t be swayed. But that’s only 40% of the 40% of eligible voters who voted. There are still more of us than there are of them.

        • fiftyfifty1

          So you agree that his supporters won’t be swayed. And those who voted against him are not going to be swayed. So I’m not sure where that leaves us. Are you saying that you expect the info to motivate non-voters to vote?

          • Sean Jungian

            I expect it to help keep those of us who are interested motivated enough to keep working on those who stayed home.

      • Roadstergal

        There is the possibility of further conflicts of interest. I’m sure that the Republicans will continue their gleeful power-hungry support no matter what impeachable offenses are unveiled, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a duty to unveil them.

      • Squirrelly

        I think it’s incredibly important to push hard for his tax returns, especially in a way that gets picked up by major media (ie protests). Without majorities in the House or Senate there’s little we can do legislative-wise against Trump, but we CAN wage a campaign to highlight his conflicts of interest and dictator-y behavior. I see it as a long game – keep up the pressure and keep sinking his popularity numbers until the 2018 and 2020 elections.

        Granted, as Trump himself said, he could shoot someone on 5th Ave and his main base would still support him (it was self defense, obviously). Then again, if there’s one thing the far right likes it’s a good conspiracy theory. “What IS he hiding?!” Worked against Hillary, right?

    • Deborah

      I’m going to reply here because I’ve been searching for a place to vent my abhorrence and disgust at so-called President Donald Trump but haven’t found a suitable place to do it.
      I just cannot believe he is now the President of the United States. How did this happen? The American people who voted him in must be either very ignorant, extremely gullible or deliberately mean-spirited fascists – probably a combination of all three.
      The impression I get is that he signs these executive orders on a whim and as a way of appeasing the people who voted for him – not because he necessarily believes in them himself. For example, the cutting of funding for aid programs which offer abortion. I doubt very much that he could care less about abortion the way the far right do, but cutting the funding is a means to an end for him and signifies his willingness to fullfill election promises. The muslim travel ban, on the other hand, I think does come from a personal belief that all Muslims are potential terrorists but the executive order signing still comes across as a juvenile demonstration of power wielding and an overt display of “getting the job done”. My overall impression is that he is the quintessential businessman. He thinks he can run a country the same way you run a business – that, instead of being the CEO of a large corporation, he is now the CEO of one of the most powerful nations on Earth. For someone who promised to remove the elite from Washington, it is astonishing that he has surrounded himself with wealthy advisors, people who have no experience in their designated roles – and the people who voted for him are non the wiser or don’t seem to care.
      It is going to be very interesting to see what happens. There are already rumblings about impeachment. Something has to be done. Someone must be able to do something surely. I read somewhere that amateur-hour has come to the Whitehouse. Let’s hope that for all our sakes and particularly our American friends it’s brought to a speedy and decisive end.

      • Squirrelly

        Every word you wrote I was like yep yep yep 🙂 Feels good not be alone!

        Thought of the day: I am not usually a conspiracy theorist but I am most curious what Russia has over him. His consistent defense of Putin when he has criticized everyone else (China, Australia, Boeing, Nordstrom) strains credulity. I don’t know what’s worse…a president blackmailed by Putin, or a president who says nice things because he thinks Putin likes him.

        As to what can be done…resist! Call, march, write, and most importantly vote blue in 2018. I joined a local group with my neighbor with the goal of voting out our district’s Republican rep in 2018.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Personally, I think the orange one is just has a crush on Vladimir.

        • Deborah

          Good luck! I will be with you in spirit, cheering you on from the sidelines down under (Australia) X

  • Graham

    Actually these are the characteristics I see with conspiracy theorists of all political stripes.

  • Pck

    So, the democratically elected president is doing his job and the federal judge is doing his job and the courts will do their job.
    It sounds like the system is working the way it was designed.

    • Nick Sanders

      He was not democratically elected. The electoral college, the only reason he’s President instead of Clinton, is explicitly designed as a limit on democracy.

      And there’s a fairly good case to be made that he’s not “doing his job”.

      Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

      he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed

      • Pck

        It sounds like the courts have their job cut out for them. We can’t have an illegitimate president behaving illegally.

        • Who?

          The President isn’t acting illegally in making these orders, but the content of the orders themselves may turn out to be unconstitutional or otherwise illegal.

          Unfortunately a President with no interest in thinking forward to a time when someone other than he or his party might run things, and who can’t imagine ever having a bad reputation, isn’t bound by the same kind of limitations that have moderated the actions of those before him.

          Shrug your shoulders all you like about how people just have to suck it up-you’ll be less comfortable should his eye fall on something precious to you.

          • Pck

            So you can read minds now. Your powers have no limits.
            Let the constitution dictate, let the president do his job and let the courts do their job.

          • maidmarian555

            He has personally stated via Twitter that he has no regard for either your constitution or your judiciary. So he clearly has no idea what ‘his job’ actually consists of. He has no idea. He will make it up as he goes along.

          • maidmarian555

            You know who else historically dismissed the judiciary? Hitler. Hitler didn’t give a fuck what the actual laws in Germany were. And idiots cheered his horrific policies on.

          • Who?

            Mr No Rules, that’s Trump to a tee. It’s how he has conducted his many failed business affairs, and how he is conducting his presidency.

          • Nick Sanders

            Thre’s also his inadequate resolution of his conflicts of interest from his business holdings, his attempt to appoint Steve Bannon to the security counsel without Congressional approval, his insistence that the stay on his travel ban be ignored, firing the Attorney General for doing her job (may not be illegal, but since it was because she refused to defend an illegal law, it’s still really scary as hell). And he’s only been president for less than a month.

          • Pck

            And he will probably be president for the next 8 years.
            How many of those movie stars have moved to Canada as they promised? Trump has kept his word,they should too if they have any integrity.

          • maidmarian555

            What movie stars do is utterly irrelevant. Trump’s policies are likely to destroy our planet. It’s all very well saying we should just all cross our fingers and wait til his tenure is over but his pro-oil, pro-coal and pro-gas stance is likely to destroy everything to a point the damage will be irreversible. My son will have no earth to live on if nobody reigns him in. So fuck him. And his greedy, old, mostly white buddies. They’re going to wreck the future for our children. It sounds like you don’t care about that too much. I do.

          • Azuran

            I wouldn’t worry too much about the climate change, honestly. He’s obviously going to wreck the future of our children WAY before climate change gets us.

          • Nick Sanders

            There is no way in hell the dude is getting reelected. The only way he’s staying for more that 4 years is if he suspends elections.

          • Pck

            As I said to you before this election, we’ll see.

          • Nick Sanders

            He’s had record disapproval ratings since before taking office, 40% of the country wants him impeached, and the media has finally discovered that they don’t have to put he and his team’s lies on equal footing with the truth in the name of “fairness”.

          • Who?

            A few tax cuts before the next election, a few dirty little stories about his opponent, whoever puts their hand up for that job, a bit more stroking of the egos of his followers, and he’ll be right back in.

            The best way to stop that would be to activate people who don’t want him to vote for whoever runs on the other side. Which opens a whole can of worms for the democrats re who to choose.

            It would be entertaining if it wasn’t so appalling. Democracy might be the least worst system of government but it does throw up some real shockers from time to time.

          • I fear that you are right.

          • There is no way in hell the dude is getting reelected
            I really wish this was true, however I suspect that when the next terrorist incident inevitably occurs, the polls will swing back in his favour.

          • Nick Sanders

            An I suspect it’ll blow up in his face. But only time will tell.

          • Who?

            How could it? He’s never responsible for anything, he only takes credit for good stuff.

            He will have been elsewhere, lied to, or similar. It will be Obama, or the mexicans, or someone from not his inner circle who let him down. And people who like him will lap that up.

          • Mariana

            Has a president ever lose reelection in the U.S.? I ask out of ignorance about USA history (not American). How often has that happened in recent years?

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            3 out of 8 presidents in my lifetime Ford, Carter, and Bush Sr.

          • BeatriceC

            I wouldn’t count Ford as he was never actually elected in the first place. He was president only because Nixon resigned and as VP, he became president. Nixon appointed him to VP under the terms of the 25th amendment when Agnew was forced to resign. So to be technical, he couldn’t have been re-elected if he was never elected to begin with.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            i counted him because he was the sitting president and he did run and lose in ’76.

          • BeatriceC

            I’m being way, way to technical. I can’t help it. *grin*

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            :p

          • swbarnes2

            Most recently, George HW Bush (Father to George W Bush) lost his re-election campaign to Bill Clinton, in 1992.

          • Insider

            During the last half century, it has happened twice that a president ran for a second term but lost. In 1992 George H. W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton. In 1980 Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan.

          • Box of Salt

            If we go full century, Taft lost to Woodrow Wilson and Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

            From my point of view, Ford’s loss to Carter counts. It was the first presidential election after I learned about how our government works in elementary school.

          • Pck

            There was no way in hell he was supposed to win this election, remember?

          • Nick Sanders

            Actually, 538 gave him a slim but not insignificant chance, even before Florida went GOP, IIRC.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            538 had him with a 30% chance of winning come election time.

            That’s a long way from “no way in hell.”

            I do a lot of probability work, and I usually consider anything about 15% to be not surprising.

          • Mariana

            I was going to say just that

          • Box of Salt

            If he’s president for the next 8 years, the United States of America as we know will no longer exist.

          • Who?

            He’s certainly going to be a tonic, one way or the other.

            He is living proof that you can, if you are bold enough, do what you like. And wait for all the decent people to catch up with you with their meagre little laws and rights.

            And it’s that which makes him most terrifying-his total contempt, as displayed over and over again, for the rules of the game. He’s now in charge of the game. Pity help anyone who doesn’t toe the line.

            Only the lazy or ignorant assume they will never be affected in a way they don’t like by his decision.

    • SporkParade

      The issue is that Trump has made it pretty clear on multiple occasions that he doesn’t consider himself bound to the rulings of the judiciary. For example, in the changes to the White House website immediately following the election, the judiciary branch was completely deleted from the information section on how the US government works. Then there’s the finding questionable loopholes in the judge’s order demanding that detained people in the airports be allowed to speak to attorneys, and the referring to the judge (who was a Bush appointee, BTW) as a “so-called judge” for disagreeing with him. The question is, what happens if he actually decides to ignore court orders, and no one really knows because it’s basically unprecedented in American history.

  • J.B.

    There are a lot of layers to this. First, wealth has been extractive for a long time. Extractive of people, materials, etc. Colonialism was the source of European wealth in 18th-19th centuries, slavery and then jim crow and redlining steered wealth towards whites in the US. Second, geopolitics have always been brutal-the ww2 victors weren’t exactly kind (Stalin’s purges, British camps for foreign nationals, Japanese internment camps.) A representative republic is a veneer over these rawer motives. The veneer has been ripped off. It’s certainly a very dangerous point, but crisis can also be opportunity.

    I’ve been really disturbed by the slow shredding of our already minimal safety net. “You chose to have children” so fu any help raising them, whining about paying any taxes. I kind of like reliable infrastructure and social services!

  • Jane Doe

    Scientist’s March on Washington on April 22. Spread the word, folks! We’re making brain hats for this one! Woo hoo!

    • Gene

      I’ll be there! Spouse and I are both scientists.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      I’m making one for my pastor! ‘Cause she’s just liberal like that. I may make myself a green one, being of the Iguana People and all.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    Orangenfuhrer would definitely have fit right in with his nation of origin in the 1930s and early 40s. He’d have been an important member of the party then, too.

  • MaineJen

    SO my question is: what attack is he now capable of mounting against the Judiciary, and how can we stop it? We know it’s coming.

    • Mark

      He can ignore the Supreme Court and he can then be held in contempt and impeached

      • Who?

        It’s going to take a while to get through all that, and a lot of eggs are going to be broken in the making of that omelette.

      • Inshallah.

        • גזעני בוז עוקצניים

        • גזעני בוז עוקצניים
          ?How am I doing

          • wullaj

            Wrong language.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and got away with it, but hopefully there’ll be no repeat of the Trail of Tears. We need to remain aware of the rights of the Others in our country are the same as Our Own. Whichever group you identify with, though obviously this reminder is much more necessary for the group in power.