This may be the most important post I made since I started this blog, so forgive me in advance if it turns out to be quite lengthy. Many of the people who I meant to engage in conversation and debate by publishing these posts have long since stopped reading them as well as removed me from their friends list on social media. So in many ways these comments will fall on death ears from the standpoint of the people who most need to hear them.
In Part I of this series, I indicated that the majority of Trump supporters don’t understand that by supporting Trump, they are making themselves a part of a fascist agenda. In this post, I would like to explain in some detail my thinking on this. Most Americans understand that fascism is associated with Adolf Hitler and is not a good thing generally speaking. Consequently, when someone comments that Trump is exactly like Hitler, most of his supporters hear it as an insult since they so strongly identify with Trump and his personality. Of course a small segment of his supporters take it as a badge of honor. So I’d like to begin by offering my explanation of what fascism is. My comments are referenced by a number of academics and scholars, including Malcolm Gladwell, Yuval Noah Harari, Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt and many others.
Term fascism is from the Latin word fascis meaning bundle. The bundle to which the definition refers is a symbol of authority called a fasces. The fasces was possessed by the Roman magistrates in antiquity and consisted of a bundle of rods with an ax among them projecting a blade. Webster defines fascism as, “a political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of the opposition”. However, Webster’s definition only tells part of a much more sordid story.
The fascist movement began in the early 1900s and was born out of the pseudoscience of eugenics. Eugenics, at the time had more to do with breeding of the kind done with animals than actual genetics, which was barely understood back then. Prominent racists in the United States and Germany used this “science” as evidence of the racial inferiority of Blacks in the United States and of Jews in Germany, and was used as justification for the sterilization of Blacks and other undesirables in America. Wilhelm Schallmayer and Alfred Ploetz led the German eugenics movement. It was probably their work that had the greatest influence on Adolf Hitler. Late during World War I, Italian national syndicalist, who drew upon both their left wing organizational tactics and right wing political views, founded Fascism. By the early 1920s, Fascism moved almost completely to the right and became embodied into Hitler’s Nazism.
The essence of Fascist-Nazism lies in their belief that human evolution at any time can either improve the quality of humanity or devolve into a lesser form of humanity. They believe it is their solemn duty preserve and improve on what they have decided to be the ideal human. They feel they have the right and the duty to eliminate as much as possible inferior humans from the gene pool by any means necessary. It doesn’t matter that the actual science of genetics has proven them completely wrong. Yet there are still people out there clamoring for this archaic idea that has failed spectacularly every time it attempted to be implemented in government in any form. The very nature of the idea dooms it to failure. Over time, the bar for what is considered ideal will always change. Today, the ideal may be simply to be white and Christian. If they managed to eliminate all “lesser” races from US soil, the new criteria may become no freckles or red hair or no olive colored skin, or any number of ridiculous criteria selected by the dictator. The end game for that approach to government even if successful is the end of, not the enhancement of the human race.
I’m not suggesting that the majority of Trump supporters desire to be fascist. I am suggesting that they have fascist inclinations. It could be argued that they are that way through no fault of their own given how they have been conditioned to see themselves relative to the rest of the world. When your culture is predicated on the belief that as a group, your genetic make up renders you superior to other human beings of infinitesimally different genetic make up, you are practicing fascism. It doesn’t matter that you hold out the spectacular success of the handful of the undesirables who achieve it in spite of the racial barriers, as evidence that all Americans have equal opportunity. If you tolerate wholesale, institutionalized discrimination you are suborning fascism. Consequently all your values and traditions are tainted by that fact.
For example, recently many have challenged the idea the Babe Ruth was the greatest ball player who ever lived, particularly since mostly black players have broken all of his records. They argue that we can’t know who the greatest player of his time was since an entire league of black ball players were prohibited from competing against him. That same dilemma permeates our entire history. We have all but deified George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who deserve credit for founding and defending our nation. But at the same time, we must recognize that they were flawed like many of their time in that they owned slaves and condoned slavery. To imply that they were infallible is to declare they were justified in owning slaves. That part of their legacy constitutes the origins of America’s fascist traditions and is fully responsible for much of the conflict of our current times, that led to the seditionist raid on America’s Capitol that took place January 6th.
If we are to remedy this rift between Americans, as I mentioned in my last post, we must first move away from this steady diet of poisonous misinformation and disinformation that we’ve been living on for that past four years. Once done, we must agree to talk to each other without judgment or condemnation. I asked a dear friend of mine who is white and tends to be a conservative Republican recently, exactly what it is that half the country is so angry about and what is it they want so badly, that they would follow a demagogue like Trump in protest of not getting it. His response was he’d have to think about it and that it was something best discussed in a group of people on both sides of the issue. I deduced two things from his response. First, he had really hadn’t thought or said out loud specifically what he wants the other half of us Americans to do that made any sense. Second, he needed the safety of a group to truly bare his soul on this issue. I’m no genius and my deductions may have nothing in reality to do with his actual reason for wanting to table that discussion, but one way or another, we vowed to have it some time in the future.
I think our discussion that night was a microcosm of what’s going on in every American’s head right now. We’ve been so angry for so long that we’ve forgotten what made us angry in the first place. We’ve had media and politicians stoking this anger for five years, in many cases, for their own personal gain. We’ve been bombarded by that steady drumbeat for so long that we’ve given up our right to interact with each other on an individual basis and make our own decisions about the issues, instead allowing the leader to dictate what our interests are.
When my friend and I do have that conversation, I know exactly what I’m going to tell my friend or the group in the discussion that I want. I’m going to ask them to give up the idea that America is a white country for just five years. I will promise them that after those five years, they will never want to go back to thinking and acting on the idea that America belongs to white people again. I will tell them that they will see the old attitude is a tremendous burden. It makes white people solely responsible for everything that happens to America, with little or no help from the almost halve of us that are not white. Besides being a terrible waste of human resources it blinds them to the opportunities to rise out of the recession we’re in and to restore every aspect of our nation’s health. Many of these opportunities lay right before their eyes in many predominantly black neighborhoods.
In the final installment of this series, I will discuss the economic and social benefits of seeing all Americans as equal partners in the franchise instead of as threats to the ruling class of white people. In the mean time, I highly recommend reading a book entitled The Psychology Of Money, by Morgan Housel. The entire book is fascinating and informative, but the postscript of the book gives the most poignant and compelling historical explanation of how and why our happiness with life in America has gradually declined between the end of World War II and today. Hope you enjoy it.