Shayn McCallum to the question Many on the left say that "fascism is here" in America. What do the academics and historians who have done more deep analysis actually think?
Well, the problem is that “fascism” can be understood very specifically (as the ideology and social system promoted specifically by Mussolini’s National Fascist Party), somewhat more broadly, as any of the regimes that directly modelled themselves on Italian fascism or were inspired by its vision (Nazism, Austrofascism, Francoism) or broader still as any kind of right wing populism that uses a rhetoric of “conservative revolution” against “corrupt elites and evil leftists” to mobilise a discourse of “saving the nation” and an essentialised patriotism that pits “good people” against “evil people” and seeks to exclude those deemed to be the latter through a repudiation of democracy.
The first, strictest definition of fascism clearly does not apply. The second, somewhat broader and less rigorous definition of “fascism” also does not apply, although there are elements in and around the Republican party for whom it actually does.
The third definition, that of right wing authoritarian populism, most certainly applies and is standing nakedly before the public. Whether or not you can call the Republicans “fascist” is, at this point, a nerdy technicality. A right wing populist death cult is in the process of trying to kill what remains of the embattled American democracy in pursuit of their own hegemony.
Whether or not you can technically call this “fascism” strikes me as a bit of a red herring– a bit like two soldiers arguing whether the large armoured vehicle about to run over them is actually a tank or a half-track- the point is, it is here to kill you, figure out the nomenclature once you have survived!
Right wing antidemocratic populism, irrespective of the label you slap on it, is currently in power in the USA and it looks like it is getting ready to dig in its heels. The script is frighteningly familiar.
This may not be “textbook fascism” in that it is not happening in Italy and the leader is a frumpy, incoherent slob rather than a dapper baldilocks with a brawler’s physique and a sharp but brutal mind, but it is a text book case of what the far-right does to seize power in an unstable Republic.
Towards the end of his tenure, DonaldTrump really did seem willing to overthrow democracy in favour of holding onto power. And was willing to talk up the full fascist narrative of himself as saviour from the bad people (in both the corrupt elites and the rioting mobs.
I'm troubled, reading the argument being developed in FlightOfTheCreativeClass. This talk of a the US as a cultural battle-ground between the CosmopolitanSophisticates (CreativeClass or NetoCrats) and the rooted, conservative, "terrified" dispossessed who turn to the right. What we should be thinking about here is Vienna at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Vienna was the wealthy, intellectual, cultural, sometimes-tolerant heart of central Europe. And also the place that spawned the backlash that led to the Nazis.
See also : PeopleOfSomewhere