Trump, Trumpism, and 21st Century Fascism

Dr. Steven Jonas | February 4, 2021

This article was submitted by long-time World Can't Wait supporter and prolific writer Dr. Steven Jonas. You can read more of his articles on BuzzFlash and OpEdNews.

The U.S. is a capitalist country governed by a constitutional government that controls the apparati of the “State:” legislative, executive and judicial. Governments use these principal State elements primarily to maintain the power of the dominant economic class – that is the “ruling class.” Within the country, this class controls the means of production, distribution and exchange. For capitalists, the primary function of the economy is the production of profit – in other words, the excess value arising from production, distribution, and exchange, both for the expansion of those functions and for personal use.

Historically, capitalist ruling classes have used two methods of governance, with variations. One is some form of constitutional parliamentary democracy. The other (since the disappearance of ruling monarchies) has gone under the name of “absolutist,” more specifically “fascist” (see below). Over time, within many of the capitalist countries there has been conflict within the ruling class over which method of governance is more likely to keep it in control of the state apparatus through which it maintains its control of state power, and thus the economy. This conflict has been illustrated strikingly in the U.S. election just past.

Trump and his government are what can be called “21st Century Fascist.” President Biden’s government is a classic example of bourgeois (that is capitalist) constitutional democracy. (Over time, in all of the capitalist countries with such governments, they have varied in policy from “reactionary” (e.g., Reagan/Thatcher) to “progressive” (e.g., FDR/Atlee – note how far in the past these governments were). So far, it would appear that the Biden government will be, or will attempt to be, in the context of constant Republican obstructionism and in contrast with the neo-liberal “center-right” governments of Presidents Clinton and Obama, moderately progressive in the current U.S. context, certainly in comparison to what I call the “Trumpublicans©,” who have been taking their party in the fascist direction.

Now “fascism” is a term which is often used without defining it. Here is a brief version of the one that I use: “Fascism is a system of government in which there is no separation of the standard powers of any government – that is executive, legislative and judicial. They are all subsumed under an all-powerful executive branch. There is no independent media. There is a single national ideology, based on some combination of authoritarianism, ultra-nationalism, racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, homophobia, and xenophobia. There is a state propaganda machine using the big and little lie techniques. There are usually a)a full-blown dictatorship with a charismatic leader and b)the use of the mob, private armies, the police, various intelligence services and, when necessary, the military to enforce the control of the ruler, the ruling Party and the ruling class."

Trump and Trumpism have taken the Republican Party in the direction of fascism and, the Senate leadership which is obviously maneuvering to succeed him (the Cruz-Hawley-Cotton wing) will continue to do so. The attempted fascist insurrection of January 6, 2021 aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election, which came within minutes of succeeding, is the prime current example of the direction the Cruz-Hawley-Cotton wing of the Party is going.

Trump himself is not very smart, but temperamentally he is very well-suited to the “dictator role.” He has no intellectual concept of what “fascism” is but, rather because of his personality and the way he ran his own sole-owner/controller businesses, he is what I have termed an “Accidental Fascist.” While his approach to government and governing was moving in that direction, it ain’t just Trump. The Republican Party has been moving in this direction for decades. Trump accelerated it!

In terms of policy, where have Trump and Trumpite governance pushed the nation in the direction of fascism? Briefly, and not necessarily in order of importance, there are, for example: 

  • the injection of racism/White Supremacy into government policy – everything from the attack on the outcome of the 2020 election to the policies or non-policies of the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development; 

  • the injection of homophobia into government policy (see the trans-gender ban in the military); 

  • the adoption of religious authoritarianism as the basis of government policy in dealing with abortion and abortion rights

  • the Steve Bannon-inspired “Deconstruction of the Administrative State” so that the functions of government for the benefit of the citizens generally become more and more limited; 

  • the deregulation of many government functions, both private and public (directly in favor of the interests of the ruling class on many levels), for example, environmental and financial; 

  • the gradual crushing of the rule of law – for example, the Trump/Repub. “fraudulent election” challenge which eventually led to the attempted Insurrection, and the pardoning of criminals who had helped Trump gain power; 

  • out of the “Proud Boys” and others of that ilk, the development of a private army which could become the equivalent of the Nazi/German Sturm Abteilung (SA) or the Italian Black Shirts; 

  • tax cuts for the rich; 

  • the gradual takeover of the Federal court system; 

  • and of course, the direct operation/control from the White House of an increasing number of government functions.  

Of course, Trump’s worst creation so far has been what I call the call the “Trumpidemic2020©.” While that is not the result, necessarily of fascist policy, it is the result of Trump’s politics and what I call his “Magical Thinking.”

So, is Trump a fascist, by definition? You betcha! Is our country in grave danger? You betcha! Can Biden and the Democrats return our nation to governance by conventional bourgeois constitutional democracy? That remains to be seen. But if they can’t, very dark days lie ahead.


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