Public Comment

Fascism and the August 27 Events: Not the Real Threat

Rob Wrenn
Thursday September 07, 2017 - 02:05:00 PM

The word fascism is getting bandied about quite a bit without ever being defined. And “Nazis”. We are not remotely close to fascism in the US today. The real threat is quite different.

While Fascists support a strong authoritarian central government with a strong man leader and reject liberal democracy and suppress all opposition, the problem today in the US is the elected members of Congress who want to roll back government programs and protections such as Medicaid, Medicare, environmental protection, etc. They want smaller government that just spends a lot to protect the interests of American corporations abroad via big defense budgets, but with reduced government regulation of what corporations do here and abroad and with reduced government spending in all areas that benefit the large mass of low and middle income people.

Also, globalism is widely accepted by people governing this country. Trump may make populist appeals about trade deals but what has he really done to challenge the global Neo-liberal, free market system? Trump is not a fascist and he’s not as big a problem as Cruz, Rubio, Pence, McConnell, Paul, et al, the “Freedom Caucus”, and quasi-libertarian congress people, if only because he has no idea how to be president and doesn’t know anything about the main issues. Harpers Magazine had a good article about whether Trump is a fascist or a plutocrat a few months back. The conclusion: plutocrat.

The “alt-right” (another term that is not well-defined)or far right wing fringe today is still very small by historical standards. Even if you look at Charlottesville rather than handful of fringe rightwingers who showed up in Berkeley on Aug 27, who weren’t all necessarily white supremacist or nazi. 

Take the leading white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan. It reached a peak of 4 million members in the 1920s and fought reconstruction with violence in the late 1860s and in the 1870s. Today, it has less than .1% of its previous peak membership when you take population growth into account. And actual Neo-nazi groups, the kind that view Hitler positively and who want to replace democracy with authoritarian one-party rule also have very small memberships that are below what they were in the 1930s. Nationalism and “make America Great again" per se is not the same thing as fascism.  

In evaluating the impact of protest tactics, you have to consider what impact they have on the real problem which is the GOP attempt to roll back all the progress made by working people since the 1920s. Can violence by masked black-clad people against a tiny number of right wing fringe people in an effort to prevent them from assembling or speaking (rights that people on the left want to be able to exercise) somehow help persuade people who elected the GOP Congress to vote for people committed to protecting the gains made since the 1920s (social security, minimum wage, banking regulation, legalization of unions and collective bargaining, Medicare,Medicaid, civil rights protections, voting rights protections, environmental protection, workplace safety and health, etc.)?