“Is Donald Trump a fascist?” the “Newsweek” headline asked. They answered: “Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism.”
The fascist Benito Mussolini: The Newsweek writer claims Trump is a fascist as was Mussolini. Although he shares some personality traits with Mussolini – the bragging, the extreme ego, etc. – Trump bases himself on different social forces. Whereas Mussolini gathered around him a gang of thugs who beat up and killed union activists, for instance, Trump is confined to the normal “democratic” methods of legal maneuvering, firing union supporters, etc. The same difference is seen in the modern day world, where the Islamic State – a fascist force if there ever was one – rules through terror; Greece’s Golden Dawn carries out organize attacks on the immigrant community; and the Israeli settler movement does the same against Palestinians while they call for “death to (all) Arabs.” While Trump undoubtedly has fascists of this type around him, the conditions are not ripe enough in the US for such a fascist movement on a wide scale.
The fact that Newsweek would call Trump a “fascist” shows how very worried they are about him. With the headlines he’s been making, and considering that he’s leading the Republican polls by a wide margin, their worry is understandable.
Who is Donald Trump?
So who is Donald Trump? What is his background?
Born into a family made wealthy by real estate speculation, in 1968he was brought into his father’s (Fred Trump) real estate firm at 22 years old, where he performed menial jobs like landscaping. But his multi-million dollar grub stake, plus his political connections, allowed him to make millions on his first own investment, turning the bankrupt Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt – with the help of a 40-year tax abatement from the New York City government. He used this to create his own company, the Trump Organization.
Contrary to his claim to be a business genius, in 1989 he was forced to declare bankruptcy due to poor investments in the Las Vegas casino industry as well as in junk bonds. In 1999, he inherited tens of millions of dollars when his father died. As with all “successful” capitalists, Trump continued to milk the system by making large donations to politicians from both major parties. (Today, he denounces the politicians for their corruption, but he was one of the corrupters!) Meanwhile, he associated himself with all sorts of right wing causes such as the Tea Party and the “birthers” (who deny that Obama was born in the US. These same bigots apparently have no problem with right wing presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada.) He also got close to the racist Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 2013, New York Republicans sought to get him to run for New York State governor, but Trump evidently had his eye on bigger things and turned it down. In the same year, he was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Trump with his signature line from his TV show: “You’re fired.” Is it any wonder that this simpleton actually came to believe his press clippings that he’s some sort of genius?
Meanwhile, Trump was being lionized on the media through is TV show, “The Apprentice” in which he celebrates the naked quest for money and his power over other people’s lives. “You’re fired” was his trademark line in that show. This celebration of Trump was part of the overall decades-long media campaign to build up the reputation of the super rich and to help develop individual greed and cover up the disastrous harm that that mentality – the mentality of capitalism itself – is doing to the planet. “Money, money, money… money” was the theme song of “The Apprentice.”
So, backed by some $8.7 billion in net worth and made to feel that what passes for his thoughts really are important, and having played the role of corrupter of all different politicians, Trump’s oversized ego led him to decide to run for president and not care what his fellow capitalists thought. Now he denounces his fellow candidates for corruption, stupidity, and lacking care for the conditions of “American” workers.
All of this is bad enough for Corporate America but now he’s also helping to stir up the anti-“free” trade sentiments of many US workers. He links that with “nativistic jingoism” as that Newsweek article said.
Corporate America Paved the Way
Corporate America has been paving the way for this for years. Look at any NFL (football) game today. Look at how often the US military is glorified, how “the flag” is waved around. (Of course, no capitalist enterprise will pass up a quick buck so four different NFL teams got $5.4 million to promote militarism and jingoism over the last four years.) Look at any TV quiz show. Whenever some participant is introduced who is or was in the military, there is always a round of applause for their having “protected our freedom” overseas (usually by killing Asian or Arab people). In almost every aspect of the corporate (meaning capitalist) controlled cultural life, flag waving and “jingoism” is promoted. Then there is the political life itself, where every major politician talks about how much they “love America”, runs around with a little “American” (really a US) flag on their lapel, etc.
So is it any wonder that some demagogue would come along who picks up this particular ball and runs with it?
Then the Newsweek article complains that “in effect (Trump) believes that he is running to be the CEO of the country — not just of the government… Trump wants to run the entire nation as if it were Trump Tower.” But in one major political race after another, you get one candidate after another who proclaims that their qualifications are based on their having been a corporate executive. Does the name “Mitt Romney” ring a bell? Or “Carly Fiorina”? And where is the corporate-controlled media denouncing this view?
Donald “Trumpenstein”: Like the mythical Frankenstein monster, Trump has been created by the capitalists themselves but now he’s partially run out of their control.
“To (Trump), America is a homogenous unit, no different from his own business enterprise,” complains the Newsweek article. But from every president, including Obama, on down, that is exactly the point of view of the Republicrat paradigm.
“They’ve got the flags, the music, the hype, the hysteria, the resources, and they work to extract that thing in many people that seeks heroes and momentous struggles in which they can prove their greatness,” Newsweek complains. People should bear this in mind when they tune in to the Republican and Democratic conventions.
The xenophobia, racism and simple mindedness that Trump bases himself on has been based on the corporate propaganda over the decades. Now, they’re complaining that it’s gone too far. What he’s stirring up is a warning for the future, where things will go if a real, left movement of the working class as a whole isn’t built.
Their Real Problem
Corporate America’s real problem with Trump is two-fold:
- First of all, he’s breaking the rules of the game, mocking his competitors as if they weren’t also his partners in crime. He’s giving voice to the real frustrations of millions of people in the US. This is an embarrassment to many of the corporate mouthpieces who run for office.
- Second, he’s channeling this through the route of anti-“free” trade. This has been a real staple of capitalism in seeking to boost its rate of profit by using the cheap wages in some areas and the lax regulations (especially environmental ones) and the even lower corporate taxes to boos their rate of profit everywhere. They use this to drive down the wages in their home countries, and to fight for less regulation and even lower taxes.
If elected (which is no more likely than Sanders being elected), Trump will even worsen the situation for all workers. While he rambles on about “illegal immigrants”, Trump’s companies have not hesitated to hire some 1100 foreign workers since 2000, mainly into low wage positions. In other words, he’s been no different from his fellow capitalists regarding using these workers lack of legal status to drive down workers’ pay. And his union busting at his hotel in Las Vegas proves this. (It should be emphasized that what he did there is little different from what the great majority of employers in the US do or have done.)
What Trump “represents will not last,” the Newsweek article concludes. “It’s a moment in time. The thousands who attend his rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world…” These advances (smart phones, etc.) are all due to the “courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules.” It’s true that the “free” market has no one individual “ruler”, although a small handful of major corporations have much more of a role in manipulating that “free” market that the apologists such as Newsweek like to admit. Instead, they have sought to introduce the complete domination over every aspect of human life – from the air we breathe and the food we eat to the wages and working conditions (for those who actually have a job) by Corporate World.
Reaction against “free” market
No wonder that there is a growing populist reaction against the “free” market, nor that this reaction in part is channeled into racism and “nativistic jingoism”:
In the first place, Corporate America through all its media (TV, Hollywood, the politicians, professional sports, etc.), has encouraged this “jingoism”. Second is the confusion created by the fact that the leaders of the only organizations that workers have in this country – the unions – refuse to lead. Instead, inside the unions they often act as the mouthpiece for the employer, and off the job – politically – that’s all they do; they do nothing politically but mouth what the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party is willing to concede.
The forces that are uniting behind Trump almost certainly include fascists in the true sense of the word, but Trump does not base himself on fascist methods. But he represents a danger nevertheless; he shows that in the absence of a real, mass and radical working class movement, larger wings of middle class and even working class people will be responding to his jingoistic and racist appeals. “Newsweek” is completely wrong on this; what he represents will not go away.
The forces that are campaigning against police brutality and racism, the forces inside the unions that are genuinely fighting for a real change, those who are really fighting against fracking and against environmental damage (as opposed to the Big Green non-profiteers, who are linked to the Democrats) will have to all join together to build the left wing alternative to Trump and the jingoism and racism that he bases himself on.