Trump the Fascist?

The other day I stumbled across a short thread on twitter that possibly shines a light Trump and the motivations of his regime. Perhaps all this talk of Fascism and Nazi-punching is slightly off the mark.

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and their apologists are not fascists. Fascism contains an element of socialism, at least for the favoured “in-group” sections of society, if not the demonised “Others”.

Trump and Bannon are Anarcho-Capitalists. Their aim is to destroy the power of the state, whether as owner or manager of resources, regulator of markets, redistributor of wealth or independant arbitor of justice. The aim of the Anarcho-Capitalist is to reduce all economic activity “voluntary” contractual transaction.

The Fascism of 20th Century Europe was fashioned from the industrial age in which it developed. The economies of the 1930’s depended upon labour, and so the ultra-nationalisms of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco offered the Quid Pro Quo of government intervention in the economy to provide a more or less comfortable existance for the chosen docile in-groups. It should, but incomprehensively doesn´t, go without saying that Fascist states were various degrees of horrendous for anyone who was Jewish, Gipsy, Communist, African, LBGTQ , Disabled, Slav, or often just accused or suspected of being any variation of the above.

The crucial difference between the old-style Fascists and their descendants is that the 21st Century western economy depends not on labour, but consumers.

The stagnation of wages and the rocketing inequalities within western economies since the financial crisies of 2008 has led to a fundamental questioning of the west’s economic model. Critics of the last 35 years of neoliberal capitalism suggest we are living in a period of “Zombie Capitalism”, desperately consuming the remnants of our natural resources to feed an ever-less efficient and fundamentally discredited system that serves only to funnel wealth to an ever-shrinking group of Oligarchs.

Automation and Artificial Inteligence is on the verge of making another section of society redundant. There are serious economic studies underway investigating fundamental shifts in the way western economies could be structured in a a post-industrial, post-capitalist environment. Pilots are being carried out to provide citizens with a Universal Basic Income. There is a flourishing or re-emergence of Utopian ideas of reduced hour work weeks, the developemnt of sustainable economies based on embracing technology, investing in green energy, and developing low-impact permaculture food production. Ideas that offer the promise of an equitable soft-landing from the last 200 years of unsustainable capitalist over-consumption.

The 21st Century Anarcho-Capitalist, on the other hand sees these interventions as heretical disruptions of the market. In an economy that depends not on workers but consumers, the oligarchy has no use for those who cannot treat themselves to a $5 milky syrup coffee, or afford a monthly subscription to Netflix, or provide for their own Health Insurance, or service their student debt or under-write a decent mobile data plan. This growing underclass whose median net worth is less than $5.00 have no value to the likes of Steve Bannon. The Anarcho-Capitalist solution to the kind of inequality where 50% of the population hold the same wealth as 8 billionaires, is to discard the poorest 40%. To excise them from the economy by abandoning them to their fate of climate-induced disasters, disease, opiate addiction, obesity and gun-crime.

Onimac Day 9: Fri 20th April: Arévalo – Avila: 56km

Avila would be the last main town before riding through the Sierra de Madrid, over a series of summits around 1100m – 1300m. That would be my plan for Saturday, first just I need to get through the 50-odd km to Avila.

The first 30 km were similar to the last few days, gently rolling arrable plains. Despite the tiring head-wind I was on course to enjoy a famous Avila T-Bone steak for lunch. Then I began to approach the climb up to Avila. the net elevation gain to Avila would be around 300m, but the rolling nature of the climb meant I would gain 30m and then descend 20m before repeating again. climbing 60m to gain 20m and be faced once more with another climb.

With the elevation came the wind and the cold once more. Eventually I made it to the famous city walls, and followed my way around them until I found a hotel. I took the first room they offered me and enjoyed the glory of a warm room, a soft bed and TV. I collapsed onto the bed and and fell into a heavy siesta.

When I awoke a couple of hours later I felt guilty for wasting my time Avila. I felt I should be soaking up the atmosphere of this medievel World Heritage site, instead of slobbing under the duvet dozing to trashy daytime TV.

But then I turned my attention to my task for the Saturday. I would be climbing some serious mountains for at least half of the day, and then hopefully camping in one of two campsites around 60-70 km from home. Besides, Avila is a day trip by car, we often come for lunch, so why the pressure to play tourist now. I should just revel in the fact that I am nearly home, enjoy my first half-day off since setting out from Santiago 9 days ago, and conserve my energy for tomorrow.

Spentry

I am  a British citizen who has lived and worked in Spain for 12 years, the possibly that the fallout from Brexit might significantly reduce my rights in Spain is a chilling one.

As a European Citizen with an employment contract, the Spanish state treats me more less as equal to a Spanish Citizen. I have the right to work, to own property, to contribute to and benefit from the Health and Social Security Systems without any significant difference from if I were a Spanish Citizen.

Brexit could bring abour material changes to that situation.

I say could because the effects are, of course un-knowable until the negotiations take place. It is possible (probable, even) that all sides on the negotiations will honour the status of current residents. Especially between UK and Spain where there are significant numbers of both nationalities in each others countries. The Ruddites and racists pushing for Brexit will, I assume, be far more concerned with shutting down relations with Poland, Bulgaria and Romania where the flow of migration has been more one-sided than France, Spain and Portugal.

Nevertheless, any agreement on my status in Spain would be dependant on a deal being made within the the two year period allowed by Article 50. If a deal were not made, it is feasible that I would be subject to Visas,  work permits.  It is possible I would need to fund my own health insurance.

More worryingly, my employer is not set up to employ non Europeans. of the 5,000 – 10,000 permanent and temporary members of staff in the 20-odd businesses in our group, across five european countries, the number of non European citizens is virtually nil, and British employees can be counted on one hand.

It would be completely rational for the HR department to decide that the bureaucratic overhead of employing non-european staff outweighs the relatively cost of a a handful of redundancy payouts.

So, I have set on the path to applying for Spanish Citizenship.

Brexit is causing me to undertake my own form of SpEntry.

No delusions…

Three weeks ago, during the phoney war of the POTUS transition period, I expressed concern about a desire to pre-judge President Trump and end up looking like the paranoid fantasists to whom he has appealed over the last 8 years.

The first week of his presidency have shown that we should not delude ourselves. He has taken every opportunity to lie, corrupt and prove himself incapable of magnanimity.

We need to fight the forces of his fascism wherever they pop up.

Delusions of Fascism?

Do the ever-present warnings from the left that Trump is a fascist sound like the paranoid delusions of the Republicans who have spent the last 8 years describing Obama as a communist?

Only time will tell.

Barack Obama has not attempted to bring about a socialist workers’ revolution during his eight years in office. Obamacare was his Big Socialist Policy and it is a compromised husk of his original vision for socialised healthcare. He has been powerless to make progress towards controlling guns but hawkish in his use of drones and surveillance. His personal views are probably to the left of what the US system of government has allowed him to be as president. Those shrill right-wing voices in 2008 warning of a socialist revolution were basing their fears on campaign rhetoric, on Obama’s youthful idealogy, and the pronouncements of his more extreme supporters.

Obama has been thwarted by Congress and the vested interests that control US Politics. He was never going to try to implement the plans of his most strident supporters, and perhaps we should give Trump the same benefit of the doubt Rather than hold him to fulfilling the fantasies of his more crazed supporters, should we not wait judge him on his actions? Let’s see how his administration deals with the molasses of DCs bureacracy. Perhaps he will mellow into the centre-ground, show the pragmatism of the deal-making businessman, rather than the immovable demagogue.

Trump’s and appointments so far do not point towards a massive lurch to the centre. He is an unpleasant right-wing populist who has surrounded himself with thoroughly unpleasant group comprising of white supremacists, oligarchs and ultra-orthodox conservatives. He is clearly on a path towards an administration of populist fascism. His rhetoric gives succour to thugs and terrorists whilst maintaining a veneer or plausible deniablity. Trump does not yet have an Brownshirted militia, but there are probably many who would volunteer and he has done nothing to disuade them yet.

The best we can hope for is that his initial appointments are the quid pro quos of the election cycle. Repaying his campaign supporters with a few months in post and before firing the more embarrasing advisors in favour of the Washington insiders he will need offer deals to keep Congress sweet. And so his swamp shall overflow.

I have no optimism for the Trump Presidency, the best we can hope for is that in four years time we can look back with relief that he was not as bad as he could have been. In the meantime, if he acts as a fascist we need to fight and oppose him. Until then we should avoid crying wolf over every dumb tweet he publishes.  We should maintain a dignity that his supporters failed to show in their opposition to Obama.  

If and when Trump enacts a policy that is undoubtedly fascistic, we should hold him and his supporters to account.  But until then we should avoid over-stating, misrepresenting or sinking to his level.