Trumpism

Resources on Trump’s Voter Base


The Trump Collection Landing Pages:


White people who are (or fear they are, or fear they soon will  be) downwardly mobile–so race and class issues–but cross-reference to the hetero-patriarchal “Free Market” Calvinists in the Christian Right — 15% of voters in Presidential elections. Intersecting with anti-Muslim/anti-Mexican xenophobes. A toxic brew.


Doug Brugge

January 1 ·2016

At least glance at the two maps that compare Trump support with racially charged internet searches. Pretty amazing correlation in my opinion. And the analysis…

See More


Donald Trump’s Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat

In a survey, he also excels among low-turnout voters and among the less affluent and the less educated, so the question is: Will they show up to vote?

NYTIMES.COM|BY NATE COHN


A Berkeley professor tries to explain Trump to labor in Hartford https://t.co/u2piaE3Zc4 via @ctmirror

Unpacking Trumpism in the context of American history
https://t.co/x2XSQmtSFy via @HuffPostBlog

Republican Primary Voters Over 91% White, Older:
Posted by Arbiter Staff Writers

Who Are Donald Trump’s Supporters, Really?
Four theories to explain the front-runner’s rise to the top of the polls.
Derek Thompson, March 1, 2016, The Atlantic

Who Are Trump’s Supporters?
By David W. Brady & Douglas Rivers,September 09, 2015,
Real Clear Politics

The Media Myth of the Working-Class Reagan Democrats
by Neal Gabler, May 6, 2016, Moyers & Company
The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Pundits Will Pay No Price for Being Arrogantly Wrong About Trump
By Janine Jackson, May 6, 2016, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting



Why do Tea/Trumpists Feel Angry

‘Trumping’ Democracy:
Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action
by Chip Berlet

Excerpt:

Folks who support the Tea Party and other right-wing populist movements are responding to rhetoric that honors them as the bedrock of American society. These are primarily middle class and working class White people with a deep sense of patriotism who bought into the American dream of upward mobility.46 Now they feel betrayed. Trump and his Republican allies appeal to their emotions by naming scapegoats to blame for their sense of being displaced by “outsiders” and abandoned by their government.

Emotions matter in building social movements. The linkage of emotion and politics are at the heart of a forthcoming book by University of California, Berkeley, sociologist and author Arlie Hochschild.

In it, Hochschild reports on many conversations with Tea Party members in the South, where the movement is strongest.47 Many she spoke with long doubted that Obama was American; even after the publication of his long-form birth certificate some still suspect that he is Muslim and harbors ill will toward America. Hochschild also observes that this set of beliefs was widely shared among people who otherwise seemed reasonable, friendly, and accepting. How she wondered, could we explain this?

Her premise is that all political belief:

is undergirded by emotion. Given the experiences we’ve undergone, we have deep feelings. These shape our “deep story.” And this is an allegorical, collectively shared, “honor-focused,” narrative storyline about what “feels true.” We take fact out of it, judgment out of it. A “deep story” says what happened to us from the point of view of how we feel about it.

The “deep story” of the Tea Party is that the American Dream has leveled off. Ninety percent of Americans between 1980 and 2012 received no rise in salary while dividends from a rising GDP rose dramatically for the top 10 percent.

Arlie Hochschild:
DEEP STORIES, EMOTIONAL AGENDAS AND POLITICS

October 26, 2015, resources, an analysis, and abstract of the Hochschild talk, by Jonathan G. Haney.


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Right-Wing Populism:
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Just in Case: Progressive Security and Safety: Threats from Right-Wing fanatics spurred on by demagogic political rhetoric have turned into isolated acts of violence against progressives. Pick up your self-defense homework here.

Donald Trump, Nasty Rhetoric, and Scripted Violence

by Chip Berlet

Adapted from my published scholarly study:
“Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill:
How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,”


New Preface, December 2015

Trump is ratcheting up his xenophobia while making the “liberal” press his adversary. As he works to gain votes, he is throwing Muslims, Mexicans, and other scapegoats to the wolves.

Demagogic rhetoric targeting unpopular groups of people can incite violence. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump can claim he never told his followers to hurt anyone, and perhaps avoid legal consequences, but Trump is morally responsible. His nasty vilification produces “scripted violence.” The victims of Trumps rhetoric are piling up. The term “incited violence” also describes this process that draws from the media studies concept of “constitutive rhetoric.” Incitement to violence also has legal ramifications.

Last August the Washington Post in an editorial warned that “Mr. Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric breeds violence.”[1] In a column, Robert Reich collected a long list of violence in the path of Republican bigoted blustering. Those that commit bigoted violence “often take their cues from what they hear in the media” wrote Reich in November following the murderous attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.[2] Reich said “the recent inclination of some politicians to use inflammatory rhetoric is contributing to a climate” in which violence against targeted groups is real.

While Trump is a right-wing populist, his rhetoric recalls that of Hitler’s murderous German Nazism; while his demeanor is like a Saturday Night Live sketch of Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fascism.

Writing about Trump’s nasty rhetoric, and the alarming welcome it has found during the Republican pre-primary media blitz, American Prospect journalist Adele Stan put it bluntly:

===What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.[3]

And it is not just Trump. Some of the other Republican hopefuls closer to the Christian Right also demonize gay people and feminists, and excoriate defenders of reproductive rights. One militant slogan is “If abortion is murder, then act like it is.”



Excerpt from Published Study

How does the process of scripted violence work? The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of ‘Others’ is plotting to destroy civilized society. History tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough—it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up. Social science since World War II and the Nazi genocide has shown that under specific conditions, virulent demonization and scapegoating can—and does—create milieus in which the potential for violence is increased. What social science cannot do is predict which individual upon hearing the rhetoric of clear or coded incitement and turn to violence.

In their study of how media manipulation for political ends can help incite genocide, Frohardt and Temin looked at ‘content intended to instill fear in a population’, or ‘intended to create a sense among the population that conflict is inevitable’. [4] They point out that ‘media content helps shape an individual’s view of the world and helps form the lens through which all issues are viewed’.

Frohardt and Temin found that media can create a sense within a target population of potential perpetrators of violence that ‘imminent’ and serious threats were to be expected, even though ‘there was only flimsy evidence provided to support them’,

===When such reporting creates widespread fear, people are more amenable to the notion of taking preemptive action, which is how the actions later taken were characterized. Media were used to make people believe that ‘we must strike first in order to save ourselves’. By creating fear the foundation for taking violent action through ‘self-defense’ is laid.

In approaching some of these questions social science uses the concepts of ‘constitutive rhetoric’; the vilification, demonization, and scapegoating of a named ‘Other’; coded rhetorical incitement by demagogues; the relationship between conspiracism and apocalyptic aggression; and the process of scripted violence by which a leader need not directly exhort violence to create a constituency that hears a call to take action against the named enemy. These processes can and do motivate some individuals to adopt a ‘superhero complex’ which justifies their pre-emptive acts of violence or terrorism to ‘save society’ from imminent threats by named enemies ‘before it is too late’.

can see conspiracy theories built around fears of liberal subversion by President Obama;[8] fears of government attempts to merge the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union; [9]and fears that Muslims living in the United States are plotting treachery and terrorism.[10]

Conspiracism evolves as a worldview from roots in dualistic forms of apocalypticism. Fenster argues that persons who embrace conspiracy theories are simply trying to understand how power is exercised in a society that they feel they have no control over. Often they have real grievances with the society—sometimes legitimate—sometimes seeking to defend unfair power and privilege. [5] Nonetheless, Conspiracism can appear as a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm. [6]

If we assemble the ingredients and processes, we arrive at the following list which traces the linkages from words to violence:

  • Pre-existing prejudice or tensions in the society that can be tapped into.
  • Intensity of the vilifying language, its distribution to a wide audience, and repetition of message.
  • Dualistic division: The world is divided into a good ‘Us’ and a bad ‘Them’.
  • Respected status of speaker or writer, at least within the target audience. A constituency is molded.
  • Vilification and Demonizing rhetoric: Our opponents are dangerous, subversive, probably evil, maybe even subhuman.
  • Targeting scapegoats: ‘They’ are causing all our troubles—we are blameless.
  • The employment of conspiracy theories about the ‘Other’.
  • Apocalyptic aggression: Time is running out, and we must act immediately to stave off a cataclysmic event.
  • Violence against the named scapegoats by self-invented Superheroes.

Levin persuasively argues that both culture and self-interest shape prejudiced ideas and acts of discrimination or violence, which are ‘in many cases, quite rational’. According to Levin, respect for ‘differences can be so costly in a psychologically and material sense that it may actually require rebellious or deviant behavior’, in contrast to the existing norms of a society. Attacking the “Other” turns out to be a common human failing.

While scholarly research exists on its own intellectual merits, we need to recognize that helping unravel the complexity of bigotry and xenophobia assists those working to extend human rights.

Hannah Arendt, in Eichmann in Jerusalem concluded that evil was banal, and that if there was one clear universal truth, it is that ordinary people have a moral obligation to not look away from individual or institutional acts of cruelty or oppression. We recognize the processes that lead from words to violence, they are well-studied, and the theories and proofs are readily available. Silence is consent. Denial is simply evil.


Revised and expanded from my scholarly chapter “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,” in Matthew Feldman and Paul Jackson (eds), Doublespeak: Rhetoric of the Far-Right Since 1945, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2014.

Full Text Now Online Here at Academia.edu


References:


[1] Washington Post Editorial Board, “Mr. Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric breeds violence,” August 21, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-trumps-politics-of-incitement/2015/08/21/c33d0f2e-483d-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html

[2] Robert Reich, “Why Hate Speech by Presidential Candidates is Despicable,” November 29, 2015 http://robertreich.org/post/134235925280

[3] Adele M. Stan. 2015, “A Nation of Sociopaths? What the Trump Phenomenon Says About America,” American Prospect, September 9, 2015. http://prospect.org/article/nation-sociopaths-what-trump-phenomenon-says-about-america.

[4] Mark Frohardt and Jonathan Temin, Use and Abuse of Media in Vulnerable Societies, Special Report 110, Washington, DC, United States Institute of Peace. October 2003, http://permanent. access. gpo. gov/websites/usip/www. usip. org/pubs/specialreports/sr110.pdf, (accessed 26/9/2012). Although an excellent study, the report is flawed by the failure to include a single footnote. See also Kofi A. Annan, Allan Thompson, and International Development Research Centre of Canada, The Media and the Rwanda Genocide (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2007).

[5] Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1999).

[6] Berlet and Lyons, RightWing Populism, p. 9.

[7] Chip Berlet ‘Protocols to the Left’.

[8] Chip Berlet, “Collectivists, Communists, Labor Bosses, and Treason: The Tea Parties as Right–Wing Populist Countersubversion Panic’, in Critical Sociology, July 2012; 38 (4) pp. 565-587; Berlet, ‘Reframing Populist Resentments in the Tea Party Movement.’.

[9] Berlet, ‘Fears of Fédéralisme in the United States’.

[10] Brigitte Nacos and Oscar Torres-Reyna, Fueling Our Fears: Stereotyping, Media Coverage, and Public Opinion of Muslim Americans (Lanham, MD: Rowman& Littlefield, 2007); Center for Race & Gender and Council on American-Islamic Relations, Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States; January 2009—December 2010 (Berkeley: University of California, Center for Race & Gender, and Washington, DC: Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2011).

[11] Hofstadter, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics.’

[12] Ibid., p. 4.

[13] Ibid., emphasis in the original.

[14] Thompson, The End of Time, pp. 307–308.

Scripted Violence

“Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,”

Extracted from: Chip Berlet. 2014. “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,” in Matthew Feldman and Paul Jackson (eds), Doublespeak: Rhetoric of the Far-Right Since 1945, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag.

Online at: https://www.academia.edu/26640115/

 


The term "Scripted Violence" emerged at least by early 2000s as a way to describe incitement to violence--even when not intentional--where the perpetrators have no direct connection to the demagogue. See for example, 

Hamamoto, Darrell Y. 2002. "Empire of Death: Militarized Society and the Rise of Serial Killing and Mass Murder". New Political Science. 24 (1): 105-120.

Boyle, Michael J. 2012. "Revenge and Reprisal in Kosovo". The Peace in between : Post-War Violence and Peacebuilding. 95-116. Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill

How Coded Rhetoric Incites
Scripted Violence

By Chip Berlet

=== <-- Indicates section of text not included

While scholarly research exists on its own intellectual merits, we need to recognize that helping unravel the complexity of bigotry and xenophobia assists those working to extend human rights. The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of ‘Others’ is plotting to destroy civilized society. History tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough—it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up. [2]

===

Social science since World War II and the Nazi genocide has shown that under specific conditions, virulent demonization and scapegoating can—and does—create milieus in which the potential for violence is increased. What social science cannot do is predict which individual upon hearing the rhetoric of clear or coded incitement and turn to violence.

In approaching some of these questions, this concluding study will unpack the concepts of ‘constitutive rhetoric’; the vilification, demonization, and scapegoating of a named ‘Other’; coded rhetorical incitement by demagogues; the relationship between conspiracism and apocalyptic aggression; and the process of scripted violence by which a leader need not directly exhort violence to create a constituency that hears a call to take action against the named enemy. It will argue that these processes can and do motivate some individuals to adopt a ‘superhero complex’ which justifies their pre-emptive acts of violence or terrorism to ‘save society’ from imminent threats by named enemies ‘before it is too late’.

In the United States, following the 1995 Oklahoma City terrorist bombing by a small cell of right-wing militants, there were calls by Democrats and liberals to show restraint in the rhetoric used in electoral campaigns. A handful of principled conservatives also joined in this call. Overwhelmingly, however, the response by Republicans and conservatives (and a few liberals) was to denounce such concerns as falsely linking media rhetoric to violent action and thus endangering First Amendment free speech guarantees. A few of the more macho voices declared such concerns to be a sign of political weakness. Actually, such claims rebutting the link between rhetoric and violence are based on a misunderstanding or misrepresentations of existing social science.

A vivid example of this can be found in the statistics chronicling ethno-violence compiled by the US Justice Department. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon (the military headquarters outside the US capital city of Washington, DC. ), assaults, the defacements of buildings, the murders of people perceived by attackers to be Muslims in the United States, showed a ghastly upwards spike. This is not just a convoluted turn of phrase. From the first days after the 911 terror attacks by militant Islamic supremacists, adherents to the Sikh religion were attacked because the truly ignorant xenophobic attackers assumed that anyone with a swarthy skin and a ‘rag-head’ had to be a Muslim enemy of America.

In their study of how media manipulation for political ends can help incite genocide, Frohardt and Temin looked at ‘content intended to instill fear in a population’, or ‘intended to create a sense among the population that conflict is inevitable’. [4]

===

According to the authors:

>>>In Rwanda prior to the genocide a private radio station tried to instill fear of an imminent attack on Hutus by a Tutsi militia.

>>>In the months before [conflicts] in Serbia, state television attempted to create the impression that a World War II–style ethnic cleansing initiative against Serbs was in the works.

>>>Throughout the 1990s Georgian media outlets sought to portray ethnic minorities as threats to Georgia’s hardfought independence.

===

When such reporting creates widespread fear, people are more amenable to the notion of taking preemptive action, which is how the actions later taken were characterized. Media were used to make people believe that ‘we must strike first in order to save ourselves’. By creating fear the foundation for taking violent action through ‘self-defense’ is laid.

===

According to Hannah Arendt, this process is clearly observable in totalitarian movements of the right and left. Arendt, comparing Hitlerism and Stalinism, linked it to the elevated status of the totalitarian leader and the elite cadre of followers:

Their superiority consists in their ability to dissolve every statement of fact into a declaration of purpose. In distinction to the mass membership which, for instance, needs some demonstration of the inferiority of the Jewish race before it can safely be asked to kill Jews, the elite formations understand that the statement, all Jews are inferior, means, all Jews should be killed. [6]

This example illustrates the most extreme case. Few would dispute that the rhetoric of Hitler and his propagandists had a connection to the murder of Jews and other ‘enemies’ of the Thousand Year Reich. What is disputed is whether or not this process can be extended to less obvious forms of provocative rhetoric.

===

Conspiracy theories attached to apocalyptic timetables are especially effective in building a constituency for aggression against the evil plotters. The history of the United States is replete with episodic widespread panic about subversion have created a mass countersubversive movement whose bigoted charges became part of the public conversation about politics:

Freemasons (1798– 1844); Catholic immigrants (1834–60); Jews (1919– 35); Italian and Russian immigrants, with some deported as anarchists and Bolsheviks (1919–35); Communists and their ‘fellow travelers’ (1932–60); Communist and Jewish control of the Civil Rights Movement (1958–68), secular humanists, feminists and the ‘homosexual agenda’ (1975– ); the ‘New World Order’ (1990– ); Islamic menace and Sharia law (post 9/11). That’s the short list. [8]

The potential for violence in a society increases when the mass media carries rhetorical vilification by high profile and respected figures who scapegoat a named ‘Other’. This dangerous ‘constitutive rhetoric’ can build an actual constituency of persons feeling threatened or displaced. Or to put it another way, when rhetorical fecal matter hits the spinning verbal blades of a bigoted demagogue’s exhortations, bad stuff happens.

The resulting violence can incite a mob, a mass movement, a war, or an individual actor. Individual actors who engage in violence can emerge in three ways. They can be assigned the task of violence by an existing organizational leadership; they can be members or participants in an existing organization, yet decide to act on their own; or they can be unconnected to an existing organization and act on their own.

 

===

Following the Research Trail

Social Science Responds to WWII

===

The most influential early studies were sponsored by the American Jewish Committee as part of a series that began publishing before the US entry into WWII but after the trajectory of Nazi Party antisemitism became clear. [11] Titles included:

 

>>>Frustration and Aggression (1939),

>>>The Dynamics of Prejudice, (1950),

>>>Anti-Semitism and Emotional Disorder, a Psychoanalytic Interpretation. (1950),

>>>The Authoritarian Personality (1950),

>>>The Nature of Prejudice (1954).

Of these, The Dynamics of Prejudice, Frustration and Aggression, and The Nature of Prejudice have stood up relatively well to the test of time. [12]

The Authoritarian Personality has received substantial criticism, but social scientists have made adjustments that keep it salient as a theory. The most obvious revisions include the harsh reality that authoritarians can appear anywhere on the political spectrum; and that authoritarian followers are in a symbiotic relationship with those who enjoy the psychic tingle of being an authoritarian leader. The submissive can enjoy the whip of the dominant. There will be more discussion of this later.

A benchmark 1951 study is Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, which had three major parts: ‘Antisemitism’, ‘Imperialism’, and ‘Totalitarianism’. [13] Other works that also played a role in establishing the post-war liberal consensus include Hoffer, The True Believer, and Rokeach, The Open and Closed Mind. [14]

Pluralist or Classical School Emerges

 ===

New Paradigm: Social Movement Theories

Nothing in the previous discussions should be read to imply that social movements are all dangerous, or that only right-wing movements are dangerous.

===

People who join social movements tend to be average people with grievances. They join with others to resolve their grievances. To accomplish this they mobilize resources, exploit opportunities that open up in the political system, develop their own internal culture, and create perceptual frames, clever slogans, and parable-like stories to achieve their aims. [23]

===

Authoritarianism Revisited

===

Altemeyer discusses how the most socially-destructive individuals combine authoritarianism and social dominance with ethnocentric prejudice.[27] In 2010 he revisited his research to detail its relevance to understanding the right-wing populist Tea Party movement in the United States. [28]

Betz has studied similar right-wing populist movements in Europe which attract support by using radically xenophobic and authoritarian rhetoric.”[29] According to Taras, the ‘rise of xenophobia is nearly synonymous with the anti–immigrant backlash’ in Western Europe, ‘especially against non–Europeans and ‘people who are not racially Caucasian or religiously Judeo–Christian.’[30]

===

The Tools of Fear: A Catalog of Ingredients and Processes

===

Dualism

===

Today the terms Manichaeism and dualism are sometimes used interchangeably. Dualism plays a central role in ‘a totalist movement with an idealized charismatic leader and an absolutist apocalyptic outlook’, write Anthony and Robbins’. Participants ‘engage in the ‘projection of negativity and rejected elements of self onto ideologically designated scapegoats’, and this helps create ‘a basis for affirming a pure, heroic self’. [33] Anthony and Robbins call this ‘exemplary dualism’. [34]

Hofstadter, in turn, noted that the ‘fundamentalist mind…is essentially Manichaean’. [35] The United States has a significant presence of politically active fundamentalist Christian conservatives, many of whom are caught up in social and political movements that employ exemplary dualism. [36] In Europe this worldview is found among anti-immigrant and xenophobic movements in addition to organized white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

Demagoguery and Constitutive Rhetoric

===

A clearer view of the demagogic process that can lead to ‘scripted violence’ is made visible when combining the contemporary sociological understanding of frames and narratives in mass movements with the concept of constitutive rhetoric from the fields of speech, communication theory, and media criticism. The early theorizing in this arena built a firm foundation for studying the societal role of rhetorical content in mass media, from Lippmann’s agenda-setting theory (1922);[38] through Bernays’ public opinion and propaganda theories (1923 and 1928);[39] to cultivation theory and other theories by Gerbner and his fellow thinkers in more recent decades. [40]

Much of the newer theorizing is prompted in one way or another by the work of Althusser, which influences a wide range of authors far beyond the original small audience of theoretical Marxists. [41] Charland writes that central to his analysis of constitutive rhetoric is ‘Althusser’s category of the subject’ in which the collectivized identity of the constituency is actually created through a ‘series of narrative ideological effects’. [42]

===

Thus when Hitler’s favorite journalist Julius Streicher, in his newspaper Der Stürmer, railed against the Jews using a particular narrative rhetoric, a constituency was created which moved from being individual passive antisemites into being active Jew haters in a collectivity with a shared identity.

===

An example of constitutive rhetoric is explored in a study of e-mail forwarded round online right wing groups. Duffy, Page, and Young analyzed messages that ‘ranged from anti-liberal or anti-Obama polemics to blatantly racist communications’. The content of these e-mails ranged from claims that Obama was ‘incompetent’ to those that claimed ‘he’s plotting the downfall of America’[46]

===

Right-wing movements in the United States have long used the rhetoric of fear mongering linked to scapegoating and conspiracy theories in ways that demonize a subversive ‘Other’ hiding inside progressive political movements. [49]

Scapegoating

===

The word scapegoat has evolved to mean a person or group wrongfully blamed for some problem, especially for other people’s misdeeds’.

===

A certain level of scapegoating is endemic in most societies, but it more readily becomes an important political force in times of social competition or upheaval. At such times, especially, scapegoating can be an effective way to mobilize mass support and activism during a struggle for power. [54]

===

Scapegoating of persons with high status can serve the status quo and protect those in power from criticism. [60] This can happen when a faction of elites holding political power targets another elite faction seeking electoral victories. Sometimes scapegoating targets at the same time both socially disempowered or marginalized groups as well as the powerful or privileged, in a form of populism called ‘producerism’. [61]

Producerism is the idea that a hard-working and ‘productive’ middle class is being robbed by parasites above and below them on the socio-economic ladder.[62] For example, conservative activists Gary

Vilification and Demonization of an ‘Enemy’

Vilification in the societal sense is the use of vicious rhetoric to denounce and portray a target group as disgusting and to be avoided. Demonization is the process through which a group of people target other groups of people as the embodiment of evil. [66]

===

Typically, proponents claim that the target is plotting against the public good. [67] Demonization generally involves demagogic appeals. The demonization of an adversary involves well-established psychological processes.[68]

===

According to Aho, even when it is unconscious, the objectification of evil through scapegoating has this wondrous outcome: ‘The casting out of evil onto you not only renders you my enemy; it also accomplishes my own innocence. To paraphrase [Nietzsche]. . . In manufacturing an evil one against whom to battle heroically, I fabricate a good one, myself’. [73]

...Girard argues, ‘the effect of the scapegoat is to reverse the relationship between persecutors and their victims’. [74] When persons in scapegoated groups are attacked, they are often described as having brought on the attack themselves because of the wretched behaviour ascribed to them as part of the enemy group. [75] They deserved what they got.

===

Apocalyptic Aggression

===

Members of apocalyptic movements believe that time is running out. The term millenarianism describes apocalyptic movements built around a theme involving a one thousand year span (or some other lengthy period). Robert J. Lifton observes that ‘historically the apocalyptic imagination has usually been nonviolent in nature’, but such beliefs also can generate indiscriminate violence. [79]

===

Conspiracism

===

Conspiracism can appear as a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm. [84]

Conspiracist thinking has appeared in mainstream popular discourse as well as in various subcultures in the United States and Europe. [85] In contemporary examples we can see conspiracy theories built around fears of liberal subversion by President Obama;[86] fears of government attempts to merge the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union; [87]and fears that Muslims living in the United States are plotting treachery and terrorism.[88]

===

From Paranoid Style to Apocalyptic Frame

===

Hofstadter identified ‘the central preconception’ of the paranoid style as a belief in the ‘existence of a vast, insidious, preternaturally effective international conspiratorial network designed to perpetrate acts of the most fiendish character’. According to Hofstadter, this style was common in certain figures in the US political right, and was accompanied with a ‘sense that his political passions are unselfish and patriotic’ which ‘goes far to intensify his feeling of righteousness and his moral indignation’. [90] According to Hofstadter:

…the feeling of persecution is central, and it is indeed systematized in grandiose theories of conspiracy. But there is a vital difference between the paranoid spokesman in politics and the clinical paranoiac: although they both tend to be overheated, oversuspicious, overaggressive, grandiose, and apocalyptic in expression, the clinical paranoid sees the hostile and conspiratorial world in which he feels himself to be living as directed specifically against him; whereas the spokesman of the paranoid style finds it directed against a nation, a culture, a way of life whose fate affects not himself alone but millions of others. [91]

Damian Thompson, a journalist and scholar of religion, suggests Hofstadter was right to articulate the ‘startling affinities between the paranoid style and apocalyptic belief’, especially the demonization of opponents and ‘the sense of time running out’. Thompson, however, argues Hofstadter should have made a more direct connection by considering ‘the possibility that the paranoia he identified actually derived from apocalyptic belief; that the people who spread scare stories about Catholics, Masons, Illuminati, and Communists’ were, in fact, extrapolating from widespread Protestant End Times beliefs. Furthermore, the persistence of End Times belief ‘in the United States rather than Europe surely explains why the paranoid style seems so quintessentially American’, concludes Thompson, who has also written extensively on apocalyptic millennialism. [92]

Scripted Violence and the Superhero Complex

===

Breivik’s Manifesto

The role of gender panic in shaping an identity of the Superhero warrior is analyzed by Gibson in his book Warrior Dreams.[101] In a similar line of analysis, Julie Ingersoll found in Breivik’s Manifesto ‘evidence of his profoundly sexist view of the world, where women are naive and lacking in rationality, but are useful for sex and reproduction’. She called it ‘emasculation paranoia’. Ingersoll also highlighted Breivik’s claim that ‘feminism is to blame for what he asserts is the success of a supposed Muslim plan for world domination’. Breivik ‘wants to set the culture clock back ‘to the ‘50s—because we know it works’. This mythic nostalgia, according to Ingersoll, ‘is a central feature …of how Breivik’s analysis could well have been lifted from the talking points of the religious right’.[102] Behind this is a long history in the United States of seeing the country being emasculated by liberal treachery. [103]

Conclusions

If we assemble the ingredients and processes in this study, we arrive at the following list which traces the linkages from words to violence:

>>>Pre-existing prejudice or tensions in the society that can be tapped into.

>>>Intensity of the vilifying language, its distribution to a wide audience, and repetition of message.

>>>Dualistic division: The world is divided into a good ‘Us’ and a bad ‘Them’.

>>>Respected status of speaker or writer, at least within the target audience. A constituency is molded.

>>>Vilification and Demonizing rhetoric: Our opponents are dangerous, subversive, probably evil, maybe even subhuman.

>>>Targeting scapegoats: ‘They’ are causing all our troubles—we are blameless.

>>>The employment of conspiracy theories about the ‘Other’.

>>>Apocalyptic aggression: Time is running out, and we must act immediately to stave off a cataclysmic event.

>>>Violence against the named scapegoats by self-invented Superheroes.

Hannah Arendt, in Eichmann in Jerusalem concluded that evil was banal, and that if there was one clear universal truth, it is that ordinary people have a moral obligation to not look away from individual or institutional acts of cruelty or oppression. We recognize the processes that lead from words to violence, they are well-studied, and the theories and proofs are readily available. Silence is consent. Denial is simply evil.


 

Endnotes here http://www.researchforprogress.us/topic/concept/heroes-know-endnotes/

 

 

 

Trump a Fascist?

Some Early Analysis with Crabby Comments by Chip

Right-Wing Populism is a more useful term at this stage than Fascism and Totalitarianism, even though Trump’s rhetoric, persona, and policies have echoes of both.

For the website for the book Right-Wing Populism in America, Click Here.

The words Fascism and Totalitarianism have evolved over time, but while a contentious debate continues in academia, there is a core general consensus emerging as to an acceptable range of definitions.

Trump certainly has evoked various styles and rhetorical content linked to Fascism’s twin terrors, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Yet the term right-wing populism is a better fit, as Cas Mudde explained in the Washington Post (below).

Read more here about how right right-wing populism can devolve into fascism~~~

Cas Mudde, Washington Post:

“Trumpism” is far too big a term for the incoherent and ever-shifting views of Trump. It is impossible to discern an ideology that Trump adheres to. He never developed a real ideological platform and has been inconsistent on core issues – from pro-choice to anti-abortion, from pro-universal health care to anti-Obamacare, etc. However, his current popularity does seem to be based on a combination of features that defines Europe’s contemporary populist radical right: nativism, authoritarianism, and populism. Just like politicians like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands – whose main campaign poster reads: “More Security. Less Immigration” – Trump links immigration and crime in his speeches. He thereby plays on widespread beliefs that illegal immigration is causing an increase in serious crime.

(bold highlight added)

What follows is an informal review of and analysis of articles involving the 2015 candidacy of Donald Trump and the political concepts of Fascism and totalitarianism. I usually create several timelines for fact-checking any major article that I am writing. I usually add short notes, but here I have added more and lengthier comments than usual.

July 7, 2015 – Tucker in Newsweek

It seems that much of the media maelstrom over Trump and Fascism was prompted by a well-written polemic in Newsweek, by Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist,” published on July 7 2015.[1]

Itake issue with almost every paragraph in Tucker’s essay because it is pure propaganda for so-called “Free Market” capitalism as being the savior of democracy. I argue that “Free Market” capitalism has created a form of predatory elitist oligarchy that has gutted American democracy like an Oregon salmon.

Tucker commenting on Trump and Fascism in Newsweek is like the editors like asking a member of the flat-earth society to write an essay on geography–only a tiny fraction of scholars of fascism support Tucker’s view.

Tucker slaps down the unwashed masses by writing “The thousands who attend [Trump’s] rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world…”

Then Tucker slips in the glimmering silver shiv: announcing that not only the “screaming masses” but all of us in the United States are “partaking in the highest standard of living experienced in the whole of human history, granted courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules.“ so Tucker praises the invisible hand of the free market, while most in our country feel that hand slapping us in the face on a daily basis.

In an amazingly elliptical paragraph, Tucker observes:

===Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

The paragraph above can be read as an ode to the fascist theory articulated by Mussolini that the “great man” national leader organically personifies the will of the people without the need for democracy or elections. “Trump believes himself to be that man” Tucker states. I really, really hope I am reading this wrong.

Then Tucker write an excellent defense of democracy by writing that Trump and his rhetoric can never:

=== serve a whole nation well. Indeed, the very prospect is terrifying and not just for the immigrant groups and foreign peoples he has chosen to scapegoat for all the country’s problems. It’s a disaster in waiting for everyone.

Right On Dude! And this is a lesson for all of us. Even a right-wing ideologue like Tucker is sometimes right in the analytical sense –as in having a correct political analysis (pun intended).

According to Newsweek, “Tucker asks that we describe him thus: Jeffrey A. Tucker is Director of Digital Development at the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of Liberty.me. This article first appeared on the Anything Peaceful blog on the FEE website.”

So Tucker is an operative for one of the oldest and most influential “Free Market” pro-capitalist organizations in the United States: the Foundation for Economic Education. The group’s economic theories are founded on the research of Ludwig von Mises and his ally Friedrich August von Hayek (I don’t make these names up).

The progeny of this legacy tend to claim that Fascism is a left wing phenomenon.

For example, Tucker writes that:

===“In the 19th century, this penchant for industrial protectionism and mercantilism became guild socialism, which mutated later into fascism and then into Nazism. You can read Mises to find out more on how this works.”

This view is right-wing dogma but it is rejected by most scholars.

This idiosyncratic view was featured in the book “Liberal Fascism,” by Jonah Goldberg reviewed in an History News Network sponsored online forum in which some of the leading scholars of Fascism in the world ripped Goldberg’s thesis and research to shreds. The introduction is here. My essay is included. Goldberg’s response is here.

According to Tucker:

===What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is not leftist in its cultural and political outlook (see how he is praised for rejecting “political correctness”), and yet it is still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.

Well, no. Trump is not demanding “no limits on state power” and thus is not a totalitarian. Meanwhile Tucker gets to take another shot on the left by pointing out that Trump is rejecting “political correctness” a very bad thing. Of course the current use of the term “political correctness” to imply censorship was inserted into our vocabulary as part of a coordinated right-wing media campaign launched to denigrate concern for equality and respect for traditionally oppressed, identities. But for that story you would have to read the Wikipedia page from 2005, before the page was commandeered by right-wing fanatics.

Conor Lynch, Salon

“Donald Trump Is an Actual Fascist,” trumpeted a July headline in Salon. It was a misleading headline—in the article, journalist Conor Lynch writes that the “GOP are obviously not fascists, but they share a family resemblance”

The resemblance, according to Lynch, is explained in the famous quote attributed to Italy’s fascist dictator during World War II, Benito Mussolini:

===Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

According to Lynch, this “definition may very well fit the GOP ideology: a kind of corporate fascism.”

Alas, the quote is a hoax, widely circulated on the internet but debunked years ago. Mussolini never wrote or said anything like that, since the fake statement refutes Mussolini’s actual views on fascism.

Lynch cites from Tucker’s article on Trump, and then adds some excellent analysis and commentary. Conor asks, “So is the GOP becoming the new fascist party?” then writes:

===“That might be an exaggeration, but it does share many similar features, and Trump, with his demagogic style, is simply exposing how very similar the passions of the GOP base are to the passions of fascism of the early 20th century.

===The modern GOP is a party of unwavering and dogmatic patriotism mixed with traditionalism and intolerance. The social progression we have been witnessing over the past decade in America, most clearly with the acceptance of the LGBT community, seems to be triggering a reactionary movement on the right.

Despite a few missteps, much of the Conor article is quite good.

Thom Hartmann, Alternet

Tea Party and the Right
The Sad Truth of Our Politics:
It’s Basically Turned into a Competition Among Oligarchs to Own Everything
It could still happen here.

November 1, 2015

Hartmann repeats the hoax Mussolini quote and much of Hartmann’s post  is based on outdate social science or statements by politicians from the 1940s era, as well as earlier posts by Hartmann.

Chris Hedges: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

In his book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges, has lumped together Christianity, fascism, totalitarianism, the Christian Right, right-wing populist movements, and Republicans. This is neither accurate nor useful for progressive organizers.

While a tiny set of religious movements within the Christian Right are neofascist, the main body of the US Christian Right is not fascist. Movements such as Christian Reconstructionism are accurately considered quasi-fascist or fascistic by some scholars.[2]

Gentile sees totalitarianism as the “sacralization of politics,” while others refer to it as “political religion” in the sense that a political movement confers on itself the status of religious veneration and the demand of strict obedience.[3] But these concepts are often misunderstood to imply all rigid, bigoted, and demanding right-wing religious movements are totalitarian. This is not accurate.

Hedges warns of movements whose followers:

=== “commit evil to make a better world. To attain this better world, they believe, some must suffer and be silenced [and the] worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach such grand, utopian visions, those who seek to implant by force their narrow, particular version of goodness.”[4]

This is entirely true and was expressed succinctly by historian Richard Hofstadter in his quip “I believe…that an unbridled passion for the total elimination of this or that evil can be as dangerous as any of the delusions of our time.”[5] By “Paranoid Style” however, Hofstadter did not mean clinical paranoia, no matter how deranged conspiracy theories may sound.

Damian Thompson argues that the conspiracy theories that Hofstadter described as the “paranoid style” in right-wing movements are really derived from Christian apocalyptic beliefs such as those spread by the contemporary Christian Right in the United States.[6] This adds to the difficulty to parsing these matters since fascist and totalitarian movements often employ conspiracy theories. In addition fascist and totalitarian movements sometimes graft onto various religions.

Lawrence Britt

Frequently cited in defense of suggesting the US is on the road to Fascism is the essay “Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism” by Lawrence Britt. It was originally titled “Fascism Anyone?” and as the following endnote explains, the essay has been misrepresented without Britt’s permission.[7] Though earnest, Britt’s list fails the test of logic that states that things similar in many elements are not necessarily identical. Britt’s list is not an accurate definition of fascism. For that, see Umberto Ecco’s essay popularly known as “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.”[8]

Henry A. Giroux

More complicated is the detailed and erudite polemic in Truthout (9/15/15) by Henry A. Giroux, expanded from Tikkun (9/9/15). In “Political Frauds and the Ghost of Totalitarianism,” Giroux invokes the theories of world-famous philosopher Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism. He warns that widespread civic illiteracy in the US population is more than the media manufacturing “ignorance on an individual scale”; it is, in fact:

===producing a nationwide crisis of agency, memory and thinking itself…a kind of ideological sandstorm in which reason gives way to emotion, and a willful limitation on critical thought spreads through the culture as part of a political project that both infantilizes and depoliticizes the general public.

According to Giroux, “Donald Trump is not the singular clown who has injected bizarre and laughable notions into US politics; he is the canary in the mineshaft warning us that totalitarianism relies on mass support and feeds on hate, moral panics” and what Arendt called the “the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude.”

Yet long before the appearance of totalitarianism in the modern era, the United States saw mass movements that used force to subjugate or purge the degraded and demonized “Other.” As a nation, we enforced white Christian nationalism through the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement and mass murder of black people for profit. For many decades, immigrants including those who were Irish, Italian, Polish or Russian were second-class citizens, not considered “white.” Women had few rights and were treated as the property of their fathers, then their husbands. Jews were perpetual outsiders. People with unpopular religious views were shunned and in some instances killed. Chinese were excluded, Japanese were interned in camps. Nativist racism periodically has cut a bloody gash through our body politic, without reliance on totalitarianism.

 

[1] Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?,” Newsweek Online, 7/17/15.

[3] Gentile, Emilio. 1996. The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

[4] Chris Hedges. (2008). American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. London: Vintage.

[5] Hofstadter, Richard. 1965.  Anti–Intellectualism in American Life, Alfred A. Knopf, 1963, p. 23.

[6] Damian. Thompson, The End Of Time: Faith And Fear In The Shadow Of The Millennium. (Great Britain: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996).

[7] Lawrence Britt, 2003. “Fascism Anyone?” Free Inquiry. 23: 20-22. Britt’s essay originally appeared in, a respectable publication. Note that Mr. Britt is not a professor and does not hold a Ph.D., although these claims are often attached to Britt’s essay without his permission. Britt did not name his piece to be similar to the earlier essay by Umberto Eco mentioned in the next endnote. Britt’s work is online without permission of the publisher or Mr. Britt at http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm Note that this page is from a Google search which pops up the Rense URL as the top ranking page for the Britt essay. This is the website of crackpot bigot Jeff Rense who is among the royalty of conspiracy cranks online. Mr. Britt has no control over this.

[8] Umberto Eco, “Ur Fascism,” also known as “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt,” New York Review of Books, June 22, 1995. A shortened and edited version adapted from Utne Reader is Online at http://www.buildinghumanrights.us/task/umberto-eco-on-fascism/. For the full original essay, consult a print copy of  New York Review of Books, purchase the full article online; or purchase Eco’s collection of essays: Five Moral Pieces. As of the date of this publication, there is an archival copy of “Ur Fascism” here.

Trump, Fascism, and Totalitarianism

The outlandish rhetoric of Republican presidential wildcard Donald Trump has left many journalists at a loss for words—words such as bigotry, xenophobia, racism, sexism and demagoguery.

Some media outlets raised these issues. Yet many reporters (or perhaps their editors) still seem reluctant to move past the aphasic and simplistic sports-reporting model, in which ideological content analysis is renounced.

An example of a typical article is the piece on Trump’s stump speech by Michael Finnegan and Kurtis Lee in the Los Angeles Times (9/15/15). It is well-written, colorful and even includes the obligatory single sentence from an anti-Trump protester.

Yet there is little serious political or historic context.

One line does note that Trump borrowed from “Richard Nixon’s polarizing pledge to stand up for the ‘silent majority’ amid the social upheaval of the 1960s.” Nixon’s speech, however, concerned support for the Vietnam War. A more apt comparison would have been Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” to garner votes from white voters (The Nation, 11/13/12).

Journalists and scholars familiar with the rise of contemporary right-wing populist political parties and social movements in Europe, however, recognize that xenophobic, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric can lead to acts of violence.

For several years, I have had editors tell me that the contention that right-wing rhetoric can lead to violence is a liberal myth. Right-wing media pundits certainly reject this claim. Yet this is a well-studied chain of events, analyzed by scholars since the rise of fascism in Europe following World War I and the Nazi genocide during World War II. So I wrote a survey of the scholarship as a book chapter titled “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence.” In it, I summarized the consensus:

The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of “Others” is plotting to destroy civilized society. History tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough—it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up.

Freedom of speech is not the issue. A free and open debate is a necessity for democracy. Trump therefore is not legally culpable for any acts of violence against his named scapegoats. Trump should be held accountable on a moral basis by the media for his using the tools of fear, such as demonization and scapegoating, that put real people at risk for attacks.

The progressive press has done a better job of pointing out this ugly potential. Writing for The Nation (9/14/15), Julianne Hing argued, “It’s clear that the xenophobia at the core of Trump’s campaign is resonating, and his antics are already echoing beyond the campaign trail into both culture and policy.” Hing quotes Mario Carrillo of the immigrant rights group United We Dream as saying Trump’s “rhetoric is leading to real-life consequences.”

Many instances of physical attacks are chronicled in Hing’s article, although motivation is usually unclear. One pair of attackers did tell police they were directly influenced by Trump’s rhetoric, according to the Associated Press (9/3/15). Trump said he does not condone violence. Nonetheless, immigrant rights activists worry violence will increase.

Adele Stan in the American Prospect (9/9/15) put it boldly:

What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.

The headline for Evan Horowitz’s piece in the Boston Globe (8/19/15) claims “Donald Trump Blazes a European Path in American Politics,” and Horowitz asks, “Does Donald Trump represent the emergence of a new force in American politics, a right-populist movement that could reorganize the American” political spectrum? Missing is the fact that, from President Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s through George Wallace in the 1970s to Pat Buchanan, there have been right-wing populist movements in the United States. It is not a European import.

Part of this confusion over Trump is definitional: Scholars write entire books trying to map out the contours of right-wing political and social movements, especially the line dividing right-wing populism and neofascism. The pre-eminent scholar in this area, University of Georgia’s Cas Mudde, explained in the Washington Post (8/26/15):

The key features of the populist radical right ideology – nativism, authoritarianism, and populism – are not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.

For many scholars, right-wing populism is classified as part of the “radical right,” while the term “extreme right” is reserved for insurgent groups seeking to overturn the constitutional order.

In his book Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Mudde lists as common “extreme right” features nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the strong state, including a law-and-order approach.

In his Ideology of the Extreme Right, Mudde wrote:

The terms neo-Nazism and to a lesser extent neo-fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich (in the case of neo-fascism the Italian Social Republic) or quote historical National Socialism (fascism) as their ideological influence.

That’s not Trump. His ideology and rhetoric are much more comparable to the European populist radical right, akin to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the Danish People’s Party or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. All of them use the common radical right rhetoric of nativism, authoritarianism and populism.

Matthew N. Lyons, with whom I co-authored Right-Wing Populim in America, argues that there are several newer strains of neofascism that do not harken back to Italian Fascism or German Nazism, but Lyons still agrees that Trump is not a full-fledged neofascist as he explains in an essay: “On Trump, Fascism, and Stale Social Science.”

There are a number of published articles linking Trump to Fascism.

Thom Hartmann’s essay, “The Sad Truth of Our Politics,” was published on Alternet and reposted on Salon. In it Hartmann repeats his use of the hoax Mussolini quote, and the usually erudite Hartmann then follows with some flawed analysis that skips the last 20 years of scholarly work on fascism.

The Hartmann piece was reposted on Salon as “It can still happen here: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and the ‘American fascists’ among us; Sinclair Lewis feared demagoguery and a corporate ruling class. The right is bringing his dystopia to fruition.” Hartmann has been using outdated research on fascism since 2004, when he used the hoax Mussolini quote in a lengthy article. Hartmann returned to the subject again in 2009, still using outdated research but not mentioning Mussolini. .

“Donald Trump Is an Actual Fascist” trumpets the headline in Salon (7/25/15) for Conor Lynch’s article on Trump. Ignoring the current rise of xenophobic neo-fascist groups in Europe, Lynch tells us that “fascism died in the mid-20th century.”

Undermining Salon’s headline, Lynch tells us the “GOP are obviously not fascists, but they share a family resemblance.” The resemblance, according to Lynch, is explained in the famous quote attributed to Italy’s fascist dictator during World War II, Benito Mussolini:

Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

According to Lynch, this “definition may very well fit the GOP ideology: a kind of corporate fascism.” Alas, the quote is a hoax, widely circulated on the internet but debunked years ago. Mussolini never wrote or said anything like that, since the fake statement refutes Mussolini’s views on fascism.

More complicated is the detailed and erudite polemic in Truthout (9/15/15) by Henry A. Giroux, expanded from Tikkun (9/9/15). In “Political Frauds and the Ghost of Totalitarianism,” Giroux invokes the theories of world-famous philosopher Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism. He warns that widespread civic illiteracy in the US population is more than the media manufacturing “ignorance on an individual scale”; it is, in fact

producing a nationwide crisis of agency, memory and thinking itself…a kind of ideological sandstorm in which reason gives way to emotion, and a willful limitation on critical thought spreads through the culture as part of a political project that both infantilizes and depoliticizes the general public.

According to Giroux, “Donald Trump is not the singular clown who has injected bizarre and laughable notions into US politics; he is the canary in the mineshaft warning us that totalitarianism relies on mass support and feeds on hate, moral panics” and what Arendt called the “the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude.”

The full quote from the Arendt website makes it clear that she did not consider totalitarianism to be an aspect of a defective democracy, but a new form of government tyranny:

In the concluding chapter to The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt argues that totalitarianism must be understood as a new “form of government” in its own right, rather than as a transitory or haphazard series of external catastrophes afflicting classical forms like democracy or monarchy.

Essentially different from the extralegal form of tyranny as well, totalitarianism’s emergence marks a terrifying new horizon for human political experience, one that will surely survive the passing of Hitler and Stalin.

Arendt’s point is that the totalitarian form is still with us because the all too protean origins of totalitarianism are still with us: loneliness as the normal register of social life, the frenzied lawfulness of ideological certitude, mass poverty and mass homelessness, the routine use of terror as a political instrument, and the ever growing speeds and scales of media, economics, and warfare.

"Yellow Terror in All Its Glory" (Wikimedia)

Hitler and Stalin were the analytical icons for Hannah Arendt in her masterwork The Origins of Totalitarianism. Long before the appearance of totalitarianism in the modern era, the United States saw mass movements that used force to subjugate or purge the degraded and demonized “Other.”

As a nation, we enforced white Christian nationalism through the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement and mass murder of black people for profit. For many decades, immigrants including those who were Irish, Italian, Polish or Russian were second-class citizens, not considered “white.” Women had few rights and were treated as the property of their fathers, then their husbands. Jews were perpetual outsiders. People with unpopular religious views were shunned and in some instances killed. Chinese were excluded, Japanese were interned in camps. Nativist racism periodically has cut a bloody gash through our body politic, without reliance on totalitarianism.

Trump is not an example of creeping totalitarianism; he is the white man growing hoarse with bigoted canards while riding at the forefront of a new nativist movement. Adele Stan bluntly suggests that to “ask if the rogue Republican’s surge is good for Democrats is the wrong question.” Instead, we need to ask what is wrong with America, “that this racist, misogynist, money-cheating clown should be the frontrunner for the presidential nomination of one of its two major parties?”

Trump feeds the resentment felt by many people who are white, male, straight or Christian who feel displaced by “Others” taking over “their” nation. These people see themselves as the real producers of value in the United States, and consider the disparaged “Others” to be parasites. Thus the 2012 campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was built around the clandestine theme of mobilizing the “makers” against the “takers,” as reported by Eric Schulzke in the Deseret News (9/19/12). This is called “producerism” by scholars, and it is a central element of right-wing populism in the United States.

What fuels this sort of bitter backlash movement now? The late scholar Jean Hardisty of Political Research Associates argued in 1995 that a confluence of several historic factors has assisted the success of the right in the United States:

  • a conservative religious revitalization,
  • economic contraction and restructuring,
  • race resentment and bigotry,
  • backlash and social stress, and
  • a well-funded network of right-wing organizations.

“Each of these conditions has existed at previous times in US history,” wrote Hardisty:

While they usually overlap to some extent, they also can be seen as distinct, identifiable phenomenon. The lightning speed of the right’s rise can be explained by the simultaneous existence of all five factors. Further, in this period they not only overlap, but reinforce each other. This mutual reinforcement accounts for the exceptional force of the current rightward swing.

Scholars Michael Omi and Howard Winant, in Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, suggest that this set of circumstances makes many Americans fear the end of the “American Dream.” This backlash is picking up speed. The Republican voter base in the Tea Party long ago shifted its attention away from fiscal restraint toward anti-immigrant xenophobia, banning abortion and pushing gay people back into the closet.

Many scholars of fascism and neofascism now suggest right-wing populism can metamorphosize into these fascistic totalitarian forms, but they recognize that it seldom does–and that fascist movements seldom gain state power. Yet the demonization and scapegoating that accompanies right-wing populism in the United States is breeding a counter-subversion panic targeting immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, feminists, gay people, liberals and leftists. Planned Parenthood has become a special target to appeal to the Christian Right.

While racism is not confined to the American South, a recent study by sociologists Rory McVeigh and David Cunningham, described on Brandeis Now (12/4/14), found that a significant predictor of current Republican voting patterns in the South is the prior existence of a strong chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the area in the 1960s. McVeigh writes on the London School of Economics website (12/17/14) that although “populist politics appealed to many Southern voters in earlier times, the Southern Democratic Party was also a key instrument in the defense of white privilege and racial oppression.”

The passage of federal Civil Rights Act in 1964 propelled many Democratic Party “Dixiecrats” into the Republican Party, where they now appear at campaign rallies in freebie “gimme hats” touting Monsanto, Koch brothers fertilizers and Coors beer. They choose racial privilege over economic security. That’s What’s the Matter With Kansas. Now this mass base cheers Trump on while he is Mobilizing Resentment–the title of Hardisty’s 1999 book about the rise of right-wing politics in the US.

McVeigh argues that it is shifts in power dynamics and hierarchies in economic, political and social spheres that launch the processes in which radical right-wing groups attract members, and sometimes a mass base large enough to intrude into the larger society.

Using as his analytical example the Klan in the 1920s, McVeigh demonstrates that the right-wing KKK in the 1920s was composed of white people attempting to defend their relatively more privileged position in the social, political and economic life of their communities (E-Extreme, 2-3/10).

According to McVeigh, in his book The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics, “the Klan can best be understood as a response to devaluation in the economic, political and status-based ‘purchasing power’ of the movement’s constituents.” McVeigh adds that “right-wing movements often provide individuals with an effective vehicle for preserving status-based interests as well as political and economic interests.”

During the 1920s, millions of Americans joined the Klan, turning it into a major electoral force in several states with an important role in national politics. The tropes of racial threats posed by people of color as rapists and murderers were glued to the American psyche even before decades of stories planted by Klan organizers in their stump speeches for membership, notes Gerald Horne of the University of Houston, whom I interviewed for the Washington Spectator (8/1/15) after Dylann Roof allegedly murdered nine black people in a historic Charleston, South Carolina, church. Roof told a participant in a Bible study: “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country…and you have to go.”

In covering the Charleston story, the New York Times (6/22/15) invented a cowardly phrase, “white primacy,” to describe the blatantly white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, where Dylann Roof apparently learned this storyline.

On the day of the Republican candidates debate, the New York Times (9/16/15) burnished Trump’s rising star, declaring that Trump was starting to:

conform to some of the demands of a presidential race, making him, in some ways, more of a typical politician. It suggests that, as much as the Republican electorate is becoming more comfortable with the idea of Mr. Trump as its standard-bearer, he is embracing the rituals and expectations of the role, too.

The Trump candidacy and the shooting in Charleston are connected thematically by a mobilization to defend white nationalism while the racial and ethnic face of America changes hue. The populist right and the extreme right fuel each other. This backlash is picking up speed. The Republican voter base in the Tea Party long ago shifted its attention away from fiscal restraint toward anti-immigrant xenophobia, banning abortion and pushing gay people back into the closet.

The more we as a nation ignore this process of nativist demonization, the more targets will be painted on the backs of our neighbors. History will record how long these right-wing backlash movements will spread their virulent rhetorical venom in our nation. But as Arendt observed, history judges us as individuals as to whether or not we stood up and spoke out against the banality of evil.


The Trump Collection Landing Pages:
>>>The Trumping Democracy page for in-depth analysis of Trump’s use of right-wing populism
>>>Trumped Up: A collection of articles on Trump in reverse chronological order starting from July 2016
>>>Trumpism: Resources on Trump’s Voter Base


 

Mussolini: the Fake Quote

Mussolini on the Corporate State:
Debunking a Hoax Quote

by Chip Berlet


Fake quote–> “Fascism should more properly
be called corporatism because it is the merger of state
and corporate power.”

— Benito Mussolini <–Not True


A Google™ search on January 12, 2005 turned up some 5,000 hits
on the following “quote”

In 2015 there were over 10,000 hits,
but some of them now note
it is a fabricated quote

Mussolini_mezzobusto

He Never Wrote It!

When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations.
He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds.

corporatism

This specific article on Wikipedia on Corporatism
explains this rather well.

Most scholars of fascism dismiss not only the fake Mussolini quote, but other dubious sources of information that claim that “late stage” or other forms of advanced capitalism or “neoliberalism” are all undifferentiated forms of naked fascism:

The book “Friendly Fascism” is a popular argument in this regard.

Gross, Bertram Myron. Friendly fascism. New York: M. Evans, 1980.
Alas, while well-intentioned, the book is highly misleading, especially in the erroneous conflation of the Italian word “corporatism” with contemporary business corporations. This specific article on Wikipedia on Definitions of Fascism explains this all rather well.
Also:
Georgi Dimitrov’s definition of fascism at the
Seventh World Congress of the Communist International
is often abbreviated to this snippet:

“Fascism is the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”

This is a seriously misleading misquote
and inadequate summary what Dimitrov actually wrote:

Click here for the details.

…And even Dimitrov began his speech by crediting an earlier study–yet failed to mention that it was written by Clara Zetkin in 1923.

The Fake Mussolini Quote

The fake quote is generally attributed to an article written by Mussolini in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana with the assistance of Giovanni Gentile, the editor. The quote, however, does not appear in the Enciclopedia Italiana in the original Italian.

It does not appear in the official English translation of that article: Benito Mussolini, 1935, “The Doctrine of Fascism,” Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

And it does not appear in the longer treatment of the subject by Mussolini in: Benito Mussolini, 1935, “Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions,” Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.

Where the quote comes from remains a mystery, and while it is possible Mussolini said it someplace at some time, a number of researchers have been unable to find it after years of research.

It is unlikely that Mussolini ever made this statement because it contradicts most of the other writing he did on the subject of corporatism and corporations. When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations. He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds. The article on Wikipedia on Corporatism explains this rather well.

Here are some typical Mussolini quotes from original documents:

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State–a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values–interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. (p. 14)

Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which diverent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State. (p.15)

Yet if anyone cares to read over the now crumbling minutes giving an account of the meetings at which the Italian Fasci di Combattimento were founded, he will find not a doctrine but a series of pointers… (p. 23)

“It may be objected that this program implies a return to the guilds (corporazioni). No matter!… I therefore hope this assembly will accept the economic claims advanced by national syndicalism.” (p. 24)

Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere. (p. 32)

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State. (p. 41).

Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

The Labour Charter (Promulgated by the Grand Council ofr Fascism on April 21, 1927)—(published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, April 3, 1927) [sic] (p. 133)

The Corporate State and its Organization (p. 133)

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu [sic] [typo-should be: useful] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)

Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.


 

Note to Chris Hedges:
please stop using this fake quote
–thanks