Tag: fascism

What was the “Is Trump a Fascist?” Debate Really All About?

I have a new piece up at The New Yorker. I take stock of the debate over whether Trumpism is an authoritarian/fascist/tyrannical formation. Throughout the Trump years, I consistently argued that that what I call the strongman thesis (just as a catch-all way of describing the various terms that were used for Trumpism) was not the most helpful way of thinking about what was going on with Trump or on the right. In this piece, I try to step back from that debate and examine what was really driving it. Long story short: where liberals and leftists saw power on the right, I saw, and continue to see, paralysis. Not just on the right, in fact, but across the political […]

Fighting Fascism in France, 1936 v. 2017

Fighting Fascism in France, Summer 1936: Léon Blum’s Popular Front government establishes extensive labor law protections, including the right to collective bargaining, two weeks’ paid holidays, and 40-hour work week. Fighting Fascism in France, Summer 2017: Macron’s government uses summer holidays to ram through extensive labor law retrenchments, including provisions that ensure collective bargaining agreements protect workers who aren’t in unions and that prevent workers from having to answer work-related email and phone calls after hours. Also, this: … he’ll [Macron] ask Parliament for legislation that would let the government enact labor reforms by decree, avoiding momentum-sapping debate… That’s how we fight fascism today: by an enabling act that allows the government to bypass political debate and rule by decree.

Why, when it comes to the Right, do we ignore events, contingency, and high politics?: What Arno Mayer Taught Me

One of the many reasons I resist the Trump-as-fascist argument is that it often leads to (or accompanies) an inattention to or eclipse of matters of high politics and elite action: the jockeying for position at the highest levels of state, the coalitions and fractures within the dominant regime, the day-to-day events in which policy gets formed and unformed. There’s no intrinsic reason that an invocation of fascism should require that inattention; the best historical studies of fascism don’t ignore these questions at all. In the American context, however, the invocation of that parallel—whether to McCarthyism or now to Trump—often does. The reason for that, I suspect, is that most people tend to think of fascism as primarily a form of mass politics, that […]

The real parallel between Hitler and Trump

I’ve been reading David Cay Johnston’s excellent book The Making of Donald Trump. And without mentioning or even alluding to Hitler or fascism, the book raises an interesting—if unexpected—parallel about Trump’s and Hitler’s rise to power. One of the themes in a lot of the historical scholarship about Germany in the 1920s and 1930s is how Hitler and the Nazis were able to take advantage of the systemic weaknesses of Weimar: the cracks in the political structure, the division among elites, the fissures in the parties, the holes in the Constitution, and so on. What Johnston narrates, in almost nauseating detail, is how Trump’s ascension to wealth and fame and power—long before he makes his 2016 run for the presidency—is dependent […]

If Trump is a fascist, he may be the most backassward fascist we’ve ever seen

1. Rousseau thought that in a real democracy, each person would be so concerned with the fate of the republic that at any sign of a problem, she’d “fly to the assemblies” to make things right. Tonight she flew to the airports. 2. It is absolutely too soon to predict anything at all, but Trump’s executive order regarding immigrants and refugees has generated so much protest and pushback that it has already generated cracks in the Republican Party. Trump’s people are not as all-powerful and invulnerable as they seem. Quite the contrary. Remember: Donald Trump wasn’t just rejected by the majority of this country. He was also rejected in the primaries by the majority of his party: 55.1% of the Republican electorate voted […]

How Will the Professors Act When Fascism Comes to America?

Increasingly, one hears the view that not only is Donald Trump a fascist but that he will be elected president. I don’t know what I think about these claims, but it seems to me that if we truly believe them, we’re obligated to ask the question: What will we do once Donald Trump is elected president? Woody Allen offered one answer in Manhattan. Whatever one thinks, I’m struck by the mismatch between the easy avowal, which you see around various precincts of the internet left, that the future looks bleak and the failure to consider the logical next question: What is to be done? It may be that I’m over-reading the discussion because I’m going through one of my periodic late-night reading binges […]

Family Values Fascism, from Vichy to Donald Trump

Fascists often soften their call for national purification and the deportation of alien elements with invocations of family values. In 1942, as the Vichy regime began handing over the foreign-born Jews of France to the Nazis, it made the decision to deport their children (about six thousand) with them. In order to fulfill the Nazis’ quota—but also, Vichy proclaimed, to keep the families together. At the time, Robert Brasillach wrote, “We must separate from the Jews en bloc and not keep any little ones.” Defending his position after the liberation of France, he explained: “I even wrote that women must not be separated from children and that we must arrive at a human solution to the problem.” A month later, he doubled-down on the notion that family values might somehow soften his fascism: I […]

The Bullshit Beyond Ideology

I have a great impatience with people who—whether for normative or empirical reasons (the second is often driven by the first)—claim that we need to dispense with terms like “left” and “right.” The world is too complicated, they say, for such simpleminded categories. We need a Third Way, they say (and have said since the French Revolution). My ideology is “neither Right Nor Left,” they say, which is what fascists so often said of themselves. I am beyond ideology. Some of the reasons for my impatience were laid out by the Italian political theorist Noberto Bobbio in a short masterpiece he penned in the last decade of his life: Left and Right: The Significance of a Political Distinction. But another reason has to do with the bad faith—and political […]

But wait, there’s more: Hayek von Pinochet, Part 2

My post last night on Hayek and Pinochet is getting a fair amount of attention. But there’s more to the story that I didn’t include. So here are some additional details. First, though Farrant et al (authors of the excellent article on Hayek and Pinochet that I linked to last night) cite from this letter Hayek wrote to the Times on July 11, 1978, they don’t cite what to my mind is the most remarkable statement in that letter: If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not. That […]