‘FASCIST’ IS AN AWFULLY STRONG WORD — DOES IT FIT TRUMP?
Robert Paxton, author of ‘The Anatomy of Fascism’ and a prominent scholar of Vichy France, offers a thoughtful interview on Trump, Mussolini, Hitler, and the nature of fascism. http://slate.me/1O3o9uM
- •Paxton is wary of labeling Trump with “the most powerful epithet you can use.”Still, he says Trump’s rise has “echoes of fascism”.
- •Trump’s nationalism, media savvy, and oratorical flair invite some obvious comparisons.His mistrust of foreigners and penchant for grand ceremonial gestures are traditional fascist tropes.
- •But it’s likely this is an unconscious mimicry.As Paxton says, “I don’t think he’s a bookish man.”
- •And contrary to popular belief, Trump’s opportunism is not unusual among fascists.Mussolini originally came from the left, where he advocated for women’s suffrage, and Hitler pleaded for peace with Great Britain in ‘Mein Kampf’.
- •Still, you can make a strong argument that Trump isn’t one of them.Fascists see malignant individualism as the cause of national decline, while Trump claims that the government has crippled the country.
- •Also, the economic and political situations are much different.After World War I, Italy was wracked by peasant uprisings and civil war. Germany had just suffered a catastrophic military defeat, and was economically crippled by the Treaty of Versailles.
- •Conservative governments enlisted Hitler and Mussolini as allies against the left, but the Republican old guard wants nothing to do with Trump.Patton believes “they may decide that if Trump continues to be successful that he could be useful.”