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The Latest & Greatest Trump=Fascist Book.



              I am in the middle of a book which has gotten all kinds of huzzahs because it claims to be a compilation of diverse views and arguments about whether Trump is a Fascist, and if not, what he represents. The book, Did It Happen Here – Perspectives on Fascism and America, is the work of a young faculty member at Wesleyan University, Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, who has done a pretty good job of collecting published writings about Fascism from both sides of the current debate, as well as throwing in some long-standing arguments about the rise of Fascism at other times and in other nation-states.

              I have published perhaps a dozen columns on my Medium blog about the ‘Trump is a Fascist’ discussion and I happen to be squarely in the camp of people who believe that he doesn’t represent any kind of real threat to American democracy at all.

              Part of my belief stems from reading the standard works on German Fascism which were published long before Trump ever appeared. In this respect, I could list books by Shirer, Bracher, Bullock, et. al., a pretty definitive list of such works can be found right here.

              I also had a personal experience with Fascism, having lived and worked in Spain from 1969 through 1971, which were some of the most repressive years of the Franco Fascist regime. I’ll leave those impressions for another time, but anyone who thinks that anything Trump has done to change the basic character of our government system, has absolutely no idea what, in practice, authoritarian rule really means.

              This new book deserves multiple reviews, if only because it contains a wide variety of perspectives about the advent and behavior of Trump. What I want to do in this column is focus on an issue raised by the editor Steinmetz-Jenkins himself, because I think it both underlies and distorts much of the contemporary discussion about what Trump represents.

              I am referring to the comment made by Steinmetz-Jenkins about how the economic crisis which helped Obama whip McCain in 2008 was “the most devastating financial crisis since the Great Depression,” [p. x] a description of the Bush recession which Obama himself never forgot to mention as he ran his ‘hope and change’ banner up the electoral flagpole during the Presidential campaign.

              The United States went through 11 Recessions between 1949 and 2008, with the GDP decline ranging between o.3% (in 2001) to 5.1% in 2008. The GDP dropped by almost 30% during the Great Depression, and it was probably worse because the government didn’t even have a mechanism for measuring any aspect of the economy in 1933. Unemployment briefly hit 10% in 2008, it was at least three times higher and was sustained month after month when FDR began developing the New Deal.

              There was no unemployment compensation in the 30’s, there was no FDIC. Just about every state bank in the country either closed its doors or stopped lending money and there were places in the Dust Bowl which actually experienced not just food shortages but famine – a condition which associate with the Third World but not the United States.

              When Obama said that he was trying to pull the country out of its worst economic situation he was talking to a national population in which probably 10% or less of the Americans alive in 2008 had adult memories of what the Great Depression meant to them, their families, their neighbors, and their friends.

              I lived in Berkeley in 1976 and my next-door neighbor was an old guy who had come out to California in the 1930’s as a young kid. In 1939, he got a job working two shifts in an East Bay ammunition factory and made enough money to buy a nice, little bungalow, retire and drink a six-pak of beer every day. He told me that when his family drove across the country in the 1930’s, they had to choose between buying gasoline and buying drinking water along the way. And Obama claimed that the 2008 Bush Recession was the worst since the economic collapse which occurred seventy years prior to that date?

              Tell me this: Is there really any difference between Trump saying that the country is in the worst shape it’s ever been and Obama telling the country that the national economy was in the worst shape since 1933?

              You don’t have to behave like Donald Trump and perform as some cockeyed panderer to the most uneducated and uninformed population in the United States. You can be Barack Obama appealing to the most educated and intellectually self-endowed population and promote your own brand of bullshit ideas.

              But we would never accuse Obama of dipping into the Fascist bag of tricks to scare the daylights out of voters whose votes would get him into the Oval Office for the next four years, right?

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