I have spilled a lot of ink this year trying to explain why the liberal argument about Trump as a latter-day fascist is nothing but hot air and horseshit combined. But yesterday The Guardian ran a piece about the coming threat of fascism that is so crazy and so misinformed that I am beginning to wonder whether the liberal approach to current-day politics has gone completely off the rails.
The article, ‘America is now in fascism’s legal phase,’ is the work of a Professor of Philosophy at Yale, Jason Stanley, who is considered one of the present-day experts on fascism and is interviewed about fascism on a regular basis on – where else? – NPR.
Stanley begins his oration by telling us that today’s fascist movement is led by ”oligarchical interests for whom the public good is an impediment, such as those in the hydrocarbon business, as well as a social, political, and religious movement with roots in the Confederacy.” I guess he’s referring to the Koch Brothers on the one hand, and the Proud Boys on the other.
He then goes on to explain that to be successful, a fascist movement like the Nazis needs to identify and become known as the bulwark against some common enemy. In the case of Germany in the 1930’s, the enemy was Communism and Socialism. In the case of contemporary America, the enemy are the groups, notably groups protesting racism, which threaten the dominance and authority of White men: “The Nazis used Judeo-Bolshevism as their constructed enemy. The fascist movement in the Republican party has turned to critical race theory instead.”
What makes this period of fascist growth as being in its ‘legal’ phase, according to Stanley, is how various components of fascist ideology are being implemented through legislation and the courts. In the last several years, we see state governments passing laws restricting the teaching of critical race theory, state governments passing laws restricting women’s right to choose, state governments passing laws making it more difficult to vote – all of these issues were part and parcel of the program instituted by the Nazi government in Germany after 1933.
Of course, as things develop, the fascist movement will begin to switch from legal to extra-legal efforts, the latter meaning the use of force. The picture above is the New England Minutemen militia which showed up for a big rally in Concord, NH back in May. It was called a ‘world-wide rally for freedom’ and the Concord event drew at least 100 people who were protesting mandatory masks and vaccinations, of whom at least half a dozen were dressed up in their army fatigues and carrying their AR-15’s.
You can get an understanding of the threat posed by these fascists by going to their website, which is described as a site devoted to – ready? – ‘situational awareness and contingency planning.’ Whomever put up this site is so far away from having anything which remotely represents any kind of political movement at all, that there isn’t even any inventory posted on the website’s store. How can you be a political force in America and not sell t-shirts?
This silly, nonsensical digital example of nothing is what a Professor of Philosophy at Yale University would like us to believe represents the present-day fascist threat? Hey – I’d be the last person to want to restrict anyone’s right to say whatever they like on the internet or anywhere else. But sweet Jesus, there is something known as self-respect. Which appears to be entirely lacking in Jason Stanley’s Guardian piece.
Yesterday, Joe was asked whether he was going to run again in 2024 and he said he would run if his health held up. Then he was asked how he would feel if his opponent was Donald Trump. He smiled, then he laughed and said, “That would increase the prospect of me running again.”
Of course, Joe is too senile and befuddled to see the looming fascist threat represented by Trump. And I guess since I’m only two years younger than Joe, I must be stupid and senseless as well.
But as long as we have liberal scholars like Jason Stanley filling up content on fake news websites like The Guardian, for sure we’ll be able to figure out a way to protect ourselves against the looming fascist tide.