| By Gage Skidmore |
via Wikimedia Commons
I wish I knew these articles grossly overestimated Mr. Trump's native abilities.
|Homeland Security photo|
At best, a man who has paraded his ignorance and prejudices will soon have the ability to give orders to the most powerful and destructive military on the planet. He will also control the world's most sophisticated surveillance apparatus. This frightens me. It frightens a great many people. It should.
The situation justifies fear. It does not justify despair. If Americans give up their particular experiment in individual freedom and self government, the election of Mr. Trump will mark a step in that process, not the culmination of it. The nightmare transitions from democracy to fascism in Europe during the last century had five features the present time does not suffer from. Whether these differences will prevent the development of a new form of fascism at the hands of Mr. Trump and particularly his more extreme supporters, we do not yet know. But these differences do give us reason for hope, and in a dangerous time, hope can provide a critical strength.
What did the fascist parties of the twentieth century have that Donald Trump and the Republicans don't?
- A disciplined party unambiguously committed to a sole leader. Fascist governments can tolerate multiple power centers, indeed, some historians consider fostering rivalries central to Hitler's governing method, only one person can set the direction and weild supreme power. The Republican Party, by contrast, has multiple figures with power bases that effectively rival Mr. Trump, and which can check Mr. Trump's actions.
- Nations shaken by a half decade of total war. A single battle of that war, the battle of the Somme, left as many people dead as the whole "war on terror". The British lost more than ten times as many troops in just the first day of that notorious battle as the Americans have lost in the whole war on terror to date.
- The fascist parties all had armed militias they integrated into the state. While various groups in the United States call themselves militias, and pose varying degrees of threat, they have neither the discipline nor the loyalty to a single leader the fascist militias did.
- Weak constitutions. Americans have lived under their current constitution longer than Germany has existed as a nation, and every single American civil servant has sworn, unambiguously, to preserve protect and defend their constitution against all enemies.
- Colonialism and "white" supremacy as accepted principles. Even the "liberal" opponents of fascism in the United States and Britain accepted colonial ideology and "white" supremacy to a degree only a right wing extremist would defend today.
None of these differences justify complacency, but they do give us a reason not to despair. The nightmare described in Eugene Ionesco's play Rhinoceros may yet play out in American life, but nothing makes that end certain