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diumenge, 6 de novembre de 2016

¿Es Donald Trump un fascista?


FINANCIAL TIMES.- Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic argues that Trump “has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible” and provides a long and depressing list to substantiate this charge – threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to respect the independence of the judiciary, refusing to promise to accept the result of the election, advocating torture, whipping up mob hatred against the press pool, fanning bizarre conspiracy theories, and proposing to create a data-base of Muslims, while banning most of them from the country. Sullivan concludes: “We are told we cannot use the term fascist to describe this. I’m at a loss to find a more accurate alternative.”

Writing a few months before Sullivan, Robert Kagan had come to a similar conclusion – for slightly different reasons. For Kagan, fascism is defined not by particular policies – but by the cult of the strong leader. As he points out, Italian fascism, Nazism and Francoism were an ideological mess. But what they had in common was a veneration of the strongman leader: “Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society … Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it.” And indeed Trump does fit this mould quite well. In his speech at the Republican Convention over the summer, he listed all the problems supposedly ailing America, before adding – “I alone can fix it.” Kagan also argues that the “fascist” characteristics that Trump has exhibited to date are liable to be hugely amplified, if he were actually to triumph on Tuesday. He writes that – “If Trump wins the election, his legions will likely comprise a majority of the nation. Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then?”

Robert Reich, a professor and former US Labor Secretary, is another to have labelled Trump a “21st century American fascist”. He too points to Trump’s veneration of strong leadership, alongside his nationalism and the undercurrent of violence in his movement, adding – “The content of what he says is utterly irrelevant. It is the style.”

For “The Economist”, however, the cult of the strong leader is not enough to justify the fascist label. The magazine argues that, in some important respects, Trumpism differs markedly from the fascism of the 1930s: “These fascist movements were propelled by the young; Trumpismo, by contrast, has more appeal to the elderly. Perhaps because of this they looked to the future and venerated modernity, whereas Mr Trump often seems to be trying to bring back the 1950s.”

If you are looking for some academic rigour to be brought to this debate, there is no better authority than Robert Paxton, a professor at Columbia University and author of “The Anatomy of Fascism”. Anybody expecting a genuine academic to pour cold water on loose journalistic talk that Trump is a fascist might be sobered by Paxton’s analysis. In an interview, given in March, well before Trump had even secured the nomination, Paxton observed that – “His style … has fascist overtones, encouraging violence, attacking the internal enemy and so forth, saying that the system is rotten and it needs an outsider to fix it, which is a fascist kind of appeal—make Germany great, make America great.”

For all the talk of Trump being a product of the new age of social media, Paxton also points out that Trump has been a master of a traditional fascist tool – the mass rally. As he puts it – “It’s in the rallies that he’s established this rapport with a lot of angry people who felt that nobody else was speaking for them. It’s an incredible achievement. He’s very good at sensing the deep feelings of a crowd and playing them. This is another thing that sounds like Mussolini.”

But Paxton also has enough academic caution to note important difference between Trump and the fascists of the 1930s. For all the allegations that Trump has encouraged violence, he does not have his own militia to call upon. There are, as yet, no Trumpian equivalents of Mussolini’s “blackshirts” or Hitler’s “brownshirts”. Trump’s rhetoric also appeals to the American right’s traditional hatred of the state and veneration of the individual. By contrast, Hitler, Mussolini and Franco all venerated the idea of the strong state – and of the community, over the individual. | Gideon Rachman
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