This is an article by John Bellamy Foster and it was published in the Monthly Review, to which I subscribe. The purpose of this article, at least initially, was to compare the votes that put Trump in the White House, compared to the votes that Adolph Hitler got in the process of becoming the Fuhrer. I have transcribed this article in it’s entirety from the original written by John Bellamy Foster, but I have skipped the tradition of putting it in quotes; all but the final three paragraphs, which I claim as my own. The article begins by asking “who forms the social base of the neofascist phenomenon? Trump’s electoral support came mainly from the intermediate strata of the population i.e., from the lower middle class and privileged sections of the working class, primarily those with incomes around $56,000. Trump received a plurality of votes from people with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 a year, especially in the $50,000 to $99,999 a year, and among those without college degrees. Of those that reported their financial situation was worse than four years ago, Trump won 77 percent of the vote. A poll updated just before the election, indicated that in contrast to the standard Republican voters, much Trump’s strongest support came from relatively privileged white white male workers with “skilled blue collar industries,” including “production, construction, installation, maintenance, and repair and transportation, earning more than the median income, and over the age of forty.
In the so called Rust Belt 5 states (Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; Minnesota came within a whisker of voting for Trump) that swung the election to Trump, the Republican vote increased by over 300,000 among voters earning $50,000 or less, compared with 2012. None of this was enough to win the popular vote which he lost by nearly 3 million votes, but it gave him the edge he needed to win the electoral college vote quite handily.
- In a study by [Richard Hamilton who voted for Hitler], the author points out that Hitler’s National Socialist party was supported by Protestant’s, living in rural area, and those in lower-middle administrative occupations and owners of small businesses living in urban areas. Thus neither the rich nor poor were inclined to support Adoph Hitler’s Nazi party, and even among the Christians, religious identity mattered.
The clear implication was that Trump’s supporters conformed to the same general pattern that we see supporting Adolph Hitler’s Nazi party. According to the Hamilton study, it is generally believed that the “lower middle class (or petty bourgeoisie) provided the decisive support for Hitler and his party. Hitler also drew on a minority of the working class, disproportionately represented by more privileged blue collar workers. But the great bulk of his support came from the lower middle class or petty bourgeoisie, representing staunchly anti-working class, racist, and anti-establishment outlook—-which nevertheless aligned itself with the capital. Hitler also had backing from devout Protestants, rural voters, disabled veterans, and older voters and or pensioners.
The parallels with the Trump phenomenon are sufficiently clear. Trump’s backing comes primarily from neither from the working-class majority nor the capitalist class—-though the latter have mostly reconciled themselves to Trumpism, given that the they are the principal beneficiaries. Once in power, fascist movements have historically cleansed themselves rapidly of the more radical lower-middle-class links that helped them to power, and soon ally themselves with big business—-a pattern already manifesting itself in the Trump administration.
Yet despite these very broad similarities, key features distinguish neofacism in the contemporary United States from its early in twentieth-century in Europe. It is in many ways a unique, sui generis (meaning unique or peculiar). There is no paramilitary violence in the streets. There are no black or brown shirts, no Nazi Storm-troopers. There is, indeed, no separate fascist party. Today the world economy is dominated not by nation-based monopoly capitalism, as in classical fascism, but a more globalized monopoly-finance capitalism.
After its defeat in the First World War, Germany in the 1930’s was in the midst of a Great Depression, and about to resume its struggle for economic and imperial hegemony in Europe. In contrast the United States today, long the world’s hegemony, has been experiencing an extended period of imperial decline coupled with economic stagnation. The White House’s “America First” policy, unfurled in Trump’s inaugural address, with its characteristically fascist “palingenetic form of ultra-nationalism (palingenesis means “rebirth”) is not aimed at domination of Europe and its colonies, as in Nazi Germany, but in restoring U.S. primacy over the entire world, leading to the “potentially deadliest phase of imperialism.”
This article does not start out praising the United States, which I believe is over stretched beyond any capacity to save itself from the ultimate tragedy that all the superpowers, that went before us suffered, and why should we be any different from our predecessors (Today we spend more that a $ trillion dollars each year on military hardware including the expense of maintaining our nuclear arsenal, which, all by itself costs several $Billions each year. Imagine what those resources could do if we spent them on the revitalization of America.
This is all complicated by the threat of global climate change, to which are current president is a climate change denier, and he has promised to undo all the positive things that President Obama did in his second term. Now we face the very real threat, that our oceans will suffer sea level rise of more than 6 ft at the dawn of the 21st century, causing displacement of millions of people, right here in the United States: if we wait until are leaders are on board with this, it will be too late, we only have a few years to respond appropriately to the threat. Everything that President Obama did to ward off the effects of climate change, we are told by the experts, that it will not be enough to prevent our temperature from climbing beyond 1.5 degree Celsius; what we have been told by the climate scientists is that the efforts we have put in so far with be 2 degrees Celsius or more. In other words we still have a long ways to go. If anything we should adopt policies that go far below predictions made by climate scientists. The Republican party is the party of crazies right now. We can’t wait for the Republican party members to come to their senses and straighten out, indeed the Republican party is so for gone that we have no hope of saving them from themselves. So that brings us to the rest of the world: most Europeans are on board with the threats of global climate change, perhaps we can form an alliance with them and force our Republican party members to come to their senses and join us in what promises to be a long and difficult struggle to fix the planet. But they say all politics are local, and I fear that we may force a struggle right here at home, because there is not a third party that is likely to be an appropriate counter force to be of any consequence.
Finally I don’t expect America to become a fascist state, any time soon, while we have observed fascist like behavior in the Trump administration, and he would clearly like to become a dictator, and assume all the powers of a little Hitler, he is not the messianic figure to pull that sort of thing off. So it looks like we will have to deal with a president who thinks of himself as a mighty figure, but whose behavior is something less than that, unless the Republican party changes course and supports him wholeheartedly, and then we would have to worry about their sanity.
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