Cry “Fascist”

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryI see this word almost every week. The term “Fascist” is used to describe either U.S. President Donald Trump or some rightwing rally or some state or local politician. I hear this word being used by professors who seem to be making the analogy that Fascism is just around the corner, and that it is a mass movement around the world waiting to take over. Well, I do not see it. I do not see any mass Fascist movement where you have hundreds of thousands and even millions of people demanding a certain party taking over the nation and implementing one man or one party rule. I do not see rightwing populists in democratic capitalist countries throwing hundreds or thousands of journalists in prison for saying bad things about the government. I do not see any state that can be called outright Fascist. There are a number of rightwing populists who are in control and some of them are indeed killing independent journalism. Hungary and Serbia are two examples of this. But even these two countries cannot be classified as Fascist simply because you do not have hundreds or thousands of political prisoners, and certainly there are no torture chambers and execution squads. This IS important because Fascism, like Communism, tolerates NO opposition whatsoever.

This is something I understand only too well. I saw what a one party state was like in Taiwan before it became a multi-party democracy. Yes, people were thrown into prison for advocating for Taiwan independence, and people were tortured for their political and social viewpoints. Yes, the Nationalist Party of China—the party that held on to total power—called all the shots and made it clear that the press could not say anything the government did not like, the people could not hold peaceful protests if the government said “no,” and one could easily be accused of being a “Communist” and an “enemy of the state” even though that person did nothing at all. This was for all due purposes Fascism. The rule of law meant nothing, and there was no independent judiciary, no independent legislature, and certainly no independent press. The president held total power, and his power came from the Nationalist Party which controlled everything.

Under these circumstances, it is very hard to call Trump a Fascist. He does not have unlimited power, he does not control the judiciary and certainly not the press. He has not, to my knowledge, imprisoned people for their political or social views and he has not despite how he feels about the press imprisoned any journalists. The way I see it he is a rightwing populist who definitely has a racist outlook and clearly holds very very conservative perspectives about what he thinks America should be. But this is a far cry from what a Fascist is. He has not tried to overthrow the government, he has worked within the democratic framework to get elected, and he more or less works within the framework of the government and the independent court system (eve if he does not like it) on what a president can and cannot do. Independent, non-government organizations and parties cannot exist in a Fascist state, and they certainly cannot use the U.S. Congress or the judiciary to sue the government if indeed Trump has unlimited power and the United States was indeed becoming a Fascist state. It is not to say that Trump is not using his office to abuse his executive powers, but this is a very different thing from having unlimited powers to do whatever he wants. Did Fascists like Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Augusto Pinochet, or Alfredo Stroessner have any limitations to what they could do to their countries? My only comment is that let us NOT use the word “Fascist” except if the word really does fit the definition of those with complete control and unlimited power

Comments are closed.