by Muhsin Yorulmaz
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been making a stir in the mainstream media with his "outrageous" comments. Many of these remind the historically informed read of Nazi policy: After all, one need merely replace the word "Jew" with the word "Muslim" to cause polite US company to reject out of hand the idea of barring the minority in question from going through US immigration, or having to wear special identification badges within the US.
But at present, Trump lacks many important tools that were at the disposal of Adolf Hitler, his apparent hero (and indeed he is reported by his ex-wife to have kept a copy of "My New Order" by Hitler by the bed). Hitler had an extensive network of organised militants ready to specifically attack the organs of Weimar democracy. Hitler had his own openly fascist party. The Republican Party, for all its reactionary qualities, is still within the realm of bourgeois democracy, and US bourgeois law and order is still stable enough to have no need for an open fascist group to maintain the economic order.
Indeed, we can say that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are still two sides of the same coin. They cooperate in one government (unlike in many other bourgeois democracies where one will witness a party (or coalition) in government and an opposition), they tend to agree on foreign policy, and they largely agree on domestic economic policy.
Although anything is possible, I predict that Donald Trump is not going to be elected president of the United States in 2016. But he still represents a real danger: Donald Trump is laying the groundwork for a future fascist movement in the United States.
The Republican Party may at any time split (already there is the "Tea Party" faction within it), or the Republican and Democratic parties, serving different sections of bourgeois interest, may come to an impasse at some point in the future.
Fascism is always a tool that is useful for capitalism and imperialism, and in the current climate, a fascist leadership in the US would indeed resemble Donald Trump: Using Muslims (and/or other hated minorities) as the existential threat to "the nation", this leadership would be run by corporate interests and mobilise militants (today's white supremacist and xenophobic "gun nuts") to shore up its rule through actions which might "embarrass" the legal state forces at first. It would, like the Nazis in Germany, promise to return "the nation" to its former greatness.
"Make America great again."
What's interesting is that there was another US capitalist whose widely promoted ideas are associated with the emergence of US fascism, or if not a full fascist order, certainly the glimmer or threat of fascist elements being permitted to operate. I am speaking of course of Henry Ford.
Henry Ford's anti-Jewish ideas made him very popular with the Ku Klux Klan, and his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, painted the Ku Klux Klan sympathetically. Henry Ford's own qualms with them seem to have been their methods, not wanting to be required to wear a mask, as he put it (if we assume that this was not merely stated for reasons of wanting to keep his hands, personally, clean). From the Ku Klux Klan's side, they stated in 1923 that they would be sympathetic to Ford running for president.
Ford's presidency was not to be. But things turned out quite differently for the Ku Klux Klan's German equivalent, the Freikorps. The Freikorps were paramilitary groups who, after WWI, were the fighting force of reaction used to destroy socialist and progressive forces in Germany, just as the Ku Klux Klan attacked the CPUSA, before Khruschevite revisionism rendered them a non-threat. The Freikorps got their "Ford" in Hitler, and the rest, as they say, is history. And Hitler indeed wanted to be their "Ford": His most famous work, Mein Kampf, was inspired by Ford's work, "the International Jew". Ford recognised some of himself in Hitler, and backed him (against their shared enemies, socialism and "the Jews").
The peoples of the US were saved from the open fascist nightmare suffered by Germany because, after the victory of WWII, the "New Deal" allowed for sharing of super-profits generated by the US's expanded imperialist domination. This, in turn, prevented the need for a full and immediate confrontation between bourgeoisie and proletariat in the US, as much of the proletariat was bought out by a labour aristocracy. Finally, again, we must state that the Khrushchevite revisionists dismantled the once militant CPUSA, leaving the US left demoralised, divided, and disorganised for decades to come.
But if we are Marxists, and we believe in history, we know that capitalism creates its own contradictions, and cannot be reformed. In the march towards the end of capitalism, these contradictions may sharpen again, as they did in Germany, when the German imperialists lost their iron grip on power as rival imperialist forces outmaneuvered them. Like Henry Ford, Donald Trump is a capitalist with his fangs fully bared, readying himself and his class for full confrontation and the abandonment of all pretense of democratic rights in the name of "national" (actually bourgeois) interest.
The problem, therefore, is not Donald Trump. He may suffer a heart attack and die tomorrow, but he is a reflection of the material conditions of today, and perhaps the material conditions of tomorrow. The right-wing violence we see today may indeed grow, and it will have political and economic defenders if the material conditions demand it.
The left in the US would do well to respond by preparing accordingly.