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America's Flirtation With Fascism

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Ignorant savages always gravitate to someone as simple-minded and violent as they are.




“THIS country is a hellhole. We are going down fast,” says Donald Trump. “We can’t do anything right. We’re a laughing-stock all over the world. The American dream is dead.” It is a dismal prospect, but fear not: a solution is at hand. “I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person,” says Mr Trump. “It’s very possible”, he once boasted, “that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”
When Mr Trump first announced that he was running for president, he was dismissed as a joke. A wheeler-dealer with lots of experience of reality TV but none whatsoever of elective office wants to be commander-in-chief? Surely, sophisticates scoffed, no one could want this erratic tycoon’s fingers anywhere near the nuclear button. Americans are waking up to the possibility that a man whose hobby is naming things after himself might—conceivably—be the president. It is worth spelling out why that would be a terrible thing. Fortunately, the Donald’s own words provide a useful guide.
Mr Trump is not in thrall to the hobgoblins of consistency. On abortion, he has said both “I’m very pro-choice” and “I’m pro-life”. On guns, he has said “Look, there’s nothing I like better than nobody has them” and “ fully support and back up the Second Amendment” (which guarantees the right to bear arms). He used to say he wanted a single-payer health service. Now he is much vaguer, promising only to replace Obamacare with “something terrific”. In 2000 he sought the presidential nomination of the Reform Party. A decade ago he said “I probably identify more as Democrat.” Now he is a Republican.

Blowing his own Trumpet
The Economist asked Mr Trump why Republican voters seem willing to give him a pass on so many issues they normally hold dear. He took this to be a question about religion, since he is not much of a churchgoer and struggles to cite a single verse from Scripture. “I’m strongly into the Bible, I’m strongly into God and religion,” he declared. But within a few seconds he appeared to grow bored with the topic and switched to talking about how he has “a net worth of much more than $10 billion” and “some of the greatest assets in the world”, including the Trump Tower, the Trump Turnberry golf resort, and so on.
On one domestic issue, to be fair, he has staked out a clear, bold position. Alas, it is an odious one. He wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and somehow make Mexico pay for it. He would deport all 11m immigrants currently thought to be in America illegally. Apart from the misery this would cause, it would also cost $285 billion, by one estimate—roughly $900 in new taxes for every man, woman and child left in Mr Trump’s America. This is necessary, he argues, because Mexican illegal immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Not only would he round them all up; he would also round up and expel their children who were born on American soil and are therefore American citizens. That this would be illegal does not bother him.
His approach to foreign affairs is equally crude. He would crush Islamic State and send American troops to “take the oil”. He would “Make America great again”, both militarily and economically, by being a better negotiator than all the “dummies” who represent the country today. Leave aside, for a moment, the vanity of a man who thinks that geopolitics is no harder than selling property. Ignore his constant reminders that he wrote “The Art of the Deal”, which he falsely claims is “the number-one-selling business book of all time”. Instead, pay attention to the paranoia of his worldview. “Every single country that does business with us” is ripping America off, he says. “The money China took out of the United States is the greatest theft in the history of our country.” He is referring to the fact that Americans sometimes buy Chinese products. He blames currency manipulation by Beijing, and would slap tariffs on many imported goods. He would also, in some unspecified way, rethink how America protects allies such as South Korea and Japan, because “if we step back they will protect themselves very well. Remember when Japan used to beat China routinely in wars?”

Towering populism

Mr Trump’s secret sauce has two spices. First, he has a genius for self-promotion, unmoored from reality (“I play to people’s fantasies. I call it truthful hyperbole,” he once said). Second, he says things that no politician would, so people think he is not a politician. Sticklers for politeness might object when he calls someone a “fat pig” or suggests that a challenging female interviewer has “blood coming out of her wherever”. His supporters, however, think his boorishness is a sign of authenticity—of a leader who can channel the rage of those who feel betrayed by the elite or left behind by social change. It turns out that there are tens of millions of such people in America.

The country has flirted with populists in the past, but none has won a major-party presidential nomination since William Jennings Bryan in 1908. The closest any true firebrand has come was in 1996, when Pat Buchanan, whose slogan was “The peasants are coming with pitchforks”, won the Republican primary in New Hampshire against a dull establishment candidate, Bob Dole. (Mr Dole later won the nomination.)
Mr Trump is far more dangerous than Pitchfork Pat. Demagogues in other countries sometimes win elections, and there is no compelling reason why America should always be immune. Republicans should listen carefully to Mr Trump, and vote for someone else.
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I hope she [12 year old girl] dies. Preferably murdered.


They should be the first to die, of course. I guess she could be sent to a reeducation camp. But if it didn't take, she should be shot.


America needs a "Night of the Long Knives." People like you would be on the list and be the first to be "disappeared."


I would love to kill that fucker [Conservative Ted Nugent] and then hold him up by the ears for a selfie. He's a piece of shit. The world will be a better place when he's dead. That is the epitaph of most Republicans.


...My misanthropy is constantly sated. Large swathes of humanity need to be eliminated.


The U.S. needs to institute 'capital flight' laws. If you are incorporated in the U.S., YOU WILL STAY IN THE U.S. or your corporation and personal assets will be seized and your executive officers imprisoned or executed.


The Walton family should be assassinated.


This is unacceptable. Take their money and redistribute it. If they refuse, line them up on the side of a ditch and shoot them in the head. It is not difficult.






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You are a fuckin' Nazi and DNSC Propagandist clown.



I hope she [12 year old girl] dies. Preferably murdered.


They should be the first to die, of course. I guess she could be sent to a reeducation camp. But if it didn't take, she should be shot.


America needs a "Night of the Long Knives." People like you would be on the list and be the first to be "disappeared."


I would love to kill that fucker [Conservative Ted Nugent] and then hold him up by the ears for a selfie. He's a piece of shit. The world will be a better place when he's dead. That is the epitaph of most Republicans.


...My misanthropy is constantly sated. Large swathes of humanity need to be eliminated.


The U.S. needs to institute 'capital flight' laws. If you are incorporated in the U.S., YOU WILL STAY IN THE U.S. or your corporation and personal assets will be seized and your executive officers imprisoned or executed.


The Walton family should be assassinated.


This is unacceptable. Take their money and redistribute it. If they refuse, line them up on the side of a ditch and shoot them in the head. It is not difficult.






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So sounding the alarm that the Republic is falling is fascist?

Makes no sense

Weak argument

Weak op

That was lame even for you player

How is the republic falling?


How is America a hell hole that is going down fast?

Those are not libertarians


How are any of them libertarian?

Hmm, GOP supports home schooling, no medical care, 2nd Amendment rights, privatizing government programs. Sounds libertarian to me.

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United States now leads the Banana Republic League of Nations

Corrupt IRS - Lois Lerner pleads the 5th



DOJ - Holder closes IRS investigation with no charges and now Loretta Lynch meets Bill on the tarmac


Corrupt Executive Branch - Constant Lies (ex. "You can keep your doctor", etc.)


Corrupt State Dept. - Constant Lies (ex. "You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put on an unclassified system, no matter what that system is. We were very specific about that.", etc.)


Corrupt FBI - Constant Lies ( "although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information" and he gave extensive evidence of just that, "our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.



OJ didn't do it - - - Hillary didn't lie

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How is the republic falling?


How is America a hell hole that is going down fast?


Hmm, GOP supports home schooling, no medical care, 2nd Amendment rights, privatizing government programs. Sounds libertarian to me.

how are we falling?

Jobs outsourced, welfare rolls swelling, wages stagnant, inflation, we are militarily in over 70 countries, patriot act, Monsanto act, indefinite detention, propaganda legalized, drug war, 2nd amendment restrictions, trillions in derivative debt, corporatism...

I could go on


I like how the 2nd amendment is a "libertarian" thing lol lol

That's ridiculous

These people aren't for privatization

They are for using government to kill off competition

I'm not for privatization but what they call for isn't even open bid transparent privatization

They are for killing competition

Home schooling isn't a libertarian thing either

Across the political spectrum people are homeschooling because the schools in the country are horrific

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How is he fascist. Explain it

I can explain how I don't know my butt from a hole in the ground.

Can you explain how trump is a fascist

I want policy

Ok, goexplain it so called teacher

I'll wait...

Poor naive-nutjob......too stupid to see the obvious....


Donald Trump is a fascist - Part One

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or merely a proto-fascist depends on which historians definition of fascism you prefer

Scholars and Rogues

By Brian Angliss

Aug 22, 2016

In 1994, I took a class titled "The History of Fascism and Nazism." It remains one of the most profound educational experiences of my life, and ever since then I have been extremely careful about referring to someone as a Nazi. In a 2010 post about my experiences in this class, I wrote:

"This class taught me that some things are just so bad, so legitimately evil, that making bullshit comparisons cheapens that evil. And I cannot stand by and let true, legitimate evil be cheapened. As a result, if I ever use the word Nazi, you know I mean it and I'm not joking."


And as my record here at S&R has shown, I have taken many people to task for misusing references to the Nazis (and, more recently, to fascism in general).


The class also taught me to be on the lookout for the rise of fascism in the United States, and impressed upon me an ethical responsibility to identify fascism if I ever saw it. I see fascism in the candidacy and person of Donald Trump.


Let me be perfectly clear, so there is no possibility of confusion about where I stand on this point: Donald Trump is a fascist.


This eight part essay explains how I have reached this conclusion, based first on what I learned from my "History of Fascism and Nazism" class in 1994, followed by an investigation of historians more recent expert opinions on what characteristics define fascism.


Fascism as I was taught it in 1994

As I wrote in 2010, "The History of Fascism and Nazism" class taught me how to identify authentic Nazism.


"I don't care how authoritarian you are, merely being authoritarian doesnt make you a Nazi. I don't care how nationalistic you are, merely believing in my nation right or wrong doesnt make you a Nazi. I don't care how much you try to manipulate the public with propaganda, merely using propaganda doesnt make you a Nazi. Put them all together, add a major dose of racism, a ruthless belief in efficiency, a decade or more of ideological indoctrination, and a willingness to use violence to achieve your ends, plus a few environmental factors like high long-term unemployment, a crummy economy, and a willingness to blame everyone else but yourself for your own problems and thats when you start getting close to being a Nazi. [emphasis original]"


Strip away the rhetoric and this is a condensed list of the characteristics of Nazism: authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, xenophobia, using violence for political gain, and ruthless efficiency. And the conditions that Nazism thrived in included high long-term unemployment and economic malaise, plus years of political indoctrination. As part of my research for this series, I re-read "The Nazi Seizure of Power (revised edition)" by William Sheridan Allen and based on my re-read, I'd add living in fear to the list of environmental factors as well. Generic fascism, however, doesnt need one of these characteristics - the ruthless efficiency. After all, theres no question that Mussolinis Italy was Fascist (thats where the word comes from, after all), but the Fascists were hardly the model of efficiency that the Nazis were. In fact, my instructor once said that all the things that the Fascists invented, the Nazis perfected and mechanized.



Image credit: Goodreads


Looking at the environmental factors, its clear that the US in 2016 has all every one. While unemployment has dropped to about 5% recently, thats largely because the long-term unemployed have been dropping out of the workforce. If, as this CNBC article says, 43% of unemployed people have stopped looking for work, that means the real unemployment rate is about 8.5%. By most measures, the US economy is still quite bad - unemployment, underemployment, the increasing number of able-bodied adults out of the workforce, the growing disparity of between the rich and poor, the shrinking middle class, companies sitting on cash reserves instead of investing them, historically slow wage growth, inflation below the Federal Reserve's target, and so on.


In addition, politicians, the traditional media, and social media have been telling Americans to be terrified since at least 9/11. We're supposed to be scared of lone wolf killers, terrorists, whites, blacks, Hispanics, the cops, gangs, drugs, child abductors, climate disruption, pollution, gays, transgendered people, vaccines, Zika, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, teen pregnancies, homeless people, the ultra-rich, and on and on and on. And theres little question that conservative media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Bill OReilly, and Anne Coulter and fundamentalist Christian leaders have been indoctrinating a significant portion of the US public with a far-right ideology. Denial of the reality of industrial climate disruption, rejection of evolution, the willingness of the Tea Party to push the nation nearly to default on its debts, the refusal to even hold hearings on a Supreme Court vacancy, and the like demonstrate the success of this indoctrination.


So its obvious that the environmental factors identified in the "History of Fascism and Nazism" class are present. But what about Trump himself? Does he personally have the characteristics listed above?


The first question is whether or not Trump is an authoritarian. There was a serious question about this right up until his GOP convention speech. At that point, though, his authoritarian nature became obvious. He said "Nobody knows the [political] system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. (emphasis added)" and "I am your voice." If only Trump can fix the US, then he is by definition the only authority who matters. And his allegations that the election will be "rigged" against him are aimed at creating a situation where only he can win - any other outcome is by his definition illegitmate. Finally, there's nothing inherently contradictory about being both an individualist and an authoritarian. Individualism is a personality trait, while authoritarianism is a means of creating and exerting power.


Trump is clearly a nationalist. His campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, invokes pride in Americas history and is a call to place the US above other nations, presumably where it belongs. That call is explicitly nationalistic. He has criticized the UN for not being a friend even to the United States of America, and he's threatened to abandon our allies to Russian aggression if they dont pay for US protection. The Mexico border wall, spending even more on the US military, and bringing jobs back to the US from abroad are all calls to raise up the US even if it means pushing down other nations.


Trump is also a racist. He blames Mexicans for both taking US jobs and increased crime, and he wants to deport 11 million undocumented workers, even though the mass deportation of 11 million people might well qualify as a crime against humanity. Hes called for banning Muslims entrance into the US and has been open to making Muslims register in a national database and wear special religious IDs when in the US. Hes supported by several leaders of the KKK and white nationalist groups like the American Nazi Party that are themselves racist and anti-Semitic, and his occasional weak denunciations of those groups smack of ignorance or nudge nudge wink wink dishonesty.


As for Trumps xenophobia, he rose to become the Republican candidate by blaming China for the US' trade problems, Mexicans for sending rapists across the border, and Muslims for terrorism.


Trump is also a demagogue and a skilled propagandist. He won't be able to bring jobs back to the US from overseas - those jobs are beyond the authority of an President - but that doesn't stop him from saying he will. Trump claims to be a self-made man, but he was born to a wealthy family, started his first real estate company with a mere million dollars, and inherited a massive amount of money when his father died. He has convinced his supporters to blame the victim (undocumented workers) for stealing US jobs rather than blaming the employers who are actually responsible. And his supporters uncritically accept his exaggerations and lies while ignoring all facts to the contrary.


Finally, Trump himself has never explicitly called for violence. Instead, he makes offhand references to violence, implies violence is a good thing, and has given cover to violence committed by his supporters. For example, after the Democratic convention, Trump said that he wanted to "hit a number of those speakers so hard, their heads would spin." He implied that violence committed by "Second Amendment people" might be able to stop Clinton from imposing restrictions on gun rights. And he offered to pay the legal bills of a supporter who was arrested for hitting an anti-Trump protester in the face. At this point Trump has not explicitly called for his supporters to attack his political opponents, but it's not clear whether thats because Trump doesnt support violence, or whether he's too smart to incite violence directly. Based on his language, though, the latter explanation is more likely. Unfortunately, even vaguely worded violent language (like his "Second Amendment people" threat) can provoke the unbalanced into committing actual acts of violence in what is known as "stochastic terrorism."


So we have all the environmental factors that could lead to the rise of a fascist. In addition, Trump has five of the six characteristics of a fascist and is approaching the last one (violence for political ends) to some greater or lesser extent.


This makes Trump a fascist according to what I was taught in 1994.

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Donald Trump is a fascist - Part Two

Scholars and Rogues

By Brian Angliss

Aug 22, 2016

Fascism according to Stanley G. Payne

Stanley Payne is a historian from the University of Wisconsin and the author of "Fascism: Comparison and Definition". He has generated a list of 13 characteristics that he thinks are necessary for a political movement or ideology to be fascist, and he classified them into three groups - ideology and goals, negations, and style/organization.


* Espousal of an idealist, vitalist, and voluntaristic philosophy, normally involving the attempt to realize a new modern, self-determined, and secular culture

* Creation of a new nationalist authoritarian state not based on traditional principles or models

* Organization of a new highly regulated, multiclass, integrated national economic structure, whether called national corporatist, national socialist, or national syndicalist

* Positive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use violence and war

* The goal of empire, expansion, or a radical change in the nations relationship with other powers


Trump shows aspects of the first characteristic in that he supports an idealistic philosophy in pursuit of a new modern and self-determined culture that is rooted in the idea of American exceptionalism. Voluntarism is "a theory that conceives will to be the dominant factor in experience or in the world," and while Trump's language has echos of the national and personal ambition and aggression that comes with the concept of Will to Power as described by Nietzche, Trump hasn't explicitly called for his supporters to exert their will upon the nation to change it.


Trump also shows signs of wanting to create a nationalist state with him as king of the mountain. As discussed previously, he has questioned the legitimacy of the electoral process and has implied that he'll only accept the results of the election if he's the winner. This indicates his authoritarianism as much as his repeated use of "I am your voice" during his Republican National Convention speech. His views are blatantly nationalistic, appealing to the greatness and exceptional nature of the US. As such, he appears to be calling on his supporters to help him turn the US into a nationalistic, authoritarian state. The question becomes whether that state is "based on traditional principles or models" or not, but its too early to say. Trump's conception of the US is based on a mythology of US history rather than actual history, but we probably won't know if his government is traditional or not until and unless he takes the Presidency.


Trumps economic plans dont have any indications of wanting to restructure the US economy as radically as implied by "national corporatist, national socialist, or national syndicalist" models. And Trump claims to want to eliminate regulations, not impose more. As such, its fair to say that Trump does not match up with this characteristic.

As for Trumps [p]ositive evaluation and use of, or willingness to use violence and war, hes long used violent metaphors, talked about hitting or beating up his political opponents, and the like. CNBC reported that Trump has repeatedly asked experts why the US shouldnt use nuclear weapons on our enemies, although there hasnt been confirmation of this at this point. What there is confirmation of is that Trump has publicly said hed consider nuking somewhere in the Middle East in revenge for an ISIS attack on the United States. Thats both an overreaction and an example of collective punishment that is prohibited by international human rights law. This willingness to use violence, even the ultimate form of violence yet devised, for something other than deterrence indicates that Trump matches this characteristic.


Redwing nuclear test (image credit: planetdeadly.com)

Trump has not called for the empirical expansion of the United States, but he has called for a radical change in the nations relationship with other powers, specifically the United Nations, our NATO allies, Russia, China, and Mexico. Threats of trade wars and abandoning our allies to Russian or Chinese aggression, even "renegotiating" our national debt would radically alter our position in the world.

So of these five characteristics, Trump matches two, partially matches two more, and doesnt seem to match the last.

Its useful to note, however, that Mussolini didnt publish the Doctrine of Fascism until after the Fascists had ruled Italy for nearly a decade. Many historians have found that fascists are flexible in their ideology and philosophy - theyll claim to believe whatever they think is most likely to get them into power and then keep them there. So it may be possible for a full-blooded fascist to match only a few of of Paynes characteristics and still be clearly identifiable as a fascist.

The second group of characteristics is what Payne calls the Fascist Negations:


* Antiliberalism

* Anticommunism

* Anticonservatism (though with the understanding that fascist groups were willing to undertake temporary alliances with other sectors, more commonly with the right)


Trumps antiliberalism is unambiguous. He thinks that government has grown too large and wants to deregulate businesses and banking, especially increasing domestic energy development and eliminating environmental protections. But more than that, he rejects the source of liberalism the Enlightenment and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution inalienable rights, life, liberty, brotherhood, equality. Trump has called for the end to birthright citizenship. He wants to unfairly restrict on the liberty of Muslims by subjecting them to religious profiling in opposition to Justice Department policyand the 14th Amendments guarantees of "equal protection under the law." He has publicly attacked judges who dont rule in his favor, threatening the Constitutions separation of powers. And he doesnt think that everyone should be treated fairly, as shown by his stated goal of overturning federally guaranteed LGBT marriage rights and his tax plan would dramatically lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans and completely eliminate the financial windfall tax otherwise known as the estate tax. These are some of the most fundamental tenets of liberalism, and Trump rejects them.

Trumps anticommunism is less obvious, but thats largely because theres some overlap between certain types of liberalism and communism. His tax plan overturns the Marxist idea, which is embedded in the US progressive taxation, of from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. His council of economic advisors is packed with ultra-wealthy real estate magnates like Trump himself. Trump has said that he might eliminate the entire Department of Education in order to give more power to the states and eliminate Common Core, a program that may, over the long run, result in better educated citizens as compared to the rest of the developed world. And the Republican platform calls for the sale of public lands held in trust by the US government.

Finally, Trump is also anticonservative. Trump says hes OK with some limited amount of LGBTQ rights, just not defined at the national level. He wants to add exceptions to an abortion ban in cases of rape, incest, and when the mothers life is threatened. He claims that he will save Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid without cuts. All of these are anticonservative positions, yet Trump has also clearly formed an alliance with traditional conservatives. He was blessed as a baby Christian by Focus on the Familys James Dobson. Hes been endorsed by many Republicans who have come to see him as their only hope to oppose Hillary Clinton.

The examples above illustrate how Trump has all three of the fascist negations identified by Payne. But what about Trumps style and organization characteristics? There are five of them:


* Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships and style and with the goal of a mass single party militia

* Emphasis on aesthetic structure of meetings, symbols, and political liturgy, stressing emotional and mystical aspects

* Extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance, while espousing a strongly organic view of society

* Exaltation of youth above other phases of life, emphasizing the conflict of the generations, at least in effecting the initial political transformation

* Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not the command is to some degree initially elective


As of publication, Trump has not called upon the Republican Party or any subset of his more virulent supporters to form a party militia. Nor has he obviously attempted a "mass mobilization with militarization of political relationships." So Trump does not yet have this characteristic.


Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

He is a demagogue, however, and that means he uses arguments based on emotion and deception instead of logic and reason. He likes to prominently display his own name, like how he had his name elevated over the American flags during the Republican National Convention. And he often has an unusually large number of US flags behind him during his speeches, invoking nationalism (even jingoism). These examples indicate that Trump has several of these characteristics, but perhaps not all of them.

As for Trumps masculinity, there is no question that he has "extreme stress on the masculine principle and male dominance." Hes had three wives, and hes cheated on at least one of them. Hes denigrated women journalists and women in general. Hes had a habit of debasing women since 1990, if not earlier. But theres no indications of him holding an "organic view of society" (as in society behaving like an organism).

As for his views on youth, he seems to be exalting mostly middle aged men rather than youths. But whether this will change in the event of a Trump presidency can't be known today.

Finally, Trumps demonstrated that he has a strong "Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command." And he's using the US electoral system to try and take power, as both Mussolini and Hitler did successfully.

With respect to Trump's style, he has one of the five characteristics in total, plus partials on two others. Added these to the other characteristics and we see that Trump strongly matches six of the 13 characteristics, has partial matches on four more, and as of today doesnt match the last three.

Payne was interviewed for an article about whether or not Trump was a fascist at Vox in May. In that article, Payne rejected the notion that Trump was a fascist. Payne said that Trump's nationalism wasnt revolutionary enough to qualify as fascist because his nationalism wasnt focused on "breaking down all the standards and the barriers." As we have seen since May, however, Trump has been rejecting the standards of politics and attacking the barriers that govern American lives, from preemptively casting doubt on the elections results to calling for a "refinancing" of the US federal debt to approving of torture to calling for the mass deportation (and possible crime against humanity) of 11 million Mexicans.

So theres an argument to be made that Trump has already punched through Payne's specific criticism from May. But according to Paynes characteristics, Trump probably doesnt have enough fascist tendencies to qualify as a full-fledged fascist. He might well qualify as a proto-fascist, however, and as well learn later from another historian, even proto-fascism is dangerous, especially when proto-fascism is in the process of becoming rooted in the political system.

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