Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Two

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part two of a series.

Donald Trump, Public IdiotClick here for all the other parts of this series

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 nation’s 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. Continue reading

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part One

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part one of a series.

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for  president during a rally at his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday June 16, 2015. Mr. Trump also announced the release of a financial statement that he says denotes a personal net worth of over 8 billion dollars.

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president during a rally at his Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday June 16, 2015.

Click here for all the other parts of this series

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. Continue reading