Monday, December 07, 2015

Trump and Umberto Eco

Is Trump a fascist? Not in the classical Mussolini/Hitler sense. Of course not. Be he does have some clear fascist-like tendencies when he speaks, and his candidacy certainly is the most fascist-like in recent U.S. history. Here is a quick unscientific attempt to match Trump against Umberto Eco's 14 traits of fascism. • "The Cult of Tradition", combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism. – This one Trump doesn’t hit directly in the sense that he rails against modernism, but he definitely combines different contradictory beliefs like no other recent presidential candidate (this is syncretism). I don’t understand why the other GOP contenders haven’t hammered him for this and to me that is the most disturbing for the GOP. • "The Cult of Action for Action's Sake", which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. – Trump often has said he will take more action than anyone else, and then finishes off with “we have to do it”. This is classic fascist-like attitude. • "Disagreement Is Treason" - fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action. – Donald Trump’s rants against “political correctness” is basically a version of this. In reality, “political correctness” has a function that in ensures that debate can happen with a purpose and with actual outcomes beyond increased divisiveness. • "Fear of Difference", which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants. – This defines Trumps candidacy, from the moment he declared that criminals and rapists were pouring over the Mexican border. • "Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class", fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups. – All though Trump hasn’t expressed this position directly, to me this seems like the textbook description of the current hysteria riding part of the Republican electorate. • "Obsession with a Plot" and the hyping-up of an enemy threat; - hear Trump hits across the board. He is always talking about the threat of the immigrant, the other, the ones not like you/us/him. In essence he is playing his own supporters to feel that everyone that is not like them is a threat, and that reinforces his supporters belief in him. His core supporters are probably already inclined to support so called strong-man presidents. They want an American Putin. • "Pacifism is Trafficking with the Enemy" - Donald Trump basically equates liberalism with trafficking with the enemy. He has also portrayed Obama as not trustworthy in the same sense. He has sought to cast Obama as a Muslim, with the clear understanding that being Muslim is being the enemy. And he has tried to say that “something is going on with Obama”. All are clearly designed to sow fear and resentment in a very fascist-like way. • "Contempt for the Weak" – this one he doesn’t really hit in the broad classical fascist sense (he hasn’t argued for killing off people with disabilities), but he clearly used this tactic to mock a reporter who was critical off him and who suffered from a muscular disease. • "Selective Populism" – he casts doubt upon a democratic institution, he basically claims that US democratic institutions have failed to protect “real americans” - this is nonsense. • "Newspeak" – he employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning - the man lacks any real specifics in his policy proposals. • "Non-truths & Lying/Spread of Propaganda" – The whole Birther issue which is a complete lie is probably the best example of this. He is not alone in having used this issue on the far right.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Trump the divider

Interesting analysis by NYTimes on Donald Trump and his demagoguery here. Most people who follow political news now realize that Trump is a different kind of candidate, and supposedly he is causing panic within the Republican leadership who fear a wipeout of their senate majority and handing the presidency to Hillary next year. Trumps divides the people of America into us and them. It almost seems that it is his main strategy in all he talks about. He doesn't sound like someone who is a leader of a multi ethnic country. One of the scientists in the article talks about how he finds Trump funny at times. This is very interesting, and I have had the same feeling. Trump is really good at making the outrageous and dangerous sound O.K., almost necessary -his way the only true way to deal with "the problem". You get that feeling when listening to him. He talks about problems, how we are stupid and we have stupid leaders, and then he mentions all these problems that afflicts the country (though he is always vague about specifics). Then he brings you around, he makes it almost feel good to agree with his most outrageous policies because he plays on the fact that people want to be winners. And if you agree with him, not only are you part of the "true Americans"that see how things "actually work", but you are also part of a winning team. Trump must not be underestimated in the damage he is doing to this country politically. With that being said, I don't think he will win the GOP nomination, and if he does he will be wiped out completely in the general election. I think, if he doesn't start falling rapidly after Iowa or NH, his main damage will be to go to the GOP convention with a good chunk of delegates and, if able to maximize his influence, will destroy the GOPs changes in the general election.