Saturday, January 2, 2021

The True Face of American Fascism

Of course, he’s right. Glenn Greenwald is right to show that the real American fascists are the ones who are most vociferous in accusing Donald Trump of being a fascist. (via Maggie's Farm.) As has happened throughout the Trump presidency, whatever Trump has been accused of doing has been effectively done by the Democratic left.

From Hillary’s Russian collusion to Joe Biden’s Ukrainian quid pro quo to Barack Obama’s submission to Vladimir Putin, and ending with dozens of intelligence officers claiming, on the basis of no evidence, that the charges of influence peddling by Hunter Biden were invalid-- the American left has organized to take back power. In that it has succeeded. The means were unimportant. All that mattered was the end.

Of course, I do not need to tell you that Greenwald is a man of the left, a socialist, if you will, decidedly and defiantly. And yet, he possesses a quality in perilously short supply in today’s media university-- integrity.

Thus, he appears on Fox News more often than he appears on CNN.

In his most recent Substack article, Greenwald begins by pointing out that Trump has been anything but an authoritarian despotic fascist dictator.

He looks at the record, and at the article of leftist faith:

Asserting that Donald Trump is a fascist-like dictator threatening the previously sturdy foundations of U.S. democracy has been a virtual requirement over the last four years to obtain entrance to cable news Green Rooms, sinecures as mainstream newspaper columnists, and popularity in faculty lounges. Yet it has proven to be a preposterous farce.

A preposterous farce-- hmmm.

As it happened, when given the chance, Trump was anything but an authoritarian despot:

In 2020 alone, Trump had two perfectly crafted opportunities to seize authoritarian power — a global health pandemic and sprawling protests and sustained riots throughout American cities — and yet did virtually nothing to exploit those opportunities.


Rejecting demands to exploit a public health pandemic to assert extraordinary powers is not exactly what one expects from a striving dictator.

In most instances where Trump was accused of exercising dictatorial authority, he was merely filing lawsuits or revising his edicts to comport with court orders:

When his policies were declared by courts to be unconstitutional, he either revised them to comport with judicial requirements (as in the case of his “Muslim ban”) or withdrew them (as in the case of diverting Pentagon funds to build his wall). No journalists were jailed for criticizing or reporting negatively on Trump, let alone killed, as was endlessly predicted and sometimes even implied. Bashing Trump was far more likely to yield best-selling books, social media stardom and new contracts as cable news “analysts” than interment in gulags or state reprisals. There were no Proud Boy insurrections or right-wing militias waging civil war in U.S. cities. Boastful and bizarre tweets aside, Trump’s administration was far more a continuation of the U.S. political tradition than a radical departure from it.

Yes, indeed. Being fired by Trump was the royal road to fame and fortune. The American right did not wage a civil war on America’s streets, did not burn down neighborhoods, did not attack the police and did not oversee an explosion of urban crime.

It was all rhetorical misdirection, designed to render the population hysterical and to get them to vote Trump out of office:

The hysterical Trump-as-despot script was all melodrama, a ploy for profits and ratings, and, most of all, a potent instrument to distract from the neoliberal ideology that gave rise to Trump in the first place by causing so much wreckage. Positing Trump as a grand aberration from U.S. politics and as the prime author of America’s woes — rather than what he was: a perfectly predictable extension of U.S politics and a symptom of preexisting pathologies — enabled those who have so much blood and economic destruction on their hands not only to evade responsibility for what they did, but to rehabilitate themselves as the guardians of freedom and prosperity and, ultimately, catapult themselves back into power. As of January 20, that is exactly where they will reside.

As for the evidence, Greenwald remarks that the hue and cry over caged children relied on photos taken during the Obama administration. In most cases this did not prevent Trump’s detractors from claiming that he was caging children:

The single most revealing episode exposing this narrative fraud was when journalists and political careerists, including former Obama aides, erupted in outrage on social media upon seeing a photo of immigrant children in cages at the border — only to discover that the photo was not from a Trump concentration camp but an Obama-era detention facility (they were unaccompanied children, not ones separated from their families, but “kids in cages” are “kids in cages” from a moral perspective). 

As for Trump’s election coup, Greenwald explains it:

Trump’s terrifying “coup” consisted of a series of failed court challenges based on claims of widespread voter fraud — virtually inevitable with new COVID-based voting rules never previously used — and lame attempts to persuade state officials to overturn certified vote totals. There was never a moment when it appeared even remotely plausible that it would succeed, let alone that he could secure the backing of the institutions he would need to do so, particularly senior military leaders.

If Trump is not a fascist dictator, that does not mean that no one exercises outsized power over our lives. In particular, out tech oligarchs and deep state actors have largely taken control of the nation:

A much-discussed 2014 study concluded that economic power has become so concentrated in the hands of such a small number of U.S. corporate giants and mega-billionaires, and that this concentration in economic power has ushered in virtually unchallengeable political power in their hands and virtually none in anyone else’s, that the U.S. more resembles oligarchy than anything else:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

America’s pandemic policy approach has greatly enhanced the wealth and influence of corporate elites, especially Silicon Valley oligarchs, as it has destroyed small business:

A combination of sustained lockdowns, massive state-mandated transfers of wealth to corporate elites in the name of legislative “COVID relief,” and a radically increased dependence on online activities has rendered corporate behemoths close to unchallengeable in terms of both economic and political power….

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants….

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.”

Those who have won this battle did so with the help of the government. Thus, Greenwald concludes that we are not seeing the result of fair competition and free market capitalism, but of crony capitalism where the state enhances some businesses while diminishing others. Naturally, the big businesses are all-in with their support of the political party that has granted them so much power-- the Democratic Party.

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options….

Those must disgusted by this outcome should not be socialists but capitalists: this is a classic merger of state and corporate power —- also known as a hallmark of fascism in its most formal expression — that abuses state interference in markets to consolidate and centralize authority in a small handful of actors in order to disempower everyone else….

What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

More alarming still was the way that the Silicon Valley tech behemoths have taken control over the marketplace of ideas. And have undermined any media efforts to report the news fairly and objectively. No despot would ever have allowed Jack Dorsey to dictate what news was fit to disseminate in the run up to the election.

That Facebook, Google and Twitter are exerting more and more control over our political expression is hardly contestable. What is most remarkable, and alarming, is that they are not so much grabbing these powers as having them foisted on them, by a public — composed primarily of corporate media outlets and U.S. establishment liberals — who believe that the primary problem of social media is not excessive censorship but insufficient censorship.

Twitter and Facebook did everything in their power to censor the story about Biden family corruption in the run up to the election:

As I told the online program Rising this week when asked what the worst media failings of 2020 are, I continue to view the brute censorship by Facebook of incriminating reporting about Joe Biden in the weeks before the election as one of the most significant, and menacing, political events of the last several years. That this censorship was announced by a Facebook corporate spokesman who had spent his career previously as a Democratic Party apparatchik provided the perfect symbolic expression of this evolving danger.

So, will the real fascists please stand up:

Those who spent four years shrieking to great profit about the dangers of lurking “fascism” will — without realizing the irony — now use this merger of state and corporate power to consolidate their own authority, control the contours of permissible debate, and silence those who challenge them even further. Those most vocally screaming about growing authoritarianism in the U.S. over the last four years were very right in their core warning, but very wrong about the real source of that danger.


Sam L. said...

This is why I despise, detest, and distrust the Democrat Party, and the media. As I keep saying, I don't know if the media is/are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, or it's the other way round, but it's OBVIOUS that they're in CAHOOTS.

Anonymous said...

TDS is real.

370H55V said...

"Thus, he appears on Fox News more often than he appears on CNN."

Struggling hard here to come up with a good punch line for that.

n.n said...

Governing structures follow a spectrum from anarchist on the far right to totalitarian on the far left and a left-right nexus that is leftist.

Single/central/monopoly (i.e. leftist) ideology. Fascism, in particular, is a secular collusion between public and private domains. Today, the Progressive Church/Synagogue/Mosque/Temple/Clinic/Chamber/Corporation bridges the gap, not only as a fascist enterprise, but with a Twilight faith (i.e. conflation of logical domains, penumbras and emanations); Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, relativistic ("ethical") quasi-religion; and liberal (i.e. divergent, typically generational) ideology.