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Is Trump a fascist?

Most people, myself included, are guilty of using the word “fascist” hyperbolically. And a lot of people, myself included, use it to describe Donald Trump. So how fascist is Trump? Two weeks before the 2016 US Presidential election the Washington Post asked that same question (link in the comments below).

In the article the Washington Post used a checklist complied over decades by historians and political scientists. It lists 8 traits of fascism as a political ideology and a further 3 traits of fascism as a political movement. For each criteria Trump was awarded a score of 0 to 4 Benitos.

For political ideology Trump scored 20/32 Benitos, and as a political movement 6/12, for a total score of 26/44 Benitos. A pretty half-arsed fascist and a fair assessment at the time.

Back then few people gave Trump much chance of winning, but he did. And a fascist never shows their true colours until they’re in power. So I think the last four years calls for a reassessment. Here’s mine:

1. Hyper-nationalism (WP score 2)

Building a wall, an economic nationalist trade policy, rounding up immigrants, trying to get his face on Mount Rushmore. Trump has wedded his pathological narcissism to American exceptionalism. 4 Benitos

2. Militarism (WP score 2)

It’s pretty much impossible to be the commander in chief of the most powerful military in history and not score highly here, but Trump still takes it to another level. Add to that the number of followers in military fatigues with open carry weapons. 4 Benitos

3. Glorification of violence and readiness to use it in politics (WP score 1)

Even for back then I think the Washington Post was going easy on Trump. There is an ever present sense of menace among his heavily armed supporters and the tear gassing of peaceful protesters for a photo op in Lafayette Square had become an iconic image of Trump’s presidency. 4 Benitos

4. Fetishisation of youth (WP score 0)

Okay this is one criteria where Trump doesn’t entirely fit the bill. At 74 Trump’s not fooling anyone and it’s fair to say a lot of his rhetoric is aimed at his own demographic. But while he’s no spring chicken, he still presents himself as a maverick, a rebel, someone who is anti-establishment. Qualities often associated with youth.

A lot of Trump's support comes from young angry white men, particularly the racist, incel, neo-Nazi variety. Trump hasn't created a youth movement to rival the efforts of Hitler and Mussolini, but it rivals anything any American President has had. 2 Benitos

5. Fetishisation of masculinity (WP score 4)
It's Donald Trump, do I need to spell it out? 4 Benitos

6. Leader cult (WP score 4)
If I could score him higher I would. 4 Benitos

7. Lost-golden-age syndrome (WP score 4)
Four words "make America great again". 4 Benitos

8. Self-definition by opposition (WP score 3)
Take away the nepotism, egotism and self-serving corruption that is the hallmark of any fascist leader, and the only thing we know that Donald Trump stands for is what he stands against. 4 Benitos.

That's the fascist political ideology part covered with Trump scoring 30/32 by my assessment. Let have a look at his political movement:

9. Mass mobilisation and mass party (WP score 2)

It's fair to say Trump isn't universally loved by the Republican Party. But he's keep their support, in no small part through intimidation. That intimidation has come from his followers, a cult like movement who represent his true power base, and they are clearly mobilised on mass. 4 Benitos

10. Hierarchical party structure and tendency to purge the disloyal (WP score 1)
If we're taking Trump's followers as his party there is a clear hierarchical structure. Purging the disloyal is a daily occurance under Trump. 4 Benitos

11. Theatricality (WP score 3)
For the life of me I cannot fathom how the Washington Post didn't give Trump a perfect score even before the man became president. 4 Benitos

Call me a generous marker but I'm giving Trump full points for a fascist political movement, given where we are in the process. With a total score of 40/42 Benitos that's one test Donald Trump really did ace.

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