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News & Analysis > All
News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Washington Post discovers that “fascist” Trump appeals to liberal Democrats
January 23, 2016
[Note, November 9, 2016: This article (second of two) was written almost ten months ago and withheld from publication because there wasn’t a very suitable outlet for it in terms of audience or focus. Nobody kept this back anticipating the article would be useful if Trump won, but it is being published now for those who want to understand in more depth what happened on November 8 in the United States. None of the word choice, spelling, style, etc., has been changed. That means it differs in some ways from many of the articles published on this site recently.
If this article were to be revised, there would be changes, but nothing has been added or removed. Still, it is mostly and basically correct as a discussion of amerikan politics and some of the reasons for Trump’s victory. Right now, many in the U.$. media on both “the right” and “the left,” including so-called revolutionaries, are in damage-control mode talking about how AmeriKKKans are disgusted, embarrassed, alienated, angry, etc., and trying to protect amerikkkans’ international reputation after Trump’s election whether they know it or not. The thing that needs to be understood is that Clinton and Trump were products of various amerikans’ own making; the whole election represented their desires, demands, interests, priorities, and lies they told themselves and others about amerikan society and the world. Amerikans are inclined toward a certain kind of politics. The world must struggle against the amerikans accordingly.
Many amerikans aren’t represented in the u.$. political structure as much as others are, but struggles for fuller representation in that structure, or for revisions of that structure, can easily have reactionary results. The structure is inherently an imperialist one responsive to pressures to preserve a massive amount of international privilege in the midst of legislative and policy changes.]
A dictionary definition of “conservative” is being inclined to preserve an existing way of doing things, or returning to a traditional way. Contrary to the notion that fascism is conservative, if the exploiter-labor aristocracy U.$. so-called proletariat and U.$. middle-income people had any kind of revolution, there would be a new thing: fascism. It would be a fascist revolution, not a socialist revolution. If it were a “socialist” revolution, the new reality would be national “socialism,” or not socialism at all but continued imperialism with more internal equality or benefits for parasites and more-centralized state power. The labor aristocracy could overthrow some politicians or upset democracy, but it would try to wield and benefit from finance capital and imperialist state power instead of refraining from using them. It would do so with the idea that the U.$. labor aristocracy is somehow more special than other countries’ working classes. The extreme form of bourgeois dictatorship in the service of the labor aristocracy, other petty-bourgeoisie, and some imperialists, would be new in the U.$. history though not new in world history since there has been fascism in Western Europe.
Nevertheless, the Washington Post finds it remarkable the idea that “fascism,” attributed to Donald Trump, does not have to be conservative.(1) The Washington Post discusses a National Review collection of comments, purportedly showing that the Republican likely nominee for U.$. president is not a conservative.(2) It is suggested that Trump is a “moderate” or even a “liberal.” The context of this includes that Democratic and Republican pundits for different reasons have had great difficulty acknowledging Donald Trump’s potential appeal to liberal Democrats – Democratic commentators, because it reflects poorly on the Democratic Party or its base if Trump has appeal, and Republican commentators, because it would be evidence Trump could win the general election and would discourage supporters of the other Republican candidates whom the commentators prefer. And then Trump’s hard-core supporters for their own reasons may not want to identify with liberal Democrats in any way, because political correctness is the enemy or whatever.
Obviously, any liberal reputation Trump does have Trump would benefit from in the general election if Trump wins at the primary level and faces Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. That’s very clear. Somewhat less clear, but more important in terms of understanding the direction Amerikans as a group are going in, is how Trump’s rhetoric on migrants and Muslims connects with the feelings of the labor aristocrats, females, pseudo-feminist males and atheists who have been disproportionately represented among Democratic voters and in Democratic platforms. Trump is not only aware aware of eir liberal or moderate image and probably uses that image when it suits em, Trump has also made issues about people whom the Democratic Party and particularly liberal and pro-U.$. worker Democrats have long made issues out of: migrants, and Muslims or Islam.
Liberal Democrats basically never appreciated Islam except in State Department type messages. There has always been chauvinism toward Muslims among the sexual and lifestyle liberals disproportionately found in the Democratic Party. The idea that Muslim males are sexual threats, and Muslim females cultural threats, isn’t new among Democrats and was specifically deployed to prepare the public for war against Muslim countries. Democrats and so-called radicals play stupid and act like they weren’t bashing Islamic culture and Islamic movements non-stop before and after wars began and manufacturing innuendo about Muslims and Arabs as being particularly sexually violent people, but Donald Trump no doubt remembers what Hillary Clinton said about Libya and rape, for example. Killing thousands of Libyans over rape is no better than repressing migrants, because of perceived sexual threat, except in the twisted minds of Democrats who still have brown voters to think about. Now Democrats pretend to be outraged about suggestions that Muslim migrants are sexual threats because they see voting opportunities with U.$. Muslims after Trump’s statements.
The idea that “fascist” Donald Trump is actually more similar to “socialist” Bernie Sanders on “immigration” questions than one might think is revealing though elected alleged socialists in Europe have long acted against migrants. There is in fact an underlying dynamic with both Sander’s and Trump’s rhetoric and support. Both candidates support border “security,” because what candidate wouldn’t who needs to pander to the labor aristocracy and some irrational Euro-Amerikan imperialists. Remaining questions deal with how to integrate or deport migrants who have made it through, and how to handle migrants who apply to enter officially. The idea that Trump “waffles” is interesting because Bernie Sanders has also been known to hedge on migrants though ey is particularly against migrants’ working temporarily in the United $tates.
The difference between Sanders and Trump is a matter of degree despite any large cosmetic difference. It was never undocumented migrants themselves making a United $tates-wide issue out of “immigration” except to imply with their presence that quotas were too low or that the border was somehow illegitimate as a barrier to people’s movement. They just wanted to be left alone generally. Objecting to threats, harassments, repression and even lack of protection is not the same thing as desiring AmeriKKKan citizenship as much as some Democrats have a hard time understanding that. It’s not the same thing as accepting deals that would make movement across the border even more complicated for migrant proletarians and their relatives in the short- or long-term. What Sanders has derided as “open borders” has always been preferred to various deals with the labor aristocracy including “a path to citizenship” for some migrants. (There are open borders of various kinds, and some would restrict Central American and South American people’s entry undesirably, but Sanders has made it clear ey is against any arrangement or situation that would be against the U.$. labor aristocracy’s interests. AmeriKKKan workers first.) Year after year, the labor aristocracy shows up to say undocumented migrants are affecting U.$. worker wages and need to go back to Mexico or become documented and Amerikan. Joining the labor aristocracy activists are patriotic types supporting assimilation in various ways. Expecting documented migrants to become U.$. citizens has always had an assimilationist overtone at least and even a racist overtone with the new citizens expected to follow “native,” predominantly white leadership. It was never real Chican@ nationalists at the forefront of pushing Amerikan citizenship as a step in a path to Aztlán.
Between Clinton, Sanders, and Trump, there are only shades of labor aristocracy politics on migrants. Though the border contributes to wage and price differentials that benefit both imperialists and the labor aristocracy, and imperialists benefit from repression producing a supply of less-expensive undocumented workers, only the most racist individual imperialists really care about stopping labor flows across the border enough to make it a political issue. It is the labor aristocracy that is behind that mainly, because of union and other U.$. worker direct conflicts with temporary workers, undocumented workers, and recently arrived permanent residents and citizens. Some may claim to oppose mass deportations and border policing generally, but somehow politicians still end up elected who don’t support dismantling the repression and support expanding it in fact. Anyone who appears weak on “border security” has difficulty getting elected so all candidates support it while displaying variation on other questions that are fundamentally also raised by the labor aristocracy. Terrorism concerns are used as a pretext to accomplish the same goals and fill in some gaps for imperialists wondering why they should seal the border.
Contrary to historical usage, the definition of “liberalism” in the U.$. context has become muddled to mean anything currently permissive lifestyle-wise or anything “left” or “left-leaning” even if considered so only vaguely. Since there is variation within each of the two dominant U.$. parties, there can be “moderates,” “conservatives” and even “liberals” in either party with respect to each party’s center, to the average Amerikan, or to a set of ideals designated as “conservative.” Though Democrat Obama rightly earned the “deporter-in-chief” name, Obama is known as a liberal for various reasons including not being even harder on migrants than ey has been. Many things that the labor aristocracy wants, including packages of assimilation, deportation, and policing, could be perceived as “liberal” by Republicans and supported by many Democrats who might prefer the term “progressive.” This is reinforced by the Democrat-serving perception of the Republican Party as being the party of rich white people. Nobody wants to be seen too much as supporting rich people so Republicans also pander to the labor aristocracy while some Republicans want to keep temporary worker visas and become known as anti-worker, or not “conservative” enough, because of that position. Again, the same Republicans can be perceived as anti-worker and also insufficiently conservative though liberals are not particularly known for supporting high levels of migrants with limited permission to work legally. It is mainly capitalists and not U.$. workers who are for the visas, and conservatism in the Republican mind does not mean pro- certain capitalists. A vast range of positions that don’t support non-citizens remaining as workers can be either “liberal,” “conservative,” or somewhere in-between on that axis.
Donald Trump is obviously both rich and white. Ey is also a Protestant for that matter, which when widely known in politics comes to symbolize having some kind of problem with Catholicism, and Catholic migrants potentially. Regardless, Trump no doubt knows, for example, some Black workers have had real and perceived conflicts with migrants, due to setbacks in proletarian-internationalist Black nationalism. A large variety of anti-migrant positions individually and collectively appeal to both white workers and non-white workers who have voted Democrat in various elections in the past, many of whom would identify or be identified as liberals. So, Trump can appear extremely strong on border “security” and propose the great wall, dividing occupied Mexico from neocolonial Mexico, while seeming comparatively vague on other “immigration”-related “issues.” Trump’s widely-reported rhetoric about letting some migrants back in after kicking them out seems duplicitous to many Democrats, and part of the reason is that most Democrats themselves have never really wanted more workers to come to the United $tates except maybe as potential voters. Trump’s apparent insincerity or deceptiveness may remind them of their own deception, which includes Clinton campaigners’ telling Latin@’s about Sander’s open borders opposition, to get them to vote for Clinton and the policies Clinton will continue. Despite outreach to undocumented migrants and some kind words during political campaigns, most Democrats have always wanted undocumented migrants already in the United $tates to either stop working in the United $tates or become subject to the labor aristocracy’s agreements with the imperialists. Democrats have had problems with even documented migrants. The idea of letting anyone in or back in with the requisite documents is not something Democrats would necessarily earnestly support to begin with. When Trump proposes it to soften what ey says about the wall and deportations, the inflated or stilted Democratic response is understandable as well as Democrats’ own waffling on whether to keep or increase the number of migrants entering legally for work. Combinations of keeping people out and dealing with people inside U.$. borders – in various ways – are preferred by the labor aristocracy to letting people in.
Washington Post: “And many think he is certainly too extreme to win a general election.” Conservative writers “in the National Review don’t attack Trump by trying to exploit his extremism. On the contrary, in their view, Trump’s flaw is that he doesn’t go far enough. The refrain of the special issue that Lowry published this week is that Trump is not ideological, that he is willing to compromise, that he is not a true conservative.” No doubt Trump is extreme rhetorically, but that has to do with rhetoric. Trump represents the norm, which is to pander to the labor aristocracy and move toward fascism whether with Republican leaders along the way or Democratic ones.
“He might be brash. He might be eccentric. Substantively, though, he is a moderate by the standards of the Republican Party.” The gist is that because Trump hasn’t spoken so strongly about reducing legal immigration, Trump may be a moderate. Readers should remember that even “fascist” George W. Bush didn’t propose deporting all undocumented migrants the way Trump has and was tolerant of temporary workers, for which ey was accused of representing capitalists. Yet, somehow Trump can propose deporting all undocumented migrants and still be considered “moderate.” Key to untangling some of this is to realize that opposition to Bush on the free flow of capital, commodities and labor led to the current situation where you can have Republican and Democratic candidates who are more fascist than Bush ever was.
One can have a migrant- or Latin@-friendly campaign before using and building on the same apparatus to repress and keep out migrants, but that won’t make one less fascist than Bush, Obama, or Trump. What matters is what happens after the campaigns and how things are built up over time, because the labor aristocracy won’t let things slide back. Individual candidates’ rhetoric as well as their private intentions become less and less important so that one could conceivably run as a moderate and not address “immigration” at all, but still end up in a fascist situation structurally.
Of course, Trump claims ey made “immigration” an important issue, but that was possible because the concerns were already there not just among the other candidates, but in the population. If nobody had said a single word about migrants, the potential for repression and exclusion of migrants to increase would have been there still along with ongoing deportation and policing operations. Those operations wouldn’t stop just because nobody said anything about them on CNN, Fox News, or NBC. Now that migrants are an “issue,” though, Democrats can differentiate by appearing slightly or superficially less harsh than Trump while still competing for votes from Amerikan workers. There isn’t a whole lot of maneuvering anyone could do to roll things back even if ey wanted to.
As for any conservative criticism of Trump’s inelegance, libertarian conservative David Boaz manages to be chauvinistic even in comparing Trump to George Wallace. “America is an exceptional nation in large part because we’ve aspired to rise above such prejudices and guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to everyone.” Cue patriotic police and agents to repress more migrants without use of racist language and images.
Despite being central to super-exploitation, international trade is another area of concern of the labor aristocracy, and in this the labor aristocracy can find more common ground with some U.$. capitalists. People in both parties, and both non- “socialist” fascists and alleged leftists, and U.$. workers and U.$. capitalists, have had problems with trade “globalization” and “neo-liberalism.” Evidently, some self-identified conservatives in the Republican Party have felt the need to clarify that protectionism isn’t “conservative” while shutting out migrants somehow is, in effect defining “conservatism” as a more pure pro-capitalist white or Amerikan nationalism. In the WaPo article, one finds out that conservatism in 2016 means supporting the flow of capital and goods while opposing the flow of labor across borders. “Trump has not only broken with GOP orthodoxy in favor of expanding trade agreements internationally, with his opposition to the bipartisan Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has also called for imposing tariffs on imported goods.” Conservatives seem to sense there is something fascist about state intervention in trade and industry with a government as powerful as the United $tates’.
In the definition of conservatism as trade liberalism with restrictions on migration sounds like an unwieldy attempt to have a compromise between U.$. labor aristocracy and capitalist interests, that’s because it is. Conservatives try to hold it all together with racist or chauvinistic trappings about needing to preserve European/Western or Amerikan culture including capitalist culture, but what one needs to understand is that the exploiter U.$. so-called working class also is to blame for much U.$. nationalism, including white nationalism. As for capitalism, the labor aristocracy derives super-profit through capitalism and senses that too much interference in capitalism would threaten the privilege they have in a world with so much inequality. The labor aristocracy alternates between Democrats and Republicans, and between candidates within each party, over government involvement in trade even as it grasps for fascism as a solution. Under fascism, U.$. workers could be more permissive about trade because state power would then be used to benefit them economically more than it is now. Until then, both “conservative” and “liberal” platforms appeal to the labor aristocracy, as does “populism” in either party.
Putting various labels aside, anti-migrant positions, protectionism and taxing the rich appeal to U.$. workers. That isn’t remarkable at all. The word “worker” appears only once in the WaPo article and not at all in the National Review article, and neither contains “wage” or “income”; instead, there are concepts like “small government” and “entitlement reform.” An exception is the contribution by Ben Domenech, who notes “working-class” voters’ dissatisfaction with Obama as an explanation of Trump’s popularity. What the Washington Post columnist seems to find remarkable is that somebody as extreme-appearing as Trump may not fit certain ideas about what “conservative” should mean, and that such a great variety of Republicans disagree with Trump. Somebody like Trump could be in the Democratic party, but Trump would lose the general election supposedly, because of eir extremism – that seems to not make sense. What has been underestimated is Trump’s appeal to liberals despite the Republican branding. Conservatives talk about that because they want somebody else to win, and/or to protect the brand, but the reason Trump’s appeal to liberals is important to the oppressed is that it shows how fascism can come about in a Democratic Party environment and in a liberal environment contrary to common assumptions. Even if Hillary Clinton wins, it would be because Hillary moved closer to Trump in rhetoric aimed at the labor aristocracy and Amerikan nationalists.
One of the more interesting paragraphs in the WaPo article compares Trump’s 1999 tax proposal to Piketty’s proposed tax that would supposedly “restrict global economic equality.” It may very well be that even when international social-democracy is imported into the United $tates, the effect with Amerikans could be another excuse to target “the 1%” (or even fewer at the top) instead of doing anything to lessen Amerikans’ sense of entitlement. It should go without saying that “make the country rich again” and Trump’s welfare state rhetoric are compatible with liberal attitudes and identity. Fanning the anger of the 90%, 99% or 99.9% can be liberal, but it can also be fascist, or both.
The WaPo blogger focuses on migrants and economic and fiscal matters, including bailouts and the 2009 stimulus (famous in other countries for “Buy American”) that put Trump in the same camp as Obama in the state-capitalist area. But the Democratic Party has a monopoly on some gender views and lifestyle-related views that are relevant. The Democratic Party’s innovation is to combine a gender aristocracy outlook and lifestyle liberalism with labor aristocracy politics. Much of the writing in the National Review article dealing with Trump on so-called social issues or Trump’s own “virtue” is ad hominem or verges on ad hominem. Without calling emself a Democrat, though, Trump would appeal to people currently in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party even if only because of actions or positions Trump took in the past as as pragmatic imperialist doing business in New York City, publicity about which history will help Trump in the general election. Even Trump’s playboy image (reminiscent of John F. Kennedy and Hillary Clinton’s husband) and alleged amorality or impenitence will attract liberals to Donald Trump more than Trump’s unfamiliarity with the “nuclear triad”(3) will repel liberals from Trump. Knowledge that George Wallace was a Democrat could also help Trump with liberals unconsciously because of the precedent there; Trump could just be a more socially liberal “Wallace” with more focus on external oppressed nation people and Islam.
Trump’s “they’re rapists” rhetoric about Mexican males reflects a fusion of U.$. labor aristocracy politics against proletarian workers, with notions of superior Amerikan gender culture that both Amerikan females and Amerikan males uphold. Politically correct, and non-PC, liberal Democrats make their particular contributions to racism and chauvinism on gender that aren’t inconsistent with “they’re rapists.” Trump’s campaign language, style, hairstyle, temperament, business decisions, Presbyterianism, alleged Biblical illiteracy, perceived shrewd Machiavellian opportunism, bumblingness, old age, ego (no greater than Obama’s), etc., are not fundamentally more important to liberals in the privacy of polling booths than advancing labor aristocracy and other U.$. petty-bourgeoisie exploiter interests. ◊
• “AmeriKKKa elects its next war criminal in chief,” 2016 November. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-11-09-news-2016-US-election-day.md
• “AmeriKKKa unmasked: Trump in sight of victory,” 2016 November. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-11-09-news-AmeriKKKa-unmasked.md
1. “Top Republicans say Donald Trump’s real problem is that he’s too moderate,” 2016 January 22. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/22/its-official-trump-doesnt-go-far-enough-leading-republicans-argue/
2. “Conservatives against Trump,” 2016 January 21. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430126/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination
3. “Trump’s terrifying nuke answer at the debate should end his campaign (but it won’t),” 2015 December 16. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/trumps-terrifying-nuke-answer-at-the-debate-should-end-his-campaign-but-it-wont-20151216