Donald the Duce?
This morning at breakfast, my wife asked me what Piers Morgan meant in calling Donald Trump a Fascist. Without having read—or even intending to read the column—I was able to state with total conviction.
“He must have thought he was saying something.”
“Why would you say that? People like Piers Morgan or Anderson Cooper generally have no idea what they are talking about, any more than Sean Hannity or Mark Levin have an idea. The words they use can all be interpreted as varieties on “Yea Team! And Nanny-Nanny-Boo-Boo. For all these people—fill in the editorial staffs of the New York and Washington Times—and virtually every other newspaper, syndicated radio show, and news website—words are only counters in a board game like Monopoly or Life.
“The object is not to tell the truth or elucidate reality. The point is to rack up points. If Morgan had ever read anything useful on fascism, he would not have any interest in sharing information he would regard as useless folderol to be put into the cultural discard file, along with the American Constitution, the Bible, the collected works of Plato, Aristotle, and David Hume, and all the honest works of history ever written.”
Even though ‘it makes little difference what any of these pundits say about anything, I did look up Morgan’s self-inflating little squib. After denouncing the Americans in the crowd for disagreeing with Piers Morgan, he summed up his position in a sentence:
“Let’s be very unambiguously clear: what happened in North Carolina last night was not just racist-fueled demagoguery but bordered on fascism.”
Let me interpret this statement—which did not merely border on nonsense but crossed the frontier. First, Americans who are angered by foreigners and their children who denounce America and its allies and do not even attempt to conceal their contempt for the American people are racists. Second, Trump, in ridiculing the pretensions of of a Muslim who hates Jews and Christians—talk about racism!—is flirting with fascism.
The question is not what Piers Morgan thought he was saying, but what hate-filled lie was he telling?
Fascism is a complex ideology that evolved out of patriotism, nationalism, socialism, and modernizing secularism. At its worst, it was a leftist revolutionary movement that owed a great deal to the French Revolution and post-revolutionary ideologies such as Comte's Positivism and socialism--both Marxist and Utopian. At its best, it promoted love of country, protected private property, and accepted the fact that a majority of the population was Christian.
The primary objects included resistance to red revolution and the construction of a semi-religious ideology that would unify the nation against external enemies and internal divisions. In the 1920’s fascist and semi-fascist movements sprung up, partly in response to the Russian Revolution and the spread of communism, in Italy, Spain, the Balkans, France, Japan, the United States, and Latin America. At one extreme, Hitler's national socialism was fascist and, at the other, such American politicians as Huey Long and FDR were also fascists in combining socialist and populist themes.
Perhaps the defining character was the socialist leader, Benito Mussolini, who had supported Italian entrance into WW II on the side of Britain and France and had been pushed out of the Italian Socialist Party. Italy, which had gone through war and depression, was impoverished, and the streets of Italian cities were being overrun by Communist thugs who hated Christians, the entire Middle Class, and anything in Italian life that departed from Lenin’s nightmare state that was in the midst of murdering tens of millions of ordinary people who were not yet ready for the paradise he and his homicidal cronies claimed to be constructing.
Ordinary Italians were terrified—far more terrified than ordinary Americans today are terrified of the the freshman Congressmen who have been dubbed “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Many, if not most, were alarmed by the Duce’s cult of his own personality and still more by his threats against free enterprise and the Catholic Church.
Mussolini, in addition to being the leader of a political cult, had his pragmatic side. He worked out a concordat with the Catholic Church that permitted Catholics to participate in politics and government with a clear conscience. When his comrades-in-arms demanded the kind of national economic planning that his disciples in the American New Deal were attempting to implement, his response was astonishment at their impractical idealism.
He made two terrible errors. The more obvious error was his pact with Hitler, which dragged Italy into a war it was not prepared to fight. The less obvious, but equally pernicious error, was his attempt to impose a national ideology on the diverse regions of Italy. He successfully degraded the rich Sicilian language into a mere regional patois, and he continued the ruthless policies of the Italian government (since the Risorgimento) in trying to eliminate the regional traditions and cultures that were and are Italy’s greatest source of strength.
In the first part of his career, the Duce was hailed as a philanthropic genius, and his ideas—though not his moderation and pragmatism—were imitated by self-aggrandizing politicos around the world. It is no myth but plain reality that the leaders of FDR’s brain trust were doing their best to implement his wildest schemes.
If the Duce were around today, he would approve such leftwing nationalist policies as political correctness, the war on Southern symbols, the marginalization of Christian traditions, socialized medicine, and the crony capitalism that masquerades as the welfare state.
I hold no brief either for Mussolini or his party program, but they did have one good quality that is sadly lacking in latter-day fascists such as Nancy Pelosi and the Bush family: Many of them actually loved their country and were willing to fight and die for it when their disastrous foreign policy lead them into a war they could never have hoped to win.
Then how did fascism turn into the ultimate slur against a politician? That’s an easy question. During the war, the Communist and their allies in Britain and the United States devised a rhetoric to use against all their rivals and enemies. Speak of marriage and the family, and you were (and are) a fascist. Praise motherhood and motherhood? Fascist. Love your country? Fascist again. Oppose the nationalization of private property and resources? Yes, now you understand.
None of these people, from Walter Duranty and Harry Hopkins to the Clintons and Obamas, cared about facts or history. They had a winning formula, which was to taint every fine and decent thing with the charge of “fascism” to make it easier to eliminate or at least suppress them.
Now you know why Piers Morgan calls Donald Trump a fascist.
This is just a teaser, since I hope to take up the claim that President Trump is flirting with fascism at greater length.